What if I beat myself up for twenty years, thinking that the way you treated me was because of something I had done, when it was nothing like that at all? What if your contempt for me was founded not in my behaviour, but on a sectarianism I had never considered? Is it my fault that those who took me under their wing in those early days were Salafis? Is that all it was? That you considered me a Wahabi and therefore a heretic before I had even got started?
For sure, those were difficult times. I could understand my non-Muslim friends turning their backs on me when I embraced the deen, but the treatment I received from my Muslim brethren was something else. I had been Muslim barely months when the pious ones chose to anathematise me. It is true that in those months I made some wonderful friends, who have accompanied with me ever since. Those friendships I cherish. But the others? The one who once pinned me against the wall by my neck bothered me less than those who consumed my flesh with their tongues.
In two decades, it honestly never occurred to be that the problem was not me. I was sure it was something I had done. But after all, was it just blind hatred? Pure prejudice. A sectarianism I could not possibly have understood, having come to faith via the Quran, seeking the oneness of God.
Of course, we were children then. Some thought themselves little sheikhs, but no, we were just stupid kids. May God preserve the next generation from such stupidity. May God preserve the next generation from my generation. May He replace us with a better generation, guided truly by the light of faith, to shun all sectarian nonsense.
I hope that those that embrace the faith in future are treated better than this. Say to them, “Welcome aboard the caravan.” Make their way easy for them. Embrace them. Recall, “Hold fast to the rope of Allah and do not be divided.” Be patient and forbearing. Welcome them.
Do not push them away, as you pushed me away. Fortunately, I was seeking the oneness of God, not community solidarity or identity, so I am still here, holding on, 23 years later. Yes, despite being the son of two Anglican priests, the nephew of a priest and of four missionaries, my faith forever opposed by my own family, and most of my friends.
Yes, I held on despite my fellow believers pushing me away, because I grasped hold of a firm handhold. Yes, the rope of Allah, not the pure prejudices of whoever wished to steer me towards one sectarian realm or another. Back then I was just a Muslim. Today the same. Whether others choose to welcome me is immaterial. This is the path of God.