"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."
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....