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Why Do Converts Cry while Taking Shahadah?

Why Do Converts Cry while Taking Shahadah?
Tears are sign of a soft and supple heart, and soft hearts are open to the beauty of Islam.

If you type converts crying into the Google search bar, you will find no shortage of videos, images, and articles about people converting to Islam and being overcome by strong emotions.

These overwhelming reactions often result in tears and feelings of liberation, as if the soul has been unburdened and set free.

Those who have not experienced this emotional release have trouble understanding the deep response felt by those who repeat the Shahadah (testimony of faith) and find themselves part of the world wide Muslim community.

Many converts to Islam have described their experience. “And I was so overwhelmed with love for Him (God) and appreciation at all the beauty He has created that I burst into tears.”

“It is a very emotional moment to come to this realization and finally calling yourself a Muslim and submitting yourself to God…”

It is difficult to get up to date research about how many people convert to Islam, but statistics point to the majority of converts in western countries coming from Christian backgrounds.

In 2017 the Pew Research Center estimated that 77% of American converts to Islam were previously Christian.[1]

Finding the Truth

Many converts cry during and after taking their Shahadah, and it appears that having a Christian background is somewhat significant.

And when they (those who call themselves Christian) listen to what has been sent down to the Messenger (Muhammad) you see their eyes overflowing with tears because of the truth they have recognized. They say, “Our Lord we believe, so write us down among the witnesses”. (Quran 5:83)

God described the reaction of Christians converting to Islam, after having called them those nearest in love to the believers. Because of their background, and their understanding of God, when they hear the true words of God they are able to recognize the truth. Their eyes overflow with tears because there literally are no words to describe how it feels to absorb a universal truth.

There is no going back, because once you know the truth, it cannot be unknown. It is an amazing experience and the convert’s world has been forever changed.

This verse does not imply that those from other religions, or indeed no religion at all, are not overcome with emotion. Their experience is no less overwhelming. However those who followed the Christian religion report often feeling that there was something missing in their belief system. Islam allows them to reach out and grasp that missing dimension.

God rewards Christians who convert to Islam in a particular way. He says in Quran (5:85) that because of what they (the Christians who recognized the truth) said He will reward them with gardens under which rivers flow, where they will abide forever.

Tears are Power

While modern western culture might tell us that crying is a sign of weakness, Islam elevates the person who cries to a high status. Prophet Muhammad would remind his companions about the benefits of crying because of love, or fear, of God.

There are two eyes that will not be touched by the fire, the eye that weeps because of the fear of God and the eye that stands vigil at night guarding for the sake of God.[2]

The Prophet and his companions were known to weep on numerous occasions. Prophet Muhammad once asked his companion ibn Mas’ud to recite chapter 4, The Women, and when he reached verse 41: (How will it be then when we bring from each nation a witness, and we bring you (Prophet Muhammad) as a witness against these people?), Prophet Muhammad began to weep, his eyes overflowing with tears.[3]

Abdullah ibn Shaddad said:

“I heard the sobbing of ‘Umar from the last rows when he was reciting the verse ‘I only complain of my grief and sorrow to God’.”[4]

Renowned Islamic scholar, Ibn al Qayyim taught his students that there were several types of weeping, including weeping from joy and happiness.[5]

This would describe the uncontrollable tears experienced by many converts to Islam. At times converts describe feeling the same joy and overwhelming emotions when listening to the call to prayer, or listening to the recitation of Quran.

Some even weep listening to Quran without understanding a single word of Arabic. Somehow God’s, by God’s Grace, words can be felt rather than heard and understood. In chapter 39: 22 God asks:

What about the one whose heart God has opened in devotion to Him, so that he walks in light from his Lord?

Now consider how God describes these people, He says they have skin that shivers and soft hearts.

God has sent down the most beautiful of all teachings, a Scripture that is consistent and draws comparisons; that causes the skins of those in awe of their Lord to shiver. Then their skins and their hearts soften at the mention of God, such is God’s guidance. He guides with it whoever He will; no one can guide those God leaves to stray. (Quran 39:23)

New converts to Islam can surely be described as the ones who walk in God’s light. While their emotions surge through them, tears fall from their overflowing eyes and their bodies shiver with the strength of their feelings.

Tears are sign of a soft and supple heart, and soft hearts are open to the beauty of Islam.

In addition to this, the tears of the convert are a blessing from God, a most prized blessing. The companions of Prophet Muhammad knew the preciousness of this gift and would encourage those who did not feel moved enough to cry to pretend, or force themselves to cry, in order to soften their hearts, and gain the rewards and blessings.

Prophet Muhammad’s companion Abdullah Ibn Amr said:

Weep, and if you cannot weep then make yourself weep. If only you knew you would pray until your back was broken and weep until you lost your voice. [6]
Whoever embraces Islam from the people of the two books (i.e. Jews and Christians) will be given a double reward… [7]

Many people are distressed, but the conventions of the time or their hardened hearts prevent them from weeping. Many have forgotten the beauty of Islam and the effect it can have on those of us who let go of the constraints of this life and hold tight only to the rope of God.

The hearts of many converts fall effortlessly into the sweetness and pleasure of pure faith. Their weeping reminds us that Islam is an amazing gift.

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[1] http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/01/26/the-share-of-americans-who-leave-islam-is-offset-by-those-who-become-muslim/

[2] At Tirmidhi

[3] Sahih Al-Bukhari and Muslim

[4] Quran 12:86.

[5] Provisions for the Hereafter (Zaad al Maad) by Ibn al Qayyim

[6] Al Hakim

[7] Imam Ahmad


About Aisha Stacey

Aisha Stacey is the mother of three adult children. She embraced Islam in 2002 and spent the next five years in Doha, Qatar studying Islam and working at the Fanar Cultural Centre. In 2006 Aisha returned to university for a second time and completed at Bachelor of Arts and a Graduate Certificate in Writing. Aisha is also a published writer in both internet and print media and in 2009 -10 she was the Queensland editor at a national Australian Islamic newspaper ~ Crescent Times.

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