Engaging Our Loved Ones
Many of us who convert to Islam find ourselves in a minor , or maybe a major dilemma. On one hand we want to share our new found faith with our family and friends, but on the other hand we don’t want to damage our relationships unnecessarily. Sometimes our sharing is received as proselytizing, overly defensive, emotional, etc. Not sharing our faith can result in problems such as the leading of a double life, a Muslim life and a life that your loved ones are familiar with, which can be extremely difficult to merge later in life. So the question we need to answer ourselves is “How do we share our faith yet not be too forceful or overwhelming as to damage our ties of kinship or our friendships?”
This is a question that my mother actually answered for me. She was used to hearing about my Muslim life of activism, interesting friends, and wild experiences. But, she was also used to hearing me get really defensive and emotional about my faith trying to convince her and my father of specific perspectives that they just were not going to agree with me on. She said “Why don’t you have an informational dinner for the friends and family of converts so they can hear your perspectives from someone besides their loved one?” I said “Great idea mom!!!”
Due to the encouragement of my mother and the initiative of Kelly from chicagomuslimconvert.com we decided to arrange a ‘Ramadan Friends and Family Lunch.’ Thanks to generous sponsors and dedicated volunteers we were able to pull it off successfully with the permission of God, Most High.
We were honored to have 5 converts from the community bring a total of 9 guests that were friends or family members to spend the afternoon with us. We rented out a local coffee shop for a few hours in order to have a neutral and relaxed environment. We had a nice program planned out. You can see the program schedule posted here. The idea was to have a low-impact program that was light on lectures/information, but heavy on a providing guests with a positive and memorable experience.
We welcomed guests by serving beverages and providing time for people to mingle. We had a short icebreaker where participants stated their name, who they attended with and what they know about Ramadan with “Nothing” being a completely acceptable answer. There was great participation from all attendees.
Then we had a short talk by a brother about the concept of fasting and the month of Ramadan in Islam. After the talk we had a sister present about what a day of fasting is like and what it entails. Afterwards we had an open discussion where many relevant and inquisitive questions were posed and answered wisely and respectfully.
Of course we had to close out by showing our gratitude towards our loved ones and our hospitality by providing each guest with a gift bag filled with chocolates, coffee, tea with custom ‘Ramadan” tins, and a picture frame with selected Qur’anic verses. All of our guests left giving us positive feedback, stating their appreciation, and their interest in attending similar events in the future.
Overall, this event proved to be very successful and fairly revolutionary from my experience. Why revolutionary? The engagement of the friends and family of converts to Islam is something that our community in general has not been able to do on a large scale, and it can be argued if we have been able to do it effectively on an individual level. The engagement of our loved ones early in our journey into Islam may prove to be an essential step in developing a healthy practice of Islam for those who have chosen Islam as their religion. The ability to have our family and friends feel comfortable in our religious circles is an incredible step in the right direction for normalizing Islamic practice in the United States amongst Muslims and specifically converts to Islam.
The goals for this event were:
Thank you for your support, stay updated on our upcoming programs! If you want to host something like this in your local community feel free to contact us and we will do our best to help you brainstorm.