There’s a young women in a little terraced house in a UK city. She has just said goodbye to her Muslim friends, who came over to witness her Shahada. The sun shone into the tiny front room as she said the words that would change her destiny, in this life and the next. They ate together, and now she’s alone. She’s happy but scared. Scared of everything she has to overcome.
Dear me, 20 years ago,
You have just made the best decision you will ever make, to take your shahada, formerly recognising your faith within your own heart, and choosing to interact with the world as a Muslim. At the moment it feels like you are stepping off a cliff into the unknown, but believe me when I say that Allah will take care of you (hadith):
“When My servant draws close to Me by the span of a palm, I draw close to him by the cubit and when he draws close to Me by the cubit, I draw close to him by the space (covered) by two armspans, and when he comes to me walking, I go in a hurry towards him” (Sahih Muslim).
I know you feel right now, that all that existential angst that you have carried with you throughout your life is gone, just like turning off a switch. The good news is that you will never lose this feeling. This is inner peace, and whatever else happens in your life, you now have the gift of carrying this within you. Now you know exactly who you are, and why you are here, it will make it much easier for you to relate to other people, whatever their background and faith. This is such a big gift:
“Verily, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest”
(Qur’an 13: 28)
However, I need to warn you of some challenges on the way. Tomorrow morning you will wake up as a Muslim. You will tell your family and friends over the next few days, weeks and months. Some will react better than others. You will lose some friends. You will make your mum cry. But don’t worry. As for those friends who can’t cope, Allah is making your life easier by taking them away, and He will replace them with wonderful friendships based on faith, that will more than fill that gap. Others are just worried for you, and if you speak sincerely from the heart, they’ll come around. Try not to be defensive.
“So verily, with the hardship, there is relief. Verily, with the hardship, there is relief”
Telling your family is emotional and difficult, but ultimately, they love you, they’ll stand by you, and in time this will be the new normal. They will come to your wedding in a Muslim country, and wait around in mosques while you and your husband pray. Your dad will keep his thoughts on organised religion to himself, because he loves you and respects your right to live a different life. In this way, you are very fortunate.
‘Abdu’r-Rahman ibn ‘Awf heard the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, say, “Allah, the Almighty and Exalted, said, ‘If anyone maintains ties of kinship, I maintain connection with him, and I shall cut off anyone who cuts them off.'”
(Hadith collected by Al-Bukhaaree in Al-Adab Al-Mufrad 53, Hadeeth classed Sahih by Al-Albani)
For the next couple of years you will feel like you are in the spotlight in more ways than one. Many people, with varying intentions, will ask you to intellectually justify Islam. This isn’t your job, so don’t even try. Stick to speaking from the heart, and tell them to read some books if they want to know more. Take deep breaths, they don’t realise how precious this is.
Be wary also of Muslims who want to put you on a stage. There may be some good in getting involved in speaking about your conversion, and helping other Muslims, but you may look back and wonder about your own intentions at this time. As for the Muslim community in general, it will at times seem alien, mystifying and disappointing – but you just need to hold on to that kernel of faith in your heart, and ride the storm. It will settle, and you will find your people and your place.
Ibn ‘Umar reported that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “The believer who mixes with people and endures their injury is better than the person who does not mix with people nor endure their injury.” (Musnad Ahmad 22588 classed Sahih)
As for the big one – how on earth are you going to find someone with whom to have and build an Islamic marriage and a family? How can you marry someone you hardly know? You will get there (though it will take longer than you would like), and you will find yourself, 20 years down the line, realising you have what you always wanted.
“Indeed, Allah is with the patient.”
As for your faith, it feels fragile now, a seed to be nurtured and kept safe. Over time, the roots will become stronger, and you will find it impossible to imagine anything else. But don’t let anyone make you feel you have to forget who you were. It’s all part of you, and part of Allah’s plan.
Get a good night’s sleep tonight, and prepare yourself for your new life. Take it slowly, and use prayer to help you cope with the coming challenges.
With lots of love.
About the author:
Fatima-Minna is a mother to 2 lively boys and works in a job she loves. In her spare time she is trying to learn Arabic and likes to read and sew.