In this counseling answer:
•Allah will not judge you for anything you did before Islam and neither should any living being on this earth do so.
•I think you should tell her gradually and be guided by her own questions. Just go very slowly, there is no rush.
•When you start telling her, try not to show any guilt, just show love and affection.
Wa-alaykum as-salam dear sister,
I would first like to congratulate you that you have reached the decision of converting to Islam. It brings great happiness to my heart to know that someone is getting closer to Allah. My dear sister, you are helping a non-practicing Muslim (your husband) to get closer to Allah and know more about his religion, which is a task that you will surely be rewarded for.
Do you know that as soon as you convert to Islam, all your previous sins are automatically wiped away? It’s like you are a newborn baby. Allah will not judge you for anything you did before Islam and neither should any living being on this earth do so. There is no obligation that you should tell anybody about your painful experience except if you think you need therapy to let go of whatever is bothering you.
In Islam adoption has certain rules, but Ibn `Umar reported, “ We were in the habit of calling Zaid bin Harithah as Zaid ibn Muhammad until it was revealed in the Qur’an, ‘Call them (adopted sons) by the names of their fathers, that is more just with Allah.'”
Concerning whether you should tell your daughter or not, I think you should tell her gradually and be guided by her own questions. Just go very slowly, there is no rush, so take it at the pace you can handle—similar stories, movies, or a friend of hers that has a step parent. When you start telling her, try not to show any guilt, just show love and affection.
If you have experienced rape or you don’t know who the father is, then, of course, do not tell her that now. Later, when she is big enough to understand, you can tell her a simplified version of your experience, sparing her the painful or shameful parts she doesn’t need to know.
DO NOT let anybody tell you that she is not a Muslim because her father is not. All children in this world are Muslims until they reach puberty and choose to be in their parent’s religion. So you will raise her as a Muslim and, in sha’ Allah, she will continue to be a Muslim.
During her teenage years, she may show some anger concerning this issue, so I would advise that:
•You and your husband should always assure her you love her
•You and your husband should together explain to her how your husband chose to be her father as much as he chose to be your husband.
•Don’t let her think that she can judge you for this experience. She will do that if she feels that you feel any guilt towards this subject.
•Don’t tell her the exact painful details, just tell her enough for her to understand that she has another father.
•Make sure that she knows that you were very happy and felt very blessed to have her.
•Raise her by the rules of Islam so she can go through her teenage years safely.
•Make du`aa’ (supplication) for her.
Finally, dear sister, I assure you again that whatever happened in your past is no ones concern and you are certainly forgiven after tawbah (repentance) and Islam.
You should tell your daughter in a very simplified way, with no painful details. Prepare suitable answers that she can understand at this age.
Don’t wait till she is older, because then it would be more of a shock to her and she might turn against you, accuse you of lying to her, and blame you for anything in her life. But please make sure that what you say is appropriate for her age.
Please feel free to ask for any assistance because all your brothers and sisters in Islam would love to be of help to a new Muslim sister.
Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, its counselors or employees be held liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.