Hangout 15 – Convert Problems – Yahya Abu Sumayyah

Boonaa Mohammed

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In this episode Boonaa Mohammed hang’s out with Sh. Yahya Abu Sumayyah and they discuss Convert Problems into solutions.

Episode Transcript

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confetti then

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Alaykum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh. Welcome to another episode of hangout with your host by the bone of Mohammed, where basically we just hang out. And we get a chance to sit and learn from different teachers and preachers from all around the world and talk about issues that are relevant to us Muslims here in the West. So On this episode, we have with us a very special guest. He came all the way from Edmonton to be with us here in Toronto, for the Sakina community center conference this weekend, we have none other than shift. Yeah. balsamea. So now welcome, Chef.

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How's everything? Good to see you. I'm delighted, zelicah for joining us. It's a great honor to have you here. We've met a couple times before in the past hamdullah had a chance to work together on a couple different conferences and stuff. But it's great to have you in this setting. We're basically we're just hanging out.

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So I wanted to talk to you a little bit about, you know, the Convert culture that we have not just in Canada, but I guess in the West in general in Europe, in the US, and you know, UK and so on and so forth. Hamdulillah, you came into Islam, many years ago, probably more years, and I've been practicing or been alive, right? But yet people would still think of you kind of as a convert. Right? Can you tell us a little bit about your story? I don't want to get too cliche and tell you how did you come into Islam. But tell us a little about your story and how you ended up finding about Islam hamdu Lillah, WA salatu wa salam, ala rasulillah

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became Muslim around 1991 1990. And my background, I was raised Roman Catholic.

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Basically, I started, I used to read a lot. So I was reading everything from religion from politics, comparative religions. And

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one day, I remember going to the library, the Public Library, and I saw a copy of the translation of the Quran. So I just happened to take it. And I started to look at it, and it had the Arabic writing on the side, and the English across from it. And I was curious, so I took it home. And I started to read it. And

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basically, I thought, I thought that this is what I've already believed. This is already a lot of it is what I already was believing.

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And I remember concerning myself a little short, while after that, calling myself Muslim.

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I had to reading the translation after reading the translation. I had no friends that were Arabs or Muslims.

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I didn't even know there was a Islamic Center in my city,

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Edmonton. And I started calling myself Muslim and it continued that way for about a year. And start with this is like pre 911 pre you know, mass propaganda of Islam like this is literally a public library in Edmonton. miskeen one was half sitting there, no internet, no internet, no access to nothing. But yet still, like come to the last minute Allah gave you this opportunity to find out about Islam. So did How long did it take you before you actually, you know, met other Muslim and then I met someone and they told me Do you go to the mosque? Or do you go to the masjid at the such and such? And I said, No, none of that. And so she

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she saw me in a bookstore, reading a book about Islam, she asked me are you Muslim? And I said yes. And then she said, You know about the this Islamic Center and so on. And she told me where to go, who to see, give me some names. And I went there. And that was basically the beginning of my learning and

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entering into Islam officially, as they would say, at that point that you took your Shahada, I took my Shahada, and they taught me how to pray and I'm delighted. And then eventually you ended up going off and studying Islam, like kind of at a more, you know, advanced level, what what how did that opportunity come about? I had a thirst for knowledge, like I used to love to read. We didn't have this distraction of the internet or right YouTube. So it was in the books and it was information like you would get from an individual or so somebody told me that why don't you go study in the Islamic University of Medina. And it was just like, you know, I heard the word university but I

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didn't know anything about Medina. What was Medina where was Medina? And said, Oh, I guess like, sure. They told me I will bring you this application. You fill it out. I filled it out. And I think three years passed until I finally got accepted. Wow, I even forgot about it. I got married even

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hungry. So I mean, at that point now haven't really you've had a little bit of taste of Islam. You've had a you know, a little bit of a community that you can kind of base yourself around. What was the reaction of your family? What was your reaction of the people who knew you before Islam now that you became a full fledged Muslim? In the beginning, I think they thought it was just another fad. Like, you know,

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I grew up on in the breakdancing days. rap music, right

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There was, there was a lot of fads going on. And you know, people would try to try this, try that out. And so I think my parents at first, they thought, you know, he's going through something now you know, something different, he's trying something else.

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It'll go away or whatever. So they left me alone, like, nobody bothered, you know, I used to pray in my room by myself, or there was nothing really to do even I used to abstain from pork, my mum used to, like, you know, not cook it or even bring it in the house, or, and so on. So nobody had a problem.

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It's just when it came to maybe talking sometimes about about the dean, you know, about what's, what should be done and what's allowed what's not allowable, there was kind of friction there. Right? They didn't want to accept it, or they didn't want to, you know, they didn't want to become Muslim. Right. So it kind of was frustrating at first. So since then, has any of your family come within Islam until now? No, no guide them?

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So I mean, what is that? Like? I mean, I think you know, a lot of people who make it easy, yeah, might be born Muslim, they might not understand that, that feeling, what is that? Like? No, there's definitely a difference then, like, you know, some people, some of their family members are not practicing, as they say, although I don't like that word. But they're not really, you know, practicing the religion. It's much different when you have parents, or you have grandparents or you have relatives, brothers and sisters, you know, that you've grown up with all your life, you've known all your life, you love them, it's natural, you know, and they're just not becoming Muslim.

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And when you know that, you know, for instance,

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the punishment or what Allah subhanaw taala says about those that disbelieve in about those that you know, and so on, it's not easy. But all we can do is we have to remember, like the life of the Prophet Muhammad SAW Selim first, right, his uncle, his grandfather, you know, his uncle didn't accept Islam, on his deathbed, and he died upon that. Right. And Allah says that you do not guide whom you who you wish to be guided, but Allah guides whom, whomever he pleases. And I think that's so powerful, because a lot of people think like, just because your family or your brother or sister has a Muslim name, that all of a sudden Mashallah they reserve their spot. and gentlemen, as we

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know, the prophet, I sent him he taught us that, you know, that Allah subhanaw taala, will allow us into gender based on his mercy on his Rama.

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So, I think it's a good reminder for people even who have Muslim families that, you know, even if we try and guide them or give them advice, you know, obviously, he dies from Hamas panel to Allah. But in this case, I think it's something that I've studied a little bit of, because I know like a lot of brothers and sisters, you know, sometimes they don't feel as connected to the Muslim community, and then they go home and they don't have Muslim family. So they are almost like double black sheep.

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Can you disgust that feeling of Well, those are the individuals that me I was never followed up like, Shangri La, by the favor of Allah alone, by a loss favor upon me.

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Like, I did it on my own, I have to do it on my own. And also the desire was there. And by the guidance of Allah only by the guidance of Allah, like I stuck with it. Unfortunately, what I've seen in the last years, like being a Muslim, is that a lot of the Muslim communities are not following up. You know, they're happy. And it's a it's a grand occasion, when somebody wants to take Shahada, he wants to come to the masjid and he wants to become a Muslim, or she wants to become a Muslim. And everybody's there, and everybody gathers around, and they get the phones, you know, and they're videotaping and excited. And then the person takes Shahada, and everybody's like, you know,

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cheering. But then after that, you know, the day after, maybe still somebody will kind of check on them or bring them to the masjid. But as weeks pass, and as the months pass, and that person is no longer to be seen, they know. And we, I worry, like, did they leave Islam? Did they change their mind that they forget, this is what actually, all of us have to be aware of, and we are going to be accountable for I actually, just Friday, this last week here, we had a sister coming to Islam here at the center. And I know that even myself, you know, I've seen a lot of people come into slime just sporadically, you know, somebody says, Hey, I have a friend, they want the Shahada. But I think now

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with a little bit of experience, people in the community are realizing like, Look, we got to make sure they're right, you know, we got to make sure they know what's up. Because there's way too many people who are coming into Islam and then leaving, you know, within the first like, two, three weeks. Any advice for what the community can do to better improve this follow up down as you were talking about? Well, even what's worse than that is not only leaving, but I guess there's nothing worse than leaving or

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reverting back, but like, getting also heretical beliefs or, you know, fundamentalist beliefs, not fundamental, radical beliefs. And you know, it's It has nothing to do with Islam. And they, you know, they listen to somebody or they saw something on the internet, or this is a big problem. Also, what do you think there's all these like, now they have this whole rant about these convert guys who are coming into Islam, and they're becoming like, some crazy terrorists and this type of like, I mean, now I've heard there's been statements actually in the west where the one guy was coming out saying how

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You know, we shouldn't be giving people shadows or we shouldn't be, we should be very skeptical, the people who want to come into Islam, what are your thoughts around that? Well, the bottom line is that, you know, we can't guide anybody the guidance comes from Allah. The thing is that

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we are commanded by Allah subhanaw taala. To do our right and do our calling others to Allah is not only on on non Muslims, and you get them to come to Islam. But also like, you know, it may be that Muslims that have gone straight Muslims that don't know, Muslims have no knowledge or somebody has is ignorant, you need to call those people also. So setting up our programs, setting up programs in the Islamic centers for these converts for these individuals who can't like you know, don't have the knowledge they don't know yet. This is what we should be doing. What are some of the

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you know, okay, I'll give you an example. Sorry, I was thinking of something. But I'll give you another example. I think one of the challenges that I see specifically when it comes to reverts What do you prefer the term reverts or converts? I don't know the revert is new. I think we'll revert it was considered myself a convert convert. I think when they say revert it's a person based on the Hadeeth that everyone's born upon the back. Yeah. So you're going back into the future? So I don't know.

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Yeah, I think the same as well. But I think with a lot of people, they think when when they think about reverts, they think about like for instance the issue like marriage, okay, marriage for born Muslim is already a fitna, you know, you have to marry from this Camila you have this person has to be this tall, or this light, or this educational background.

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Getting married, you know, to convert or for a convert to get married also has its own challenges and issues, anything that you've experienced like that.

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I think most of the the widespread problems for converts is for the sisters for the girls is like, maybe if they marry a person who's maybe from an Arabic background, or from African background or Asian background,

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a lot of times the man is expecting her to adapt to his culture. And this is what I've seen. And this is where the problems start. She doesn't know anything about that. She doesn't know how to cook the food. Right? And the problem started after, in the beginning, there may not be those problems, you know, the guy saying Yeah, yeah, like, you know, he's gonna have this new Muslim, and he's gonna, you know, teach her, he's gonna mold her how he wants. But then when it comes to the culture after, you know, she's maybe not so quickly to respond, right? The guys being converts

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the same thing, like the guys being commerce, they don't really know anything yet. So maybe it's depending also on the sister, she might have to teach him. Right, right. So one thing I noticed, actually, is that you've seen some sisters who, for instance, you know, they come into slap hamdulillah. And now they want to get married, but like, they don't have a welding, they don't have anyone who's you know, particularly looking after them. So some brothers will actually prey on sisters like this, you know, I've seen brother specifically who say, I want to marry a convert, and you say, like, Why, what difference does it make and say, you know, because that way, I don't have

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to do with the families. And that way I don't have to, and it's like, an easy way out for them. You know, it's like, very vulnerable person. Have you seen or dealt with issues like that where reverse sisters are getting abused. In this sense, I've dealt with this on a regular basis. And this idea of, I'm one of those that is actually harsh against that.

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One of those ideas that, you know, she doesn't need a welly or I'll be her wellI or I'll find you early, my friend will be there. Or let's go to this city. You know, let's go see this [???]. I know this Imam, he'll be your family. This is not allowed. You know, and I've asked some of the scholars, right, and the Hadith that you know, we that everybody should know. And I know they know it is that there is no marriage or any woman who marries without the permission of her family that her marriages is void or false or marriages bothered her marriage has bothered. So these brothers like I don't know, like

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these the sisters, may Allah protect them that have no welly? Absolutely no weli like, you know, maybe there are new in Islam and their family has not become Muslim. They have no value, they need to go to the Islamic center. And the valley would be the Imam of the masjid or of the center who was well known and trustworthy, and he would be there. But what about these like, we'll call them drive thru rallies, you know, like somebody who just, you know, this guy and he'll, you know, he'll step in, but sometimes the sisters don't even take that guy's advice. You know, the man might step forward and say, Look, sister, this is not a good fit for you. This brother is not good. But they'll

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say, look, I like him. I want to get married to him. So you know, if you don't want to do it, I'll find somebody else. What's the responsibility of the well he at that point? Well, I don't know how much you can do. Like especially. I'm not sure like

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when you you can't lead a horse to what is it you you can lead a horse to water but you can't make them drink? Yeah, exactly. I don't know.

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Yeah, I mean, maybe I put you in a Tough Coat because I don't know either To be honest, but I think that you know, even for the sisters out there, you know who have gone through situations like that. It's always good to make sure you have somebody that you know, you trust and you stick with them, right? Because I've seen that too often that you know, sisters, particularly

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Reverse sisters, we'll find a William if he if he doesn't agree with what she wants, then she'll just jump to the next one. But I don't even know how like, when you say, she'll find the welly, like, Where does she get the permission to find her own welly? I don't know, either. I don't know. Maybe I'm on Google, Facebook, Facebook? I don't know. Yeah, I think that a lot of people kind of get confused with the whole family situation. And it's really, a lot of times it's either like a friend's father, you know, somebody who you know, like your close sister and her dad can step in, or somebody else in the community that you might know, an uncle or something like that can step in. But

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I always wonder like, how much justice we're doing to the sisters? Because I know, for instance, like, if it was my sister, or my daughter, or my, you know, I wouldn't, you know, I wouldn't throw them to have these guys on the street, you know, I'm saying. So I think it's something to definitely keep track of.

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What do you think about being? Now this is a bit of an awkward question. So I hope you'll bear with me in sha Allah, what do you think about being a white convert in a community that is very, like, how's a very nice way of saying that, like, very obsessed with white culture, you know, like, when a white person comes into a slum? It's almost like, Oh, he's an angel. I think he's an angel. Right? They think this brother is like, a lot. Like, we're finally we've proven ourselves, right? You got inspiration? Exactly. Well, that's a misconception. It's, it's, it's not a lot of times what I found like, unfortunately, you know, sometimes How do you know that the guy is not becoming Muslim to

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marry somebody? Right? And it's not always what we see. We can only judge what's what's the ball here, the apparent, but we also have to, you have to be careful with anybody, right? So this, this idea, I'm not with it. So no, I mean, like, for instance, when when white girls sometimes like if a white sister takes Shahada, like you see brothers, Mashallah the machine, it's like, it became an aid for them, you know, like, they get all excited, and they get like, oh, man, we got a white girl, you know, I'm saying, but like, the producers laughing. But I think that, like, that, obviously carries its own stigma, right? Because then these sisters are, you know, being chased for the wrong

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reasons. Yep. There's the wrong reasons. And you also don't know what you might be getting into. Right? It doesn't make them, you know, also rightly guided all of a sudden, or just because the title convert or no, no, I don't know. Yeah. Anyways, I really, really, you know, I'm hopeful that the community here in the West can and do a lot more to help support the new Muslims and the reverse, and brothers and sisters who are coming into Islam. Any advice? You think, as an overall perspective, you know, what are some tips or pointers, we as communities can implement to help better accommodate the new Muslims coming into Assam,

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the communities themselves, like I said, the programs or, you know, maybe if you have to pay someone or make that his job, or make a group of people that their job, you know, that they take care of the converts that come to Islam, whether male or female, have somebody for both, right? But just to kind of, you know, set up a program maybe once a week, you know, lecture for converts or, you know, a general lecture for converts, I actually, I had that when I became Muslim. There was a gentleman, may Allah have mercy upon him that he was teaching the converts only, every once a week, we had the program downstairs in the masjid. And he would give us a lesson for the conference. So I think

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that's the least that's the minimum that should be done. What types of lessons like give me an example about about belief about loss loss?

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Anything from the religion? You know about prayer and stuff like that? Yeah.

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Do you find that just just to give them a pamphlet and then say, okay, you know, like, Call me if you need anything or No, I don't think it's enough anymore. Do you feel as though being a revert coming from this country? You know, having an experience here? This equips you with a lot more.

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I would say, credibility when giving Dawa even to the non Muslims of this country. Do you find as though, you know, there are certain advantages as well that you might possess it, for instance, someone from overseas with an accent maybe doesn't have? Yeah, I think it is an advantage, unfortunately, like, it's a reality. Right? You know, I speak the language I was born here, I understand the culture here, as in, you know, I understand how the people, what kind of fazes them, and you know, what to say what not to say how to say it, you know? So, in that area, yeah, like, I have a benefit, I have a benefit over, let's say, somebody who's an immigrant or right, somebody may

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have more knowledge than me. But like I said, the background here, and this being my culture, and so on. So that's, that's probably the the most advantage that I have. Just to just to go back to what I think before. Whenever people hear that, you know, let's say you talk to them about Islam, non Muslims. You know, the first thing when I became Muslim, I accepted Islam, the first thing they say, is, Oh, you got you became Muslim to get married? I said, No, no, no. That's the first thing. They say, oh, is your wife this or is your wife and you say, yeah, and then they say, well, that's why that's why you became Muslim.

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I want to get a little bit spice in your life. Yeah. But so is that a common occurrence that you think

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Got married, I mean, get a moment happening become Muslim to get married. It was for a while. Okay, years ago, I don't know about now.

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I think now I don't see that as much. I mean, maybe I'm just a little bit ignorant. I think a lot of people, you know, for whatever reasons have been coming to Stanford for the right reasons. And we definitely as a community need to do a lot more to support them and make sure that they stay in Islam. I think that's a huge barrier. Right now we're facing I've personally given Shahada to people. You know, I gave Shahada, for instance, to one Jamaican guy, and the next day, he brought a Filipino friend with him. And he's very enthusiastic. And he's a one my friend to learn was I thought I gave his French Shahada too, we talk about Islam. Maybe two, three days later, I got a

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call saying that this Filipino guy went home, told his family, the family flipped out. He's like, I'm not Muslim anymore. He left Islam just like that in two, three days. And I was so heartbroken. It was a reality check for me to say like, wow, you know, sometimes just giving that Shahada it's such an Amana like you have to really make sure that they're right for it because at that point, they may not even want to come back into Islam you know, they might be like in a situation where they are anti you know, Islam kind of outright. So anyways, Zack locker for joining us on this episode of hanging out and you know, just any benefits or points that people picked up inshallah

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hopefully, you know, my pleasure. Yeah, they'll definitely take that home with them. So definitely make sure you guys stay tuned next time inshallah. We're gonna have another guest on this beautiful show, where we hang out and discuss so many range of issues with different speakers and preachers. Just like our shake. Yeah, boo. Samia does not care for joining a shaker bottle. inshallah we'll see you all next time. Take care Zakat located in Kumamoto, la he obata catch. Oh

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confetti, then