According to a study done by Pew Research in 2018, Muslims lose just as many converts as they gain. This is primarily due to the fact converts find themselves marginalized from the greater Muslim community. In order for Islam to grow in America, we need to invest in the indigenous Muslims, i.e the converts. Embrace: A Project of ICNA is a convert led initiative which serves is to empower, integrate, nourish, and educate our diverse Muslim convert community by providing safe social spaces which encourage growth, shape their Islamic identity, and equip them with knowledge they need for their lifetime journey. We strive to provide a sense of family and community that many converts search for in the Muslim community. Founded in 2017, Embrace invests in building a community of Muslim American converts through a variety of services catered towards them such as weekly convert led Halaqahs, Islamic Classes, Social Programs, Ramadan Iftar Programs, Eid Programs, and others.
Embrace currently has two neighbor net locations in the DFW metroplex: In Euless on Tuesdays and Richardson on Wednesdays. These Neighbor Nets are led by convert Imams catered towards other converts. Topics in Embrace neighbor nets are educational and relevant to the unique experiences, challenges, and needs of converts. In Embrace neighbor nets, having engaged discussions are heavily encouraged. Attendees are encouraged to share their own perspective on the weekly topic and everyone’s questions and thoughts are treated with respect. This format encourages family bonding, personal growth, and taking initiative. This is especially important as part of Embrace’s vision is for converts to develop as leaders of the Muslim community and take lead roles in the Islamic growth in the U.S. We also have monthly potlucks at both locations every third week of the month to focus on socializing with each other.
Embrace conducts 8 week Islam 101 classes for New Muslims taught by a convert Imam with experience of teaching converts for over 20 years. In this class we cover core beliefs such as the Pillars of Islam, and Faith; including step-by-step purification and prayer. We also discuss in detail the importance of striving for spiritual excellence. This class is important for converts since taught from a perspective American Muslims can most easily identify. Embrace strives to educate new Muslims about their new religion without any cultural biases and misconceptions. .
Seasonal Convert Potlucks
Embrace holds seasonal potlucks every spring, summer, fall, and winter. These potlucks are held outside of Neighbor Nets and bring both Neighbor Nets together in a less formal environment. Members are encouraged to bring their favorite dishes to share in these potlucks. We also try to have games and ice breaking activities for Embrace members to build relationships with one another. These potlucks serve to further build Embrace as a convert community and create bonds between Embrace family members.
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Annual Convert Conference
Embrace has an annual conference dedicated to bringing the converts in DFW together for a unique cause each year. In these conferences we invite a diverse cast of convert speakers to discuss unique challenges and values of convert Muslims in America. Our conferences are interactive, giving attendees an opportunity to contribute to the conversation and have the convert community work together to tackle different convert-related issues.
Annual Ramadan & Eid Programs
Ramadan and Eid are supposed to be the best times of the year for Muslims. No Muslim should be forced to have iftar alone, nor celebrate Eid alone. Unfortunately, it’s very common for Muslim converts to be all alone during these blessed times, having no family to spend time with while most of the greater Muslim community celebrates. Embrace provides daily iftars during the month of Ramadan either through our Neighbor Nets or at the home of an Embrace sponsor. Through Embrace, converts always have the option to break their fast with their Muslim family. Embrace also holds Eid celebration events for converts, with over 100 converts in DFW coming together to celebrate the most festive days of the year.