By Alexis Noor
19 January 2017
I should start out by saying I am writing this based upon a reflection of my own heart. It is a reminder to myself foremost, and secondly for anyone who sees it as a such.
“La Illaha Illalah Muhammadun Rasulullah.”
A sincere statement murmured by my heart, among many others who’ve decided to change their path to one of their Lord. The statement alleviated any anguish of the believing heart and enforced their beliefs to the world outside their own. The saying of this statement was the beginning of the new transition, one marked by both uncertainty and happiness.
When the statement leaves the lips, the floodgates open and all emotions are released. Happiness, uncertainty, and excitement each take their time occupying the mind. But perhaps the heaviest emotion was loneliness; it demanded that its presence be acknowledged. It lingered, and nothing could remove the weight of it. In order to remove it, one had to recognize the feeling and take action against it. The method of alleviating the loneliness varies among converts, but the most prevalent today is turning towards social media to form relationships. I also chose this method in hopes of searching for a connection.
Loneliness was no stranger to me, even before I converted to Islam. I was always seen as the small dorky kid with thick glasses (which is still mostly true; my glasses have gotten nothing but thicker over the years), who no one wanted to be friends with. Beyond school, loneliness and sorrow were planted in my home as if they were the foundation of a good family. The switching environments, the divorces, and the arguments acted as a plague in my heart. In these situations, you feel trapped with no one to turn to. As I said before, social media added an illusion of escaping.
I created accounts on trending websites with good intentions, and I followed “popular” accounts related to Islam with hopes of learning more about my religion beyond what I had within my reach. I searched hashtags of topics and phrases related to Islam for hours in hopes of finding someone who understood my situation, which I did. I told my story in comment sections, and even complained about my situation after converting on these sites.
Eventually, my follower count exceeded 500, which was plentiful for someone who started off with nothing. I always received messages asking me if I was a convert, or reversely I would make sure it was known I converted to this religion. There was always a hint of pride in the hearts about being a convert. I would reply immediately, explaining to them my story , sometimes even without them asking. The convert card was pulled quite often, and I found myself bringing it up in every single conversation. I wanted the “Congratulations” and awe that came with it.
Without realizing it, my heart was brushed with ignorance. Social media became about sharing the “right” quote with an exquisite picture, trying to seem pious when my heart was far from it. It included focusing on the following and opinions of others, hoping they would fill the void of loneliness and lack of acceptance in my heart. It even expanded outside of social media, as I became more arrogant towards people I knew. If I felt they didn’t know what I knew, they were automatically, for a lack of a better word, stupid. I also would no longer take time to explain my thoughts after sharing them, as if it was a clear waste of time.
After a few months, I began to realize this path wasn’t even about Islam. It was drenched with arrogance. The mindset progressed into indirect battles between converts about who had the most hardships, who had the best conversion story, etc. The path became about boosting yourself so high that you expected everyone to know who you were, and your story. The perception of knowledge was pushed so it made it seem like the religion was studied diligently so people would stop and admire. It became about the followers, the likes, the opinions of people while our hearts disobeyed our Lord and his Prophet, to whom we just stated we believe in. I didn’t want you to recognize my soul as a believer of God foremost, the first thing I wanted you to know was that I am unique because I converted.
I decided that it was time for a change, and pinpointed the problem to my social media accounts. The day I decided to deleted my account was among the best days of my life. When my profile was gone (for good I might add, it wasn’t just a deactivation), I saw changes almost immediately. I was no longer rude to those around me, and I was willing to take advice from others about where to start looking for knowledge. The path was cleared of those obstacles as I turned my face towards God and asked for forgiveness for the arrogance that had made it’s way into my heart.
I am more than grateful that I recognized the wrong, and was able to correct my thoughts according to what truth said. I am also grateful for this trial, as without it I do believe I would have turned out as someone completely different and someone on a completely different path. If I ever feel there is arrogance in my heart, I reflect on this time in my life to ensure that it diminishes completely.
I am sharing this story purely out of hope that I could help someone, or spark a reflection within themselves to change and become closer to God. But, it is a trend I see spreading rapidly among converts; I really dislike to see new converts fall into the same trap, where I am incapable of saying anything because the arrogance has already been built.