Muslim Converts Wrestle with Isolation, Seek Support

by Hana Baba producer of KALW’s Crosscurrents  

Listen here.

About 20% of American Muslims are converts — people who didn’t grow up with the religion and often don’t have any cultural ties.

In some faiths, there’s a clear path for prospective converts. Catholicism, for example, has an official course of rites, rituals, and classes for those entering the Church. Islam doesn’t have a formal conversion process like that. To become a Muslim, you declare your new belief with conviction in front of a Muslim witness, and that’s it. 

For this reason, many converts say they need help and support — but it can be surprisingly hard to find. One place it can be found is the Muslim Community Association in Santa Clara, which has been offering post-conversion support classes for the last seven years.

Twenty-six-year-old Nathalia Costa is in the women’s prayer hall at the mosque. She’s here for the midday Saturday prayer. Wearing a baby blue headscarf, she stands in a straight line with her hands folded above her heart, moving in unison with about 20 other women. They kneel, then prostrate, then sit, and stand back up again, all in silence. Through the corner of her eye, head bowed, Costa follows the women closely.

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Ramadan Giving: I Found Islam

Ramadan Giving: I Found Islam

Written by Theresa Corbin

We interrupt our regularly scheduled program to bring you an update on giving in Ramadan.

According to my most recent Google search, charity is as follows:

char·i·ty — CHaritē — noun

1.  the voluntary giving of help, typically in the form of money, to those in need.

2. an organization set up to provide help and raise money for those in need.
In Islam we know it as that thing that we get reward for, especially in this holy month.  And we know this:“No wealth (of a servant of Allah) is decreased because of charity.”(Al-Tirmidhi, Hadith No. 2247)
I know, I almost forgot what is was too! What with all the buying food for suhoor and iftar (the meals before and after the fast) and the preparing for Eid, it almost slipped my mind.
But fear not, we can catch up with our Ramadan giving part 2 …


Ramadan Giving Part 2:

What do they do?

We are a global effort to help new Muslims worldwide in a variety of methods. -Shannon Abulnaser’s function is simple enough.  The site and its founder, Shannon Abulnasr, help reverts/converts to Islam. But it is so much more than that. The site and all its Facebook groups give converts a place to share, to discuss, to have community, to understand the religion of Islam, to ask for help and guidance from scholars, to read about others’ experiences, to make converts aware of all the resources available to them.

Why is this important?

Shannon Abulnasr says

There is such a huge demand on us to keep everything running smoothly, but we need the support of our Ummah to continue to grow. We reached a growth spurt, and that is what triggered our need to do fundraising. We are at our max capabilities as volunteer work. Some things just cost money So please be generous during this month of Ramadan….your good deeds are multiplied. New Muslims need your ongoing support!

This site and its groups are important because taking the shahada (statement of faith) is just the beginning. And because saying mashaAllah (God has willed it) when you hear someone converted to Islam is not enough. Because everyone is born with the fitrah (an innate disposition towards virtue, knowledge, and the oneness of God) but no one is born with Islamic knowledge of prayer, fasting, purification, etc. Because even if a convert does not face Islamophobia, it can still be lonely to be the only Muslim in their family, town, state, region.

I found Islam is a service and a resource that most mosques do not provide. It is a service and a resource to a growing number of new Muslims who are being ostracized from Muslim communities because they were not born in the right part of the world.

This site and its groups are so immensely important because saying shahada is just the spark. If we don’t, as a community, make every effort to provide fuel for that spark to help grow faith in converts, that spark can go out. What will we tell Allah when He asks us about our brothers and sisters who left the faith because we didn’t provide them with support?

A convert from Georgia, USA says, “Asalaamu Alaikum, I wanted to let you know that our Brothers and Sisters at I Found Islam, Now What? was and is a great help to me in a time when I had no support. Even though I do not speak much I found the articles to be very beneficial as I learned and grew in my deen and as a person. Brothers like Hossam Ed Deen Allam and Sister Shannon Abulnasr helped me in a time when I was shy to ask for help but unknowing to them By the Grace and Mercy of Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala they shared with me websites articles and of their time to help me Alhamdulillah for the Brothers and Sisters At I found Islam,…..and the other groups and pages. May Allah always keep them guided and blessed Ameen Love you All for the Sake of Allah Asalaamu Alaikum.”

Ifoundislam is so important to the growing community of new Muslims. But we can’t leave all of this work and responsibility on the shoulders of a small group of volunteers.

How can you help?

Donate. Click here to go to the site and you will see the donate button on the upper right hand side of the screen. 

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