There are many issues that new Muslims face, but one key issue is parents. You become Muslim, Alhamdulillah, but in today’s social political climate, what would be the kind of natural response of a parent? It will be fear and anxiety and it may border into hatred.
Now, the first response shouldn’t be one of antagonism, “Oh my God, I have to hate my parents now, I have to challenge my parents and argue with them.”
This is what I call a trick or Satan. We have to really understand the kind of psychology of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in dealing with other human beings specifically our parents.
Love Your Non-Muslim Parents
The first principle to understand is whether your parents are Muslim or not is irrelevant from the point of view how you interact with them. You still show them love, respect, humility, compassion, and you honor your non-Muslim parents.
Obviously, if they ask you to do something that goes against the commands of Allah and against the teachings of the Prophet (peace be upon him) then you have to basically navigate that space; but as a general principle, you have to show mercy, respect, and lower the wing of humility to your parents irrespective if they’re Muslims or non-Muslims.
So, don’t think just because you become Muslim, you can’t have love for your non-Muslim parents. No! This is not Islam. Islam understands that there is a deep natural love for people, just like the Prophet (peace be upon him) had a deep natural love for his uncle although his uncle did not become a Muslim.
The second point you’d understand is again the psychology of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) have: Empathy. What does this mean? Empathy is to imaginatively understand someone’s perspective, taking their shoes off and wearing their shoes for a few meters at least. It’s trying to feel what they’re feeling; you’re feeling with them, you’re not feeling against them.
So, think about it from your parents point of view, what do your parents know about Islam? Well, it’s probably coming from some kind of media narrative which is not always the best. So, from an empathy point of view, do you blame them? No. So, that would change everything.
Because now you’re justifying maybe the negative response to Islam, but at least you’re understanding where they’re coming from. And having that understanding dramatically changes everything and it gives you this intellectual and spiritual maturity to understand where they’re coming from.
They’re coming from a person perspective; and although the basis of that perspective is wrong, I’m understanding it psychologically and emotionally.
Intentions and Motivations
What are the intentions and motivations of your parents? They actually love you. It’s very hard to find parents that they don’t love their children. Yes, they may express in different ways, but Allah based on His boundless mercy and love has instilled that within parents. So, the general rule is “your parents love you”. Yes, they may not like your religion, they may hate your religion… but the point is they love you.
If you understand it from that premise, from the lenses of love that they’re doing it because they care, then that changes everything.
Your Actions Speak Louder
Now, you have to focus on the power dynamic of the relationship. You now point the finger on parents that, “they don’t love me, they hate my religion, they don’t want me to pray…”
That might be true, but is that productive?
Is that the way to solve the problem?
If you want love at home, what you need to do is to become loving; if you want fairness at home, you need to become fair; and if you want X, Y & Z what you need to do? You need to become X, Y & Z.
It’s called enrolling people in your behavior. So, if you want empathy, understanding… Then you need to become that. So, instead of hating your parents and being rude, which you shouldn’t be anyway, show them love, mercy, compassion, tolerance, and forbearance.
Say to them, “I understand your perspective. I know you love me; and the reason you react in this way is because this is what you think is best. And I empathize with you, however give me the opportunity to tell you what I see in Islam.”
Even if they don’t engage with you, and then still try and make them understand that Islam affects you in a positive way. And it doesn’t have to be with the use of your tongue, usually how you behave and how you relate to them and with them would fundamentally change everything.
The only thing is you have to be patient. And I’m telling you over time that hatred returning to intimate friendship and love.