Convertitis

Marlin converts to Islam and begins to conform to the culture too quickly. His attire resembles Baber’s, he passes judgement on Leyla and others, he views western behaviour as anti-muslim.

I haven’t met a convert who had travelled this route. The ones I know are much more mellow and are keen on gathering knowledge. They do not take sides in arguments on faith. That’s not to say though, that instances depicted in this episode don’t exist.

Have you had experiences with someone with convertitis? What did you do to help them? What did you learn?

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7 Comments

Filed under Episode 5

7 responses to “Convertitis

  1. I haven’t met a convert who had travelled this route. The ones I know are much more mellow and are keen on gathering knowledge. They do not take sides in arguments on faith.

    The only person I know of who’s “travelled this route” is Jeffrey Lang, as he described in his books. And even he mellowed out after a few years.

  2. Assalaamu~alaykum,
    I am a converted Muslim too. I think “convertitis” is overly-diagnosed. Because Muslim converts are usually coming into Islam having read about the religion from multiple sources (and not relying on a particular culture), our understanding of Islam is often very different from Muslims who were fortunate enough to be raised in Muslim households. Some Muslims actually thought that I didn’t know how to pray properly because I pray differently than they do, having read ahadith on prayer (whereas they rely on what their mothers taught them, without verifying whether it is correct). When they raised the issue with me and I explained my reasoning, they instantly assumed convertitis is to blame.

    If a convert takes the time to read about Islam, and determines (for example) that music is haraam–why is it suddenly “convertitis”? I think this is a word placed on converts’ opinions when Muslims who were raised in Muslim households are not familiar with a rule. Music is a good example, because it’s so prevalent in Muslim cultures. So, many Muslims wonder why converts would consider it haraam.

    One thing I really liked about the show was that Marlin’s biggest problem was judging everyone else. Usually if I have an opinion on halal/haram issues or how to pray, etc etc, I don’t mention it to people unless asked. I would certainly not tell someone that he/ she was going to hell for it. So I think that if a convert is following Islam as he / she understands it, has researched the sources behind it, and doesn’t bother anyone else, then there’s no problem! If, for example, a converted Muslimah comes to the masjid the week after her shahada wearing hijab, what is the problem with that? Why would any Muslim tell another to “slow down”? Most converts don’t ask anyone else to “speed up”!

    I think “convertitis” has more to do with the other Muslims’ opinions rather than the convert herself. A convert who quickly wears niqab, etc, probably has researched and decided that niqab is either fardh or is at least good for her. This will only appear to be “convertitis” to someone who doesn’t think niqab is necessary.

    Finally, as a convert myself, I want to mention that converts feel pushed away by Muslims who ask them to “slow down.” Again, assuming that a convert does not judge others as Marlin did, I dont see any problem in their behavior. Many converts have to choose between Islam and their families, because of the stigma attached to Islam. Islam is very important to them, if they are willing to leave their families for it and be seen in Western society as a traitor. So it should be no suprise that they want to learn about Islam and practice it as much as possible. Telling converts to slow down gives us the impression that other Muslims don’t think Islam is worth the effort.

  3. M

    Salam to Everyone,

    Nicole:

    “Telling converts to slow down gives us the impression that other Muslims don’t think Islam is worth the effort.”

    I disagree, respectfully.

    Humans…physically…
    We learned to walk before running, etc.

    Humans….intellectually…
    We all learn, reflect at different levels too.

    Correct me if I am wrong, but didn’t the Prophet instruct Muslims in specific avenues of life gradually? (And why? Because God knows us better than we know ourselves)

    For example, the instruction of no alcohol was not revealed right away to the young Muslim community. Since then, Alhumdulillah, we have built up to sustain and practice that specific instruction.

    Another example could be for new converts learning Islamic prayer. Obligatory prayers (fard) are vital. For some converts they are also ready for ‘extra’ prayers (Sunnah), some are not.

    I guess what I am getting at is…we should not push this or that on a new convert. The basics of faith are the foundation for their future. All else falls into place as time goes by, Inshallah.

    And I don’t think ‘old’ Muslims give ‘new’ Muslims the idea that Islam is not worth the effort. I think it comes from their experiences and hopes they will help them on their journey.

    Salam to All –

  4. restoringtide

    As the adult child of converts who has known large numbers of people both raised” Muslim and those who found Islam on their own, I can say I have seen my fair share of extremism and laxity among Muslims (and Non-Muslims) of all backgrounds. I do believe that most people find a kind of middle path in time, with God’s grace, one way or another. Anything that leads to division in society or the alienation or harm other others will eventually die out. The core of Islam is about providing love and service to humanity for the sake of God. Full-time. Long term. Part of that comes from learning to look (and laugh) at ourselves honestly. None of the characters on the show are half the Muslims (or Christians) they think they are. Are any of us? LOL

  5. J

    I have never met a crazy convert like that, but then again I have not seen any person who has converted to Christianity or any other non-Muslim religion yet.

  6. Tajuddin

    sadly, i know a few brothers who suffer from this…a few of them burn out and become either extremely weak or leave islam altogether – not (gee) unlike Marlin’s character…i find it amusing at times to see Muslims who have given shahada 15 minutes ago become know-it-alls…Abdul Hakim Murad wrote a great essay on this, using the term “salafi burnout”…

  7. Huda

    I too had convertitis (great term btw!), the trouble is those with it don’t realise until they’re cured (if they get cured!). When I converted I was sincerely wanting to be a good muslim, and i fell in with a salafi groups (online) claiming to have have the true Islam (after all only they know ‘true islam’ and everything else is ‘innovation’). Unfortunately some new muslims are taught not to think, but just accept blindly which leads to this sort of senario. You do end up judging other muslims for not ‘practicing’ in my case not verbally – but in my heart along with a lot of pride. There are a number of reasons for it – most of the literature available in english for muslims trying to seek knowledge, is salafi, often self trained ‘scholars’ . Converts often have to go against family and prior religion or habits, which can make them more isolated (therefore vulnerable), more reactive and more outspoken and drawn to strict interpretations. Some who have maybe are ashamed of their past feel a need to be strict in order to make up for their past, or because they feel they have to prove themselves to be a ‘real muslim’. Only through studying wider sources and reading about islam from different educated muslim perspectives did I realise it was me, not everyone else that was the problem 🙂 I think more literature by scholars like Al-Ghazali should be available for converts, also an education regarding the proper use of hadith (i.e. that hadiths have different strengths and classification). Also to make sure converts don’t feel patronised (I hated it when people told me things I knew already) and make them feel they have no need to prove anything regarding their faith.

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