Living in a non-Muslim society for a relatively long period has provided me an opportunity to try to understand bits and pieces about how new converts to Islam really think about their new lives and what, we, the born-Muslims or long time Muslims could do to help them ease their transition to their journey of Islam.
To get a feel of what we, the “experienced Muslims” should be doing, let us try to understand first what the new converts probably think or experience about while making a transition to their new lives as Muslims.
- It is a brave new world for new converts as they change their religion. They get to meet new people from various countries with differing local cultures. The converts do not know exactly what is acceptable to the old Muslims and what is not. So, they naturally make mistakes which may seem strange to born-Muslims. As an example, a recent convert wanted to shake hands with the sister of a recently deceased Muslim brother from Senegal
- Their friends and families are probably abandoning them as they change their religion.
- They are experiencing a totally new environment which is different from what they have been experiencing in their before-Islam lives.
- They do not know what to learn and who to learn from
- Even after accepting the truth of Islam, they might be second-guessing whether their decision to convert was good enough
- They are probably experiencing a huge cultural transition while living in their own countries and societies.
Ways to help them make a smooth transition
- Give them the due respect they truly deserve as they are like a new-born babies who have not yet committed any sins whatsoever.
- Give them moral and financial support as well if and when needed
- Present them only the fundamental beliefs about Islam. Do not go into too much details. Be sensitive to their cultural biases as they are in a transition stage.
- Do not push them too hard to do things they are not yet ready for mentally or physically.
- Do not impose a specific version of Islam which you like the most. Rather provide just the basics of the Deen where there is no difference of opinion among the mainstream scholars of Islam.
- Be patient when they make a mistake as their are just trying to learn the new ways of doing things.
- Be friends with them as their old friends and, maybe, even their close family members have abandoned them. They may have lots of disturbing questions which may sound harsh to you. However, give them advice gently as they may still have some doubts about their decisioon to become Muslims
- Invite them to your houses or any other events where they could meet other good-natured Muslim brothers and/or sisters.
- Perhaps, the single most importnat advice I wanted to share with you is not to abandon them once they convert to Islam as it can lead them to go back to their old religion or, at least, start thinking bad about the born-Muslims
- Be a good example to them as they will form an image of Islam by looking at you. So, be kind to them and do not indulge into activities which you do not want them to be involved as your spouses or friends or acquintances.
I have observed that, especially in Japan, the born-Muslims welcome new converts for few days but forget about them later on. It is our duty as born-Muslims to establish good relationship with them, spend time with them, explain the virtues of being Muslims so that they make a smooth transition to Islam.