Thursday, April 23, 2009

Converting to Islam

This is a short post about converting to Islam. The title is not meant to be the end of the sentence "I am converting to Islam" :p Not right now...

I *am* thinking about converting to Islam though. I see it in my future, let's say. But I am still not clear. Something that is keeping me away is the lack of passion, I guess we could say. I have mentionned my difficulties in finding a connection with God and it's still part of my struggle.

I see a lot of converts on blogs and vlogs and they are all so passionate about Islam, and seem to be so strict in following Islam. I might have a different view of things than they do, but they are strict in what they believe in. As for me, I believe in certain things about Islam, and I don't even I could be strict about *those* things. Praying, for example. I cannot imagine myself praying 5 times a day. It would be too difficult. I don't have the devotion for that, I think... I don't think I would wear hijab, at least not at the beginning. It's too big of a step for me.

Are these concerns that should be keeping me away from being Muslim, or are they things that other converts feel? Did you wait to have these things figured out before converting or did you convert and slowly continue your journey in Islam after the conversion? What does it take for a person to actually call themselves Muslim? (I have written a post about this, but obviously I'm not 100% on where I stand!)

14 Comentários:

Stacy aka Fahiima said...

I know what you mean and am still trying to figure out where I fit in on some of the various issues. Sometimes I wish that Christianity and Islam didn't have to be mutually exclusive. I love so many things about Islam and Muslims, but then I have seen many things that disturb me. I also think that it is important that what you believe actually has the ability to penetrate your heart to make you a better person from the inside, and I have seen that more with Christianity overall. Idk it's a very complicated topic.

Cecilia said...

I know what you feel! for me it is har to pray 5 times a day, I don´know the words yet and it is new and something you have to learn, make it a dayliy rutine. but that takes time! and it has to take time, I´m in no ruch.. the same goes with the hijab. I wont wear hijab right now, I hope I will some day insha´allah. but not now and that has to be ok too. I´m in a learing stage. and do you know what! there are all types of muslimahs and not everyone have hijab and about the pray, you should try to pray 5 times but if you can´t you can´t... in the end it is between you and allah and you should do what feels right for you! take it step by step!
I don´t think you should Not convert because you don´t know how strict you can be! what feels right for you? strict, not strict? and the follow islam after the way you think works for you! otherwise it wont come from the heart and that is the most important thing! your faith strict or not must come from your heart!

Solace In Islam said...

I think you are a Muslim the moment you believe that there is only one God and Mohammed was His last messenger.

I had the passion for Islam before I formally said my shahada, but if you have so many doubts I think you should first think carefully - the things you have issues with are integral parts of Islam.

Melek said...

I converted a few weeks ago and I still don't know how to pray properly but I am focusing on memorizing Al-Fatiha for now. For me, this is a journey not a destination and if my journey is slower than other people's, that's perfectly ok with me. As long as my beliefs are strong and getting stronger and I feel that I am becoming a better person and doing things that please Allah, that's enough for me.

Aalya said...

Like the above poster said 'its about a journey not a destination' I so agree with that! I think that all of us need time to adjust to all the changes, for some it takes longer than others, but by no means does that make someone more or less of a Muslim. Islam was revealed in 23 years... so I think we're allowed to give ourselves a few years!!
I felt that I had to be a perfect Muslim before converting - it was so much pressure (they say that you sins are erased when you say your Shahada) well I didn't want to end up making more sins...etc afterwards. The thing is we are human, we will fail and sin and do it again and again - it's just in our nature we can't help that but we can strive to be better humans! I think Islam shows us the way to be 'better' humans - you can't go wrong if you 'listen' to God and live how God wants you to live! I strive for that each day!

rahma said...

Converts do tend to obsess about following every little detail, because they're excited and passionate about the deen. More often then not, it seems like that tends to backfire and they burn themselves out. Not that I know this from personal experience or anything *attempts to look innocent*

If there is one thing I always recommend new converts to focus on about all else, it's the prayer. Newbies are bombarded with a million pieces of advice, do this, do that, leave this, OMGosh, that's haram! Ignore all that and get your prayers in order :)

I didn't do this. I was really lax about it, and so excited to learn this that and the other thing, that I didn't realize that I wasn't getting anywhere in the religion.

Prayer is the foundation of the building, so to speak. You can't really build anything if you don't have a solid foundation. I know, I tried for years to build a house on sand, and it kept collapsing in on itself.

I struggled with prayer for years, not praying 5 times a day, but still trying to learn about the religion, trying to be a good muslim, but never succeeding. When I started to get serious about praying, things started to click, and everything fell into place. Honestly, even my marriage improved 110% after we started to pray together and were both strict about making sure we prayed each prayer on time.

If I could do it all over again, I'd tell my new muslim self to focus on the salat and ignore everything else until you have that 5 times a day.

If you can't work up the energy to do 5 times a day, start small. Pray 1 prayer, and then at the other times, stop what you're doing and remember God. Once you have that 1 prayer down, add another, and another and another and another, until you have all 5.

To learn the prayer, a beautiful sister sent me a set of cards. They had a line of arabic (transliterated) followed by the meaning in english. I'd stand in prayer and read the arabic aloud from the cards, and then follow it by reading the english to myself. After a few weeks of this, I was suprised to find that not only did I have the arabic memorized, I also knew what I was saying.

I made a set of the cards that people can download here:

cairo, lusaka, amsterdam said...

Like you said, it is important to have that connection with God before converting...for me I just felt it one day and I began praying the next day. It's definitely an emotional thing.

Praying seems hard now but trust me, once you convert it won't seem like a hassle at all, and in fact you'll want to pray.

About the hijab, and this is really controversial but I personally don't believe it is 100% necessary in Islam. People seem to forget that there is a debate around the veil and that many many Muslims do not see it as a requirement. However, some other Muslims (especially converts for some reason) see it as blasphemy for me to even say this and that's annoying, since at the end of the day each Muslim has his/her own Islam.

The hardest thing will probably be for you to separate culture from Islam itself, especially since the more extreme versions of Islam that have been spreading lately have more to do with Arab culture than Islam itself.

Candice said...

There's so much I want to respond to. I may have to come back and finish later because I am at the office right now.

Stacy: I think a lot of people have that problem too... And, as I wrote in another post, I don't think a person can be both Christian and Muslim at the same time, at least not by the definitions that I have of those two words, but I think that a person can have their own beliefs that do not have to fit into either or both of these labels. Everyone wants to belong to something, but in the end, maybe what you believe in fits with some of each, and essentially, neither. The other thought I have is that you believe in Islam (One God, Muhammad as his messenger who brought the Qur'an) but you see things differently than most Muslims. I feel that is kinda where I stand. And I think the best label for that is Muslim for that.

Cecelia: That "strict" question is a tricky one. I want to be strict in what I believe in, but my believes are pretty liberal. It's not like someone, for example, who believes in hijab but does not want to wear it, it's more like someone who does not believe hijiab is mandatory, and does not wear it. I would be seen the same way as someone who is not strict, even though I *am* being strict about what I believe in. (I must note that I believe that the hijab is strongly recommended at the least, and quite possibly obligatory, so that was just an example up there).

Solace in Islam: I agree with you about the definition of Muslim. But that part is between you and God mostly... Because becoming a Muslim to the outside world, and even to yourself, in a formal way, is something more...

Candice said...

Melek: Thanks for your comment. It is a journey for sure.

Aalya: Thanks, I think that's what I struggle with too. I want to know everything and be able to do everything before starting. Obviously it is not going to happen so I'm taking a different road on my journey now.

Rahma: I feel the same way about prayer. It's the first thing I really learned about. I have known Al-Fatiha and how to pray for over a year... Since the beginning of this journey in Islam. When it comes to Islam, I don't want to be focused on something like hijab right away. I want to be focused on prayer and a relationship with God. I kind of think hijab is best left for someone who has gotten that part "down". Also, seeing as a woman in hijab is a person representing Islam to any non-Muslim who sees her, she needs to know where she is in her deen.

CLA: I'm glad you mentionned the connection. That is still what is lacking here for me... I don't know why, but I am working on it. And about your view of hijab, I totally respect that and feel similarly. It sucks that it has to be so controversial to some.

Aurangzeb said...

Converting to Islam doesn't mean just praying or just wearing a scarf. It means saving ourselves from the heat and pain of hell and making oneself worthy of the gifts of ALLAH. I'm sure that wearing a headscarf in 110 degrees or praying five times a day is much easier than burning in a fire. I'm also sure that praying 5 times a day is a small price for enjoying the happiness of paradise forever.

Melissa said...

I think wearing hijab or thinking you wouldn't be able to do all 5 prayers everyday shouldn't stop you from accepting Islam.
I think if you believe in it, if it's truly in your heart that you believe in it, then you shouldn't delay it.
Don't worry about hijab right away. I know it's important, but it's not one of the 5 pillars.
The prayer is very important though, and is one of the 5 pillars as I'm sure you know.
It takes time to learn them, and it takes time to get used to performing them. It's something I struggle with.
I have a good streak where I do them all, on time and then I miss one here and there for some various reason and I can feel it, it's like something is missing and I miss it.
You take it day by day, don't rush into everything and go all gung ho about it, you'll burn yourself out.
And I don't want anyone to think that I'm discouraging you from doing anything. It's just that some converts/reverts really can get carried away and start doing everything all at once. And you can really burn yourself out fast like that.
I speak from experience...And I really irritated my husband and it caused a lot of fighting too.

Candice said...

Thanks for your comment! I learned how to pray some time ago and just focused on doing 3 per day and it was a very nice feeling indeed. I stopped for a long time -- I guess everything was on hold then, and then started again with just one, and even that gave me peace somehow.

Sarah said...

I've been through these type of questions in my own spiritual life. I would say you do have a connection to God, which shows itself in your beliefs and the way you're "seeking" faith. Not everyone is the same. Some people become really hardcore because for whatever reason they need the security of black and white rules. I personally think it doesn't necessarily mean they are closer to God. Perhaps they are just more confident about their choices than those of us who have to think everything through deeply from all angles. Both ways are fine, I think.

I too have some desire to nurture a relationship with God and so these comments about prayer are interesting to me. I've been thinking about learning to do the Islamic prayer.

itsela said...

Personally, I have a really hard time believing that you are interested or ready to convert to Islam. I have not yet converted myself but I pray 5 times a day and I wear the hijab. All of my family is Catholic and my uncle is even a priest. The basis of Islam is to believe in one God, to love and respect him. You seem to be undecided even about his existence. You are definitely not ready to convert. And if you think about it, Allah gives you 1440 minutes each day, is spending 25 of those minutes too much to thank him for all he has done and give him praise? Praying 5 times a day and following the 5 pillars of Islam is not “hard core”. By accepting Islam, you're accepting the pillars; otherwise you're just deciding to call yourself something without substance. I think you need to reflect on your life and your beliefs. Why are you even considering converting?

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