After writing Ten Things What Reverts Get to Hear, I thought of penning down the curious case of new muslimahs or secretly revert muslimahs. How are they different from other practising muslims or reverts? Well, with a few only their family knows about their reversion (not disclosed to distant relatives or family friends; and they are facing family/ societal pressures), wherein with some even family does not know yet.
So here we go with the wierd things we do!
1. HIDING AND PRAYING
Give me a high five if you have experienced this. Even if your parents know, it is extremely awkward to pray in front of them. It is equally awkward to express the urgency to suddenly leave the conversation because it is Maghreb! Then there is the question of “why would you not leave the house at 5pm?”
-“ummm because I will end up missing both Asr and Maghreb!” (In my head) but my tongue says, “mum it’s so sunny outside, lets go after sunset”
*curious mum goes away.
2. LEARNING SECRETLY
So, you have your websites for science project open in one tab and the one behind has Islamic websites. You want to learn salah, arabic, clothing, about Prophets (alayhis salam), sahabas etc. You carefully erase the history each day so that your sibling doesn’t find that out or they don’t freak out thinking that you learning about terrorism. Nearly every thing you do that has arabic connected to it, is looked as a code language to communicate with Terrorist groups. :-/
Oh those Islamic books you ordered from some website, right from secretly receiving it, to sporting a casual look while collecting it until hiding it everyday can sure be a task! There are so many books that I was so busy hiding that I actually forgot to read them properly!
3. HAVING MUSLIM FRIENDS
Most often, every muslim who learns that you have reverted welcomes you whole heartedly. You meet their mom, dad, sister and every pious friend of theirs to ensure that you don’t fall lonely in this new role.
It feels warm and only reverts know how soothing it is to have even one muslim as a close confidant. Better even, if you know a few more reverts in your community who know exactly what you feel. They become your special friend and without a lot of efforts, your contact list suddenly has a lot of muslim names. Ahana, Aliya, Ameera, Aasma, Bushra, Bushra SA, Alima Farah, Apa Ayesha , Sanaa Revert, Prerna Revert, etc.
With some, they are soon made a part of WhatsApp groups so that they learn more! In there you even get contacts from other nations. Khadijah UK, Zeenath Pak, Alfiyah Ind etc.
Suddenly you start basking in the sunshine of muslim brotherhood but you become creepier with your phone. You avoid using WhatsApp before your other friends or family. You hide notifications, mute the groups and keep your phone screenside down always! God save you from that suspicious stare if at all your father is using the phone and up pops a notification, “Raziya UAE posted in Deeniyat group ابتث……”
As I said, anything having arabic text is possibly from Terrorist groups.
4. LEARNING ABOUT HIJAB
Right from how the Quranic verse describes the hijab to learning how to wear to choosing the right material. A new muslimah wants to know it all. Trust me it was not a one day job. It took me months to get it right.
The slipping chiffon and the woolen stoles in Indian tropical summers! I went through it all. Managing with the few scarves that you have, unorganized and unmatched hijabs, hair peekaboo-ing from weird angles, wrong pins drilling holes in the hijab! I had almost 7 to 10 pins on my head! Haha. Only much later did I meet another hijabi sister who helped me with skull-caps, bands, pins, the right material and the easy way to drape it. Now I am fine with just 1 pin. Alhamdulillah.
The ones who don’t wear it, learn about it and dream of wearing it one day and those who do, practically dealing with it is a task without a mentor. 🙂
5. HALAL MEAT
Those who do not help their moms in grocery shopping would not even be aware whether the meat in their homes is halal are not. In India particularly, I have not even seen the trend of packaged meat being tagged as halal. You actually have to call up customer care or ask the store dealer about it. Best I feel is to avoid them.
For those who know that it is not halal, it is a task to avoid eating them. My mother gasped when I declared I have turned into a fish-eatarian. (Yes, I agree I have put my mother into a lot of trauma).
Another way round for meat lovers is to perhaps hunt for halal brands or find a muslim butcher in their locality and personally take up buying meat every time!
Oh, and of course how do I forget Pammi aunty forcefully serving ounces of chicken chunks on your plate when you go over to her place for dinner, “Arre beta, why eating so less?”
6. PROFESSIONAL ISSUES
When time comes for you to start looking for job, you really cannot tell your start detesting filling forms. Until you are not a muslim on paper, your forms always have your birth religion in the religion section. Be assured to be questioned about it if you go with your muslim look for interviews. Worse even, if you are not working in halal sectors, or your degree has ample opportunities in not-so-halal companies.
7. RAMADAN & FASTING
It is Ramadan! The most spiritual month of the year. There’s so much to do and out here you are struggling to even fulfill the obligatory part of fasting. Alhamdulillah, for those who stay away. It is weird of course, if your friends don’t know and you suddenly skip going to the canteen! Even funnier if you are a hogger like me who suddenly doesn’t feel hungry or have the appetite to have anything 🙂
So at home, you hide food to have later during iftar. Sometimes under the bed or in your wardrobe and then lock your door and relish your lunch. Then of course, perhaps you save something for suhoor and for those who stay in hostels, water and biscuits is your suhoor.
8. DRESS CODE
Now you want to adhere by the Islamic dress code. You wish to be more modest and it is quite contrary to your culture. Moreover, you wonder what you must do with you old clothes.
It again took me a while to make my wardrobe adhering to Islamic code completely. Like many, I had thought I would have to give away many clothes but I did not have to. Alhamdulillah. My sister (the one who helped me with hijab) helped me with this too. Buying a shrug and black undersleeves was sufficient to retain most of my clothing. Gradually, I added a few skirts and jackets to my wardrobe too. Alhamdulillah.
Now those whose parents are aware of their reversion, face a lot of rebellion regarding their hijab. My parents, for example, insist on me wearing it the Hindu way (single drape) instead of draping it again and no band inside to attract attention please. Ahem. To keep it afix, I had to push the hijab pin near my throat! Lethally hijabi, I must say 🙂
For some hijabi muslimahs, who wear the hijab outside houses (when they go for jobs or travel), problem arises when guests come home. Parents do not wish to be embarrassed by disclosing the reversion, so you either stand in the balcony for those hours, or locked in a room, washroom or terrace.
Those whose parents don’t know, they also go through the curious stares when they undo their abayas/ scarves before entering their society, building, or homes just to enter their homes as they left.
9. MOVIES AND MUSIC
Reality shows, advertisment, music channels, the not x-rated x movies, name it and its right there in your hallway. You walk upto the fridge, lower your gaze and wish you could lower your ears too! 😉
You don’t want to go for a hang out in that pub anymore, nor do you wish to go for all the movies all the time. Creepy and boring.
That is the gala thing in our lives everyday. Avoiding ceremonies, eating food in which name other gods and goddesses associated with Allah is blown, and more than anything witnessing it. We have to stand right there and save ourselves. In our heads, we are in the state of absolute emergency! Frenzy and applying every means to flee!
11. EARLY TO BED, EARLY TO RISE
This is a bonus point to cheer you up. Not everything is haywire. If your parents are early risers like mine, and if you have been sleeping like a log uptil 10am like me, then their eyeballs sure will pop out when you walk out of your room fresh and shining as they are just out of their bed!
😀 You are done with brushing, and perhaps had something to satisfy your morning hunger pangs!
No. Don’t feel sad for us. Make duaa. It never seemed too hard. The only thing I guess gets really tough and tiring is to abide by the dress code! Alhamdulillah, Allah makes a way out for everyone. Patience and prayer is the key as usual. As time passes, we learn more and with that we laugh as we share our experiences. Indeed, in remembrance of Allah doth the heart find peace.
“Ten Things New Reverts Go Through” was first published on The Indian Revert Muslimah.