British Islam Conference
Presenter: Batool al-Toma
Between isolation and integration
There are three distinct communities; The heritage Muslim community, the convert community and wider society.
For converts there is rapture and rupture. The rapture is the inner delight and excitement of finding a spiritual path and a relationship with God. The rupture occurs when you share your experience with those who are close to you. The tearing apart of your relationships as you face the negative reaction to your conversion.
You face alienation from both sides; Muslims and non-Muslims. You feel like a pendulum swinging from the society you came from and the Muslim society you are entering into. Trying to find a peaceful resting place in both these communities.
Your family expect you to come back from this temporary phase of conversion. There is little cultural sensitivity from Muslims towards converts. There is an expectation from the Muslim community of sameness. That all Muslims must be exactly the same. But we are all different with different identities. You can’t make us all the same. Muslims find it difficult to understand that we are all different and not the same.
We need to be comfortable with a sense of Britishness in Islam. Batool developed a marriage ceremony that made it easier for the families of converts to attend a Muslim wedding and for the process to be a better cultural fit for British converts.