Despite negative portrayals of Islam in the media, many westerners continue to embrace the faith. What can new Muslims learn from Islamic spirituality?
Do we need to develop safe spaces for newcomers to Islam?
Imam Yasin Dwyer, chaplain at Queens University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada, responds to these and other related questions.
He starts with the importance of intentions in Islam, and that all deeds are judged by intentions, so we have to make sure that our intentions are sincere.
Those who are new to Islam must make sure about their intentions in their spiritual journey and closeness to Allah as Muslims.
For new Muslims, there is often an emphasis on learning the five pillars of Islam, and the six articles of faith. But there is a third dimension, Ihsan, which is the home of spirituality, as it has to do with the inner life of a believer as opposed to the outer life.
Matters of the heart should be the focus of spirituality as this is the engine of faith.
Knowledge and learning is very important to those who are new to Islam, and for this purpose they need to be part of the local Muslim community. They need to feel they are part of a supporting spiritual community.
Mosques have a lot of work to do to make them more convert-friendly, as unfortunately there are many Muslims who are not connected to their mosque and don’t go there because they don’t feel comfortable.
In the mosque, converts need to be who they want to be, and they can grow in their spirituality in a very natural organic way without feeling they are being judged or watched.
We have to make sure that this place where we are in the sacred presence, in the presence of God, is welcoming for all Muslims, including new Muslims. We need to make our mosques comfortable, safe and secure for those who are seeking the presence of God.
Don’t miss this interesting 11 minutes interview with Imam Yasin.