>> Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Asalaam-u-alaykum :) inshAllah you all are well. I am a new convert to Islam (just a little over two months) and Alhamdulillah I am so happy that Allah opened my heart and chose me to follow his deen. I wear hijab and I just started wearing abaya to school (I’m in grade 12). I stopped listening to music before I converted (it has been about three months now) and after reading your post on Grey’s Anatomy, I stopped watching un-Islamic TV and movies.
I have two main questions for you. The first one is how I should deal with my family. At first, they seemed fine with my decision...saying that I was going to be 18 soon and had to make my own decisions. Then (I guess when they realized that I was serious) they said that I was still too young...I was ‘brainwashed’...I was just doing this to ‘fit in’ with my Muslim friends...that they were disappointed that such an ‘intelligent’ girl would make such a choice...that didn’t I think I was beautiful (most likely in reference to my wearing of hijab)...that it wasn’t normal for someone to start wearing hijab so soon after converting – I was ‘jumping straight into Islam’......
Then came the concerns – why do you have to wear hijab all of the time?...do you know that husbands are allowed to beat their wives?...women are looked down upon in Islam and have no rights...the Prophet (SAW) had 11 wives...he married a 7 year old girl...you will have to kill your non-Muslim family......
After a very uncomfortable week of them sending me emails with articles and youtube videos, silence and then a giant argument/disagreement, it seems as though we currently just do not talk about the fact that I am not going to ‘go back’ to being a non-Muslim and I don’t want to unnecessarily bring up things to start more arguments :/
I was wondering of the general tips and guidelines of how to deal with my non-Muslim family on a day-to-day basis (ie. when things are ‘normal’), when they are bombarding me with ‘concerns’, and what to do about religious / ‘hallmark’ holidays (Christmas, Easter, Mother’s Day...etc.)
JazakAllahu khairn for your time. I enjoy reading your blog.
May Allah be pleased with you.
- A New Sister :D
Dearest A New Sister,
Awww, sis, I’m very happy to have met you! Welcome back to Islam and welcome to the family! Wow, already wearing abaya and giving up non-Islamic shows. You’ve got my complete admiration, ma’shaAllah. I pray that each day is easier for you….
Now…on to the question! How to deal with the family….?
Well, before I answer this, let me give you the traditional Auntie disclaimer: as I am not a convert/revert myself, I can only tell you what I think and not necessarily any real experiences. I hope the readers though (converts especially) will pitch in with their advice and stories, inshaAllah =)
Number One- I think it’s important that we acknowledge that your family loves you. And they truly want what’s ‘best for you’. They just don’t know that you’ve already found what is best for you, lol. They’re concerned about you and with the image of Islam in the media- rightly so. Who can blame them for being worried about their darling baby? That’s why the first step in dealing with this is to remind yourself again and again that your parents are really not against you; they are against what they perceive to be an unwise decision. So, you’ve got to meet their worries with a combination of love, patience, logic and reason…..
Since you guys just had a disagreement/ are in a not talking period, break the silence.
Talk to them/ send them an e-mail/ give them a letter/ do something! You guys gotta talk. You can try giving them something like this (but of course I don’t know the facts in your case, this is just a general thing).
“Poppy and Mommy, you guys are the ones who instilled in me all the values I have today. I can honestly say that it’s because of you guys that I believe in the importance of honesty, justice, equality of the races and sexes. You taught me to be good. You also taught me to be a critical thinker- to question and read. You guys believe that I am intelligent, right? You educated me to be my own individual and that's who I am. I would never ever change my religion just because a lot of my friends were Muslims. I didn’t do it for them.And that’s exactly it. You are still their daughter =)
Mom/ Dad…I went on a search for the truth. I wanted to know why I was here, the purpose of my creation. I wanted to know if there was a God and if there was, who was He? I researched a lot and I read a lot…
Islam was the answer to all my questions. It made perfect sense to me. Of course, I didn’t plan on it being the answer- I was also concerned with the rights of women in Islam, the Prophet’s marriages, etc. but when I took the time t read about it, I learned that Islam was something totally different than what the media presented. And I’d love to be able to talk to you guys about that and address your concerns.
But what I want you to know is that I really didn’t do this spontaneously and I certainly didn’t take this decision lightly. I worried about you guys- your reactions- what you would think…but then I realized that I trusted you and I knew you guys would always be there for me and that even if you didn’t necessarily agree with my decision, you would respect my right to making my own decisions.
You guys will always be the best parents any girl could ever have and I will always be your daughter. Nothing will ever take that away. Islam is just my commitment to living a God-conscious life, but I’m still your daughter.
Nothing will ever change that.
So on a day to day basis, you should (like all of us) treat your parents in the best way possible.
In fact, the Qur’an teaches us how to treat disbelieving parents:
‘We have enjoined upon man goodness towards his parents: his mother bore him by bearing strain upon strain, and his weaning is in two years. Be grateful to Me and to your parents; to Me is the [final] destination.:
"(Revere your parents) But if they (both) strive with you to make you join in worship with Me others that if which you have no knowledge, then obey them not; but behave with them in the world kindly, and follow the path of him who turns to me in repentance and in obedience. Then to Me will be your return, and I shall tell you what you used to do"( 31:14,15)
So basically, I think when things are normal, take advantage of that and hang out with them.
-How about baking goodies with your mom? Having a barbeque with your family? Going to a theme park together? Shopping? Helping out with chores?
-You’re in 12th grade, huh? Does that mean you finished 12th grade or going to it? In any case, college must be on your mind. Talk to them about that. Get them involved in your future plans.
-When your parents come home from work, ask them how their day was. The conversation doesn’t always have to be about Islam or you- let it be about them.
- Before you go to sleep- every night- give them a good night kiss.
When you do these things, you reassure your family that you are still there for them and that Islam hasn’t taken their daughter away :)
As for when they bring up their concerns:
It’s important that you try not to get too defensive….arguments suck and I know that it can be really frustrating when you feel like the other side is not listening to you.
But one thing to remember (and I seriously need a wake up call/ need to be reminded of this) is that ‘shouting’ doesn’t make your message heard.
What you have to do is prepare yourself.
You know what they’re going to ask you about.
-Muslims are terrorists. – Women are oppressed. – etc. etc.
Have a short answer ready. Not something too lengthy because they probably won’t want to listen to that. Something that they can’t argue with.
Just say something like “You know, I thought that, too. But actually the Qur’an says that human life is sacred and who ever kills one person, it’s like they killed all of mankind. Islam’s actually really peaceful. I can show you some verses from the Qur’an.”
Or: “I know you guys are surprised that I wore the hijab but don’t I kinda look like the mother of Jesus, now? Mary? One thing I was really surprised to learn when I did my research is that even the Bible has stuff about women covering their hair.
(From good old Wikipedia: Genesis 20:16, Genesis 24:65, Numbers 5:18 and Isaiah 47:2 are references in the Old Testament referring to a headcovering for women. 1 Corinthians 11:4-16 contains the only reference in the New Testament referring to a headcovering for women and to an absence of a headcovering for men. Various early Church Fathers, such as Hermas, Clement of Alexandria, Jerome, Augustine of Hippo and Tertullian also mentioned women's headcoverings).
More importantly focus on this fact:
“Since nobody is forcing me to wear it and it’s something I personally want and I feel it helps me grow spiritually, is it really such a big problem?”
^Try to always include in your argument how it makes you personally feel. If something makes you ‘happy’, they can’t argue with that. They can’t tell you “no, it doesn’t make you spiritually grow”. LOL.
Try giving your parents this interview with a mother's convert, too :)
When it comes to the holidays…
Now that’s tricky.
It’s important that before Christmas and Easter come, you talk to your family about Jesus alyhee as salam. You need to tell them that you love Prophet Jesus and that he was a messenger of God, born of a miraculous birth and that the Qur’an even has a chapter named after his mother. But you just can’t believe that Jesus was also God and that’s why you can’t celebrate these holidays.
Mother’s Day…that’s tough. Really. I know Muslim moms who get angry at their kids for not celebrating it. One way I try to avoid that is I get gifts for my mom throughout the year so she understands that I love her all year round and not just one day :)
You can try that, too. Surprise them. Even things like making them breakfast in bed. The more things you do for them, the more understanding they will be of your decision.
Be extra kind to them.
Most importantly sis, pray for them. :)
I hope this helps a bit. Sisters please share your experiences and advice :)