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Rejected and Reformed: A Revert’s Tale – ‘Mending Communities’ Launch

Rejected and Reformed: A Revert’s Tale – ‘Mending Communities’ Launch

Categories: Past Event Articles

Tuesday October 09 2018

On the 29th September 2018, Mending Communities was launched in Birmingham. MEND hosted a community event at full capacity, approximately 70 people, coming together to support a minority within a minority, reverts to Islam. ‘Rejected and Reformed; A Revert’s Tale’ was attended by born Muslims and revert alike, with guest speaker Yusuf Chambers delivering a motivational and inspiring speech . It was proudly supported by the generosity and sincere devotion to help, of organisations such as Islamwise, Solace UK, As Suffa Institute and FitLounge, uniting in one cause.

‘Rejected and Reformed; A Revert’s Tale’ was born out of frustration and a desperate cry for help. MEND were reached out to and asked to recognise the Islamophobia that is faced by reverts on a daily basis by their own families. This isn’t a one off attack on the street or graffiti on a wall, this is rejection, disownment and ostracisation every single day by your own family and close friends. Reverts are being told:

you are extreme

you are mental

you look like death walking in black burkas

you are no longer a part of the family

to go and be one of Muhammad’s wives

to go and kill some white people

stop lingering around us

you are in a cult

I am afraid of your influence on my daughter

 

To some extent all reverts are looked down upon by families, being inferior to them and their ways, they are made to feel guilty for hurting their families and repeatedly having to disappoint families by not ‘being like them.’ For some the rejection is from a few members of the family, for others it can be the entire family, immediate and extended.

It must be mentioned that this type Islamophobia is targeted at born Muslims too.  One of MEND’s local volunteers gave an insight to the definition of Islamophobia, its causes and cures. Inviting the room to report and tackle Islamophobia through MEND’s IRU (Islamophobia Reporting Unit). However, the evening highlighted the struggles reverts in particular battle due to not having family support. Some concerns that were mentioned were:

  • Difficult marriages, no support or back up from a father brother or uncle, no guidance from a caring mother
  • Financial difficulties after being thrown out and ostracised from family homes
  • Suffering from depression and anxiety
  • Confusion in pleasing family or being firm in religion
  • Fear of family attacking
  • Being  vulnerable to extremism within the religion
  • Having no social network or roots or belonging causes reverts to leave the religion
  • Being vulnerable to abuse of all kinds, in some cases by members of the Muslim community itself.

 

MEND were urged to address the role the media is playing in causing some of this Islamophobia. In the course of the evening the audience took part in a ‘rejected’ and ‘reformed’ workshop where they spoke out about being labelled ‘jihadi’, ‘white widow’ and ‘extremists’. The host, who brought the concern to MEND, explained her father told her, before cutting her out of his life again “every time I pick up the paper I see jihadis, groomers, paedophiles, I feel disgusted…I do not want anything to do with that religion and that includes you”. Although she is aware responsibility lies with these awful perpetrators and there is a dire need to address all these issues within every community and race, there is however a very unfair emphasis on the Muslims in the UK. The religion is being blamed rather than the individual whereas under different circumstances and reporting it would never read ‘a Christian man robbed a bank…or an atheist groomer…’ This singling out of Muslims embeds a hatred for an entire community. Hence, being a strong factor in breakdowns in relationships between reverts and their families.

 

The evening kick started a campaign of creating awareness for Muslims to tackle Islamophobia by family members towards reverts. Mending Communities now hopes to conduct an intensive research study into the effects the media has on the perception of Muslims and the impact it has on revert and their families. There are also plenty of upcoming events for reverts and projects they can volunteer for; a campaign video, an anthology of short stories/poetry and gatherings for born Muslims and reverts to come together as a community.

 

The evening was rounded up with a note of hope and gratitude. Whilst the comments of family members can be hurtful, there is an understanding of nuances. The objective is always to MEND community cohesion, to promote tolerance for all and to strive with peace, humility and faith.

The event received some positive statistics from the feedback forms:

88% said it was extremely or very informative (majority said extremely)

94% rated workshop as excellent or good (majority said excellent)

94% rated speakers as excellent or good (excellent figure is 82% so majority again)

All praise is due to Allah the Almighty.

If you would like to get involved in this campaign contact azhar.qayum@mend.org.uk

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