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Muslims, Converts: Love, Faith & Mental Health (Counseling Q/A)

Dear Brother/Sisters,

Thank you for participating in the session.

Here are the 4 questions our counselor answered. If you do not see yours listed below, please resubmit it or check the answers in our next live session. 

Thank you for your understanding.

Question 1. I like a Non-Muslim Guy, What Do I Do?

As-salamu ‘alaykum,

I am an 18 year old girl and I need guidance and advice. For a few months now I have noticed a guy who I went to school with in highschool has shown an interest towards me, it’s still friendship for now but I sense that it could go towards a romantic relationship I’m the future. (We don’t live in the same country) I don’t want a harm relationship I am trying to figure out what to do. Now the problem is that he is not Muslim and I am even though I was only brought up with very basic knowledge of Islam and I am not a perfect Muslima but I am trying to make a difference and learn more about Islam.
I am sure he likes me even though he has only ever hinted at it. We have has a few good conversations as friends through Instagram dms and I like him very much. We thrive for the same things in life and have similar mindsets. I can see myself sharing my life with him in the future but I know that it’s not possible unless he converts. I plan on asking him about his beliefs and how he sees himself in the future.
I don’t know what to do after that and I want to ask my mother about this but I don’t know if that’s the right thing to do. She tends to be very judgemental very fast but I’m sure she would understand eventually. For now I am still thinking how I feel about him and if my feelings are true. I am for sure that it’s not lust because my intentions are pure and I am prepared to let the situation go if he doesn’t want to convert. I find it very important that children have parents that teach them about Islam and its rules and beauty, because I only got taught about Islam briefly and grew up with parents who don’t pray which is very discouraging as a child.
I would like advice and guidance. Is this the right approach? Is there anything I could do to make him fall in love with Islam if he isn’t sure?

Thank you! Ma’a salama.

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Salam alaikom dear sister,

Thank you for writing.

According to what I understand, you recently began talking with a high school friend. You started to like him, and it seems that feeling is mutual, as you thrive for the same things in life and have similar mindsets.

But he is not Muslim, and you know that in order to be together in the future, he has to convert. You are asking how to approach him in the right way about Islam.

Sister, you say that you just have a “basic understanding” of Islam and that your parents just taught you briefly about religion.

For me, it seems, masallah, that despite this, you have a good understanding of the values of Islamic marriage and family. You want to avoid haram relationships, and you have pure intentions with this boy. You also want to teach the beauty of Islam to your future children and live according to the religion. Masallah sister, it is so important to have these values clear before you enter into a marriage.

You plan on asking him about his beliefs and how he sees himself in the future, so let me share my tips as a convert with you.

The Qadr of Allah

I think the first and most important thing to do is to embrace fully the concept of destiny—the qadr of Allah in your heart. I think you know what I mean when, as Masallah, you say that you are ready to let him go if he does not want to convert.

But let this belief manifest itself in your actions and communication when you speak about Islam. Consider this: if Allah chose him to be a Muslim, he will be a believer inshallah. But if Allah has destined him for another path, no one will be able to open his eyes to the truth.

Why is it important to know this? Because, if you look at it from this perspective, there is no “right approach” or “wrong approach,” so you do not need to be worried that you may say something that turns him away from Islam.

With this being said, when you give the message about Islam, there is no need to „force” your opinion on the other, or be too pushy by trying to convince him. Allah (SWT) say to the Prophet (pbuh) in the Quran:

“But if they turn away, We have not sent you ˹O Prophet˺ as a keeper over them. Your duty is only to deliver ˹the message˺.” (Quran 42:48)

If his heart is open and the time is right, he will get the message, or at least the first push to start him on the path. So, make sure that you are calm and your intentions are pure when you talk to him.

Diversity in Convictions

Sister, every convert has his or her “moment of conviction.” For some, it can be listening to a recitation or adhan; for others, a verse in the Quran, a novel (for example, Umm Zakiyyah, If I Should Speak), a philosophical approach to the meaning of life or the beautiful life of the Prophet, etc.

So, there is not a single receipt, but what you can do is try to present him with sources according to his interests. If he is religious, you can point out the differences—but always with respect and kindness.

Talk About What Islam Means to You

You can start a conversation by talking about what it means to you to be a Muslim. Why does it give you strength, and how does it benefit your life? Let him ask his questions also, and if you do not know the answer, tell him that you will figure it out. If he is interested, encourage him to seek his own answers. On our site, there are plenty of good sources for new Muslims or those who want to learn about the religion. In sha Allah, both of you can benefit from the content.

Your Behavior

The other good way to teach him about Islam is through your behavior and good manners. Try to be kind and trustworthy, and show the values of righteousness to him. Talk about the family values, the children, the importance of having clear guidance in life, and having belief in one creator.

Find Him Muslim Friends

You say that you do not live in the same country. If there is some way to introduce him to other Muslims—males—who he can befriend and learn from, then that is a good way to give him another perspective on the deen.

Do Not Convert for Love

At the same time, make sure that your intention of wanting him to be a Muslim is purely for the sake of Allah and because you want the best guidance for him. Do not hurry him or make this the “condition” for earning your love.

Love can be a strong catalyst to transform someone s life, and I am sure that if he is really interested in you, he would motivate him more to learn more about Islam. At the same time, he has to convert for his own sake and out of conviction, not because of his love for you.

His conviction—just like yours—is important for the success of your future relationship if you want it to be based on real Islamic values.

Maintain Etiquette to Protect Yourself

While I understand your good intentions, I also encourage you to maintain a certain distance from him, especially emotionally, in order to protect yourself from any harm. You like each other, and this is a good sign, but leave the romantic feelings for later, when the time has arrived and you can be together, in sha Allah. 

Give Him Time and Make Dua

Give him time to learn about the religion and to make a major decision in his life. You can make dua for him and for your future relationship.

Pray to Allah to keep you also on the right path, no matter how this relationship ends, and increase you in knowledge and blessings.

I wish you the best outcome, sister,

Question 2. Friendly interactions with males at work

Assalam alaikum, my wife to be has recently started a job at a new work place, where she has to spend a fairly long time with a male dominated staff. I’m concerned for her since she has started to become friendly with her male colleagues to the point she calls them friends and shares laughter with them. Before this she used to be very strict about interacting with the opposite gender unnecessarily for some reason that faded in a week and now she is ‘open’ to this idea, I fear it’s her company because she herself would never do it.

I used to pride myself on waiting for a spouse as well as her on Deen as her but seeing that slowly fade away and terming it a necessity in the work place is something I cannot wrap my head around, I personally have always been careful knowing my interactions can effect her but now that all doesn’t matter and she has asked me to trust her, what she doesn’t understand is it’s not about trust, it’s about my feeling and doing the right thing like I have always tried to expect the least.

What do I do to let her know that I will not be okay with this, I don’t mind her working at all but why does it have to involve mingling with males it’s not required of her, please guide me to help myself and her before this issue ends everything between us.


Salam alaikom wa rahmatullah, brother,

Thank you for writing to us. As I understand it, your concern is for your wife, who started working recently. Though she was stricter in her opposite gender interactions before, you feel that she started to become too friendly with the male colleagues, calls them friends, and shares laughter with them.

You are asking what to do to let her know that I will not be okay with this.

Brother, I think it is quite understandable that you feel that you are not OK with your wife befriending male colleagues.

The question of the workplace can be quite a complicated one for Muslims—both men and women. Working with Muslims is somehow “easier,” as everyone has a certain awareness of Islamic norms, but this is not the case when you work with non-Muslims.

They most likely do not know the Islamic etiquette of dealing with the opposite gender, so they obviously won’t follow them.

If you live in the West and your coworkers are not Muslims, there can be significant differences in workplace norms and culture. Talking, sharing personal stories, meeting outside of work, and even physical touch or a kiss on the cheek as a form of greeting are normal and accepted between coworkers. 

With this being said, I think this is a common test for many Muslims who work with non-Muslims.

But the issue is that we cannot wait for non-Muslims to respect our norms until we respect them and educate them about Islamic etiquette in gender interactions.

What to do?

Talk to her

I kindly advise you to talk to your wife in a peaceful and calm way.

Try to emphasize that you love her, fear Allah for her, and you are not OK with this situation, firstly because Allah (SWT) is not OK with it.

You are right, this is not a matter of jealousy and trust, but of taqwa, or God-consciousness during the day, including at work.

Be emphatic and explain your experiences as well, as I understand that you also need to deal with opposite gender interactions during your work. Give your tips and tell her how to try to combat this test.

There is a middle path

As Muslims, we can sometimes find ourselves in awkward situations as a result, but we must be proud of our identity and excuse ourselves with kindness and respect.

Sometimes it may appear to be an all-or-nothing situation: either be serious and cut off all contact, or give up and conform to non-Muslim standards in order to fit in. But actually, we can draw clear lines while maintaining our friendly and respectful attitude towards our coworkers.

Remember your wife with kindness that she only needs to please Allah and no one else. Try to encourage her to be mindful of Islamic etiquette as much as possible.

Help her learn to excuse herself from situations with kindness and firmness, while her identity is respected. She will probably receive a positive response once she tries it. And if not, if her job is in “danger” because of refusing participating in more than what is necessary, maybe this job is not worth it.

Be supportive, share your experience

You say that she started recently, so maybe this is the reason for her behavior. She may need some time until she adjusts herself and navigates the challenges of her new role. She may try to be accepted and think that this is the right way to do that.

Try to be supportive with her and, at the same time, encourage her to maintain her Muslim identity and her fear for Allah. Remind her of how well she did this in the past and reassure her that the most important thing is to be accepted by Allah (SWT).

Learn together

Learn together about the wisdom behind the restricted relations with the opposite gender. Allah’s command only serves to protect us from zina and our relationships from the tricks of Satan. It can start with a small detail and gradually increase until you end up committing a major sin.

The reason is still relevant

The wisdom of Islamic etiquette is confirmed if you look at the stats about workplace romance. The vast majority of affairs outside of marriage start at the workplace, and according to this site, 1 in 5 people cheated with their colleagues.

So, the reason why Islam places importance on the proper etiquette of opposite gender interactions is still relevant in our time, if not more. 

Please look around on our site, as there are many related contents. Here are some sources you may find beneficial:

How Much Can You Socialize with Opposite Gender? (Video)

Smiling Decently at Opposite Gender to Avoid Rudeness OK?

Why Can’t I Be Just Friends with Opposite Gender?

I hope these tips help,

Kind regards,  

Question 3. Cruel Islam

I have these wrong fake “Rules” of Islam engraved in me by speakers and “fake scholars” which has gave me an arrogant way imaan, rather than the merciful way. I used to have strong faith, but this kinda made me think even if I sin, I can get back.

Sometime later I suffered a trauma, I turned back to Islam after some period of heedlessness.
But I instead starting by speakers who taught mercy, went to those who didn’t. But I fooled myself thinking THIS MUST BE REAL FAITH AS WHEN I HAD THE MERCIFUL OUTLOOK ON LIFE, I SINNED, THEREFORE , TRUE EMAAN IS FORCING MYSELF TO HIGH DEEDS, I knew deep down my old merciful outlook on life, I still hold on to that memory , but perhaps satan uses it to say in order to reach that peace and tranquility u must be hard on yourself. I know Islam has mercy but my old sins taunt me to say that I’m delusional and mercy and tranquility is not Islam.

Salam alaikom wa rahmatullah,

Thank you for writing. As I understand it, you came to believe that if “Islam” became too merciful and compassionate, it would become too permissible, making you prone to sin and leading you astray. You say that you had a strong faith but still committed sins, and now you try to follow a stricter way of Islam and be hard on yourself to reach tranquility and peace. At the same time, it seems that you “suffer” from the arrogant way of imaan instead of the merciful one.

Brother, when you say the compassionate and merciful way of Islam, you may refer to the possibility of sincere repentance and the forgiveness of our sins by Allah.

I am not a scholar but a counselor, and I try my best to answer your concern from a counselor’s point of view. At the same time, I encourage you to seek answers in our other section, Ask About Islam. 

I think you have to focus on the Quran and what Allah says in it. This is something fixed and unchangeable, as these are the words of Allah (SWT).

As you mention, there are teachers, sheiks, etc., i.e., “humans,” each with their own personal approach to faith and spirituality. Some will emphasize certain elements, while others will focus on other teachings.

I am not talking about Quranic interpretations but about our attitude towards faith, which has to do with our personalities. But this is secondary, as what is important is what Allah says to us.

Love, Hope & Fear of Allah

I think what one has to develop for a healthy imaan is the balance of love, hope, and fear of Allah.

He is The Loving One, Al-Wadud. You have to love Allah with your heart, putting all your trust in Him and in His guidance. Know that He also loves you and is there for you when you need it. “If you should love Allāh, then follow me, [so] Allāh will love you and forgive you your sins. And Allāh is Forgiving and Merciful.” (Quran 3:31)

You also need to fear Him. It means to be aware of his punishment, conscious about right and wrong, and try your best to avoid wrongdoing driven by your “fear” of Him.

O you who have believed, fear Allāh as He should be feared…” (Quran 3:102)

And, to balance this fear, you also have to have hope in Him. Hope in His mercy and in His justice and forgiveness.

“And do not lose hope in the mercy of Allah, for no one loses hope in Allah’s mercy except those with no faith.” (Quran 12:87)

He knows what is in your heart and what your limits are in terms of achievements, and He certainly will forgive your shortcomings if you are sincere in your repentance:

“Do not lose hope in Allah’s mercy, for Allah certainly forgives all sins. He is indeed the All-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Quran 39:53)

Too much fear

What happens when someone has too much fear and not enough hope? Your worship can be exactly how you describe it: arrogant and hard, as if it gives no room to human imperfection. This can manifest in excessive worry about your mistakes and a kind of “arrogance” or judgmental attitude towards those who do not do everything perfectly.

Too much hope

And what if you have too much hope? Perhaps this is what you mean when you say that Islam’s compassionate and merciful way led you to “sin,” and you felt that it should not be right. It means that one does not have enough God-consciousness (takwa) to stay away from sinning because one is too confident in the forgiveness and mercy of Allah. It can make you lazy in your worship, negligent, and certainly more prone to committing sins.

I am sure, brother, that you see that the truth is on the golden middle path. Allah is All- Powerful but All-Merciful at the same time.

You have to push and strive to do your best in worship while not seeking perfection or having unrealistic expectations. We all make mistakes, and this is a lifelong journey. Our imaan fluctuates up and down; no one can be high all the time.

If you push yourself too hard, you might get tired and burn out. It is better to stay on the middle ground and increase your knowledge and worship gradually. This way, you also avoid the other extreme: being too negligent with your faith and your obligations and overlooking sins easily.

Who to follow

I advise you to learn about Islam from reliable sources and from people whose knowledge you have sympathy for. Follow your heart: choose someone who draws you closer to Allah, makes you feel a better Muslim, a better person, and motivates you to strive for the deen with positivity. 

On the other hand, it is better to avoid those whose words create hate, anger, negativity, and judgement. Even if there is truth in their words, they can draw you farther from Allah if they are too judgmental and focus on the criticism and negativity.

Apply this to your friends and companions also, whether in real life or on social media; choose them with the same criteria.

The Prophet

Take the best example, the example of the Prophet (peace be upon him); learn about his seerah, and you will see that he was the kindest, most compassionate, but at the same time firmest person, and Allah was most pleased with him. Try to follow his example and develop those traits he emphasized for us, believers. Seerah For New Converts (Special Folder)

Learn About Allah

Learn about Allah through His names and attributes. It will help you understand His power and the deen, and it will help you gain more taqwa in your daily actions. Check this series, for example: Beautiful Names of Allah: Explanation of the Name Allah

I hope these tips will help you, 

May Allah help you find peace and comfort in the religion,

Question 4. Scared of hellfire

I am a born Muslim. I did not notice my faith deteriorating. I always had such firm belief in Allah. Suddenly one day, a close relative died and due to some problems, I cursed some people as they always ignite fire in my family.

That time I felt a broken connection with Allah and started wondering about his existence.

Further as I was praying the Quran for the deceased. I came onto Kafir many times. Basically, there was this bad thing in me that whatever I read that this is the truth and don’t do it, my thoughts got there.

I am so sorry to Allah but I am such in a vicious cycle of bad imagery, bad names and I am sooo scared of hell.

It’s been 3 months and I know there is Allah and everything ia true about his book. I keep on going in this cycle. I ask Allah to give me death with forgiveness and belief. I did a major thinking sin as well.

Everytime I make wazu with hot water or bath, I think about jahannum. I cannot think past this. I cannot keep up with conversations of people. I was going to start my career but now even just washing dishes seems like such a big accomplishment. I cannot take this anymore.

Few years ago, I started praying 5 times plus tahajjud. I used to care about Allah. Now I don’t even want to live if there is hellfire waiting.

I see tv and all I can think of is. That is Muslim and going to Jannah and that is kafir and might go to jahannum. I am unable to do any tasks. I feel lonely and empty. I feel so lethargic to pray. I just want to sleep and die. Now I am even afraid to open Quran.

How am I to repent if this cycle keeps going?

Salam alaikom wa rahmatullah, dear sister,

Thank you for writing. I am really sorry to hear your struggles with your fears and thoughts about Hell and Hellfire. It seems that these fears have reached an extent where you have difficulty completing normal daily tasks. You feel too lethargic to pray and to complete your tasks; you would rather sleep and die.

Sister, my first question would be: Have you ever visited a doctor or mental health professional with your symptoms, especially those related to lethargy, sleepiness, and lack of motivation? I am asking this because these symptoms are often present in people who suffer from depression.

I cannot set up a diagnosis here, but I strongly recommend that you seek a specialist who can evaluate your condition.

You said that you have lost a close relative, and since then you have noticed a decline.

Sister, the loss of a loved one is a difficult period for all, normally. The grief has stages, and you need to go through them in order to find peace with what has happened. You do not provide many details, so I am not sure whether you have had the opportunity to mourn your relative, especially in a psychological sense.

Furthermore, when we lose someone, our natural reactions are very similar to those of those who suffer from depression. Lack of sleep and appetite, or the opposite; lethargy, lack of motivation, and lack of energy, to name a few of them.

Grief and bereavement should not be neglected, and we need to dedicate some inner work to processing what happened. Sometimes we can’t overcome it on our own, and we end up in depression or another mental health struggle.

So, again, I kindly advise you to turn to a counselor or to your GP to refer you to a specialist.

Back to your question about faith and Hellfire:

Maybe I am wrong, but it seems to me that your primary struggle is related to your current mental health state. Probably, this has a secondary effect on other aspects of your life, including your relationship with Allah.

In this state, it is quite common that you also struggle with your worship, with completing the daily rituals, or with connecting to the Quran.

This can happen because your mind is somehow “narrowed” at the moment and focuses only on one thing. In your case, on hell and hellfire. So you see everything through this lens. It is like having a black-and-white filter on your eyes where you cannot see other colors.

What can you do?

The first and most important thing is to seek professional help, as I said before.

You can learn online about the bereavement process and the stages of grief to better understand what you have been going through. Here are some sources from our site: 4 Keys to Overcoming Loss of Any Kind, I Have Lost My Brother; How to Cope with It Islamically?, Facts About Depression

Try to keep your connection with Allah and do your best to fulfill your daily worship. No worries if you’ve done it better in the past. Little is better than nothing, and sticking to your daily worship routine will help you feel less guilty.

Reward yourself

Reward yourself with something when you accomplish your tasks. For example, choose three things each day and write them down, then mark them when you are done. Little things are also fine: washing the dishes, reading 1 page from the Quran, etc. Plus, do not forget the reward from Allah for each prayer or act of worship!

Spend time outdoors

Go out into nature and find connection there. Contemplating the beautiful creation of Allah is a natural peacemaker. Just go for a walk and look around you. Be grateful for the blessings you see.

Additionally, try to take care of your health with a healthy diet and some form of exercise; you will see that it can help to increase your energy levels.

Seek companion

Try to spend more time with others, especially with good company. Join your friends or the community around you. You may seek out a group for people who have gone through recent loss and share your experience with each other.

May Allah help you, and I wish you the best,

Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2022 | 09:00 - 10:00 GMT

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