By Shabina S. Khatri
Note from the author: The following is a satire designed to highlight a community epidemic. The characters are completely fictional and not based off of any specific people. Despite the light-hearted touches, the story line itself remains — quite purposely — sadly realistic. Please forgive me for anything that offends or insults, and please remember that any good that comes of this work is only by Allah (SWT)’s Grace.
Marge Simpson is disappointed. After a 35-year search, she thought she had finally found God. Her long quest had taken her over the river and through the woods, past churches and synagogues, beyond temples and shrines, finally ending at a beautiful masjid with tall minarets and a sparkling golden dome.
But Simpson only ended up as another victim of anti-dawah, a crime that has recently seen alarming growth. “It makes sense,” explains Springfield’s Police Chief Clancy Wiggum. “Islam is the fastest growing religion in America. The more new people who come to the mosques, the more chances Muslims have to turn them away.” Simpson is the seventh anti-dawah victim he’s seen this month, Wiggum adds.
Her story, like so many others, began with hope, and ended in tragedy.
Simpson first found Islam on the Internet, while searching for famous quotations about God. A passage from the Qur’an caught her eye: “Lo! This, your religion, is one religion, and I am your Lord, so worship Me (21:92).” The words instantly pierced her heart. He’s talking to me, she thought excitedly. This is it, I’ve found Him!
A whirlwind of events later, she was standing in front of a congregation of people at Springfield Masjid, dressed awkwardly in a headscarf and the only long skirt she owned. Though she clearly looked like an outsider, her heart assured her that she was home. Caught up in the warm congratulations that followed her shahada, Marge was already making plans in her head about her new lifestyle and new friends — her new family, she thought happily.
But then reality struck. A week into her conversion, Marge found herself confused and alone. The phone calls and welcome e-mails had slowed from a flood to a trickle, and then nothing. Attempts to socialize were uncomfortably rebuffed; it seemed everyone was busy for the next three weekends. This wasn’t what she was expecting. The beautiful and soothing words of the Qur’an had spoiled her into thinking Muslims were just as wonderful as the Islam they professed to follow.
Among incidences that convinced her and other anti-dawah victims otherwise:
- Congregational prayer. “Muslims always look so peaceful when they’re praying in pictures and movies,” Simpson says. “But Friday prayers actually stressed me out! There were kids running in front of me, ladies talking behind me, and I swear the woman on my right was singing.”
- Incorrect information. “I keep getting confused about the differences between culture and religion,” recent convert Wayland Smithers says. “Am I only allowed to wear thaubs? Are Muslims prohibited from celebrating birthdays? Whenever I ask tough questions, people get these really confused looks on their faces, but rarely tell me that they simply don’t know the answers.”
- Social gatherings. “The Prophet (SAW) told us that gossiping is like eating the flesh of your dead brother,” Simpson says, shuddering. “I guess it’s an acquired taste, because people here sure seem to enjoy it.”
- Lack of consideration. “I came to the masjid early so I’d get a good parking spot,” complains Dr. Julius Hibbard, who recently moved to the area. “But I missed three afternoon appointments because someone doubleparked behind me.” A recent convert who owns a comic book store chimes in: “Worst adab ever.”
- Masjid politics. “Last week, I tried to move that potted plant two inches,” confides Ned Flanders. “But then a board member reprimanded me! He said it was no big deal, but that I should check with one of the ‘higherups’ before I do something like that. That definitely put a da diddly damper on my volunteer spirit.”
So what keeps these converts coming back? “Well, Allah (SWT) is very clear about not cutting off ties with your brethren,” Simpson says. And though masajids across the country are suffering from anti-dawah crime sprees, each community still possesses its bright spots.
Take the Islamic Center of Shelbyville, for example, where Kent Brockman has been going for 10 years. Brockman advises new members to look for the “diamonds in the rough,” the one or two groups in each masjid that are not segregated into exclusive cliques. When attending dinners, Brockman suggests “picturing the social hall like a battleground filled with landmines. If you navigate through these landmines properly, you will be rewarded with the occasional oasis — a collection of people who don’t discriminate by education, nationality, language, or social class.”
Members of these groups seemed surprised to be singled out as special. “We’re just trying to emulate the teachings of the Prophet (SAW),” one woman explains. “Dawah is the act of inviting someone to faith, and it’s a constant process, not one that starts and stops with pamphlets or 10-minute conversations.”
While negative dawah is most rampant among those who are already Muslim, the nation has also seen a slight rise in anti-dawah incidences against non-Muslims. That’s because people misinterpret the purpose of dawah, says Imaam Lovejoy. “It’s not a numbers game,” he stresses. “Dawah is about inviting people to the truth. Whether they accept that truth is not up to you, it’s up to God.”
But that doesn’t mean you should spread the message just to absolve yourself of any responsibility, he adds. “People can detect insincerity and will be turned off by it. To be effective, you really need to want for mankind what you want for yourself.”
Until that happens, the community will continue to have high conversion but dismal retention rates. After several months of trying to “fit in,” Simpson decided Islam wasn’t the right religion for her, after all. “It was too hard to practice all that stuff without a support system,” she says forlornly. “Perhaps if mentalities change, I’d be willing to give it a shot — but I’m not holding my