Having the opportunity to talk to converts on a daily basis, I've come to learn that we have multiple similarities. Many converts come from Atheism or Christianity. Many lived lives of sin that they still carry with them today, but one of the most beautiful things about being a convert is that mutual love and respect for our deen because of where we have been and the things we may have gone through.
The month of Ramadan is a time for reflection, and as some reflect on today, many converts reflect on their past. Although Allah swt has always blessed me with family and love, as an unbeliever I couldn't help but to always feel short changed or unfulfilled with what I had been given. My job was never fulfilling, or I never had enough money, or materialistic items. I saw people around me having things I wanted, and never understood why I wasn't getting those things too. Its still easy to think that today for many people, its a normal feeling, but mine as an unbeliever was different. My wants were most times based around something haram, and my somewhat rebellious attitude kept me wanting these things.
Many born Muslims are raised to believe in Allahs swt. They are raised with a set of morals based upon Islam. They refrain from haram and grow up with a better understanding of what is good for them and what should be avoided. Yes, I know even Muslims stray, but I've noticed that the belief in Allah swt doesnt disappear. (From my experience, once the belief of Allah swt leaves you...it becomes a whole different world out there.) Most times born Muslims stray from the faith because of the want for "fun" or rebellion. They become blinded by the dunya and their temptation for what "others" (western world) have. I understand, because I've been there, done that. Unfortunately when you live with Islam everyday, your whole life, there is a chance it will be taken for granted at some point in time. It may even be forgotten in many cases. So when Ramadan comes around, it may be just that...another Ramadan. But for a convert, this may be their first Ramadan; it is an entirely new experience. For many converts, Islam is a rescue, a center of peace or hope. So although Ramadan may get lonely, it doesn't matter because we felt alone our whole lives until Allah found us.
Ramadan for a convert is a sign that they have overcome, moved on and shed a part of themselves that wasn't befitting for their heart, and their character. We can humbly say "Allah swt has chosen us!" So we take this month to forgive ourselves and ask Allah swt to continue guiding us. Allah swt has stripped us of our shamelessness, or greed and desire for the dunya. We struggle everyday, just as others Muslims do, but its different. I don't want to go back to who I was 4 years ago. I don't wish for the things I did before. I've seen what its like on "the other side". So as Ramadan comes around, me and thousands of other converts look back at the comforts we may have left behind, our culture and maybe even family, and we still sit in sujood crying to Allah swt for showing us his mercy, his guidance, and we say Alhumdulillah for the things we may have taken for granted.
With the help of Nouman Ali Khan's explanation of Surah An Nur, I've come to feel that the hearts of converts have always been filled with light, the light of a genuine personality, optimism or kindness, but it is not until that light meets with the light of Allah swt, that we truly feel complete. I no longer feel empty. Allah swt has saved me and many other converts from darkness. Ramadan is not only a Muslim holiday to us, it is an accomplishment, a reward, and a blessing. Alhumdulillah.
"Light upon light. God guides to His light who He wills. And God presents examples for the people, and God is Knowing of all things." Sura An Nur 24:35