How do I tell my parents and family I've become a Muslim?

Discussion in 'New Muslims' started by mkrahman, Jan 22, 2007.

  1. mkrahman
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    mkrahman New Member

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    How do I tell my parents and family I've become a Muslim?
    © 2004, Modern Muslima

    American convert Saraji Umm Zaid offers practical advice for the new
    Muslim on this sensitive issue.
    (Addressed primarily to females, but mostly relevant to both sexes.)


    This is probably the hardest thing you will have to do as a new
    Muslim. For many people, it poses the prospect of opening up old
    wounds, risking hurt feelings on both sides, and threatens to rip
    apart familial relationships. For others, they know that they will
    be accepted by their parents, siblings, and other family members
    unconditionally. Mash'Allah. For teenagers, my advice would be
    different than advice that I would offer to an adult, especially one
    who is living on their own, and may already be married. Insha'Allah,
    I will address the concerns of young people who still live at home
    first.

    Advice for Teenagers

    Oftentimes, this is a situation which is best handled with care.
    There are no exact directions that I can offer to you, because how
    you and your family deal with this is based on a number of things:
    your age, your community, your relationship with your family, your
    previous religious experiences, your parents' commitment (or lack
    of) to a certain religion, and their willingness to explore new
    ideas.
    Although it seems like a wacky idea, it has been said by other
    converts, and now by myself as well, that it oftentimes might be
    better to wait six months, a year or more to tell them. The reasons
    for this vary: you need to be more established in Islamic practices,
    and you need time to make friends and build a support system within
    the Muslim community. This is so that if your parents react to your
    announcement by attempting to "deprogram you," or schedule "an
    appointment" with the local minister / priest / rabbi, you will be
    able to rely on your knowledge of Qur'an, and the strength that
    being a practicing Muslim has given you. Allowing yourself time to
    build a support system within the Muslim community is important so
    that you will have friends to help and guide you, to help answer any
    questions or concerns your family might have, and to help you out
    should your parents decide that you can no longer live in their
    house.
    If you are fearful that your family may react with physical abuse,
    or a kidnapping and "deprogramming" attempt (yes, it happens),
    please make sure that you have someone there as a witness and
    support. Whether you are Muslim or not, you have the right not to be
    abused. If your family is abusive towards you, seek the necessary
    help to get out of that situation as soon as possible.
    Another reason that it might be wise to wait awhile is to allow your
    parents to see the positive changes that Islam will bring about in
    you: greater care to hygiene and appearance, greater discipline in
    your daily activities and your schoolwork, the fact that you are not
    falling under negative peer pressure to drink or drug or have sex,
    that you are more willing to honor your parents by helping around
    the house, that you are more attentive in your job (if you have
    one), etc. Allow them time to be pleased with these positive
    changes, so that they may see that Islam is for the better, not just
    for you, but for all people. If they see that Islam is "good for
    you," they may react more positively when you talk with them about
    it.

    For adults

    As an adult, especially one who lives on their own, and who may be
    married, your parents and family are already aware that you are
    entitled to your own decisions. There are some converts who are not
    bothered one way or the other with the way their family may react
    because of this reality. However, for many others, it is important
    to them that their family respect and accept their decision. It may
    be difficult, especially if there are children or a disliked son-in-
    law involved.

    An adult who's chosen Islam has to make some of the same
    considerations as the teen who's accepted Islam: What is your
    relationship with your family? What is their religious commitment,
    or lack of one? What degree of commitment did you have to any prior
    religions? How open is your family to new ideas? For the adult, some
    of the considerations may also include: How do your parents feel
    about your husband? Do your parents have a history of making you
    feel obliged to them for favors they have done for you since you
    left their house? How close are your parents to your children, if
    any?
    Since you don't live with your parents, it will be easier to allow
    them the space and time that they need to deal with your
    announcement. Make sure that you emphasize that this hasn't changed
    you in any radical way, and that you strongly desire to keep your
    relationship with them intact. Make sure that they have access to
    their grandchildren, but at the same time, make it clear to them
    that you will not tolerate any attempts to teach them anything other
    than Islam, or allow them to eat haram foods or participate in haram
    celebrations. In some cases, it might be better if you tell them of
    your decision alone, so that they can't "lash out" or place the
    blame on your husband. Make sure that they know they must deal with
    you directly.

    Dealing with brothers and sisters (of the biological type)
    Many of us have at least one sibling, and it is important that you
    deal with any siblings you may have on an individual basis, if at
    all possible. If you are a teenager, this means talking to younger
    and older siblings in person, and letting them ask any questions of
    you that they may have. Let them know you are the same person who
    may argue about whose night it is to do the dishes, and that you are
    still their brother or sister. Stress that you still love them,
    especially if they are very young, and unable to understand why you
    don't go to Church anymore. Above all, make sure that you are acting
    as a proper role model for both your younger and older brothers and
    sisters.

    If you are an adult, the chances are that you and your siblings
    have "issues" is great, and you may not even be on speaking terms.
    There is also a larger chance that you all live in different towns
    and states. When dealing with adult siblings, it is best to write
    them a letter or make a telephone call in which you can clearly
    explain your decision and answer any questions they may have.
    Prepare yourself for resentments that may pop up, especially those
    surrounding childhood incidents.
    Don't begrudge them for their hurt feelings, and if necessary, allow
    them time to work through any issues that they may have: it may go
    deeper than your choice to become a Muslim. Assure them that you are
    still the same sister who loves to eat cheesecake, or watch football
    games.
    If you are not on civil or speaking terms with a sibling, it may be
    best to avoid telling them your decision altogether, until you can
    come to a mutual understanding as family members.

    For all new Muslims

    The most important thing, and I can't stress this enough, is that
    you do not allow yourself to get dragged into a "Christianity vs.
    Islam," "Judaism vs. Islam," "Hinduism vs. Islam," or any sort of
    interfaith debate with your parents or other family members.
    Oftentimes, I have heard of new Muslims whose parents or siblings
    are in the Christian ministry, and who have been baited, taunted,
    and condemned by them. DO NOT ALLOW THEM TO DRAG YOU INTO
    A CONFLICT REGARDING RELIGION AT ALL. If a family member hurls
    a "judgment" at you (i.e., "You're a Satan worshipper who's going
    to hell!"), do NOT respond in kind! If your relationship outside of this
    religious difference is salvageable, then avoid any religious
    discussions until everyone is willing to discuss it in a more open minded
    and civilized manner.

    The second most important thing is that you do not allow yourself to
    become an active evangelizer. Avoid aggressive and continuous
    attempts to convert your family members, as this will only bring
    resentment and separation between you. The call to Islam should be a
    gentle call, and the best way to give da'wa to your family is to be
    a living example of Islam. People can get awfully stubborn when they
    are confronted in this manner, and they will only dig their heels in
    more. Do not be the cause of great tension between yourself and your
    family.

    Finally, do not allow yourself to be baited or upset by any "anti-
    Islamic" things your parents and family might say. Many Americans
    (and Canadians) hear of Islam only from news reports and movies
    like 'Not Without My Daughter.' Don't allow them to mock you with
    jeers of "terrorist," "wife beater," and reply with slogans
    about "Zionists," and "hypocrites," etc. Instead, gently correct any
    misconceptions they may have about Islam and Muslims. If you are a
    woman, it is important to reassure them of your rights in Islam, and
    of your commitment to wear Islamic dress. If they have some very
    real concerns about your safety as a Muslim woman, try and arrange
    for them to visit the mosque and talk to the imam / amir, or to get
    together for coffee with other Muslim sisters.
    ---------------------------
    © 2004, Modern Muslima
  2. Proud_2b_Muslim
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    Proud_2b_Muslim Ahmad M. Al-Marshoud

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    :salam2:
    thanks for sharing , jazak Allah khayran

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