The common perception that growing up in a Muslim country will generate a better Muslim out of us was proved wrong by a few of us. We didn’t become better Muslims just because we were born in Pakistan. We followed Islam as a tradition and took ages to come into our own.
Similarly the perception that growing in a non Muslim country will make someone a not so good Muslim is also wrong. Religion is a set of beliefs and is definitely influenced by our surroundings but can occur independent of any other factors also.
Furthermore, the assumption that North American or European Muslims are in anyway better than Pakistani Muslims is also another misconception. When some people say that they value religion more than I do because they have had to fight for it and have had to look for it, I can’t associate with that ideology.
I grew up anglicized and spiritual. I grew up with love for Allah, may be not a lot of love for Islam. I grew up idolizing world leaders and idolized our Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) much later in life.
The way I took to Islam doesn’t define my affinity for it. It only tells people of a way I took.
Similarly, the way some other people took to Allah and Islam , if harder, doesn’t negate my own obstacle course to religion. It doesn’t invalidate anything.
Arguing about how long and how much we have been practicing religion isn’t a battle I engage in. To me a good Muslim is someone who is practicing Islam better than me in this moment. I don’t care how long they’ve been a Muslim for.