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Let’s jump right into the tough stuff, shall we? Here is something I wrote at the height of my stress. No judgement please.

I am feeling pressured.

I am feeling pressured to wear hijab. I am feeling pressured to feel like a more legitimate Muslim. I don’t feel legitimate. I drove around crying the other night because I am trying to comprehend the fact that people don’t see me as legitimate. People pat me on the head and say mashallah but then seem to make it a point to mention that hijab is obligatory in front of me. They don’t bother to ask me my reasoning and they don’t bother to understand that even if I did want to wear it, how it is not an option for me because of my situation with my family. I want my family in my life, and that cannot happen if I wear a hijab. Maybe in the future Allahu alim, but it can’t happen now. As much as I love my religion, I hate it. I wonder what have I done to myself. I wonder what I am willing to give up for my religious beliefs constantly. I wonder if I am willing to give up getting married and having children because I know that realistically, it is a very real possibility for me. I wonder why I was not blessed with being born into a Muslim family so I feel I have to prove myself and I don’t even have the right look to start off with. I know people doubt me all the time when they see me hijabless and not from a Muslim culture. They don’t know that I have actually changed a lot of myself for Islam because they can’t see it.
I am feeling pressured to get married. My family is concerned as to why I have not been looking. They don’t know that I don’t know how. They don’t know that I have had options that I have turned away because of my religious beliefs. They don’t know that even though I jokingly tell their concerned faces that I have no time for a boyfriend, it is actually something I constantly worry about. I know that if I hadn’t made this decision, I could have had a beautiful cathedral wedding with a wonderful Catholic man. I feel pressure from other converts to get married who tell me that I really should because they I could start an actual Muslim family. But I don’t want to end up in their broken marriages or desperately searching for a husband, any husband because (maybe falsely) I put more value on myself than that. When I have mentioned my concern to people, I’ve even been told, “don’t worry, a lot of Hispanic Muslim women are allowing their husbands to take second wives because there is a shortage of husbands for Hispanic converts.” Great, I’ll be someone’s pity wife. If they aren’t turned off by the fact that I don’t dress “appropriately,” which they probably will be. Maybe I could marry a person from a Muslim culture….. oh wait, I’m not a white girl, I’m a dark skinned Hispanic girl. Recently, a friend found a picture of a Bengali bride that looks exactly like me and instead of laughing or admiring that fact that she definitely looks like me, my first thought was, “Lucky her, she looks like me and she managed to get married.”
I am feeling pressured to have sex. I’m feeling a lot of pressure from my friends to go to bars to look for relationships. My friends are also very concerned about the lack of a man in my life (or more so that I am 22 and still holding out when it comes to intimacy). And sometimes I wonder if that’s what I’m good for. Why am I holding out for a community that doesn’t even acknowledge me as legitimate? I know it would be very easy in the community I’m in to have a “hit it and quit it” situation. Getting whistled at or getting your behind grabbed when you walk by. And I know this would be easier, but I can’t bring myself it because of my religious beliefs.
I am feeling pressured to give up my religion. All of Ramadan I was cranky and angry. I slept for 6 extra hours. I know my family was concerned about me. I never prayed (actually the first and only time I have prayed in months was Eid prayer). I fasted out of obligation rather than desire. I feel myself getting bitter towards people. I am tired of feeling pressured. I want to be done, I am not done but I want to be done with all that I got myself into sophomore year. But unfortunately I can’t because of what I believe because it is my religion, my deen.”

After I wrote this, I came across the blog written by the contributor who wrote my favorite Love, InshAllah story, “Hybrid Dance.” When I first read her story, I sobbed. All her fears and concerns are the same as mine. Her blog, “Invisible Muslimah” was so comforting and brought a lot of peace to my soul. I think this girl is forreal my soul sister (unbeknownst to her).
So here, on my teeny little blog, I make a pledge. I’m going to strive to be a better Muslim. I have fallen off for a while and I need to get back on the horse. I hope that when people read this, they won’t see simply my faults and weaknesses but they see someone who is having an inner jihad and struggling. And I hope that if anyone out there is also struggling, that they know that it’s okay. Struggles are real.
This is my pledge to commit to a new beginning.
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Found this as I was getting ready to go to my last day of work before I go back to school (what the what?!?!). She has other stuff on her channel too. Check her stuff out. JAK to the sister for making a video about being Latina and Muslim!

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Convert Scarves

Sometimes I sit and I have a “woe is me” moment. One of the most common tends to be the “Woe is me, I’m not part of a Muslim culture” moment. I’m not saying I want to change my background, or culture, or ethnicity or anything, I absolutely don’t. I love and appreciate where I come from and I would never change it for anything. Allah made me this way, so why would I want to change? However, it’s hard sometimes when you can’t completely fit your culture all the way in the fold of Islam and you have to give up certain foods, practices, etc. And sometimes I get jealous that others don’t have to go through this struggle.

However, these thoughts often prevent me from remembering how beautiful it is to be a convert. Recently I was looking at a pile of scarves I have in my room, many of these scarves were gifts. As I looked at them I saw not only how pretty each one was, but also the fact that they came from different Muslim cultures: Pakistan, Palestine, Egypt, Indonesia, etc.. In that moment, when I looked at these scarves I also looked at some of the other Islamic things I owned. My prayer mat is Turkish and my Tasbeeh beads are from the sands of Karbala, Iraq. As I looked at the mishmash of things I owned I felt so surrounded by the love and support from the people who gave me many of these things. And I also see the beauty of Islam and it’s cosmopolitanism, knowing that all of these things came from such different places but they truly represent Islam to me.

The beauty of being a convert is that we can be a mishmash. I can freely borrow and learn from  all these different cultures ways of practicing Islam and I can appreciate different ways of expressing faith. And at the end of the day, I  wear my Pakistani hijab, use my Iraqi Tasbeeh beads, sit on my Turkish rug and pray with my Latina Muslim heart 🙂

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Ramadan Support

I just wanted to put this out there:  if any fellow converts/reverts or anyone needs any moral support this Ramadan, please do not hesitate to email me: mestizamuslim@gmail.com

I know it’s tough and it can be lonely, but remember that God loves you and Alhamdulillah He gave us this blessed month to rejoice.

I also advise you contact your local mosque or Islamic center. InshAllah, people will be able to help out with open iftars, prayer times, gatherings, etc. and/or get you in touch with sisters and brothers who are willing to take you into their families for Ramadan 🙂

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As Ramadan approaches, here are some things to keep in mind  🙂

12) If this is your first Ramadan, fasting might be a little difficult at first. Just know the first day is the hardest and Alhamdulillah, afterwards it continues to get easier.

13) Naps are your friend. An hour nap is a lot better than sitting there and staring at the clock, waiting for Maghrib. Also, you’ll probably be tired after staying up for Suhor…your sleeping schedule might need some adjustment 🙂

14) Drink LOTS of water before fasting. Kind of a given but please do, don’t dehydrate yourself.

15) Iftars. They are one of the most beautiful parts of Ramadan but for converts they can be oh so lonely if you don’t find people to share it with. Mosques definitely have open iftars or you might have friends at the masjid to take you in. Also, you can have your non-Muslim friends to have a late dinner with you. This one is particularly fun because (at least in my case) my friends really enjoy examining me as a take my first sip of water/bite of the day. They’re entertained and I get iftar buddies! Win-Win. It certainly beats eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich alone in your room.

16) Same goes for Suhors. Even though converts a lot of times do a Gogurt and cereal Suhor alone, in a lot of Muslim families, this is something that everyone does together. Try to do this with others as much as possible or at least a few times. It makes waking up super early a lot more enjoyable!

17) On the topic of eating, don’t gorge yourself during iftars. Yes, I understand you are hungry, but then don’t be surprised if you gain weight rather than lose it.

18) Eid. It’s a really big holiday, be with others! Nonconverts: please take your convert friends in for Eid! It’s like the biggest celebration for Muslims and it breaks my heart to know that there are some brothers and sisters who have to spend it alone. I know I’m praying that I’ll be back at school for Eid so I can go to Eid prayer/celebrations with my MSA buddies. Please, please, please open your homes to converts, iA Allah (SWT) will reward you for welcoming the lonely into your homes for this blessed month (this goes for iftars and suhors too btw) 🙂

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I haven’t watched a lot of Baba Ali but I recently (aka like 3 minutes ago) came across this video and it was like, “BAHAHAHA story of my life!”

What up Converts!

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Part one if you didn’t catch it. Once again, take this with a grain of salt, as the Muslim convert mantra goes: Everybody’s experience is different.

8 ) Talk to your family in intervals. They need time to digest this. Your conversion is kind of a big deal. Also, some people might expect you to commence Dawah efforts on them stat. Don’t do anything you’re uncomfortable with or that you think would make your relationship uncomfortable. Show them Islam through example rather than force. That’s your family, be respectful of their faith(s) as you want them to be respectful of yours. 

9) Take it slowly. If you start getting frustrated or anxious about not knowing everything immediately, slow it down. Learning all these things takes time, don’t pressure yourself to go faster because if not you’ll do what I did, give up. Alhamdulillah, God brought me back. Lesson being: Just take your time. Allah (SWT) understands.

10) This one is really not fun but so necessary. Look into things you currently eat, you’d be surprised what has gelatin/pork. It’s difficult to give up your favorite foods that have gelatin, or even the more obvious, like in my case, carnitas and chicharron which are amazingly delicious and amazingly haram. iA Allah (SWT) will reward us for these struggles because it really sucks sometimes. Like really.

11) For the ladies, if you’re embarrassed about people possibly figuring out that it’s “that time of the month,” because you’re not fasting, not praying, etc, don’t be. Everyone knows about it and its part of life. From my experience, Muslims tend to be more open and less awkward about that kind of stuff. But if you still feel embarrassed, it is very easy to just say no if someone asks if you need to pray or to eat in private. Trust me ladies, we all go through it.

12) Your culture is not haram, no matter what anybody tells you. Don’t ever wish you belong to another culture or ethnicity. Allah (SWT) made you the way you are, and you were born into your family for a reason. Your culture is beautiful. Nuff said.

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