We are all converts/reverts at a point in our lives. We may have had the good fortune of being born into practising Muslim families or the luck of being born into a liberal, relaxed Muslim home, either way, we reach a point in our lives when we ‘choose’ to follow the Path of Allah and His Rasul(SAW). If we haven’t attained such a stage yet, we should strive to become committed and practising Muslims.
When we choose to follow the rules of Islam (whether as reverts or secondary reverts), we are sometimes met with stiff opposition from our families who may not condone our new dressing or behaviour, or we could be met with derision at every step of the way by ‘more-knowledgeable sisters’ at the masjid or study circles. One thing is certain; Shaytan will be there to discourage our progress through people who will place stumbling blocks in our way.
These people will constrain us with their own verdicts and make the religion burdensome, they will expect our iman to reach peak levels in an instant; pray the 5 daily prayers and their accompanying nafl, witr and tahajjud everyday, and fast the whole of Ramadan, Mondays and Thursdays and the white days, commence the niqab, grow a beard, shorten our trousers, begin da’awah, and Islamic classes, memorise the Qur’an, learn Arabic all in an instant. How intimidating this itinerary is for a born Muslim not to talk of a revert!
These actions are laudable but whoever embarks on his journey this way will inevitably burnout and lose hope. Worst-case scenario is he leaves the religion, feeling it too extreme.
When the Prophet came with Islam, he did not begin to brand everything haram, he began gradually. Even Allah did not impose Islam that way. The commandment of hijab and jihad was in stages, banning alcoholism was likewise (Q2.219 abrogated by Q5.90).
While the pressures to be a better Muslim keep mounting, we should pace ourselves. We cannot go as fast as some others we know but we should have the intention to be better and take active steps toward it. Allah will reward the effort and our sincere intention. He sees all that is in our hearts. If we turn our backs on Islam, we will only have ourselves to blame. ‘Never fear the blame of the blamers.’
On the other hand, those of us who seek to ‘encourage’ the reverts and born Muslims should do so with manners, humility, empathy and care, like true believers. We should show them concern, listen to them and allay their fears. Allow them pick a pace and stick with it. Let us not overburden them or deride their efforts. I know sometimes, the pushing helps but we should reduce it to a nudge instead to prevent them from leaving the Path altogether.
Abdullah ibn Amr narrated that Allah’s Messenger (SAW) was informed that I had said, ‘By Allah, I will fast all the days and pray all the nights as long as I shall live’….He said: You cannot do that so fast sometimes and do not fast sometimes. Pray and sleep. Fast for three days a month for the reward of a good deed is multiplied by 10 and so the fasting of 3days every month equals fasting the whole year. I said, ‘I can do more than that.’… Then he said: Fast on alternate days. And this was the fasting of David which is the most moderate sort of fasting. I said, ‘I can do more than that.’ He said: There is nothing better than that.- Sahih al-Bukhari 3418
According to another narration,
the Prophet said: Don’t do that. Observe fast for a few days then leave off for a few days. Perform prayers and sleep at night, as your body has a right upon you, and your eyes have a right upon you, and your wife has a right upon you and your visitors have a right upon you. – Riyadus Saliheen Book 1 Hadith 150