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New Muslims New Muslims' Experiences

New Reverts’ Christmas Dilemma

By Diva Allott

So you’re a new Muslim and it’s that time of year again, Christmas.

As a child it was one of our most awaited days of the year, to run downstairs and find all the beautifully wrapped gifts under the luminous Christmas tree.

We believe that Jesus (peace be upon him) is a Prophet and not the son of God and that Allah is the only God, and we do not associate any others with Him.

Helping to prepare the dinner was a crucial part of this awaited day, we would then settle down on the sofa watching ‘Miracle on 34th. Street’ and then we would all pull our crackers and wear our Christmas hats.

As Muslims, we can’t celebrate Christmas as it is a Christian celebration. We believe that Jesus (peace be upon him) is a Prophet and not the son of God and that Allah is the only God, and we do not associate any others with Him. For many of you this can be a very difficult time as new Muslims, as your family may not understand and appreciate your new found beliefs.

In my first year as a Muslim I found Christmas very difficult, I had never celebrated Christmas in a religious way but just enjoyed all the traditions of sharing food, watching films and exchanging gifts with my family.

Also, I felt very bad as my mother is a widow and to leave her to celebrate Christmas alone pained me so much, I felt guilty. I knew that I couldn’t celebrate it so I tried my best to stay away over Christmas day.

I didn’t buy any gifts for any of my family as that is equivalent to celebrating it, and I struggled as I love seeing people’s joy when receiving an anticipated gift. I often went down a week or so before Christmas so my mother didn’t feel alone and she and other members of my family would always leave me gifts.

It is fine to accept the gifts on the grounds that it is not a religious emblem representing Christmas, or alcohol, or meat slaughtered purposely for Christmas or statues. I would accept the gifts and give thanks to them. The Prophet (peace be upon him) never used to refuse a gift from the Banu Israel (Jews) or from the Christians during their attributed festivities.

How to Cope with Christmas

Just think how much money you will save!

Now you know that you are not alone in your struggle and that al-hamdu lillah there are many more reverts experiencing a similar journey to you. Let’s focus on how to cope with Christmas.

First of all, don’t be sad that you have left Christmas behind in your new journey as a Muslim as God has blessed you with two celebrations Eid Al-Fitr and Eid Al-Adha. Just think how much money you will save! While everybody is running around like headless chickens worrying whether they have remembered everything on the Christmas list, sent all the cards and bought all the food, you can sit back and take the back seat. It is strange how funny the panic of Christmas is when you’re outside, watching all the fuss for just one day of the year.

Although Christmas may be difficult for you when you think how your family must be feeling having to continue their celebrations without you. Let them know why you can’t celebrate Christmas but that you are still the same person they know and love. Try avoiding going to visit family on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day or Boxing Day to avoid getting roped into the celebrations. Maybe you can go a few days before or after the celebrations just to let them know you’re there.

Another way of coping with Christmas is to use the holidays as a chance to improve on your Islamic knowledge, perhaps read some Quran, books of Hadith or just spend time making du`aa’ (prayer) and thanking God for the life He has given you as a Muslim.

This year, I decided to buy my family present for `Eid and try to involve them in my festivities to soften their hearts and in sha’ Allah (God willing) one day they will see the beauty of Islam and embrace it. For Eid al-Fitr I bought my mum and myself a trip to an all-women’s SPA for a chance for us to spend time together and to relax. She really appreciated the present as I don’t buy her gifts for Christmas, she felt like I had made an attempt to include her. For my aunt, I bought her a massive basket full of fresh fruit and decorated with ribbons. She loved the present and the feeling of being included. The first time I bought my mum a present for Eid I didn’t know whether she would be happy or offended. At first she said I don’t want anything for Eid because I don’t celebrate it. I said then: ‘I give you this present with the intention for `Eid, and if you wish to save it for Christmas then do as you will.’

Children & Christmas

Dealing with children in Christmas can also be difficult as they may feel jealous of their peers at school knowing they will return after the holiday bestowed with new gifts, toys and clothes. Teach your children the origins of Christmas and explain to them why Muslims do not celebrate it and that although the children have been offered many gifts for their celebrations that as Muslims, God has promised us much more in the afterlife and has blessed us with two `Eids.

When `Eid comes around, create your own family atmosphere as your family did with you at Christmas, build up the excitement and the anticipation of `Eid, but emphasize that it is not about gifts but about spending time with family and giving thanks to God on this special day. A good idea is to buy advent calendars around the Christmas period and keep them until `Eid and allow your children to begin opening them on the countdown to `Eid.

During this festive time, remember that you are not alone and that many others are on the same journey as you. Remember God and give thanks to Him for all that He has blessed you with at this time, don’t be envious of those celebrating Christmas as God has promised us so much more. Just be thankful for being shown the true light.

In sha’ Allah I hope that none of you struggle too much during this time and find the strength and faith to get through this busy period of the year.

You are all in my thoughts and my du`aa’ and may Allah bless each and every one of you for reading this article and seeking further knowledge.

Ameen.

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Source: onislam.net

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His Legacy New Muslims

The Prophet, New Muslims and Us

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How will the Muslim community welcome that new Muslim? What advice(s) will be given to them?

We all like this moment, when a brother or sister enters the masjid on a Friday, and announces the Shahadah (Declaration of Faith), and the whole masjid start saying “Takbir, Allahu Akbar”; I cannot deny that this is such an amazing moment, to witness someone who just found the right path, and took that extra step closer to God.

The bitter question is: What is next? How will the Muslim community welcome that new Muslim? What advice(s) will be given to them and how are they going to start their long journey in learning the deen of Allah.

I tried to search the life of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) to examine what approach he used with newly converted companions after they became Muslims. Sometimes this aspect is overlooked when we focus on the event itself (saying the Shahadah) and consider it to be the ultimate goal of da`wah (Islamic outreach), and we neglect – or consider it to be less important – the post-Shahadah advice or curriculum given to new Muslims.

1- Recognizing New Muslims Talents

“The best among you in the days of ignorance are  the best in the days after accepting Islam, provided that they acquire true knowledge and understanding of Islam (fiqh; jurisprudence)”, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said. (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Every human being has their unique sets of talents and skills, and the Prophet recognized that fact and motivated people from the moment they accepted Islam. Two legends of the Muslim history, Khalid ibn Al-Waleed and `Amr ibn Al-`As, embraced Islam at the same day and gave a huge boost to this deen.

Khalid was the one who led the Muslim army to conquer `Iraq, Persia (Iran), Armenia, and Shaam (Syria & Lebanon). `Amr ibn Al-`As was the one who spread Islam in Palestine and Egypt.

Imagine the huge impact that these two men gave to Islam, and how many people were introduced to Islam and later on contributed to it and to humanity. All that was influenced by those new (and in comparison to other companions, late) converts.

It is interesting to note that both fought the Prophet and the Muslims fiercely in their early days; both had Muslim blood on their hands, especially Khalid ibn Al-Waleed, who was a main reason behind the defeat of the Muslims in the battle of Uhud. Despite all that, look at how the prophet welcomed the two new additions to the Muslim family:

– “O Allah, he (Khalid) is one of your swords, so support him”. From that time on, Khalid used to be called ‘the Sword of Allah’. (Al-Albani)

– “All people became Muslims, but as for `Amr ibn Al-`As he became a believer” (indicating that he immediately entered into a higher rank of faith than other new Muslims. (At-Tirmidhi and Al-Albani)

Khalid was given the leadership of the Muslim army in many battles, without this being a concern to those Companions who knew more Qur’an than him and embraced Islam years and years before him.

The seerah (Prophet’s biography) tells us about some battles where Khalid did take a wrong decision, due to his lack of knowledge; this did not discredit him or let the Prophet overshadow his talents and potential contribution to the Muslim nation.

2- Giving New Muslims Special Attention

`Amr ibn Al-`As was amazed by the special attention that the Prophet (peace be upon him) gave him. He actually thought that he is the most beloved Companion to the Messenger of Allah, and asked him a direct question one day: “Oh Prophet of Allah, who is the most beloved person to you” and the Prophet said: “`A’ishah (the Prophet’s wife)”;

– From the men?

– Her father (Abu Bakr As-Siddiq)

– Then who?

– Then `Umar, ..

In `Amr’s words: “After that, the Prophet started listing names and names of people, and this made me remain silent, fearing that he will place me at the end of the list…” (Al-Bukhari)

The Messenger of Allah had this gentle effect on all those around him, especially the new comers to Islam that made `Amr seriously think he is the best Companion in the eyes of the Prophet.

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We note his wisdom in recognizing the weaknesses in people and dealing with them based on that.

3- Da`wah Mission from Day One

Some Companions were commissioned to preach Islam from day one, and were given “ad-hoc” da`wah courses for that purpose. At-Tufail ibn `Amr Ad-Dawsi accepted Islam in the early days of Makkah, and immediately went back to his tribe to deliver the message of truth. He had a tough way of preaching Islam where he tells people: you either follow Islam or I will never talk to you again!

While this method may not work in year 2013 in downtown Manhattan or Paris, apparently it worked for some members of his tribe but not to all of them.

He came back to the Prophet (literally this was his second meeting with the Messenger after accepting Islam) and complained about his people. The Prophet made du`aa’ for Daws (his tribe) and told him: “Go back to your people, call them to Allah and be lenient with them”. (Ibn Ishaq)

4- Gradual Change in People’s Behavior

People might accept the idea of submitting to the one God, but they might have problems in some of the commandments (such as hijab, fasting the long days of Ramadan, etc…). The tribe of Thaqif agreed to embrace Islam but told the Prophet: “We will not give out any charity, and we will not fight in the way of Allah (jihad)”.

The Prophet accepted that from them, and he told his Companion: “They will (willingly) pay charity and perform jihad when they embrace Islam” (Abu Dawud and Al-Albani).

Again, we note his wisdom in recognizing the weaknesses in people and dealing with them based on that.

Other Companions had certain demands, such as praying with sujud (prostration) but no ruku`(bowing) (Ibn Rajab, Jami` Al-`Ulum Wal-Hikam), and others requested permission to pray only two prayers a day instead of five.

It is really important here to note that the Prophet did not ‘customize’ the religious teachings for those individuals; he rather considered that to be an introductory stage that was given to a particular person in their new journey in Islam.

Such exceptions were not given during a Friday sermon, for example, and were not taught and spread by other Companions; all those incidents and others teach us how the messengers of the Messenger of Allah (i.e. us) should have wisdom in inviting people to this great deen.

Sometimes and in certain situations with certain people, raising the bar and challenging people will produce the best out of them. In other occasions, we have to understand the human weaknesses and give people a gradual plan while they get up to speed, of course without compromising the basics and essentials of our deen.

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Source:  mohakeem.com

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