Friday 2 December 2022 \


I'm a new Muslim

There is nothing easier than converting to Islam - the moment one really becomes aware personally that God is real

I'm a new Muslim
Ruqaiyyah Waris Maqsood

There is nothing easier than converting to Islam - the moment one really becomes aware personally that God is real and truly does exist, and accepts that the Arab Muhammad (peace be upon him) really was the last prophet of God in the same line of prophets as all the others named in the Bible - one has actually taken the first step.

This moment of dawning is called taqwa - God-consciousness, and ihsan - awareness. Suddenly you know that God can see you and knows you, even if you do not know or see Him.

The next step in becoming a Muslim is to make a clear statement of this moment of faith, to declare shahadah: 'I bear witness'. Then follows the rest of your life.

Living as a Muslim

It is one thing to become a Muslim in the mind, but it's quite another to enter into the lifestyle or to become part of the local Muslim community.

For many female converts this involves a great deal of determination and confidence-building. Not only do you have to face up to your own family and friends who think you have gone mad, but as a woman you have to find the courage to enter the mosque world, which may consist of scowling bearded men who will not speak to you.

If you're a Muslim woman convert in those parts of the north of England where mosques are heavily Asian in character, you have to learn a lot about those Asian cultures, as well as about Islam.

Under the scowls you may meet are shyness, gentleness, piety and genuine friendliness and hospitality and generosity - but it is regarded as rude for a man to appear eager to talk to women, or look at them with more than a mere glance.

And many mosques don't yet have enough room for the womenfolk to pray there as well.

Gaining confidence

But we converts are gaining in confidence. We no longer feel we have to pretend to be Arabs or Pakistanis in order to belong.

We now know there are Muslims in every place in the world, from Eskimo to Aborigine.

We may take an Arabic name, or we may choose to keep our old names, it doesn't really matter.

The ladies may opt for a costume that consists of loose trousers and long shirts, or long skirts, rather than billowing forth in black gowns or wearing shalwar-qameez.

If we feel out of it at the local mosque because we don't understand the language, we are beginning to get organised with house-mosques and groups of our own, where we can invite the Asians to be our guests.

Many kinds of Muslim, one family

We converts are beginning to have read enough and studied enough to voice our own opinions about things. We have become mature enough to realise that not every Muslim is a saint - people are people, and most of us far from perfect.

We get over the disappointment of discovering that not every Muslim is living the Muslim way of life to perfection. It doesn't make us give up or accuse them of hypocrisy; we just do our best to live our own lives in the best way we can.

Gradually each convert wakes up to the fact that there are many different styles of Muslim.

Some Muslims are spiritual while some are ritualistic.

But we converts increasingly feel we can take out place alongside the others in this vast ummah or family, and so long as we are doing our best, Allah will reward our good intentions.



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