After studying the religion of Islam for 1.5 years, I was ready to read the Quran in its entirety. I asked a convert sister if I could borrow her Quran to read it. I also told her I was interested in converting to Islam. As she handed me the Quran, she gave me the best advice I could have received about converting to Islam.
I used to get upset because no Muslim tried to helped me with Islam after I converted or even taught me how to pray. Looking back, I think that was a blessing in disguise. We are all on our own religious journey.
I have been told of stories of men and women leaving Islam because they jumped into the religion too fast. I have also been told that though they did not leave the religion, they became burned-out and had to take a step back for awhile.
What advice did I receive before converting to Islam?
The sister who gave me my first Quran said something along the lines of,
“If you are interested in converting, do not jump into the religion to fast. I have seen many converts get burned out by doing this.”This is the best advice I could have received and I took that advice.
Though jumping into the religion works for some converts, I do not think jumping into the religion right after I converting would have worked for me. So I do not recommend it to anyone. I recommend doing whatever makes you comfortable. Go at your own pace. I was Muslim for 2 years before I started practicing. Thank God, I am now practicing, but things could have turned out differently if I did not take taken a fellow converts advice.
I strongly advise all Muslims to not force the religion on any new convert (or even other Muslims). It is un-islamic to force our religion on anyone. It is overwhelming for a convert woman (or any women) to get be told to wear the hijab. Another example, it can also be overwhelming for converts to be told to stop drinking right away.
Alcohol was not banned right away in Islam, for this exact reason.
Example from Quran and Hadiths (things prophet Mohammed said or did):
First some aayat (verses in the Quran) were revealed to describe the problems alcohol caused, then God made it haram (forbidden) to pray (perform Salah) if you were drunk. Lastly, God banned it completely. There is a hadith where prophet Mohammed said if he would have banned alcohol right away, no one would have been Muslim or fell in love with Islam. That is because you cannot expect someone to change right away. Especially to something far different than the life they are/were used to living.When you pressure change on someone so soon, it can make them run the other way.
Do not get me wrong, it can helpful to know what is right and wrong in the religion of Islam. However, it is not okay to force the fear of God in someone. It is not okay to tell a convert they will go to hell, right after converting, if they don’t stop or start doing certain things right away.
Story of a Russian Sister Getting Burned Out
One Russian woman I know converted here, in the United States, in college. Immediately after saying her shahadah (declaration of faith) she started wearing niqab (face covering everything except the eyes). She was learning Arabic, reading Quran, praying the 5 prayers plus the sunnah prayers (not mandatory prays but Prophet Mohammed used to pray them). She stopped drinking, partying, and living the life she was accustomed to. She was from a completely different culture in which this was all common. She made too big of a change too fast and she became burned out.
Over one winter break she went back home to visit her family… Her family did not like her new religion or how she was acting. She told her family that she did not like the way they were living their lives either. They yelled at her and made her feel horrible. They told her she was selfish, crazy, and so forth.
This visit is when everything hit her and her new religion came to a screaming halt. This is because when she converted, she was so focused on Islam and her new life. She forgot to breath. After consultation from her friends and family in Russia, she stopped practicing all together. They did not like who she became. She was overwhelmed with what they had to say. So, the rest of her trip in Russia, she went back to the way she was before converting. She spent it partying, hanging out with boys, drinking, etc. Then she came back to college in the U.S and continued the life she had always lived in Russia.
If she was given the same advice I was, before I converted, things may have turned out differently for her.