Sage advice for new Muslims

Sage advice for new Muslims October 23, 2011

There's a great guest post on Imam Suhaib Webb's website with advice for new Muslims. 

12 Tips for the Convert Muslim

The tips are deceptively simple and very profound.  And many of suggestions are ones we all would do well to remember, myself most of all.

I love #9 ("Find Muslim friends and avoid severing ties") in particular. So balanced and wise, yet accessible. Here it is in its entirety:

9. Find Muslim friends and avoid severing ties

“On the Day of Resurrection Allah Almighty will proclaim: “Where are those who have mutual love for My Glory’s sake? Today I shall shelter them in My shade where there is no shade but Mine.”
-The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ (Muslim)

Saying “As-salamu ‘Alaykum” ( “Peace be upon you”)  to people you see on campus or at the grocery store is a real blessing in Islam. It immediately lets people know you are Muslim and they usually will be happy to return the greeting and hopefully share a few words with you. Doors of friendship will be opened and you will meet lots of people. Try and spend some time with Muslims when you can. It is beneficial to remind yourself that you are not the only Muslim on the planet and you share your religion with almost 2 billion people around the globe.

Also, don’t sever your friendships with your non-Muslim friends unless they are constantly partying or using the list of major sins as their weekend to-do list. You can be a light to your Christian, Agnostic, Jewish, or Atheist friends. You never know who Allah (swt) will guide, and showing that you are living an ethical life can encourage these people to learn a little about Islam or change their mind to having a positive view of the religion.

I'm tempted to repost all of them here, but I'll refrain and instead send you their way.

Not to dwell on the negative–it's a wonderful sign that these sorts of things are being openly discussed on  major fora–but I have to ponder how different things would have been had these simple but profound insights had been posted in every North American mosque over the last 3-4 decades. A phenomenon I observed at times in the 1980s and 1990s was an open-minded, spiritual person being drawn to Islam due to reading and then having the misfortune of getting their religious instruction from closed-minded people who were influenced by some hardline strain of Salafism, the Ikhwan, or whatever.

Sometimes, the qualities you most liked about these thoughtful, brave seekers would seem to steadily disappear under the weight of such dreary indoctrination, a tragic dynamic that reminds me of the age-old dilemma in Judaism over conversion (in a nutshell: the bar for righteousness is lower for a Gentile since he has to observe 10 rules in his life instead of the 614 that apply to Jews; ergo, if you're not careful, you might take a righteous Gentile and making him into a  unrighteous Jew).  After years of struggle to integrate such a sterile, rigid framework into their lives, these people would often eventually burn out and sometimes leave Islam (or should I say "Islaam"?) entirely.

A lot of needless strife and heartache would've been avoided or at least mitigated by issuing every new Muslim a memo with these tips. Then, more would have had the confidence not to throw their God-given common sense (e.g., the hardwired presumption that family is family, regardless of religious affiliation) out the window because some seemingly knowledgeable Muslim tells them common sense is haram and throws a bunch of pseudo-scholarly citations at them to "prove" their dreary, life-denying point.

I's sad that one even feels these affirmations of common sense, family and personal authenticity need to be made. But in some cases you do, of course, so I'm glad they're being articulated openly. Soon enough, such neurotic obscurantism will be consigned to the dust bin of American Islamic history.

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