What To Do When You Are Drowning in a Sea of Questions?

26 June, 2019
Q What should I do when I'm constantly asked so many questions about Islam, by my non-Muslim family and friends, and also by born Muslims? What advice would you recommend?

Answer

Short Answer: Please remember that you are not obligated to answer any questions that you don’t want to. Alhamdulillah there are many sources of knowledge available at our fingertips. I recommend having a few go-to websites or resources that you can politely guide people to when you do not feel like answering questions. Say something like, “I recommend looking at [website/book/video] to answer your question. Let me send you the link!”  Additionally, there is nothing wrong with saying “My opinion on this is … but there are many different opinions,” or, “This is my personal understanding…” You do not have to know everything, but you do have to be honest. There is no benefit in teaching someone about Islam if you are not teaching the truth.

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Salaam alaykum

It can be tiring to be constantly inundated with questions about Islam. Especially if you’re a convert and you are the only Muslim many people may know – it’s an issue that many of us face. I, myself, can certainly relate to that, especially from my earlier years as a Muslim.

You Do not Have to Answer

Please remember that you are not obligated to answer any questions that you don’t want to. Alhamdulillah there are many sources of knowledge available at our fingertips. I recommend having a few go-to websites or resources that you can politely guide people to when you do not feel like answering questions.

Say something like, “I recommend looking at [website/book/video] to answer your question. Let me send you the link!” Unless you are being confronted in an aggressive and rude way, there is no reason not to keep the conversation polite. If the person insists on you answering, it is okay to be firm. Educating others is commendable, but it is NOT your job.

I, personally, am extremely judicious with my recommendations. I tend only to recommend this website (About Islam) and the sheikh Omar Suleiman. Also, please let your acquaintances know that they can submit any questions they have to us here at About Islam!

I would caution you, however, to be careful about websites you send people to. Do your research before you send anyone a link. Some websites seem good on the surface, but offer toxic and un-Islamic opinions and advice when you dig a little deeper.

But what if you do want to answer?

Proceed with Caution

There is definitely reward in educating others about Islam. If you are a convert, chances are someone took the time to educate you about the faith at one time or another. The same is even true for many people who were born Muslim!

When people ask questions about Islam in good faith (that is to say: asking because of genuine curiosity and not in an interrogative or aggressive way) it is natural to want to give them answers. We want to give good information, steer them in a direction that will lead them to further curiosity about Islam.

But before you answer a question – any question, even one that may seem obvious – it is important to pause. Do not answer straight away. Pause. Think about it. Ask yourself: do you truly know the answer? Or do you just think you do? Or do you perhaps just have a general feel for what the answer might be?

There is nothing wrong with saying “I don’t know.” It shows humility, which is something that Allah loves. Additionally, there is nothing wrong with saying “My opinion on this is … but there are many different opinions,” or, “This is my personal understanding…” You do not have to know everything, but you do have to be honest. There is no benefit in teaching someone about Islam if you are not teaching the truth.

Remember Patience, but Be Honest

Many converts experience interrogation by non-Muslims about Islam. But you also mentioned born Muslims asking you a lot of questions. I can’t speak for how this makes you feel, but I know that when my husband asks me questions about Islam, I often feel like he is quizzing me. Sometimes he is, but sometimes he isn’t.

Not always, but often, people who are born Muslim don’t really learn the deen the way that most converts do. They are raised with it and sort of absorb it, in a similar way that many Westerners sort of absorb Christianity, even if we aren’t necessarily raised Christian.

So sometimes their questions about Islam come from a genuine place. My husband recently asked me a question that I thought was obvious and I got annoyed with him for quizzing me – but it turned out that he actually did not know the answer and was asking me genuinely!

You do not have to answer anyone’s quiz questions. However, if you don’t know for certain that you are being quizzed, I advise approaching the situation with patience and honesty. Ask them, “Do you know the answer?” If they say no, then they are probably just looking for your help. If they say yes, then go ahead and politely ask why they are asking you the question if they already know.

I do hope this advice is helpful, insha’Allah. Best wishes to you, and again – direct anyone with questions you don’t want to or can’t answer to About Islam!

And Allah knows best.

I hope this helps.

Salam and please keep in touch.

Please continue feeding your curiosity, and find more info in the following links:

How Can I Tell Classmates Islam Is Not Terrorism?

How Do I Answer My Christian Friend’s Queries About Islam?

How To Answer Tough Questions Online?

About Leah Mallery
Leah is a Muslim convert of almost a decade. She has two kids, an intercultural marriage, and half of a French degree in her back pocket, looking to switch gears to science and medicine. She has lived abroad for over a decade, having just recently become reacquainted with her roots in America. She currently lives in Michigan near her family and – masha’Allah – a sizeable Muslim community.