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Convert Truths: Some Girls Just Don’t Get It

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This post is my contribution to the Convert Truths Blog Carnival. I’m in sleepless rant mode but always try to be professional 🙂

One of the classic hallmarks of the feminist movement is that women sell each other out (for men), but men stand by Bros Before Hoes until the bitter end. Girls never, even if a man is not involved, ever miss a chance to bingo another girl. It is one of the rules of the animal kingdom. Since I converted, I have been blessed with the support of a lot of people, Muslim and non-Muslim and convert and non-Convert. And while I am lucky to count some dear converts as friends and shoulders to cry on (holla at my girls), those who have hurt me the most in my spiritual journey have been convert women. The rantings of a convert inspired me to do this blog carnival, and so I’m going to hate on converts for this post. That must make me a self-hating convert. Anyway.

As many converts know, the sisterhood when you first convert only goes so far. You get the headscarf and the translated koran and everyone has a party and loves you…until you learn enough about the deen to start becoming a threat. A man-stealing threat. Converts are fresh meat at the masjid- the men know it, the women know it. And sadly, in a lot of masajid, structures aren’t in place to actually LET PEOPLE LEARN ABOUT THE RELIGION BEFORE ENTERING INTO SOMETHING THAT IS HALF THE DEEN. They give you this fundie bullshit about how it is better to get married to avoid fornication and all that bs. So you get married and you’re neutralized, but again this is temporary. After you get married, it becomes a competition of who has the better husband. As my husband looked pretty damn good on paper (good school, good job, good looking ma sha Allah), the only way to gig me at the masjid was thus my Islam. When my marriage broke down, that opened up another set of opportunities to bingo me on how I just wasn’t Muslim enough to keep my man and “oh honey my hubby is so awesome that will never happen to us because we live for the deen.” And did I EVER get gigged. I get gigged to this day. Every day is another bingo for Teh Convert. I cannot spend a day without getting my Islam called into question, and more often than not, it is another female convert. Why? Why can’t we stick together?

I’ve told the story in this paragraph before online in several iterations, and even though it happened many years ago, I remember it like it was yesterday. (Note: I’m telling this story that breaks my heart and you know some asshole is going to come up here and gig me for spreading namimah and ghibah on the teacher) I had just gotten married and was at the masjid. The masjid I went to in Paris had these come-as-you-are type lessons. A lot of times what I did was go hang out until a lesson started. On that day, a convert girl was leading a class on reciting the Koran. So I joined in because hey, you can’t stop learning right? Aside: In all of the languages I speak, I have a hard time pronouncing glottal rhotics. It’s painfully obvious in Dutch, German and Arabic. In French, I speak it well enough that I can fake out in short sentences, but extended conversation shows I am not a native speaker (also, I learned French in Canada, Rs in Canadian French are usually alveolar trills, and it drops liquid Rs in terminal positions so I have less opportunity to eff up. But a real Parisian guttural R? No can do.) Guess what happened in Koran class? Got bingoed not only on some glottal rhotics but on Al-Fatihah to boot. After ten minutes of trying to get me to say “غَيرِ” and screaming at me, she proudly informed me that 1) none of my prayers past present and future would ever be valid; 2) my husband was a bad husband for not teaching me proper Arabic (he was a Kabyle born in France for crying out loud); and 3) how can I dare call myself a Muslim if even the most basic act of worship, prayer, is ZOMGS IMPERFECT AND INCORRECT. So let’s recap: she negated my shahada, dissed my husband and CALLED IT ISLAM. Every day when I say the fatihah, do I think of God, or do I think of the mean convert girl who told me I was going to the hellfire because I can’t pronounce ghayn? Both. Good job enjoining the good and forbidding the evil, chica.

Hijab- I won’t say I “de-jabed” completely because I never wore hijab at work because I live in Switzerland. Try wearing hijab to work here when you are already an immigrant. I was worried about getting a job and contributing to the country which chose to allow me here at its discretion (had I stayed in the US…another topic for another post). But until my divorce I wore hijab outside of working hours and on weekends- e.g. if I went somewhere socially, I had hijab on. I refused to let pictures be taken of me without hijab. I de-jabed a year ago and the response was mainly positive. Except from… a couple of converts who just had to “give me nasihah” on my choice. My reasons are my own, and not worth discussing in this post because it will just stir more hijab talk. And again, masked in the convenient excuse of “enjoining the good”, I got told about my hijab. Put on blast, even. I KNOW it is safe to say that every Muslim woman on this planet has had it up to her ears with hijab talk. So these sisters coming at me when I de-jabed with their fake ass holy pious apologist discourse on the veil which everyone has heard in every iteration at least five hundred times before…just no. Stop acting like you are a better convert than me because you a) live in a country that allows you to work with hijab, or live in your own country PERIOD and aren’t an expat in Europe b) have a husband who gives you cash so you don’t have to work and can go get manis and pedis in hijab c) like you know more about the ins and outs of the entire hijab debate and can change my mind with “logic” etc etc etc. My point is, converts never treat other converts like we have made an informed decision. If we think differently from a convert, then obviously one is less deeni than the other. Converts don’t have enough confidence in our own knowledge to accept that two different points of view can either be valid or informed.

Finally, leaving my husband really brought out the haters. I choose to live a public life online. I blog under my real name. Some level of hate comes with the territory and I take it willingly. But I expect hate from trolls. Not girls who claim to be my sisters. Now is the time for my tears. Now is the time to listen to me and my experience when I warn you that your man doesn’t appear to be on the up and up. I see so many new converts get all smug when they talk to me about poor divorced Nicole ma sha Allah isn’t my hubby great, when everyone sees but them that their dude looks like he is a) playing them for papers b) playing them for money c) fucking around on the side d) potentially all of the above. And as I said in my original post, those of us dinosaurs who have been in the blogosphere five and ten years, we have seen a lot of marriages come and go. It may not have been ours, but we saw a LOT of failed Muslim marriages so when new converts come along like they have all the answers rather than watching and learning, it bothers me. And sadly, the stories are all the same and follow a series of patterns. Oh, your dude didn’t tell his parents? Oh, y’all didn’t have a big reception? Oh, he wants to wait “seven’ years for kids? Mmm kay. I already put up with your facebook updates where you mush and gush over your new man but have no idea what the next five or ten years will bring, so dont come at me with any more fake-ass nasihah about how to run a Muslim marriage until you have been married as long as I was.

I wish those of us who used to blog in the Muslim blogging heyday hadn’t deleted or hidden our blogs (myself included). I wish we could tell all these new online Muslims what we saw and read in 2005-2007. So even though New-Convert-itis has been around since there were Muslims, I feel like maybe if we had maintained that online presence just for stuff to be googled, that it would give even one newb food for thought. The whole Insta-Holy Pious way some converts go about our deen is disrespectful, it is rude and sadly symptomatic of the arrogance ignorant Muslims transmit as the so-called “pride in the superiority of our deen.” I’ve been Muslim for ten years, I was married for six. I’m so tired of getting bingoed on deen and on men by new converts who have been married and Muslim for less time than myself. I love it when they call the card of “you never stop learning” You wanna argue with me on some finer point of fiqh? Bring it on but please, I think I have wudu down by now. You wanna talk to me about hijab? I’ve been there and I’ve done that too. Niqab, abaya, you name it. You can’t tell me anything I haven’t already experienced, so don’t judge me for going sans hijab now. Muslim marriage? I know it, I lived it. I was a fucking awesome wife and incha Allah the next guy will get even better that what the last one got. Come tell me about how to run a Muslim marriage when you’ve walked in my shoes.

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Author: Nicole Cunningham

American Expat and convert to Islam living and working between Lausanne and Zurich, Switzerland.

38 thoughts on “Convert Truths: Some Girls Just Don’t Get It

  1. Assalamu Aleikum!
    Visiting your blog after what seems like an eternity! I don’t know if you remember me, but I used to comment on your blog years ago. I met you in NOLA once through a mutual friend (we are now estranged). I am happy that I found you again.
    -musulmana

    • Wa alaikoum salam! Of course I remember you! So glad you dropped by!!! I haven’t been to NOLA in almost three years now. Glad you’re here!

      • Thanks! I am trying to catch up with you, but it will take
        me a while! Your writing is amazing and I am jealous (I am saying
        Masha’Allah!!!). Thanks for welcoming me – I feel all warm now
        despite the 45 degree weather. Hey that is cold for us! Take
        care.

  2. I just want to give you a hug after this. People can be
    bitches, no matter the deen, and the same people want to judge, no
    matter the situation. It sucks and you should be proud of yourself
    for staying true to yourself and your deen.

  3. Asalaamu alaykum! I’m a blogger dinosaur lol and I think
    this post is dead on! Keep speaking your truth! Love,
    LipstickHijabi Meya 😉

  4. Salaam, Yep, we are absolutely pitted against each other. I
    have found solace in the convert community online, though. There
    are a lot more ‘like-minded’ (pro-woman, haterade free) sisters. I
    am really sorry you had such a shitty experience. I know how
    viciously gossipy local communities can be as well (we are HUGE
    hypocrites, honestly among my non-Muslim friends/family I have
    NEVER seen the type of gossip and slander that goes on among
    Muslims, converts or natives) so I can only imagine that the
    divorce and community perceptions of divorcees, then going full
    time sans hijab just make you fodder for those idiots. You are
    obviously head and shoulders above that BS but I know it still
    stings. BIG HUGS! And thanks for bringing this up and giving us
    this platform to discuss these experiences…all of ours are
    predictably similar, sigh.

  5. I’m still laughing at the he’s marrying you for papers and
    does he want to wait 7 years for kids part. HAHAH And then I
    imagine you telling me all this is in your cute
    Southern+French+Canadian+Arabic accent. Cuteness ❤

  6. As salaamu alaikum Whoa! I had no Idea of all the convert
    drama on the sisters side. I guess I’m just not “Muslim” or
    converted enough to have gone through anything similiar. Kind of
    happy I’m not JEESE! HATERS!

  7. ‘Converts are fresh meat at the masjid- the men know it,
    the women know it. ‘ I laughed at that bit.

  8. OMG I want to sucker punch that convert “teacher” in the
    throat. 10 bucks says she couldn’t even pronounce it “correctly”
    either. I’d so come to you for guidance if I were a new convert,
    de-jabed and divorced and all. No really though, I want to find
    that bitch and break her in half. I can’t even imagine ever saying
    that someone. Now I’m mad.

  9. I think I’m going to try to blog again, bc I don’t feel
    fulfilled by my post. good thing today is a slow day.

  10. Pingback: I am a Western Muslim | Confessions of a Multicultural Muslimah

  11. Wow, this is amazingly true. Haven’t we all being there. I
    think I was blogging in that time “07 and wow the hatred and
    animosity. I left it all and so glad I did. Thanks for sharing
    this…I have to read all the other posts related to this

  12. Bless your honesty. Hugs.

  13. re “So even though New-Convert-itis has been around since there were Muslims, I feel like maybe if we had maintained that online presence just for stuff to be googled, that it would give even one newb food for thought.”

    …the thing is that most people think they’re going to be different, that they are going to show the world how it’s REALLY done. People rarely learn from other peoples’ experiences.

  14. strong post. its a miracle you guys manage to stay in Islam after going through all this crap.

    may allah make your journey easier.

  15. I just want to marry you. :]

  16. Salaam Alaikum,

    I did a blog post, just for you :).

    I love reading your blogging, I really do. I have a different take on the astagfurallah stage in my post, but yours is equally valid.

  17. Salam, not sure if you remember me but I used to comment on your old DP blog… I am so sorry you had (and still are having!) such a tough time 😦

    I do hate that holier-than-thou attitude. I’ve been on the other end of that, too and I am a “born-Muslim”.

    A convert sister gave me “nasiha” in public with a voice that could command a platoon of soldiers, about something I didn’t do quite correctly – according to her very high standards.

    Masha Allah, I must say I admire your strength in overcoming those haters. Keeping you in my du’a!

  18. salam

    Je vous lis depuis 2 jours et cela me travaille beaucoup tout ce dont vous avez pu vivre.

    je pense qu’en étant femme musulmane (née musulmane) tout est pareil simplement pourquoi avoir attendu 6 ans pour divorcer?
    j’estime qu’un mariage doit être basé d’amour et de respect mais attendre 7 ans pour les enfants je trouve juste inacceptable!

    ne le jugeons pas, je ne le connais pas mais ils sont des hommes et pour finir et ils auront toujours raisons pour eux.

    je voulais vous féliciter de votre franchise et restez comme vous etes, just beautiful ;o)

    peace in your heart

    bahar

    • Merci Bahar et bienvenue au blog!
      En effet, “7 ans” c’est assez courant chez les hommes qui se marient pour des papiers aux Etats-Unis car il faut attendre exactement 7 ans de mariage pour avoir son green card de plein droit. Donc certains, sachant qu’ils vont de toute façon partir, font prétexte pour éviter de procréer avec ces femmes dont ils se servent uniquement pour leurs passeports. Puis contrairement à la Suisse (ou c’est en principe permis mais très peu autorisé), aux USA les ascendants peuvent facilement demander la nationalité par le biais de leurs gamins. Donc les hommes qui savent qu’ils vont pas rester 7 ans avec la bonne poire font en sorte de faire vite un enfant. C’est horriblement triste.

      La legislation en Suisse est assez dure vis-a-vis du mariage entre suisses et étrangers mais je trouve des fois que ce n’est pas plus mal quand je vois les histoires de mes soeurs aux USA.

  19. As Salaamu Alaikum,

    You have no idea what a comfort it is to talk to other women who have had some of the experiences that I have! Not that I wish bad experiences on anyone, but I was beginning to think that maybe I was some sort of horrible Muslim who deserved the disdain I was getting from women in the community (all converts, btw). I am not going to suck up space with all of the details, but I think you may have inspired a new blog post!

  20. I admire you and others soo much to have the courage to blog openly. I can’t help but feel so sensitive that it would be really dare devilish for me… You are totally right, Muslims are the worst I’ve ever met when it comes to gossip, etc. Yet if we dare to “whine” we are gossiping and opening ourselves to ridicule… Right. Uh huh. Thanks for your post – made me realize I am not alone.

  21. Salam. I’ve just recently started reading blogs by converts and this is your first post I’ve read. I’ve been a convert for 8 years now and “de-jabed” (as you call it LOL) just over a year ago after wearing it for most of my Muslim life. Currently I’m confused as to where I stand on the whole hijab situation and I’m just wondering where you stand? Your reasons for taking it off and what you think Islam’s voice is on the whole hijab situation? – is it as important i.e like the 6th pillar, as many (most) Muslims make it out to be? Or is it a lesser inconsequential part of the deen?

    PS – I love that you use the term “Convertititis” LOL

  22. after reading your blog and all the comments i can feel there is something wrong with the process . i mean there should be a proper and nice teaching for the new converts . and the teaching should be in a nice and polite way . because this is the real meaning of ISLAM .
    its good to see that you have a courage to speak openly . i feel bad that i cant help you.
    my suggestion is for the teacher that she should learn Islam first . no matter the way you pronounce . ALLAH is in your heart and he knows what ever you want to say . you can learn it by time not not every thing at once.

    Bless you.

  23. Life is so complicated.

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