Yesterday I published a post on how born Muslims should treat new Muslims. This post by Muslimah compass is some advice and support for new Muslims. I hope it comes in useful for all my revert sisters.
|How to tell Your Family About Your Conversion|
|Written by Administrator|
|Friday, 08 April 2011 11:00|
Assalamu Alaikum – (peace be with you)
Congratulations and Welcome to Islam! This segment has been specifically created for our new Muslim sisters. It is intended to assist in nurturing your growth and knowledge through material resources covering the spectrum of Islamic life.
We are introducing the segment with an essay on one of the greatest concerns that many new Muslimahs face after embracing Islam:
How or When to tell her family she has converted to Islam
Unfortunately, for converts in the United States and the West, there is the added complication of expansive Islamophobia that perpetuates aversion to everything related to Islam and Muslims. So, even though this is probably the hardest thing the Muslimah has to do as a new Muslim, unfortunately, there is no one definitive, fail-safe solution. The following essay does, however, offer new Muslimahs some guidance on broaching the subject.
On the whole, this is a situation best handled with care. Some new Muslimahs may face the potential threat of ruptured family relationships, while others receive unconditional acceptance and support from their family. The recommendations for teenage Muslimahs slightly differ from those for adults living on their own. Please do also note that, although this essay speaks directly to Muslimahs, it is not intended to be discriminatory. The recommendations are pertinent to both female and male converts. The approach of specifally addressing women simply reflects our focus on Muslimah Compass’ core objective of serving as a channel for Muslim women.
Teenage Muslimahs and Muslimahs living with Parents
Many subject experts and converts recommend that, if possible, it is better for teenage Muslimahs, and those living at home, to wait at least six months to a year before informing their family about their conversion to Islam. The primary reason being the time the Muslimah needs in order to be more established in Islamic practices, and to make friends and build a support system within the Muslim community. This makes her better prepared should her parents react with attempts to "deprogram her," or schedule "an appointment" with their local non-Islamic minister. The Muslimah will then be able to draw on her knowledge and support system. This can help to guide her in properly addressing any questions or concerns her family may have, and to provide a lending hand should her parents decide that she no longer can live in their house.
While taking time to wait is advisable, in all likelihood, however, new Muslimahs who aptly adopt the hijab (head cover), may have little choice but to inform their family at that juncture.
If the Muslimah is afraid that her family may resort to physical abuse, or a kidnapping and "deprogramming" attempt (yes, it happens), she should arrange to have someone there as a witness and source of support. In the event that the family does become abusive, she is to immediately seek necessary assistance to get her out of that environment.
Experts also contend that waiting awhile, before the Muslimah announces her decision, is to allow her parents time to witness positive changes in her as she commits to living the exemplary character, actions and moral values required of Muslims. This includes wearing modest clothing; exhibiting more discipline in her daily activities and schoolwork; making better choices for her circle of friends; abstaining from alcohol, drugs and premarital sex; willingness to honor and respect her parents; and being more helpful around the house. Such admirable conduct will very likely cause her parents to react more positively to her becoming a Muslim.
Adult Muslimahs that are married or living on their own
In the case of adult Muslimahs, that either are married or living on their own, their family already is accustomed to conceding to their autonomy in decisions about their life choices. There are some converts who are not concerned about how their family may react to the news. But, understandably, for many other Muslimahs, it is tremendously important that they have their family’s respect and acceptance, especially, when there are children involved.
Since the Muslimah does not live with her parents, it will be easier for her to allow them the time and space they may need to deal with the news. If there are children involved, it is recommended that Muslimahs grant their parents access to their grandchildren. But Muslimahs also need to set some boundaries for when the children are with their grandparents. These include that the children not be taught any doctrine other than Islam, served any food items prohibited by Islam, such as pork, and asked to participate in activities counter to Islamic instruction.
Talking to Siblings
As it is with their parents, it equally is important that Muslimahs individually address their siblings, and give them an opportunity to ask any questions or voice any concerns. The Muslimah needs to reassure her siblings that she still is the same sister they have always known. It is imperative that the Muslimah strongly emphasizes her love for her siblings, particularly if they are very young. Above all else, the Muslimah must ensure that she conducts herself as a good role model for her brothers and sisters.
In some cases, adult Muslimahs may not necessarily be located in the same city and/or state as their relatives. Hence, when dealing with adult siblings, it is best for the Muslimah to write a letter or place a telephone call to inform them about her conversion to Islam. She should prepare herself for any resentment that may surface, and, if necessary, siblings also should be allowed time to work through any issues they may have with regards to the Muslimah and/or her decision.
It is very important that new Muslimahs not allow themselves to engage in any interfaith debate or religious conflict with their parents and/or other family members. If anyone is verbally insulting, Muslimahs are to avoid responding in kind. They also should avoid being baited by or upset about any "anti-Islamic" rhetoric from their family members. Additionally, Muslimahs should refrain from any aggressive and/or incessant attempts to convert family members to Islam. The call to Islam should be gentle, and one of the best ways of inviting people to Islam is by being an exemplary living example of its teachings.
For many people in the United States and the West their knowledge of Islam comes only from sensationalized negative news reports. So, the apprehension that many families may harbor is that their offspring will become “radicalized.” There also is a strong aversion to Islam as a life choice for women. This is primarily due to the inaccurate and widely spread notion that Islam is oppressive to women, hence, parents may be concerned about their daughter’s ultimate fate as a woman in Islam. Muslimahs are, thus, encouraged to be compassionate and take time to effectively enlighten their family about true Islam.
Across-the-board, this issue is one that needs to be handled tactfully and in a very loving manner. Islam demands that Muslims honor their parents and be kind to them.
No matter how their family reacts to their conversion, Muslimahs are obligated to nurture a loving relationship with them because this is what Allah commands. Regardless of the situation, new Muslimahs must keep in mind that their actions have to always display the perfection of Islamic moral qualities and the truths of belief. Patience is a great virtue of a believer and some things may take time to materialize. Nevertheless, the new Muslimah can always take solace in the fact that He who led her to truth is the Power over everything.