One of the most common issues for new Muslims is how to approach family members with the news that they have accepted Islam.
This is always a difficult issue, and everyone’s situation is different; so there is no one right way to go about it.
However, I would like to offer a few things to keep in mind that may help you as to begin the conversation:
Tell Them When You Feel Ready
Some people want to tell their families right away, and others feel they need to wait; both are OK.
Even among the companions of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), some people announced their Islam to their families right away, while others kept their faith private until they felt the time was right.
Which path you should take depends on your own unique situation.
For example, some new Muslims wait to tell their families until they feel firmer and more knowledgeable in their faith; so that when the time comes, they would be better able to respond to their questions and concerns.
Others, knowing that their family has negative views of Islam, would try to dismantle some negative stereotypes and soften their understanding of the religion before telling them about their conversion.
On the other hand, some people choose to be completely open with their families throughout their transition to Islam and feel no need to postpone telling them.
You know yourself and your family. So think about which approach will work best for you, and tell them when you’re ready.
Try Not to Overwhelm Them
Remember that while you may have been considering your Shahadah for some time, chances are this is all going to be quite unexpected for your family. So while you may be very excited and happy about embracing Islam, try not to come on too strong when you break the news to them.
The way you handle this situation will have a tremendous influence on the way your family perceives you and your Islam going forward. So approach it with care and consideration.
Here are some possible approaches you might consider:
If you’re not sure how they feel about Islam in general, you can try casually bringing it up in conversation in order to test the waters. This can help you determine whether they’re ready for the news. And it can also be an opportunity to clarify in advance some misconceptions that they may have about the religion.
When you finally feel ready, remember that you don’t have to tell everyone at once. You can start with one family member, someone you’re close with, who might be more understanding and more willing to listen.
Explain your situation to them and see how they respond.
If the conversation doesn’t go as well as you hoped, you can try a different approach in the future. If the conversation goes well, you may even have a supporter as you tell the rest of your family.
When you do talk to your family about your Islam, try not to drop too much on them at once:
“Mom and Dad, I want you to know that I’ve decided to become a Muslim.
I also want you to know that from now on, you have to buy me all halal meat and please remove all bacon from the household.
I also want you to know that my name is Asadullah Hamza Abdul-Khalik and I will only respond to that name from now on.
I also want you to know that I will be growing my beard to this length.
I also I want you to know about the scientific miracles in the Quran, that undeniable proof that this is the word of Allah.
And I also want you to know that I will be getting married two weeks from today, here is your invitation.
I also want you to know…..”
Don’t do that!
Just you becoming Muslim is going to be shock enough for them and a lot for them to adjust to. Make it as easy as you can for them without compromising your Islam.
And as far as dawah, you may be very excited to share this beautiful way of life with your family, but this may not be at the best time.
Beside the fact that you’re still learning yourself, they might not be very receptive to that right now, as they are still processing your conversion.
If you try to push Islam on them, it can actually have the opposite effect turning them off the religion completely and doing damage to your relationship with them which can take a long time to repair.
Of course if they ask you questions about Islam and they want to learn, that’s great, by all means, answer them, but don’t take a simple question as a request for a 30 minutes lecture.
At this point, honestly, the best way to teach them about Islam is through your own example.
Be Patient, Loving and Understanding
Allah tells us in the Quran:
Your Lord has commanded that you should worship none but Him and show kindness to your parents. If either or both of them reach old age with you, do not even say “uff,” to them and do not be harsh with them. But always speak gently to them. (17:23)
When talking to your families about your Islam, it’s important to avoid getting into arguments. This can be difficult as you may feel your beliefs are being challenged, your judgement is being questioned, your point of view is being ignored.
You have to keep in mind though that this is not a debate and it’s not about proving that you’re right. This is an opportunity to put Islam into practice. Be patient, talk with them and try to respond to their questions; but if they start getting frustrated and argumentative, do not allow yourself to follow them down that road.
Maintain a calm attitude, and if emotions get too high, respectfully take a break.
Be loving. Show them mercy and compassion that Islam teaches.
Remind them that they’re your family and you love them. Be kind and respectful at all times, and give lots of hugs and be understanding.
Try your best to see things from their point of view even if they don’t afford you the same courtesy.
Recognize that, for the moment at least, they don’t see Islam the same way that you do, and that they may be genially concerned about this change. So try your best to ease them through this process Insha’Allah.
Be Muslim but Be Yourself
Try to help them see that becoming a Muslim does not mean that you’re going to become a totally different person. While you may be making some changes in your life, most things about you will remain the same, so help them see that.
Make sure you don’t allow discussion of Islam to dominate all of your family interactions.
You may not feel like it comes up a lot but they may feel differently.
Spend time with your family, talking about things and doing things that you normally would do without bringing up religion.
At the same time though, if your family is making unreasonable demands, if they’re asking you to do things that you’re not comfortable doing, don’t compromise your Islam to please them, as Allah says in the Quran:
We have commanded people to show kindness to their parents, but if they try to make you associate with Me something about which you have no knowledge do not obey them. (29:8)
So if your family asks you to do something that conflicts with your fundamental beliefs as a Muslim, such as committing idolatry or abandoning prayer, respectfully explain that this is not a compromise that you can make.
They may argue over certain things, they may tell you that you’ve been unfair, unreasonable, inflexible… They may try to make you feel guilty for making them upset, show them that you understand their feelings but stay true to your faith.
Hopefully with time Insha’Allah they will become more accepting.
Give Them Time
At the very beginning, it may seem like they’ll never accept you as a Muslim, but time can change a lot.
It took my parents a while, probably a few years, just to accept that I was really Muslim and that this wasn’t just some phase I was going through. It took longer than that for them to see my Islam as something normal and for them to recognize that Islam was actually good for me and that it made me a better person.
So remember that you’re not alone, there are a lot of reverts out there going through the same struggles as you, and many who have already been through it and seen how, despite the difficult beginnings, things got so much better with help.
So again be patient; don’t expect this to all blow over in a day or two, but trust that things can and will get better Insha’Allah.
May Allah bless you and make things easy for you.