I’m not surprised. You see, you’re not me. And I’m writing about my experience, mainly, as well as those of some other converts that I know–but from my own perspective.
I don’t pretend to speak for all converts, everywhere. Or even for all those white folks from small North American towns who converted in the early ’80’s. Or for anyone else but myself.
What I have observed is that there are some important variables that affect the sorts of experiences that converts have, such as:
- Date of conversion
- Place of conversion
- Type(s) of community (communities) you join or get involved with
- “Race”, ethnicity, skin colour
- General physical “being”–meaning, can you sort of “pass” as a born Muslim, or at least not stick out like a sore thumb?
- Gender identity and gender presentation
- Sexual orientation
- Social class–your birth family’s, and your Muslim spouse’s, if you get married
- Whether you get married, and if so, to who
- Educational level, especially at the time of conversion
- Whether you have children, and if so, how many
- If you have any disability (visible or not) or health issues
- The reaction(s) of your birth family
- The reactions(s) of your friends and neighbours
- Age and life experience at the time of conversion
- Financial resources and/or work experience at the time of conversion
- If you have a credit history
- Whether you have traveled or seen much of the world before converting
- The political “temperature” at the time that you convert
- Your religious background
I’m sure I’ve missed some important factors, but these are some of them that seem to come up most often, in my experience. So, I’ve encountered converts who are similar to me in many ways (ethnically, class-wise, in terms of religious background), but who converted a decade earlier (or a decade later), and had a significantly different experience. Or, they got involved in a very different type of Muslim community, and it worked out differently for them than it did for me. And I’ve met converts who accepted Islam at about the same time that I did, married the same type of person, and joined a similar Muslim community, but were of a different “race”–and, well…. Sure, “race” is a social construct, and there is supposedly “no racism in Islam,” but the reality is that it really does matter.