No, not the TV show (that was canceled)…I just like the picture
On many of the TV shows, youtube videos, movies, etc., that I have seen featuring western converts to Islam, many of them forsake their old identity for a new, Islamic centered one. Changing their name, their style of dress (not just halal-ifying it), picking up a new language in the hopes of moving to an Islamic country….yes, I’ve seen all of (or many) of these things occur. Let me just take a moment to remind everyone:
You are still you.
Islam is both a guidebook for living and a religion- but it is not a culture, per se. I think that many of us have identified Islam with the middle east and, when converting to Islam, many people will pick up the culture-ways of the middle east as well. While I do subscribe to the notion of all muslims being of one ummah (nation), I don’t think that means we should forget who our families raised us as. While some converts/reverts embrace a new culture because they married into it (like myself- who embraced Turkish culture BEFORE I embraced Islam), I am troubled by those who seek to isolate themselves from their western identities because they feel Islam is not amenable to their culture.
O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another.– Ch 49, vs 13 of the Holy Quran
I whole-heartedly believe that Islam can fit into any culture, and therein lies its beauty. When people seek to release their previous culture in favor of a more Islamically rooted one, they are propagating the sense of “otherness” that many Western societies associate with Islam. Muslims are “the other”, “the odd ones”, the mysterious eastern people with their strange customs and strange ways…as seen through the eyes of the US and others. But, here’s the thing… Muslims can be American too. Americans can be Muslim. Please, go to the mall in your hijab, go out for coffee and lunch with your friends. Be SEEN. Interact! You are no less the person you were born as before accepting Islam as you are after it. In fact, you are only a BETTER version of yourself. But you are you. Remaining an active part of your society after converting to Islam can be one of the best acts of dawah (inviting to Islam) you can do!
So, I don’t know about you, but I plan on keeping my name and my identity after my conversion. I’ll always be that All-American girl next store…with a head scarf! What about you?