BEING A NEW MUSLIM IN A FAMILY OF NON-MUSLIMS
First of all, if you are in the position of being a new
muslim in a family of non-muslims, then many congratulations to you, and
alhumdalillah that you have been guided to what we believe is the right path. May Allah(swt)
reward you for your efforts in getting this far, and may Allah (swt) shower
many blessings on you. May you be guided through this transition in
your life and may your faith grow stronger with each day.
May you become an excellent muslim and through your example may others be
inspired, and may your family find a contentment in your decision
through your new found happiness in your life, inshaAllah.
TELLING YOUR FAMILY YOU HAVE CONVERTED
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:
Please remember that the anticipation of telling your family about your new
religion is often worse than the reality. We find that we re-run the moment
over and over in our minds, imagining the worst possible outcome.
Then, when we come to actually having the discussion, things go much better than expected.
- they are happy that the relative concerned has found God.
- they are happy that the relative concerned will be leading a moral life,
especially in this day and age.
- the family have seen the happiness that the relative concerned has found and
this in turn makes them happy.
- they are pleased that the relative concerned now has discipline and stability
in their life.
- families knowledgable about Islam, although they may not convert themselves,
realise the truth about Islam (as opposed to the propaganda).
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 ZAYNAB5@AOL.COM 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.
Please see the end of this web page for info on emailing us if you would like
additional help, or just a friend who understands. Our prayers are with you
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):
Allah (swt) does not impose upon any soul a duty but to the extent of it's ability; for it is
(the benefit of) what it has earned, and upon it (the evil of) what it has wrought: Our Lord!
do not punish us if we forget or make a mistake; Our Lord! do not lay on us a burden as
Thou didst lay on those before us; Our Lord! do not impose upon us that which we have not the
strength to bear; and pardon us and grant us protection and have mercy on us, Thou art our
Patron, so help us against the unbelieving people.
If we keep this in mind we will be fine.
Alhumdalillah, as converts, Allah (swt) immediately allows us this opportunity to spread Islam
within our family and inshaAllah earn some good deeds.
Now inshaAllah you feel more prepared, so how do you go about telling your family?
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.
Clearly this is an individual choice and there is no right or wrong. You must go with the
option that you feel is best for you. Remember in many cases the reaction from family is
very good, and in all cases, whatever the reaction, you will feel a sense of relief from
simply telling them.
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
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
We Need Your Help to Help Others
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
- How to tackle halal/haram food issues
- How to deal with a pet dog in the house
- Alcohol in the house, and the drinking of alcohol by other family members
- How to cope when your family are stopping you from practising your religion
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 ZAYNAB5@AOL.COM 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
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.