Salam Dear Brother,
Thank you for your question and for contacting Ask About Islam.
How many times has someone accepted Islam and declared Shahadah in the mosque, only for a month or so later people to ask “whatever happened to that brother who accepted Islam a month ago?”
The fact is that there are many people who accept Islam and yet do not practice their new faith for long.
As a Muslim community we need to ask some very pertinent questions about how we call others to Islam and how we deal with them once they have accepted Shahadah.
Caring For a New Muslim
In many ways, new Muslims are like new plants who need tending very carefully if they are to grow and survive.
If someone bought a new plant they would be very foolish just to leave it on the shelf and pay it no attention.
New plants need watering. They need to be kept in the right place, with enough sunlight and not too much drought.
In the same way, new Muslims need to be looked after very carefully. No one would expect a baby to know everything the moment it was born.
A baby needs to be cared for and taught very slowly how to eat and how to speak.
New Muslims, then, are like tender young plants or new babies and it is the responsibility of the Muslim community, especially the mosque community, to look after those who are new to Islam.
How Are We Calling Them To Islam?
It must also be said that as Muslims we need to think very carefully about the way we are calling others to Islam.
We must ensure that we are not putting any pressure on people to declare Shahadah, when they are really not ready to do so.
Of course, Muslims can wish nothing better for anyone else than that they accept Islam.
All of us have friends and colleagues who are truly good people and, in our hearts, we would dearly love to see them within the fold of Islam.
In our eagerness, though, we should always respect whatever stage the other person is at, not forcing or persuading.
Dawah, or calling others to Islam, must be a community effort. It is not for individuals alone to take it upon themselves, even with the very best intentions.
The whole Muslim community, preferably starting with the mosque community, should have its own plan of how the community will carry out its Dawah work.
Give Them Time and Space to Grow
Once others have indeed accepted Islam and declared that there is no god but the One God in heaven, Allah, and that Muhammad (peace be upon him) is the last and final Messenger sent by Allah to His Creation, the real work begins,
The community then needs to think very carefully, and again have a plan, about how it will help those new to Islam.
New Muslims are precisely that: they are new and they don’t know everything about Islam. Why should we expect them to?
It takes time for a person to get into the routine of praying five times a day, especially getting up for the Dawn prayer, to give up drinking alcohol and eating pork and also to live fully the way a Muslim should live.
The community needs to understand this and must make allowances for the mistakes those new to Islam might make.
There is nothing more off-putting for a new Muslim than to feel he or she is being judged for every little action performed.
How much better it would be if the new Muslim felt he or she was being helped with every action!
The Draft Declaration Of New Muslims’ Rights
The draft declaration recently suggested for recognizing the basic rights of new converts to Islam can do much to help the whole Muslim community and those new to Islam.
The two most important positive suggestions in the draft declaration are that those new to Islam should be assigned specific people to help them.
As well, new Muslims need to be taught in a systematic way about the faith they have embraced. At the moment it is all hit and miss.
If someone accepts Islam within the context of a vibrant mosque community, it is much more likely that he or she will be helped than if they were to do so in an area where there is no mosque at all.
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) told us that Muslims are brothers and sisters to one another. This isn’t just a nice idea, it is at the very heart of Islam.
So much money is spent at the moment on books, pamphlets, videos and all sorts of other stuff designed to bring people into Islam.
Almost nothing is spent on helping them once they have done so.
Insha’Allah, this new draft declaration will open our eyes to the needs of our new brothers and sisters and will make it easier for those who have taken the bold step of declaring Shahadah to progress along the straight path Allah Almighty has called them to follow.
I hope this helps answer your question.
Salam and please keep in touch.
(From AboutIslam’s archives)