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For new Muslims – family, friends and relationships

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I was recently contacted by a sister who is struggling to find her place in society as a new Muslim. I gave the below advice to her and then thought I wold share it on here for anyone in the same situation. It is important to remember that not only new Muslims go through this; I also know many born Muslims who have a lack of confidence in their faith, and I myself continue to go through so many ups and downs.

I am not an expert. I am not a scholar. I can’t read in Arabic. Sometimes I forget to pray. Sometimes I doubt myself. But from my heart, here is my advice.

 

How to handle your family 
Luckily, I have a very supportive mother but I try not to go on about religion too much around my family because it may cause conflict and  it may influence my younger siblings which would cause fights with my parents.  I am also in a completely different country to them which makes things easier for now.  I am always available to them to answer any questions on Islam.  As time goes on you will see how to balance your family and your religion, but as a new Muslim it is not a good idea to go in all guns blazing on a daw’ah crusade before you are knowledgeable enough to explain things accurately. 
Don’t expect your family to understand, 9 times out of 10 they wont. This is normal. Unless they are saying anything anti-Islamic or stopping you in any way from following your religion, then I would say just continue trying to have a normal relationship with them. Whether your family are Muslim or not, you have to respect them (I was actually lucky enough alhamdulilah to meet Dr Zakir Naik and it was he who answered this for me when I was going through this!) Nowhere in Islam does it say to cut yourself off from them (unless they are anti-Islamic) and in fact it specifies that you must make more effort with your parents – be kinder, be more generous, take care of them as they get older etc.
Sometimes it is so hard because emotionally we are like children when it comes to our parents and we seek their approval. Just try to show them how you have changed in a positive way –  show them through your character, actions and behavior towards them so that they can see the positive affect Islam has had on your life. 
How to handle your friends
With your friends this is the real tough one! I don’t by any means want to say to you to cut yourself off  from all your non-Muslim friends but I will say that in my experience this is what I did,  bar a few people who have been very supportive and understand me well.
After I converted I didn’t take my religion seriously and I was working in a very high pressure environment with all non-Muslims. The whole social environment was gossip, boyfriends, alcohol and sex. As much as it hurt me to do so, I eventually had to move away from this. In my experience, there is no way for you to progress in your religion and spirituality while you are in that situation or around negativity. I found it was better to have fewer friends and a calmer life!
It is more important to surround yourself with positive people – and this might not always be other Muslims! Look for those around you who are non-judgmental and supportive. Don’t fall into the trap of believing that all Muslims are kind, righteous and have the knowledge of scholars! We don’t – we are just people. It is very important to be around people who will not restrict your learning and who will guide you in the right way though, so if you don’t know any Muslims have a look online to see what facilities or classes there are for Muslims in your area, or contact your local mosque. 
How to handle your relationship
I have spoken to many Muslim women who converted as result of their relationship. More often than not, these are boyfriend/girlfriend relationships where it is “required” by said boyfriends family that you convert before marriage (as was my case). Note of warning! You are going down a very difficult path if you are not 100% sure this is the right person for you and if you are engaging in a non-halal relationship. Yes, we have all heard about the “good” Muslim boy with the girlfriend on the side who after stringing her along for a few years ultimately dumps her and goes into the marriage that he was always going to – an arranged one! However, there are some exceptions to this and I don’t want to sound like the ultimate pessimist and say that all relationships will go this way, but it is a fact of cultural pressure and in our society (which can often be difficult for outsiders to understand, I know I didn’t!) the parents nearly always win!
Having said this, as those of you who read my blog regularly will know, this was pretty much the case in my situation. Looking back I am a little unnerved at the risk I took but alhamdulilah it all worked out well for me and will continue to do so inshAllah. BUT, even though I had a positive outcome, when I hear about western women being pushed into converting,or women who have Muslim boyfriends but insist he is “really religious honestly he is” I cant help but feel cynical. The bottom line is this – if  he’s a good Muslim he will not be in a haram relationship with you. He’ll keep it pure and make it halal. Until then. No physical contact. End of story (sorry ladies, as open minded as I am there really is no lee-way on this one!). 
Further to this, for those of you who have reverted to Islam but have not yet legalized your marriage  and are continuing your physical relationship – unfortunately your shahada  then becomes invalid. I know someone who experienced this situation and it did a lot of damage in her first year of marriage. The “good” Muslim she had married continued to flirt with girls, watch “inappropriate” videos, drink alcohol and more. In reality though, what did she expect? If your boyfriend has managed to have his cake and eat it for the past year, why would he suddenly change and settle down now just because you’ve converted! Even once they did their Nikkah, he continued to mess around with other girls and it took them a long time to get on the right track. She still has doubts to this day, and although she is now stronger in her faith, she does sometimes wonder why he doesn’t take his religion as seriously.
Lastly, if you are not spiritually on the same level it can be very challenging to develop your relationship. So its a good idea to get married only when you are confident both of you can go through your spiritual development together. Many men (not only Muslims) act differently around their family (especially mothers) so don’t take this as symbolic of how he is going to behave towards you in your marriage. Make sure you have really researched this decision, and that any doubts are erased. 
There is a really great vlog from Nye Armstrong on her divorce and the reasons for it – take some time to watch this incredibly strong woman talk about how marriage can go wrong here. 
Battling convention
Luckily nowadays there are a lot more doors opening for non-conventional Muslims and there are lots of bloggers, vloggers and even some scholars out there who are Muslim but have tattoos, dogs, non-Muslims friends etc. But unfortunately most of us will live in societies where these things are frowned upon. Don’t lose sight of who you are as a person simply because it doesn’t conform to what people tell you Islam is. These are all minor issues compared to the bigger picture. In reality Islam is a very simple religion that it is over complicated by society and culture. You basically only need to ask yourself the following questions:
1. Am I a nice person? Do I give generously and without expectation? Do I share with others? Do I make an effort not to curse or say bad things?
2. Am I a good wife/mother/daughter/friend? Do I support my family emotionally?
3. Do I try to learn about Islam? Even if it is a small amount, have I made an effort to further my understanding?
And that’s it! This is all you need to focus on initially. There is  no point in trying to wear hijab/recite in Arabic/change peoples view points etc if you don’t even feel good about it yourself. These are the basics to start you off. Once you feel good about it, then you can try to learn from a more logical, historical and factual perspective.
InshAllah this has been of some guidance to any new Muslims out there – as always, I am not an expert, just someone who has experienced all of the above and is stronger for it! 
Make dua and be happy, Noora x

 

Author: noorlaila265

Hospitality trainer, wife, mother, multi-faith, reader, writer, food fanatic, lover of poetry. “Study me as much as you like, you will not know me, for I differ in a hundred ways from what you see me to be. Put yourself behind my eyes and see me as I see myself, for I have chosen to dwell in a place you cannot see.”

4 thoughts on “For new Muslims – family, friends and relationships

  1. This is such an amazing blog. I’m glad I followed back. You are very direct and have made a lot of meaningful points. May Allah swt reward you for this and hopefully help others with similar situations. InshaAllah great advice sister. MashaAllah

    • JAk Sister your words mean a lot to me. I started this blog because I felt like there wasn’t any “realistic” talk about what its actually like for reverts – in reality its really hard and a roller coaster of emotions! I hope your journey is easy and with only trials to make you stronger x

  2. Reblogged this on islamperez and commented:
    MashaAllah this was an amazing post, check it out!

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