"Kak, we don't know what to say to her," they informed me when they met me a few years ago.
I listened as they expressed their own worries and fears of trying to help their housemate, a revert to live as Muslim. They were worried when she returned home late and they didn't know how to advise her without offending her. I offered to meet her but unfortunately, that meeting never took place.
Only those who have walked the same road would understand what another Muslim revert is going through.
While other Muslims watch, a revert to Islam undergoes many emotional and physical changes upon reciting the 2-kalimah syahadah.
S(he) has to deal with reactions from family and friends. Not all reactions will be positive, so our new family member will need strength and courage to face any opposition to his/her new faith.
The younger the revert is, the more challenges (s)he will face.
Worries about how to survive in case his/her family disowns him/her. Fears about living on his/her own without any money or financial assistance.
Feelings of guilt when loved ones question about his/her loyalty and love for the family.
Sense of helplessness when an air of uncertainty looms about his/her own future.
Anger and frustrations when dealing with the authorities handling Muslim revert cases.
Sadness and guilt when unable to deal with pressure from family and friends who wants him/her to return to the original religion.
"Sabar," that's what they'd tell him/her.
"It's a test of your faith," they'd inform him/her.
"Many have gone through it," they said.
They forget one important thing.
Man cannot survive on faith alone.
Telling a person to be patient while at the same time, (s)he is not materially provided for, in my opinion, cruel.
Telling a person to be patient when dealing with opposition from non-Muslim family members, while at the same time, (s)he is not supported with a loving, responsible Muslim family to guide and provide shelter, is thoughtlessness.
Help arrives slowly.
Financial assistance is even slower.
While most look on in sympathy, not everyone opens their doors to welcome a new brother or sister into their homes.
Meanwhile, the shelters provided for these special group are often in secluded areas, cutting them off from the normal daily activities they're used to.
People start to ask,"Why do you? What makes you interested to become a Muslim?" in order to hear a new story. When the story ends, they say 'sayonara.'
People start to watch for flaws in a brother/sister. They're expected to learn everything about living as a Muslim within a short period of time, be perfect in Islamic dressing, be good and angelic.
People are eager to introduce a (wo)man to the new Muslim revert, without actually finding out what he/she really needs.
Those paid to manage the welfare of this group seldom do a good job (proof me wrong!).
So how does a Muslim revert cope?
By doing his/her best.
By ignoring the negative comments of others, and rely mainly on Allah swt.
By having plan A, B, C and D on how to survive even BEFORE reverting to Islam because it's stupid to rely on the mercy and help from other Muslims.
It's important to always have a Plan A, plan B and plan C because the Muslims they think (and believe) can and would help, might fail to help.
(S) he might be left in the lurch without any money in the pocket, without any shelter, and without any job.
I'm fortunate because I reverted at the ripe age of 35.
I didn't have to worry about where to stay ( I was studying, so was provided a hostel room with minimal charges per year) and how to pay my bills (I received a monthly salary because I already had a job).
As a more matured person with more life experiences, I could cope better than the average Malaysian Muslim revert.
Others are not so lucky.
And I worry for them.
There're young reverts, eager to live a fully-committed Muslim life, and they're not yet financially secure.
They might stumble along the way, be frustrated by the lack of action by certain parties, and be discouraged by the lack of attention and help by fellow Muslim brothers and sisters.
Some have given up and returned to their past lives, moved to another town and nobody knew about his/her reversion until his/her death reveals it.
Then what happens next?
Oh, pardon me friends, but I have to say something about something commented by somebody (but not direct to me).
Sometimes I prefer to deal with non-Muslims who criticise Islam than with certain members of the Muslim family who think that reverts like me who haven't undergone proper Islamic studies like they have, shouldn't give opinions about Islamic matters online. Oh, before I forget... I might not be qualified to say anything regarding Islam because I mostly learn from online materials and books, and "tak berguru"?
Come on, I "offer" anyone who had said so, to teach me Islamic studies or give me usrah face-to-face?
Not up to the challenge?
I'm not angry.
I'm just amused at the short-sightedness of such people :P