We welcome Andrew Tate to the beautiful religion of Islam. He and all other human beings on this earth are desperately in need of Islam, whereas Islam is not in need of anyone.
A small segment of Muslim community, especially those on social media, have voiced a number of knee-jerk and emotional reactions in the past few days. As with all issues in today’s polarized political climate, the polar extremes attract the most attention, which is a function of how social media is purposely designed to maximize outrage and engagement. We have a faction of people who are ecstatic and anticipating Tate becoming the 21st century Omar bin Khattab, and another faction of people seething with anger that such a person became Muslim or is even welcomed by the Muslim community. We have ridiculous statements floating around about threatening to leave Islam if Andrew Tate is welcomed by the Muslim community or deeming people hypocrites if they don’t zealously embrace him. Though alhamdulillah, we also have moderate, balanced takes that welcome him to Islam and pray for his guidance, yet withhold judgment and wait patiently to see how Islam changes his life.
So, why do we have such divergent viewpoints? How exactly should a believer respond to the conversion of a high profile and controversial figure?
Who is Andrew Tate?
It is not from our character to highlight the wrongs of a convert’s past life, but due to the high profile
and very public nature of our (now) brother (whose videos are all still accessible), we need to understand his background to understand people’s reactions. He was a world champion kickboxer turned businessman; he become a millionaire mainly based on ventures that any decent person would deem as immoral. He eventually became a global influencer who called men to a version of masculinity quite at odds with the general direction of Western culture. Without going into the details of exactly what he says, his message has been incredibly polarizing: deemed as either extremely misogynistic or extremely empowering.
One group feels his past comments and behaviors are dehumanizing to women, whereas another group feels many of his comments represent a return to the traditional masculinity they desire. Many of those who feel he dehumanizes women have been quick to paint any and all folks who gave him an ear as equally misogynistic, whereas many of those who found value in his message have been quick to paint anyone critical of him as feminists and “simps.”
Unpacking the Psyche
Here is where I hope we can stop and engage in some perspective-taking and stop seeing the world through such a binary perspective. The real world is full of gray and usually each perspective is worth listening to, even though we may passionately disagree with that perspective. Those who previously hated Andrew Tate might try to consider with an open mind why people are attracted to some of what he says. It is not as simple as they must all just hate women. These young people were clearly looking for something that they found in Tate’s message. What was missing in the discourse of other famous personalities that led them to listening to a man whom they knew had serious flaws?
Consider that some of his followers may have experienced pain and suffering that they were looking to heal from. Whether they were right or wrong to listen to him is beside the point. It’s about understanding where someone is coming from and humanizing them. Similarly, to those who resonated with some of what Tate said, consider with an open mind why people have serious reservations about him. They are not all crazy feminists and simps who hate men. They have likely heard things from him or his followers that are hurtful and misguided. Consider that some of his critics may have experienced pain and suffering that they attribute to his message and what he stands for. Again, instead of evaluating the accuracy of their judgments, we can try to understand them and humanize them.
The truth of the matter is that both men and women are suffering in our communities, because we are part of a culture that is tearing men and women apart. We are a microcosm of bigger societal trends in the West. We will not heal and have healthy communities if we continue with these gender wars. But we will address this issue another day, inshaAllah.
The emotions people are feeling about Andrew Tate are often involuntary. Someone may feel excitement or apprehension towards his conversion. There is nothing right or wrong about the initial emotion. However, we have to look inward and regulate our emotions correctly. If I am excited, can I calm down a bit, not anoint him Omar2.0, and recognize Andrew Tate’s path to learning about Islam may be long, with ups and downs, and it may not be wise to put him on a pedestal until his lifestyle becomes more in line with Islam? If I am apprehensive, can I calm down a bit, not say anything inappropriate, and have positive thoughts that Islam will transform his beliefs and behaviors?
Answering to Allah
At the end of the day, Andrew Tate will only answer to Allah. The same applies to me and you. We need to use every opportunity, even his conversion, as an opportunity for introspection and self assessment.
There appears to be a number of potential spiritual ailments underlying much of what we are hearing that need to be addressed. It is an ailment to believe that he is not deserving of Allah’sgrace. It is an ailment to believe that Islam is a cultural identity whose membership can be regulated. It is an ailment to be happy with his conversion only so one’s anger towards women can be justified. It is an ailment to be patient with his mistakes due to veneration of him but to withhold that same clemency from other brothers and sisters who err. It is an ailment if one’s faith skyrockets or plummets due to his conversion. These are all issues we need to keep a close tab on.
What should we expect of Andrew Tate? Don’t expect him to disappear and study Islam in solitude. While he may choose to, it is not the norm for high profile converts. Rather, he will likely continue to speak and will likely make mistakes. The Prophethimself did not mandate a moratorium on new converts, but rather he put them to work in a manner that maximized their talents and minimized their
mistakes. This was part of his genius that we cannot replicate.
However, we hope that Andrew Tate has the right brothers and sisters in his ear to help maximize the good and minimize his mistakes. This means that we all need to be patient, and extend that same patience to other Muslims, male and female.
“Speak Good or Remain Silent”
Finally, watch your tongue. We have people saying he is converting only to swindle Muslims. In essence,
they are openly judging his intentions, which the Prophet
We must guard our tongues at all costs and ensure that we only say things that please Him. “He who believes in Allah and the Last Day must either speak good or remain silent.”2
Source: Muslim Matters