Assalamu alaikum, have started two blog posts in the past few days and then scrapped them. I’ve wanted to write, but I start out writing about one thing, and then by the end of the post, I’m writing about something else. And then I’m not happy with the result, and then I just scrap it and start over again. And that’s part of the problem with blogging, for me anyway, which is coming up with new material, and not rehashing and reblogging about the same things you blogged about last week, last month, last year, or a few years ago, things that any Google search’ll find that you’ve already said before numerous times.
That’s why when I do my “moon bits” posts every month, I sometimes have to resist the urge to comment (for the umpteenth time) why I feel, speaking for myself only, why sighting the moon every month, or for this blindling over here, following a reliable, verified sighting, is so important. However, I’ve blogged about this issue countless times already, why continue to dwell on it and rehash it?
Same with other things, many many other things, like the treatment of Muslim women, or the problems we have within our community, etc., etc. And most of the time, the reblogging/rehashing is not offering anything constructive or positive, it’s just more complaining, negativity, etc. Perhaps it’d not be so bad if I had something more positive to offer, but many times I don’t. And many times, including with blogging, it’s so much easier to complain and rehash and “vent”, than it is to either offer something positive or keep silent.
And I think this is part of why I’ve been in somewhat of a spiritual slump as of late. They say “misery loves company”, but I also think that “misery loves company” in one’s own head as well. Like if you constantly think about how bad “the Muslims” or “the Muslim community” is/are, then perhaps that’s going to have a detrimental affect on your faith, not to mention “prophecies fulfilling themselves”. Whereas perhaps if one (speaking for myself mainly) focused more time on improving oneself and letting Allah take care of /deal with/handle everyone else, perhaps then one (read I) would feel better?
Because as much as certain things within and without our community bother me, I can’t, no matter how much I want to, do much about it, unless it’s something I’m in direct control over, which the vast majority of the time, is myself only. I often say that I have so much on my own plate to worry about that I don’t have time dealing with what’s on other people’s plates, and unfortunately, many times I forget this. And while certain experiences I’ve had I’ve found to be hurtful and embarrassing, among many other unfortunate things, the only thing/person I can control in this is myself and no one else.
I think, though, that the frustrating thing for me is the feeling that I don’t have a say or a voice, that I feel like I’m viewed as someone who just likes to debate and “start trouble”. And perhaps that’s why I rehash so much, because maybe I feel I’m not being listened to, or maybe I’m not being taken seriously. Perhaps I’d not rehash so much (or feel so defensive about) things like the issue of moon sighting or tasawuf or following a madhhab, or using a dog guide say, if I didn’t feel I had to defend my choices, or if I wasn’t made to feel that I was only being incorrigible for its own sake, or “doing something wrong” as it were. And perhaps that’s what’s bothered me most about being a convert, the idea that in whatever way I choose to practice my Islam, the choices I make, were not borne out of a lot of thinking, reading, reflecting, “asking those who know”, that my choices were borne out of, well, I’m not sure what. If I can “think my way into Islam” can’t I also “think my way around it”? How can we as converts be applauded for our ability to “see the truth” but then once we get in the door, be treated like we left our brains along with our past lives? Granted, there may be a lot we need to learn, but we still have our brains intact, I’d hope. OK, OK, this is taking more of a negative tone than what I’d like.
I’ve seen the idea of offering converts (or potential converts) pre-Islam classes, and I do believe that some religions/Christian denominations do this. And I really like that idea. As well as the idea of having some kind of a mentoring program, of pairing up a new Muslim with someone who’s “been there” so to speak. Because once someone becomes a Muslim, they’re going to need support. And they’ll need it for longer than the first few weeks or months after saying Shahadah. I also think that if a convert has “special needs”, ugh I don’t like this term but it’s the best I could come up with unfortunately, but let’s say they’re a blind or deaf Muslim, or they have another disability, or let’s say they’re dealing with something like alcohol or drug addiction, instead of being pushed aside or shoved out the door, all means of support should be given them. Perhaps this might mean providing Islamic materials in accessible formats, or have a sign language interpretor at the masjid, or assisting someone in obtaining treatment for drug or alcohol addiction, or just otherwise doing anything you can to be there and support the new Muslim.
Also, don’t expect the new Muslim to learn everything, or adopt everything, in one day. Small steps are best. If it’s a woman we’re talking about, she may not be ready to put on hijab yet, but then again, if it were me teaching a new Muslim, I’d start with the bare basics and work from there. Start with the five pillars and work from there. It’s kinda like building a house, you’ve got to start with the foundation and work your way up, and hijab, or marriage for example, while important, are kinda like the roof or the windows of the house, and we all know that if you try to build a roof of a house, without building the foundation, the floor, or the walls, well, we’re going to have problems.
Once the Belief, the Prayer, the Fasting, etc., are down, then you can move on to other issues. I’ve seen other people recommend that new Muslims should not marry for at least the first two years or so after becoming a Muslim, and while I’m tempted to say this sounds good, I also think things need to be taken on a case by case basis, because some people progress faster than others. So I don’t think there should be a hard and fast rule as to how long a new Muslim should wait until they get married, but under no circumstances should they be pressured into it right after they’ve accepted Islam. Again, this goes back to learning the basics and getting them down before progressing to more complex and more involved things. And I just don’t agree with the “oh he’ll teach you” philosophy of learning Islam. Accepting an dlearning a new religion/way of life is hard enough, entering into a new marriage at the same time, and getting to know and learning a new person at the same time, I think, is just too much too fast. Again, let’s get the basics down, and then move on to other things later.
Anyway, these are just some of my (Inshallah positive) suggestions for steps that we can take to help new Muslims. And maybe Inshallah, if they have a strong foundation, if their faith is shaken, it won’t crumble and they end up leaving Islam altogether. Because when I hear of Muslims leaving Islam, it truly saddens me. I don’t feel judgmental toward them, or feel like I’m better than them (because I could have just as well left Islam myself as well), I just feel sad. I’d like to know why, I’d like to try to help somehow. But it seems that there is a bit of a problem of converts leaving Islam and if that is the case, I feel that we, collectively, as a community need to figure out why. And just saying “well they were weak in faith” or “well they never believed to start with”, isn’t gonna do it. And no, you might not “win them back into Islam”, as it were, but perhaps if we could speak to some ex-converts, to get their side of the story, to let them talk freely, we might learn something, and then be able to do better.