What’s the Problem with Converts?

By somayya | June 11, 2011

I have noticed that some Muslims have a problem with Muslim converts. They will respect them in the mosque and greet them politely, but when it comes to marriage, suddenly a block appears. It’s especially true when a convert man asks to marry a girl who has been a Muslim her whole life. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say it’s because the convert obviously once was a non-believer, but when somebody changes their life for the better, shouldn’t we be supportive of that? I actually once spoke to a convert lady who didn’t want her daughters to marry converts, because she said that the convert men may leave Islam. She also said that marrying a born Muslim would be better, because if he ever neglects his religion, he will always come back, which is silly to say, as someone not practising can never be better than a practising Muslim! It’s not right to say any of that, plus that lady was a convert herself, how would she have liked it if somebody doubted her belief in Allah? She converted to Islam and supposedly became a better person, yet she judges convert men like that?

Sheikh Yusuf Estes, who was once a preacher from Texas, alhamdulilah now a convert to Islam.

My own mother is English and converted to Islam in 1982. I feel that because my dad married her and she is a convert, then I should also be able to do the same. I have actually spoken with my parents on this issue previously, my mum was supportive of course, but my dad was not at all keen. It just makes me wonder why? There is the issue of some people believing a convert may leave Islam, but to be honest that is very rare, and I have only heard of one person doing that. I have a convert friend, who married a fellow convert, but he decided to leave Islam a few years after converting, and she divorced him. I would say that is an extreme series of events, and it’s not good to say you won’t marry or not let your daughters marry a convert because of a misguided fear or something that may or may not happen.

Perhaps one of the most famous converts to Islam, Malcolm X.

I myself am quite open minded about who I choose to marry. If a convert man asks for my hand, then I will of course consider him like any other Muslim man. I don’t see a problem, they have said their Shahadah and are now Muslims, we should not doubt their belief in Allah, or expect them to leave, just because they were previously practising another religion, or perhaps committing sins. If they have come to Islam, it means they have changed, or they want to change, otherwise why would they bother? If someone wants to continue a party lifestyle, then they will most likely not be religious at all, and not consider any religion, so a convert is totally different. They have made a conscious effort to change their life, so we as fellow Muslims should be supportive of that, and take them seriously when they decide to say the Shahadah and become a Muslim.

Abdur-Raheem Green and Yusuf Chambers, English converts who regularly appear on Islamic channels and speak at conferences.

I was also once reading a topic on an Islamic forum, asking other users whether they would marry a convert or not. Many men said they would, but from the women it was more of a mixed bag. Some said they would, but that their father would not allow it. One white convert posted his experience. He said that he had become friendly with a Somali man at his local mosque, and he felt he had gotten to know him so well, that it would be alright to ask for the Somali man’s daughter for the purpose of marriage. He allowed the convert to come to his house and plead his case, but ultimately, the Somali man told him he would rather his daughter married a drunk Somali than a convert. I was incredibly shocked to read this, and it was terrible to see how that young man had built up a relationship, but then cast out when he made the ‘mistake’ of asking for the Somali man’s daughter.

The only bad thing about converting would be doing it just to get married. Like a girl becoming a Muslim so she can marry her Muslim boyfriend, otherwise his family will not allow their relationship. In a marriage seminar I went to, the speaker said it would be better to break up, than try to change things just to try and justify their relationship. That is a whole different topic, but it’s something I wanted to touch upon. If a man is sincere, he will not ‘date’ you first, he will ask your father for your hand in marriage, and that’s the way it should be. Ultimately, we should respect converts for making such a big decision to come to Islam, and really only Allah knows if they are sincere in their efforts, but we as Muslims must take them seriously and try and help them in any way we can, and make them feel part of our community.


14 Responses to “What’s the Problem with Converts?”

  1. Aisha Says:
    June 11th, 2011 at 8:21 pm

    Assalamu Alaikum,
    Great article, Somayya! Some Muslims tend to preach but not practice. It is true, though very sad. You make a good point since I have noticed that most converts practice Islam as well as, if not better than Muslims who have been born into the religion do. They usually take the religion more seriously because they have worked hard to find the truth, whereas we ingrateful Muslims were born into the religion and take it for granted. I enjoyed your article, and I hope that people will not judge converts and will accept them as Muslims. The rest is between the converts and Allah, just as what we do is between us and Allah. Being born a Muslim does not put me at an advantage, and nobody should feel that I am less worthy of being judged than a convert is merely because I was born into Islam and it is assumed that I am a faithful follower of my religion. This is not to say that anybody has the right to judge me or others, but I am trying to make a point. Once again, this was a good article, and Yusuf Estes and Abdur Rahim Greene are great examples of converts who seem to adhere to Islam better than we do!

  2. UmMoosa Says:
    June 12th, 2011 at 8:10 am

    Asalaamu Alaikum, these are great thoughts dear sister. Basically what the problem is, is that the parents are not considering the hadith of the Prophet that he said rejecting a good Muslim man for your daughter leads to problems in the earth. Bloodlines, tribal lines, language lines, have become more dear to people than preserving the religion of Islam. People born Muslim and converted to Islam have an equal reason and opportunity, especially in the western countries, to either leave Islam or stop practicing the deen. May Allah make it a priority among all Muslim parents (including me) to preserve the deen of their children.

  3. Kinza Says:
    March 30th, 2012 at 7:30 pm

    Asalmualaikum Somayya …. I just wanted to add a few lines about my experience. I am a South Asian Muslim girl (born into a Muslim family) married to a white American revert/convert. Before marrying, I had few reservations about this issue possibly because, being rather innocent, naive, idealistic or overly optimistic, or all of the above, I believed that ‘other differences’ (cultural, social, educational, family etc.) wouldn’t matter when our faith was the same. Well, there was a lot I had to learn that I didn’t know. As I write this, only God really knows if this marriage is going to last. The major difficulties in my marriage have almost all come through my non-Muslim in-laws. A) FAMILY BACKGROUNDS – I come from a well educated (Univ level professionals), upper middle class family whereas no one from my husband’s family, that I know of, has even finished college – some not even high school, although my husband still makes a decent living without the college degree. But I don’t know why I thought that would not make a difference. It does. Gender & cultural differences in communication & understanding are enough to deal with, without adding the intellectual divide to the equation. It just leads to a wider gulf & unintended feelings of inferiority by one party (and you know which one) B)FAMILY VALUES & ATTITUDE – More than that though, it’s the seething, silent racist, prejudiced nature of my, what I would describe as, white, red-neck non-muslim in-laws that have, all but, destroyed the relationship between me and my husband so much so that I cannot imagine bringing up my own child around people like that anymore. If they can do so much damage from such distances then imagine what they would do if they were around! My husband is the only Muslim in his family. C) PREVIOUS MARITAL HISTORY – Lastly, I personally would not recommend a young, single, never-before married Muslim woman (like myself) to marry a man with ‘baggage’ e.g. a man who is previously divorced and who also has a child from that previous marriage (esp. a non-Muslim unmarried girl – same gender as the Muslim woman) who is past the age of 13, at the most (10 would be more preferable) as has been the case with me. I did this against my Dad’s words of caution and I am dearly suffering now. I say this because there are huge undercurrents of negative feelings and competitiveness/possessiveness/jealousy, not always obvious, that one is left to deal with from that child (who is really not a child anymore – my husband’s daughter from previous marriage is 22, just 10 years younger than me). And don’t forget that there will be inheritance issues resulting from this type of a situation as well esp. if your ‘revert’ husband doesn’t understand the concept of ‘legal heirs’. The fights resulting from these intrusions (even though she does not even live with us) have totally damaged my marriage at least. Please do pray for me that Allah swt distance me and my child from the harm from these people, remove my pain & suffering & leads me and my child to a better life Insha’Allah. Ameen.

  4. wael Says:
    March 30th, 2012 at 10:45 pm

    Kinza, it seems to me that the real problem is not that your husband is a convert or white, but that his family is very different from your culturally and intellectually. This is a problem you could just as easily have experienced if you had married into the wrong South Asian family. So let’s not make it about race or convert status.

    IslamicAnswers.com Editor

  5. Noor Says:
    April 1st, 2012 at 5:15 am

    Assalam alaykum.
    T o be fair, there are those who are keen on marrying a convert because they have some very good qualities t offer. And there are those who feel it is safer to stick to a born muslim incase the convert changes their mind one day about Islam.
    I had married a convert. We stayed together 3 years and then divorced. Would I marry a convert again? Yes. because it depends on the type of revert. Just like there are practising born muslims, there are others who are contented with the phrase “Islam is in our heart”, so it is pretty difficult to know if they are muslim or not if they don’t fast or drink etc , and who are we to judge?
    Marriage is one case where one needs to assess /judge how practising or not someone is in order to determine compatibility, because being in completely different paths in Islam is nowhere like one liking tennis and the other football. You are continuously in different directions and the gap is likely to grow wider and wider. Basically you could end up in different planets.
    What you mentioned Somaya had struck a chord in me. “If they have come to Islam, it means they have changed, or they want to change, otherwise why would they bother?” Sadly, that is not always the case. Yes, some do ‘bother’ when they have not yet accepted Islam, and marriage is one reason . Although they may think they are doing a good job and a compromise from their side, it is usually a very destructive step for both parties, if one is converting for the wrong reason, be it any reason.
    During the time we were getting to know each other, my fiancé and I, I was seeing signs that he was not interested in learning about Islam, would avoid Islamic topics, or cut them short and move on.. When I addressed the issue of his lack of interest, he provided excuses that he’d been very busy, and promised that when we’re married, we will learn together. He had ben married to a muslim woman before me, and told me he’d been a muslim for 3 years. These made me give him the benefit of the doubt, that with time he would progress, so carried on unti the marriage. Looking back, , Saying he’d been a muslim for 3 years, and had married a muslim woman before me, shuld not had been taken at face value, and being busy was no excuse not to make time for Islam especially that he avoided Islamic discussions with me and others. The clearest of all signs, staring at me in the face. Rather, it should have been an indication that, that is the level he is comfortable with after 3 years, and is likely to remain that way, not convinced and sceptical about many Islamic issues as he was.
    The aim of my narrating this experience is not to be scare others of marrying reverts at all, but to say do not judge all reverts the same; either by being too optimistic, like I was, thinking he was going to become a practising revert. Neither judge the practising revert that he is going to leave Islam, because you may have met or heard of some. Be fair, and deal with the issue just as you would with born muslims. You certainly do believe that there are different categories.
    During our marriage, although he told me he’s a muslim, many times he’d say that he’s doing this or that thing just for me. For example, out of the very few times he attended Islamic lessons, he’d say, I only went there to make you happy. I would see more and more signs that he is not really convinced of what he is doing. Whatever he did for my sake certainly did not make me happy. I had overwhelming sadness inside me, that never went, no matter how hard he tried to make me happy. The marriage was missing a core issue. Us both being on the same path and doing things for the sake of Allah, not for each other alone.. The indications I was seeing built a huge fear inside me that it was a matter of time before he would admit to me that he isn’t a muslim but going along to keep our marriage. The relationship became too unhealthy to continue. I hated the position I was in, where I was doubting his actions and intentions. On the other hand, I neither wanted to to be taken for a fool and disregard all indications that he just isn’t interested in Islam.
    When a polygamy issue arose with a friend, he commented saying “I refuse to accept it, and if that makes me a non muslim then fine”. There I saw someone who was willing to come out of the fold of Islam rather than to sit, think and research , or say, I may not like it for myself, but it is something that does exist in Islam.
    Sadly, I gathered all the indications, and decided to do him and myself a favour , to bring him out of the struggle that he had created for himself, which seemed to me, doing something he didn’t want. By taking myself out of the situation, and giving him the time to reflect and think whether he truly wanted Islam or just me.
    Again I emphasise that the aim of narrating this experience is not to make people think it is a bad idea to marry a convert. It isn’t . But not everyone who says is a convert, is really one or knows what they have got themselves into. There were many positive things in the marriage, however Islam is a way of life, and a couple cannot be happy leading totally different lives. The experience had not deterred me from considering a marriage from a revert in future, who is convinced of Islam and is sincere about it. Learning and and progressing in it are the true indications for me now. They are essential so that our lives can be on the same path. My aim is to say, do take the signs you see seriously, if negative act upon it, if positive alhamdullilah carry on. Great many of us have seen how some reverts practice Islam better than born muslims.
    I would also say to a revert who is considering conversion for the sake of marriage, depending on how practising the partner is, it can be a very destructive step for you both if you are not convinced. Living a lie is never a happy situation to be in. It is in the favour for you both to take time out and decide whether you want Islam regardless of the woman/man in your life.

  6. wael Says:
    April 1st, 2012 at 9:16 am

    Noor, you are speaking of someone who converted to Islam in order to marry you. That’s a different case altogether, and something I would never recommend. A Muslim woman should never even be in such a position because she should not be involved with a non-Muslim in the first place.

    There’s a huge difference between that, and marrying someone who converted to Islam years ago and has been a practicing Muslim ever since. In that case, there is no doubt about the person’s faith and no need to worry about the scenario you described.

  7. Noor Says:
    April 1st, 2012 at 10:21 am

    Salam alaykum. Brother I’d like to pint out that I was not involved with a non muslim. He had said he had been a muslim for 3 years.

  8. somayya Says:
    April 1st, 2012 at 6:41 pm

    Kinza, I agree with what Wael says about your situation. It’s not about him being white or a convert, it’s about the fact that you two are probably just not a good match, which like Wael said, could even occur with someone the same race as yourself. We are not compatible with anyone, we have to work hard to find someone who is a good match, otherwise the marriage will begin to show cracks.

  9. 'Abdullâh Says:
    April 17th, 2012 at 2:16 am

    noor, your friend who said “I refuse to accept it, and if that makes me a non muslim then fine”. is a clear cut KÂFIR, as he first made INKÂR of polygamy, then was satisfied with being a filthy KÂFIR, you should keep in mind that he is an apostate wheever you se his ugly ruined face.

    May Allah save us and our families.

  10. humaira ali Says:
    June 16th, 2012 at 3:00 pm

    mashallah yusuf estes is very pious because he left chrisianity just for islam and he loved allah so much to such an extent that he changed his religion completely may allah reward him massively in heaven, ameen!!!!!
    i defo think people should follow his footsteps,inshallah

  11. Sumiyya Says:
    January 20th, 2013 at 11:35 am

    Assalamu Alaikum,
    I agree about all you said in your article but from my experience i’ll prefer for my children especially if i shall have a daughter to marry a muslim by birth. Insha Allah if everything goes well i’ll will be engaged with a convert and it was difficult for parents to accept him. So, i can understand your feelings about this matter. Its still not over yet everyday its a war that i’m fighting for my love his faith in islam. it’s really is difficult. People don’t really change that much. Personally someone who converts in islam by himself without falling in love with a muslim is more a believer than a convert doing it just for wedding purposes even if later on he turns into a believer and in the meantime you doubt everything he does. His parents are not muslim and pork or alcohol are everywhere at his place. So, tell me will you as a mother let your child bear all this as you’ve been through all this? there’s someday that i’m not strong enough and say to myself that i should leave him but Alhumdulillah Allah gave me strength. A convert to be a trus believer must be in company of good muslims always or else he might go astray…

  12. juju Says:
    February 23rd, 2016 at 8:34 am

    I think there’s more of a weird stigma on born muslim girls marrying converts than vice versa, especially if she’s from a strong muslim background. I’m not sure why. I mean, I’m born muslim, but my sister is married to a convert, my parents are converts, and my brother is married to a convert’s daughter. I never even made the distinction between a born muslim or a convert while thinking about marriage.??????

  13. ridwan Says:
    March 11th, 2016 at 3:05 am

    a real problem.I knew a converted muslim woman, who changed in Islam because of her marital status but her activities suggested she still had love for her old culture.A genuine problem if the change is not from the heart.

  14. somayya Says:
    March 11th, 2016 at 9:37 am

    I don’t think it’s for us as human beings to judge if someone is going to leave Islam after converting to it. Even born Muslims can leave the religion so don’t be so sure that you know it all.


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