Kullu shay haram!
What would a convert’s experience be without having encountered the ‘haram police’?
Let me set the scene:
You are not even a year past your shahadah. You walk into a masjid wearing the latest jeans, a hooded top and sporting a flat top hair cut with a fade. So far so good. You sit down minding your own business, taking in the atmosphere of your new worshipping grounds…then it happens!
A brother approaches. Little to your knowledge he’s been meaning to approach you ever since you entered (yeah, he was watching for that long). He’s slim, tall and wearing a long white thawb with a Chinese collar. You greet him with salam. He salams you back. He proceeds to sit by you with his legs crossed. Here come the initial superficial questions: your name, where you’re from etc. You know, the small talk that sets up for the real reason he decided to heat-seek you in particular. At this point you feel the beginnings of a great conversation with your brother in faith. Then the condemnation begins. Yes; the epicentre of the earthquake about to erupt on you. Your entire existence is haram.He begins with your hair cut, haram! Your western clothing, haram. Your English/ non-arab name, haram. Then your western clothing, haram. Your designer perfume (forget how he knows it by its name), haram. In fact, by the time he’s done, next to nothing about you is halal. Whatever little of you isn’t haram is bid’ah including the way you are trying to learn you religion (let’s face it, you’re done for). This brother means well or course. His demeanor is so polite he brings all new meaning to the phrase ‘killing me softly’. The fact that you are a new Muslim doesn’t come into it, haram is haram.
Now that his well meaning brother has successfully torn down the entire essence of your being he kindly suggests ways for you to redeem yourself…his way. His understanding. His “minhaj”. He informs you of the well known hadith that talks about a time to come when the Muslims will be split into a certain number of sect, of whom are hell bound except one. Of course he a member of that one group…and you could too!
26 years later…I’m still wearing the jeans. Still got the English name. Life post 40 has me somewhat follicly challenged, hence the flat top is gone (besides I’m a bit old for the 90s Hip Hop/ RnB look). Much has changed and much hasn’t – The haram police are still around. I’m no scholar but I’m a touch more clued up than my young teenaged self. I look back smiling at that memory. I smile even more when I am approached by the new generation haram police. Same approach. Same arguments but more energy. Same good intentions. Just one difference, I don’t engage.
As a convert there are many rites of passage. Meeting the haram police is one such rite. Those who have come across them know what I’m talking about. As for those who have been deprived of such an experience…you have no idea what you are missing
-ANDREW RAMSEY WAS BORN AND RAISED IN SOUTH LONDON. HE IS A TEACHER, MARTIAL ARTS INSTRUCTOR AND YOUTH WORKER