When a person embraces Islam, or reaffirms their faith, it is a very emotional time. Many people find the experience overwhelming, and react in different ways. Some with silence and composure, as if holding a very treasured item. Others are exhilarated and want to shout it from the rooftops.
It is not unusual to feel a range of emotions; life can feel like a roller-coaster. Sometimes up, as if you need to learn everything now, and reveal your newfound faith to others; sometimes down, when the momentous occasion feels almost too heavy to carry.
Those feelings however, are a microcosm of a lifetime of Islam. Sometimes your level of faith is high, at other times it is lower. The first few days, weeks, or months of your new faith are something like a crash course in life as Muslim.
Wonderful opportunities present themselves; you have a new understanding of things that have perplexed or worried you all your life, and the feeling of being enveloped in God’s love is the most wonderful experience imaginable.
On the other hand, problems might very quickly raise their heads. God makes it very clear that life is filled with tests, trials and tribulations.
And We will surely test you with something of fear and hunger and a loss of wealth and lives and fruits; but give good tidings to the patient, Who, when disaster strikes them, say: ‘Indeed we belong to God, and indeed to Him we will return’. (Quran 2:155-156)
One problem is universal amongst newcomers to Islam. How will you explain your actions to your family and friends? And this problem is not reserved for new converts; it is also problematic for those who were born into the Islamic faith but come from families that are lackadaisical about the finer points of Islam, or are Muslim in name only.
This dilemma is one of the first problems that you will have to deal with; and it is actually a lesson in how to deal with all the complications in life that will present themselves from now on. Islam equips you with the ability to both withstand, and solve, all your problems and predicaments.
Islam has a solution.
These tricky, and sometimes uncomfortable, situations are solved by following the guidance found in the Quran and in the traditions, words, and actions, of Prophet Muhammad.
You are by no means the first person to be in this situation, in fact you are in the company of many of the first converts to Islam in the time of Prophet Muhammad.
As Islam grew so too did the number of people who faced the prospect of telling their families and friends. In many situations the new Muslims feared for their lives, and livelihoods, but always acted in the manner taught to them by God and Prophet Muhammad.
The first line of defense for a Muslim, whether they are battling Satan, trying to solve a worldly problem, or worried about their relationship with family and friends, is making dua (supplication).
Dua is a very powerful weapon and can be used in times of sorrow or confusion, as well as in times of happiness. It is a way of being in contact with God and asking Him to guide you through all conditions. If you are unsure about how to talk about your Islam with family and friends, dua is a useful way to ask God for His help.
Expect All Reactions
It is important to remember that you may have been thinking about Islam for a very long time. When you reveal your decision to your friends and family, it will likely come as a shock.
Unlike you, they have not been thinking about it. Therefore, there is no point in being disappointed when they do not embrace the idea with open arms. Your family in particular need time to include your religion in their understanding of you, and their worldview.
Thus, you need to take things slowly, one step at a time. If your family and friends do not react in the way you were hoping, try not to get defensive; remember to control your anger, and do not raise your voice or storm out of the room or house.
It is also worth remembering that people very rarely react in the way you expect. For instance, if you were expecting tears and remonstrations, it may not happen; but on the other hand, the people you expected support from often can’t come to terms with the changes, at least in the beginning.
Maintain Family Ties
If cutting ties with your family has crossed your mind, you will have to rethink that one because Quran is very clear, cutting the ties of kinship is not only unnecessary, it is wrong.
God and Prophet Muhammad tell us that keeping good relations with our parents is the best way to behave. Even if the shock of your conversion to Islam has driven them away, you are exhorted to do your very best to mend the rift.
The believer’s attitude towards the family should reflect the religion of Islam; therefore your attitude should be one of kindness, understanding, and tolerance. This applies even if they are unable to be kind and tolerant towards you.
And We have enjoined upon humankind kindness to parents. (Quran 29:8)
Asma bint Abu Bakr went to Prophet Muhammad asking about her mother.
“My mother has come to me and she desires to receive a reward from me, shall I keep good relations with her?”
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said:
Yes, keep good relations with her.
He explained that it is important to maintain family ties even when your family members practice a different religion.
Furthermore, Prophet Muhammad never ridiculed or belittled other people’s beliefs. Therefore, you must emulate his behavior and mutual respect must be the goal of your ongoing relationship with family and friends.
Show How Islam Changed You
If you are able, it may help to explain to your family and friends what it was that drew you to Islam, and how it makes you feel.
Sometimes though this can be difficult. Perhaps you are not able to put your feelings into words. Sometimes your friends and family have many questions but are not really interested in the answer. They are, on many occasions, searching for the person they know and love, and are going through an overwhelming event of their own.
In this situation you might be able to demonstrate your love of Islam. Perhaps you can show what Islam means to you, rather than tell.
If your family and friends can see a great change in you, one for the better they will see that Islam is a good influence, and makes you a better person. Your actions towards them must reflect this. Be patient both in learning your Islam and while you are waiting for your family and friends to accept the changes.
When and how to reveal your Islam is something that you must decide after prayer and supplication; however be sure that God will not let you down. You have been chosen for a great blessing, and God will guide you to what is best, both in this life and in the Hereafter.