As a revert many things are new, intimidating, and often frustrating. From learning to say “As’ Salaamu Alaykum” properly to memorizing the number of rakaat for each individual prayer, it can be exhausting! But there is one thing that most reverts look forward to and that’s the opportunity to set foot in a real mosque.
I remember my first trip to a mosque, it was Ramadan and I was trying to figure out what to wear. I didn’t want to be dressed inappropriately. I was very nervous and excited.
When I arrived I was blown away. The decorations and architecture were so beautiful.
The atmosphere of the mosque is what really got my attention; I could feel the love of Allah and the unity of the community during prayer.
However, after prayer I noticed that everyone went to their own friends and family, there was not much mingling.
Thankfully I went with friends otherwise I would have felt completely isolated.
From that first experience I didn’t really think much of how people were sticking to their clicks. Since it was Ramadan and during taraweeh time, I figured people were tired and didn’t have the energy introduce themselves to new members of the community.
But as time passed I noticed that this was prevalent throughout many mosques and community centers that I have visited.
I began to talk to sisters in my community about this and they began telling me instances where they felt disrespected or ignored as well. One of my good friends told me how an older sister went up to her and aggressively told her that her outfit did not cover her ankles completely and that she needed to fix it.
Fortunately, my friend did not allow that experience to drive her away from attending the mosque, but such an event would certainly push many others away from the mosque.
Too often I have heard of stories where older members of the community have tried regulating the prayer space, dress code, and have even sometimes looked down on others who aren’t on the board for their masjid.
In Surah An-Nisa (The Woman) Allah says:
Worship Allah and join none with Him in worship, and do good to parents, kinsfolk, orphans, Al-Masakin (the poor), the neighbour who is near of kin, the neighbour who is a stranger, the companion by your side, the wayfarer (you meet), and those (slaves) whom your right hands possess. Verily, Allah does not like such as are proud and boastful; [4:36]
This is very saddening, especially as a revert who looks at masjids as a safe place, a place where you can be accepted wholeheartedly as a Mulsim. For some new reverts who have been cast out of their homes it’s the only space they have.
I am not writing this because I think all mosques or communities have these same tendencies, rather I feel there’s a need to recognize that more effort in making new reverts and members of the community feel welcomed is needed.
It’s important that we start addressing issues that have been holding our community back in America, and what better way than starting at our local mosques!
If we, as an umma (community), are going to defend against the Islamophobia that plagues this country we must first unite as Muslims and come forward in these times as American Muslims.
So I ask that next time you see some brother or sister standing by themselves after prayer, go introduce yourself to them. You have no idea how much it could mean to them.