Salam (Peace) Tom,
Thank you for contacting About Islam with your question.
I am happy to hear that you want to convert to Islam, but I also hear how difficult it is for you at this point in your life.
May Allah Almighty guide your steps!
Take Comfort in the Struggles of Our Forebearers
You may take comfort in reading some of the stories of the early Muslims, the Companions of the Prophet, may Allah be pleased with them all.
What they suffered for the sake of their faith was so great.
The problems you anticipate with your parents, though very real, are nothing compared to what some of the Companions endured.
The father of Salman Al-Farisi, for example, locked Salman in chains when he announced his wish to become a Christian years before he learned of Islam.
It is highly unlikely that your parents would actually do anything physically harmful to you as a result of your decision, God willing.
Salman managed to escape and run away to Syria, where he spent years in the service of various Christians to learn their religion.
Eventually, he sold everything he had to join a caravan headed to Madinah, where he was told the last Prophet would appear.
Family Bonds are Extremely Important
But you are still a minor and dependent on your parents, and you are also correct in not wanting your relationship with them to break down. Family bonds are very important in Islam.
The prayers can be performed in secret in your room; since you live far from a mosque, you do not have to perform them in congregation.
And you have time until you have to worry about fasting Ramadan. Even that can be done in secret, though with difficulty.
Alhamdulillah, (all praise to Allah) you have access to the internet, through which you can learn the basics of Islam.
Between now and then you can do your best to perform the prayers and to develop yourself as a person—academically, socially, morally, etc.—and also as a Muslim.
Your being a Muslim does not have to be a source of conflict with your parents.
You can avoid discussing religion with them all together, if necessary, and if they see that you are continuing well in your studies and other areas, you can later break the news to them that you have been Muslim for so many months or years.
Dealing With Isolation
Yes, it will be difficult not being able to have much contact with other Muslims at this point. But difficult is not the same as impossible.
You might make telephone or e-mail contact with some brothers at the mosque and at least be able to ask questions or seek advice when needed.
Perhaps the mosque can put you in touch with a Muslim brother or family near you that you might occasionally visit.
However, I would caution you not to attempt to have so much contact that it may arouse suspicions in your parents. You don’t want them to think that you are doing something behind their back.
When you are old enough to drive and borrow the car, perhaps you can occasionally visit the mosque on your own.
And when you reach the legal age—only three years away—you can become independent of them, if need be, even if it means working your way through university.
If you do choose to embrace Islam, you should avoid drinking parties and hang out with other well-behaved, righteous young men, no matter their religion.
The important thing is to spend as much time as possible with good people, even if you can’t spend time with fellow Muslims.
You should work to develop an Islamic personality—one that is honest, generous, forgiving, hard-working, etc.
If you do this, your parents should notice a positive change in you (unless you already have such a personality!).
Later, when you choose to tell them that you have been Muslim for some time, you can tell them that your improved personality is a result of your Islam.
That should certainly reduce their objections.
May Allah guide you to the right path.
Contact us if you have more questions or if we can help you in any way.
Thank you again for contacting us and please keep in touch.
(From Ask About Islam archives)