When a new believer makes their Shahada and declares their faith in God, they also become a part of the Muslim community. As followers of Islam, all Muslims are one family. Gaining a new member is like getting a new brother or sister, and it’s a cause for celebration. But apart from extending a warm welcome, Muslims have the duty to help strengthen the newcomer’s faith.
In most cases, the person who converts/reverts to Islam first spent a lot of time studying the faith before making their decision. They may have already started reading the Quran and other books or even asked about the experiences of other Muslims. However, it is unlikely that they have learned everything there is to know, so it is an opportunity for long-time Muslims to show their compassion. Here are some ways to extend support for a new Muslim.
One of the major changes for a new Muslim is learning how to pray properly. There are many prayers to learn, as well as rituals to perform before and during these times. The best way to learn is for them to do it together with other Muslims. In this way, they can more easily follow the movements and say the prayers correctly.
If being physically together is not possible, it is possible for Muslims to pray together using a video call. Using an app like Muslim Pro is helpful for new believers to determine Qiblah or where Mecca is so they know in what direction to pray. The more experienced Muslim can also instruct the new believer on how to properly perform wudu or the ritual washing before prayer before leading the prayer.
Help Them Understand Teachings
While getting counsel from an imam is encouraged, talking to other Muslims can also help a new believer understand Islamic teachings and enrich their faith. Islamic communities can have different ways of practicing their faith based on how they interpret the Quran, so talking to a fellow believer from the same community is very helpful. More experienced believers can act as guides for the new ones.
A lot of Muslim prayers are done in Arabic, which may not be a language that the new believer is familiar with. In this case, supporting them by finding a translation in their own language helps them to better appreciate the prayer and say it more meaningfully.
Explain the Significance of Holy Days
Though Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha are the most important celebrations for Muslims, there are many other holy days that Muslims observe. The more proficient Muslim can explain the signicance of each holiday and talk about what their community does on those dates. They can also explain why Fridays are special days of the week to Muslims and what is expected of believers on those days.
It is especially important to help new believers find ways to adapt the practice of Islam to their daily lives. For example, men are called to join prayer at the mosque on Fridays, but this may not be feasible for a person who has to remain at work or has mobility issues. In this case, the wisdom and experience of an older Muslim is needed to give them guidance on how to navigate their faith amid the demands of daily life.
Share Practical Tips
Unless one is living in a predominantly Muslim community, the new believer may find themselves practicing their faith in a place where they are a minority. This can make it challenging to know what is haram (forbidden) and find products that are halal (lawful). Many new Muslims may get particularly confused about the changes in the food they consume, so it’s important to provide practical support. Teaching them halal ingredient substitutions or giving them a halal cookbook will go a long way in helping them to adjust their diet. It can even be helpful to take them grocery shopping so they know where to source halal foods and how to read food labels.
If the new believer is a woman who has expressed her interest in wearing a hijab, hijabis or Muslim women who wear hijabs can help them prepare for it. They can use the Muslim Pro app to share passages from the Quran that extol the virtues of head coverings and share how their hijab allows them to wear an expression of their faith.
As part of their faith, Muslims are called upon to perform acts of charity and compassion for others, including their fellow Muslims. It is particularly important to extend this kindness to new believers who have a lot to learn about the different Islamic teachings and traditions. Guiding the newcomers also allows older believers to reexamine how they practice Islam and possibly gain new insights that strengthen their faith in God.