There is no God who truly deserves to be worshipped but Allah alone and Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) is the messenger of Allah.
Some one asks him about his parents and their participation in his celebration. A shadow of sadness passes over his eyes to be soon covered with defensiveness as he replies in the negative. He is a new muslim who has reverted to Islam.
I have for long wondered how to help the sadness that one feels at leaving ones blood ties and family that raised one, after reverting to Islam. Islam is the true inner fitra (a core of purity, beauty and faith in one God) that has been place in everyone
After all everyone is born a Muslim, it is only after wards that they are baptized into Christianity, or changed into a modern Jew through a ceremony.
I have always concentrated on bringing the person who has reverted to Islam and his non-Muslim family together soon and with complete hospitality, and after listening to this ayah and its tafseer my whole life unravels before me as pictorial proof.
I always thought that the ayahs in the Quran about parents applied to all parents, I did not know that Allah SWT protects the new Muslims, knowing well the affect of the emotional onslaught the non-Muslim family will have on him.
I failed to place myself in the shoes of the person who has just taken shahada and is shaky and not self confident in his new Deen. He is unused to the salaat which is a source of strength which he has yet to learn and even more the confusion he is faced with the variety of Muslims he meets each of whom tell him to do different things while they do not practice Islam themselves in any overt manner.
The most significant source of strength i.e. salaat is initially absent in the life of a revert. He needs time and a good teacher to learn the salaat in order to connect with Allah Subhanawataala and gain strength in his deen.
What I had not looked at was the other side of the picture, when a person leaves his home and the faith of his parents, what is their reaction.
Initially the family gets angry with him and ask him to leave their house and never to come back and not to set foot even with his “little muslim children” etc etc…………
But then they may learn that he is doing fine without them and is making progress in his Deen, this is where they tempt him with the possibilities of loss of business, saying “no one will come to see you if you claim you are a Muslim because of the bad name Muslims have in the west etc etc”
If that does not work then they send him and his children Christmas gifts evoking memories of warm and fuzzy times with the family at Christmas and tell him that it is cruelty that he is depriving his children of Christmas.
Slowly the non-Muslim family and friends chip away at his confidence regarding his decision to become a Muslim.
Thus the race to learn salaat, find new friends who are Muslims with taqwa, find a circle of business that supports being a Muslim before ones non Muslim blood family begins its onslaught of emotional blackmail, are only some of the challenges a new revert to Islam faces.
Going back to my story of the young man: The next morning after seeing how the mention of his parents affected him, I am tussling with the question of how to help him.
I sit down to my morning tafseer on line. I am at surah Tauba and as I start the lesson online it begins with the ayah given below and I am immobile with astonishment and awe as to how Allah Subhanawataala answers our questions when we really are looking for answers with a sincere heart:
The ayah that today’s tafseer begins with is:
YUSUFALI: O ye who believe! take not for protectors your fathers and your brothers if they love infidelity above Faith: if any of you do so, they do wrong.
PICKTHAL: O ye who believe! Choose not your fathers nor your brethren for friends if they take pleasure in disbelief rather than faith. Whoso of you taketh them for friends, such are wrong-doers.
SHAKIR: O you who believe! do not take your fathers and your brothers for guardians if they love unbelief more than belief; and whoever of you takes them for a guardian, these it is that are the unjust.
This ayah came in the setting after Muslims won Mecca without bloodshed. Though a large number of people had accepted Islam in Mecca the families were checkered with those who had not.
There were numerous families in Mecca who continued to stay close to their newly converted Muslim family members, urging them to leave their faith in both overt and subtle ways. If they did not respond to these entreaties then they would scare them with the idea that the trade and job of the new Muslim would suffer because of the new faith, thus steadily chipping away at their newfound faith.
Into this scenario came permission from Allah Subhanawataala to the new Muslims to leave those fathers, brothers and family members who are urging you towards the old ways of Kuffar or disbelief.
This permission was a major step in Arabian society. In those days a person was defined and functioned by which tribe he belonged to. By leaving ones closest family members one virtually left the tribe, and in doing so was depriving himself of all business contacts, influence and protection of ones tribe. In other words he would be floating in space without any connections except his faith in Allah to set things right.
In todays non-Muslim society we are faced with the same dilemma, a dilemma that comes to the surface in the work area with the overt act of hijab and salaat.
Women thus have become the vanguard of Islam the ‘as Sabiqoon’………..who are offered paradise (jannah) by Allah Subhanawataala inAkhirah……….but without the protection and support of Muslim men sometimes the feminine steps falter and sometimes the hijab comes off in favor of a job or fear of physical reprisal.
For Muslim men it happens at a much later date, as they neither wear Muslim clothes nor sport a beard most of the time, and many of them hide the fact that they are Muslims and try to pass as Indian non-Muslims by default rather than by choice.
This weakness in men has come from years of being the Vanguard in a non-Muslim world without sufficient defenses (knowledge and practice of Deen with Muslim companions as support system).
Facing the non Muslims in the world of business the Muslim men find themselves living two lives: a life at home with fasting prayer and keeping the women sequestered from the “bad” outside world and one at work where they dress, behave and eat like the non Muslims.
Even sharing a table with them while everyone partake of alcohol either because they are unaware (Ghafala) of the command in the Quran which says “stay away from it”(i.e. Alcohol) or because they have slowly been assimilated into the non Muslim society by either ignorance or choice or by the slow assault of their faith being chipped away by a non Muslim companionship with no real method to refresh their faith. Only they know the reasons.
Thus in this ayah Allah Subhanawataala categorically commands the Muslims of Mecca to leave those relatives that coerce the new Muslims to the ways of Kufr.
In my humble opinion in order to do so:
1.one has to be cognizant of “the ways of Kufr” in order to leave those family members who practice them and who can affect you with them.
2. One has to be cognizant and accepting of the fact that the level of emaan (faith) can go up and down like the tide of the ocean, or the waxing and waning of the moon and is dependant on the company we keep by choice.
3. One has to leave at the earliest observed way of Kufr which usually comes after work at a dinner party or at a restaurant where one goes with business buddies and everyone drinks alcohol, and eats non halal meat and the Muslim accepts it and does not say no to these events in the fear that if he did not socially network he would loose his job.
4. One has to be sensitized to emotional blackmail by our non-Muslim families and friends and at the first sentence from a parent or sibling critiquing our newfound faith we should stop it immediately, either by cutting off the conversation or leaving the scene.
Once the family knows that “Islam bashing” is not acceptable and enquires about the religion in a polite and respectful manner, one can then provide information to them about it, and promise to discuss it further with them after they have read it.
This tests the sincerity of their interest in us and in our faith, and removes the possibilities of chipping away at our belief when it is in its infancy or when it is wrapped in ghafala (unawareness/ignorance) untill we have gained strength and have overthrown our wrap of ignorance (ghafala).
Allah knows best