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.