They say completing half your deen is a beautiful experience, but as a revert, I’ve experienced so much scrutiny and judgement that it has become the most dis-heartning experience.
For some background context: My mother married my stepfather who is a born Muslim from Pakistan. At the time, my mom was divorced with two children (myself and my brother). Upon marriage to my stepfather, she converted to Islam. I was still an adolescent at the time, so being exposed to Islam I essentially transitioned into the religion and began practicing. It has been so long now Alhamdulillah that I can’ t even tell how long it's been. I was born in Vancouver, BC as half Hindu/half Sikh but was given the name Angela. My father chose to give me an Islamic name of Zainab, but I chose not to legally change my name and introduced myself to people as Angela.
Disclaimer – I’m not sharing these experiences I’ve had to make the other person sound bad, it’s strictly associated with the experience I had in the hopes that others could learn from them, and not make the same mistakes. Regardless of the experiences, I’ve always wished them well and do not end things on a negative note.
One of the biggest questions I get from people on this platform is “is your real name Angela?”. These questions are directly shot at me, sometimes from the odd person who is polite enough to ask if I feel comfortable answering these questions, and sometimes from a stranger I just “matched” with.
It makes me question if they would be this direct with someone else? Often, I am found explaining the Islamic aspect that if your previous name has no religious connotation it’s permissible for us to keep the name we are born with. Or I respond stating, this was the name chosen by my mom and it’s what I was born with. The common response is “oh”. It led me to question: do they understand, or did I just get judged?
I recently matched with an individual who asked why my name is Angela? I explained this was the name I was born with, and I kept it upon converting. His response to this was “oh your parents were going for a more westernized name”. I had to go into detail and explain that upon converting I did not change my name and how I am a child from my mom’s first marriage. Regardless of his understanding, the judgement of my parents attempting to make me western is unprecedented. This aspect is frustrating because my bio indicates I am a revert, and yet people are inclined to ask why I didn’t change my name, or why my name is Angela.
Another experience was where someone had asked whether I am in contact with my father immediately after asking a few generic questions. They asked if I am in contact with my father, the nature of my relationship with my family compilation, and if I keep in contact with my non-Muslim family. This individual was miffed with the fact I didn’t choose an Islamic name and didn't identify with that.
I’m sorry, but people need to understand that they do not have any right to ask these types of personal questions , especially not right after matching with someone!
It is important for people to be mindful of how they’re asking, there’s an appropriate manner.
There is a notion that being a convert automatically means I’m very religious and want to marry someone who’s knowledge and deen may be equivalent to a Mufti or Imam. And then there’s the other extreme, where people assume that converts may not be true to their faith or may steer away.
It is unfair to make these assumptions when you don’t actually know us. Someone can be born into Islam and be very religious or not religious at all.
And then there’s the fact that people will try to set me up only with a convert, thinking I will only get along with them. That stereotype is completely unfair and unprecedented.
If our community can accept their son or daughter for marrying someone out of the religion who converts at the time of marriage, why can’t they accept them marrying a convert? There needs to be openness in accepting a convert.
They say completing half your deen is a beautiful experience, but when you face this much scrutiny and judgement it has become the most dis-heartning experience.
Please, my brothers and sisters, be more considerate when talking to a convert. The process of marriage should be joyful. Don’t make it a dreadful one.
Many thanks to Angela for sharing her experiences with us ♥️