I recently came across an article entitled “Why Are Some Muslim Men Obsessed With White Converts” written by Kaya Gravitter. The article basically talks about how some Muslim men are inclined to marry white converts for various reasons, and the author dissects the arguments in the form of mini rebuttals. A lot of the counter responses were very problematic to me and I’d like to highlight them in this article. This is not an attack on the author, I am sure she has her own frustrations, and intended to provide beneficial advice for her male audience. However, as a Muslim male, I feel compelled to respond to some of the points as a response to the general attitude and not the individual.
The author says:
Brothers tell me they want a convert because she was not born a Muslim and she found Islam by herself. I am told by Muslim men that they want a convert so he can teach her about Islam. He does this so he can receive more good deeds. Us converts are not “good deed tokens” you can just receive to get into heaven. God loves humble people. If you are expecting to get good deeds for selfish reasons, don’t waste your time.
The author is criticizing a man for wanting to teach his wife about Islam for reward, as if that is something disliked. One of the reasons people get married is because they feel that is a religious obligation, and they receive rewards for doing so. The Prophet (S) said:
"Marriage is my sunnah. Whosoever keeps away from it is not from me."
And Allah says:
وَعَاشِرُوهُنَّ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ فَإِن كَرِهْتُمُوهُنَّ فَعَسَىٰ أَن تَكْرَهُوا شَيْئًا وَيَجْعَلَ اللَّهُ فِيهِ خَيْرًا كَثِيرًا
Live with them in kindness, for if you dislike them, then perhaps you dislike something but Allah has placed therein much good. (Surah An-Nisa 4:19)
So, if we are looking at marriage as a form of worship and drawing nearer to Allah SWT through righteousness, why would it be wrong for a man to seek that in a revert? The term “selfish reasons” could be used in many examples and can be made to look negative. For example, if a woman says, “I want to complete half my deen and get married”. Would that be a selfish reason? If a woman is looking for a partner who can provide a certain standard of living (beyond basics), could that be selfish? The problem lies in the fact that “selfish” is a very subjective term when talking about marriage. Marriage in many ways is like a business contract. Each side has expectations from the other and they mutually agree to get married. One could call the expectations “selfish” but, it’s human nature.
The author goes on to say:
Some Brothers who marry converts say that they are worried their wife will leave Islam and become a Christian again. Maybe, brother, you are not secure about your Islam and don’t practice it properly, so you think she’ll leave the religion. If you are so worried about that, maybe you should be a better Muslim and husband; then she will never want to leave Islam. That means you should worry about your own faith, before you worry about hers.
Worrying about a convert spouse leaving Islam is a legitimate concern in the modern era since studies have indicated that many reverts to Islam end up leaving Islam as indicated by Imam Luqman Ahmad and Rubain Manzoor. That coupled with that fact that many born Muslims are also leaving the religion for Atheism as indicated in the Washington Post. This is a natural concern given the circumstances we live under today. It’s also important to note that many reverts also chose not to marry other reverts and prefer to marry born Muslims for several reasons. This may be uneasy for some people to digest, but these are legitimate concerns that any person may have. The other interesting point to note is that the author says, “If you are so worried about that, maybe you should be a better Muslim and husband; then she will never want to leave Islam”. I find this to be problematic because the author previously said “don’t expect that converts don’t know anything about Islam. I researched Islam for three years before I converted”. So why would the reverts belief in Islam be dependent upon how the man were to behave if the revert has understood what Islam as all about before becoming a Muslim.
The author continues and says:
“I’ve also heard brothers say they refuse to marry coverts and only want to marry born Muslims, so they can teach their kids everything about Islam. Yes, let’s put all of the burden on women yet again to carry the family. Also, when looking for someone to marry, we should never put aside anyone because of their race or the way they were raised.”
I understand that this maybe upsetting for some reverts to hear but I believe the individuals who make this claim have deeper reasons behind their decision. When and individual gets married, there are many factors that are taken into consideration. Factors such as cultural compatibility, gender roles, in-law relationships, dietary habits, etc. Sometimes people overlook the importance of compatibility and focus only on the deen. Of course, the deen should be the most important thing but if two practicing people are not compatible, it’s inevitable that there will be a strain on the marriage. Based on this, it’s understandable that people will have preferences for individuals from certain cultures over another. In an age of political correctness and social justice, I recognize this may not be the favorable viewpoint. However, the reality is that humans have always had preferences and they will continue to have preferences.
In the final part of the article, the author mentions:
“Basically, when looking for a wife, it’s okay to have a preference of who you want to marry, but it’s not okay to have a fetish. You should be diverse in your mindset. Black Muslimahs, or born Muslims of different ethnicities are just as great, if not better”.
The author choses to use the word “fetish” and I am not entirely sure why because generally the term fetish means “a sexual attraction to objects or body parts of lesser sexual importance (or none at all) such as feet or certain types of clothing”. The author is comparing a man’s preferences to fetishes, when in fact they are not related at all. A person preferring someone of a certain race can’t always be faulted because part of it is related to genuine attraction. Simply put, a person can’t control who they find attractive. The author can say there a plenty of women of different color and backgrounds, but that doesn’t mean the person can simply train themselves to automatically be attracted to something they weren’t attracted to before.
Sexuality is a very sensitive subject among Muslims, but it’s an important one. Men and women are built different and often enough they view sex and intimacy very differently. The reason I bring this is up is because the author attempted to use the word fetish in a negative implication to describe male arousal and intimacy. It is perfectly natural for men to like certain body parts, colors, smells, and so forth. As a matter of fact, this is part of normal sexuality. It seems the author chose to use this term to highlight the point she was trying drive home, which was that Muslim men should not be obsessed with white reverts. The author may have failed to realize that they may be interested in “white” reverts because they may share the same cultural norms that they have or would like to have. It could also be purely based on the fact that they are attracted to “white” women. We will never know unless we hear their reasons. However, it is very normal for women to receive solicitors for marriage, irrespective of their race or religion. The bottom line is that men will always be attracted to women and men have their preferences, as women do. Perhaps the author is more aware of these Muslim men who want “white” reverts because she is one. She most likely has never come across a brother looking for only a “black” revert sister because a brother looking for that probably wouldn’t approach her since she doesn’t fit the criteria. We live in a time where people are becoming more and more afraid to express their political views, preferences, and opinions because of political correctness. We must allow people to express themselves respectfully or we will be creating a generation of individuals that will rebel to the opposite extreme in the future. Let us not label and “shame” preferences/opinions because we may not agree with them, but rather let humans be humans.
October 11, 2017
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