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|Topic: BEING A NEW MUSLIM IN A FAMILY OF NON-MUS|
Joined: 25 August 2010
Online Status: Offline
| Topic: BEING A NEW MUSLIM IN A FAMILY OF NON-MUS
Posted: 29 August 2012 at 1:40am
For some muslim converts telling their family of their decision is no problem at all. Some families of converts are very happy at the choice to become a muslim, and it is welcomed. Unfortunately though for other converts this is a difficult process, with various obstacles to face.
This page is designed to help new converts through this experience, or perhaps even 'old' converts who have kept their new religion hidden for some time. There is no magical answer as all families are different and will inevitably react in various ways. However, if we cannot provide exact answers, we can certainly go a long way to helping converts feel more comfortable in this situation, and by sharing with each other we will all grow stronger and more able to face problems inshaAllah.
Before we get into the possible family problems and the suggested solutions we should first emphasize that although some converts have some problems, there are many others who do not. This page is designed to help those who are met with obstacles, so may, unavoidably, come across as negative. So please remember that some families of converts are very happy that their relative has converted. Some reasons for the happy reactions are as follows:
So, if your worries are more self created, rather than based on 'real problems' them the advice would be to just get it over and done with. I totally understand that this is easier said than done, but having spent a long time pondering the event myself, I know that I would have been better just getting on with it. The bottom line is that it is a conversation that you will have to have with your family, or at least your parents, one day, so why not get the ball rolling now and start to deal with any issues that arise. Of course, please email [email protected] if you would like someone to talk to just for some moral support.
For those who have bigger concerns with telling their families, we have tried to identify the common concerns, and where we can offer some help. This may also be useful to those who did go ahead and tell their family, but are now experiencing problems. Please do not look at the possible problems below and get yourselves worried, we have not identified a possible problem without suggesting a possible solution.
It is very unlikely that you would face more than one or two of these problems, if any at all, and anyway it is better to be prepared just in case.
Possible Concerns to Deal With (click below for solutions):
There are many ways of overcoming all these concerns.
Let us start by reminding ourselves what the Quran says (2.286):
If we keep this in mind we will be fine.
Who to Tell?
When I use the word 'family' this is referring to whoever you decide. For myself, I was concerned with telling my parents and my brother about my change of religion. Telling other family members was something that to me was not as urgent, but would be necessary in time. I felt that I wanted to gain the understanding and hopefully the support of my parents prior to tackling anyone else. For others though, they may have other family members that they would want to talk to first. Perhaps an aunt who you feel is open minded and receptive to new ideas, who in fact, may help you talk with your parents. Or perhaps a brother or sister would be easier to tell initially before talking to your parents. This is just something to consider.
What Method to use to tell your family?
The actual method of telling your family really comes down to the relationship that you have with them. Have you always had a relationship that allows the free and easy discussion of any topic? Or is your relationship good, but discussions of topics that might rock the boat are rare? Or perhaps you feel you have a not so good relationship with them.
Face to Face Conversation
I would advise the best method is to just sit down and talk to them in an environment that will allow them to express their views freely, ie talk to them privately, somewhere where they and you feel comfortable. This will allow for a conversaton to take place, giving them the opportunity to ask questions and you the opportunity to get across the main points that you feel are important. I know you may feel that you want some of your muslim friends with you, but this may stifle your family's reaction, they may not feel they can ask questions about the religion in front of a muslim audience for example.
A face to face conversation also gives you the opportunity to observe their real reactions and body language, something that will be lost with a telephone call or letter.
If you feel that you are unable to talk to your family face to face then writing a letter is an option to consider. A letter has the advantage of allowing you time to write and re-write until you are happy that you have expressed yourself in the best possible way. You have the opportunity to make sure that you include everything that you want and that the best possible wording is used.
The disadvantage is clear, you can niether see nor hear their initial reactions. The reaction that you receive will be a delayed reaction, ie when you next see your family, or when they have read and digested your letter they will phone you. A lot can be learned from witnessing their initial reaction, although some may prefer to only get a reaction once the family have had some time to contemplate what you have told them.
You might want to consider telling your family face to face, but afterwards leave them with a letter that you had previously prepared. This would ensure any points that you were not able to convey during the conversation, were not missed altogether.
A Phone Call
This method does not really apply too well to individuals who still live with their family. Going out of the house to then phone back to the house to tell them, only then to return to the house later, does not seem the best option :)
For those living apart from their family, this could be considered. However, if the family live relatively close by then I would suggest telling them face to face, rather than down the phone, and only consider the phone in the cases where family live at a distance and visits are few and far between.
Using the phone to tell family still involves having to talk to them, so if possible, going the extra step and telling them face to face would be better. The phone obviously stops you seeing their reaction, it is not always easy to get a true understanding of someone's real feelings down the phone. I feel that a phonecall to talk to your family about such a matter could also trivialise the issue, which is obviously highly important in your life.
However, if this is the method that you feel suits you best, then of course do it this way.
When it comes to telling other family members then a phone call or a letter could be the best option and the easiest in some cases.
What to Say?
When you are telling your family take the time to explain to them that you have made a decision in your life, explain that it is an informed decision that you have made for yourself. You can explain some of your reasons for selecting Islam. If appropriate you can thank them for bringing you up in such a way that you have an interest in religion in the first place. You can address any possible concerns that you think they may have. You can reassure them that you are still the same person, and that you will be trying to lead a life of high morals and manners, a life that you hope will make them proud. You might decide to explain a little about how your life will change from now on.
I would suggest not going overboard with your words. Remember the main objective here is to let them know of your decision and to add some words that will help them to accept your decision and inshaAllah be happy for you. It is not the objective to explain all the Islamic teachings and convert them with your words, this can come with time inshaAllah.
Whichever method you choose to tell your family this has to be an individual choice of words. You will know the best way to approach the subject with your parents. At the very least you are prepared, you have considered what some of their concerns might be, and you have thought of some possible solutions to these concerns. For example, if they are worried that women are treated badly in Islam, then you can explain the reality to them. So as far as you are able, you are ready to deal with any misgivings they might have.
Don't try and 'over prepare'. Don't spend too much time thinking 'what if they say this..', 'what if they say that..'. Don't get too caught up in this beforehand, you will find that once you start talking to them your words will flow naturally with the help of Allah (swt).
Remember, there is nothing wrong in not knowing the answer to a question. If your family ask you a question and you do not know the answer, simply aknowledge the question and let them know that you are not totally sure and that you would like to find out for certain and then get back to them. This could actually be an ideal opportunity to enable you to bring up the topic of religion at a future date.
How to act during the discussion with your family.
As a muslim you will of course be trying to conduct yourself in accordance with Islam. You will be aware of the manners that a muslim must try to show etc, you will be aware of the qualities of patience and understanding. Most importantly you will be aware of the rights of your parents and the way in which you should treat them.
Remember that you should not raise your voice to your parents. Just show them love and kindness throughout the discussion. If there are times when a debate starts, as is often the case when discussing religion, remember to speak calmly and softly, and remember to keep smiling :)
Despite your sincerity, you may still feel a little nervous at the start. Your nerves may give an incorrect impression to your family, so try to remain calm and composed, and inshaAllah the strength of your faith will see you through your tough times.
Giving your family books
You may want to have a couple of books to hand so that if appropriate you can offer them to your family at the end of your discussion. InshaAllah they will be interested to increase their understanding of the path you have chosen.
Obviously, if you fear that they will disrespect the books, then ensure that you do not give them any that contain the Quran.
In future updates we will provide a list of books that we think will be useful for your family. In the meantime here is one suggestion for female converts:
Daughters of Another Path (experiences of American Women Choosing Islam) by Carol L. Anway
So far we have talked about the initial step of telling your family that you are a muslim. We intend to also cover other aspects of 'Being a New Muslim in a Family of Non-Muslims'.
For example the following which arise when a new muslim is living with their non-muslim family:
There are many aspects of being a new muslim that we feel we can provide help and support with, and we would like your help in identifying them. Please let us know which other areas you think we should cover to help new muslims, or even send us your own article that you would like to share with others. As usual the email address is [email protected] Thank You
Please, if you are experiencing family problems that are not discussed on this page, or the advice given here does not go far enough to solve your problem, and you feel that you need some extra help then please email us, we want to help you if we can.
Please, if you feel that you want to talk to another convert and gain strength from one another then please email us, we will put you in touch with other converts, or we would be very happy to become email friends with you ourselves.
If you have already talked to your family and you have a success story to share then please let us know how you got on. We would also appreciate receiving your helpful hints for others.
If you have come through the experience of telling your family and would like to help others then may Allah (swt) reward you for your kindness. Please email us and we will link you up.
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