The word “convert” as defined in the Cambridge dictionary means to change from an initial form to a new form or opinion, or someone that changes his belief or habit. Thus in that sense, a person that changes his faith is referred to as a convert.
However, dogmatic canonical definitions are not always sufficient to explain the meaning of some words, especially from varying viewpoints or under different conditions. The word “convert”, from an Islamic perspective, is an example. One may wonder how such a straightforward word can ever be misused, or misapplied. Well, it depends on the user and the situation in which it is applied. But, don’t entertain any doubt, the misuse of this word “convert” is so rampant that people, even Muslims, despite their impeccable talent as regards the English language, still misuse it instead of using the correct word. For instance if someone should change his faith to Islamic belief, he or she will be described as a convert. This is not correct.
So, let’s explain:
Every one of us is born in a state of Islam (i.e as a Muslim) The prophet said (every born individual is born into Islam but his two parents converted him into a fire worshiper or Christian or Jew). Every individual is born into a submission to the will of Allah and to worship him only. Allah says “I did not created the mankind nor the Jinn except they should worship me” (Adh-Dhariyat:56). Hence every creature was initially created to worship the creator (Allah) alone. To understand the misuse of this word in its proper context, one must first belief and understand that the world has no creator except Allah who is the lord, provider and disposer of all affairs. Allah the most high says “And He has created all things” (Al-Furqan:2). This means that every human being is created and is born in a natural state of worshipping Allah alone. The problem is now the family; an individual, even though he is unblemishingly created as a Muslim i.e naturally created to submit to the will of Allah alone and to worship him only without any partner just like Abraham, Moses, Noah, Jesus and Muhammad (may Allah bless them all) did, if born into a christian, jewish or fire worshippers family will be compelled to follow the religion of the parent or family; religions far away from the monotheism of Islam. But that do not nullify the fact that he was originally born as a Muslim as has been expalained above.
Some are born into Muslim families and are able to practise their religion into sensible periods of their lives. But in the course of living, such a person may convert to a religion other than Islam (note: convert), but if that person decides to return to his Islam, the person cannot be referred to as someone who has “converted”, rather, he has reverted.
Thus, the correct term for “changing one’s religion to Islam” which is mistermed as convert(ing) is ‘revert'(ing). This applies to people who had practiced religions other than Islam all through their lives but who later rediscovered their lost gem i.e embraced Islam, which is the state in which all of us are created as has been explained above.
There are three kinds of individuals based on this. Firstly, there are those who are born into an Islamic family, who practised the Islam and die as Muslims. Secondly, are those who are born into a family where other than the religion of Islam is being practised but who later reverted to Islam. And thirdly, there are those who are born into an household where a religion other than Islam is being practised, who also practised that religion, and died in it. The first two are true slaves of Allah and inshaa Allah are entitled to paradise. As for the third, he has died on something other than Islam and will end up in hell.
May Allah keep us away from the misguidance that comes from anything other than Islam and may he make us all the inhabitant of paradise. Ameen. Wasalaamu alaykum warahmatullahi wabarakatuhu.
Contributed by a slave of Allah.