Learning from a Revert’s Pitfalls

Assalāmu `alaykum dear reverts, brothers and sisters,

That you are reading this, is perhaps a good sign. It suggests you may well be a revert, else you may like to learn about some of my experiences from becoming a Muslim, with faith having wavered at times because this comes from shayṭān, but still in Islām with love for Allāh and Prophet Muḥammad (peace be upon him), and for that – alḥamdulillāh.

My path to Islām was very exciting and a story to be told another day, as for now I would like to talk about the difficulties I found, which I’ll term as pitfalls, after becoming a Muslim just shy of 3 years ago now.

The most unique experience of proclaiming the shahādah

I remember distinctly, the overwhelming mix of feelings I felt upon taking my shahādah. A mixture of serenity that what I was doing was the right thing to do with Allāh in mind; trepidation that I hadn’t learnt how to perform my ṣalāh correctly and so much might go wrong for me as well as excitement for this was the culmination of what was for me a spiritual journey, drawing to Allāh.

Being Welcomed by Muslims

Immediately I found upon reverting, I was warmly accepted into the community of Islām. I had never known such a harmonious love from such a community before, at any point in my life. Only now, when I see other new Muslims, taking their shahādah, do I realise why other brothers and sisters feel such joy toward Muslims taking that step – it is wonderous to see someone be drawn to Islām. Of the little I know Islām, something I will always remember, is: ‘Allāh Guides Whom He Wills [those searching the truth] And Misguides Whom He Wills [those who are indulged incessantly in His disobedience]’. Having been guided to Islām I understand how utterly fortunate I am. I will never be able to wrap my mind around this. I do not feel in anyway deserving of Allāh’s Mercy, for even after taking the shahādah I have made many a mistake. Yet, Allāh knows best.

It’s normal to struggle and face hardships

As for my journey, for the past 3 years, it has been far from a straight path. If I were to hazard a guess, I do feel if were able to talk to that, newly reverted Muslim as I was a few years ago, I would be perhaps a couple of years ahead in development. Let me explain…

I recently met a revert. I witnessed him take his shahādah about a week ago. It was a momentous moment for him, just as it was for me. As with me, after sourcing information from YouTube and a few books, his enthusiasm to learn overwhelmingly reminded me of my own, when I took my shahādah. The realisation, that life has more meaning than you had ever given it and the connection that you feel with Allāh, evoked what was for me an almost insatiable appetite for more knowledge. In my case, as I do not doubt it is for many reverts, is to their detriment.

Having a reliable mentor to learn the faith

Let me expand on that. Brothers from the local mosque recommended a mentor for me after I took my shahādah. This mentor gave me some of the basic information about Islām. I feverously, I wanted more. Now my mentor, wary of the speed I was attempting to understand Islām, repeatedly told me “Slow down” and “Listen”, neither of which I gave anywhere near enough credence to. You see, I am starting to understand how very important ṣabr (patience) is and indeed the lack of; and how for a revert it that may be especially important.

Tyring to run before walking

For example, I went from not performing ṣalāh, to frequenting the mosque 5 times a day, in the height of summer where ṣalāh makes adjusting to a new sleep cycle rather strenuous for some. My friends and family were very worried about my transition. I even wore pads on my ankles and knees to stop the pain that I felt from performing ṣalāh. My mentor and other brothers were also worried. Yet, I failed to see these seemingly obvious signs.

Never give up!

Consequently, after several months of over exertion, my mental health took a decline – and I felt drawn away from Islām. I resorted back to my old ways and depression overtook me. In saying this, I dread other reverts falling into the same traps. So, for what it’s worth, I have some suggestions that may guide some, inshā‘allāh, in the right direction.

1)       Remember Allāh loves you enormously. Allāh isn’t expecting you to ‘run before you can walk’. That earnest desire to acquire knowledge is great, but perhaps, take it easy and do not overexert yourself. Allow yourself to learn at a pace that is natural for you. As my mentor said, “Slow down”. As many said to me – Islām is supposed to be easy!

2)       Seek advice from a scholar. A scholar maybe an Imām, Mawlānā or a pious and learned Shaykh, else someone that has studied for many years. Scholars often devote their whole lives to acquiring knowledge about Islām. The scholars have a lot of knowledge that will benefit you. And they are happy to pass their knowledge down to another brother or sister.

3)       As my mentor also said to me – “Listen”. The number of times that I ignored my mentor(s) and those that were more learned than myself, are far too many and I have no doubt that that hampered my spiritual path. For example, if you have a mentor that says, “Now is not the right time for you to fast for Ramaḍān”, for example because of your health or other valid reason, despite your desire to participate, I would say listen to them and take their advice. I’ve learnt the hard way – to the point where I had become a non-practising Muslim.

4)       As a new revert, you may be vulnerable to being misled in various ways. Be careful out there at times. I’ve found Islām foremostly a religion of peace. That is indeed what initially attracted me, and I do not believe I was mistaken. It has given me a connection to our Creator that I love and for that I feel humbled. Yet there are many ways to go astray. For example a brother or sister maybe genuinely be trying to help you along your path, but inadvertently give advice or information to you that is misleading or inaccurate. This is, again, a reason for learning from those that have the required depth of knowledge. So, after your shahādah – speak to an Imām in your mosque to learn where and whom you may get reliable knowledge from.

Reverts, it truly is a beautiful thing that you have come to Islām. I make du`ā for a straight and easy path for you. Āmīn.