Struggles of Being an Ex-Muslim Jewish Convert

Being an ex-Muslim Jewish convert is hard. There are always Jews questioning if you are really Jewish and what your intentions are. And the Islamophobia that I have received from some Jews has been unbelievable. It seems like when they hear that I am an ex-Muslim, all their complaints about Islam come out.

I remember when I was converting.. I did two conversions. First, I did an Orthodox conversion. And then I did a giyur le’chumra. Both times, I hid who I was converting with. Because there were some Jews that were determined to stop an ex-Muslim from becoming halachically Jewish. They didn’t care that I keep Kosher, am Shomer Shabbat or that I am an active and giving member of my Jewish community. All they saw was my Muslim past. And that caused me to have a lot of online harassment before and after my conversion to Judaism. I had to block hundreds of Jews on social media who would attack me for being an ex-Muslim. These attacks would include posting Islamophobic messages and old pictures of me in Islamic garb, and threats to report me to my rabbis, other Jewish authorities, or to ruin my reputation.

Once I became halachically Jewish, things got easier. The online harassment continues. And Shiddichim is very hard. But most Jews who have met me in person have accepted me. But some comments that I sometimes hear from people that I think are my friends are very hurtful. I don’t even think that Jews think they are being Islamophobic. I think they truly think that their comments are ok. And that their Islamophobia isn’t Islamophobia because they feel it is a reaction to antisemitism therefore it is justified. Jews when hearing I am an ex-Muslim tend to get diarrhea of the mouth and tell me everything they think is wrong with the Muslim world. Having me in the room causes people to go on tangents about Islam and Muslims. Unless I think they are open to listening to some truth and facts, I try not to respond. Cause if I do, they will just keep going. I have realized that some people you can’t change their minds no matter how much truth you tell them. If you can’t have a constructive conversation on these types of things, it is better just to end the conversation. And honestly, I wish that people would understand that me being an ex-Muslim doesn’t mean I am here for you to dump all your complaints about Muslims and Islam on. I really don’t want to hear it.

Also, more often than not when I am arguing with a Jew online or in person, if they are struggling to win the argument or have run out of constructive things to say and are now going for personal attacks the dagger that they throw is the ex-Muslim stuff. I can’t count the amount of times me being an ex-Muslim has been brought up online by Jews to try to make others question my credibility. These attacks try to make it look like I am somehow less of a person and less of a Jew because of my past affiliation with Islam.

And the questions about my Jewishness still arise. Recently a woman called a rabbi on my references for Shiddichim and no matter how many times he told her I am a Kosher convert she wouldn’t accept that answer. She kept asking him about my Muslim past and my Muslim kids. It seems so hard for some people to believe that the rabbis would convert an ex-Muslim. But why not? If an ex-Christian can convert, why not an ex-Muslim?

I have a friend who is also an ex-Muslim Jewish convert. Like me she is one of the few ex-Muslim Jewish converts in the Orthodox Jewish world in New York. She says because she is scared she will face Islamophobia like I do, she hides that her family is Muslim. No one knows except her husband. She says she hates to do that. But she knows that if she wants to be accepted by the community that’s what she has to do.

It’s sad that some converts feel that they have to hide who they were because they are scared of being discriminated against. No one should have to hide their past or their family. I choose to be very public about my past and family. But it has come with consequences. And it has made my life more difficult. So, I understand those who choose not to. But it is awful that it has to be that way. And it is tragic that some in the Jewish world are so Islamophobic and can’t just accept a Jew as a Jew and look past the Muslim part of their life.

Originally published on Andrea Karshan | A Collection of Articles

About the Author
Andrea Karshan was a Staff Reporter and Social Media Manager for Kings County Politics. She also has been a Staff Writer for The Banner, the official newspaper of the College of Staten Island.
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