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How to Make Our Masajid Welcoming for New Muslims?

I still believe that there is a special connection for every convert who took his/her shahadah in the masjid, that this place is not just the place of worshiping Allah or praising Allah (SWT)… it is where they started, it is where they became whom they wanted to be.

It is the amanah, it is the trust for the people who are caring for these places to make it as much welcoming, as much comforting, as much available for their needs on all levels, and only then we would be doing our job properly as the Prophet (peace be upon him) said that we need to do things that Allah loves, when we do things we do it with perfection.

And Allah orders us to be just and to be people of excellence, something beyond just what is fair, what is proper and what is just. So we need to go beyond of what we expect as this is enough.

And when we’re talking about that, also we’re talking about a place that after these brothers and sisters who embrace Islam take shahadah; we’re talking about a place where they’re going to learn their salah (Prayer).

Spiritual Growth

Salah is the most honorable pillar of Islam after the shahadah; it is the relationship between the servant and Allah; it is the spiritual moment that everyone wants to engage and someone who was raised as a Muslim, praying for the past 20-30 years or so versus someone who is embracing Islam for the first time, I think they have this presence, this humility (khushu) that they are giving the best they can to perfect it that probably sometimes we wish we can match them in that.

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And for that, the masjid is a place for converts to see themselves elevating spiritually, growing up to be true Muslims in their faith.

So now when we’re talking about what is that we can do for them.

I’m not a convert as far as you know, someone who was not a Muslim and then accepted Islam, we grew up in a Muslim family.

I can never imagine or think how would it feel for someone taking their shahadah for the first time, if it was in the Imam’s office or in front of people at salah. But from what I have witnessed in our masjid, we have an average of 20-30 people every year who take their shahadah in the masjid.

I have seen people crying, I have seen people very emotional, I have seen people who spoke very strong, people who were shaking, all types of feelings and emotions that you can think of.

And if it was anything that is huge in my life, it’s about my faith, it’s about my identity, it’s about my past and my future… this is the moment, this is the place where I started as a Muslim.

I think the effort should be put prior to people converting to Islam.

The Role of Imams

Imams, in specific, should be ready to be able to make sense to those people who are brought to the masjid by friends, by family members, or those who are coming as students, you know every masjid has its own programs that hosts people for various explanatory projects or programs about Islam.

So the Imam has to be ready to speak the language that brings some sort of an attention toward the hearts and the minds of those people who are coming.

Many people bring their families, they’re married to non-Muslims and they will be interested from that of a relationship on a family level. Some people bring their friends from school, some people bring their colleagues at work…

So there should be some sessions given prior to that, because these people sometimes come kind of ready and they need that click, they need that final moment that if they hear it from the Imam, from the sheikh, it makes all the sense for them. It connects all the dots and it makes the person willing to commit right on the spot or something like that.

So every Imam should be ready to be able to talk sense and talk relatively points that make them interested in that commitment.

Teaching the Basics of Islam

Another point is that we should have sessions ready for people who are coming to learn about Islam; if they’re taking comparative religion classes, or world religion classes or things like that.

Do we have a ready state of the art, I may say, PowerPoints, information that is authentic that make sense, simple not complicated?

And we should not be in the business of bashing others. I don’t believe that when people come to learn about Islam we should compare Islam to Christianity, or we should compare Islam to Judaism, or anything out there.

I believe that we just need to speak about Islam what it is and what it stands for and let people make their choice. Allah said it very clear:

{You have your religion and I have mine.} (109:6)

My job is to speak of what and who I am and let the people make the choice.

Convert Support

Now, when people embrace Islam and commit to Islam, I believe that there has to be some sort of a committee ready for them, to host them, befriend them, see what types of services they need.

So some of these Muslims who convert to Islam, they already have family members who can take care of them, or friends at work that they meet them on a daily basis… so when you teach them salah they’re going to practice with family, they’re going to practice with friends, there should be, you know, not much probably effort put with them.

But there are those people who don’t have much people around them, and for that it is enough for a reason to be ready for some sort of a committee that would welcome these people, host them, befriend them, hangout with them, keep them in touch, bring them to the masjid if they don’t have access to transportation, make a relationship, because at the end if they don’t see themselves part of the community, would be friends, people that they know that they love, they will not hold on for a long time.

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About Sheikh Kifah Mustapha
Sheikh Kifah Mustapha is the Imam and Director of The Prayer Center of Orland Park and representative for Dar El Fatwa of Lebanon in the US