I know that my recent conversion has caused many of my friends to question my intentions-- to stand in shock as they hear that I have converted to a faith that is so different from that which they know or used to know me in.
I know that friends and family are going to be worried about how this will change me... change my life-- How my faith will impact who I am in relation to who I was.
Everyday I have those that are close to me TELL me about what "my life in Islam" is going to be like... "what I can expect out of my choices." They repeat all of the same sentences that I am so familiar to every time I tell someone that I have converted...
"You mean you aren't going to drink anymore?"
"So you are going to cover your head?"
"What about food... you only can eat special meat?"
"You know you won't have any rights"
"You were so independent"
"So you are going to pray five times a day?"
"So you can't date/hug/touch guys?"
The list is endless. What really has got me riled-up as I sit here and write this, is that these are the areas that my friends and family seem to be grieving about my change. Granted changing elements like this, which used to be part of my personality do in a way change part of who I am/was, but are these really the characteristics that made me who I was? If I never drink again is it really going to alter the woman I used to be to all of these people? Why are these things issues for people? Quite honestly, the questions that are so often asked and seem to be such grave areas of concern really cause me to wonder who it was that I was presenting myself as when I was non-Muslim? Did what I ate and how I dressed make me who I was? Because honestly I thought that the friend that I was: the honest, loyal, optimistic, friendly, fun-loving person was what made me the person my friends cared about. Those qualities, have not changed, I can assure you that no faith, will change what my friends and family mean to me, and the manner in which I love them.
Naturally there will be differences, but change is inevitable to any person. As we grow as human beings there are numerous things that will impact how we perceive the world. What really has me upset is how the differences that everyone I know seem to be getting hung up on, are changes which are so incredibly trivial.
What I really struggle with is why I need to go to a bar, or drink or wear certain clothes to be the person that "I was."
There are days that I honestly feel as though it is more acceptable to be an alcoholic and not drink in the eyes of society, than it is to not drink because of faith.
What makes me equally angry is that people keep referring to this "change in my life" and claiming that they have nothing against Islam, they just "don't want me to lose who I was". But lets be honest here... If I had converted to any other faith; Buddhism or Catholicism I think it would be safe for me to speculate that we wouldn't be having these conversations. That many of the comments and concerns people have are due to their conceptions-- or rather misconceptions of Islam. What I love about this statement is how when people say it to me they proceed to tell me what my life is going to be like... what I can expect. Really? Do you know what it is like to be Muslim? Do you know the ins and outs of the faith? Because the thing is, I am living it out... I am experiencing what it is to me Muslim, I daily read, ask questions and spend time with the Muslim community. I KNOW what it has been like and continues to be like, but-- I mean if everyone else seems to have all of the answers then who am I to say anything.
If people want to know who I am I wish they would quit speculating and generalizing and either ask or come and see. I am ME. I am the same Canadian, red-head who loves people, her friends, good books, art and having fun. I still eat chocolate daily, I still like to lay around with close girl-friends and talk about everything and nothing. I still love to rollerblade, hike, camp, and eat in ethnic restaurants. I would still do anything for my friends, and I still believe in God. The minor changes in my actions and behaviour do not in anyway impact who I am as a person to my friends and family... I don't know how to show people that.
What I do know is how tired I am of people telling me why I converted. That I didn't know the right Christians, that I didn't 'know' God, that the trauma I have gone through with my family in the last year or two has caused me to convert... that I converted for a guy. Again-- let me say that none of these are the reasons that I converted. Yet, I am sure I am wasting my words by saying that. When I began reading about Islam it was never to convert. Only to try and educate myself. But questions came up and I couldn't ignore them. I converted because it was real to me, it is truth... The answers I needed were inside of me. The answers that I needed were not in Christianity.
I didn't convert for anyone but myself. Again, what is the point of saying this when everybody apparently already knows "the reason that I really converted"... just like they all know how I will lose my identity by being Muslim.
Why is it that people continue to tell me what I have lost instead of looking and seeing what it is that I know I have gained.