Overcoming Obstacles & Setbacks When Converting to Islam
Islam is a religion of peace and promotes harmony among all the believers. There is definitely no compulsion in Islam and we are all equal in the eyes of Allah. Getting to know Islam is easier nowadays, as there is so much guidance that can be found, in print or from the internet.
Getting close to Islam should not be an intimidating journey. It is undoubtedly a challenging path but also exciting. New converts usually have some reservations at the early stage of converting. There will be many questions hanging on their head. The most common are whether they can keep their original names, the endless sins they had committed before testifying there is no God but Allah and the problem of not understanding the Quran, including the Arabic verses in the Quran.
These are all common fears faced by new converts and absolutely nothing to worry about. Take a deep breath and pause for a while. Do not let all these misconceptions about Islam hinder the transition. There are ways to overcome all these hiccups. Like any other new things in life, all you have to do is relax and let nature take its course. There is always a first time to everything in life.
Change Your Name?
Your name is your identity and can be kept unless it has a meaning that contradicts the Oneness of Allah or is associated with another religion. Islam is meant to improve you, but not erase you. Continuing to use the name that was given to you at birth is not a sin in Islam. It’s a good example to show family and friends Islam does not change who you are in their life. Perhaps, they will also be inclined in getting to know Islam because of what had been shown to them.
Don’t Know Arabic?
Knowing Arabic is not compulsory for Muslims. Of course, it’s the language used by Allah in the Quran, so it’s encouraged to learn it, but there are also many translations available for you to understand the holy book. Don’t get discouraged. Even the Prophet Muhammad (Peace and blessings be upon him), at the time of revelation of the Quran, was an illiterate man. Start by reading the translations to understand. Learning Arabic can be included in your to-do list. Do not pressure yourself just because you find it difficult to understand the Arabic language.
Circumcision is Mandatory?
Circumcision was the practice of the Prophet Ibrahim and Muhammad ﷺ. Muslims need to ensure they are clean before performing their prayers. The practice of circumcision is highly recommended and you can choose a trusted medical practitioner to perform it. However, if the situation does not permit you to do so because of health reasons, you are not required to do so. This will not have any negative impact on your Islam.
Not an Arab?
Islam is a religion for everyone. It is not specifically designed for Arabs. Prophet Muhammad ﷺ was the last messenger of Allah and he had a duty to preach Islam to everyone regardless of their background. Being white, black, Asian or Eurasian should not be a deterrence to convert to Islam. Muslims believe that all humans came from Adam and Eve which later blossomed into a variety of tribes, so Islam is a religion that promotes endless peace and harmony.
Limited Knowledge of Islam?
It is not necessary to know a lot about Islam before accepting it. As a matter of fact, Islam is so vast, you will always learn something new. The most important is to believe in the Oneness of God. After that, you can take your time to grow in knowledge and practice.
Concerned About Sins and Bad Habits?
As soon as you say the testimony of faith, called Shahadah, Allah erases all previous sins. It’s as if you are a newborn baby. Hence, do not worry about all the past sins. After all, humans make mistakes. Refrain yourself from doing what displeases Allah. If you fail to do so, ask for repentance from Allah with the intention of working hard to stop bad habits. He knows humans are weak and He will not burden us with things we cannot bear. If it is not possible to eradicate the bad habits altogether, try to do it gradually. Treat each day as a new opportunity to change something about yourself. Leaving all the negative deeds can be the ultimate life goal.
Not Ready to Reveal Acceptance to Islam?
There might be objections from those around you saying it’s a bad decision to convert to Islam. Consider this as a test from Allah on your sincerity to embrace the religion. It does not matter if you choose not to disclose that you are already a Muslim. There is a time and place for everything. At the early stage of teaching Islam to his followers, the Prophet ﷺ took a long time before he did so under broad daylight. He was preaching Islam in secret for years. Although it can be overwhelming, take comfort knowing you’re fulfilling your purpose by worshipping and obeying your Creator. In time, you will gain the knowledge and confidence needed to share your exciting news with loved ones. In the meantime, enjoy developing a close relationship with Allah.
Do You Have to Leave Your Family Behind?
Breaking ties with family members because of Islam is perhaps one of the biggest misconceptions. Parents tend to be hostile when a child declares he or she is going to take up Islam because they fear they will be forgotten. The opposite is actually true. In Islam, it is not permissible to stop communication with family members. It also teaches the importance of respect, love and care to your parents, regardless of their religion. You can continue to be active in your family’s life while following the principles of Islam.
Taking steps to learn a new religion is overwhelming and reaching out to other Muslims can help to ease the anxiety. In this millennium era, It’s easy to connect to others by using social medias and the internet. There are many Facebook groups to join where you can meet other converts. There is an online organization named New Muslim Academy to learn about Islam and embrace the religion from the comfort of your home.
Getting to know Islam is a lifelong journey and an excursion to find Allah. Take baby steps but make sure there is progress in each day. The Quran, a primary source of Islam, covers a wide range of everyday matters and learning it should be an enjoyable task. Do not rush into anything, but rather take the time to learn and develop. Islam is truly about peace, justice and harmony. With time, you will learn the oneness of God and Allah is the only Creator deserving of your worship.