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Wednesday, 4 May 2011

How to treat reverts/new Muslims

It's sad to hear that some many new Muslims/ reverts feel as though they are being bombarded with do's and don'ts, which either makes them feel Islam isn't for them or that Muslims are mad extreme people with extreme views. So I wanted to write this post to born Muslims to explain how we should be treating new Muslims.

A revert is like a new born baby, free from sin and completely pure, before you start pointing fingers at what they are doing wrong have a think of this: It took you your whole life to get to the stage you are at now, your parents taught you about Islam and living an Islamic lifestyle since you were young so you've had yeeeeaaarss of information and the Islamic lifestyle isn't something new or strange but the only lifestyle you know. How do you expect a new Muslim to do everything you are doing overnight?

Personally I think born Muslims need to give new Muslims the support they need, now this isn't telling them that they must wear hijab and abaya and not listen to music and not speak to men from the words 'la ilaha il Allah..' . Every person is on their own journey and you have to understand that new Muslims have it really hard, changing their lifestyle, pressure from their families and having to make changes in what they eat, how they dress, as well as the fear of not being accepted by the Muslim community. All you need to do is be a sister/brother to them, not make them feel inferior to you (because in terms of sin they are much more superior than any of us born Muslims [they have no sin]) and help them on their journey of seeking the truth.

This is a video of how Dr Zakir Naik explains we should treat new Muslims:



I also came across this detailed and very useful article on how to treat a new Muslim sister, inshaAllah have a read, it's worth it.

Humble & Humility: How born Muslims should treat new Muslims

-Sr Katherine
Turn to Islam

"At our mosque at that time when we assigned an ansaar to a new muslim we called them Heart sisters. So just take that into account when reading this"


Introduction:

Today we are going to discuss the topic of what it means to be Humble to another person and what does it means to be Humiliated by another person. Under this topic, we will be focusing closely on how Muslims should give proper Dawa.

Let’s look at what the dictionary meanings of humble and humiliated means. According to our trust worthy Webster dictionary, Humble means the following:

1 : not proud or haughty : not arrogant or assertive
2 : reflecting, expressing, or offered in a spirit of deference or submission <a humble apology>
3 a :UNPRETENTIOUS b : not costly or luxurious <a humble contraption>

This is a great word to describe our Prophet. The second definition, “2 : reflecting, expressing, or offered in a spirit of deference or submission”, really gives the essence of his nature. We know this to be true according to our knowledge of Hadiths. He was a humble man, the ultimate human being, and the role model to guide us to the submission of Allah. In order to be humble, you have to submit your faults and bad behaviours and redirect them to good ones. Allah has given us many rules how to treat one another…but still we struggle every day in Islam with the attitudes of people from different cultures and backgrounds.

Next let’s look at what humility means in the good ole’ dictionary.

Humiliated:

: to reduce to a lower position in one's own eyes or others' eyes: MORTIFY

This word does not have a positive meaning at all, as we can see. We know what it is like to be humiliated in front of our peers. We know how it felt when we went through puberty, been there and done that!

As we know the Prophet did experience some humility in his life because of what he was teaching to the masses, but not once did he dampen the spirits of his inquirers. He was always a man eager to answer the questions they asked with of course, the guidance and inspiration of Allah at his side. Most of the time on different occasions, the inquirers asked the prophet, “How can I be a Muslim and what does it take to go to Jannah?” The prophet always explained the five pillars of Islam to the newcommers. Here is an example of a hadith that supports this statement:

Abu Hurairah, may Allah be pleased with him, reported:
One day Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) appeared before the public. Then a man came to him and asked: Prophet of Allah, what is Iman? Upon this he (the Holy Prophet) replied: That you affirm your faith in Allah, His angels, His Books, His meeting, His Messengers and that you affirm your faith in the Resurrection hereafter.

He (again) asked: Messenger of Allah, what does Islam signify? He (the Holy Prophet) replied: Islam signifies that you worship Allah and do not associate anything with Him and you perform the prescribed Prayer and you pay the obligatory poor-due (Zakah) and you observe the Fast of Ramadan. 

He (the inquirer) again asked: Messenger of Allah, what does Al-Ihsan (Faithfulness) imply? He (the Holy Prophet) replied: That you worship Allah as if you are seeing Him, and in case you fail to see Him, then observe that He is seeing you. 

He (the inquirer) again asked: Messenger of Allah, when would there be the Hour of (Doom)? He (the Holy Prophet) replied: The one who is asked about it is no better informed than the inquirer. I, however, will narrate some of its signs (and these are): When the female-slave will give birth to her master, when the naked, barefooted would become the chiefs of the people; these are some of the signs of (Doom). (Moreover) when the shepherds of the black (camels) would exalt themselves in buildings, this is one of the signs of (Doom). (Doom) is one of the five (happenings wrapped in the unseen), which no one knows, but Allah? Then he (the Messenger of Allah) (may peace be upon him) recited (the verse): Verily, Allâh! With Him (Alone) is the knowledge of the Hour, He sends down the rain, and knows that which is in the wombs No person knows what he will earn tomorrow, and no person knows in what land he will die Verily, Allâh is All-Knower, All-Aware (of things) He (the narrator, Abu Hurairah) said: Then the person turned back and went away. Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) said: Bring that man back to me. They (the Companions of the Holy Prophet present there) went to bring him back, but they did not find him. Upon this Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) remarked: He was Gabriel. He came to teach people their religion.

Hadith number in Sahih Muslim [Arabic only]: 10


There is also a very nice Quran verse that supports this:

Piety does not consist in whether you face east or west during worship. True piety consists in this: believing in God and in his final judgement; believing in his angels, in the Book, and in the prophets; giving your wealth, for the sake of God, to your relatives, to orphans, to the needy, to wayfarers and to strangers; ransoming slaves; attending prayers and paying the poor-rate; being true to your promises; and being steadfast in times of distress, adversity and war. Those who show true piety are genuine in their faith; they honour God.

-Quran, Al-Baqara, Surah 2:177


These two examples do not give way to humility of the person reading it…but give it spirit to submit to the will of Allah. When giving dawa we must realize this way of approach a brother or sister by being humble about it. You never know if angel Gabriel could show up on your doorstep to test you without you knowing!
Here (so and so) are going to do a mock up how to handle an issue with a new Muslim: I am sure we all have experienced either one

Finger nail polish!!!!!!!!!!
Look. Correct. Offend!!!!!

Now that was an example of being humiliated with out trying to put some effort into the relationship of the person you want to help

Look. Approach. Talk…ask her name…how is she…how did she come to Islam…ask her has anyone showed her to do salah…. or wudu…if no so…then take the sister to the bathroom and show her how you do wudu…this would be the proper time during wudu practice to explain why water has to touch all parts…I sure in the end she would thank you for being thoughtful of taking the time to help her out with the basics.

Here are some other guidelines to help you out with doing dawa:

Islamic Education / Practice

o Take things one-step at a time.

o Do not perform a “core dump” of Islam on the new Muslim and overwhelm him/her with information

o Start out by helping them review and master the material tahara and salah are core ibadat.

o Discussion of other topics will present themselves through the course of natural conversation. Do provide information and discuss as needed. However, do not engage in detailed discussions of fiqh for every topic that might come up (again so as not to overwhelm the new Muslim in the beginning).

o Do not take anything for granted. Some new Muslims may have more knowledge than long time Muslims in certain areas as they may have been studying Islam intensely before reverting. Others may be very unfamiliar with even the most basic Arabic phrases which long time Muslims take for granted.

o Do not take for granted the new Muslims ability to pronounce simple Arabic phrases. Be patient. Help by demonstrating the correct pronunciations as needed. Listen to an instructional tape together.

o Do not criticize them for any perceived deficiencies in Islamic practice – that’s why they are new Muslims.

o Initially do not direct them to a multitude of information sources be it articles, books, or websites – again to not overwhelm them with information. However, do not discourage from exploring more literature / information if they show the desire and interest to do so.

o Encourage them to attend any other new Muslim classes being offered at the Masjid.

o You can sensitize the new Muslims to legitimate differences in Islamic fiqh (they will eventually encounter this) but do not vigorously push any particular madhab on them.

o Do not compromise any commonly accepted Islamic principle or practice because you think it might be too hard for the new Muslim or they might take it the wrong way (provide any background information / explanation which would minimize them taking it the wrong way to begin with). However, do be patient for them to either accept or practice them.

o Do not avoid any topic of discussion initiated by the new Muslim but refer them to someone more appropriate if you do not have enough knowledge in that area. It is best not to initiate discussions of a political nature.


Social / Spiritual Support

o Be their sister and friend

o Ask questions to understand their background and past experiences and way of thinking. However, do not interrogate. Be sensitive when a new Muslim starts to feel uncomfortable with the direction of a conversation.

o Expose the new Muslims to your friends’ circles and encourage your friends to also befriend the new Muslim so he/she can be truly integrated into the community.

o Invite the new Muslim to social gatherings either at the Masjid or at your home. For community events, don’t assume the new Muslim will feel comfortable just because he/she may have heard the announcement. They may need extra encouragement to feel comfortable in attending. The best is to accompany them to any such events.

o For at the least the first couple of months accompany them to Jumaa salah at the minimum.

o Depending on how your and the new Muslim’s schedules coincide, try to accompany the new Muslim to other salahs at the Masjid as well.

o If the new Muslim does not have a car it will require extra effort to ensure that the new Muslim is able to attend salah and other gatherings. Offer to pick them up and drop them home. If needed, develop a rideshare schedule with the Associate HEART SISTERs and other friends who can assist in providing rides to the new Muslim.

o As with any relationship chemistry and personality play an important role. Ideally the best of HEART SISTERs will be able to adapt and respond appropriately to the specific personality of the new Muslim. However, be sensitive if you feel the new Muslim just can’t relate to you or vice versa. If you feel this is happening have a discussion with the relevant Co-Lead to see whether someone else might be more appropriate.

o If you are a foreign born Muslim who is an HEART SISTER for an English speaking reverted Muslim, be sensitive to the fact that communication may be inhibited because of your own accent. The sisterhood is what is important, not your accent, but do realize it may require some extra effort (e.g. speaking slower, repeating) on your part to ensure smooth communication.

o If the new Muslim has a family, ideally you were linked with him/her because you also have a family and children of similar ages. Sensitize the rest of your family to some of the guidelines on interacting with the new Muslim family (all of whom may not actually be Muslim). Remember that the children of the new Muslim (i) may find the parent’s reversion a stressful and inexplicable event (ii) may be resentful towards Islam and/or the parents (iii) do not have the same background / Islamic education as your children. Set the expectations of the relationship appropriately. Don’t do Dawa to the rest of the family by talking but by example. Do try to make children of the new Muslim feel welcome.

Economic Support

o If some one is facing economic hardship do not take things for granted in how to be of service to the new Muslim. For example, if the new Muslim does not have a car, instead of offering to meet them at the Masjid for salah you will need to offer them a ride to and back from salah.

o If you choose to personally help the new Muslim with any economic needs, the best method to help anyone is to provide the service directly rather than give cash to help them. For example if someone needs a bus pass go with them and purchase one for them or help them do their grocery shopping or make a check payable to an apartment complex to help with rent.

o Speak to the Outreach office coordinator to request assistance from the Masjid. The new Muslim will need to fill out a brief Zakah assistance form. It is our responsibility to tactfully and delicately verifies legitimate use of acquired Masjid funds (in most cases this will be automatically done if the check is made out to a specific service provider).

o Do not attempt any “fundraising” on Masjid premises or any public forum even though the cause is legitimate. You may end up embarrassing the New Muslim publicly.

o Help the new Muslim become familiar with Muslim businesses such as halal meat stores, restaurants, etc.

In all to have great performance, we need a lot of practice! Giving dawa takes lots of practice to be successful at keeping a new sister interested, personally and spiritually. Massaging and Modifying attitudes of the giver/receiver of information can help to this solution. Humans are made up of three physiological components: Emotional, Behavioral, and Cognitive Knowledge. Being aware of yourself and the other’s components is essential to pass on what you know without causing humility. Here is a good Hadith to remember:

Hadith number in Sahih Muslim [Arabic only]: 88

'Abdullah bin Mas'ud, may Allah be pleased with him, reported:

Allah's Messenger (may peace and blessings be upon him) observed: Abusing a Muslim is an outrage and fighting against him is disbelief.


It takes only a few simple steps to catch yourself in giving unsatisfactory dawa to a new Muslim:

o Watch body language– if it is negative, (Like crossing the arms or if standing changing foot positions often) change the subject to something about her personality and you like

o Analyze your behavior – Are you doing it out of emotion? OH! OH! Just cuz I know that rule in Islam I have to tell her!!!!?

o Watch Verbal language – Are you being hostile in the conversation? Is the revert becoming hostile? Is there any interest from the revert in asking more questions?

Take heed to these thoughts when in the process of giving out Islamic knowledge…in no time you will be doing a smooth job if you can pick up these signals!

To conclude to this speech, the whole goal is to get both parties to the same point. What I mean by that is, take a look around at your sisters…these ladies could be the one to share your paradise! You would want your neighbor to be there just as much as you do! But then again, look at her sitting next to you….Ask yourself do I really know her? Have I ever spent time to get to know her? Have I truly been humble to her as the prophet was to the strangers? If this is the person that is going to share my paradise, how will I know her in Jannah if I have not done anything to build a relationship? The key issue is here in giving dawa to a sister…you must be a friend, humblily. You must build a relationship, and a trust with your neighbor in Dunya.
Here is a good hadith to remember about intention of a good deed:

Hadith number in Sahih Muslim [Arabic only]: 5092

Jundab Al-'Alaqi, may Allah be pleased with him, reported:

Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) said: He who wants to publicize (his deeds), Allah will publicize (his humility), and he who makes a hypocritical display (of his deeds), Allah will make a display of him (his real intention).


We as the female species are limited to understand ourselves without social and emotional attachment. Also without the building blocks of showing your love and affection to your sister, no one would want to listen to someone that just is selective friend and tells every Muslim what to do as in pertaining to Islam. This selective behaviour is something we don’t want to happen. Even then, you have varied results of people’s perceptions on their emotional needs for spiritual growth. Some will respond and some will just leave. But taking control of your actions and becoming a good listener is a good way to start to change one of the umma’s problems.

Imagine holding your sister's hand....Take hold of that hand next to you. Feel the life in that person…feel the love…Feel the sisterhood….Now hold tight (hands) I want each and every one of you to be my Neighbour in Jannah!

Takbeer!

 <<< I don't but I just thought that was cute, I will smile and say salaam though (=

Hope you enjoyed the article!

2 comments:

  1. good advice. I think i made some mistakes while talkig to newer muslimahs. AstagferuLLAH.

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  2. SAlaam-alaikum, hope all is well. PAkistanies are so racist to their own kind, it is disgusting. Being a different colour and coming to Islam and wanting to be part of the community- N po Chance. You will always be treated like a kuffar, when realistically you are a better humble muslim than many of the born muslims. Rather than cherish a revert, out lot run away in shame. Islam could rule the world if it wasnt for this sick mentality. We need reverts for our Ummah to grow and survive !

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