Revert Vs. Convert: What’s the Difference?

In Islamic belief, the faith journey is a profound and transformative experience marked by a choice that shapes your spiritual identity. As you embark on this path, you encounter two distinct terms: “revert” and “convert,” each carrying a unique essence reflecting your belief’s very core. 

Fundamentally, the main difference between convert and revert lies in the concept of innate disposition. “Revert” emphasizes returning to your original state of submission to Allah, while “convert” centers around embracing Islam from a different belief or background. 

Here we will discuss revert vs. convert in detail so that you can understand these terms comprehensively and their profound implications within Islamic belief.

Differences Between Revert and Convert Based on Islamic Belief

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The terms Muslim convert vs. revert have some differences. Here are some examples:

  • Fitrah and original state
  • Connection to the primordial covenant
  • Implications for Spiritual Identity

Let’s examine the differences in detail, based on the Quran and hadith.

1. Fitrah and Original State

Revert Vs. Convert | Fitrah and Original State

The distinction between “revert” and “convert” in Islam has significant implications for understanding an individual’s spiritual identity.

With the belief in the concept of “Fitrah,” Islam holds that everyone is born with a natural disposition toward recognizing Allah’s will and submitting to it, so “revert” is deeply ingrained.

According to Sahih al-Bukhari 4775, the Prophet Muhammad made the following statement. Abu Huraira (R) narrated that Allah’s Messenger Muhammad (S) stated,

“No child is born except on Al-Fitra (Islam) and then his parents make him Jewish, Christian or Magician”, underscores this notion.

Embracing Islam as a “revert” is symbolic of returning to this original state of innate submission to Allah.

In contrast, the term “convert” is more general and is applied to various religious transitions. In the context of Islam, a “convert” refers to someone who consciously chooses to embrace Islam after having practiced another faith or none at all.

While embracing Islam signifies a shift from one belief system to another, it may not inherently emphasize the concept of returning to a primordial state.

2. Connection to Primordial Covenant

The Islamic concept of a primordial covenant is closely connected to the idea of reverting to Islam. According to this belief, Allah made a covenant with every human soul before physical existence, in which all souls testified that Allah is their Lord.

Embracing Islam is regarded as fulfilling this covenant by recognizing the truth of monotheism and returning to the covenant’s terms. Thus, reverting to Islam is seen as fulfilling one’s primordial promise to Allah.

The Quranic verses (Surah Al-A’raf 7:172) mention this covenant when discussing the acceptance of prophethood by all souls:

"And ˹remember˺ when your Lord brought forth from the loins of the children of Adam their descendants and had them testify regarding themselves. ˹Allah asked,˺ “Am I not your Lord?” They replied, “Yes, You are! We testify."

This verse highlights the belief that all human beings are naturally inclined towards worshiping Allah, and embracing Islam is a way to fulfill this covenant.

While the term “convert” doesn’t inherently emphasize returning to a primordial state, it presents a unique lens through which to view the spiritual journey. In Islam, the concept of a primordial covenant (mithaq) between human souls and Allah before physical existence is a key theological tenet.

When an individual embraces Islam as a “convert,” they are, in a sense, affirming their recognition of this covenant through conscious choice.

Converting signifies an acceptance of the truth of monotheism and a willingness to adhere to the terms of this covenant, even if it doesn’t directly denote a return to an innate state as seen in “revert.”

The term “convert” encapsulates the essence of transformation and conscious alignment with divine truth, offering a complementary perspective to “revert.”

It highlights the pivotal role of personal choice in embracing Islam and upholding the spiritual contract established before existence itself.

3. Implications for Spiritual Identity

Implications for Spiritual Identity

Labeling someone as a “revert” acknowledges the Islamic belief that Islam is humans’ true, original faith.

It recognizes the theological perspective that embracing Islam is a rediscovery of an individual’s inherent connection to Allah. Therefore, the term “revert” aligns with the idea that an individual’s spiritual journey is about recognizing and reclaiming one’s true nature.

On the other hand, the term “convert” acknowledges a person’s active choice to adopt a new faith without necessarily implying any innate disposition towards monotheism.

It reflects the reality that an individual’s spiritual journey is a personal choice that may involve a departure from their previous beliefs.

So when you contemplate the convert vs. revert meaning in the context of Islamic belief, you’re unraveling more than linguistic distinctions; it’s about spiritual identity.

What Challenges Do New Believers Encounter As A Muslim, and How Can You Handle Them?

Entering a new phase of faith can be a transformative journey, but it often comes with challenges for new believers. As a Muslim, you play a vital role in supporting and guiding these individuals, helping them navigate these hurdles effectively and fostering a strong foundation for their spiritual growth.

Challenges Do New Believers Encounter As A Muslim

1. Knowledge and Understanding

New believers may struggle to grasp the intricacies of Islamic teachings, rituals, and practices. The overwhelming amount of information can sometimes be intimidating.

Here’s where your role as a knowledgeable Muslim comes into play. Offer patient explanations, recommend reputable resources, and be available to answer their questions.

Organizing study circles or informal sessions can facilitate a better understanding of Islam’s core principles.

2. Social Adjustment

The shift in faith might lead to isolation or strained relationships with family and friends who don’t share their new beliefs.

As a fellow Muslim, you can provide a supportive community that understands and empathizes with their situation.

Invite them to mosques, Islamic events, and gatherings where they can forge new connections and find a sense of belonging.

3. Cultural Differences

New converts from diverse backgrounds may find it challenging to adapt to the cultural aspects of their local Muslim community.

By fostering an inclusive environment, you can help them feel comfortable while honoring their cultural heritage.

Encourage open conversations about different cultural practices and demonstrate the universality of Islam’s teachings.

4. Moral and Spiritual Development

The process of internalizing Islamic ethics and values takes time. Share personal stories and experiences that highlight the transformative power of faith in your life.

Offer guidance on incorporating Islamic teachings into daily routines, emphasizing virtues such as patience, kindness, and humility.

5. Maintaining Consistency

Practicing Islam consistently in the face of life’s demands is challenging. As a seasoned Muslim, you can inspire by showcasing how faith can be integrated into various aspects of life. Share practical tips for time management, prayer, and maintaining a balanced lifestyle.

6. Handling Doubts and Questions

New believers might grapple with doubts and intellectual questions about certain aspects of the faith. Foster an environment where they feel safe discussing their concerns without judgment.

Share resources that address common misconceptions and encourage a journey of seeking knowledge.

Embracing the Journey: Revert Vs. Convert in Islam

Understanding the difference between “revert vs. convert” within Islamic belief is crucial for comprehending the profound nature of the faith journey.

“Revert” highlights the return to one’s innate state of submission, while “convert” involves consciously embracing Islam.

Both paths offer unique perspectives, one rooted in the Fitrah and primordial covenant, the other emphasizing personal choice and transformation.

As a Muslim, your role is pivotal in supporting new believers. Address challenges by offering knowledge, fostering a supportive community, embracing cultural diversity, guiding moral development, and assisting with consistency and doubt.

By doing so, you enrich their spiritual journey, strengthening their foundation in Islam.

Sources:

https://www.learnreligions.com/convert-or-revert-to-islam-2004197

https://themuslimvibe.com/community/the-challenges-of-being-a-muslim-revert-and-how-we-can-help

https://islam.stackexchange.com/questions/32/why-are-converts-to-islam-called-reverts

https://sunnah.com/bukhari:4775

Talha Ubaidullah
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