The holy month is an especially apt time to recognise the importance of welcoming our sisters and brothers who are new to Islam. YazTheSpaz shares her mother’s journey of becoming a Muslim.
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A topic that is very dear to my heart is that of reverts to Islam. They are special and dear to me because my mother happens to be one. Alhamdulillah, she became a revert 37 years ago and hasn’t looked back since.
One thing she shared with me that has always stayed in my mind is that, when you change your life totally to submit to Allah, the experience can be very lonely during the transition of fitting into Islamic society. Here, I will tell you about her journey.
When my mother was in high school, she loved religion so much – to the point that she wanted to become a nun in the Catholic Church. Her parents, Cuban-born and Roman Catholic, were not happy with her decision of becoming a nun. They wanted her to have a family – especially children. Nuns devote their lives to God, but they aren’t allowed to marry. My mother began questioning a lot of dogmas of the faith, which eventually led her to leave the Catholic Church and seek a religion she’d feel happy practicing. In the late 70s, when she was in her early twenties, she met friends from a university who gave her a Qur’an as a gift. Once she opened it and read it, there was no going back to her previous life. Her life became so fulfilling and knowledge-seeking that Islam grew to be the only way she would accept living.
It is our duty as Muslims to take converts to Islam under our wings and help ease the difficult transition that they have chosen to make in their lives
Little by little, she changed her way of thinking, dressing and interacting with people, while remaining in Western society and working in corporate America. One difficulty she faced was that, when visiting mosques, she was never welcomed as she expected. She was always a stranger. People wondered where she had come from, who she was and why she was there. This broke her heart many times until she realised that the beauty of this religion, Islam, had nothing to do with the actions of its followers. She decided to be the one to introduce herself to everyone, instead of vice versa. With that came great success and friendship.
After so many years, she is now well known and loved in all the mosques here. But to many reverts, a tough experience like this could prove so dramatic in their lives that they might even go back to their previous religious beliefs, or just leave the Islamic way of life completely. They might not have the assertiveness and willpower that my mother had after she became a revert.
My reason for sharing this story is to make my readers aware that the transition from a Western lifestyle to an Islamic way of life is very difficult. It is our duty as Muslims to support, encourage, embrace and nurture these wonderful people to help them live the life that Allah ordained for us.
When I take friends who have an interest in Islam to the mosque, they sometimes get harsh criticism, especially from older ladies, about simple things such as nail polish, a few hairs showing, or clothing that is too tight. But issues such as these will remedy themselves as these ladies grow in their love for our faith. Do not discourage them from the first day they enter a mosque. It is our duty as Muslims to take them under our wings and help ease the difficult transition that they have chosen to make in their lives.
Every mosque should set up an ‘Adopt a New Muslim’ task force to help reverts to Islam with the questions they have, the guidance they need and the motivation they want from their new sisters and brothers in Islam.
My mother always told me, ‘When I found Islam, I found freedom from the chains of a society that brainwashes you to believe what they want. I learnt to love myself, believe in myself, and to stand firm on the ground that moral values, faith and love of family is what makes a human successful in life.’
Allah will bless everyone who eases the way for their brothers and sisters in Islam. Always remember: reverts are our brothers and sisters too. Never judge them. Allah is our only judge.