Monday, 17 November 2014

The Sharing Group Discussion: One Piece of Advise for the New Convert

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

The following was posted by me, on The Sharing Group, on the 14th October 2014: “If you knew someone who was going to convert to Islam and you could give one piece of advice, what would you say?”

Brother Muslim Mike: Read the whole Qur’an before you make any decisions.

Sister Aa'isha Suzanne: Do not let any person influence you.  Pray and choose the path that will keep you the closest to God.

Brother Louis Llewellyn Shann IV: Read Qur’an, read about history and life of the Prophet (s.a.w.), pray Muslim style and see how it feels for you, pray about it again.  Realise that true Islam is about striving to do your best and do better each week, each month.  You are not going to be perfect.  The final test is if you feel that it makes you closer to God, do not let anybody else tell you what is right or wrong.  If you beseech your Creator and ask Him if this is the right path, God will Give you the Answer.  It is all about intentions.  And do not listen to intolerant people who think they have the keys to Heaven all by themselves. I f you feel there is something wrong with their advice, more than likely, it probably is bad for you.

Brother abdu’Rashid Craig: My advice is always to consider it very carefully, because the cost of renouncing Islam once you have made shahadah is very high.  Here is a fascinating quote from Shaykh Muhammad Marmaduke Pickthall: “The man who did not become a Muslim when he was nineteen years old because he was afraid that it would break his mother’s heart does not exist, I am sorry to say.  The sad fact is that he was anxious to become a Muslim, forgetting all about his mother.  It was his Muslim teacher, the Shaykh al-‘Ulama of the great mosque at Damascus, a noble and benign old man, to whom he one day mentioned his desire to become a Muslim, who reminded him of his duty to his mother and forbade him to profess Islam until he had consulted her.  ‘No, my son,’ were his words, ‘wait until you are older, and have seen again your native land.  You are alone among us as our boys are alone among the Christians.  God knows how I should feel if any Christian teacher dealt with a son of mine otherwise than as I now deal with you.’  This is from A Brief Biography of Shaykh Muhammad Marmaduke Pickthall (r.a.).

Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: Only a Sufi would know to say that.

Sister Rina Tung-Vose: Think more than twice.

Sister Brenda Hope: Stay away from Muslims until you have a good understanding of what Islam is and what Islam is not. Never be afraid to ask questions.

Sister Nico Le: If I were really honest, I would say, do not marry, do not go to the mosque and most importantly avoid the Muslims at all costs.  But I would probably say something more intelligent like really think about, this read, study and pray about it.  Do not make a secret out of your interest in Islam.  Really try to build a relationship with God.

Sister Samra Hussain: Follow your intuition and do not feel intimidated or overpowered by other Muslims’ opinions.

Sister Noraini Manap: Talk to Allah (s.w.t.) every day, beseech Him for Guidance in His Path, Ask Him not to allow us to be alone with your whims because you are weak and He is Strong.  And praise Him every moment.  That would be my single piece of advice.

Brother Mansoor Rizvi: Go very slowly and do no' overwhelm yourself.  Learn about the history, the principles, and do not approach the Qur’an like a storybook by reading it from front to back.  Do not take things out of context.  And be wary of where you get your information from and understand that people will have different perspectives for different issues.

Brother abdu’Rashid Craig: You are better when you are not too honest, Sister Nico Le.

Sister Rhiannon Roesler Alobeid: These are all good!  Find a very open community and move if you have to!

Brother Ali Zakariya Take your time and move at your own pace.

Brother Muslim Mike: I am changing my original post to: Read the Qur'an completely before making any decisions and remember reading the Qur’an is not a onetime thing but a lifetime thing, make God your first choice for Guidance and Understanding.

Brother Paul Salahuddin Armstrong: I often ask something along the lines of, “Are you sure?”  If the answer is in the affirmative, I ask, “Are you sure you are sure?”  I advise those who have approached me to think very carefully, find out all they can beforehand, starting with the Qur’an; and to read a few translations, not just one.  Then, if they are sure, and do go on to embrace Islam, to take it one step at a time, like climbing a mountain; do not try to rush it, or you will come tumbling down.  Only practice what you have learned and understand to be Islam; do not just do what some mullah, tablighi, da’wati Islami, or Heaven forbid, Wahhabi has told you!  Exercise your reason and common sense as these are Gifts from Allah (s.w.t.) to help prevent you from going astray.

Sister Mahshid Turner: Concentrate primarily on understanding one thing: God’s Unity.

Sister Colleen M Dunn: Take it slowly.  Research first.  There is really no need to rush things along.  Better to take your time deciding, or even be on the fence for a little while than to make a hasty decision, then regret it later.  God Knows you are trying, and you will get to your destination eventually.  Religious labels mean less than your heart’s intentions.

Sister Jennifer Giove: Follow your heart and never stop asking questions even if you think you already know, or have been given the answers.  If it does not ‘feel’ right, if it ‘feels’ off, ask more questions until you discover the answers.  Also, you do not walk a mile in a second.  It takes many steps so take your time and do not rush learning.

Sister Danielle N. Lindley: Those people giving you da’wah will probably drop you like a hot potato once they ‘score’ another convert.  It will be ‘masha’Allah’ parties, introductions, hugs, phone numbers exchanged, dinner party invites… and then, after the novelty wears off, you will be lonely.  You will most likely have to practice alone.  You will realise there is no community, and if you are a woman, predatory men trying to use you will be harassing you every single day.  You will also be judged non-stop, questioned non-stop, always thought to be at ‘beginner’ level even after 20 years, and it will not be easy.  If you know this, if you can accept this, and you still want to go through with it.  Go for it.  And if you have not read the Qur’an and some books of hadits, then I would say wait a bit until you do.  And then, if you still want to do it, try living it as a single person for at least a few months.  Then decide.  If you still want it, masha’Allah, good luck, but don't say no one told you about the struggles.

Sister Mahshid Turner: Sorry, I changed my mind. With such negativity coming through, I would advise not to ask anyone’s advice.

Sister Danielle N. Lindley: Really?  So people should jump into things blindly?  They should expect rainbows and unicorns and then jump ship when they see it's not that way?  Is it not better to know the potential negativity and loneliness they will experience and still choose to go through with it instead of thinking it is ‘just them’?  Some Muslims have no idea.  Conversion can be a lonely, lonely road, and plenty of Muslims contribute to it.

Brother Will Coley: Avoid people who tell you that you have to give up you to be Muslim.

Sister Ishq Ain Sheen Qaaf: Not sure what advice to give.  The sister who converted several years ago was very eager to learn everything.  Ended up forming a support group of sisters and we have had study circles to help her and the mosque helped too in arranging someone to be with her during Ramadhan and tarawih prayers because she wanted to fast and take part.  We took her to events with us especially about Rasulullah (s.a.w.), which she enjoyed and cried at whilst listening.  Gained from the speeches.  Years on, she is doing well, al-Hamdulillah.  She had done a lot of research before converting but still had a lot of questions and needed help with the practical side of things.  The Imam had given her advice.  She liked prayer as well.  Made some changes gradually when she was ready.

Brother Will Coley: If someone tries to tell you to change your name, leave your spouse, force your children to convert, or start dressing in specific cultural, stay away.

Sister Mahshid Turner: Islam is a beautiful religion.  It is just that the description given by some is like signing your death warrant.  By the way, we are all born Muslims.

Brother Imran Price: So much negativity!  I never give advice but simply offer to help in any way I can.

Sister Danielle N. Lindley: Beautiful if you have family, friends, and built in networks that all immediately accept you, and people to help screen your spouses and make sure you are not just being used.  Families that tell you education is important for women, too, and that women working outside the house in professional jobs is good for the family.  For a lot of converts, they are told education for women is wrong, women working is wrong, marry this poor Muslim man without a green card and no job skills because the religion says marry anyone who is a good Muslim and God will Watch out for you  Pop out kids with no job skills and become totally dependent on men.  When he leaves you, just think he was a bad Muslim and not that you were pressured into putting yourself into this horrible situation that very few ‘born’ Muslims would ever be pushed into.  Converts are very vulnerable, and ‘born’ Muslims should understand that.  I have seen it a thousand times.  Please go to any converts page and see all the converted women who think women should be powerless because they were pressured to marry the first fool they came upon, and were brainwashed into HISlam instead of Islam.  Look how many converts have had 10 or more husbands.  There are problems in the convert community that need to be addressed, and many are due to sneaky men and women pretending to be ‘real’ Muslims.

Sister Mahshid Turner: It is not just converts.  None of us have anyone really who is totally just and right.  Everyone has faults as ephemeral beings.  God is our Only Guide and there should be no expectation from anyone else.  We are all imperfect.  We should not stereotype people just because of our personal experiences.

Brother Will Coley: If a Muslim tries to tell you something about Islam, or some ritual that seems odd, or illogical, chances are it is some cultural practice from their parent’s village and has nothing to do with Islam.  Use your intellect when taking advice from Muslims; never take their word for it.

Sister Danielle N. Lindley: We should not live in dream worlds, either.  We can say the religion is perfect all we want, but life sure is not, and neither are people who allegedly practice said religion.

Sister Darwinn Girll: Study Islam and do not ask Muslims anything.

Sister Mahshid Turner: This is very much ‘us’ and ‘them’.  Never came across a seriously overzealous ‘convert’?  I have.  When I converted to a practising Muslim, there was a short period in my life which now, I feel, I was too strict.  But maybe that was a journey that I had to go through.

Sister Shima Umm Ramy: Be sure.

Brother Colin Turner: Sister Danielle N. Lindley, life is as perfect as the approach you bring to it.  This does not mean wearing rose-tinted spectacles, but it does mean appreciating the fact that at any given moment, the world is how its Creator has Willed it to be.  Perhaps if you focus a little more on Divine Determining, it will help you clear some of the negativity from your view.

Sister Shima Umm Ramy: And be selective in choosing Muslim friends.

Brother Colin Turner: As someone has pointed out, this thread is very much an ‘us and them’ thread.  Converts and ‘born’ Muslims are all flawed, credible human beings, and to paint one group as victims and the other as manipulators really is myopic.

Brother Arvind Ashaari Parhar: There is only one thing to accept and follow from here on: Divine Will

Brother Hesh Saadi: Read.  Question.  Read.  Question.  Read. Until you are satisfied to some degree.

Brother Muhammad Harun Riedinger: I would tell them: “Good Choice – Islam is perfect as the means to find the fulfillment of your purpose of existence!  But beware of being sucked into the spiritual ‘quicksand’ of ‘worshiping the creed of Islam’ instead of worshiping the One, Who has Defined it as the means, and not the objective of the Diyn, which unfortunately a majority of Muslims are caught up in.  Apart from that, I usually give them a copy of a pamphlet, I compiled some time ago.  Unfortunately, I am not able to post it as an attachment.  Either I am too dumb, or there is actually no possibility to post attachments – other than image files on this page, and the whole text of it was not accepted either.  If anyone wants a formatted copy of the pamphlet, please let me know with your e-mail address, which you can inbox me.

Brother Imran Price: I am glad I was not part of this group before I converted - you guys would have put me off completely!  I can honestly say that in my 17 years as a Muslim in 3 different countries, no one has ever told me what to do and what not to do even though I am clean shaven and wear ‘Western’ clothes to the masjid.  Instead, I have experienced many wonderful experiences of brotherly love and welcome. I wonder why my experience has been so different to so many of you?

Brother Mustafa Davis: The majority of the advice is to stay away from the mosque and Muslims.  Are people really prepared then to be there for these people when they need someone to lean on?

Brother Colin Turner: Brother Imran Price, your experience is not unique, thankfully.

Brother Will Coley: Do not let other Muslims try to tell you what pace you should move at.  Some of us take years to master the simple things, while others are comfortable enrolling in university to study jurisprudence immediately.  It is on you, it is your walk, no one else’s.

Sister Ishq Ain Sheen Qaaf: I did consider asking a sister to move in with us as it would have been easier.

Brother Muhammad Harun Riedinger: Brother Imran, I and, I am sure, many other converts have made very similar experiences to yours – after all the Muslims are the ummah of the Noble Prophet (s.a.w.), and from such a mine of generosity and kindness, something must have rubbed off, but this is not the point we are contending, but we are trying to make people aware that there are some dangerous undercurrents surfacing that neglect and even deliberately undermine his spiritual legacy in tune with the general infestation of mankind with materialism.

Brother Colin Turner: Another weird piece of advice that has appeared here is the bizarre entreaty to ‘try it and see if you like it’, as though it is akin to trying on a pair of trousers in a shop or colour-coordinating a handbag or something.  If someone is at the brink of converting, then either they have sincerely realised, after much reading and conversation, that Islam - submission - is the default setting of the cosmos, and that it is an undeniable truth that needs to be lived out, hence the decision to convert; or they think Islam is probably better than everything else out there and why not ‘give it a go’.  If they are converts of the first kind, the notion of trying it out is meaningless: they will work at being Muslim whatever the weather, and thus there is little by way of advice that one can give, apart from extending the hand of companionship.  If they're of the second kind, and one can tell they are of the second kind, then telling them to ‘give it a try’ is both inane and insulting, both to the person and to the faith.  To the second kind of person, the best advice to give is ‘Go back and study more’.  Islam is not a new hairdo or the latest iPhone.  Come back when you see it not as a lifestyle choice but, rather, as the only way it makes sense to be.

Brother James Harris: I have some made many wonderful Muslim friends over the years and have had many positive experiences.  However, I have seen others have very negative experiences after coming to Islam due to bad experiences people have with groups or individuals, some experiences very bad indeed.  It is up to the individual to judge the situation.  I often warn new Muslims to take care with who they follow or listen to for this reason.  Gut feelings and common sense are important.

If many feel that there is negativity in many of the experiences being expressed, perhaps we need to balance this out more by emphasising that there are also very good Muslims about who make the experience of living in the religion a very positive one.  One should of course be smart, so to speak, particularly with groups and organisations, to avoid being exploited, controlled etc.  However, I can truly say that the bonds of friendship that bring people together in faith are unique and rewarding.  Having the Muslim friends I have made since embracing the faith are among the best things in my life, and important for developing faith.

Sister Rachel Pan Yijun: I would say to analyse everything you hear and not to take it at face value.  Seek clarification from Allah (s.w.t.), from learned people and pray for wisdom in discerning everything u see and hear from the Muslims.

Brother Tan Siew Kim: There is no compulsion in Islam.  May your new journey be Blessed, Guided and True.

Brother M Riz Ali: Relax and enjoy the journey

Sister Nur Atiqah Ali: Wa 'Alaykum as-Salaam.  I would share two pieces of advice, actually.  Firstly, take one step at a time.  And secondly, for the purpose of seeking ‘ilm and strengthening the ‘aqidah, grasp the concept of tawhid and study the sirah of the Prophet (s.a.w.) first.  The love for Allah (s.w.t.) and love for Muhammad (s.a.w.) should ideally come hand in hand.  The technical aspects of knowledge; fiqh, learning to recite the Qur’an and so forth; will come naturally after.  If we do not establish love for Allah (s.w.t.) and the Prophet (s.a.w.) first, then everything that we are Commanded to do may seem like a burden.

Brother Mohamed Meeranudeen: I always tell them, before you sleep, have a conversation with the Creator.  Ask Him to Show clearly what must be done and pave the way for it.

Sister Danielle N. Lindley: Brother Mohamed, because a full grown man would know more about a female convert’s experience than a female convert would, so no point in arguing.  Men get welcomed to the front doors with open arms and told they can now sleep with four women of their choice and God will Love them for it.  Women get pushed in the back door to a broom closet and told to marry the first practicing Muslim shoved at them or they are already a bad Muslim for wanting more.  The reason people leave the so-called community is because people take anyone not building up the fantasy and write them off, blaming their lack of iman instead of taking some responsibility for why people may feel that way.  No, it is just easier to say they had weak iman and chose to leave, and that, ‘Islam is perfect but people are not’, and continue living their own oblivious, privileged fantasy.

Brother Colin Turner: Your description of the behaviour of Muslims is pure caricature and most insulting.  You clearly had a very negative experience.  Do not extrapolate from this to tar all Muslims with the same brush.  It does them no credit at all, and you even less.

Brother Chris van Dompselaar: al-Hamdulillah, no bad experience here.  I converted in Amsterdam, Holland.  Was welcomed with open arms.  Good support group there.  People told me to learn how to pray first before converting.  But my imam told me to convert first, because you never know when you die so at least you die a Muslim.  Here, in Singapore, I feel welcome too.  My father-in-law teaches me ahadits and more.  He is a real support.  I also feel the mosque is a welcoming place.  The imam here is open and friendly person.  Somehow, I feel there is a lot if negativity among group members.

Brother James Harris: There's nothing wrong with relating negative experiences.  I have had plenty of them with other Muslims and I would be lying if I said it has all been a bed of roses.  Sharing experiences can be helpful for others, and can be good advice for new Muslims on what pitfalls to look out for.

Brother Hajj Ahmad: Brother Chris, if someone has experienced something negativity that is his or her reality.  We must be willing to accept their experience.  If we study Islam since the time of the Prophet (s.a.w.), we will always find the good, the bad, and the ugly in every age and place.  The Muslims are not sheltered from human nature.  You are very fortunate in your personal experience Chris.

Sister Marjorie Abdullah: I would say, think carefully, read the Qur’an, know there is no compulsion in Islam, do not let anyone push you into it before you are ready, understand it is easy to become a Muslim but difficult to leave; so be sure, be very sure.  Pray sincerely for Guidance and avoid judgemental, holier-than-thou , ‘haram police’ types of people.  The best friends are good, kind, gracious, joyful Muslims.  Islam is not meant to be joyless.

Brother Hajj Ahmad: New Muslims need to carefully consider who they take their knowledge from if at all possible and always realise that what they are told could be either false or dogmatic.  They must learn how to pray as quickly as possible and begin to read and study the Qur’an.  There are many sources of information on the internet but one has to be judicious.  There are teachers available who are better than others and some to be avoided.  If the new Muslim stays in touch with us here at The Sharing Group or at Living in Islam, he or she will get a fairly balanced idea of the differences and similarities in Islamic beliefs and will have the opportunity to share without blame.  Sometimes the administrators are a bit rough, but we have to thank them for the thankless job they do.

Sister Phyllis Wong: I would tell the person not to rush.  Get a good Qur’an translation, do some research, and look for Brother Terence.

Sister Colleen M Dunn: Let's face it! Islam is a beautiful religion, but hard to really practice. I found no obstacles really until I moved back to the US, where I suddenly found myself frustrated with my inability to grasp Arabic, and a sudden temptation for libations like bacon that I never had before. I was angry, feeling like Islam was preventing me from assimilating and repatriating to the US. That said, the values of gratitude to God and treating others with respect and kindness have not left. While I personally have had many obstacles (which I pray that my failure to overcome will not be held against me, God-willing), I still hold a deep respect for Islam and its values. In many ways, I am still Muslim, but hidden since the outward practice is such a challenge for me here. Much respect and love to those here who find a way and don't become jaded. It's not easy for people like me. 

Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: No doubt, the journey after conversion is difficult, some more than others.  I do notice though, that most of the positive experiences come from Singapore, and much of the UK, for example.  And the vast majority of the negative experience comes from the US.  This does not invalidate any person’s perspective but it does open our eyes to the different challenges in different parts of the ummah.  For example, until I was in another convert group for awhile, I had no idea that there was this phenomena of men specifically looking for converts to marry.  What I do notice also, is this phenomena of distrust for Muslim groups, but then, I would likely be the same over there.  So the next question, is what would you do to make it better for the converts in your community, even if only one?  In Singapore, we do have the benefit of several measures and groups.  One of them, is of course, The Sharing Group and its circle.

Sister Claudia Daisy Zakarya: Good question, Brother Terence.  It may warrant a separate post.

Brother Muhammad Bilal: Do not be made to feel as if your Islam is deficient just because you were not born a Muslim

Brother Suadi Ong: Before I embraced Islam, I asked my beloved parents for their blessings.  My father said that if that is the choice I make, then just go for it, with both their blessing.  I do not read many books.  l learn with my eyes, ears and my mouth.

Brother Muhammad Harun Riedinger: Masha’Allah, Brother Suadi, may Allah (s.w.t.) Protect your heart, and Teach you wisdom through the faculties He has given you.  Amin!

Sister Ishq Ain Sheen Qaaf: Get some fresh air, spend time with nature and a quiet moment in the mosque.  Simple.

Brother Jak Kilby: Funny things can happen though, Sister Colleen.  Last Friday, one of my brothers-in-law passed away.  We had to drop everything and rush to my mother-in-laws place to deal with so many things.  Running out of the house, I grabbed a topi I do not usually wear.  There was a lot to do and many problems.  After the Juma’ah prayer, I suddenly realised I had an acute pain in my head.  I thought it must be something from stress.  No, it was that the hat was too tight and a blood vessel constricted.  We used to tell a joke years ago.  A man went to the doctor complaining of a stabbing pain he got every morning.  The doctor asked for more details and it was explained this happened at breakfast, when drinking his tea.  The doctor asked, “And do you remove the spoon when you drink?”  End of story.  I wish they still had doctors like that these days.

Sister Mahshid Turner:

Yaki hwah,
Yaki hwan,
Yaki ju,
Yaki bin,
Yaki dan,
Yaki gu.”

Meaning:

“Want only One; the rest are not worth wanting.
Call One; the others will not come to your assistance.
Seek One; the rest are not worth it.
See One; the others are not seen all the time; they hide themselves behind the veil of ephemerality.
Know One; knowledge other than that which assists knowledge of Him is without benefit.
Say One; words not concerning Him may be considered meaningless.”

Brother Richard Ronco: Do not alienate yourself from your family under any circumstances.  Do not abandon your culture.

Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: I wholly agree with that.

Brother Richard Ronco: Do not complicate that which is simple, easier said than done due to the natural tendency to overcomplicate everything imaginable.

Sister Mahshid Turner:  It is culture that has been the main problem!  One does not need to abandon all cultural habits only the ones which clash with Islamic values.  With this attitude, unity among Muslims will be maintained.

Brother Muslim Mike; You do not need to become an Arab to be a Muslim; you do not have to change your name to an Arabic name, which is contradictory to Qur’an; or speak in Arabic or wear sandals and a thobe or kufi.  Just continue to be you.  As you read the Qur’an, you will learn from Allah (s.w.t.) what you need to adjust.

Brother Meir Rotbard: Do no convert. Because they will not be as welcoming on your way out, as they were on your way in.  I may be wrong, but this is just my experience.  Like in any cult-like situation, they want you to join because you are imperfect until you do, and so when you change your mind, or doubt, you are done.  You lose all your friends, but in this case, they just tag on a little death penalty as a bonus.

Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: You cannot prove the sweetness of the wine, brother, until the cup has been emptied of vinegar, and the receptacle cleaned.  Otherwise, even the finest wine is stale.

Brother Meir Rotbard: Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis, I love the analogy, but please explain.

Brother Terence Helikaon Nunis: In any faith, come to it with a heart cleaned of negativity, and emptied of suppositions and assumptions.  Let it be filled with the wine of spirituality, and then taste the wine.  Perhaps the first sip is bitter, but the bouquet is fragrant, and the after taste heavenly.  What you are here for, is a cleaned cup and a taste of the Divine.  Do not mind the server.  The glass make look unlovely, and the server rude.  But he will leave, and the next glass may be from a better one.  As long as you remember the cleaned cup, and the taste of the wine, you will be drunk in the wine of love, losing yourself.  But if you keep looking at the servers, the wine remains undrunk.  What a tragedy.

Sister Clara Arnold: Do not put on a hijab before you are ready.

Brother Richard Ronco: A thobe may be cultural but after enduring the heat in Makkah, it is understandable why such clothing is worn.  It is all very practical.  In addition it is very comfortable.  I prefer to be comfortable.  I do disagree with the point that Brother Muslim Mike said about speaking Arabic.  One should learn as many languages as possible.  One definitely should learn to recite the Qur’an in Arabic as soon as possible.

Brother James McConnell: Do not let the religious people remove the smile from your face.

Brother Colin Turner: Brother Richard Ronco, you are right about Arabic, although Brother Muslim Mike said that learning to speak Arabic is not necessary.  Learning Arabic to be able to read the Qur’an, however, is a different issue, and something which is most certainly to be encouraged.

Brother Muslim Mike: Thanks, Brother Colin Turner, that is what I meant to say.

Sister Ishq Ain Sheen Qaaf: Religious people would be smiling, Brother James.  They would encourage people to smile and to greet one another with salutations.  Yesterday, I saw Shaykh Ninuwy and he has a smile all the time and his whole manner is very humble, pleasant and there is always light humour.  Masha’Allah.  My shaykh said meet people with salaam, with peace.  Shaykh Ninuwy said the same thing yesterday.  My mother would actually say the same thing when we were growing up - always say salaam to a Muslim when you see one.  It makes a huge difference.  Same with non-Muslims, to not to be rude.

Brother Yahya Birt: Islam is to know and love God and to worship Him as He truly is in His Incomparable Oneness and Uniqueness, and it is to love and follow His last and final Messenger (s.a.w.), as God will Love you in turn and Forgive you your sins.  Make no idol, real or abstract, such as any humanly-made idea or desire, as equal to God.  When you declare your faith in One God and affirm the truth that Muhammad (s.a.w.) is His last and final messenger, remember that Islam is an ocean, so enter into its depths gently . Start with the fundamentals of the religion and make them firm; thereafter fly on wings of hope and fear towards your Creator.  Stick with those who know the religion well and are scrupulous in their practice of it when seeking guidance and advice.

Brother James McConnell: Brother Terence, way too much Saudi funding here.  They control most of the mosques and, therefore, Islam, or their brand of it.  It is a big problem in the US and the answer is for converts to reject the money and work within their own means to do their own thing.

Brother Justin Taylor: I would advice my friend or acquaintance to join this group and talk with you wise people here.

Brother Jak Kilby: There is also a lot of Saudi funding of Mosques in the UK.  Slightly more of a problem is that the Saudis carefully select communities leaning towards them, such as the Deobandi or Ahl al-Haditsi, and sponsor a ‘bright’ and susceptible young men to study in Medina University, where they thoroughly indoctrinate them with their ‘correct’ view of Islam.  They then return to their community where they will become the imam, and will receive a salary from the Dar al-Ifta’ section of the Saudi Embassy.  That this happens, as well as the sponsoring of mosques which they then control, you cannot really blame them for.  After all, they truly believe they are doing good work.  The poverty lies with the local Muslim communities who go with begging bowls to such people.  Where is the integrity?

Brother Dan Oo: My advice would be stay away from negative people even if you have to eat the bark of a tree to get away.

Sister Lorraine Nur-Shufiya Branson: Swalat is the key to everything.


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