How do we relate to non-Muslim relatives?
Dr. Aisha Hamdan offers practical advice to Reverts.
For those who have studied, pondered, and struggled with the idea of becoming Muslim, there is often great relief when the realization comes that Shahada must be pronounced. As time goes on and more knowledge is acquired regarding the deen, another realization soon begins to surface, the challenges and questions have not ended and may only have just begun. This is particularly true when it comes to the issue of dealing with and relating to non-Muslim relatives, especially those with whom one has developed a close relationship.
This topic is particularly relevant for women due to the fact that more new converts are female (although the trend may be changing as more men enter Islam) and also because women may have more opportunity to visit with and spend time with other family members. If children are involved, this will most definitely be the case. We understand, of course, that parents and other relatives should be treated with kindness and respect and that there are serious consequences for one who severs the ties of kinship.
Advice for the New Mother
The coming of a first new baby is a time of excitement and every Muslim mother-to-be eagerly awaits the arrival of this special gift. It is easy to find the latest advice and useful practical tips and information about what to expect of the early weeks of motherhood on a day to day basis from Western books, but because they are bereft of the guidance of Islam, they contain little advice for Muslim Women when it comes coping spiritually with the coming of a baby. Every baby is different and some first time mothers find things quite easy and smooth. But nearly all will have moments when they struggle to reorganize their lives and many have a very trying time if their baby suffers from colic or has trouble settling down or if the birth was complicated and long. There are many things Muslim women can do to make this time as smooth as possible and increase their Eamaan.
Welcome your child in the correct Islamic manner.There are many sunnahs relating to the newborn:
The Rights of the New Born Baby in Islam
In all communities around the world the birth of a child is considered a blessing and ceremonies are held to celebrate this event. Besides being a natural expression of joy, it also serves a special purpose, that is, making it known in a suitable and dignified manner, that the father has accepted the child as his own and that there is no doubt or suspicion concerning this matter. It shuts the door to any mischief that could arise in the future. As soon as your child is born, they are under attack from Satan. The Prophet said,"When any human being is born, Satan pinches the body with his two fingers, except 'Isa, the son of Maryam, whom Satan tried to pinch but failed, for he touched the placenta instead" Sahih Bukhari 4:506
This is why the child cries at birth; Satan never leaves his enemy without harming it. To protect the faith and Islam of the newborn baby, who is now under attack by mankind's greatest enemy, the Messenger of Allah taught us about various things that we can do. Some are well known others not so well known.
Teaching Through Poems
It is important to introduce concepts in a way that is both fun and engaging.
Poetry offers the perfect synergy to do just that. Research suggests that by encouraging children to engage in poetry and memorise poems, it can have a significant benefit on their intellectual and analytic abilities.
Poetry has become somewhat of a lost art even though it was used by classical Islamic scholars to encapsulate key principles in grammar, aqidah and morals. More generally, it has been used over the centuries to instil deep emotions and vivid imagery in our minds.
Since children undergo a period of unprecedented change in their early years, exposing them to poetry will help shape a mind that is sharp and inquisitive with the added benefits of a well-developed vocabulary.