Revert vs convert & my conversion to Islam in Dubai story

by Danni B

You may have come across people who have become Muslim calling themselves a “revert” but what exactly does that mean? Why would some call themselves a revert not a convert?

I’ll go through convert vs revert and which term I choose to use along with why.

As someone who is a converted Muslim myself, I’ll go through everything you need to know and add the perspective of someone who converted along with my conversion story.

What is a revert Muslim?

Inside an Islamic center in Dubai, Danni B in Dubai with her two friends after she converted to Islam and became a revert
Me after converting to Islam with my friends

A revert Muslim is someone who has accepted Islam as their faith after either being of a different religion or having no religion at all. Revert Muslims are of all backgrounds and come from diverse cultures, religions, and countries.

Anyone can convert to Islam at any time in life, regardless of age or gender.

To do so, they will state the Islamic declaration of faith called the ‘shahada’ and this is typically done at an Islamic centre or Mosque.

Revert vs Convert

Muslims use the word “revert” to refer to someone who has embraced Islam and convert has the same meaning.

Using the term revert is a relatively recent development, many Muslims use it as a term to refer to someone who has become Muslim, rather than using the term “convert.”

I’ve found most people use it in Dubai and Saudi Arabia use the term revert rather than convert. This is likely due to the high Muslim population and the acceptance of the term in Islamic centres.

The reason they use revert is due to Prophet Muhammad, may peace and blessings be upon him, stating that everyone is born Muslim but then changed into different religions by their parents or society. So when someone becomes Muslim they are returning to the religion that Allah or God intended. Hence, they reverted.

Why use convert instead?

Some people use the term convert instead of revert when talking about becoming Muslim for many reasons, often because they dislike the word revert and the connotations it has. Especially those who are living in the US, UK or Europe. Those around them will not understand the term revert.

Some may feel convert has a stronger meaning because they have chosen to convert which is an active change vs revert which can make it sound like a lesser change or smaller decision.

From my own experience, I choose to use the word revert when I am with other Muslims and convert when I am with none Muslims. As most none Muslims will not understand the term revert and may cause confusion or even offence.

I’ve found some Muslim converts also do not like the term revert, mostly those in the US or UK. However, in the Gulf, it is a widely accepted term.

When I use the term convert around Muslims, some Muslims correct me and say revert, so it is easier to use the term revert. However, neither is incorrect and both can be used.

So feel free to use whichever term you feel most comfortable with and if you are Muslim, allow your converted Brothers or Sisters to use whichever they feel comfortable with without correcting them.

What problems do convert Muslims face?

Convert Muslim sat on the stairs looking worried, praying into her hands and facing problems revert muslims face

Revert Muslims often face challenges that are unique to them such as feeling disconnected from their families or having difficulty finding other Muslims to befriend. It can feel very lonely at first.

Some may even be abandoned by family and friends for the decision.

Convert Muslims often have to defend their decision to people they know or are close to them, as they may not understand why someone would become Muslim. Thankfully they usually eventually accept it but at the beginning, it can be tough!

It also can be difficult learning to pray or having to pray at work. Especially since you may not be ready to tell everyone your decision to change your religion.

Equally for Muslim women, learning to wear the hijab can be difficult. Not only the actual learning of how to pin it and how to stop it from slipping or be comfortable all day. It is also difficult due to the reactions you may get from people and being a very visible member of the Muslim community.

Learning about the religion and all there is to learn can also be very overwhelming! Along with the fact there are so many different opinions out there and what is correct. So I would advise any other Muslims to tread carefully and try not to add to this. Don’t correct them on every little thing, make dua for Allah to help guide them instead.

It can also be a challenge living between two cultures and being told parts of their own culture are not allowed. It’s also a huge shift in culture too, leaving behind a society where drinking is a huge part of their social life and festivities.

The most important thing for them is that they will remain devoted to Allah (God) and strive to live by His commands. They will try their best to follow the teachings of the Quran and Sunnah (the sayings and actions of Prophet Muhammad). Through learning more about Islam, they grow spiritually stronger on their journey towards becoming a fully practising Muslim.

Can I marry a revert Muslim?

Yes, it is possible to marry a revert Muslim. In Islam, marriage is considered one of the most sacred bonds and any individual, irrespective of their background or religion can enter into this union. As long as they meet the Islamic legal conditions of marriage.

It is even encouraged to marry from different backgrounds since it says “We created you from a male and a female, and made you into peoples and tribes so that you may ‘get to know’ know one another” Al Hujurat, surah 13, in the Quran.

However, you should also be aware of the cultural differences that may exist between you and your spouse. It is important to have open and honest communication about your expectations and beliefs. What may seem very normal for you due to growing up in that environment may seem very strange to them or vice versa!

It’s important to be a good example and to help guide them in the right way when you are marrying a Muslim convert. They are newer to the religion and often look to spouses for guidance.

Therefore you should take this role with a sense of responsibility and with the best of intentions.

My convert story

I grew up as a Christian, we attended Sunday school regularly and my Nan was someone who found Christianity in her late teens. She would go up to anyone and talk to them about Jesus. From a young age, I had questions and she would tell me, “It’s the devil putting these questions in your mind.”

I moved to Dubai in 2013 but I didn’t really have anything to do with the Muslim community for many years. I was just a typical Brit, working and going out on weekends. Until in 2016, I met a Muslim convert for the first time and we took a trip to Jordan together where I started to learn a bit more about the religion.

I still remember her to this day saying “I was like you, Christianity never really made sense to me.”

At this point in my life, I had been an atheist for a while and then later become more spiritual. I believed in a higher power but I didn’t want a religion. I said to my friend, “Religion just isn’t for me, I’m a good person and I do good things. I don’t need a religion.”

She recommended watching a scholar called ‘Ahmed Deedat’ who spoke about Christianity and Islam to explain the differences. So I reluctantly agreed to watch a video by him but I was definitely not becoming Muslim!

In Jordan, I first started to experience Muslim hospitality even from people with very little themselves. They would welcome me with open arms and feed me as much as they could. It really humbled me and perhaps was the first time I started seeing Muslims differently.

After I came back to Dubai, a Saudi friend gave me a few books about Islam and I tried to read them but they mostly ended up sitting by my bedside table. I watched a few videos here and there. I would say to people, “If I had to pick a religion, I would pick Islam but I don’t need a religion.”

For a couple of years, I stayed the same until I lost my marketing job in 2018. I had found a new job and agreed on a date to finish with my old company however the new company lied about the contract terms, hoping to push myself into working 6 days a week! At the same time, my landlord notified me of leaving the property.

While I’d been travelling over the years, I’d bought a bracelet in Greece that was supposed to protect you from the evil eye. After a string of bad events, a friend told me it was the evil eye. So I’d worn this bracelet for 2 years and every time it broke something bad happened! It had broken only a few days before!

So I begged one of my Muslim friends, please take me to the mall to buy another one. As we were heading to the mall they said, “I will help you but this isn’t a good thing to believe in.”

As we walked past a gold shop, there was a beautiful necklace that said Allah in Arabic on it. They pointed and said, “Why don’t you get this instead?”

I looked at it and went, “It is beautiful” but we were scared what the price would be. So we weighed it and thankfully it wasn’t very heavy!

The sales assistant put it in a nice little box and gave us a bag but at the back of my mind, I still wanted the evil eye bracelet. As I got towards the end of Mall of Emirates, I decided to put the necklace on. As I did, it felt as if someone walked through me!

All of a sudden all of my stress and worry went away in an instant. A sudden sense of calm came over me and it was almost as if all the noise from inside the mall drowned out. I turned to look at my friend shocked at what had just happened.

After that I took learning about Islam a lot more seriously, I went to my local Islamic centre and met more Muslims. One lady I met was wonderfully articulate and we chatted intellectually after the meeting.

When I asked questions at the Islamic centre, even really tough questions, it was encouraged. They had answers to every question I asked. This was completely different to my experience inside the church where as a teen I’d attended classes designed for those with questions about Christianity and even chatted to the pastor’s wife.

I started to read the Quran and I asked for signs if I should become Muslim and to guide me to what is the right religion. I started to see the positive effect Islam had when it was practised in the way Allah intended. Then after six months, I took my shahada in Dubai at the same Islamic centre.

So that is my story of how I became Muslim.

Thanks for reading, before you go check out some of my other articles:

Who is Ramadan? My first time experiencing Ramadan
Spending Ramadan in Dubai? What is Ramadan in Dubai like and what know
Is Dubai safe for women? What is it like living as a woman in Dubai?
What country is Dubai in? Where is the UAE? All your questions answered

Guide to visiting a mosque for the first time, what you need to know

The story of my converting to Islam is just one of many and those who decide to take the path of Islam will find both opportunities for growth and challenges along the way. Reverts may feel overwhelmed with transitioning into a new faith, as well as feeling different from their peers but finding ways to be part of the community will definitely help those new to Islam. As well making sure Muslims reach out and include new Muslims.

When you choose to use the word revert or convert is totally up to you and it’s perfectly fine to use both if you find it easier.

If you are a female revert, feel free to follow me on Instagram and if you’re thinking about moving to Dubai or already living in Dubai. For sure check out the rest of my website for more helpful information on the topics of Islam, Khaleeji Culture,, going out in Dubai and other Dubai topics!

May Allah bless you all for increasing your knowledge and help guide you on your journey, wherever that may be insh’Allah!!

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Hossam Seif El-Din March 29, 2019 - 11:54 pm

Nice post …. all the best

Danni B March 30, 2019 - 4:38 am

Thank you and thanks for reading 🙂

Tan ahmed April 19, 2019 - 12:17 am

the prayer ninja one is so true lol
This article was really well written!

Danni B April 23, 2019 - 11:59 am

Haha thanks Ahmed! Made a few of my friends giggle too!

Abdulrahman June 24, 2019 - 4:20 pm

Alsalamu alayki Danni (peace be upon you). I love your website and am delighted to see another English person in Dubai who has accepted Islam, as I am also a revert from England. From what I’ve seen and heard, it seems that becoming a Muslim in Dubai is a very different experience from doing so in America or Europe. Some Europeans in Dubai become Muslims but sadly they don’t take Islam very seriously. Perhaps this is because they are not willing to make certain sacrifices, such as changing their circle of friends. I realise that a westerner might prefer to spend time with other western Muslims, as being around Muslims from, say, Asia, can be a bit of a culture shock and they might not fit in or have similar interests to such people. What do you think? Perhaps you could write a post about this and shed some light on it. I’m very proud of you for choosing to show your Islam openly to your original followers, for example by posting photos of yourself in hijab without creating a new website or a separate Facebook page.

As for your article above, you shared some excellent advice and I like that you mentioned the possibility that friends or even relatives may decide to withdraw from us after we accept Islam. This is a sad reality, it has happened to me too, but it’s important to remember that becoming a Muslim is a tremendous gift which is not given to everyone, and we will be rewarded for making the right choices and for being patient with life’s tests, God willing.

Danni B June 27, 2019 - 7:34 am

Wa alaikum salam! Thank you for your kind words 🙂 Glad you found your way to Islam also. Alhamdullilah that Allah guided us both.

Yes definitely it is quite a different experience, I think mostly due to it being a very different culture as you said. However, the Islamic centres here are mixed and run by all different nationalities. So new reverts aren’t exposed to just one nationality and their view on Islam. In the UK, it seems to be more blurred between the religion and cultural practices. As they are predominantly run by certain nationalities and mosques are even normally known for attendance of certain nationalities. For instance, when I took my mother to a Mosque just outside of Birmingham, the entire service was done in Urdu. No Arabic apart from the prayer and not even a summary in English. So it makes it accessible only to two nationalities but predominantly one. This was a central mosque also, so I was quite disappointed compared with other countries who are far more inclusive for all backgrounds.

It’s an interesting one as to why I think some don’t take it as seriously (though we do have to remember what is being shown externally doesn’t really mean anything, it is what is in the heart that is most important) I’ve found here people are more relaxed about their religion than in Europe or other more recent Muslim nations. Perhaps they came to Islam without a genuine heart? As there are some marriage laws here which might be why someone may convert to Islam without being genuine but inshallah they learn the deen and gain knowledge to make their heart genuine in the end. We all find our way to Allah in different ways and we do not know all the acts which will grant us the highest state of Jennah. So best to just say alhamdullilah and focus on our own intentions.


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