New Muslims are so enthusiastic, aren't they? They are just beaming, actually radiating with enthusiasm. They seem to be such model Muslims; changing their personalities and old habits over night, it seems. For example, they always pray as much as possible at the masjid. In fact, they practically live at the masjid. I remember trying to contact someone who had just embraced Islam at their home only to have their roommate or family member say to me, "Ah, Bill, I mean Rahim Abdullah Mustapha is not in. I think he's at the masjid."
At any gathering or community picnic they are always the first one there and practically the last one to leave. They always bring all the neat stuff to the picnics, too-badminton set, volleyball set, a half dozen Frisbees-everybody liked to come to the picnic if Rahim was going to be there. I can still remember the flyer:
Brookfield Park Saturday, May 18
10:00 A.M.-6:00 P.M.
RAHIM WILL BE THERE!
Life was neat when Br. Rahim was around.
You ever notice how they are always quoting Quran and Sunnah to you? "Would you like jam or honey on your muffin, Rahim?" "Honey, of course. The Prophet used to say that, a person who eats honey-the fires of hell will not touch him on the Day of Judgment" "Oh, well that's nice. I didn't know that, Rahim."
"Hey, Rahim! You want to play a little basketball, shoot some hoops?" "Well, alright, but just a few. You know, the Quran says that, this world is nothing but play and amusement." "Oh..yeah..sure, Rahim-just a few shots then. I promise."
And the immigrant Muslim brothers provide further encouragement. They would always come up with things like, "You know Br Rahim, you are better than us. Allah gives you more reward than us, because we were born Muslims but you left your old ways and accepted Islam. Therefore, you are more worthy and pious in the eyes of Allah than us."
And speaking of new Muslims, how long do you have to have embraced Islam before you are no longer considered a new Muslim and you become just a Muslim. Now, let's see..I embraced Islam in November of 1991 soooo, I've been a Muslim for some time now! Well, I still feel new or consider myself a new Muslim. At any rate, I remember going through some of the same things that our example, Br. Rahim went though. So here are my observations and I guess food for thought for all you new Muslims, male or female. Let's get nostalgic, shall we?
I remember people are always having you over to their house and you were always meeting new people. "Assalam alikum. Brothers, I'd like you to meet a new Muslim, Br. Rahim Abdullah Mustapha. He's an American that just embraced Islam."
"Oh maashallah, Brother Rahim; welcome, welcome." Then it starts. "Brother can I ask you something? What madhab do you follow? When did you embrace Islam? Tell us brother, What dinner made you choose Islam? Oh, yes and also, brother, How did your family act toward you after you embraced Islam?" I thought, Well, let's see Brother Hakim, no one has asked me that before-at least not in the last 11 seconds! Let me get back with you on that.
Now to help all those new Muslims identify and cope with the maze of questions, I have some unsolicited advice I would like to give to all you upstarts. First, I think they should make new Muslims write down their answer to all these questions shortly after taking shahada. Then, they should print them on 3X5 cards. The first thing that he or she does when they are invited to a gathering is that the new Muslim takes a few minutes before they meet anyone and he or she just passes these cards out to everyone there.
And while they're at it, they might as well print the answer to those other questions most often asked. Questions like, Are you married? "You know Brother Rahim, the Holy Prophet said that marriage is half of our religion." (yes, and the other half is asking people about it.) If you are single then the quick follow up question is most appropriate, "What do you do?"
These two questions usually come from a wonderful sweet Pakistani couple. If you are single and are studying to be a doctor then, hey, you're in, pal! You can count on all the free biryani you can eat for the rest of your life or at least until there daughter gets married.
Sometimes the questions can become pretty intimidating. For example, if you are approached by a salafi group, Beware! They will test your knowledge of Islam. They will ask you the two most important Islamic questions that a new Muslim must know, according to them; What sources are you quoting? And, who's your sheik? Don't get nervous. Don't panic. Remain calm. Look at them straight in the eyes and say, with a firm clear voice, H.a.m.z.a Y.u.s.u.f. They'll leave you alone. Oh, and just to be politically correct, if you're ever in Khalifornia, I mean California, try to remember - the Raiders would have never left L.A. and gone back to Oakland if the Ottomans were still in power.
Now, brothers, before you write to me and get upset, try to remember two things. First, new Muslims do get asked many, if not all of these questions. Secondly, it is not necessarily wrong with you asking these questions, per say. It's just that every Muslim we meet for the next three years after we take shahada will ask the same questions. Oh, I know everyone is curious to a certain degree and wants to know these things. I have personally asked one or two of these questions on a couple of occasions to some new Muslim that I met. Some brothers have told me that they get spiritually uplifted when they hear the story of someone, let's say, an American that embraced Islam. If that is the case, then, asking such a question serves a good purpose.
Oh, one last bit of advice. If someone asks, tell them, yes, you do own a C.D. of The Life of the Last Prophet by Yusuf Islam and that you know all the words to Tala'a Al-Badru 'Alayna.
Rafael Narbaez is an American Muslim activist, speaker and writer for several Islamic publications. He is a member of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan and Executive Director of the Muslim Speakers' Bureau Association of North America. He wrote this on January 27,1997.
Oh are you twins? (Yes)
Are you identical?(No)
But you look exactly alike! Tell me who's older? (She is)
How many minutes?(11)
Can you read each other's minds/feel each other's pain? (No)We're 19 years old now, and I don't think we'll ever stop hearing these questions. At least after about 10 years or so the "new muslim" questions should stop; LOL.
Well, there was an article, Business section story, in which people whom looks "Middle Eastern" are still targeted for their looks as well. Doesn't this sound like descrimination in an advanced and developed country like this, US?
I am Mexican, but face the same hetred as well, where are our human rights. I remember going to look for a job, the day someone called me for an interview i was so happy, the lady was great on the phone, she scheduled an interview, at the end of the conversation she said, "great yajaira, i'll see you tomorrow at five." Big mistake! I asked if it was ok because i wear a vail, a hijab, she said, "its ok, i don't see why it should be a problem." After we hand up the phone, five minutes later someone from the same company called me, "Yajaira, your interview its been canceled, our manager will call you back during the week to reschedule." It was ovious, how you dare to apply for a job in our company, you have a rub down on your head.Well, they never call me back.Nowhere else call me back, i had to take off my hijab, the same day i did, i got a job. Now i keep my relation between, me and God. I'm an independent girl, i can't survive without a job.
I wanted to shere this story because i know that stories like this one make a diference in our society,yes,people ask me why did you converted to Islam? what is all that about? did you change your name?I had meet great brothers and sisters,but there are also sisters whose eyes have uncomfort because how we,Mexican girls,dare to look as Arabs and share the same faith. I belief in God, Allah,Mohammed his mesanger and Islam is my relig
Salaamu aleikum to you all..
I think thge article is quite interesting. I don't
totally agree with Brother Narbaez.
I still consider myself a newcomer to Islam.
I took my shahadah 3/3/00. I ask more
questions than I am asked. Usually I am
asked by non-muslims, "What kind of Muslim
Dear brothers & sisters,
Some of us need to learn to accept others feedback. It's unislamic to get offended when you are politely approached with advise not to be nosy & inquisitive (asking deeply personal questions about a Muslim's reversion).
It may be innocent but still can be seen as rudish & the person that asks too many personal questions may show a lack of manners & an "uncivilised" behaviour.
Let's be happy that Allah guided those reverts to Islam & let's treat them like Almuhajiroon of Makkah treated Al'ansar of Madina after the Opening of Makkah. To me those reverts are the equivalent of Al'ansar because they are supporting our cause as immigrants.
We need their support & we should listen carefully to what they have to say for they understand their societies better than we do so they can help us not just thru the aftermaths of 9/11 but life in general in non Muslim countries.
One last thing please desist from accusing new reverts of being CIA or FBI agents. You are not Allah to judge others & you certainly dont know what's in anyone's heart. That's plain shirk if you claim to know the unseen. If you fear Allah, not the FBI, respect the laws of the land. It is unislamic to break the rules of a non-islamic state to which you immigrated because that is a breach of trust & a contract you signed with non-muslims before you landed on their soil. One weak muslim accused the author of being an FBI agent. Shame... Stop accusing people of hypocrisy unless you can prove it... "Inna ba'ada dhanni ithm".
Allah will punish fake muslims so let Him take care of business. Please dont talibanise new muslims and just because a muslim does not adhere to your interpretation of Islam, it does not mean that they are munafiquin (hypocrits).
Reverts are so special to us so please treat them with extra caution because some of them may be like almuallafati qulobohom. We dont want you to bear the guilt of driving them away from Islam.<
In my case, people just look at me and ask me how long I've been a Muslim and ad nauseum all those other questions. If you look really "European"(pale, with blue eyes and an American accent), when will it end? Muslims can be of any color or race, but why is it that the Americans (oops, I mean Anglo-Americans) are always the newcomers? Racism works both ways.
Doesn't all that "enthuasism" come from Allah?
What's your point?
I do have to make a comment though on the feedback this poor brother is getting. I cannot believe what little sense of humour some muslims have these days. It was a lighthearted look at our community which I don't think was meant to raise anyone's blood pressure. Perhaps this could be a reason why we are not as united as we should be... People who cannot laugh at themselves are a sad people indeed
I still consider myself a new-comer to islam.
I took my shahadah March 3rd, 2000.
I have been reading about Islam for a good
17-18 years. I read most of the literature
written by As Sayyid Isa Al Haadi Al Mahdi,
the former leader of the Ansaars from New
York. I have been, and still do wear the ring
of the Ansaars: a 6 pointed star & crescent.
People have asked me (non-muslims) what
kind of muslim are you? I tell them that "I am
just a muslim." I attend Juma services at
the Islaamic Students Center at Wayne State
University in Detroit. I have been told that
because I am a convert that I will recieve
more of a blessing than a muslim born into
Islam. I haven't been asked a lot of questions
by muslims but I have asked quite a few
myself, Inshala I will learn more as time goes
on. Sometimes I feel like some of the brothers
I ask questions of don't really want to be
asked anything "today". I don't think I am
bugging anyone....I just feel the need to know
everything I can about Islam.
Peace and Blessings to
Brother Rafael Narbaez, and all of the
new-comers to Islam.
I haven't found enough cohesion among Muslims; why is he trying to spoil what little there is?
and our fellow neighbours whether they are muslims or not.
i my self have been a muslim nearly 2 years, and i practise the salafi doctorine, i find that this works for me. (New Muslims are so enthusiastic, aren't they? They are just beaming, actually radiating with enthusiasm.) this is the only way to be. from been a kaffur and know a muslim,you could never understand, or you need to take time to understand brother, i hate these topics they are never quite clear. i sense ridicule towards new muslims
However when born Muslims with not even half the faith of the convert starts getting too friendly with the convert, it can be rather uncomfortable for the latter. In any case, a Muslim is a Muslim and converts should not be looked upon as a special/other group, especially when one remembers all the Prophet's (Peace be on him) were converts.
Why can't we say this brothers and sisters whom we say are new muslems and trying to show off to them that we are better muslems than they are or we have been in Islam longer than they have think that they have come back where they left off. Do your remember the prodigal son? He came back and Allah embraced him. That is how I see any brother or Sister who is in Islam. Most of us are doing what Allah dispised pride. May Allah blessings be upon every humbeing who has come back where they left off.
Rafael Narbaez is an American Muslim activist, I wonder were he got his knowlege about Islam? Islam for Blondes? or may be Islam for Dummies?
"Speaker and writer for several Islamic Publications." Once a person converts, he becomes the leader of the Muslim community!!!! what a joke! Islamic centrs do not even know their background!!
"He is a member of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Michigan and Executive Director of the Muslim Speakers' Bureau Association of North America."
People convert and instead of going through a program to rehabilitate them, they start preaching to Muslims! That is not fair for the Muslims nor to the converts themselevs. They need to take the time to learn. Hamza Yusuf is an example, you might find 5 or 10 Muslims from who converted. The rest are Muslim immigrants. If he wants to be a star, why not have a talk show like David letterman. Since he is an American, he can improve the image of Islam in the west. He can teach Americans not to kill the Muslims. Instead, he is teaching the Muslims in the MIddle East who are killed by the American fire, to be nice to America.
Islam is the massage of peace, but when the F.B.I funds a project a bout Islam, then that is a nother story.
As to the new converts, the Prophet once said that enter this religion gently otherwise you will be overwhelmed. Nevertheless, their desire to quote ahadees and their participation in social events is a reflection of their sinceretiy in becoming a better muslim.
As for questions from immigrant muslims. As an immigrant I've had my share of pretty stupid questions over time. An American once asked me if we had trees in PAkistan. Another wanted to find out if we had TVs. But I was very respectful in answering their questions and took it as a sign that they were interested in my country. Your comment about Pakistanis I find too stupid and arrogant to address. Remember you are a muslim.
Lastly, the author has some pretty hateful views about certain Islamic scholars. I don't know much about Hamza Yusuf, but I do know that he spent 10 years of his life in Morocco and Tunisia learning Islam. Thats more than I have ever done, and guessing from the authors senseless article, more than he has ever done. Since you have been a convert for a while, take the time to read about how muslim scholars like Ghazali and the four Imam's have never declared that other scholars are wrong. They simply state their views as preferable according to their research.
Lastly, as I have said before, if someone converts to Islam because they are impressed with muslim people rather than God then you need to do serious rethinking. A muslim's behavior in masjid may offend you, but you are there to pray to God, not study the cultural habits of other muslims. It may be true that certain muslims may exhibit prejudice against african muslims, for example, but that shows that they need help, not that there is something deficient in Islam.
This is perhaps the most senseless article i read on this web site. The article doesn't make any sense from begining to the end.
The new muslims will be better served by giving them simple information on the believes and tenets of islam, and identifying the wrong believes and confusions. This will indeed be better approach then to make some funny jokes.
I took me quiet a while to realize that Hamza Yousuf and his followers are spreading the most distorted version of islam. But by then it was too late and i wasted lot of time. If some one can post the authentic sources of islam, so that the new comers can cross check which preacher is holding the right source and aqueeda, they will not have to go through this comedy.
btw, you forgot to quote people who deny hadith out right, and those who deny quran itself!. Infact, some translation of Quran doesn't tally with what is said in arabic.
A new muslim like me had to prepare a spread sheet writing believes of each of these people in columns to figure our who is speaking the truth, and then by going and checking what they say and their sources against the hadith and verses of quran. And by the time to distinguish wrong from right you have already passed many years.
Nevertheless, I thought i should put my two cents, because it is not funny. Its a matter of life and death. The new muslim leave their religion by making all the sacrifice, and last thing they want to get stuck with another deviant theology, as if the holy trinity was not enuf.
Salam and Love to truthful Muslims
I think the recent book BELIEVING AS OURSELVES gave a voice to many of us converts who burned-out from the culture shock, trying to learn and absorb too many things at once, and faced the dissapointment seeing how other Muslims acted.
Alhamdulilah, I think all of this evens out over time and people find their happy medium and focus their energies inward and begin to work on the original notions that lead them to Islam in the first place, and not just making the social circuit.
Also, this article did not address the horrible racism that exists in a lot of the masjids. An African-American brother/sister would have a very different story to tell, indeed!
I fail to understand the point of this article? What does the author try to achieve or portray? Incidentally, most of this article would have been better served had the author tried to reverse his perspective -- What happens to the former political/religious affiliations of people when they choose to convert to Islam? Do these even change? (are they supposed to? Or do we remain card-carrying republicans/democrats/americans? Lastly, posting stuff like this: "the Raiders would have never left L.A. and gone back to Oakland if the Ottomans were still in power" -- serves no purpose. At a time when Muslims are getting killed, tortured, and maimed the world over by an American run empire, a more courageous thing would be to try and take a stand against it, rather than take cheap shots at attempts at political revival or Islamic history.
"the Raiders would have never left L.A. and gone back to Oakland if the OTTOMANS were still in power."
Well said, well said, indeed. hahaha...
what a lovely, spunky little article! I've just made a resolution NEVER to ask any of those questions of new muslims again (unless I just can't stop myself of course) - but more seriously brother, leave your day job and go into stand up comedy - move over jerry seinfeld!
You speake the truth. I know it is hard not to be curious when it comes to "new muslims" but they also need to be given some space and time.