Working with Muslim Converts
Muslims have a duty (fard) to share the message of Islam with non-Muslims, and invite them to embrace this beautiful faith. This responsibility, known as da’wah, is rooted in the teachings of the Quran and the example set by Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).
The Quran commands Muslims to invite people to the path of Allah with wisdom and good manners. In Surah An-Nahl, Allah says, “Invite to the way of your Lord with wisdom and good instruction, and argue with them in a way that is best” (Quran 16:125). This verse highlights the importance of using kind and respectful communication when sharing the message of Islam.
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is also a role model for Muslims to follow when it comes to da’wah. He dedicated his life to spreading the message of Islam, and many people accepted Islam through his teachings. He used various approaches to invite people to Islam, including personal interactions, public speeches, and even sending letters to leaders of other nations.
Furthermore, inviting people to Islam is a means of gaining reward from Allah. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Whoever guides someone to goodness will have a reward like the one who did it” (Sahih Muslim). Thus, Muslims living in the UK have an opportunity to earn rewards by sharing the message of Islam with others.
Finally, da’wah is essential for building strong and cohesive communities. By inviting non-Muslims to Islam, Muslims can foster mutual understanding and respect, as well as contribute to the social and cultural fabric of the UK.
Working with Muslim Converts
Converts to Islam in Britain have been around in significant numbers and communities since at least the end of the 19th century. It is well known that converts established the first mosque in Britain and that the Victorian generation have left a lasting legacy; the details of which are still being unearthed in our time. Every generation since then has had its own outliers that have made significant contributions to the landscape of Islam in Britain, although it is beyond the scope of this article to honour them all.
Just as there is still much to learn with respect to the pioneering British Muslim converts of our past, there is also much we still need to learn about the convert population today. Take for example the size of this population. Putting a sound number on this and the rate of conversion to Islam – is difficult due to the absence of up to date data, and the need for anonymity that is sometimes required of converts by necessity. Based upon previous reports a conservative estimate of the current convert population in the UK would be between 150-200K, with at least 5K new converts annually. With two-thirds or more of them being women. There is significant enough demand for services for converts that some 30-40 voluntary associations and charities have been established over the last 30 years to service the needs of this growing population. From the anecdotal testimony of these associations, (largely due to the proselytising and welcoming nature of Islam) the number of people converting to Islam in the UK is increasing and many of us in the Muslim community bear regular witness to this, on a weekly, if not daily, basis.
Our congregations are, naturally, overwhelmed with joy and elation at seeing a new brother or sister embracing Islam and “take” their “shahadah5”, but we must remember; the shahadah is simply a one-off event, and conversion itself is a process and very personal journey, that is measured in years, not moments.
One of the growing challenges for our congregations is how to offer the correct support and guidance to newly converted Muslims, and facilitate their integration into the wider Muslim community. A 2018 report states: “There is a need to consider the spiritual, intellectual, financial, social, and psychological dimensions and needs of Muslim converts during their journey of belonging to Islam. Mosques and Islamic centres need to improve their services and staff training to cater for the demands of their community. They have the potential to play a positive role towards meeting the needs of converts.”
But how do our imams and congregations play this role? What follows are some useful guidelines that can be utilised by the Muslim community when dealing with converts to Islam.