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Issues Possibly Affecting New Muslims

Issues Possibly Affecting New Muslims

There are a number of possible issues that affect New Muslims and it must be added that the issues are not specific to Muslim communities and affect nearly all converts to any faith.

  • Assuming a new religious identity
Sharing the Conversion with Family Members

The most difficult step for a new convert is often to share it with his/her family. A lot of New Muslims report feeling guilty amongst family and relatives and being afraid of being rejected. Families can be very reluctant to support religious conversions because they can think that they have lost their child or because of common misconceptions about Islam such as violence and womens rights. 

“I felt very guilty about what I perceived at the time of turning my back on my family and my culture and the way that I was brought up and worried about how that would be perceived.”

Danette Zaghari Mask, Director of CAIR
 
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=13922986

Perceptions From others and the Fear of Identifying Themselves as Muslim

There are numerous misconceptions and stereotypes about Islam and Muslims. Many of these have caused deep distress within Muslim communities and those converting to Islam come across these prejudices that inevitably build fear within them. The misconceptions and stereotypes therefore need to be constantly challenged and addressed though a New Muslim obviously needs the time and space to be able to know and understand Islam so that he / she knows the misconceptions and feels confident to address them in ways that they feel comfortable.

“And I think part of it was their concern about how society would perceive me. If they have negative views about Muslims because of their exposure to the media, that that would translate into negative perception of me. And I think they thought it would get in the way of - or I know they told me that they thought it would interfere with success in my professional life, which it didn't. But those are fears that they expressed at the time.”

Danette Zaghari Mask, Director of CAIR

Becoming part of a minority

Some new converts, more specifically people from Christian backgrounds in Western countries, experience the barriers of being part of minority. They suffer the changing attitude of people amongst them. They report that as formerly part of the majority, they never had to face before this kind of hatred, attitudes and behaviours.

Finding a place and a community to live their faith

People who make the choice of conversion can feel lost regarding where to go to effectively live their faith. According to testimonials, different issues arise.

One problem they encounter is the ethnicisation of some mosques. In these places, they find that cultural identity is stronger than religious standards and so they feel hard to be integrated. Also, some new converts do not know to which branches of Islam they should refer to and/or are not well aware of the different movements and/or do not have an entire understanding of the principles of Islam. 

Basic Practical Issues

Most of the time, New Muslims are also facing practical issues when adopting a new way of life which is also completely compatible with life in the UK. Some of the issues may include (i) how their relationships with non-Muslims may change due to fear and preconceptions about Muslims (ii) marriage with a non-Muslim though Islam allows for marriage with Jews and Christians. These practical issues may have the greatest impact for New Muslims and such support at a practical level is therefore key.