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Your First Practical Steps as a New Muslim

written by Theresa Corbin

originally written for and published on About Islam

Much has been written on what a new Muslim should do after converting. What the first steps after shahadah should be is a topic even I have expounded on many times—like the article I wrote entitled, The First Step A New Convert Should Take which is all about intentions, motivation, and matters of the heart.

But sometimes this kind of advice makes it seem as if material matters aren’t important. But you should know that they are.

Islam teaches us a balance, to be in this world and to take care of one’s worldly needs while also thinking of the life of the hereafter and taking care of one’s spiritual needs.

We are beings of duality. We have a physical existence and a spiritual existence. When the needs of one or the other are ignored, bad things happen.

Far too often the worldly needs of new Muslims are brushed off as less important than spiritual needs. And what comes from this kind of treatment is understandable.

New Muslims often complain that being a Muslim is impractical or difficult. If the Islam presented to you seems Impossible, excessively difficult, or impractical, know that this is a kind of imagined Islam that ignores the worldly needs in favor of the spiritual needs.

However, Islam demands balance and that all needs are met. Here are a few practical things to think about after taking the shahadah.

Know Your Rights as a New Muslim

As a new Muslim, one of the first things you should understand about your faith are your rights in Islam. Often new Muslims’ complaints about Islam have nothing to do with Islam at all, but a failing on the part of other individual Muslims or even their community as a whole.

It is critical that you, as a new Muslim, understand that Allah has instructed your community to provide you with support. If it is not offered to you, or if support is not given when you seek it, then you need to know that that is man’s failing, and not Islam’s.

Muslims have an obligation to help new Muslims in a number of ways, including but not limited to mentorship, counseling, education, supportive community, and even financial support if need arises. You can read a declaration of the rights of new Muslims here that discusses this in more detail.

Continue reading here on About Islam

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Practical Ramadan Tips for New Muslims

written by Theresa Corbin for Al Jumuah

Entering into my 15th [now 16th] Ramadan, I feel an excitement building. I am looking forward to the fast of Ramadan and all the amazing things that come with it: growing spiritually, strengthening community ties, coming nearer to Allah, and much more.

However, it wasn’t always this way. I converted during the month of Ramadan and jumped straight into fasting even before I knew how to pray correctly. I want to be honest here. Those first fasts were hard. Very hard. Coming from a Catholic and American background, I had never experienced real fasting. The most I knew about fasting was eating less to fit in a smaller size and not eating meat on Fridays during Lent.

So my first Ramadan was a shock to my system. And as my second Ramadan approached, I was very nervous about my ability to endure. I feared the pains of hunger, the thirst that left me dehydrated, and the fatigue that comes along with fasting. I felt like this was something no one ever talked about and for good reason. Complaining about hunger, thirst, and fatigue defeats the purpose of fasting.

I realized a couple things during my struggle to acclimate to fasting.

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Muslim Converts Wrestle with Isolation, Seek Support

by Hana Baba producer of KALW’s Crosscurrents  

Listen here.

About 20% of American Muslims are converts — people who didn’t grow up with the religion and often don’t have any cultural ties.

In some faiths, there’s a clear path for prospective converts. Catholicism, for example, has an official course of rites, rituals, and classes for those entering the Church. Islam doesn’t have a formal conversion process like that. To become a Muslim, you declare your new belief with conviction in front of a Muslim witness, and that’s it. 

For this reason, many converts say they need help and support — but it can be surprisingly hard to find. One place it can be found is the Muslim Community Association in Santa Clara, which has been offering post-conversion support classes for the last seven years.

Twenty-six-year-old Nathalia Costa is in the women’s prayer hall at the mosque. She’s here for the midday Saturday prayer. Wearing a baby blue headscarf, she stands in a straight line with her hands folded above her heart, moving in unison with about 20 other women. They kneel, then prostrate, then sit, and stand back up again, all in silence. Through the corner of her eye, head bowed, Costa follows the women closely.

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The “Islamification” of the West — by Way of Islamophobia

Written by Theresa Corbin for Al Jumuah Magazine

Islamification (a verbal noun) is a word made up by the far-right conspiracy theorists and Islamic vilification factory which means that Islam—not actual Islam, but the myth invented by Islamophobes themselves—is taking over a region.

Islamophobia

It happened when self-proclaimed terrorism expert, Steve Emerson, falsely claimed on Fox News that “a number of Muslim no-go zones existed in areas of the U.S., England, France, and other western countries. […] ‘Sharia law’ essentially overrode the laws of the countries in which said zones were located, and local police avoided interceding in the affected areas.” The term “Islamification” took off.

But is there any truth behind the claim? Absolutely. Olivia Rudgard, religious affairs correspondent for The Telegraph writes, “Islam is the only religion growing faster than the world’s population.” A major area of growth: The West.

But this growth, this “Islamification,” has looked so little like the Fox “News” fever dream that it tries to sell to the American public. The spread of Islam has not come with tribunals or the oppression of women or the abuse of other faiths. It has come instead with education, modesty, finance, and -not surprisingly- big appetites.

Continue reading at Al Jumuah. 

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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” page and browse other posts in “Table of Contents”.

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Interview with My Halal Kitchen founder, Yvonne Maffei: Podcast ep. 3

In this episode of the islamwich Podcast, Kaighla interviews the founder of My Halal Kitchen, sister Yvonne Maffei.

We discuss her journey to Islam, how MHK was conceived, the state of halal food marketing among American consumers, how MHK is a dawah effort, and some tips she has for healthy, delicious eating in Ramadan.

 

 

My Halal Kitchen

…is a website dedicated to spreading love and understanding of the beauty of halal food. MHK aims “to provide home cooks with the tools to prepare completely halal meals, including those with the necessary substitutions to make every dish halal and without having to filter a recipe for non-halal ingredients. It aims to make the lives of readers better by expanding the list of available recipes that are wholesome, healthy, delicious, economical and halal.”

Without further ado, we present to you our interview with Yvonne.

 

Shownotes:

  • We talk about a few popular halal restaurants, the huge one among them being The Halal Guys, a food cart in NYC that’s insanely popular among all New Yorkers, regardless of religion.
  • Yvonne’s two cookbooks are My Halal Kitchen and Summer Ramadan Cooking. Her cleaning book is called Clean Your Kitchen Green.
  • Check out Yvonne’s favorite halal food companies,  Saffron Road and Crescent Foods.
  • Yvonne mentions some “halal food myths” she works to debunk.
  • Yvonne uses some Arabic words, like halal, tayyib, & zabiha. Check out our extensive glossary.
  • It happens that Yvonne was one of the people who helped guide me (Kaighla) to Islam back in 2009!

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Being Muslim- A Review

Being Muslim
beingmuslim.org

Reviewed by Theresa Corbin

Being Muslim: A Practical Guide is a new book written to help people learn how to live and practice the faith of Islam-to learn what Muslims believe, how to pray and fast, and how to perform the Islamic devotions appropriately.”

This is a book I really could have used in 2001 when I took my first shaky steps into Islam. As the author, Asad Tarsin, writes, when he was approached by a convert and asked for resources, he realized there really wasn’t much out there for the new adult Muslim.

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A Field Guide for New Muslims Part 5

Field Guide for New Muslims 5

Written by Kaighla Um Dayo and Theresa Corbin

Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4

Don’t proselytize

This is a real sticking point for a lot of new converts. We are so excited, most of us, at having finally found the path we were meant for that we are spilling over with faith-y goodness. There’s just one problem: most of the people in our lives have no clue what we’re talking about.

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