It’s 2017, and yet it still never ceases to amaze me how bold some people can be. It’s as if we as a human race have completely forgotten all notions of “personal boundaries”. The things people will just come out and ask you with a straight face really astonish me. I expect and encourage my good friends and family to ask questions about my personal life, because well, they’re in it! But the inquiries that slip out during small talk just leave me breathless sometimes. Let’s get more to the point here:
“Did your husband make you do it?” “Did you convert for your husband?”. I can’t tell you how many times I have received this question just worded slightly different each time. For 22 years of my life, I was considered “Christian” and not once did I ever get asked anything of the sort. Granted, I wasn’t married for those years, but why wouldn’t someone want to know if I had been Christian for my parents? Why didn’t they ask if I had accepted Jesus Christ because of my friends? I have never heard anyone say “Why are you Jewish?” “Did your husband force you to become Mormon?” etc. I know when someone converts to a different religion than the one they are “born” with, it does spark some curiosity in whomever is on the receiving end of the conversation. BUT, Why not just ask me why? “What brought you to Islam?” or literally anything other than just blatantly assuming that my husband had forced his religion and culture on me as an act of oppression and control? I know that’s what they’re thinking when people ask that even without them actually saying it. “Oh you poor thing, your husband made you convert to Islam didn’t he?”. No, Karen, that is incorrect.
I’m not sure if you will be reading my conversion story before or after you see this post, so I will just give you a blanket answer to the question. No, I didn’t convert for my husband, and I wouldn’t ever base such a serious decision on my relationship with another human. I was actually a Muslim before I even met my sweet husband. Not that it’s really anyone’s business, but I feel like I am constantly having to justify myself and defend my decision. TO STRANGERS! That’s the other thing, like WHY do they even care? Why would a passenger in my lyft car even put that much effort into understanding something so complex and personal? Why does my Starbucks barista need to know if the henna on my hand is for Eid? If they get any sense that you are acting Muslim or dressed like a Muslim, it’s like they have a green light to get all up close and personal. Even people I went to high school with, who see my husband’s pictures on my Facebook and find out I have become Muslim, ask if my husband was the driving force behind it.
There is a constant justification vibe, that I have noticed exists within Muslim reverts. People think that just because you weren’t either born into Islam or because you don’t look middle eastern that you need to have some crazy reason for converting to the religion. Once again, why is it that Christians come in all races? There are white Christians, black Christians, Latino Christians, middle eastern Christians, Indian Christians, Asian Christians, etc. Literally anyone can say they are a Christian and it’s just as normal as a cold cut sandwich. But the moment a white, blonde, person from Texas says they are Muslim it’s like the last day is upon us.
I get that people are just curious, and maybe I am just being overly sensitive. But I just really can’t stand the negative connotation that accompanies the “did your husband make you do it?” question. I want to hear from y’all on this! Do you find yourself feeling the same way I do about this? Do you get this question as much as I do? How do you deal with the constant need to justify your actions? And last, but certainly not least, I warmly welcome ideas for a sassy response to give people who ask me this question.