This is my fourth Ramadan, Alhamdulilah. I’ve been part of the 1.5 (-ish) billion Muslims around the world for four years now. I’m American and white and I grew up as a Catholic. I have a big laugh, lots of drive, and often, a strong opinion. I loved God before I became Muslim, and I love Him now. My lifestyle hasn’t changed much since my conversion. Family means the world to me, even if most of mine is distant now. But I’ve learned a ton about humans since I became a Muslim. It has opened my mind and my heart in ways I had never anticipated.
I am writing you this letter to tell you how much I love you. I often disagree with you. I often lament the cultural issues that bleed into the religious. I often wish life were easier, that we all got along, that we were willing to see the ways our community needs to be better, more transparent, inclusive. I am regularly part of conversations about how converts are seen as spectacles, to be lauded at the reciting of the shahadah, and then largely forgotten. Most of us don’t look like the rest of you and cannot claim any familial relations to yours. But let me tell you something really important: You aren’t so different from all the people I know on the other side. You know, the non-Muslim side. Most people are just trying to figure it out and do their best.
I love you because you have the courage to be proudly Muslim when the world tells you that means something that has been maligned. I love you because you’ve taught me to keep opening my heart even further, to push the boundaries I had, to see goodness even in hardship, to be grateful for the mercies that always come. I love you because you have allowed me to ask the stupid questions, the ones I needed to ask so that I understood you better. I know you have your issues. I have some too. But I love you anyway.
I’ve done a lot of thinking lately, and I’ve come to the conclusion that you don’t owe me anything. It isn’t my place to ask you to open your homes or your arms to welcome me. I became Muslim because I read the Quran and I studied the beliefs and they felt like home. There wasn’t any other reason. And all of you have your own stuff going on. I get it. And from now on, I’m just another Muslim, not a convert. Rather run-of-the-mill really. Just call me Muslim.
But I have a big favor to ask too. Open your hearts and minds this Ramadan. See the world as a giant place that needs you to bring your best self to it, because it needs you badly. That may mean that you strike up conversations with people not like you. People need to hear your stories. They need to know that you have dreams and hopes and kids you love. Talk to them. We are not “other.” We are so much the same.
Thank you so much for all that you have taught me. May we find greater connection to God this Ramadan, and may we grow spiritually. May we open our hearts bigger. Ameen.
All my love,
Trisha Mokosh runs her own leadership development company, loves to travel, and finds people utterly fascinating.
Previous Post: If young people are the future, who’s leading the interfaith movement? - Charlotte Dando