It’s time we talk about reverts, and how we are often shunned by those who are born into Muslim because we aren’t the “right” ethnicity or from the “right” family when trying to marry.
I’m 40, and white. My ex and I met at work 10 years ago. And on my end, it was butterflies in my stomach from day one. We were always friends, and got along great. At the beginning of the relationship, I was told there’s a lot of pressure on his end to marry within the community. That being said, we realized we honestly loved each other; dating was fun, easy, and amazing. I know now that there’s no “dating” in Islam, but keep in mind, I was not Muslim then.
For four years, we hardly ever disagreed, and we were each other’s support systems when things got tough. He was my best friend. For the first time in my life, I felt beautiful, loved, and treated like a princess. I also treated him the best I could, because he deserved it as well.
The years went by, and the next step was to happen — marriage. He wanted his parents’ blessing. I knew that the one major issue with his family was my religion and what me not being Muslim could do to his family for “allowing” someone not born into their religion to be a part of it — but his parents always treated me with respect and love. I felt at home being around them. Others told me that as long as I was a “woman of the book” — Christian or Jewish — that it was okay for him to marry me. I believed I was enough. I was wrong.
I was born to a Catholic family. Originally, I said, “No, I won’t convert,” because a Muslim man can marry a Catholic woman. But a decision was to be made on his end, and I wasn’t his decision. We both still loved each other, but the decision was clear — he needed to be with someone of his religion. I prayed, went to the mosque, researched, and decided to convert. I did it for myself, for him, and his family, and to honor his religion and be more a part of it. Before you say that I converted for a man, keep in mind that I did it for myself first and foremost.
When I told him I converted, I expected a sigh of relief on his end — a hug, some kind of validation or affirmation. What I received was the opposite, and still, there were concerns. The concerns were from within the Muslim community, and the backlash that would be put upon me and his family. He didn’t want his family or I to be “spoken ill of.”
The community expected someone from the same culture as him, who spoke the same language, who understood the religion completely, who could cook his food. It was heartbreaking. He chose to follow the “rules.”
We are no longer together. I am broken. I used to look in the mirror and love myself. I now look in the mirror and see someone not good enough. I am in awe of how I can be thrown away so quickly over an opinion of a community that never met me — I was never given even a fair chance. I was never given a moment to even try to prove my goodness.
All I know is this stigma has to end. Everyone should be allowed to LOVE anyone they choose. Besides the color of my skin, I am like everyone else. I can be a part of the Muslim community, and be the best person I can be. I don’t know who my ex will end up with; I can honestly say I wish it was still me. But, it sickens me that without even knowing my name, I was deemed not worthy of being part of a community.
My faith was endless, and my eagerness to be accepted was unlimited. I lost the best relationship I’ve ever known. My heart still hurts.
As I mentioned, I’m now 40. I thought my life was settled, and I saw a bright future with the love of my life. And now I have to start over. I would very much marry into Islam if given the opportunity, but who’s to say I wouldn’t be “enough” then as well? This stigma needs to change — and change fast because if we don’t take a stand in 2021, how many more years will we be told what’s right and wrong?
The lesson I learned was love does have limits, but those limits need to end. Everyone is human.
With prayer, I learned to remember the good times more than the ending of this relationship. But, the more we share these old-school stigmas, the more people may realize that not everyone needs to check off every single box to marry the perfect person for themselves. A relationship is between two people — not 50 — and that’s what needs to be remembered.