Friday, May 8

HOW TO TELL?

"My family still don't know that I'm a Muslim. I just don't know how to tell them," he said.
When you revert to Islam, one of the most difficult thing you have to deal with is to inform your family members about your change of faith. You don't know what their reaction would be. How they would take the news. And that's the main reason why you keep stalling, waiting and waiting for the right moment to do it - to recite the syahadah, and to inform them.

Some did it in secret - revert first, then live a double life. In the work/study place, people might know you as a Muslim, know that you've reverted but at home, you still look the same and behave the same way in front of your family members. And you try to avoid eating certain food and abstain from certain activities, being careful not to arouse suspicions. You can't explain this to your born-Muslim friends, because they might not understand. They'd tell you that what you're doing is wrong. That you're eating nonhalal food. They question about your prayers as a Muslim and they advise you about staying away from your family dog. They say many things but perhaps not one offers a room for you in their own 'clean' Muslim home. And you dare not ask.

Some new reverts prefer not to return home yet. When you do return [because you miss them], you act like normal, taking a lot of soul-searching to decide not to wear the hijab(for Muslimah) and spend certain hours alone in the privacy of the bedroom [to solat in secret]. And all these while, you know that what you're doing is wrong, but you don't really have much of a choice. You keep asking for Allah's forgiveness, and trust Him to know and forgive you. You tell your family members that you're a Muslim; and the first thing they'd do is to scold you, demand to know why, refuse to accept your reasons, and when you insist on being a Muslim, they'd probably ban you from home. Your father might disown you. They might stop sponsoring your studies. They might stop providing you pocket money for your lodging and food (if you're a private college undergraduate). Within minutes, you might find yourself kicked out of your family home, penniless, and unable to take your personal items and documents. And all because you have chosen to be a Muslim - a religion that many misunderstand, that many still regard as bringing shame and dishonour to have a member of the family as a Muslim. And if you're alone, revert not for marriage reasons [meaning there's no boyfriend/girlfriend and their Muslim family to help out] it's more challenging because you have to survive on your own. Alone.

Or worse still, they think you've been charmed.
They'd never want to believe that you want to be a Muslim on your own free will. It's just too difficult to accept that you find another religion to be better than the one they've brought you up to believe in.
"Andrew has a Malay girlfriend. And last week we took him to the shaman and got him cured," I was told many years ago.
"What did you all do?" I was curious. Andrew was my ex-husband's close friend. A Buddhist.
"Andrew's mother found the woman's picture in his bag. He returned from Singapore and told the family that he's going to marry her and become a Muslim. All of a sudden. So they suspected that he's been charmed."
"So what did the shaman do?"
"He gave Andrew some paper talisman to burn and the ash mixed into holy water la..and they had to do the curing ceremony during a full moon. Andrew struggled and kept shouting, but they managed to restrain him."
"Is he ok now?"
"Yes, I've met him. He's quiet now. They called my mother to find the shaman. That's how I know."
I listened and I remembered. And I chose not to inform my own family about my intention when my turn came. I reverted first, then told them. I didn't want to be dragged to the monk or shaman to be 'cured', or worse still, told to drink some 'holy water' to bring me to my senses :P

It's not easy as some people think. In fact, it's dangerous to tell one's nonMuslim family especially when some family members are known to be violent or indulge in dark magic.
And you can't rely on your born-Muslim friends to help out. They will sympathise but rarely would they offer the protection of their own home for you.
Your phone calls might go unanswered, your SMSes might not be replied [yes, happened to me too]
They might not go out all the way to help you in your times of need. And you're unsure who to trust especially if you're a young lady. They say 'kesian" but they might never invite you home for a meal. They say "solat is important" but might never offer to personally teach you how to take wuduk and perform the solat. They say "You should learn from an ustaz or ustazah" but might never bother to help you get one to teach and guide you to be a Muslim(ah). They are happy to have a new Muslim brother or sister, then they forget about you. To most of them, you are just a number in the statistic of Muslim reverts in Malaysia.
They say they have classes for reverts but unlike Christian churches, they don't offer transportation to go there, and you can't attend because you're either too busy working to survive, or the venue is too far to reach on foot. And despite having your personal details, they don't call you or pay a personal visit to find out how you're coping as a new Muslim.
And at the end, when you complain that you don't know much, they'd tell you,"You should search yourself. You should ask people if you're not sure! You should never learn from books alone - that's wrong. You need a good teacher to guide you."
huhuhuuuhuuuuuuu....

And..You hesitate about changing your ID card.
You go to the Malaysian Islamic Religious Department only to be told that they don't provide the service; that you have to go to the magistrate to officially declare yourself a Muslim in a oath, and that you'd need to fill up a form at the National Registration Department to do a new ID card that declare you a Muslim.
It's a hassle. You can't afford to do it, not when you're struggling to make ends meet after being abandoned by your nonMuslim family, and not being given enough financial assistance or bantuan zakat by the relevant authorities. So you drag your feet.
You drag longer especially when you're still hiding your new religion from the knowledge of your family members.

Days go by, months go by and suddenly.... BUMMMM!!!
They found a dead body in a car accident.
Grieving family members wait at the mortuary to claim the body.
The Islamic Religious Department was called.
Investigations have shown that you have reverted to Islam on a certain date, and your name and ID number have been documented as being a Muslim. They have your records in the Islamic Religious Department. No need to look at your ID card.
Thus begin another court case - which people term as corpse-snatching.

Is there an easier and simpler way of informing one's nonMuslim family?
I don't know.. really, I don't know.
Everyone is different. Every case is different.
A simpler and easy way to record oneself as a Malaysian Muslim Revert?Yes, there should be an easier way.
But I'm not a Minister in charge of the Islamic Religious Department, hahahahaaaaa....

6 comments:

  1. The hardest thing to do for a revert is to tell his family that he/she reverted.

    There are some cases that the revert is injured or KILLED in the process.

    We Muslims must be sensitive and try as much as possible to understand the new reverts situation. Dont just think of ourself and say unsensitive things like, dont eat pork at all when at home, dont touch dog (who say muslim cannot touch), dont go back home because your house have idols, dont eat at home because its haram money, you must wear the hijab all the time etc....

    We have to understand situation. What if the family is dislikes it and plan to kill the child because they feel its a disgrace to the family?

    The family do not like the idea Islam because of many reasons. The list below is from my family:

    1. U revert to Islam = U change to Malay
    and they do not like Malay because the behavior of the Malay Muslims. (most do not practice Sunnah)

    2. Islam cause harm to the society as projected by the Malays. See politics, child abortion, rape etc on the news and tv. Most are Malays. So they think Islam is a bad religion.

    3. U change name to Malay name so u became a Malay. Reverts do not have to change name at all unless it brings bad meanings.The Pejabat Agama kept on insisting new reverts to change name.

    4. They believe that once you became a Muslim you will abandon your family because you cant eat pig, will scare of dog (I still pet my dog at home)

    5. You will abandon the family tradition and forget your Chinese roots. You will not respect your parents anymore because your parent eat pig etc.

    The list can go on, basically its case by case.
    I believe that if we change our lifestyle and follow Sunnah 100%, the parents will not have any misunderstanding of Islam. Once the glimpse the beauty of Islam then maybe it will be easier for the new reverts to tell their parents and family.

    P/s: My family even plan to get me to Australia and get married there just so I would convert to some other religion other than Islam. For them even Christianity is better than Islam. Where are we wrong here until they would think that Christianity is better tahn Islam?

    Most Msulims in Malaysia acts more Christian than a Muslim. Dont have to look far. Look at out so called 'Leaders'.

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  2. i am just so touched by all of your courage!

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  3. salam'alayk.
    from waht i can see, you are a teacher, so,
    "Assalamualaikum, cikgu!"
    :)
    I'm a Forth Former of SMKA Al-Irshad in Penang, i guess i shall address you as "Teacher"

    Teacher,
    I was looking for tudung labuh n abayas and end up being here. :D:D
    I've been reading your posts and i would like to comment on this entry.

    From what you've said in this entry, I am determined to help any one who is interested in learning Islam, determined to help them in those conditions you have mentioned.. insyaAllah. I'll do my very best to guide them, and perhaps, they will guide me too.

    it's just that i havent encountered any muallaf or muallaf-to-be .. :D:D

    i know, easier said than done, but i don't want to be one of those Malays who just tend to pity but never give all out in helping..

    teacher,
    even though i am currently studying in an SMKA, the bi'ah, the environment here is just not islamic.. i'm so worried of what will happen once we get into the real world out there.. *sigh*

    oh well, salam ziarah~
    i'll follow your blog. :)

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  4. When you revert to Islam,you'd be called many names - Katak, Melayu celup, disloyal,etc. It takes a lot of courage to stand up for one's rights and be firm about one's beliefs. To be silent when scolded and to be patient when ignored. Easier said than done.
    Tell your parents that many christian priests and pastors have reverted to Islam, so surely that means something? My mother and brother are no longer paranoid, alhamdulillah.

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  5. azaniazmi,
    Courage comes with conviction that Islam is true and Allah is Almighty :)

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  6. Waalaikumussalam Syaza Suriani,
    Be free to visit me at school. Email me for a date. Mine is just next door to yours, and I also teach Fifth Formers. You might even know some of my darlings :)

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