By Steeve Brador
During my journey as a new Muslim, I came across people who were truly inspirational and made a huge difference in my life. But nowadays, it feels like we only hear about the problems surrounding new Muslims and our failure to support them. Rarely do we hear about the other side of the story, where new Muslims are inspired and transformed by the enormous and hidden efforts of dedicated helpers.
Fourteen years ago, at the start of my journey as a new Muslim, Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā) put remarkable individuals on my path who greatly impacted my life as a Muslim. I met amazing families who generously opened their doors during Ramaḍān, invited me for ifṭār, remembered me on ʿEid day, and shared with me precious moments of happiness. Their warm hospitality always made me feel like a part of their family. In fact, I was like another son to them. I met inspiring brothers with whom I tasted real brotherhood. Despite our different levels of progress, we never judged or criticised one another. Instead, we always motivated each other to increase our knowledge of Islām and develop a strong relationship with the Qur’ān. This environment of constant remembrance of Allāh played a critical role for me in building strong foundations as a Muslim. The little gestures and kind attention from these individuals had such a big impact on my life that I wished for everyone else entering Islām to have a similar experience.
Ten years later, alhamdulillāh Allāh blessed me with the unique opportunity to work with other brothers and sisters who had just accepted Islām. It was my responsibility to ensure that they enjoyed the best experience as new Muslims. But soon I realised that my mission was more complex than anything I could have ever imagined. I met new Muslims who felt completely abandoned by their local communities. Their first experiences in the masjid were quite unwelcoming, and they received hardly any emotional support from other Muslims. I spoke to many dāʿīs who admitted that they had no structure or follow-up system to help them keep track of how new Muslims were feeling or progressing.
As we travelled up and down the country, we realised that many communities were not effectively prepared to welcome, educate and support our new brothers and sisters.
To see different results, we needed a model of excellence that could be implemented in any community. This was so that new Muslims anywhere could transform into strong believers in the same way that the companions developed by being around the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam).
During these years, working alongside new Muslims, we were able to further analyse the situation and develop a better understanding of some of the common challenges and patterns that they go through after accepting Islām.
But that wasn’t enough to bring about a complete solution…
Is it still possible today for new Muslims to go through the same inspiring and uplifting journey that I went through fourteen years ago? Where are all the amazing and motivational Muslims like the ones I met?
Alhamdulillāh, I can firmly state that there are still amazing Muslims out there and I couldn’t imagine writing this article without paying tribute to them. I haven’t just heard about them; I have met them across the UK and seen them in action with my own eyes. I have found them truly inspiring māshā’Allāh.
They are the silent hard workers who consistently invest their effort and dedication. They often remain hidden but Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā) is aware of their work and their intentions. May Allāh reward them with that which is best in this life and in the Hereafter. They are brothers, sisters, local teams, and families who work everyday to support our new brothers and sisters in Islām.
They are those who meet new Muslims in the masjid every single week. Regardless of whether twenty people turn up, or only one person or no one turns up, they are there, ready to welcome new Muslims and share the food they cooked or bought.
They are those who open their own houses during Ramaḍān, share ifṭār with new Muslims, and prepare goody bags for them on ʿEid day, while they do not even know them.
They are the friends whom new Muslims can turn to, share their problems with and seek advice from. They are committed teachers who teach new Muslims how to pray and remind them to always turn to Allāh.
They are using their own initiative. They are not paid for what they do, but instead are using their own money. They never ask for anything in return, and only hope that their Lord is pleased with them.
Sometimes I feel really sad that no one talks or writes about them. But then I realise that their anonymity is actually a blessing from Allāh that will keep their intention pure.
They are those who inspire me and make me realise that it is absolutely possible for new Muslims to experience what I experienced fourteen years ago. And by combining their experiences and the lessons that we have learned, we can bring a model for change in our community which you can now be a part of.
Over the past four years, one of the key lessons I have learned is that change often comes from these dedicated and committed individuals who feel passionately about the cause and persevere for it.
The huge impact they have on new Muslims’ lives can be replicated by any one of you.
Today, any community could turn from not knowing anything about dealing with new Muslims to becoming a standard of excellence – a true “new Muslim-friendly community”.
What would a “new Muslim-friendly community” look like?
Imagine a community…
* Where new Muslims would be warmly welcomed. They would experience a true sense of brotherhood and feel like a real family member, with their needs taken care of.
* With a comprehensive education program that would build solid foundations for new Muslims. They would have dedicated mentors who would know how to empower them and help them to overcome their challenges.
* That would cater for new Muslims on ʿEid day. They would have regular activities tailored for them, in which they would feel appreciated, valued and encouraged for their contribution.
This is what I would consider to be a “new Muslim-friendly community”. The criteria are not set in stone and there may be many more aspects of a new Muslim-friendly community. However, from our experience, these are the core foundations.
These ideal communities are not just mere imagination. Rather, these foundations are the best practices implemented by “new Muslim-friendly communities” in the UK.
Sounds interesting… but how do we get there?
Below are a few practical steps to reach this result in an easy way.
The Roadmap | Steps to build a successful new Muslim-friendly community
1. Take the initiative and the lead!
It all starts with you having the correct intention, motivation and commitment to bring a change to your community. Offer your help to your local community leaders to make them aware of the situation and the fact that you are willing to take action. Propose a plan to work together on changing the situation.
2. Motivate your community!
We can assist you during this stage by providing you with motivational speakers and inspiring new Muslims who would come and motivate your community. Their stories will help your community realise the responsibility that every single one of us has. This will help you to build a motivated local team dedicated to making a change.
3. Inspire and train your team!
Once you have formed your team, we can train your team to develop a solid understanding of how to effectively welcome, educate and empower new Muslims. Your team will recognise the huge blessings that come as a result of supporting their brothers and sisters and following the example of the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam).
4. Provide education and regular social activities!
Build a database of new Muslims in your community and provide activities so that they can come together, meet in person and build bonds of brotherhood. Beyond the brotherhood and social elements, there is a need for them to grow in their understanding and practice of Islām, so that they can develop solid foundations. We can provide you with a weekly course that has been designed specially with new Muslims in mind. The course comes in a full package for you to deliver it in the best way, which includes instructors’ personal training, instructors’ notes, students’ notes, and a PowerPoint presentation.
5. Encourage participation!
Your interaction and programmes with New Muslims should translate into tangible contribution that they can get involved in. It is an achievement and a turning point in their journey when they feel that they can also give back, help and benefit the community. So encourage your new Muslims to get together and start beneficial projects or take part in existing community projects.
By the permission of Allāh first, and by applying these simple steps, we have seen new Muslim-friendly communities flourish and highly develop in their engagement with new Muslims. They are the living proof that today it is still possible for new Muslims to be inspired and have positive experiences when joining our community. There is real hope for the future and we hope to see this change happen in your community, too. You can be the cause of this change so that one day, we will see people become Muslims, and regardless of where they are in UK, they will be supported by new-Muslim friendly communities. Local communities will consist of confident and passionate individuals who will ensure that their new Muslim brothers and sisters experience true brotherhood, develop strong foundations and become inspirational models for society.
Lastly, if you became Muslim and have also been inspired by amazing individuals on your journey, please share your testimonials in the comments, as this side of the story needs to be told to benefit and inspire others.
Find out more:
We are currently running a campaign to help building new Muslim-friendly communities. If you want to make a change in your community, join the campaign here.
NOTE: The term ‘born Muslim’ refers to individuals who were born in Muslim families and raised as Muslims. This term is not intended to offend anyone; it is used in this article because it is a common and familiar term for most people.