Today, a new sister reverted to Islam. It was a joyous occasion, but it brought me to realize a very sad and sobering reality.
Our new sister's story is a very unique, and a very inspiring one. She had been on her path to Islam for close to 9 years (that's almost a DECADE.) it was a route where she'd continuously ask herself questions about death and the purpose of life, confide in God whenever she faced difficulties in life, but because of the situation at home and other events she would put her thoughts to the back of her mind, until recently, when she felt she had to say the shahada, or the tightness in her chest would not go away.
Unfortunately, the main community that was set up to assist with reversion to Islam here in this country could not assist us as our new sister did not meet their 'requirements' to convert. This was because her source of knowledge about Islam came from sources not recognized to them. (Online sources, videos by Islamic scholars, even questions asked to Muslim friends don't count- but from the perspective of a person sincerely trying to find out more about Islam and not having the privilege of being in touch with the Muslim community, these are the only sources we can get our hands on at the earliest stage of learning.)
They asked if she was in a "rush to convert"- an incredible question, I might add, because who would be the one to be responsible if she were to pass on tomorrow? And although the sister had conviction in her heart prior to the conversation, she was left feeling unsure of herself and whether she was doing the right thing- and this feeling of uncertainty that we impose on a would-be convert is the sad reality I would like to raise up here today.
"Allah intends for you ease, and does not want to make things difficult for you." [Qur'an 2:185]
Sometimes we as Muslims make it difficult on others to enter Islam- when Allah has made it easy for us. This sister had the utmost certainty and conviction of her belief in One God and Prophet Muhammad s.a.w, which was enough to declare her as Muslim, but our actions and speech and "requirements" made her question if she was truly ready. And if an organization- especially one that is at the forefront of Da'wah and a support for new Muslim reverts in this country- is so detached from understanding Muslim reverts as individual people with their own unique stories, and adopt a one-size-fits-all approach to us, how are we, as converts who need the support of the community as much as possible, find it in a place that needs us to meet their requirements in order to declare us as Muslim in their eyes?
To the ones seeking to revert but are facing 'administrative' obstacles, do not despair. Like this sister, all you need is the conviction and belief in your heart, and knowledge will come to you after. ANYONE will be able to help you with the declaration of your faith, nothing has to be official on paper to be recognized by Allah. If you are facing a situation similar to this, please reach out to me or any of your muslim friends around you and we'll help you as much as Allah allows us to.
P.S. If you're wondering, this sister recited the shahada today during the azan at Mahgrib, with the kind help from Ustaz Taufiq and Ustaz Hidayat from Alqudwah Academy, an Islamic organisation separate from the one mentioned above. They had heard about her situation after one of my dear friends communicated it to them, and gladly agreed to help with her shahada. Although she still doesn't have her 'legal' documents to certify her as muslim, now with her heart eased, she will be able to proceed for lessons, and once she has 'met the necessary requirements' for the official documents, it will be processed. Allahu Akbar. Alhamdulillah, all things are possible even in the face of difficulty, when the light of imaan is in our hearts.