For many female converts who grew up in America, namely those who had lifestyles that were very “American” or different from an “Islamic lifestyle”, most tend to share the same issues when they first embrace Islam. Do I have to stop plucking my eyebrows? Can I still wear nail polish? Is hijab mandatory? I cant see myself wearing it all the time! I have to throw away all my clothes. Wearing a jilbab makes me look like an old lady! I feel like everyone is judging me!
These questions and feelings are typical as a new Muslimah is going through transitional phases. Then you will have sisters in every direction giving advice on what she should and shouldnt be doing or wearing. Although I am sure our dear sisters are well-intentioned, for a newly converted American Muslimah, focusing on these issues may tend to be overwhelming for them. These issues are what is focused on primarily because they are evident, noticed, on display and subject to judgment. Of course, there are always exceptions to the case, but for the majority who commonly face these issues, or if you know someone who can relate, this is for you.
Every time we go through a life altering change in our lives, whether it is going away to college, getting married, having your first baby, starting a new career, etc., we are not expected to jump right into the swing of things completely and perfectly. We will make mistakes, and learn from them while gaining experience. There will be feelings of uncertainty, insecurity, and questioning our capabilities as we embrace this new role in our life. The same goes for embracing a religion. It wont be perfect in the beginning. It wont be perfect even after a few years. We are human.
The good news is, that Islam is easy. Allah never intended on making the religion hard for us. All those issues are part of a necessary transition that we must go through in order for growth to occur. Through transition, growth is given room to flourish. Even though these issues do have a place in Islam, each with its own rulings to abide by, they do not define the essence of what Islam is. Islam is simple, it is about a very important concept – “Tawheed” or Monotheism. Giving our Creator His due right of sole worship, in every which way and form, totally belonging to Him and only Him. This is what separates Islam from every other religion. From this concept, once it is understood, engrained and firmly rooted in us, all the other little pieces will come together in it’s due time.
I often think about an email that circulates the cyberworld. It is called “Parent Job Description”. Here it is:
PARENT – Job Description
JOB DESCRIPTION : Long term, team players needed, for challenging permanent work in an often chaotic environment. Candidates must possess excellent communication and organizational skills and be willing to work variable hours, which will include evenings and weekends and frequent 24 hour shifts on call. Some overnight travel required, including trips to primitive camping sites on rainy weekends and endless sports tournaments in far away cities! Travel expenses not reimbursed. Extensive courier duties also required.
RESPONSIBILITIES : The rest of your life. Must be willing to be hated, at least temporarily, until someone needs $5. Must be willing to bite tongue repeatedly. Also, must possess the physical stamina of a pack mule and be able to go from zero to 60 mph in three seconds flat in case, this time, the screams from the backyard are not someone just crying wolf. Must be willing to face stimulating technical challenges, such as small gadget repair, mysteriously sluggish toilets and stuck zippers. Must screen phone calls, maintain calendars and coordinate production of multiple homework projects. Must have ability to plan and organize social gatherings for clients of all ages and mental outlooks. Must be willing to be indispensable one minute, an embarrassment the next. Must handle assembly and product safety testing of a half million cheap, plastic toys, and battery operated devices. Must always hope for the best but be prepared for the worst. Must assume final, complete accountability for the quality of the end product. Responsibilities also include floor maintenance and janitorial work throughout the facility.
POSSIBILITY FOR ADVANCEMENT & PROMOTION : None. Your job is to remain in the same position for years, without complaining, constantly retraining and updating your skills, so that those in your charge can ultimately surpass you.
PREVIOUS EXPERIENCE : None required unfortunately. On-the-job training offered on a continually exhausting basis.
WAGES AND COMPENSATION : Get this! You pay them! Offering frequent raises and bonuses. A balloon payment is due when they turn 18 because of the assumption that college will help them become financially independent. When you die, you give them whatever is left. The oddest thing about this reverse-salary scheme is that you actually enjoy it and wish you could only do more.
BENEFITS : While no health or dental insurance, no pension, no tuition reimbursement, no paid holidays and no stock options are offered; this job supplies limitless opportunities for personal growth and free hugs and kisses for life if you play your cards right.
So, as you can see, it is all about presentation. Imagine if this were presented in this fashion to someone who was thinking about having children, or to a new mom – how do you think they would feel? Although practically everything in this email is true about parenting, the focus, essence and great reward of parenting is short changed to say the least, even in the last part of the email. Focus is shifted to matters that appear to be “drawbacks” or “losses”. The same thing goes for new Muslimahs. Yes, it is true that nail polish, eyebrows, hijab and many other “outward changes” do have their place in Islam, but don’t lose sight of the main essence of Islam and the great rewards it offers. Don’t lose sight of the liberation, justice and beauty of Islam. Islam was revealed in stages, step by step. Follow this wisdom from Allah SWT – establish the love of Allah and monotheism in your heart, this leads to unity of belief among Muslims worldwide, and the sincere efforts of implementing His Laws on what is beneficial and harmful to us will become smooth and easy. This is a great mercy and wisdom from Allah SWT.
Sisters, focus on learning about our Creator, establishing and strengthening our relationship with Him, and learning the essence of Islam which is Tawheed. This is what makes Islam stand out from every other religion, and this is what will save us and put us in eternal bliss. And the stronger our knowledge in Tawheed and in knowing and understanding Allah’s names and attributes, the stronger we will be in our obedience, love, fear, and hope in Him. And everything will start falling into place, easily and willingly, with love and fulfillment.
My dear sisters, Islam is a responsibility. And it will take time to grow into being a good and responsible Muslim, just as it takes time to grow into a good and responsible mother, college student, CEO, or wife. Take things one step at a time. As a new mother embraces her first baby, she grows into her new role with each experience, mistake, and day. This can only happen if she sincerely puts effort into becoming a better mom. And what was once hard becomes second nature. They say that when a child is born a mother is born too, hence “The Birth of a Mother”. Likewise, as a new Muslimah embraces the wonderful truth of Islam, she will learn to grow into her new role as her faith grows with each experience, mistake, and day. Again, this happens only through Allah’s guidance and her sincere efforts in striving to become a better Muslimah. No matter what age or background one has as a woman, mother, daughter, student, businesswoman, professional, etc., embracing Islam as a new Muslimah requires time and effort and a new role in your life is born. “The Birth of a Muslimah”. One step at a time with sincerity for Allah’s pleasure and continual guidance will have us blossoming into strong Muslimahs, Insha’Allah. May Allah SWT help us all and continually increase us in goodness, piety, taqwa, knowledge, and Iman for His pleasure; Ameen!