This is more for the converts. In coming to Islam, we still have family and friends of our prior faith. Just as we want them to respect our spiritual path, we must also respect their beliefs. It is never acceptable to condemn them because they did not find what Allah (s.w.t.) had Allotted for you. Your role is to be an example in this world, not so much in terms of knowledge, but more in terms of adab. And strive to be one of those Granted the Gift of interceding before Allah (s.w.t.) on the Day of Judgement.
It is also important that we do not tolerate disrespect of the faith of our family from the Muslims, just as we do not condone disrespect of Islam from the non-Muslims. Islam is about justice. We must be fair. And we cannot allow ourselves to be turned into performing monkeys by Muslims who feel the need to parade a convert condemning a prior spiritual path to feed their collective egos.
In every convert story, we speak and we hear about those who found Islam after study, after discovery after a epiphany. In reality, it was Allah (s.w.t.) Removing His Veil so that we could find Him.
Hakim ibn Hizam (r.a.) was a relative of Khadijah (r.a.), the wife of the Prophet (s.a.w.). He was renowned for his mercy and generosity. Before the rise of Islam, he used to buy the daughters of those families who wanted to bury them alive and graciously assumed the responsibility of taking care of them. Hakim ibn Hizam (r.a.) asked the Prophet (s.a.w.) about these good deeds which he had done prior to his declaration of faith in Islam.
The Prophet (s.a.w.) replied, “These good deeds are but the reasons that brought you the honour of being Blessed with Islam.”
Being Given Islam is a tremendous Honour. The shahadah is the Key to Paradise. Just as it is Given, it can be taken away. So we must consider why we are Muslim. And never think we are better than those who are not.
As a Muslim, I still have a great love of Catholicism. And spending time with both the Catholics and the Muslims, the Catholics are superiors to the Muslims in my eyes. If the Catholics were all Muslims and the Muslims were all Catholics, the ummah of Muhammad (s.a.w.) would not be in this sorry state.
The one thing that disgusts me about many Muslims is how they are so sure they alone are going to Heaven, or how they are full of triumphalism when someone converts as if it validates their ego. Aside from that, they do nothing for the converts. Or how they disparage the beliefs of the Christians when they only have kindergarten knowledge, but when a non-Muslim were to do that, they want to claim injury. Hypocrites.
If I were to look at the Muslims and confuse it with Islam, I would never have converted. The average Muslim is not a good example of the sunnah of the Prophet (s.a.w.). There is only affected piety, arrogance and cultural imperialism. As an ‘alim once said, “Islam is in the books and the Muslims are in the graves.” The ummah of Muhammad (s.a.w.) is dust and we are left with arrogant, self-righteous pretenders.
Authored by Terrence Helikaon Nunis*
*Terrence Helikaon Nunis used to be Catholic and belonged to a missionary organisation. After his conversion to Islam, he sat on the board of a Muslim converts’ organisation and specialised in da’wah programmes, convert management, interfaith issues and apostasy cases. He is also an initiate of a Sufi order.
What a brave guy.
Life stories and testimonies from Muslim converts are always interesting because they come from different backgrounds and colourful cultures. Adapting to Islam can be quite challenging but all challenges bear fruits of joy at the end of sheer determination and perseverance.
People who are born into Islam have the benefit of having a foundation with their parents and family. The Qur’an is on their bookshelf, Arabic words are mixed into conversation without needing definition, and there is an environment of tradition that provides a reference point for looking at the world. A convert is experiencing the total opposite. He or she doesn’t have any sort of religious connection with their family anymore, and there is sometimes backlash from parents and extended family about the decision to become a Muslim.
Even if there’s no significant backlash, there are no blood relatives to talk to about Islam, no one to clarify things, and no family support to be offered in the entire process. All of these things can cause an immense amount of stress and disillusionment. It’s common for converts to have moments of breakdown where they feel like nobody is on their side. For those who are lucky enough to have a close friend or mentor to help them in situations like this, it’s still not the same as having family help. Converts need an exceptionally good amount of emotional support from individuals in their community to feel empowered as Muslims. This doesn’t require a full-time therapist, but just people to make them feel at home.