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I’m a Convert & Muslims Often Tear Me Down as Much as Non-Muslims

I’m a Convert & Muslims Often Tear Me Down as Much as Non-Muslims

Written by Amanda Sadler.

To wear or not to wear, that is the question. Since the time before my conversion to Islam, I have contemplated covering my hair. Before making my decision, I carefully weighed the pros and cons. For whom am I wearing it? Why am I wearing it? To what extent will I wear it? It sounds obvious that I would wear it for pleasing Allah (SWT), but without hijab, I was a secret Muslim.

I wanted to give the world an open proclamation that I am Muslim and proud! I struggled with thoughts that perhaps I just wanted to wear it for attention. Without hijab, I would be able to walk down the street without worrying about hearing snide comments about my beloved religion, Allah (SWT) or the Prophet (PBUH). I would blend into the White crowd and carry on. How fair would that be to my brothers and sisters in faith who do not blend in so easily, the ones that are ridiculed and hated because of their skin color or accent? How dare I hide behind my White Privilege!

It sounds obvious that I would wear it for pleasing Allah (SWT), but without hijab, I was a secret Muslim.

My hijab is a symbol of solidarity with those that are oppressed and scorned. Each time I place a scarf on my head and dress modestly in a society that embraces good hair and nudity, I am visually professing that I am not just another face in the crowd. With each mainstream media news story reporting “Radical Islamic Terrorists” are planning attacks, I have to remind myself to avoid the comments section. I know that while I will find many rational comments, those hate-fueled comments from people educated by radical right-wing conspiracy theorists will stand out like a blazing pile of garbage and the stench of its smoke will stick with me for hours or days.

Sadly enough, the comments from non-Muslims are not the only ones that hurt. When doing or saying something not perceived as “Muslim” enough, we are immediately put on trial by a plethora of characters. From a friendly reminder of how the Prophet would or would not have handled a situation to full-blown “Haram Police” or some self-proclaimed scholar using Google, copy and paste to share their “knowledge.”

The more I am reminded of how my actions do not make me a “real” Muslim or how I am definitely going to Hell for not practicing my faith in the exact manner they do, the more I doubt my desire to stand in solidarity or my worthiness of wearing the hijab and being counted among the Muslims. Being a convert is hard enough without being scolded for not conforming or following every rule or law from the instant the Shahada passes our lips. Would you scold a 2-year-old for looking at shiny Christmas lights or responding to someone wishing them a happy (insert other religion’s holiday)?

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My hijab is a symbol of solidarity with those that are oppressed and scorned.

I am almost used to repeated questions from curious customers at work to fellow Muslims about my heritage (but where are you really from?) or if my hijab is just because I am cold. Unfortunately, instead of feeling like I am standing among brothers and sisters in faith, I feel more an imposter, yet another White girl committing cultural appropriation.

I am not asking anyone to accept my way of living or worshipping God. The only thing I am imploring you to do is think before you speak. What are your intentions? Do you just want to be right or are you truly trying to help someone go to Heaven? Do you really think your culture or way of life is the only right way? How would you feel having those comments hurled at you or your loved one?

View Comments (5)
  • what good did bringing any race into this do? Along with political stance? I’m not attacking you Amanda, you’ve known me nearly 20 years and should know I’d not do that but this makes me more confused than anything. Being raised in the Latter Day Saints church I completely understand what it’s like to be attacked over a religion. I just do not understand where your going with this one. Hit me up when ya can

  • This article spoke to me on so many levels! I wear hijab proudly but because my skin is a little darker and my eyebrows are dark brown, I feel like I’m getting the best of both worlds. I feel like wearing the hijab emphasizes the aspects of my appearance that are considered ‘exotic’ by our hypersexualized society. I feel like I’m faking being ‘ethnic.’ Additionally, I feel like, as a white girl in hijab, I get a lot more attention from muslim guys than other sisters. I feel like muslim guys see me as somewhat easier (dare I say sluttier?) than sisters who were born muslim and have muslim families that they live with.

  • Amanda, I can related as well to some of your feelings about being a white Muslim choosing to wear hijab or not wear hijab. I, too, sometimes fear I am letting my sisters in Islam down by choosing not to wear hijab and by living as a “hidden Muslim.” I was a hijabi for some time, but a few years after 9/11 I began to find that as a teacher I was hindered so much at my job that I could not make the impact I went into the profession to make. Anything I taught became invalidated by the impressions of Islam the students and parents already carried. Parents told their children they didn’t have to listen to or respect me and the administration supported them. My husband and children lived in fear for me and for themselves when they went out in public with me. It was a hard decision for me to make, but I see now that I can teach my high school history students to see the world differently and to through away stereotypes and generalization of all peoples and trust facts above fear and propaganda. If I wore the hijab, I could be that example they needed to see, but unfortunately most of my students would see me as bias and this would lessen my positive impact. Instead they never know with any certainty what my religion is, therefore are more trusting of what I teach and often leave my class questioning their previously conceived notions of colored and marginalized peoples. Here is where I can stand with my Muslim brothers and sisters to improve the way my country sees us and other minorities. I am pleased to see that you want to make this choice for the right reasons. I personal feel oppressed from the right to wear hijab freely in my own country. As for some of your other concerns about being treated as if your are not really Muslim because you are a white convert by those born to the faith, remember this, Islam is a religion not a culture or race and it encompasses the entire planet. Islam is diverse and it practiced differently in every culture. Like all religions, there will always be those who confuse their religion and their culture and those who feel the need to save humanity by telling everyone else how to practice. These people need to worry a little more about their own behavior and less about yours. There have been numerous times over last 26 years that I have listened to a Muslim telling me what is right and what is wrong; in which my response, whether aloud or in my head, has been “What Qur’an are you reading?” One of the beauties of Islam is that there does not need to be a mediator or translator between you and Allah. Trust your heart and stay true to your faith. Allah is all merciful and gracious.

  • Asalam Sister. Do not get disheartened by the negative comments on how you should act and behave as a muslim. Do what you think is best. Allah knows best what is in our heart and mind. Outer appearances alone does not make a muslim. The key thing is your intention. Be true to yourself. None of us are perfect. Allah (swt) is most merciful and loves all his creations.

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