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Converting to Islam

(64 Posts)
DancingGoose Sun 25-Oct-15 16:12:09

Hi everyone

Please can anyone give me some info on what it means for me to convert to Islam and perhaps give me some advice on how to find out if it's a religion I might like to pursue.

Background is I've grown up in the UK - come from a not particularly religious family. I'd describe myself as a spiritual person and I believe in God, although I don't especially practice any formal religion.

I've met a Muslim Arab man who is working over here. We've discussed having a future and it would mean me converting. I'm happy to find out about Islam to see if I can connect with it but I am unnerved with all the lifestyle changes.

I know some will be suspicious of his intentions ie passport etc which is fair enough. I know there is this risk and we have discussed it. As much as I can I feel reassured that he doesn't have ulterior motivations of this kind. He currently has an Israeli passport. He is very open, happy to answer any questions I have and happy to hear my concerns. He hasn't put any pressure on me to convert or anything, but has made it clear that this is how he would like to live his life and it is important to him.

I'd like to chat with other Muslim women to see what life is like because at the moment I am trying to work it out on my own and it's impossible to really get a sense of it without talking to other people.

Thanks in advance smile

decisionsdecisions123 Thu 12-Nov-15 20:54:43

Why would you have to become Muslim? If you are considering it just to marry him then I wouldn't bother. You need to actually believe in order to properly become Muslim. I have no idea how much he practices it but you could be getting yourself into who know what. Having said that if you are at the stage of discussing marriage with him then I imagine you have spent a lot of time alone with him meaning he cant be all that religious.

Sorry, I'm just not into people choosing a religion because they have met someone.

Sunnyfunny Mon 16-Nov-15 00:31:08

Hello dancinggoose,

Sorry, I have just seen your thread, if you are still around, let me know and I will post on here again.

JustAnotherYellowBelly Sat 21-Nov-15 12:45:18

I'd like to hear what you have to say please

xenu1 Sun 22-Nov-15 10:56:25

dancinggoose. I speak as an atheist/skeptic so please take that into account. And I'll try not to "mansplain"! smile But my 2p!

Converting to Islam is a simple and easy process: just say the "Shahada". All that a person has to do is to say a sentence called the Testimony of Faith (Shahada), which is pronounced as: "La ilaha illa Allah, Muhammad rasoolu Allah.” These Arabic words mean, “There is no true god (deity) but God (Allah), and Muhammad is the Messenger (Prophet) of God.” Once a person says the Testimony of Faith with conviction and understanding its meaning, then he/she has become a Muslim. Source: www.islamreligion.com/articles/204/how-to-convert-to-islam-and-become-muslim/

I would counsel caution, because the religion of Islam was founded in the 7th century by the Muslim Prophet Muhammed (MPM). It is one of the 3 "Abrahamic" religions. The MPM created the Koran and it has elements of Judaism and Christianity, as you would expect. As a Muslim you must believe the Koran is the eternal word of god, preferably in Arabic. Problems with this are (not exclusively):

- Islam means "submission" and you have to submit to the Koranic and Hadith instructions, which are all-pervading, reactionary and complex.

- MPM was fighting other belief systems and so there are harsh instructions for those of other faiths and none.

- MPM was a 7th century Arab and his gender strictures are - er - more appropriate to his time. For example, Koran 4.23 ("Al nisa") states clearly that men are superior to women and men can beat their wives

- Conversion is a one-way street. Apostasy/conversion to other faiths is punishable by death. Once you join, that's it.

- Like many who invented their own belief systems, MPM failed to plan for his own succession. After his death his followers split under different leaders (Sunni and Shia branches). Because apostasy/conversion is punishable by death, Muslim interfaith aggression is prevalent and savage. Before joining, ask your betrothed which version he recommends, Sunni (Saudi/Egypt) or Shia (Iran). There are almost daily Sunni suicide attacks on Shia mosques - mosque defacing has occurred in the UK - and the current middle east catastrophe is largely the Sunni/Shia split

- (Trigger warning) like many who invented their on belief systems, MPM was a sexually-strong leader; he married his last wife Aisha when he was 50+ and she 6. He consummated the marriage when she was 9 and this is the base for female age in many Sharia-rule countries (Iran)

- like many religious texts, the Koran can be interpreted. But the current extreme (tho valid) interpretations by ISIS etc were promoted by Saudi/Wahabist oil money and many of the extreme preachers are Saudi funded. Do you want to live as a woman in Saudi Arabia?

Why not ask your man to convert to another religion or none? After all, why should YOU change and not him?

Best of luck, anyway!

fuzzywuzzy Sun 22-Nov-15 11:33:35

Do not convert to a religion for the sake of boyfirend. Please please don't.

Call your local mosque, and speak to them or call Central London mosque or East london mosque if you're near them.

Central London mosque has an open day once a month for people who are curious/instrested in Islam ,the day is attended by muslims and non muslims where questions are answered.

However, if a bloke is asking you to change your religion for him I wouldnt do it.

DancingGoose Mon 23-Nov-15 15:23:09

Hi everyone, thanks for taking the time to respond.

Sorry if I gave the impression I want to convert just because my boyfriend is a muslim, that's not what I wanted to convey. He hasn't ever asked me to convert. All we have done is discuss what kind of life we would each like to live and if this would be possible together. He has said would like to live a more religious one and that would be important to him. I also accept he is not living a particularly religious life at the moment but want to respect how he sees his future.

We have actually stopped talking about marriage as it was making both of us very anxious and under pressure due to the massive changes required. I feel better about this.

I know I need to believe if I was to convert. I wouldn't convert without believing and I really don't know if this would ever be possible for me. I know meeting him is my trigger for even thinking about this stuff but I really don't think I would ever do something as huge as change religion just for a relationship.

Fuzzywuzzy thanks for your post. I did actually go to a mosque open day recently. They were all very nice and friendly (and had great cakes).

I just thought I would like to chat to women who already live an Islamic lifestyle and what this means to them or is like on a practical basis? and I also wondered what it might be like for a western person to convert and how a person who is not born into a religion comes to believe this is the religious path they want to follow.

Sorry if my post seems confused. I don't really know what questions to ask. I'm a bit lost.

ShmooBooMoo Mon 23-Nov-15 15:30:28

Xenu1... That was an eye-opener! Thanks for explaining all of that...

GreenSand Mon 23-Nov-15 15:36:06

Xenu if DancingGoose marries an Israeli, Saudi Arabia will be one place she is very unlikely to be visiting. I have no ideas how this works with Muslims making a trip to Mecca once in their life if physically and financially possible, as the Saudis will not tolerate Israeli passports.

DancingGoose I'm currently living in a strict (Sunni) Muslim country. I'd suggest not worrying too much about the conversion yet, but explore Islam, and what it means to your boyfriend slowly, and see where things go. I'd say its a complicated religion in some ways, as there are various different interpretations of the same verses in the Quran, and the effect it may or may not have on your life will be very dependant on the strand practice by your boyfriend and his family.

fuzzywuzzy Mon 23-Nov-15 15:43:15

OK as woman born into the religion and then consciously choosing to follow it. I have spent years learning to read the Quran and understand it.

I've also spent years being taught the hadith (the prophetic traditions) and Jurisprudence regarding women's matters.

I pray five times a day, I wear a headscarf (not at home or amongst family). I fast during Ramadan, I give charity regularly, both the compulsory and whenever I can eg on 20th December I and my DC have volunteered to prepare winter boxes for Al-Mizan Charitable Trust , to distribute to the homeless across the country (regardless of faith, I have read accusations on here stating Muslims never give to non Muslims, so I'm putting that here). mostly I give whenever I can and don't trumpet it to the world.
I also fast during the weekdays every Monday and Thursday (this is not compulsory but a prophetic tradition that is recommended, and completely a personal choice).
I recite the Quran everyday, I have the Quran in English as well as Arabic.
I also adhere to a strict halal diet, which means a lot of the time eating out is fish or veg option and I need to ensure there's no alcohol in the food.

Everyday things, I've bought my DC up in the Islamic faith, they are bought up to be kind and conscientious and it's up to them what they choose to practice when they're older. I want them to grow to be kind generous people.

DP is a revert, he believes in God, the prophets the angels, and that we will be answerable for our actions ultimately. He formerly took shahadah at a mosque. He reads the Quran in English, he has read books on Islam and it was a conscious decision for him.
He doesn't eat pig, or consume alcohol or recreational drugs.

He doesn't pray or fast, he doesn't know how to he is learning. Very slowly.

It's not easy learning a brand new language from scratch and to pray you need to learn Arabic eventually.

You also should discuss with your DP in detail what he means by a more religious life. What will he expect of you?

How do you feel about bringing up mutual children in the Islamic faith?

How will your family react, how will you deal with their negative reactions?

How will his family react? And will your DP protect you from any negative responses from them?

Also given the current climate, you will be held responsible for every single negative (and it is always negative) piece of news that happens anywhere in the world. How will you handle that?

If you're thinking about becoming a Muslim, you could try and gradually observe the dietary requirements but cutting out pig and alcohol and reading the Quran in English. Talk to your DP about his expectations and yours.

I always feel wary when men want to get married and be more religious. It is always a massive red flag for me.

fuzzywuzzy Mon 23-Nov-15 15:48:11

Xenu is wrong Prophethood is not something one succeeds to, it is divine.

The Islamic system is (or should be), a democratic choice each tribe, a person is elected by the majority. Which is what happened on the death of the Prophet. And continued with each election taking place on the death of the Emir.

Islamic history is complex as any history.

Shallishanti Mon 23-Nov-15 15:49:53

fw, can you explain the term 'revert' please?
is it the same as convert? if so, why a different word?

ShmooBooMoo Mon 23-Nov-15 15:58:23

I don't want to offend but I can't get my head around halal. For me, it's incredibly cruel.

GreenSand Mon 23-Nov-15 16:03:21

Convert = changing to something new
Revert = going back to how something used to be.

Shallishanti Mon 23-Nov-15 16:06:52

well, yes, that's what I thought, but fw's post seems to suggest otherwise

warmastoast Mon 23-Nov-15 16:13:00

Perhaps it could help to read the stories of other converts to islam and their journeys. Of course it's important to understand what your partner and communities expectations of your practice might be but that shouldn't be your starting point and it's right to guard yourself from too much external social pressure.

I think reading the Quran is the main starting point- reflecting on the primary spiritual messages.. If you have believing Muslim friends you trust who have knowledge of the faith and practices then feel free to be open with your questions and be careful listen to your instincts.

Don't be scared off by these dark politicised ideas of Muslims- I hope from your own experiences of Muslim communities already you are aware that they are not so controlling and you would find people ready to welcome you but would never threaten you if you left as 'there is no compulsion in religion' though they may find it confusing or disappointing. Of course it's not always so simple depending on what kind of community you would be joining but I think on the whole in the UK especially you should have a lot of independence in defining your faith and practise.

You might find Khaled Abou El Fadl's book The Search for Beauty in Islam worth reading- goes into a lot of issues but doesn't give simplistic answers to them, more part of a collective search for truth..

DancingGoose Mon 23-Nov-15 16:27:58

Fuzzy why does it raise red flags for you when men what to get married and be more religious?

fuzzywuzzy Mon 23-Nov-15 16:44:04

Because mainly the men want their lives to remain the same except they have unrealistic expectations of their wives.

Men who say this tend to be of the do as I say not as I do variety ime.

Discuss his expectations ask him what ways he will be more religious and I'd suggest you get those him in this more religious mode before committing yourself. You've fallen in love and want be in a relatinoship of your DP as he is currently. Will you like his version of a religious man?

ObsidianBlackbirdMcNight Mon 23-Nov-15 16:45:03

Revert is used because Muslims believe that the natural state is to be Muslim so when you convert you are actually reverting to the true state

Dancing goose it's incredibly difficult to live a way of life that you are not accustomed to. I'm also worried that you say he doesn't live a religious life now but plans to in future. Sorry but if it's important to him then it's important now.

DancingGoose Mon 23-Nov-15 16:57:28

I agree Obsidian and I also wonder why he's not following it all now if it matters that much. Sometimes I wonder if the life he imagines he will live is a bit of an idealistic dream for him rather than the reality. It's hard to know.

When we've discussed how he would like to live he says that we need to agree on the fundamentals (5 pillars) and the rest can be discussed. He says things like although he might prefer his wife to cover up, it is her choice and he cannot make her.

At present he is as far away as possible from the 'do as I say not as I do' type. But then is that likely to change after marriage?

I am nervous about discussing this too much with him as it makes me feel incredibly anxious. I would rather find more out about it myself before approaching it further with him.

fuzzywuzzy Mon 23-Nov-15 17:13:07

Goose I would most certainly independently study your Islamic rights. So you can ensure you know if he's talking rubbish.

Whats currently preventing him from living an Islamic lifestyle right now?

The five pillars are easy, make the testimony of faith (presumably he has that covered), pray five times a day, observe the fasts during Ramadan, give the obligatory charity, going on pilgrimage is only when you are able to.

So for a born Muslim what's difficult about doing the above now?

I would find out his expectations right now. Don't wait till after your married and you feel stuck.

if you choose to marry him, make sure you have it in your marriage contract that he may not force you to cover beyond what you currently and anything else he is currently saying he won't do.

Also if you're from an Abrahamic faith either of Christian or Jewish heritage you don't have to convert.

stairway Mon 23-Nov-15 17:41:36

I am married to an Arab and converted 7 years ago. Being a Muslim is easy as it is simply a belief in Allah and the profets.
Depending on how practising you are or your husband makes you practice will depend if or how your life would change.
I'm not very practising and my life is pretty much like other English women's.
We celebrate the Eids and Ramadan which is great. I still visit my parents for Xmas but nolonger go to church. A very strict muslim husband might say I can't see my parents at Xmas.

Qwebec Mon 23-Nov-15 17:51:57

The women in my family who practice in my family: do the ramadan, the daily prayers and avoid pork.

I just would like to add something. I live in a multi faith family and so is my couple. To me spirituality and faith is a deeply personal matter. You can not convert for someone else. I do not sit well him expecting this from you nor saying that the 5 pillars are a must and the rest is up for discussion. Your faith and what you do is between you and God, not between you, your DP and God. Islam is a beautiful and sacred religion, if it touches your heart dive in, but do it because it is true to you, not for some guy and be wary if he expects it from you.

I'm also puzzled why it makes you nervous to talk to him about his faith. There are some aspects of DP's faith that I don't agree with but as we respect each others beliefs no one is walking on eggshells when we talk about it.

DancingGoose Mon 23-Nov-15 18:33:48

It makes me anxious because for some reason it makes me I feel like I am committing to something I am really not sure about or ready to do.

It's not a rational feeling because I know I'm not, but it's there all the same.

I don't agree with converting for someone else either, and when I discuss it with only him I feel it is then part of whether our relationship has a future and then I feel very pressurised. That's one of the reasons why I wanted to discuss it with other people, away from our relationship.

fuzzywuzzy Mon 23-Nov-15 19:11:59

If it makes you feel anxious and pressurised just discussing this I think you need to step back from the relationship.

He's got far to many expectations.

Carry on and research and then decide.

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