In our recent post, we looked at how and why Mosques have failed reverts in their duty. We’re carrying on with a wider look at how the Muslim community, in particular the online Muslim community are setting up reverts to fail…
You may have heard of the famous proverb, “There’s no such thing as bad publicity.” Whilst this has aged, it still holds true today, and more importantly; it’s highly encouraged today.
For a Muslim, this attitude is highly problematic. The good deeds of a Muslim will only be accepted that are done for the sake of Allah the Almighty.
“The reward of deeds depends upon the intentions and every person will get the reward according to what he has intended. So whoever emigrated for worldly benefits or for a woman to marry, his emigration was for what he emigrated for.” (Bukhari, 1)
With that in mind, dedicating an online presence to flaunting your decision to become a Muslim is a big mistake. Particularly, this will be problematic for reverts that are incredibly new to Islam. Being a Muslim for under two years means you’re unlikely to have gone through major trials in your life which will really shake your faith. Having incredibly challenging moments is a guarantee for each Muslim and reverts are no different.
Or do you think that you will enter Paradise while such [trial] has not yet come to you as came to those who passed on before you? (Qur’an, 2: 214)
Without those enormous challenges, it’s likely you’ve gone through the process of becoming an established Muslim; certainly not a Muslim that is now an influencer. Sadly, this is what we’re seeing.
Reverts that have accepted Islam less than six months ago are the ‘inspiring’ figures of the Muslim community, answering your questions on Islam and giving you council. Whilst we all love a beautiful story of a revert going through challenges to finally accepting Islam, it’s vital our reverts don’t let this go to their head.
Having shared your journey to Islam publicly, the not-so-helpful Muslim community crave more. The comments, like and followers come flying in. Reverts that perhaps lived a life of neglect by society, abandonment and even bullying, now are being sought after by the Muslim community for their own amusement. If reverts are not savvy to this reality, they could rapidly find themselves on a moral decline where becoming a Muslim has become a marketable product and a stepping stone to internet stardom. It’s become a way of earning a full-time income, getting hired to attend public events, travel the world and even becoming a presenter on major Islamic channels. And your selling point? You chose Islam (a few months ago), and are white.
Another bitter reality is the Muslim community obsession with the story of the white revert to Islam. The Muslim community seem to love a story of a white revert to Islam, yet don’t demonstrate the same reverence for our Black, Asian or Hispanic reverts.
Of course, the blame largely falls at the feet of colonised Muslims who value the choice white reverts have made, but in reality; no revert chooses Islam but Allah the Almighty chooses them and issues them with the greatest gift of all: Islam. All reverts (and non-reverts) should have this etched into their mind before considering ways of how they can differentiate themselves from the crowd, and turning their revert story into a monetizing machine.
So what do we advise reverts to do? If you’re a revert that has accepted Islam within the last couple of years, we encourage you to learn about Islam. The Arabic language, names of Allah and His attributes, in addition to basic jurisprudence are essentials for a revert to busy themselves with. Memorizing phrases from a new language can’t be achieved overnight and thus requires dedication and time away from ‘engaging with your fans’.
Once a significant amount of knowledge, skills and dedication to the obligatory duties has been achieved, perhaps then (and only then), would you be in a position to inspire, teach, advise and more.
Without a solid foundation, flirting with social media will only mean you will take on the role of the influenced, rather than the influencer. Followers will want to see more of this, less of that, and vulnerable individuals not accustomed to Islamic etiquettes are probable to sacrificing values in order to stay relevant.
It may seem that Muslims can only contribute if they ‘sell themselves’. After all, influencers within the Muslim community includes a vast number of reverts that have amassed large followers from their guest appearances over the years, but our intentions to replicate this is extremely dangerous. A Muslim, revert or not, should only ever view themselves as someone from the Muslim community, and not desire to be put on a pedestal.
“Whosoever likes people to stand up for him should take his abode in the Fire (of Hell).” (Abu Dawud, 5186)
But surely the non-revert Muslim community should shoulder some blame for the revert celebrity culture? Absolutely. Committee members of Mosques are often on the hunt for special guests they can invite to boost attendees, (and get one over on the rival Mosque), and they are sadly contributing to this culture. Reverts to Islam are not trophies, there to be paraded by Mosques in front of the congregation, but they require nurturing, guidance, assistance and made to feel like another member of the congregation.
As always within Islam, balance is key. We shouldn’t abandon Reverts (in the real world), nor do we put instantaneously make our reverts project leaders, a spokesperson and voice for the community. It’s unfair to project this responsibility onto reverts (usually done with white reverts) to cover your inferiority complex.
Whoever accepts Islam, that’s for their own good, and whoever rejects, indeed they are the losers.
Granted, there’s nothing wrong with sharing your story and inspiring others…sharing a story about what brought you to Islam is great. However, when this becomes a means for you to monetize your channel, have a bookings email address, and touring the world, then it becomes highly troublesome.
Disappointingly, we have seen instances of social media influencers that have developed large followings after becoming reverts, and subsequently leaving Islam, having achieved their objectives. Luring the Muslim community into following their journey until they find themselves financially well off and famous is a soul-destroying and heinous move, but something Muslims should be conscious of. To avoid such instances in future, reverts and the non-Muslim community will need to adopt the middle-ground, as advised by our beloved Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).
At Help for Reverts, we aim to follow the middle path. No endless praise, nor abandonment of our brothers and sisters.
May Allah guide us all and keep us sincere in our actions, Ameen.