Assalamu alaikum (peace be upon you),
Welcome to the fold of Islam.
As you begin this new journey in life, you will undoubtedly run into questions and struggles. You are on a spiritual high right now, but as with all things in life … what goes up, must come down. Every single Muslim in this world has ups and downs and reverts are no different. So when that dip comes, please take comfort in knowing you are not alone and this is not unusual. This is part of your test.
“Do the people think that they will be left to say, “We believe” and they will not be tried.” (Al-`Ankabut 29:2)
You might want to aim for perfection, most of us do in the beginning, but the truth is that will burn you out. Aim for being the best Muslim you can handle being for the sake of Allah.
“Religion is very easy and whoever overburdens himself in his religion will not be able to continue in that way…” (Authenticated by Al-Bukhari)
Many sisters and brothers advised me take it one step at a time, don’t rush and don’t overburden yourself. At the time I did not understand how wise that advice is, but hindsight is 20/20 and I can tell you from personal experience they are right.
You do not need to wake up the day after shahada and instantly memorize the entire Qur’an while only wearing black and obsessing over whether or not you can eat chicken nuggets from Wendy’s.
Focus on what matters the most, your connection to the divine. The greatest love story ever told is the one between you and your Creator. Allah loves us more than a mother loves her own child, it is a love beyond human understanding and that love has so much mercy and patience. From His 99 names he is called As-Sabur (The Patient) and Ar-Rahman (The Exceedingly Merciful).
Advice from Others
You will encounter many who want to give you rulings and tell you what you can and cannot do. They have good intentions, but you will discover some of their choices are based on culture not Islam. Politely thank them, then make a mental note to do your own research. If someone tells you something is haram (forbidden to do), take some time to look it up and read the evidence.
Contact the imam or myself and we will also help you. This will not only help you determine if it is accurate, it will help you grow in your understanding and knowledge of Islam.
“Ask Allah for beneficial knowledge and seek refuge with Allah from knowledge that is of no benefit.” (Sunan Ibn Majah)
You may be asked what sect you are, unfortunately we have many. This is a very large topic, but ultimately focus on the Qur’an and Sunnah (the examples shown by the Prophet Muhammed). It is good to understand the sects and what sets them apart, but don’t focus on it so early on and remember sects did not exist during the time of the Prophet Muhammed (pbuh).
“And hold firmly to the rope of Allah all together and do not become divided. And remember the favor of Allah upon you – when you were enemies and He brought your hearts together and you became, by His favor, brothers. And you were on the edge of a pit of the Fire, and He saved you from it. Thus does Allah make clear to you His verses that you may be guided.” (Aal `Imran 3:104)
Dealing with Family
This topic can be hard. Take it easy with your family, especially if they have prejudice against Muslims. Step by step give them information. Do not cut ties with your family, no matter what faith they are your family and part of being Muslim is being good to family and neighbors. If they have questions you are not able to answer, reach out to one of us.
Tips for Studying
Islam is vast, it is not possible to learn everything and master every topic related to our deen (religion). If you are wondering what you should study first, I say follow the example of the Sahaba (the companions of the Prophet (saws).
They focused on beliefs such as the afterlife, monotheism, angels, other Prophets and soon before they focused on Islamic Law. Read Qur’an, read tafseer (explanations of the Qur’an) and read seerah (the biography of the Prophet).
The reason I recommend studying seerah is because Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) was the living embodiment of the Qur’an, his actions and choices reflected his understanding of the divine word. The more you know his character, the more you will grow to respect him and this will bring you closer to Allah, in sha’ Allah.
Islamic Online University (as well as other organizations) has free courses online related to all of this and inexpensive degree programs related to Islamic studies.
I recommend the movie “The Message” which can be found on YouTube in Arabic and English. It is about three hours long and gives you a history lesson on Islam. I also recommend the series “Farouk Omar,” although the series focuses on one of the most known Sahaba, Omar Ibn Khattab, it is a great series to see the history of early Islam and other companions are also featured.
I know a lot is being thrown at you at once. Take a deep breath, focus on what is important and do your best. Reach out for help when needed and don’t isolate yourself.
It feels awkward sometimes when everyone is speaking a language you can’t understand and you struggle to feel like you belong. Trust me, just about every revert struggles with these feelings and isolation is the #1 reason people report leaving Islam. Just remember you are not Muslim for the sake of other humans, you are Muslim for the sake of your own soul for Allah (swt).
You don’t need to dress, act and look like you are from a Middle Eastern country to fit in. You’ll find you are happier if you just be yourself. If you want to wear clothing similar to Middle Eastern styles, great, but if you would prefer to wear modest Western style clothes that is also great.
Don’t feel like you have to bring an Egyptian or Syrian recipe to community iftars (breaking the fast together) it is okay to bring some chicken pot pie and chocolate chip cookies. Be authentically you within the guidelines of Islam.
May Allah (Swt) guide you on your path and make it easy for you, ameen.
What is correct is from Allah (most revered, most high) what is incorrect is by my own error. Don’t hesitate to ask any questions.
As the Director of her local Mosque’s Revert Support Committee, Monique Hassan has created a welcome packet for new reverts. It includes this letter alongside other helpful write ups, books, prayer mat, etc. If this welcome letter would serve you or your community, please feel free to print and use it. Monique would appreciate if you include her website at the bottom. If you need assistance creating a revert kit for your Mosque or need a spiritual consultant, contact Monique.
First published at Moniquehassan.com
Republished with kind permission from the author.