By definition, the word habit means “a settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up.”
So, basically, just about everything you do in your life can become a habit. Whether that means you choose to wear only vintage clothing or pay a visit to a favorite friend every Thursday at noon, habits are an integral part of our daily life.
This can pose a challenge for a new Muslim. You’ve just embraced the Islamic faith and are very much a student of Islam, learning as much as possible to quench your thirst for knowledge.
As you continue on this journey of a lifetime, you’ll find that many of your old habits no longer align with your newfound faith. However, each of them can easily be replaced with a new one that will be a blessing and mercy to you as a Muslim.
The way you dressed prior to embracing the Islamic faith is one habit that most likely needs to be broken.
Personally, when I reached puberty, I had formed a habit of wearing mini-skirts daily. I wore them in the summer and even in the winter paired with boots.
Shortly, after I took the shahadah (declaration of faith), I realized that there was nothing in my wardrobe that would fulfill the dress code requirements of my new faith.
As Allah Almighty says in the Noble Quran:
O Prophet, tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to bring down over themselves [part] of their outer garments. That is more suitable that they will be known and not be abused. And ever is Allah Forgiving and Merciful. (Quran 33:59)
Despite having a minuscule budget, I slowly built up a wardrobe of modest clothing and colorful hijabs that I could wear year round. And the first time I stepped into my community, dressed modestly and wearing the hijab, brought tears to my eyes.
Not only did my Islamic clothing uplift me as a woman, it removed my sexuality from the equation. The mini-skirts I had worn previously, as a non-Muslim, were often the cause of much attention from both women and men as I moved throughout the day. The latter of which would often shout obscenities in my direction when walking on the street.
By creating a new habit of dressing Islamically, I was now seen as a human being and not a mere object or plaything. And remember, men also have their own dress code in the Islamic faith.
Dressing like females and wearing un-tanned animal skin are just a small part of the dress code for Muslim men. Even certain fabrics and adornments are forbidden for men.
The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:
These two [gold and silk] are forbidden for the males of my ummah and permissible for the females. ( Narrated by Ibn Majah, 3640)
The religion of Islam places a great emphasis on etiquette in all aspects of life. The Quran and the Sunnah are vast sources of proper decorum that all Muslims must follow to the best of their abilities.
There is an etiquette for eating, sleeping and even sneezing in Islam! As a new Muslim, it might seem overwhelmingly at first. But remember, small steps will lead to big leaps as you learn.
For many new Muslims, an overwhelming sense of failure might slowly seep in while trying to learn about the different etiquettes in Islam. Our Noble Messenger (peace be upon him) gave us timeless advice that soothes the heart and refortifies our faith even today.
Religion is very easy and whoever overburdens himself in his religion will not be able to continue in that way. So you should not be extremists, but try to be near to perfection and receive the good tidings that you will be rewarded… (Al-Bukhari)
My first year as a Muslim was the most difficult as I made countless mistakes and felt an intense nagging to simply give up. Yet time and time again, I addressed my concerns to Allah in each of my daily prayers and cried the tears of frustration that were searing my soul. Over time, I found ease in transforming each Islamic etiquette into a beloved habit that drew me closer to Allah.
Life-long dietary habits can be some of the toughest to break for a new Muslim. This especially holds true for the ones that are steeped in cultural traditions or even familial customs.
The Quran and Sunnah of Muhammad (peace be upon) clearly outline the best dietary regulations when it comes to our diet, ranging from which hand to use when eating to avoiding overeating and everything in between.
The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:
The son of Adam cannot fill a vessel worse than his stomach, as it is enough for him to take a few bites to straighten his back. If he cannot do it, then he may fill it with a third of his food, a third of his drink, and a third of his breath.
For me, one of the biggest dietary habits I had to break was eating pork. During my first year as a Muslim, turning down my mother’s New Year’s Eve meal of ‘kielbasa’ and sauerkraut for “luck” was one of the most difficult.
As a new Muslim, I no longer ate pork and much to her disdain could not eat the sauerkraut that had cooked alongside the pork sausage for hours. It caused a rift in the family, that one simple meal. But it was more than that. I put my foot down, in the kindest manner possible, that my faith comes first in all matters even food.
Habits meld so seamlessly into our lives that they often go unnoticed as you’ve become so used to performing them. The good thing about habits is that they can be changed.
It’s up to you to filter out the habits that might harm your Islamic faith or go completely against Islam.
As you learn more and more about the Islamic faith, you can easily replace old habits with new ones that will strengthen your faith.
(From Discovering Islam’s archive.)