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Madinat al-Muslimeen Islamic Message Board
|RE: Gender differences among Converts|
|03/12/02 at 06:53:57|
|on 04.03.02 at 21:18:14, Abdullah aka Anik wrote:|
[quote]That's funny, up here in Canada we usually get brothers reverting to Islam... almost 6 off the top of my head since the last little while. Actually I have NEVER met a sister-revert. Come to think of it, I've only even met a revert like thrice before. Do you guys think there's an actual reason for this, or can it be just a coincidence and the Will of Allah Subhana? [/quote]
Then Leslie wrote....
Br. Abdullah, you do know of at least one female Canadian revert -- me! (although we have never actually seen each other). We live in the same city.
I think your comment is not entirely sound because you are extrapolating from your own experience ("I have NEVER met a sister-revert."), and forming a general rule from it. In truth, I could say the same thing, but I would have to switch the brothers and sisters around to say that I have NEVER met a brother-revert. This doesn't mean that they don't exist.
I believe that it is only proper that these are our experiences -- you would naturally speak with and be friendly with the men, while I would with the women. If you had met more revert-sisters, it could be cause for concern.
I know many women who have converted/reverted to Islam; some of us are more diligent about trying to live Islamically than others, but we are here and proud to be Muslim. Based on my own experiences, however, I am unable to say that there are more female converts than male, since I really don't know how many of either sex take their shahada.
The problem when trying to gather such data is how do we know that we're collecting a representative sample? If we go to the mosque on a Friday and poll everyone present about whether or not they converted to Islam, this would give inaccurate information even if we were able to poll every mosque in the world. This is because many women do not attend the congregational prayer on Fridays (unfortunately, some men don't either. ) Asking the imam about this doesn't help that much either, since many of the women don't speak with the imam, or the mosque is set up so that dialogue between the sisters and the imam is difficult, since the only was to approach the imam is for the sister to push her way through a mob of men, and be rebuked for entering the men's section. If she wishes to speak with the imam, though, she has no other choice, because he doesn't approach the sisters at all, and she doesn't have any male family members who can approach him to say that she would like to see him. (I am speaking only of my own experiences, I am sure that others do have more positive stories to tell.) Where I live, most of the mosques are not woman friendly.
I'm really not sure how the statistics are collected, or how they are expected to be accurate. I also don't know where one would go to collect a sample in which more converts are female than male. (Any suggestions, anyone?) Because of this, I suspect that the idea that more women convert to Islam than men may be more of a legend than fact, allahu 'alam. Perhaps the rate of coversion is even the same for both groups; I really don't know.
As for the original question posted by br. Anonymous, "how can we get more males interested in Islam?" I can't answer this question directly, but I can say that as Muslims, we should always strive to provide a good example for everyone, and when we are asked about Muslim practices, we should always be patient and explain the ideas behind our practices (for instance, why we don't drink alcohol) rather than say that it is only because our religion tells us to behave in a certain way. By explaining reasons, we will increase the questioner's understanding of Islam even if in a very small way. When we don't, we stress differences that do not allow anyone to understand anything at all.
I know that the responses that people gave me to my questions about Islam had a very great effect on my decision to become Muslim. If they had not been open to explaining things to me, I would have been left in my ignorance even after having spoken with them. They were very patient with me and allowed me to complain about situations that I believed were unjust and unfair before showing me that while many of the practices I was complaining about do exist, Islam teaches us to do something else. What is important is that these people allowed me to finish what I was saying so that they could address each of my concerns in turn without making me feel that my concerns were somehow unjustified or that I was wrong.
One very important thing to remember in any da'wah effort, is never to suggest that what the person to whom you are speaking believes is wrong. Give him or her the freedom to evaluate the situation on his or her own after you have provided a reasonable alternative to his or her current beliefs. This is why I do not believe that many of the pamphlets that Muslims hand out are effective -- they tend not to explain differences, but merely state that a certain belief is wrong and support this claim through quotes from the Qur'an. Such arguments may be convincing to a Muslim, because they confirm firmly held beliefs, but how does a devout Christian react when a piece of paper tells him that Jesus (a.s.) was a prophet, but not God? This person already has a preconceived idea that the Qur'an is false, so why would he take any evidence quoted from it seriously, especially when the ayahs quoted refute his own beliefs? Such pamphlets only end up in the trash.
It is better, in my opinion, to offer dialogue and discussion to anyone who is interested in asking questions about Islam, than to speak about the truth of Islam at this stage. . It is also important to tailor your discussion of Islam to the needs of each person -- concentrate on the problems that he or she thinks are important. Always remember that in order to have people listen to you, you must be willing to listen to them
I am proof that this strategy can work.
P.S. May God allow your da'wah efforts to succeed.
|Re: Gender differences among Converts|
|03/12/02 at 06:58:24|
I was going to respond to this in the Ikhwan Health Club, where this post originally came from, but rather than changing the topic of the thread I decided to continue it in here... :-*
Leslie, that was an awesome post!! Masha Allah!
That was always something I could never figure out. Why do Muslims who are trying to convince non-Muslims of the truth of Islam, take proofs for their statements from the Qur'an???
I mean, when the person is a non-Muslim anyway, chances are that he doesn't believe in the authenticity of the holy Qur'an.
First one must be convinced that Muhammad did exist, that the Qur'an is a revelation from God, and then you can follow up by taking verses or quotes from the Qur'an ... otherwise it's not a very fruitful excercise...
I have more comments to make on your post... and I will do so later, Insha Allah.
|Re: Gender differences among Converts|
|03/12/02 at 09:20:16|
|[quote author=eleanor link=board=lighthouse;num=1015934037;start=0#1 date=03/12/02 at 06:58:24] |
Why do Muslims who are trying to convince non-Muslims of the truth of Islam, take proofs for their statements from the Qur'an??? I mean, when the person is a non-Muslim anyway, chances are that he doesn't believe in the authenticity of the holy Qur'an.
Absolutely! Have you noticed also- how many of the brothers also- shout/scream their speeches?
|Re: Gender differences among Converts|
|03/13/02 at 02:30:15|
[color=Purple]Mum, I've decided I want to follow Allah
Western women are turning to Islam in rapidly increasing numbers. KAY JARDINE discovers why they are so keen to become Muslims
Bullying, depression, and insomnia made Kimberley McCrindle's teenage years particularly difficult. Taunts from classmates about her weight and how she looked left the 19-year-old student feeling like she didn't really fit in, and always searching for something that would make her feel happy, that would make her feel she belonged.
McCrindle, from a family of atheists, did not encounter religion until she began religious studies at high school in Penicuik, when her new interest prompted her to start going to her local church on Sundays. But the peace and happiness McCrindle was looking for eluded her until she started college in Edinburgh, where she made friends with some Muslim people and discovered Islam.
"I was looking for peace," she says. "I'd had a rough past. My teenage years weren't great: I was bullied at school, people called me fat and ugly, and I was looking for something to make me happy. I tried to go to church once a week but I wouldn't class myself a Christian; I was just interested. But it wasn't for me, I didn't feel in place there.
"When you walk into a mosque you feel really peaceful. Praying five times a day is really focused. It gives you a purpose in your life. The Koran is like a guide to help you: when you read it, it makes you feel better."
McCrindle became a Muslim three years ago and is now known by her married Arabic name, Tasnim Salih. She is one of a rapidly increasing number of British women turning to Islam, thought to be the fastest growing religion in the world. Although there are no official figures on the subject, there is no doubt that the number of converts is on the rise and the majority are women, according to Nicole Bourque, a senior lecturer in social anthropology at Glasgow University and an expert in conversion to Islam in Britain.
"There are people converting all the time," she says. "I would estimate that there are probably around 200 converts to Islam in Glasgow alone, but that's just a rough estimate. The data is difficult to acquire." Other estimates put the Glasgow figure closer to 500.
The appeal of Islam to liberated western women is difficult for many to understand, largely because of the widespread perception in the west that it treats women badly. A forthcoming documentary, Mum I'm a Muslim, addresses this very issue by talking to converts in Sheffield about their experiences. At a preview in Glasgow, I asked a group of converts from Glasgow and Edinburgh what motivated them to change every aspect of their lives, including their names, to become Muslim.
For 27-year-old Bahiya Malik, or Lucy Norris to her parents, it's difficult to explain. Bahiya, who lives in Edinburgh, her twin sister, Victoria, and their brother, Matthew, grew up as practising Christians in a rural area in the West Midlands, where they attended Sunday school in the little church at the top of their road. As they got older, the three stopped going to church and seven years ago, at the age of 20, both Bahiya and her sister converted to Islam - six months after their brother.
"Maybe all through our teenage years we hadn't been that happy. I can't really say what it was. I don't know if we felt there was something missing or that we didn't fit in. We were a little bit shy and we weren't really outgoing sort of people," she says. At the time, Bahiya was two years into a media and television course in Edinburgh but was feeling uninspired. After around six months of learning about Islam, Bahiya realised that living her life according to the rules of Islam was what would make her happy and, during an emotional visit to a mosque in London, made her declaration of faith.
"I think it's something you feel in your heart, this pull," she says. "You can't really put it into words. It's like your heart speaking, something you feel inside and you know it's for you. Allah has chosen this for you, it's out of your power."
Women who turn to Islam are aware of the widespread western perception that they are oppressed and discriminated against, but insist that the depiction is a false image. For many it is a spiritual journey, which, far from repressing them, improves their social status and gives them new rights.
"You seem to be really looked after," says Tasnim. "As a Muslim woman, Muslim men really respect you; they do everything for you. You're highly thought of and protected." Bahiya says: "I feel that because you cover yourself up you're not seen as a sex symbol, and because people can't judge you on your appearance, they have to judge you as a human being. That's quite liberating."
As an act of modesty, many Muslim women don't wear make up outside the home and it is often a part of their old life that new female converts are happy to discard because of the liberating feeling that comes from knowing their appearance doesn't matter. They resist being shown as they were before their conversion.
Hafsa Hashmi, who lives in Glasgow, converted to Islam 24 years ago and felt life outside Islam was like having to "keep up with the Joneses". Under Islam, however, she says: "Your aim is not for this life, your aim is for the afterlife. To some people that sounds pretty horrific: they can't think about death, but in Islam belief in the afterlife is one of its main features, because you know if you're doing the right thing you've got a better life to come. So why go for all the material things?"
Converting to Islam usually means a complete change of lifestyle for those who take the plunge, including a different diet, often a new Arabic name, and your time revolving around the five daily Islamic prayers. In the workplace, some people organise with their employer a room where they can have some peace and quiet to pray. Wherever they are in the world, all Muslims face in the direction of the Kab'aa, or the Holy House in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, during prayer.
For female converts, the experience can also involve a quite dramatic change in appearance. Muslim law provides that women must dress modestly. The hijab, or the head scarf, is a particular focal point and can be a tricky area for new Muslim women to deal with. Dr Bourque suggests this is because it is such a visible symbol of the faith. Tasnim wore the hijab straight away, although she found wearing it in public scary at first because she felt people were looking at her. She was then forced to take it off when she was out because of some of the comments directed at her.
"People would shout, 'Go back home to your own country'. I had someone spit at me once when I was standing at the bus stop at college."
Now, though, she wears it all the time and says: "People don't say anything to me now and I feel more confident about wearing it." Bahiya was happy wearing the hijab from the beginning, but her parents found it quite difficult. She says her sister, her brother, and herself were lucky because their parents were "quite good" about their conversion. For others, however, families are not always so accepting, often because they know little about the religion and why their loved ones want to follow it. For Tasnim, telling her parents, who are atheist, was nerve-wracking. "They thought I was going through a phase at first but they realised when I started wearing the hijab that I was serious. They started getting angry when I began to talk about getting married. They weren't too pleased that I'd met someone older than me, who was Muslim as well, and a different nationality."
While Tasnim and her mother are still close and enjoy a good relationship, they tend not to talk about her faith much. She and her father no longer speak. For Hafsa, telling her parents 24 years ago was perhaps even more difficult because converting to Islam then was anything but a common occurrence. The reactions of her parents were totally opposite. "I think my mother felt that I was only becoming a Muslim because of who I was marrying, but that wasn't the case because I had been introduced to Islam about four years previously although I didn't convert until I got married. It took her practically her whole life to get over it. When we got married, my mum said, 'If you're happy, I'm happy', but obviously she wasn't. My dad said it and he meant it, that was the difference between them."
Tasnim has been married to Sabir, who is Sudanese, for two years, and says she has never been happier. "I met my husband at college and it seemed like the right thing to do. I was teaching him English and he was talking to me about Islam, and we just fell in love," she says. Bahiya's husband, Sharafuddin, is also is also a convert, formerly known as Cameron. They have two children, aged two and four.
For Tasnim, Bahiya, and Hafsa, life revolves around the five daily prayers, they cannot eat certain foods, or drink alcohol. But the women say they miss nothing from the days before they converted to Islam. "Islam is enough for me," says Bahiya. "You don't need anything else once you've found it."
Becoming Muslim has provided Tasnim with the happiness and belonging she was looking for. "It's a complete change in your attitude, behaviour, and the way you think," she says. "I'm now more confident, happy and satisfied. I've achieved the fulfilment I was looking for."
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