5 Lessons from the First Converts to Islam
As a new Muslim, you may feel alien to a new way of life.
When you hear stories of the Messenger of Islam, Muhammad (peace be upon him), his life and times, and about his companions, it may feel foreign to you.
They lived in a different time and place – 6th century Arabia. How could you possibly relate to that?
As you journey into the story of Prophet Muhammad, you’ll see how real his experiences were. You’ll begin to see how your experience, as a convert to Islam, is closely tied to that of his companions.
They were after all…converts to Islam, just like you.
Here are 5 lessons you can learn from the first to ever convert to Islam.
1. Take it slow and easy
When the Prophet Muhammad received the first revelation at the age of 40, he was given time to process this new information. Surely, being told he was the chosen Messenger of God was no easy pill to swallow.
The first converts to Islam were from his close family and friends. They, too, were given time (even years) to learn and develop before making their conversion public.
Overall, the Quran was revealed in 23 years! That’s how gradual these new Muslims internalized and implemented the religion.
2. Focus on the building blocks first
Since the time of your Shahadah, you may have been bombarded with a list of Do’s and Don’ts. That must’ve been overwhelming.
If you look at Quranic revelations in the first 13 years of prophethood, the themes focused on:
Knowing and worshiping One God
Knowing about the Hereafter
Knowing about previous prophets
Consoling loss and rejection
If you notice, verses on Do’s and Don’ts like meat, dress and social interactions came after.
Note: This is not to say you should spend 13 years as they did. Take the reasonable time you need to prioritize your learning.
The New Muslim Academy’s curriculum is developed with this in mind.
3. Respect your family despite their rejection
Each family is different. Some support and accept your conversion to Islam. Some may take time before they do so, while others may refuse the notion entirely, even disown.
The early converts went through it all, including physical torture, persecution and death.
The mother of one companion went on a hunger strike so he would recant his Islam. Although he refused, he remained by her side, caring for her and pleading her to eat. He loved her of course, and nothing changed that fact she was his mother.
God revealed in the Quran (31:14-15),
“And We have enjoined upon man [care] for his parents. His mother carried him, [increasing her] in weakness upon weakness, and his weaning is in two years. Be grateful to Me and to your parents; to Me is the [final] destination.
But if they endeavor to make you associate with Me that of which you have no knowledge, do not obey them but accompany them in [this] world with appropriate kindness and follow the way of those who turn back to Me [in repentance]. Then to Me will be your return, and I will inform you about what you used to do.”
4. You are still part of your culture and society
Embracing Islam may feel like shedding your past and embracing a “new you”.
This is true with regards to past sins. Every mistake, every indiscretion is forgiven – no questions asked. You now have a fresh start.
But you still come with memories, experience, and an entire identity. You are not expected to change that, so long as it does not contradict the teachings of Islam.
Your fashion sense, your job, your social life, and most importantly, your name – they are all yours to keep, within the guidelines of Islam.
The companions of the Prophet still engaged in commerce with non-Muslims, they still wore the same clothes, and they kept their names (with few exceptions).
5. Believe in yourself
Becoming a new Muslim comes with a lot of uncertainty. You may feel like a small fish in a big pond with a steep learning curve.
Believe in your ability to grow at your own pace.
The companions were few in number – 4 or 5 at first.
In 23 years, they numbered more than 100,000.
They started off as shepherds, some desert nomads, and many could not even read.
In a span of 23 years, they became scholars, teachers, leaders, generals, industry developers, nation builders, movers and shakers.