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A Field Guide for New Muslims Part 3

Field Guide for New Muslims 3

Written by Kaighla Um Dayo and Theresa Corbin

Part 1 Part 2Part 4Part 5

Marriage?

For Sisters:

Don’t get married for at least a year. I repeat. DO NOT do it.

As soon as we say shahadah, there is a line forming of “suitable” young bachelors, ready to make our freshly-halaal dreams come true. Dear sister, we tell you: most of them are frauds, and another great portion have expectations of you based on what they’ve watched in movies or heard about from their more daring friends.

We are sorry to be the bearers of bad news, but if he is an immigrant, you will have a hard time distinguishing between faith and his culture after you marry him. Yes, even if he comes from a ‘Muslim’ country, there are still things against the religion. Take it from us: this can kill your iman faster than a speeding bullet.

brothers are lining up
get in line, bro

Contrary to what the aunties in the masjid try to tell you, no, it’s not haraam to be single. And no you don’t need a ‘good reason’ to choose to stay single. You don’t ever have to get married if that is your deal. This whole ‘Oh, but not being married is a great fitnah (trial) on the earth! Getting and being married completes half of our deen (religious obligations)is just bologna, through and through.

For one thing, that hadith (saying of Prophet Muhammad) was declared ‘weak’ by Ibn Hajar and other scholars. This means we can’t be sure he even said it, and it’s likely he didn’t. (There is an entire science to how his sayings were transmitted over the centuries. It’s really complex. Learn about it. There are some resources down below.)

Now, think for a second: were you a seething bowl of sexy hotness, desperate to jump into bed with anyone of the opposite sex 5 minutes before you said shahadah? If not, you aren’t suddenly that way now. And even if you do get married, fitnah still exists.

Take as much time as possible to dedicate your heart to Allah. Be OK with being alone with Him. He wants to be nearer to you or he wouldn’t have guided you to Islam. Take time to learn the ins-and-outs, but stick to the basics.

When you have developed a solid sense of what the difference between religion and culture is, you’ll be safe from the frequent soul-crushing issues those of us less-wise have had to learn the hard way.

Kaighla was only a Muslim for 2 months when she got married, and when she married an Egyptian imam (spiritual leader, like a preacher or a pastor), she was expected to adopt– overnight!– the dress (above and beyond hijab), mannerisms, and habits of an Egyptian woman.

And if she did not comply, she was ‘displeasing her husband’ and Allah would be displeased with her. Friends, this is torture, it’s unfair, and it’s unnecessary hardship. Take it from us: resist getting married for as long as possible.

When you feel firm enough in your religion and ready for marriage, please refer to Theresa’s article on Aquila-Style before hitching your life to another person’s. It gives practical advice and much needed info about protecting yourself in your marriage.

For Brothers:Love for Allah's sake

If you are of marriage age, unmarried, and can support a family; don’t delay your search for a suitable partner. It can be difficult for male converts to find a Muslimah mate. Muslim families tend to want someone from their own tribe for their daughters. Even if that mate from their “tribe” isn’t as stable or religious as you. It is stupid. We know. And we are sorry.

My (Theresa’s) husband- a fellow convert- had a hard time finding a born Muslimah whose family was OK with her marrying a convert. Try looking in the convert community for a Muslimah who converted over a year ago. It worked for my husband.

But if you are one of those fortunate brothers that find a potential spouse sooner rather than later, hold off on tying the knot until you are well-grounded and able to distinguish the religion from culture (yes, even Western culture).

Don’t let anyone pressure you

Islam was revealed to the Prophet over 23 years.

The first 10 years of revelations were about faith, the oneness of Allah, and his majesty, love, and mercy. The first revelations to the Prophet Muhammad and his followers were not rules and regs. Only later when faith was firm in the believers hearts did Allah reveal to the Prophet what rules we should follow so that we will not harm our own souls.

As a new convert, you should focus on learning about Islam, learning about Allah, learning how to pray, what the prayer means, increasing in faith and knowledge. And take on only what you can handle.

When I (Theresa) was considering Islam, my biggest hangup was the hijab. I didn’t want to wear it. I was interested in fashion and thought it would cramp my style. I was also terrified of not knowing all that was required of me as a Muslim.

craw-walk-run-

That was until someone told me “You aren’t going to be able to run before you crawl. If you believe, say you believe. Become a Muslim then start learning. The rest will come.”

I did. And did it ever! After I said I believed (shahada) all my reservations seemed silly. I started learning and LOVING Islam. That was until I entered a community that expected too much too fast. It made me bitter and resentful.

I (Kaighla) actually loved hijab before I was Muslim, and it was one of the things which attracted me to Islam. The concept just made sense to me. But, I had my own reservations, as well. For one thing, I could not accept the concept of polygyny being something Allah was OK with. To this day, that is a sticking point for me, but that’s because I am living in it, unhappily.

As well, the whole ‘music is haraam/makrooh (forbidden/highly disliked by Allah)’ argument set me back, big time. But ultimately, when I realized I was already a Muslim in my core beliefs (oneness of God, etc.), I realized neither of those issues was a deal-breaker or game-changer.

If anyone forces you or pressures you to take on too much too fast, kindly remind them that Islam was not revealed all at once and you are doing your best. Allah knows your situation.

Check out my (Theresa’s) article on OnIslam.net about the first steps a new Muslim should take.

Check out our podcast, here and here, where we discuss these issues further

Preventing Bitterness a New Muslim's Guide 3

Resources:

Prayer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TDit-zlSp7g

Quran: www.quran.com

Hadith: www.Sunnah.com

Explanation of the Quran: http://qtafsir.com/

Learning Arabic: http://bayyinah.com/

Answers to tons of questions: http://www.ifoundislam.net/revert-supports/

New Muslim Support Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/RevertSupportGroup/

Find Prayer times and a Mosque near you: http://www.islamicfinder.org/

Ask a question: http://www.onislam.net/english/ask-about-islam.html?start=1420

Ask us: islamwich@yahoo.com

New Muslim Care: http://newmuslimcare.org/

Theresa Corbin is the founder of islamwich. Look her up on the About page, or on Twitter @islamwich

Kaighla Um Dayo is a writer and story-teller extraordinaire. You can find more of her work, as well as her podcast, at her blog, Lemonade For Bitter Souls. Her work was also published in Al Jumuah Magazine, in 2011 and 2012. She is a momma of four, currently living in small-town Egypt. Before embracing Islam in 2009, she was an evangelical Christian who attended Bible college before traveling the world as a missionary. Her favorite things are procrastinating, eating chocolate, fixing things, making things and taking risks.

Follow us (upper right of the page). Email us (islamwich@yahoo.com). Like our face with your face on Facebook (facebook.com/islamwich). Tumble with us on Tumblr (islamwich.tumblr.com). Pin with us (pinterest.com/islamwich). Follow us on twitter (@islamwich).

Like the post, share it, pin it, comment on it, and/or do whatever social media magic it is that you prefer. Find out more about us in the understandably named “About Us” page and browse other posts in “Table of Contents”.

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21 thoughts on “A Field Guide for New Muslims Part 3

  1. It always includes “auntis” who want to convince you to see things their way 🙂

    Marriage is life changing. Yes, if thing get nasty there is a way out through divorce. But it will always leave a scar on the soul.
    And remember, sisters, that when you are a new Muslim you are fragile. You do need some one beside you to encourage you and support you, and alot of times you are blinded with this need. Any one can exploit this need to enter your life. I am not saying that all the brothers out there are hunters in the dark, they just do not realize that what you accept in your fragility you might not accept when you are armed with confidence.
    A marriage driven by emotions is most likely a trap. And most of the time they will try to convince you that rejecting a proposer just because he is from a different culture is haraam, and that you should accept the first proposer with ‘deen’ and ‘khuloq’ or you will cause fitna. NOT TRUE!
    Consider how for years the marriage of Arab ladies and A’ajem (non-Arab) men was considered as invalid for the man not being “kafu’ ” (meaning efficient or equal). Consider how to this day alot of Muslim families refuse to give their daughters to converted brothers!
    It is totally fine. But they should understand that converted sisters have the exact same right! It is much better to marry some one with the same background. Marrying some one different can work just fine if both parties are aware of the differences and agree before-hand to a formula of dealing with these differences.

    I once was in a discussion with two palistinian friends and the issue of marriage was mentioned. I am a born Muslim, but I am a non-Arab, nor Asian, I am a Circassian. So when we discussed me, the conclusion was that if a man of whatever origion, be it Indian or Arab or Chinese or Iskimu, I should say yes as long as he is a religious Muslim. But when we discussed them, the conclusion was that it is always better to marry a Palestinian man! 🙂
    Now there attitude towards themselves is normal and fine. What is extreme is their attitude towards me.
    We should not use ‘being muslims’ as a pretext to interfere and force a certainife style over others. Its just like when a mother abuses her being a mother to force her children to live as she wants!

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    1. You make a really good point. People try to “convince you that rejecting a proposer just because he is from a different culture is haraam” This is such a horrible type of manipulation. And the issue of inter-cultural marriage is a serious one. As you say there is a double standard when it comes to this. For white women, we should be open to all other cultures etc, but we shouldn’t be manipulated in to a marriage we aren’t really interested in. But on the other hand a lot of south East Asians and Arab Muslims reserve the right to reject marriage based on ethnic/cultural differences. I think a lot of Muslims from over seas are seriously racist, and THIS is haraam. If their reason for wanting to marry within the cultural-racial background because they feel it is superior in some way, and many do hold this position, this is a serious disease that a lot of Muslims have in their hearts. This needs to change. But sweeping things under the rug seems to be a hobby of a lot of these types of Muslims so, inshaAllah is all I can say.

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      1. Salaam sister Theresa
        As a native Arabic speaker I’m familiar with most Arabic colloquial, dialects, slangs except Moroccan, the word “Harram” is used in conversation in different context and meanings, not with Quranic meaning “FORBIDDIN” it could mean unfair to yourself, unjust to other, objection to something, to exaggerate result of action.
        Those aunties in the masjid who use the word Harram to discourage a new revert to turn down a marriage proposal they say that in good faith, for them they were raised in cultures that teach women created for men to marry and bear children. In Arab culture marriage is normally between two families not two individuals the agreement and approvals of many people in the family; are required (parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins) and they prefer to marry form their clans; it is not easy to accept an outsider even from their country.
        I think the marriage of reverts should be done with social justice to create stable happy Muslim family, let us see how the Khalifah Omer Ibin Alkatab managed women and family affairs with best regard to community high interest and benefits;
        First; he abrogated (Zwaj Almuttah), the temporary marriage to protect women and children
        Second; with the conquest of Iraq and Syria, Iraqi and Syrian women became available to the Muslims. Attracted by the beauty of these women especially the white roman women, the Muslims divorced their Arab wives. That created a social crisis which led to sexual laxity. Umar accordingly ordered that marriages with foreign ladies should be permitted under exceptional circumstances, Omer did that because he saw social injustice happened to Arab women.
        What would Khalifah Omer Ibin Alkatab do in he is the Ameer over the revert Muslim to preserve their social rights and justice;
        1- He would instruct all Muslim men and Muslim women to marry form their background; as marriage is a bridge between two families, and that contribute to marriage stability, gain respect and acceptance of Islam as a religion of choice for their son and daughter and grandchildren.
        2- He would encourage men to marry many wives (in particular white men) as the number of female revert three times the male revert, and because Muslim woman has no choice but to marry a Muslim man. I know this point (polygamy) would not settle well with some people.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. These aunties need to understand when speaking in a religious setting and citing religious text that the word “Haram” will be given a religious weight, even if this is not what they may intend. As someone who has been in many different communities and learned the ins and out, I understand that in passing, Arabs will use the word haram with more laxity, but when speaking of religious topics it is usually given the full weight as in the Quranic context. If it is truly a semantic issue, it needs to be brought up and discussed so that new converts looking to these sisters (or brothers) for their deen aren’t unfairly manipulated into a relationship they are not ready for or interested in.
        And “cultures that teach women [are] created for men to marry and bear children” need a serious re-education in Islam and what it means to give human beings the dignity they are entitled to. I find this seriously offensive, as a woman and as a creation of Allah. Allah tells us specifically that we are all created to worship Him, not to serve a function to the other gender. Not so that we can be used to make more sons. I wonder how men in this culture would feel if they were taught they were only here to marry and make money to give to their wives and daughters. And what of men who can’t marry, or those who don’t make enough money? Are they useless if not serving their function? Similarly are women who don’t marry or don’t/can’t have children treated in such a demeaning way? This is a serious oppression. What are your thoughts?
        As far as what Khalifa Omar would have instructed Muslims under his rule to do, I am in no position to argue. Perhaps it would be better for people to marry within their culture. I did. But I will say that we all must examine our culture to be able to rid our lives of evils we confuse with Islam. And by no means should people write off good brothers and sisters just because they have a different skin tone or dialect, etc. Allah has informed us in the Quran that He made us from different tribes so that we may know each other.
        And I am not sure how well new converts would be able to cope with the idea of polygamy. Western women by and large are not emotionally prepared to share a husband. And Western men are having a hard enough time keeping up with the emotional and financial needs of one family.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. May Allah bring peace and mercy upon u… M also a converted Muslim and a strong believer of Islam… Before one and half year I accepted Islam and on the same day I got married to a by birth Muslim… It is not that for marrying him I accepted Islam… Before accepting I read some of Quran… I tried to search more n more… And when I found myself strongly believing in Islam then Allah bring mercy upon me nd I accepted… Now I have 2 months old son… My husband is a alcoholic.. Every time he promises to leave it nd every time he breaks his promise… I used to love him a lot.. ND m still trying to keep that love for him in my heart for the sake of Allah… But environment of the home is becoming worst nd worst every day… He nd my in laws fight with each other… So in such a situation I just don’t want to be with him… Coz in such a bad environment what will learn my child… But my problem is that my parents have left me.. I also do job in a public sector bank… M unable to nurture my child alone coz I will have to go to office… What should I do? Please suggest me I will be really helpful to you…

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    1. Asalamu Alaikum, I am sorry for your difficult situation. Is there a local masjid you can do to for help and perhaps provide child care or at least sadaqah to cover the cost of child care? Maybe your in-laws can take care of your child while you work. PLease go to your local imam and tell him about your marital situation and ask him for advice. If your husband is drinking and creating a dangerous situation for you and your child you might need to seek a divorce. I know it is hard for converts especially when their own families leave them. Seek the means by asking for help in your local community, but first make dua that Allah will grant you ease in your situation. I will make dua for you as well. May Allah grant you and your child ease in this life and in the hereafter, and may Allah guide your husband to righteousness.

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      1. Thanks a lot for ur suggestion… But if I take divorce then my in laws will not take care of my child.. ND with office it is not possible for me to be with my child everytime… I just don’t want to leave my child with made alone… ND one more thing is striking in my mind every time… Is doing job in a bank is haraam?? ND if this is.. Then my heart is not ready to continue this job…. But if I leave my job nd situation becomes worse than now then how will I continue my nd my child livelihood?? These questions are also making me week to take any decision…

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      2. Sister, I know you are conflicted and in a tough place. Please go to your local Islamic community and see if they can help in any way. Perhaps they can offer child care there. Or maybe they can help you with the expense of childcare. Your imam will be able to advise you on your marriage and your job. I am not sure how the banking system works where you live. And I am not a scholar and in a position to say what is halal or haram work.

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      3. Asslamualaikum sister….
        Actually I have fear…. Coz I live in India… ND it is very tough for a person to convert his/her religion… ND if someone accept Islam then even Muslim doesn’t see it as a very right decision… So for me its very risky to go in any mosque nd now talk to emam about my situation… May Allah forgive me but its possibility is very high.. That if I tell my situations… Then they can try to take advantage of mine…. That’s why m afraid of going to any emam… If u can help than plz search for me that is it working in a bank in India haraam??

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    2. It really hurts to hear such a story.
      I really feel a pain in my heart whenever I know of a sister or brother who converted and who is in a sincere search for a true application of Islam in life, and then they face such a situation!
      SubhanAllah…
      I would say try to be around some one who is sensitive and caring. Look for other converted sisters who will know exactly what you went through as a convert and what exactly you are looking for. Try to empower yourself until you feel that you can stand up on your feet by your own. Once you feel that you are strong enough to go on on your own, consider a divorce to get out of this unhealthy relationship. Do not through yourself into nothing, though. Be smart. And stay with Allah. Pray, pray, pray…. And inshaAllah we will all pray for you…

      Sending you alot of love, hugs and prayers ❤ ❤ ❤

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  3. Assalam alaikum… Plz reply corbin I will be highly obliged to u… Is working in a bank haraam??

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    1. I am sorry for not being able to help better. I feel like my hands are tied. If you lived in the US, I might be able to help better. I know that working in a bank in the US, or any Western country, is haram because the banking system is based on interested which is haram. Interest or Ribba is an oppression and a very big sin.

      I have found this info on the subject: https://islamtomorrow.com/articles/bank_job_haram.htm I do not know how the banking system in India works. It is easy for people to sit around and tell you to quit your job even though they may not understand your situation and all the other hardships in your life. I don’t want to put that on you, especially as you are a new Muslim with a child and in a difficult marriage and environment.

      In Islam, there is a principle that if you are in a life an death situation, doing the haram becomes halah if it saves you from death. For examples, if you are starving to death and the only thing to eat is pork. Then the pork becomes halal so that you can sustain life.

      I cannot tell you what to do, but I can tell you what I would do if I worked at a bank. I would pray that Allah forgave me, and make sincere dua that Allah would provide halal income for me and look very hard for a new job. Please take brother Osman’s advice and contact Dr. Zak Naik organizations in India. His info is here: Dr. Zakir Naik
      Islamic Research Foundation, 56/58 Tandel Street (North), Dongri, Mumbai – 400 009 (India), Tel : (0091-22) 23736875 (8 lines) Fax : (0091-22) 23730689, e-mail: zakir@irf.net website : http://www.irf.net

      And you can always email me islamwich@yahoo.com

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  4. Salam Sisters;
    First, I had never been married in anyway, before I met my only wife from my birth country; but the fact is that if two cultures exist in one household no matter the relationships or religion in that home; there is a possibility of disagreements and troubles; the clear example are the immigrant parents and their children born and grow up in USA.
    I agree with sister Theresa the revert Muslim needs to establish herself / himself very well in Islam, and understand marriage right and duties in Islam, the Muslimah must find a Wali ( an agent/ representative ) a male Muslim with strong moral character whom she trust he will be keen and careful about her interest and rights in marriage.
    I know of many successful inter-cultural / inter-racial Muslim marriages some of them are community leaders. But it is not far and wise to push an innocent new Muslim woman into marriage has unforeseen risks.
    JZK
    Osman

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Salam brother…
      I live in India.. Nd hear mostly men are very dominating… Either they are Muslim or from any other religion. Hear mostly Muslims don’t follow Islam in exact way… Either they are men or women.. Men they force to women to follow Islam but when it comes to their chance they start making excuse. Even most of men don’t pay namaz… M in trouble not because of being inter religion…. M in trouble because I have taken wrong decision.. I have chosen a wrong person… As much as Islam is concerned… If in a family everyone really follow Islam exactly then any problem cannot make trouble… Coz Islam is such a liberal religion that anyone cannot face any problem coz of this. We all are in problem because of us.. Coz we like to follow according to our wish… Which we liked we start follow nd which we don’t like we don’t follow… Actually rules of Islam is not about choice its a rule for better life here nd their both… Here most of Muslim’s forefathers had accepted Islam but due to illiteracy they didn’t understand what exactly Islam says.. ND they implemented their own rules… ND from their the problem had arisen….

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  5. Salaam Sister
    Since you are in India, you need to contact Dr. Zak Naik organizations in Indai; they will take care of your problems.
    Mya Allah make it easiy for you.

    Osman

    Liked by 1 person

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