For many brothers and sisters, being a Muslim revert is not easy. In the early stages, there will be many questions and changes in life. This is certainly beneficial on the long term, but it may create instability in the short one. One thing for sure is that you won’t get far on your own. But who should you turn to? Well, I don’t know all the answers, but being a convert myself, I can tell you that I was once in your shoes. For those reading who are born into a Muslim family, this article is for you as well as it speaks into your role as ambassadors of Islam and productivity! Without purpose and productivity, the walk towards the straight path can be a very lonely one, but there is no reason it should be this way. Let’s get reminded of how to change that together.
The Productive Muslim Academy book for November 2016 is Never Eat Alone, which is essentially about enhancing your productivity by networking and building up your contacts and friends by supporting and growing with them.
Using this book as the backdrop, I would like to give new Muslims and born Muslims my tips on how to walk on the path of Allah together.
1. Engage with your old family and friendships through ‘halal’ means:
Embracing Islam does not begin with the Shahada and end with putting people into neat boxes labelled “Halal” and “Haram”, a term I like to define in English as “off-limits”. Your family and lifelong friends are important and -as long as they are not undertaking activities that would influence you negatively-, you can do your best to stand by them and engage with them. It is a form of dawah (inviting to the way of Allah) as long as you are influencing them positively and not being influenced negatively by them in terms of compromising or weakening your faith.
So long as there are no activities taking place that are displeasing to Allah or unlawful in any way, shape or form, then it should be okay. After all, it is essential to talk with your family and friends. Whilst boundaries will need to be drawn, battle lines don’t. Encourage important people in your life to participate in productive activities with you. In doing so, more people around you will see how you have changed and will be more willing to talk to you about your religion.
Even if you can gather to only eat together, you can share with them how this is part of your religion and the teaching of The Last Messenger of the Creator, Prophet Muhammad who says:
“Eat together and do not eat separately, for the blessing is in being together.” [Sunan ibn Majah]
This way, they can appreciate your faith in a new light and be intrigued to look further into it.
2. Cultivate new friendships:
It is likely that -as a new Muslim- you will be eager to make new friends. Remember as with all great friendships, they have to be grown and will take time to bring forth fruit.For those Productive Muslims reading this who have been Muslim for a while, please help a fellow brother or sister out. If you see a new Muslim at the mosque or in the street, talk to them! They will be ever so grateful. Don’t let others take advantage of them. You never know how your intervention may prevent a revert suffering from a faith crisis (not a nice feeling, believe me). Your job is not done after hearing them recite their Shahada! Please remember this.
3. Reading leads to productivity:
I have spoken on Productive Muslim about the value of reading, and I cannot highlight enough the importance of sitting down with a good book, especially when it comes to getting to know your own religion. Learn your Qur’an well, explore the tafseer (exegesis) and delve deeper into the Speech of The Creator. Also, when it comes to Islam and productivity, I can say with certainty that you are in the right place being on this site! I run the Productive Muslim Academy Book Club where we all do the same worksheets and participate in webinars together. So if you are a new Muslim and you are not sure where to turn, I advise you to investigate our Academy modules, including mine! Joining our book club is a great way to build up contacts and community as well… never read alone again!
4. The power of continuity and consistency:
If, as a new Muslim, you made it your goal in 2016 to pray ALL five prayers no matter where you are or to visit the mosque daily, then keep up the habit! It might be a little shock to your system to go the gym, pray and work a full-time job, but consistent communal prayer is a sure fire way of building community ties. If you dip in and out of your group prayers you will be losing out on countless opportunities to make friends and grow your professional network. If there is no mosque near you or you really cannot get there, make sure you reach out to some Muslim support groups. There is no excuse not to worship collectively!
The Prophet said : “…By Allah, if each of you prays in his house, you will have abandoned the Sunnah of your Prophet, and if you abandon the Sunnah of your Prophet you will go astray….” [Sunan ibn Majah]
This fourth step will take sacrifice! It might mean, as it did in my case, that you make it your business to know every mosque in the city or that you book appointments and work schedule (or even leisure activities) around prayer times but believe me, it is worth it. I just think of all the exercise and fat I burn cycling to the masjid. A consistent Muslim, convert or otherwise, is a productive one.
5. Seek help through patience and prayer:
The noble Qur’an says “O you who have believed, seek help through patience and prayer. Indeed, Allah is with the patient.” [Qur’an: Chapter 2, Verse 153].
Being patient is as much about persevering with yourself as it is with others. There will be times where you don’t feel spiritual. You might even feel fed-up and irritable, having slipped up and lost your newly created habits, be it gym attendance, masjid attendance, reduction in the number of swear words you allow to pass your lips etc. You might feel completely and utterly unproductive. I invite you to pray about it and submit the issue to Allah . Make yourself accountable to a Muslim you trust of the same sex (i.e. not your wife or husband though they should know you are doing it and who with). Do this not to revel in the sin or poor behavior but to genuinely seek Allah’s Will on the matter. Ask your accountability partner to commit to doing dua for you too.
6. Welcome in new members of the mosque:
In the 21st century migration is common. At a big enough mosque, every week will bring new faces – converts and Muslims born to Muslim families. As a convert you cannot and shouldn’t expect others to come and help you out all the time. It is a two way street. There are others, who just like you are new (to the area or religion) and need friends to help them become productive and fulfilled! So considering the previous steps I have told you, reach out and say “Salam”. Whilst you might think you don’t know much about your religion, if you have been following Abu Productive’s advice you probably know a thing or two on productivity and can help others on that journey.
Now our Book Club…
As part of our commitment to productivity and personal development within an Islamic framework we at Productive Muslim have created a new Productive Muslim Academy course – the Academy Book Club in collaboration with QUAKE Books, where we release one book a month, provide worksheets, forum support, productivity challenges and activities along with an interactive webinar.
November 2016’s book is Keith Ferrazzi’s Never Eat Alone and as you might have guessed, it will help you build up your connections and community in order to be a happier more productive Muslim or Muslimah! So if you are interested in answering the following questions and improving your connection with God, insha’Allah, then we invite you to join us in the Productive Muslim Academy Book Club in collaboration with QUAKE Books:
Do I really know the people in my extended family, mosque or workplace, or do I just greet them as I go through the motions of being polite? What opportunities may I be missing out on as a result?
What is my role in the world as a Muslim who wants to build a mutually beneficial network as a “giver” and NOT just a “taker”?