Each One, Teach One
Morales explained the need for convert-centered educational and social programs and projects like Embrace.
“Embrace – A project of ICNA is important because according to a study done in the Pew Research Center in early 2018, just as many Muslims leave the faith as those who convert. Studies show that many converts eventually leave Islam, not because of lack of belief in its tenets, but for a lack of acceptance and communal support. Unfortunately, Converts find themselves marginalized from their local mosques, Muslim councils, leadership, and the greater Muslim Community overall.”
The organization has programs that encourage people born into the faith to learn how to socialize effectively with Muslim converts, avoiding alienation and discrimination. They also have peer support between converts.
“As part of our educational programs, we offer Convert Sensitivity Training—a program designed for born Muslims to learn how to interact with New Muslims personally and professionally within the community and socially,” described Morales.
“Our Ansar program [is] tailored individually for each convert’s needs. How it basically works is we pair compatible individuals from the same gender to assist one another in times of need or until our next weekly gathering. Embrace staff is always available, but this gives our members the opportunity to gain leadership skills and it empowers them to become more confident as they continue growing themselves in the deen.
“No Convert is the same,” said Morales. “Everyone comes from different walks of life. We treat everyone with dignity, equality, and respect. However, because this project is conducted by other converts, we understand firsthand and acknowledge that we are all different therefore we cater to everyone accordingly to their specific needs. Everyone learns and heals at their own pace. At Embrace, your Journey is Our Journey.”
Kenneth Misurella stressed the importance for Muslim communities to include support for converts/reverts throughout the year, during Ramadan and Eid.
“Local Muslim leaders and organizations should do their utmost to provide accommodating environments for converts. Leaders should encourage their community to open their homes to new Muslims and make sure new Muslims have an invitation every day for iftar.”
When giving a talk or leading a discussion, it is leaders’ responsibility to provide proper translations of Arabic terms and phrases so new Muslims don’t feel lost and aren’t forced to ask the meaning. Most importantly, our leaders and organizations should make sure the new Muslims are not spending `Eid Al-Fitr alone.
Eid, which is supposed to be a day of celebration for Muslims, is the loneliest time for many converts. A new Muslim should have so many invitations on that day they do not know where to go first!
It is a communal responsibility to provide new Muslims the tools they need for success, both in and out of Ramadan. Of course, if there is a local Embrace chapter in their area, leaders and organizations can also connect their new Muslims to Embrace, who should have the tools to accommodate their needs.
Misurella told About Islam how communities can open their own Embrace chapter.
“If a community is interested in starting a branch in Embrace, they should first identify key converts in the community interested in initiating the project. Embrace is primarily a convert led initiative, and this niche is something which should be replicated in all Embrace branches.
Local Muslims leading the project should develop a solid understanding of the Embrace mission and vision to ensure their efforts lead towards our ultimate goal—to develop a community which embraces converts. From there, they can reach out to our main branch in Dallas at [email protected].Pages: 1 2