First appeared at: https://muslimconverts.org
This is not a story about how I came to Islam. This is about what happened after, when I told my mom about my decision to become Muslim. So often when speaking about converts, we tend to focus on the process by which that person became Muslim rather than the difficult experiences she faces after her conversion.
I struggled with whether or not to share this story, for fear of embarrassing my mom or talking negatively about her. She is my mom and, despite the pain I may have experienced the day I told her about my decision, she also experienced pain.
But I think it is extremely important for other Muslim converts to hear such stories about talking to parents about becoming Muslim.
The Day I Called My Mom
I was living halfway across the country when I converted and I knew I wouldn’t be able to visit my family for several months. So I knew I would have to tell my mom about my conversion over the phone.
The day I called my mom to tell her, I was terrified. My stomach was in knots, my throat was dry, my heart was racing. I was anxious to talk to my mom and I had never had this feeling before.
My mom has always been the one I cried out for when I was sick.
My mom has always been the first person I turned to in times of heartbreak.
My mom has always been the first person I called to share good news, whether big or small.
But this was different because as indescribably happy as I was about my new life, I knew that my phone call would cause her an indescribable amount of pain.
This was one moment in my life, the most important moment in my life, which I knew I would not be able to share with my mom.
It has been a year now since the call. I can remember trying to put it off by prefacing my news with mundane conversation. Finally, I worked up the courage to tell her my story.
I told her that after 5 years of studying Islam, I went to the mosque with my three best friends and I made the declaration to be Muslim.
I explained to her what the shahadah meant: “There is no God, but God and Muhammad is his Messenger.”
I tried to make it easy for her. But all of this was stopped quickly as I heard her quietly crying on the other end of the phone.
I can think of very few things that are worse to me than hearing my mom cry. She asked if she could call me back. I said yes.
She hung up the phone and I waited.
She didn’t call back.
I waited 30 minutes.
She didn’t call.
I waited another hour.
She didn’t call.
Later on I received an email from her. My stomach sank as I read her words over and over again. She told me that I had made a big mistake. But I am finally content. She told me that she could never be happy for me and that my family couldn’t be happy for me. I didn’t expect them to be.
That when I got married, she did not see how she would be able to celebrate. That she felt like she was saying goodbye to the daughter she knew. It’s still me, mom. She told me that she loved me, but that she could not talk to me now and definitely not about this.
At least a week went by before I talked to anyone in my family. I talked to my dad. I couldn’t face my mom yet after that message. I told him how much her message hurt me. I think he talked to her about it because my mom called me several days later and we talked. But not about this. I still haven’t been able to tell her how deeply her message hurt me. I don’t think I’ll ever have that conversation with her; it’s not worth it to upset her again.
One Year Later
A year has passed and, Alhamdulillah, my mom and I talk on the phone all the time. Our relationship may even be stronger than before. It has taken a lot of understanding on both of our ends.
When I went home to visit recently, my mom gave me a prayer rug she had stored away which was given to her 30 years ago. And when I visited during Christmas, my mom went with me to a halal shop to buy some meat.
I am very blessed and I know that many (perhaps most) Muslim converts will not be so blessed as to experience these moments. But it is also not easy. I don’t think my mom will ever be happy for me. I feel there will always be a disconnect.
So I cherish the unexpected moments when my mom is willing enough to open her heart and share in my life in the small ways that she can. Alhamdulillah for this.