Short Answer: Many Muslims do not see anything wrong with the way the mosques are run. The only piece of advice I can give you here is to try to enact the change you want to see. I highly encourage you to reach out to and connect with other converts though the Internet.
Salam sister and thank you for submitting this question.
As a convert, myself, I can understand a lot of the struggles and frustrations you feel.
Dealing with the ins and outs of different mosque communities, all while dealing with the overwhelming reality of being a new Muslim can be extremely difficult.
I will address a few points from your question.
Firstly, in regard to having a comprehensive guide for new Muslims, most Arabic phrases are relatively easy to find on the internet.
Then, there is also…Sister Aishah’s Beginner’s Cheat Sheet with AUDIO! You can also find it on Facebook. As well as on Soundcloud.
This is also a nice list.
But even if Arabic terms are easy to find online, having a general resource available to new Muslims would be very handy to have.
Mosques & Muslim Communities
As far as inclusion of new Muslims goes, this is an aspect that can be particularly difficult for those of us who have grown up with a church community.
Many churches go out of their way to make newcomers feel welcome and there are a lot of programs to encourage community involvement.
The unfortunate truth is that these programs either do not exist, or exist on a much smaller scale in mosques.
There are some mosques with youth programs or groups for converts, but there is not the same amount of emphasis put on them.
This particular point leads into your other observation about Muslim communities being much more concerned with interfaith activities than we are with reforming what is wrong within our mosques.
There are, perhaps, several reasons for this, though my conclusions are limited to my own speculation.
For one thing, Muslims have been the target of much vitriol in Western countries. So I do understand and support the desire to reach out to other communities in attempts to humanize ourselves to others.
Interfaith events are meant to bring Muslims and Islam to the level of “normal-ness” with which Christianity, Judaism, and other major religions are viewed in this country.
Another point may simply be that many Muslims do not see anything wrong with the way the mosques are run.
Many people are content with the patriarchal structure that excludes women from leadership and keeps converts lingering on the edges of the community.
In their minds, there is no broken system to fix in the first place.
I wish that there was some sort of a solution that I could give you for this.
The only piece of advice I can give you here is to try to enact the change you want to see.
There are certainly some like-minded individuals in your community. Even if the larger community does not want to see change, you could operate in your own way within your own group.
I do understand, however, that this is easier said than done.
This leads me to the final point I am going to address.
I understand and empathize with the desire to connect with other Muslims in a forum that does not rely on the internet. However, if you are dissatisfied with the mosques in your area, this may be the best option for you.
I highly, highly encourage you not to disregard this possibility.
Over my nine years as a Muslim I have made many more Muslim friends online than I have in “real life.”
Fact is, this is the 21st century, the internet very much is real life.
Friendship Through Social Media
There are several women whom I have only met online who I talk with on a daily basis and feel very close to.
We exchange texts and voice messages. We talk about mundane goings-on in our life.
We discuss all sorts of different things, advise each other, support each other. All of this is done entirely online.
As much as it may seem that I am brushing off some of your concerns, do realize that I understand the struggles you’re going through and the frustrations you face.
What you are experiencing is something that many converts face.
I do encourage you to reach out to and connect with other converts, be in online, through the mosque, or another community group like a university Muslim Students Association.
Many duaa to you and I wish you the very best.
Don’t hesitate to reach out to us on About Islam.
Please keep in touch.
(From Ask About Islam archives)
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