As a New Muslim, How can I deal with my non-Muslim family?

Conversion to Islam and becoming a new Muslim is a journey that begins with many questions and challenges, passes through many doubts and fears, studies and discussions, and one day it arrives the moment that one decides to say the two testimonies (Shahadatain). But this is not the end, rather a new start.

 

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Sometimes conversion not only affects one’s personal life, but also his/her social life, and on top of everything, his/her family ties. However, it is not a big deal; you will always have Allah who helps you throughout ordeals and hardships and always there exist solutions.

 

Families rarely accept the religious decisions of a member fully and, at its best, they put up with his/her unfortunate choice while hoping for his/her return to the truth. Sometimes in their eyes, the Muslim member of the family is not an equal, but a misguided soul requiring pity and help.

 

This is where the Muslim convert faces new difficulties that probably has not been expected. Thus, the question is, how can a New Muslim deal with his/her non-Muslim family?

 

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Tell your Family about Your Conversion as soon as Possible

 

It seems that the very first thing to do is to tell your family about your conversion; the more you wait, the more courage you will need to make it public. Besides, as long as you have not told your parents about your conversion, you are obliged to live a double life and consequently hide your “Muslim side.”

 

You feel 100% Muslim, but you should conceal what you really feel and you may not practice Islam as easily as it would be if you had told your family about. Then, keep your courage, consider the benefits of telling your family about your conversion and just do it!

 

Hide as little as Possible from Your Family after Becoming a New Muslim

 

Be aware that Islamic lifestyle is something like others; it does not interrupt your daily routines. Neither the practices you are expected to do as a Muslim nor the personal attitudes that you should follow are bothering or disturbing to others. You are only required to leave or modify those social behaviors that are banned in Islam, like shaking hands with non-Mahrams, kissing or touching them, etc.

 

Do not panic to talk about your new life, activities and Islamic practices with your family if you face their disapproval. Start to tell them little by little about the new Halal recipes you had come up with, any of the Islamic books you had read, your trips to the mosque, and your new Muslim friends.

 

If you feel it difficult to appear with Hijab in your family, for example, just think of all the beautiful things that Islam, your newfound religion, has given you and remember why you have made this decision in the first place.

 

Hiding things will only make you move further and further away from those you love most and might turn your conversion even harder on you and drive you to go back on your decision. Beside the ordinary daily conversations that you used to have with your parents before, keep talking about Islam and put your trust in Allah. They will eventually give you more and more freedom and respect your decision to be who you really are in front of them, Insha’Allah.

 

 

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Make Your Relationship with Your Family the Highest Expression of Your Faith

 

Converting to Islam and becoming a new Muslim is not just saying Shahadatain, but working on yourself and becoming a good Muslim day after day. Since Islam considers high importance for family ties (“Those who sever ties of kinship cannot hope to enter paradise. (Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)) ” [1], being a real Muslim requires you to find the right balance between the life before conversion to Islam and the Muslim that you’ve decided to become.

 

The Quran forbids Muslims to cut the relationship with their families, rather orders to foster ties of kinship with family, especially with parents, even if they are unbeliever (kafir) or sinner (fajir) [2]. So, take your visits to your family as an excellent opportunity to expose them to the gentle and positive aspects of Islam [3]; not only by your words but also with your deeds [4]. The fact that you are a Muslim should enhance your respect for your parents, increase your patience and kindness to them, and make you more humble and merciful towards them (17:23-24).  

 

However, this must never lead you to compromise your commitment to the dictates of your own faith. Although in several verses of the Quran, Sunnah and many sayings of the Ahlul-Bayt (AS) Muslims are ordered to give their parents dignity and keep their company honorably, you should not obey if your parents urge to polytheism (31:15).

 

Show your family that you would be honored to join them in their gatherings and at the dinner table, but remind them well that you are not allowed to consume alcohol, pork, or their by-products. This way you will be able to educate them on the Islamic dietary laws and explain the rationale behind them [3].

 

Remember! You are the representative of Islam and a new Muslim in your non-Muslim family. Try to be a good one!

 

You can also share the difficulties you have faced with when telling your family about your conversion, click here and send your experience.

 

References:

[1] S. H. al-Amili, “Wasail al-Shia”, vol. 15, p. 346.

[2]  M. al-Kulayni, “Al-Kafi”, vol. 2, p. 78.