New Muslims Keeping Faith in the Face of the News

The main thing that new Muslims need to do to protect their faith is to gain knowledge from sound sources of what Islam actually does teach In today’s world, we’re surrounded by negative news about Muslims and the Muslim lands. So how can new Muslims keep their faith in the face of all this bad news and criticism?

I remember when I told my parents about my conversion, my dad asked “Why do you want to associate yourself with all those poor, illiterate people?” As that was his impression of the Muslim world at that time.

Since then times have changed and Muslims have become more overtly political. Over the last few years we’ve seen the rise of the specter of the 9/11 bombings in America and the 7/7 London bombings and Muslims are now seen as terrorists acting against the West. Then we had the Arab Spring and its subsequent consequences, so the Muslim lands are now seen as dangerous and unstable, with Muslims killing fellow Muslims. And in the UK, we’ve recently had the spotlight shone on some Pakistani grooming gangs, so Muslim men are now seen as sexual predators.

Yet despite all this negative publicity, not only are more and more people looking into Islam, they are deciding to make the commitment to convert, as they are seeing the truth about the religion behind the media frenzy.

They see that Islam doesn’t advocate all the terrible things that Muslims are reported to be doing; in fact it says the opposite, so they are learning to separate fallible human actions from what the religion teaches. But once they have said their Shahadah and become Muslims themselves, as the sisters were saying in our study circle last night, one of the most challenging things they have to deal with was other people’s persistent negative impressions of God, Islam and Muslims.

So how can new Muslims keep their faith in the face of all the dreadful news that they are being fed almost every day about Muslims?

Refuting the Impressions

The main thing that new Muslims need to do to protect their faith is to gain knowledge from sound sources of what Islam actually does teach. You don’t have to dig very deep to find ways to refute the negative impressions that are being given of Muslims; there is so much evidence that can be used to counter them.

It’s vital to learn what God actually does say in the Quran and what the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and the early companions taught us about how to implement Islam in daily life. This not only helps to reinforce your faith, it also keeps you strong when you are feeling under attack and keeps the evidence on the tip of your tongue in case you need it.

Whoever follows a path in the pursuit of knowledge, Allah will make a path to Paradise easy for him.

To those who claimed that Muslims are illiterate, I was able to say that although it’s true that there are many Muslims who can’t read, their illiteracy is not due to Islam, as Islam advocates reading and learning for all. From the first word that God revealed to the Prophet Muhammad: {Iqra’! (Read!)} (Quran 96:1)

It was made clear that education was important and it was emphasized in many places in the Quran and Hadith. Prophet Muhammad made literacy such a priority that his prisoners of war could ransom themselves by teaching his companions to read. He (peace be upon him) also said:

“Whoever follows a path in the pursuit of knowledge, Allah will make a path to Paradise easy for him.” (Al-Bukhari)

So all Muslims, both men and women should be striving to gain an education.

And nowadays, you can answer those who say that Muslims are terrorists by saying that terrorism is totally against our faith; our faith teaches us not to kill innocent people. God says: {…And do not kill the soul which Allah has forbidden [to be killed] except by [legal] right.} (Al-An‘am 6: 151)

It is only the head of state who has the power to take life and that is only under lawful circumstances, for example to punish a murderer. It is not for individuals or small groups to take the law into their own hands and declare war.

And even if Muslims are in a state of war, as declared by the head of state, there are so many limitations on their actions, among which is this directive that Abu Bakr al-Siddiq, the first Caliph, gave to his armies:

“I instruct you in ten matters: Do not kill women, children, the old, or the infirm; do not cut down fruit-bearing trees; do not destroy any town… ” (Muwatta’, Kitabul Jihad)

And as for the suicide bombings Muslims have started doing in recent years; this is just one of the things that God and the Prophet said about suicide:

“Among those who came before you there was a man who was wounded and he panicked, so he took a knife and cut his hand with it, and the blood did not stop flowing until he died. Allah said: ‘My slave hastened to bring about his demise; I have forbidden Paradise to him.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Muslims cannot take their own life deliberately.

In regard to the atrocities that we have been witnessing of late in the Muslim lands, no one in their right mind can justify the wholesale killing of children and unarmed people under the guise of religion, let alone any attacks on people in places of worship. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said:

“Do not kill the monks in monasteries”, and “Do not kill the people who are sitting in places of worship” (Ahmad)

And as for the despicable things that some men have been reported to doing in the UK with young girls, it obviously has no basis in Islam, where sexual relations outside marriage with anyone are totally forbidden.

Ways to Keep the Faith

There is no such concept of collective guilt in Islam, so no one carries the burden of someone else’s guilt

Just because the people who are doing these things are calling themselves Muslims, doesn’t mean that what they are doing is Islamic or allowed by God and His Prophet. Although everything happens with God’s knowledge and permission and it is happening by His decree, He gave humans free will to choose which paths they take. So it is up to them to choose whether to tread on the path of good or evil. God says in the Quran:

{What comes to you of good is from Allah, but what comes to you of evil, [O man] is from yourself.} (An-Nisaa’ 4:79)

If any human being chooses a path of evil, they alone are responsible for their actions and they will be held accountable to God on the Day of Judgment for what they have done. There is no such concept of collective guilt in Islam, so no one carries the burden of someone else’s guilt.

Although my heart always sinks when I hear of another Muslim who has committed another sin or crime, it is sadness for the individual to know that they will now have to face the consequences for disobeying God’s laws and also for the fact that it increases the negative impressions that others will have of Muslims as a whole.

Knowing that these acts have been decreed by God and that everything God does has a good reason behind it, it should encourage us to look for the best responses we can make to what has happened. God has promised that He will test us with many things, because He wants us to get closer to Him. So what could our responses be?

Could it be that God wants us to be patient over the trials and turn to Him and supplicate for Him to change things?

Could it be that He wants us to do something to help the victims of the atrocities through fundraising or offering practical support?

Has He blessed us with skills and talents in caring, medicine, leading, organizing or educating that He wants us to put to good use?

We can’t change what has happened and we don’t have any control in most cases over what other people do, but what we do have the power to do is to work out how we can best respond to the tests that God is sending us, as that is what He will be asking us about on the Day of Judgment.

May Allah grant us the chance to answer Him in the best way!

About Amal Stapley
Amal Stapley After accepting Islam in 1992, Amal graduated from the International Islamic University of Malaysia with a degree in Psychology and Islamic studies. She then went on to work with several Islamic organizations in the USA, Egypt and more recently in her home country, the UK.