I didn’t convert to Islam

I have not yet written about how I became a Muslim, but when I do you will recognise all the hallmarks of the classic conversion story: a time of crisis followed by deep personal reflection, and the final, glorious revelation. I swear the stars aligned and I felt myself change on a molecular level at moment I decided to convert.

Except, I didn’t convert.

When I went to the mosque to say shahada (the declaration of faith), I got speaking to an old man; one of those who you know has a deep understanding of Islam, and life in general, as soon as they start to speak. You could tell he was happy to see me there. He shook my hand vigorously, grinning broadly as he congratulated me on my reversion.

“Reversion”?

He explained that conversion meant a change to Islam, whist reversion meant a change back to Islam, the implication being that everyone is born a Muslim, but that not everyone is taught Islam. Depending on your point of view this will make complete sense, or it will insult your very being.

I still refer to myself as a convert because it is a term that is widely understood and that most non-Muslims are familiar with, but I have no problem seeing myself as a revert, in fact, I think it describes my journey into Islam very well: I have not had to change who I am; I am still the same person, with the same family, the same past experiences, the same thoughts, hopes and fears.

What has changed is what I do: I pray, and I read the Quran and I fast during Ramadan, or at least I try to. After all, being a Muslim is as much about what you do as what you believe, isn’t it?

I am interested to know what other people think about the use of “convert” and “revert”. Which do you use and why? And where do you stand on intentions vs actions? Do you think that it is possible to be good Muslim without following all the rules?

3 comments

  1. I have heard of this before I have a couple of Muslim friends (honest) ie Adam was the first Muslim. I give it as much credibility as the creation story. However I think it gives the more extreme Muslims the justification to indulge in violence against non Muslims as they can regards them as people who have left Islam.

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    1. Or you could argue that if everyone is a Muslim then they are all worthy of respect… I agree that some Muslims will use it as an excuse for violence but that is more down to the violent nature of humans surely, not just Muslims?

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      1. Hi sorry about the delay in getting back but I work shifts (yawn). First of all thanks for the civil replies. I’m not saying this because of your religious beliefs but because debate on the Internet generally declines quickly into abusive language these days. It’s at this point I stop debating because if someone can’t express their views civilly I’m not going to be part of an ill tempered debate. However I digress! Sorry a bit Ronnie Corbett of me I know but have you ever given any thought to my personal belief that no one is born Muslim or Christian or Hindu or any religious belief but are born atheists until they are indoctrinated by their parents into their parents belief?

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