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7 Things I Didn’t Expect When I Converted to Islam

Take the overwhelming desire for people to know how others live, along with the fact that I am having a hankering to talk about myself this week, and mix in the fact that lists are fun and in the world of technical writing- easy to digest.

And what results is:

Let the countdown begin!

7. I didn’t Expect to Love Dressing Modestly

I thought I would have to swaddle myself in hideously, un-creative clothing in order to observe hijab. While I became interested in controlling who saw what parts of me, I didn’t want to give up my style. Now there is nothing wrong with looking bland if that is your thing, but it is not mine.

I am in LOVE with color, and I am a highly creative person with a love for fashion. I learned that I didn’t have to give up my signature style just because I wanted to be modest. See islamwich’s pinterest page if you want more examples of what I mean. Modesty doesn’t mean giving up style. I was very happy to discover that.

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6. I didn’t Expect There to Be So Many Different Brands of Islam

I didn’t expect that every Muslim that I would meet would want me to subscribe to their own special brand of Islam. It gets very confusing for brothers and sisters who convert. All you have to do is verify, verify, verify. Know! Your! Sources!

The great thing about Islam is that everything is documented and verified. Meticulously. I learned this the hard way. When I first converted, I thought every Muslim knew better than me. And mostly they did, but there are also Muslims out there who feel very passionately about the brand of Islam their parents blindly took from their parents, and so on.

Muslims and non-Muslims alike, go to the source and ask your friendly neighborhood Muslims to verify the “Islamic facts” he/she is trying to sell you. If he/she becomes upset by this request, walk away, he/she has an issue with arrogance.

5. I didn’t Expect to Save So Much Time Not Fighting a Daily Battle with My Hair

If you take into account that, before Islam, on a weekly basis I would spend about 5 hours in total, grooming my mane, and over the period of 12 years of wearing hijab and maybe devoting only 1 hour a week to making my hair look nice for the hubby (ok, so maybe more like 30 minutes, -sorry hubby-).

Carry the 1, I have saved approximately 4,000 years just in hair care time alone. (I am good at math!). THAT! IS! AWESOME!

4. I didn’t Expect to Be Expected to Change My Name

I have a perfectly fine name, thank you. Theresa. It means one who reaps what she sows. How much more “Muslim” can you get? And most people (who are not in my immediate family–because they call me Reesie Roo) call me “Corbin”, a name meaning raven or black bird, because I am a descendant of dark haired folks from Gaul, who were called “Corbin” or black feathered for this pigment of their hair.

By the way, The companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him) didn’t change their names when they converted. Their names became Muslim names, and so did mine, and so can yours.

3. I didn’t Expect Attendance to Be Taken

I did expect to be a part of a community. As a part of the majority in my country, community was not something I was familiar with. What I did not expect was that my attendance in that community would be monitored, questioned, and scrutinized.

Where were you last Friday Prayer? Why weren’t you at the lectures every night and morning? Why don’t you come out to the special Eid event we have planned for small children since you neither have small children nor are you a small child?  All well-meaning, but what they don’t understand is that I am a lone wolf.

However, I have learned that if you want people to like you and desire your presence, don’t go and or at the very least be indifferent to showing up.

2. I didn’t Think I would Be Expected to Be an Expert on Middle Eastern Politics

I didn’t know every Tom, Dick, and Harry would want to debate ME politics with me just because I’m a Muslim. Being a Muslim doesn’t have anything to do with knowing about the Middle East (ME). I am not and have no desire to become an expert on ME politics.

1. I didn’t Expect to Be Loved

I didn’t expect that perfect strangers in every small town and big city I visit would immediately love me … Just because we share a love of Allah (SWT). And I didn’t expect to feel the same way for them. *Gush* ❤ *Barf* That’s enough of that.

(Republished with kind permission from

About Theresa Corbin
Theresa Corbin is the author of The Islamic, Adult Coloring Book and co-author of The New Muslim’s Field Guide. Corbin is a French-creole American and Muslimah who converted in 2001. She holds a BA in English Lit and is a writer, editor, and graphic artist who focuses on themes of conversion to Islam, Islamophobia, women's issues, and bridging gaps between peoples of different faiths and cultures. She is a regular contributor for and Al Jumuah magazine. Her work has also been featured on CNN and Washington Post, among other publications. Visit her blog, islamwich, where she discusses the intersection of culture and religion.