Getting to know Islaam when you’ve just entered the fold, is like nurturing a tender bud-
You begin to feel at last that things now makes sense for you, that new things are about to unfold, and that this is just the sweet beginning of a life you had only imagined before. And as you discover more and more pieces of the puzzle, their joining and linking begins to give you a clear picture of the meaning of your life, which is something I personally never felt I had in the faith I was born into. But while all this is beautiful, it is important to know that the real journey is about to begin.
Overwhelmed by happiness you take your shahada, maybe on your own, maybe surrounded by others. New life is about to start, and you know deep down in your heart that this time it’s going to lead to peace within your own self. How could one not be happy finding exactly what was missing all this time?
But then it’s time to go home. It’s time to face being the only Muslim in the family, sometimes even the only Muslim in the area. This hardly ever comes easy.
You expect that just as you wouldn’t mind any of your family members doing whatever they want to do with their lives; and just as you know you would have supported them in their choices about who they want to become, you expect that they will extend the same courtesy to you … sadly, the first heartbreak happens when you realise that this is not going to be the case.
All of a sudden, what you believe is a big deal, although you might not even come from a religious family. All of a sudden, you are now “brainwashed”, “you’ve lost your mind”… They don’t understand why you would subject yourself to this extremely strict way of living, as they see it. Why suddenly would you choose your lifestyle to be dictated by anything other than what you like or what you desire. They don’t want to hear that you do it because you feel you should, because you feel that it’s right, and they certainly cannot fathom that you do it because it makes you happy – because for most people, Islaam and happiness aren’t famous for existing in the same sentence!
The least of the harms you face when you become Muslim, is if you’re only misunderstood and complained about. That can lead to some awkwardness, but often, it goes further – they don’t want to see you anymore, they don’t want to hear from you, and you end up feeling, unexpectedly, that you’ve lost everything. Some family and friends don’t want to have anything to do with you anymore. Some may say they are ok, yet your belief comes up in any argument or disagreement again and again, so you often feel stabbed again when you least expect it.
Loneliness is often a big part of this journey.
It took me a long time to adjust- To accept the fact that my choice isn’t welcomed, and that in many places and relationships, I am not anymore, either. It used to hurt – a lot of people I was so close to, stopped talking to me, they talked about me behind my back, and yes, even stabbed my heart when confronting me. As sweet as the beginnings can be, we don’t ever look at their price until we actually feel the cost…
This is true of any big change in our lives…
Think about when you first have a baby. We spend the pregnancy excited, happy and proud… Until the baby arrives and we are left tired from sleepless nights; emotionally drained from having to put ourselves last all the time and confused with new challenges. We so want to do our best, but feel we didn’t prepare for this life and this experience enough. But how could we,when every person’s experience is so subjective and individual, and we are so convinced that our baby and our journey will not be like all the rest…
We still love the baby more than ever, but the feeling of having imagined it all to be so different takes it’s time to leave us; It takes time to adjust, as well as experience; time to know the feelings, recognise and acknowledge them, and then to find the solutions. It is similar when reverting: we don’t plan for obstacles, seeing only happy times with fellow believers ahead, but the problems will surely come. We read in the Qur’an (29:2) “Do the people think that they will be left to say, “We believe” and they will not be tried?”
These tests can hurt, of course. They can shock us, because we weren’t expecting them, and if we are not careful, they can throw us off-course. But it was the same for the first Muslims- they suffered physical and emotional torture and abuse, they lost their loved ones, wealth, reputations and even their lives for the sake of Allaah. And what kept them going was not only their love for Allaah, but firm belief in a reward awaiting them in the Akhirah, life after death. They chose to look at long term results rather than worrying over this test we are living here.
Unfortunately it is still the case with Muslims in many parts of today’s world; many of them are suffering in ways we can hardly imagine. The most beloved to Allaah, our Prophet sallalahu alayhi wa salaam, was tested the most of all human beings- in every single aspect of his life: The hate towards him, losing the love of his life, his children, many of the closest members of his family, being what we call bullied today, constantly hearing threats, having his reputation destroyed and having to live in poverty – he confronted it all with a smile. Yes, a smile! We read in the hadeeth that he was the most smiling person people had ever come across.
We can decide to take our strength from this lesson. Following the above quoted verse in the Qur’aan, Allaah says: “But We have certainly tried those before them, and Allah will surely make evident those who are truthful, and He will surely make evident the liars.” ( The Qur’aan 29:2)
So there is no need to ask “Why me?” That question does not have a place in the mind of a Muslim- the only thing left to unfold is, how will you choose to approach these tests? So when I came across this ayah, I realised my attitude had to change. And it did, alhamdulillaah- with time, patience, tears and lots of duaa, I came to a point of emotional stability, focusing and relying fully on what I have, by the Mercy of Allaah; and not on what has been taken away from me; Investing my heart where it is accepted, and where it will benefit me in this life and the next, rather than allowing it to be kicked around. Within a few years ( yes, years, because relationships take time to build), I got to know people who gave me a sense of the family I once so needed. We are there for each other when our blood doesn’t want to know, and this is the beauty of the Ummah, a legacy since the first days when the Madinan Ansaar welcomed the newly emigrated believers from Makkah who had been persecuted. Like them, we too can be the modern day “emigrants” who follow in their footsteps, leaving behind that which they had loved, for the sake of Allaah; and trusting that there will be for us, too, a company of modern day Ansaar to welcome us.
“La ilaaha ill Allaah” makes our bonds way thicker than blood, I’ve heard it said. And so it does. Alhamdulillaah. These are the bonds that can help us to secure our sweet beginnings, and will help us build our sweet endings as we focus on the life we have been gifted with since entering into belief, and not the one we imagined we would have.
About the author:
Sadeemka is Silesian in heritage, a mother, revert, blogger and language support worker. They call me a migrant but I disagree: I belong nowhere, interested in a never ending journey.