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Breaking the News to Family


A two-part lesson containing practical advice for new comers to Islam facing the challenge of breaking the news of their new faith to friends and family. Part 1: This lesson aims to dispel anxiety and develop confidence in dealing with loved ones.



Objectives

·        To remove anxiety caused by the fear of announcing one’s conversion and to develop confidence when dealing with loved ones.

·        To enable one to identify the a suitable strategy for breaking the news of one’s conversion to friends and family.

·        To equip the new convert with various invocations to seek help from Allah in making the task easier.

One of the tasks which is often most challenging for newcomers to Islam is breaking the news of their new faith to friends and family.  Although one many be overjoyed in embarking on their new quest, starting a new, enriched spiritual life, they may find this task extremely difficult, fearing negative results and rejections from loved ones. One must be sure that they undertake this task with utmost care, as not doing so may damage cherished relationships, and one may not gain anything but hurt feelings.

This lesson contains some practical advice and some reminders that will perhaps allay your anxiety and help you deal with your loved ones with confidence.

First, congratulations for accepting Islam.  It is the right decision and you should rest assured of that. Also, the fact that you have been guided to Islam is a proof that God loves you and will provide you the help you long for, for the Prophet, may God praise him said:

“For whoever Allah desires good, He gives them understanding of the religion.”(al-Bukhari)

Second, read the following set of advice and apply from them what is relevant to your personal situation.
Assess the Situation

Sometimes a new Muslim may feel that they want to let everyone know that they have accepted Islam, starting from their family. Some may feel that they are able to cope with any type of response, while others feel that their family will not mind, and may be even encourage the decision they took. The reality may be much different. Although some family members may not be religious, the fact that their loved one has chosen a path other than theirs, or simply because they fear for them due to all the bad impressions they have about Islam, they may react other than expected. This may be detrimental to a person’s progress after accepting Islam, and thus, one should think coolly and slowly and assess the situation well. After accepting Islam, one should concentrate on learning the basics of belief and worship and publicizing one’s conversion too soon, may make this very hard. Instead of the first stage being one filled with joy and inspiration, it may become one filled with argumentation and ill-feelings.

Announcing one’s acceptance of Islam is not a condition for being a Muslim, and if one feels that they would prefer to delay doing this until they are stronger in faith and knowledge or until they are independent, then this is fine. On the other hand, if one feels that their family will be accepting of their new faith then it is better to announce it as this will make it easier for them to practice the teachings of Islam.

And example of this is the great Companion of the Prophet, may Allah praise him, Muawiyah b. Abi Sufyan, who became Muslim and hid his conversion from his parents. His parents were very bold against Islam, and after thinking it out, and understanding the consequences of what his actions may lead to, he decided not to announce and publicly declare that he had become Muslim; instead, he chose to delay and announce his Islam at the right moment. This moment came when the Prophet, may Allah praise him, conquered Mecca. Muawiyah and his father along with others went to meet the Prophet, may Allah praise him, and declared their Islam before him.

When you do decide to announce it, keep the following guidelines in mind.
Seek Help in Patience and Prayer

Do not panic. Seek Allah's help through prayer and contemplation.  Let Him guide you through these moments.  You have two ‘gifts’ from God: patience and prayer to give you strength.  Allah says:

“And seek help in patience and prayer…” (Quran 2:45)

Any hardship you may face is only a test through which you will increase in faith and trust in Allah. You will learn to rely upon and seek aid from Him. Whatever the result, know that in the end, it will be good for you. How beautiful is the saying of the Prophet:

“How amazing is the affair of the believer!  All his affairs are good, and this [merit] is for none other than the believer.  If something good happens to him, he thanks and praises God, and that is good for him. If he is afflicted with some hardship, he is patient, and that is good for him.” (Muslim)

Ask Allah to ease your affairs and give you strength. Ask Him to make your parents accept your news comfortably. Ask Him to keep you firm upon the religion. Ask Him to make you a means of guidance for them. The following are some special prayers prescribed by the Prophet with which you may supplicate to strengthen yourself and religion.
Prayer 1

“O Allah, it is Your mercy that I hope for, so do not leave me in charge of my affairs even for a blink of an eye and rectify for me all of my affairs.  None has the right to be worshipped except You.” (Abu Dawood)
Prayer 2

“None has the right to be worshipped except Allah, the All-Knowing, the Forbearing. None has the right to be worshipped except Allah, Lord of the magnificent throne. None has the right to be worshipped except Allah, Lord of the heavens, Lord of the Earth and Lord of the noble throne.” (al-Bukhari)
Prayer 3

The Prophet told us:

“The hearts of the children of Adam are as one between the fingers of the Most Merciful, and He directs them as He wills.” (Ahmed)

Pray with the frequent supplication of Messenger of Allah:

“O Changer of the hearts, make my heart firm upon Your religion.” (Al-Tirmidhi)
Prayer 4

If you doubt your faith at any point:

·        Seek refuge in Allah.

·        Remind yourself you are on the religion of Jesus, Moses, and the rest of the prophets by saying, ‘I have believed in Allah and His Messengers.’[1]
Self-Assurance

Do not fear disapproval from loved ones or strangers.  Some people suffer severe demoralization when criticized; others manage to gain new strength out of it.  Islam brings a new demeanor, a new social life with renewed confidence, self-assurance, and social comfort.  Islam indeed has the ability to alter personality for the good.  As soon as faith enters the depths of your heart, you will realize that the whole world cannot be equal to living for one moment with this great blessing of Islam.  Be forgiving and patient!
Talk to Someone You Trust

Talk to a Muslim friend you trust, preferably someone who has knowledge and wisdom.  Find a good friend in whose life you will see the best of Islam in practice.  The support of a loving friend will go a long way.  Remember, heart heals the heart!  Do not let your emotions build-up.  Talk about it; there is no substitute for human love and caring.
Ways to Inform Loved Ones

All parents are not equal.  Some are close to their children, others are distant.  Dysfunctional families are also quite common.  Some parents are supportive of whatever religion or lifestyle their child chooses, and others may vehemently oppose. In any case, it may be a good idea to let them know first that you have been reading about Islam, perhaps sharing some of what you learn with them before breaking the news, as that may come as a big shock. Take things gradually. In the end, it’s your call, as you know best the nature of your family. Most importantly, study the situation well before making any move, and don’t make and hasty decisions.

As mentioned earlier, if the situation calls for it, you may choose not to inform them of your decision for the time being. If you live with your parents, you can pray when they do not see you. You can tell them if you feel they will be supportive.

If you live on your own, this may be much easier. You can meet your parents face to face, give them a call, send an email, or write a letter.  The best way, generally speaking, is face to face, as other means of communications may lead one to misunderstand the other party. If you are concerned for the social awkwardness that may result from embracing a religion different from theirs and feel intimidated talking to them about your religion, you may consider it a better option to write a general letter first.  It will allow you to put your thoughts together, give them time to recuperate, and perhaps save both of you an embarrassing encounter.

Either way, you will have to meet them face to face at some point, and this will be the discussion of the following article.


Objectives

·        To remove anxiety caused by the fear of announcing one’s conversion and to develop confidence when dealing with loved ones.

·        To enable one to identify the a suitable strategy for breaking the news of one’s conversion to friends and family.

·        To equip the new convert with various invocations to seek help from Allah in making the task easier.

One of the tasks which is often most challenging for newcomers to Islam is breaking the news of their new faith to friends and family.  Although one many be overjoyed in embarking on their new quest, starting a new, enriched spiritual life, they may find this task extremely difficult, fearing negative results and rejections from loved ones. One must be sure that they undertake this task with utmost care, as not doing so may damage cherished relationships, and one may not gain anything but hurt feelings.

This lesson contains some practical advice and some reminders that will perhaps allay your anxiety and help you deal with your loved ones with confidence.

First, congratulations for accepting Islam.  It is the right decision and you should rest assured of that. Also, the fact that you have been guided to Islam is a proof that God loves you and will provide you the help you long for, for the Prophet, may God praise him said:

“For whoever Allah desires good, He gives them understanding of the religion.”(al-Bukhari)

Second, read the following set of advice and apply from them what is relevant to your personal situation.
Assess the Situation

Sometimes a new Muslim may feel that they want to let everyone know that they have accepted Islam, starting from their family. Some may feel that they are able to cope with any type of response, while others feel that their family will not mind, and may be even encourage the decision they took. The reality may be much different. Although some family members may not be religious, the fact that their loved one has chosen a path other than theirs, or simply because they fear for them due to all the bad impressions they have about Islam, they may react other than expected. This may be detrimental to a person’s progress after accepting Islam, and thus, one should think coolly and slowly and assess the situation well. After accepting Islam, one should concentrate on learning the basics of belief and worship and publicizing one’s conversion too soon, may make this very hard. Instead of the first stage being one filled with joy and inspiration, it may become one filled with argumentation and ill-feelings.

Announcing one’s acceptance of Islam is not a condition for being a Muslim, and if one feels that they would prefer to delay doing this until they are stronger in faith and knowledge or until they are independent, then this is fine. On the other hand, if one feels that their family will be accepting of their new faith then it is better to announce it as this will make it easier for them to practice the teachings of Islam.

And example of this is the great Companion of the Prophet, may Allah praise him, Muawiyah b. Abi Sufyan, who became Muslim and hid his conversion from his parents. His parents were very bold against Islam, and after thinking it out, and understanding the consequences of what his actions may lead to, he decided not to announce and publicly declare that he had become Muslim; instead, he chose to delay and announce his Islam at the right moment. This moment came when the Prophet, may Allah praise him, conquered Mecca. Muawiyah and his father along with others went to meet the Prophet, may Allah praise him, and declared their Islam before him.

When you do decide to announce it, keep the following guidelines in mind.
Seek Help in Patience and Prayer

Do not panic. Seek Allah's help through prayer and contemplation.  Let Him guide you through these moments.  You have two ‘gifts’ from God: patience and prayer to give you strength.  Allah says:

“And seek help in patience and prayer…” (Quran 2:45)

Any hardship you may face is only a test through which you will increase in faith and trust in Allah. You will learn to rely upon and seek aid from Him. Whatever the result, know that in the end, it will be good for you. How beautiful is the saying of the Prophet:

“How amazing is the affair of the believer!  All his affairs are good, and this [merit] is for none other than the believer.  If something good happens to him, he thanks and praises God, and that is good for him. If he is afflicted with some hardship, he is patient, and that is good for him.” (Muslim)

Ask Allah to ease your affairs and give you strength. Ask Him to make your parents accept your news comfortably. Ask Him to keep you firm upon the religion. Ask Him to make you a means of guidance for them. The following are some special prayers prescribed by the Prophet with which you may supplicate to strengthen yourself and religion.
Prayer 1

“O Allah, it is Your mercy that I hope for, so do not leave me in charge of my affairs even for a blink of an eye and rectify for me all of my affairs.  None has the right to be worshipped except You.” (Abu Dawood)
Prayer 2

“None has the right to be worshipped except Allah, the All-Knowing, the Forbearing. None has the right to be worshipped except Allah, Lord of the magnificent throne. None has the right to be worshipped except Allah, Lord of the heavens, Lord of the Earth and Lord of the noble throne.” (al-Bukhari)
Prayer 3

The Prophet told us:

“The hearts of the children of Adam are as one between the fingers of the Most Merciful, and He directs them as He wills.” (Ahmed)

Pray with the frequent supplication of Messenger of Allah:

“O Changer of the hearts, make my heart firm upon Your religion.” (Al-Tirmidhi)
Prayer 4

If you doubt your faith at any point:

·        Seek refuge in Allah.

·        Remind yourself you are on the religion of Jesus, Moses, and the rest of the prophets by saying, ‘I have believed in Allah and His Messengers.’[1]
Self-Assurance

Do not fear disapproval from loved ones or strangers.  Some people suffer severe demoralization when criticized; others manage to gain new strength out of it.  Islam brings a new demeanor, a new social life with renewed confidence, self-assurance, and social comfort.  Islam indeed has the ability to alter personality for the good.  As soon as faith enters the depths of your heart, you will realize that the whole world cannot be equal to living for one moment with this great blessing of Islam.  Be forgiving and patient!
Talk to Someone You Trust

Talk to a Muslim friend you trust, preferably someone who has knowledge and wisdom.  Find a good friend in whose life you will see the best of Islam in practice.  The support of a loving friend will go a long way.  Remember, heart heals the heart!  Do not let your emotions build-up.  Talk about it; there is no substitute for human love and caring.
Ways to Inform Loved Ones

All parents are not equal.  Some are close to their children, others are distant.  Dysfunctional families are also quite common.  Some parents are supportive of whatever religion or lifestyle their child chooses, and others may vehemently oppose. In any case, it may be a good idea to let them know first that you have been reading about Islam, perhaps sharing some of what you learn with them before breaking the news, as that may come as a big shock. Take things gradually. In the end, it’s your call, as you know best the nature of your family. Most importantly, study the situation well before making any move, and don’t make and hasty decisions.

As mentioned earlier, if the situation calls for it, you may choose not to inform them of your decision for the time being. If you live with your parents, you can pray when they do not see you. You can tell them if you feel they will be supportive.

If you live on your own, this may be much easier. You can meet your parents face to face, give them a call, send an email, or write a letter.  The best way, generally speaking, is face to face, as other means of communications may lead one to misunderstand the other party. If you are concerned for the social awkwardness that may result from embracing a religion different from theirs and feel intimidated talking to them about your religion, you may consider it a better option to write a general letter first.  It will allow you to put your thoughts together, give them time to recuperate, and perhaps save both of you an embarrassing encounter.

Either way, you will have to meet them face to face at some point, and this will be the discussion of the following article.



Objectives

·        To appreciate the rights of parents in Islam.

·        To be aware of the limitations in obeying one's parents.

·        To learn how to deal with parents and maintain respect for them whilst breaking the news to them.

·        To gain courage in the face of real life challenges through the support of Prophetic narrations.
Rights of Parents

First, it’s a good idea to know the rights of your parents in Islam, as even non-Muslim parents have great rights over you. Allah says:

“And We have enjoined on man to be dutiful and kind to his parents” (Quran 46:15)
Why are parents important?

Being kind to parents in Islam is regarded as obedience to Allah and His Messenger, and thus will be rewarded for in the Hereafter. Respecting and obeying them is a way of showing gratitude to them for the sacrifices they made and the care they took in rearing you. Respecting and honoring them develops friendship and love, which is extremely important now more than ever, as they may feel you have rejected them in your new lifestyle. Remember that obeying and honoring your parents is a means of entering Paradise, and treating your parents well will be a cause for your own children to treat you well, God willing.

How can you be kind to them? Obey them, respect them, lower your voice around them, smile, be humble, do not show your displeasure towards them, serve them, fulfill their wishes, consult them, listen to what they say, and do not be stubborn towards them. Also, visit them, spend time with them, offer them gifts, thank them for rearing you and treating you kindly when you were small. Above all, pray for their guidance.

There, are, however limits to obeying them. Allah says:

“But if they (both) strive with you to make you join in worship with Me others that of which you have no knowledge, then obey them not; but behave with them in the world kindly” (Quran 31:14-15)

Parents are not to be obeyed if they ask you to disobey Allah or His Messenger and violate Islamic teachings. If you are faced with a situation in which you may become involved with something not permissible in Islam, try to get around the situation. If they serve ham for dinner, try to tell them you don’t feel like eating or something of the sort. In all cases, try as much as possible not to offend them.

When you feel the time is right and you wish to begin a dialogue with your parents about your acceptance of Islam, find things to thank them for, especially memories from the past. Tell them what a terrible child you must have been, and how bad you feel for having been such a bother to them. Clearly explain to them why you chose Islam. Let them know your relationship with them is intact.

Be careful not to get into a religious debate of ‘my religion vs. your religion’ with parents or anyone. If they ‘judge’ or insult you, or express ‘anti-Islamic’ sentiments, reject being embarrassed or feeling humiliated for your decision to be a Muslim. Remember the ‘gift’ of patience and let it go. Gain strength from the prayers mentioned above.

If they express their apprehension or fears, address them based on what you know of Islam thus far. Excuse yourself if they ask questions you do not have answers to. Realize you are still learning your religion. Do not try to ‘convert’ them or prove you are right and they are wrong. Try as much as possible to dispel any fears they may have about Islam or your acceptance. It is good to wind up any conversation by letting them know you love them and will pray for them. Some good gifts will also be an incentive for them to listen and an example of Muslim generosity, either of which might induce them to contemplate conversion themselves. Treating them in the best manner will make them feel as you are the best of their acquaintances, and that you sincerely mean well and desire good for them.

Remember change comes gradually. Few remain unaffected over time, and most will recover their relationship with you from the strain your conversion caused. Some, by divine guidance, will join you. Your relationship will evolve with time. It’s up to you. Actions ‘speak’ louder than words. Let them see optimism, persistence, and cheerful warmth in your relationship with them. Here is a beautiful story of one of Prophet Muhammad’s Companions. Abu Hurayrah said:

“I used to invite my mother to Islam, when she was still a polytheist. One day I called her to Islam and she said something about the Messenger of Allah that upset me. I came to the Messenger of Allah, weeping, and said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, I was calling my mother to Islam and she refused. Today I called her and she said something about you that upset me. Pray to Allah to guide the mother of Abu Hurayrah.’ So the Messenger of Allah said: “O Allah, guide the mother of Abu Hurayrah.”

I left, feeling hopeful because of the Prophet’s prayer. When I got home, as I came near to the door I saw it was open. My mother heard my footsteps and said, ‘Stay where you are, Abu Hurayrah!’ I could hear the sound of water. She washed herself, got dressed and put on her head cover. Then she opened the door and said, ‘O Abu Hurayrah, I bear witness that there is no god worthy of worship except Allah, and I bear witness that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger.’

I went back to the Messenger of Allah, weeping with joy, and said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, good news! Allah has answered your prayer and has guided the mother of Abu Hurayrah.’ He praised and thanked Allah, and said, ‘That is good.’ I said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, pray to Allah to make my mother and me dear to His believing slaves, and to make them dear to us.’ The Messenger of Allah said, ‘O Allah, make this slave of Yours and his mother dear to Your believing slaves, and make the believers dear to them.’ There is no believer who hears of me or sees me, but he loves me.” (Saheeh Al-Bukhari)
Various Hadeeth

I will end with some beautiful Prophetic narrations which will give you the courage to be spiritually brave in face of real life challenges.

The Prophet used Paradise to encourage his Companions to stand firm. The Messenger of Allah passed by Yaasir, his wife and ‘Ammar, her son, when they were being tortured by the pagans of Mecca and said:

“Patience, family of Yaasir, patience, family of Yaasir, for your destination is Paradise.” (al-Hakim)

The Messenger of Allah, may God praise him, said:

“This world in comparison with the Next World is like putting your finger in the sea and seeing what comes back on it.” (Saheeh Muslim)

The Prophet used to say:

“O Allah, there is no life but the life of the Next World.” (Saheeh Al-Bukhari, Saheeh Muslim)

The Messenger of Allah said:

“One among the people of the Fire who was wealthiest person in this world will be brought on the Day of the Judgment, dipped once into it and then asked, ‘Son of Adam! Did anything good ever happen to you? Did you ever experience any blessing?’ He will say, ‘By Allah, no, my Lord.’ Another one among the people of the Garden who was the most miserable person in this world will be brought and dipped once into it (Paradise) and then asked, ‘Son of Adam! Did you ever experience any misery? Did you ever undergo any hardship?’ He will say, ‘By Allah, no. I never experienced any misery and I never underwent any hardship.’” (Saheeh Muslim)

Footnotes:

[1] Saheeh Muslim.

Source:  newmuslims.com [External/non-QP]




 



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