Friday, August 10, 2012

Being an 'undercover Muslim'.

This first guest post comes from Sumaiya, a Dutch Muslim woman living in the Netherlands. We met through mutual friends and I've been so blessed to know her. Right from the first meeting, I felt such a deep connection to her because of the same way we view many things about Islam.

I hope you all enjoy reading her story and keep her (and all other 'undercover Muslims') in your prayers!

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I am an 'undercover Muslim', even though I live in the Netherlands (which they call a very open minded country). I hope I will not be undercover for the next couple years though, but still for now I am.

As a Christian, a lot of things didn’t make sense to me. I had no doubt about the fact there is one God, and no one or nothing else should be worshipped. But a lot of other things just didn’t seem right for me. So when I started working at a place with some Muslims, I discovered Islam.

Getting answers to a lot of questions, I thought: THIS makes sense! After a year of research and a lot of talking with my Muslim friend, this person said to me: "You know what, you are already thinking as a Muslim!" This was an eye-opener for me and it made me scared because I knew this was something for real.

The thing that blocked my way of being Muslim was especially my family. Knowing that Allah guides whoever He wants to guide, gave me a sort of peace. I knew this was the right way, even though I knew my family would be in a big shock when they would find out. And on the first day of Ramadan in 2011, I did the shahada.

My first Ramadan was a special one of course, I just converted and I wanted to fast just like any other Muslim. But then the reality-check came, when my mom called and said, "Let’s have lunch tomorrow". Of course I wanted to fast, but was this the moment to tell her about my conversion? So that’s where I started being (how I call it) ‘an undercover Muslim’.

I had some non-fasting days this Ramadan, while thinking "Next Ramadan will be different, everyone will know and I don’t have to try change dates of dinners with family because I want to fast." I did start telling good friends about my conversion. They responded very well and were understanding, which I’m still thankful for. Alhamdoulilah.

In 2011, knowing Christmas would come, and my mom would ask me to go to church with her, I was planning to tell them about my conversion.

But I didn’t.

My mom didn’t ask me to go to church with her, and we would only have a dinner. I had stopped drinking alcohol a couple of years ago, so not drinking alcohol at dinner wasn’t suspicious for them. Besides that, I never ate a lot of meat so not eating pork or meat wasn’t suspicious for them either.☺

After surviving (that’s how it feels being a Muslim with a different way of thinking than Christians) Christmas, I felt a really strong need to tell them about my conversion before the next Ramadan. It felt so weird not being able to be the person (a Muslim) that you really are in your family. But after a few weeks, I got scared again about their reaction, knowing it would be a sort of drama and a real disappointment.

So I didn’t tell.

Now it’s the third week of my second Ramadan and except for my friends, no one knows about me being a Muslim and fasting. So that means this Ramadan I had to start planning: combining days of my internship with having family dinner, for example. So then I would only lose one day of fasting instead of two. I had only four days of internship left in Ramadan soI decided not to tell them.

Not telling has to do with a couple of things, I know it would be "a thing" when I tell. I don't want people to treat me differently and I was of course scared to tell them. Scared because I know when I tell more and more people around me, my family will have to know it too.

Sometimes it frustrates me, that being a Muslim without the (what Dutch people would say) "standard Arab look" makes it sometimes harder to tell and to be open about it. But what I also know is that being a Muslim with the "standard Arab look" isn't always that easy either.

So let us not complain, but let us talk and pray with and for each other. And as for next Ramadan, I hope I will not be an undercover Muslim anymore….. Inshallah.

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