The past few years have witnessed a movement of converts to Islam/Walāyah calling themselves “reverts.” The idea, I suppose, is to capture the notion that Islam/Walāyah is not something that one converts to but rather something one returns to.
But choosing the word ‘revert’ is like jumping from the frying pan into the fire. Yes, the word ‘revert’ does literally mean “to come or go back”. On the other hand, the connotations of ‘revert’ go much further.
For example, according to the Merriam-Webster Thesaurus:
revert vb 2 to come or go back to a lower or worse condition <reverted to savagery>
synonym: regress, retrogress, throwback
related: backslide, lapse, relapse; decline, degenerate, deteriorate, retrograde
contrast: advance, progress
And in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary of Synonyms:
Revert and reversion ... most frequently imply a going back to a previous, often a lower, state or condition
There are other examples... It appears to me that the word ‘revert’ carries some of the vibrations of ‘tawallaa 3an’, which connotes the idea of turning back from walayah of Allah swt to something else.
In English: “One reverts to alcoholism.” You don't often hear: “One reverts to sobriety.” One reverts to Jahiliyyah/Ignorance; one does not revert to Walayah; one reverts from Walāyah (tawallaa 3an).
Words are not benign, and I hope we can find a better word. In any case, I for one will not insult anyone who has arrived at Islam/Walāyah by labeling him or her as a “revert”.