There are several misconceptions regarding Muslims, several of which are damaging to the Muslim population. From assuming that all Muslims are “Arab” to believing that Muslims are violent in nature, individuals who wish to convert to Islam must overcome the myths regarding the religion and the challenges those myths present. If you struggle with how to tell your family that you wish to practice Islam, you are not alone, hence the need for a “how-to” guide. Use the information here to find the strength you need to break the news to your family.
Expect Questions — and Have Answers Ready
There is the very real possibility that you are the only Muslim your family knows or will ever know, so be prepared for an onslaught of questions. From why you feel the need to convert to what about Islam has swayed your decision, the questions will be shrouded in good intentions. However, the interrogation ultimately stems from a lack of understanding. Try to answer each question as best you can, and in the process, teach friends and family about the religion with which you fell in love.
Be aware that you will also get plenty of misinformed questions. Try not to get defensive when addressing them. Some questions of this nature to expect include the following: Do you not believe in Jesus anymore? Why do you pray that way? Why do you have to cover your head? Why do you not eat pork?
Tell Your Family Sooner Rather Than Later
You may feel that by keeping your decision from your family, you’re somehow protecting them. Unfortunately, that is not the case. The longer you put off telling your loved ones, the more hurt they will feel that you did not tell them sooner. The pain will be even worse if they find out through someone else or through some other means.
Ideally, you should discuss your interest in Islam before you make the decision to convert. This will help your loved ones understand where you’re coming from and help them ease into the transition. However, if you convert with no prior warning, make the announcement as soon after your ceremony as possible to prevent hurt feelings due to your omission.
Let Your Family Know Nothing About You Has Changed (Other Than Your Religion)
Unfortunately, many non-Muslims are unable to see beyond the scarf you wear, the foods you eat and methods in which you pray. Judging a person by his or her religion is as ridiculous as judging him or her by the clothes worn or the color of the skin. Let your family know that nothing about you has changed — at least not where it matters. You are still you, despite your change in beliefs.
If you don’t set boundaries, your loved ones, friends and acquaintances may make your newfound religion their favorite talking point. This may cause you to dread social events or family gatherings at which you are forced to discuss your religious choices rather than, say, your favorite book or the new movie that just came out in theaters. If you find yourself growing tired of discussing Islam, gently tell your companions that you would like to talk about other things.
It is unlikely that your family and friends will understand your decision at first. However, that does not mean that you need to write them out of your life or vice versa. Continue to practice Islam, remain true to yourself and eventually (hopefully!) those in your life will see that Islam has made you a better person.
In communities heavily influenced by Christianity, converting to Islam is much more controversial than converting to, say, Catholicism or Christianity. That does not mean you should hide who you are and who you hope to become. If Muslim is what you choose to be, convert, and use the above tips to try to help your loved ones understand.