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Saturday, June 23, 2012


The most perplexing but predictable occurrence is when people recognize the truth of Islam -- even accept that truth on some level in their hearts or minds -- but they are not yet able, for whatever reasons, to commit themselves body and soul to that truth they so clearly perceive. It takes a very brave person to go against their culture, religion, and family, work and social ties to accept a new belief that will almost certainly put them outside the pale of all they once knew and cherished. There can be very real pain and loss in accepting Islam: marriages can end, friends and family often distance themselves emotionally or physically, you can lose your job – and for many, the trade-offs are too great a price to pay.

What Islam promises must outweigh their fears in accepting it and the social and other pressures working to dissuade them from accepting it. This is why many people who convert to Islam do so because they get to know and then fall in love with a Muslim man or woman, and it is this personal and emotional bond that first propels them to convert to Islam and then sustains them in their new faith.

This is often true for women, who tend to find the supporting strength in the love bond itself and the emotional attachment to (and from) the Muslim man. It certainly helps when the Muslim spouse is there to love, support and teach their new Muslim partner the ways and beauties of Islam.

And, al-Hamdulillah, there's nothing wrong with “love” being the glue that holds two Muslims together. The secret to success of such a union is keeping the love between them honest and flourishing, while at the same time nurturing the spiritual bond of love between the new Muslim and Allah that will ultimately sustain both Muslims in their life together as a worldly couple and as members of the same faith.

The real problem is when people take on a new religion just because it's the religion of the person they love. These types of converts are often not deeply rooted to Islam, and any children they may have tend not to be strongly connected to their belief. That's sad.

Ideally, a person converts because they need and want Islam and Allah in their life -- and the bonus is that they get a spouse in the process. But I always tell people who are interested in Islam because they're in love with a Muslim, that Islam allows marrying "People of the Book" -- Jews and Christians -- so technically, they don't have to convert to Islam to marry the person with whom they are in love.

I tell these people to go ahead and get married, study the religion sincerely and then if they so choose, they can accept Islam on their own terms and in their own time. Otherwise, it seldom means anything to convert and it rarely produces lasting unions or spiritual rewards. Over time, once they see the truth and benefits of rightly-practiced Islam, they will convert on their own because they genuinely want to convert for themselves and not for their spouses.

This is also where the responsibilities of the long-time or born Muslim are especially critical. It is their duty to be a good example and demonstrate to their new spouse the truth of Islam through their own righteous actions. Nothing kills a new Muslim’s belief in Islam like having a hypocrite Muslim for a mate. I’ve had many conversations (via the 1-800-WHY-ISLAM information line) with American women who converted to Islam to marry a Muslim man they later find out drinks, gambles, lies, commits adultery, beats them or has similarly un-Islamic vices and moral shortcomings. I stress to these distraught and disillusioned women that there are plenty of sincere and devout Muslims who are good examples of the religion, and that you can’t judge the truth of the faith by the faithlessness and misdeeds of some of its hypocritical members. As the old saying goes, “Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.”

In other situations, where a love interest is not a factor, the person who accepts Islam does so for one of two basic reasons:

(A) Their spiritual void is greater than the lure of the world and the fear of losing what they may already have -- be it family, friends, job, social standing, fame, wealth -- and their experience of Islam and connection to Allah is apparent and fulfilling enough to show them the true Love and Guidance of Allah they receive through prayer and other elements of Islamic practice and by association with good, practicing Muslims.

If a person truly seeks communion with God above all else, then accepting Islam is something they see as a clear action they must do for their own spiritual survival. For many people, this clarity comes from the tragedy and suffering they experience by their choices and lifestyle they previously knew: people who are addicts, alcoholics, gamblers, prostitutes (or sexually abused women), etc. People who have seen how the world they live in without Islam does not help, save or protect them in any way -- it is these types of people who readily and easily accept Islam. 

(B) After perceiving the truth of Islam, their sense of moral and intellectual honesty precludes them from continuing to believe in what they now know in their hearts and minds is wrong or self-destructive and unlivable. These types of people usually are not socially constrained by what others think of them or their choices in life. They do what they know is true and right for them and accept the potential loss of worldly relations and benefits as a small price to pay for living the truth as opposed to living a lie.

For some, though, especially those in positions of social, political or religious power, this is a virtually impossible course of action. I know of a Catholic priest in New York who studied and eventually accepted the truth of the teachings of Islam and the coming of the Imam Mahdi and Promised Messiah, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as), but the priest’s sense of responsibility in leading and ministering to his Catholic congregation prevented him from publically renouncing Christianity and accepting Islam Ahmadiyyat.

He knew that most everything he preached to his congregation about Jesus (as) and the Church’s doctrines were lies or half-truths at best, but he couldn’t bear telling them how he now believed in Islam and the Holy Prophet Muhammad (sa) because he feared it would crush them and leave them spiritually uprooted and lost. Many of them were elderly and had spent their whole lives believing in the Catholic Church, and he couldn’t bring himself to tell them the truth. So he didn’t.

For me it was a combination of both (a) and (b). I was seeking a deeper, truer experience of the Divine from what I previously knew as a follower of philosophical Taoism, and for me, Islam was a treasure of pleasant and unexpected surprises and blessings. It gave me a connectedness to God which I’d never imagined was possible. I was also of the mindset that if I could rationally and intellectually comprehend something as true, I would be a total hypocrite not to accept it because of what I might lose as a result of doing so. 

A person facing the choice of accepting Islam is like someone on the edge a cliff with no parachute being told by Muslims to go ahead and jump -- Allah will be their parachute. At some point, their hope of that being true must outweigh their fears of falling to their death, because in a way, accepting Islam is very much like falling to your death -- it's almost always the end of the religious and worldly life you previously knew, and that is seldom a painless experience.

The fear of a new, unknown life is a powerful deterrent for a lot of people. That's why I always tell those interested in Islam to pray in prostration late at night (when they are all alone) to God the Father if they are Christian, that He guide them to the truth. This, coupled with reading the Holy Quran in a decent translation is usually sufficient to give people what they need to experience and know in order to commit to accepting Islam. I also tell people that they will keep everything good in their previous belief and lose all the corruptions, nonsense and outright falsehoods in their old belief.

Ultimately, everyone who sincerely comes to Islam does so of their own accord. The old saying is true: “You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink.” In this case, it’s people, not horses, and the water is not literal. But once they do drink, they will imbibe the spiritually pure and life-restoring waters direct from the Fountain of Allah's Love, Mercy and Blessings in every aspect of their life.
Appeared as original content on June 23rd, 2012 at this link:
It is also posted at the UK-based Blog "Victory for Abraham" at this link:

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