Being a New Muslim is not easy. After the fuss and celebration of accepting Islam quietens down, the hard work begins.
Yes, hard work.
Islam touches upon every aspect of your life and that thought can be quite overwhelming.
Allah says in the Quran:
Do the people think that they will be left to say, “We believe” and they will not be tried? (29:2)
So let’s have a look at the most difficult situations which a New Muslim is most likely to encounter.
1- Telling Family
These are the people closest to you; they have nurtured you and guided you in almost everything you have done in your life.
For some, it is a decision that your family is willing to accept if it is what makes you happy. And subhanAllah, what a blessing that is!
For others, the news may not be so well received. We may face anger, humiliation and rejection.
Consider the option of waiting for a time; let them see the positive change in your life and pray that Allah softens their heart.
There is not always a need for a grand announcement. This is a huge adjustment for many families and they will have a lot of fears and concerns.
Drastically changing overnight is also not advisable. You are still in the learning process yourself so take things slowly in the beginning. A moderate pace will be easy on you and your loved ones.
2- Learning the Prayer
One of the most common worries is the prayer but please don’t panic.
There are some great resources out there to learn the salah and you might actually find that books aimed at children are the most useful as they are simple.
Even better still, find someone you feel comfortable with and ask them to show you the movements step by step and make a list of how many rakahs (units) are done for each prayer.
You don’t need to be fluent in Arabic, you just need a heart willing to learn. Ask Allah to make it easy for you and He will.
Personally, I wrote the transliteration of the prayer on postcards and laid them out on my prayer mat. However, sometimes good old fashioned memorization is required. Listen to the words on repeat when you’re travelling to and from work or school.
You’ll soon pick it up, inshaAllah and it will become second nature.
3- Lifestyle Overhaul
You will realize that you may have to make many changes to your lifestyle; your diet, your socializing, your way of dressing, even your bathroom habits (wudu).
Finding halal meat can be tricky and a lot of converts decide to go vegetarian for some time. This is also a good way to avoid pork and other haram meat if you haven’t yet told your family.
If you have previously gone to bars and clubs with your friends that will become off limits. Sadly, a common consequence is that some of our relationships may not be compatible with these changes. It can be hard to watch friendships fade but keep in mind that those who are true friends will find a way to keep in touch.
Wearing hijab and growing a beard are also a difficult milestone to reach. You do not have to do this the day after your shahadah. If you can, great! But if you absolutely can’t because you’re afraid or you just aren’t strong enough yet then that’s ok.
The most important thing at the beginning is to dress modestly and, for sisters, keep a few scarves that you can use to wear for your prayer.
Ask Allah to give you the ability and one day you’ll be able to take that step.
4- Making New Friends
Going to the mosque at the beginning can be quite intimidating. You’ll be worried that there are a whole set of social rules to follow and, in part, you’d be right!
I accepted Islam at a university Islamic Society and I truly believe that this setting is the best to introduce you to the basics of masjid etiquette. They will be accustomed to new Muslims and they will be more than happy to show you how things are done. You may even be introduced to a brother or sister who will be your mentor (I am still in touch with the wonderful sister who taught me the basics, alhamdulillah).
Local mosques can be a bit trickier to navigate; mosque politics, deeply rooted friendships and even nationalism can be a problem. Integrating into the community can be difficult and leave you feeling isolated. If this is a problem for you, please join our About Islam 101 group on Facebook where you will find friendly and informal advice and support.
Dua is your greatest weapon. Ask Allah to grant you the company of those whom He loves.
There’s a well-known saying: “Marry in haste, repent at leisure!”
Please do not make this mistake! Do not be rushed into marriage by anyone who thinks that new Muslims need a spouse to guide them. Being a born Muslim does not automatically make someone pious or knowledgeable.
Learn your religion and learn it well. And learn about the rights and responsibilities of marriage. Learn about yourself as a Muslim and marry someone who has a similar outlook.
Be wary of proposals from abroad, you do not want to join the many new brothers and sisters who are married for the sake of a green card.
Let us finish with a quote: “Anything that is worth having, is worth fighting for.”
Being guided to Islam is one of the most precious gifts that anyone could ever wish for. From the entire global population, Allah has chosen YOU.
Jannah is not cheap and it is not easy, but it is worth it.
You will have days when your iman soars, and days when you will feel overwhelmed and lost. But don’t give up.
After hardship comes ease. After hardship comes ease.