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On Being A Convert / Revert to Islam (Live Session)

Session Guest

Theresa Corbin is a New Orleans native and Muslimah who converted in 2001 after many years of soul searching and religious study. She holds a BA in English Lit and is a writer, editor, and graphic artist who focuses on themes of conversion to Islam, Islamophobia, women's issues, and bridging gaps between peoples of different faiths and cultures. She is a regular contributor for AboutIslam.net and Al Jumuah magazine. Her work has also been featured on CNN and the Washington Post, among others publications.Visit her blog, islamwich, where she discuss the intersection of culture and religion.


Thursday, May. 18, 2017 | 18:00 - 20:00 Makkah | 15:00 - 17:00 GMT

Session Status

Session is over.

Asalamu Alaikum brothers and sisters, 

As people enter Islam and grow into their faith, the questions don’t stop after a year or even 20. Islam is a lifetime of learning and growing. For this reason, we are pleased to offer a live session for converts/revert to Islam who may not be so new to the deen.

This session will be dedicated to answering questions from converts/reverts who have been Muslims for some time and especially those question about the coming month of Ramadan.

The session host will be writer and convert to Islam, Theresa Corbin. So please, jot down your questions and join us Thursday, May 18th, from 3 PM-5 PM GMT  (6 PM – 8 PM Makkah) (11 AM – 1 PM New York)

If you won’t be available during this time, but you have questions that need answers, don’t worry! You can email your questions in advance to aai@aboutislam.net, and our counselor will include them in the Live Session. 


A "born" Muslim told me that I should convert my family as soon as possible otherwise they will burn in Hell fire for not being Muslims! This has made me deeply upset to the point where I am questioning if I have made the right decision. Will my family burn in Hell fire?



Salam,

Thank you for such a great question, which is a real concern for Muslim converts with non-Muslim family members. And I am so sorry that this has caused you grief. 

First, I think it is important to say that we cannot “convert” anyone. To suggest that you can just “convert” people goes against what we know about the Prophet’s (PBUH) experience and what Allah tells us in the Quran.

{Verily! You (O Muhammad) guide not whom you like, but Allah guides whom He wills.} (Al-Qasas, 28:56)

All we can do is convey the message that God is utterly One, without partner, and that His messengers delivered that message throughout history. It is Allah who guides. If it were up to us to “convert” people, the Prophet (PBUH) would have converted his uncles and all those around him from the very start of his prophethood. But this was not up to him. And it is far from our own capability.

I am often asked a similar question: if I have “converted” my family to Islam yet. As if it is something I am capable of doing and I have just been negligent in getting around to it. It’s heartbreaking. And it comes from a place of ignorance, which is excusable because many heritage Muslims just don’t understand this concept. Many heritage Muslims will never understand this challenge of conveying the message of Islam to those they love most in a time a place where Islam is seen as foreign and even evil or dangerous.

Those who are nearest and dearest to the heritage Muslim are usually already Muslim. So, they feel it is natural and even easy for our families to be the same.  

Second, we have no knowledge of who Allah (SWT) will admit into heaven or hell. We are not the judges and we are told not to pass judgement on people. For someone to tell you that your non-Muslim family will burn in hellfire is an egregious error. We do not know what is in their heart. We do not know what Allah knows. Period.  

What we need to understand and know without a doubt is that Allah is The All Knowing, The Most Just, and The Most Merciful. God judges people based on what their intentions are, what their options are, what they were able to do, and what they were capable of understanding, as Dr. Shabir Ally explains in this video.

I hope this helps. Please keep in touch.

Salam.


Why do "born" Muslims seem to think that because someone has accepted Islam they know everything from day one!? I have had several encounters where I have been criticized for not dressing properly or not knowing certain things. How can I deal with them in a good way?



Salam,

Thank you for your question. It seems that heritage Muslims (those born into Muslim families) take one of two approaches when it comes to converts. The first is that they assume that even though the person has been Muslim for many years, they can’t really know anything about Islam. And will proceed, for example, to ask someone who has been Muslim for 20 years if they know how to pray yet.

This is really frustrating to some Muslims who have come to the faith later in life and have spent years studying and gaining knowledge of the faith. It is as if some heritage Muslims (and many non-Muslims as well) cannot conceive of a situation where someone can come from a Muslim minority land and understand the faith.

Knowledge is open to all. And for those who seek it sincerely, Allah will grant it to them, inshaAllah.

The second approach is what you are describing. Some heritage Muslims assume that from day one the Muslim convert should know everything. And if they don’t, and likely they won’t if they are brand new to the faith, the heritage Muslim then proceeds to dump a list of what is haram and halal onto the new Muslim, over-loading them.

I have written about this phenomenon of haram-loading in an article entitled, 6 Steps to Guiding New Muslims without Haram Loading, which you can find at the link here.

It can be difficult to gauge what level of knowledge someone is at, so have patience with people who are trying to recommend you to the good. We should always assume that our brothers and sisters have good intentions.  But you can by all means politely remind the person who is advising you that you are new and still learning. And that this means you will have to learn at your own pace.

The heritage Muslim probably has the best intentions in heart, wanting to help a convert understand the faith. So, with that in mind, you can redirect the conversation from clothing and other details of the religion to what you would really like to know or what you are focusing your Islamic studies on at the moment.

For example, you can say, thank you for your concern and the great information. I am still learning and taking my time incorporating Islam into my life, as I see this as the best approach to a religion that was revealed over 23 years. Right now I am learning about “x”. Could you please tell me what you know about “x”? I would really appreciate your time and information.

This way the heritage Muslim can feel helpful and you can learn something that is helpful to you.     

I hope this helps answer your question.

Please keep in touch.

Salam.


I am a new Muslim and I afraid to tell my family that I accepted Islam. They are not religious people but given all the bad press about Islam I am worried that they will think I have been brainwashed. Have you any tips to help?



Salam,

Congratulations on your shahadah! And thank you for trusting me with this important question. You are not alone. We get many questions here on About Islam from new Muslims wanting to know how they can tell their families, who are either anti-Islam or anti-religion altogether, that they have accepted Islam.

You can start by sending them this letter addressed to the families of new Muslims that explains that Islam is nothing to fear and that you are still you and you still love them.  This may take some of the pressure off and allow them time to think and reflect without a face to face conversation, which can often be tense and emotional.

Ask them to read it thoroughly. And maybe they can send you a list of questions in email or text, initially. This kind of communication is successful in neutralizing arguments or heated conversations.

But if you think your family will be insulted by this kind of communication, then try a different approach. You know them best. The letter can simply be a starting point to tell them in person if that is what you think is best.  

Also we have plenty of suggestions from our counselors on how to approach this topic with family members. Click these links to find out more:

How to Tell Your Family You Are Muslim?

How Can I Tell My Family I Want to Be Muslim?

How to Tell My Hindu Mom That I’m a Muslim?

I Converted to Islam, but How to Tell My Parents?

I personally understand how difficult it can be to tell one’s family about converting to Islam especially when all one’s family knows about Islam is misinformation, stereotypes, and myths. But I got passed this initial fear by thinking about the future.

I told myself that by knowing Islam through me, my family would eventually come to understand Islam better. And  they would eventually accept me as a Muslim. And it worked. This way of thinking helped with my fear of telling them about my conversion and here I am years later with a family who supports me and even defends Islam to others! Alhamdulillah.

I hope this helps. Please keep in touch.

Salam.


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