By Laura El Alam
New Muslims often have many questions about how to properly practice Islam. At the same time, they are often bombarded with unsolicited opinions, information, and advice. Whether it’s an unknown brother or sister at the mosque approaching them with criticism, or a random “born Muslim” who decides to share words of wisdom with them, converts hear a lot of feedback. In some cases, the advisors have the best intentions and actually offer excellent suggestions, but other times, they are not really qualified to provide Islamic guidance. How will a convert know?
If face-to-face interactions can be confusing, the Internet can be even more bewildering. With its endless supply of information, the anonymity of much of the content, and the difficulty of discerning the validity of claims, the Internet is home to a mixed bag of Islamic information. While some websites and influencers offer highly beneficial insights, others spread inaccurate information and do more harm than good. For those who are new to Islam, it can be extremely confusing to know which views are valid and who to trust.
All Muslims have a responsibility to seek knowledge. Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah, may peace and blessings be upon him, said: “Whoever travels on a path in search of knowledge, Allah will make the path to Paradise easy for him.” Source: Sahih Muslim 2699
Our search must be done strategically. Just as we wouldn’t solicit the advice of random strangers if we suspect we have a serious medical problem, we shouldn’t rely on dubious sources for clarity about our say. We must strive to ensure that our Islamic guidance comes from reputable, educated and reputable sources.
Here are some tips for new converts who aren’t sure who to trust with their Islamic education.
- Find an official mentor. His local mosque might be able to match him with a person who is trained and able to provide guidance. WhyIslam can also help you find a mentor in your area. Your mentor must be of the same gender as you. He or she must have excellent character, a sincere commitment to Islam and no vested interest in your spiritual journey. For example, they should not wait for you to practice Islam correctly before they marry you, or for you to marry their son or daughter.
- Remember that Islam is perfect but Muslims are not. There are many sincere and well-informed Muslims who make excellent guides and role models, but unfortunately there are also some weak, uneducated or unscrupulous ones. New converts are in a particularly vulnerable position because they often know little about the faith. They tend to trust established Muslims who seem to have all the answers. But remember: just because someone grew up in a Muslim household or in a Muslim-majority country, it does not mean that they have correct Islamic knowledge. In fact, many Muslims mistake their cultural traditions, superstitions, or family habits for Islamic norms.
- Some Muslims even deliberately exploit new converts. Women who are new to Islam should be especially careful because some men will distort the religion to suit their own agenda. They will teach the new Muslims only what is convenient for them, ignoring or hiding their rights and dignity. Women converts should ensure that they find a mentor who can answer questions about the rights and responsibilities of women in Islam and advocate for them when necessary.
- Listen to your gut. If a Muslim (online or in real life) gives advice that seems harmful to you or others, be sure to investigate the issue further. don’t trust one the person’s opinion, especially if that person does not have academic credentials or does not cite reliable sources. Having thousands of followers online, being charismatic, speaking with confidence or authority, or being born into a Muslim family does not make someone a legitimate scholar or role model.
- Watch for red flags. Sincere and well-informed Muslims will never gossip or slander others to gain likes or followers. They will not value one ethnic group, nationality or race above others. They will not preach a message that pits men against women or makes one gender sound superior while portraying the other as inherently flawed. Informed Muslims will not promote terrorism, but will work for justice and peace. Rather than following fads or adopting non-Islamic trends to gain popularity, sincere believers will maintain their etiquette, high moral standards, and healthy behavior. Muslims who use vulgarity or immodesty in an attempt to be hip or relatable are not following Islamic guidelines.
- Do not be fooled by appearances. Don’t assume someone is a scholar by the way they dress. A man with a long beard, a thobeand a LIMIT It may seem more intellectual or authentic to you, but the clothes can be deceiving. Character, training and credentials are more important than outward appearance. Similarly, carry a abaya and a niqab it doesn’t necessarily make a woman more erudite. It may seem unnecessary to remind you, “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” but most humans tend to make subconscious assumptions based on what others are wearing. Please note that not all the faithful are experts in Islam. Even sincere practicing Muslims often lack a thorough understanding of their religion.
- Use reputable websites for research. Many of us Google a question and accept the first answer we get. For example, writing the question “Does a new Muslim need to change his name?” barns about 158,000,000 results on Google. The first and prominent answer comes from Board, which is not an Islamic-oriented source, but rather a secular magazine covering politics, culture, art, and news. slate The answer appears first because of computer algorithms, not because they are a Muslim’s best resource. Therefore, take the time to carefully search for Islamic knowledge. While no one can review 158 million articles, it is better to read a few relevant pieces from different Islamic sources to see if the opinions agree.
Some trusted websites are:
Yaqeen Institute of Islamic Research: https://yaqeeninstitute.org/
muslim affairs https://muslimmatters.org/
hadith database https://sunnah.com/
Why Islam? https://www.becauseislam.org/
Today, new converts have a wealth of information at their fingertips. As the Muslim population grows, there are also more and more brothers and sisters to connect with in real life. However, knowledge seekers should always use their critical thinking skills. They must realize that the first, easiest answer is not always the correct one, and that the opinion of a Muslim is not necessarily the truth. Here’s a helpful suggestion to keep in mind: Islam is a faith of moderation, modesty, peace, egalitarianism, and justice, so beware of any messages that go against those criteria. Seek the truth – strategically – until your heart feels at peace.
Do you want to know more? Call 877-WhyIslam or visit milligorusportal.com. You deserve to know!
Author Bio: Laura El Alam is a first-generation Muslim American and the author of more than 100 published articles. She has written a children’s book, Made from the same masswhich will be released in 2023. You can visit it online at www.seaglasswritingandediting.com.