10 Things That Shouldn’t Happen Once You Become a More Practicing Muslim


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Photo: Jim

We have seen it time and time again. We may have even experienced it.

For so long, you were a Muslim only by name. You did not know much about Islam and its teachings, and you were content with your ignorance.

But something changed. Like the shifting of the earth before a quake, something happened in your life that suddenly opened your eyes to the beauty of your religion. You realized that you needed God and in that instance, you turned back to Him.

Or, you were never a Muslim, but the story that was your life fell upon a new chapter: Islam. You left whatever you were (or were not) practicing for His sake.

In both these instances, you have tried to claim or reclaim the Muslim identity that you finally realized and accepted as being yours. Yet, it was during the birth of your new spiritual self that things began to go downhill. You may not have seen it, but everyone around you certainly did…

Here are a list of 10 things that shouldn’t happen as a result of you turning a new leaf and becoming a more practicing (or new) Muslim:

1. You Become Narrow Minded

This is probably one of the worst – and ironic – things that can result from you becoming a more practicing Muslim. Islam has richness and diversity embedded within its history; from its revelation to the interpretations and rulings, from great scholars and intellectuals (think: Imam Abu Hanifa, Imam Malik, Imam Ash-Shafi’i & Imam Ahmad), Islam is not something that can be limited to what you have learned from one person within your community, or after watching a few videos on YouTube. Contrary to what you might think, becoming closer to Allah, subhanahu wa ta ‘ala (exalted is He), and the teachings of Islam should make you far more OPEN minded. That is, the more educated you become, the more you realize that differences of opinions within Islam are not a curse, but a blessing. They make the religion easy & practical – a stark juxtaposition to the Islam you may be viewing through your narrow lenses.

Most of the time, it’s narrow mindedness that leads individuals to do the following:

2. You Rebel Against Your Family

Now that you have seen the light, you begin to notice the sins that your family may be immersed in. How dare they not pray? Why do they not attend these lectures? Why don’t they support me – I’m following the same religion as them after all!? Why wasn’t I born into a more practicing family? Why didn’t my parents teach my Qur’an from a younger age!? Why, why, why…?

These, and many more, are thoughts that might cross your mind. But you have to remember a couple of things: a) You will probably never be able to completely change your family – especially your parents b) Humble yourself. It was only a short while ago that you were immersed in the same sins and was it not by the mercy of the Most Merciful, your plight may have never changed.

Coming closer to Allah (swt) should indeed bring you closer to your family (despite their flaws) as now you realize the great importance of kinship in Islam, and the enormous rights of your parents upon you.

3. You Rebel Against Society

You have not only become hyper aware to the ills within your home, but those outside of it too.

You take extremes and ban yourself from things like television, entertainment, social activities, malls, or anything remotely related to “Western Fitnah” (as if fitnah (temptation) does not exist in the Muslim world…but that’s for another time).

Becoming more practicing in the deen (religion) shouldn’t mean that you revile the very society that may have raised you and to which you owe your cultural traditions, norms and values. Instead, it should make you more involved. Being a Muslim means to be balanced – enjoy the good your society has to offer.

Of course, none of us enjoy societal ills such as misogyny, corruption, pollution, poverty and so forth, but that does not mean that we have to turn our backs on it. Let’s be honest, we (especially those born in the West), should be thankful for the peace and civility that we find here but which lacks in many parts of the Muslim world. And remember that Allah (swt) says:

Indeed, Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves,” (Qur’an, 13:11)

This verse is very important for us to remember before we start to revile our family, friends, and societies.

4. You Declare Everything as Haram/Halal

This is an extremely dangerous thing to do. Just because you have learned a bit about Islam, you still have no right to be declaring fatwahs (Islamic legal rulings). This is something left to the most learned of Muslims; those who have dedicated their lives to the study and teachings of Islam.

Further, if you are quick to declare things haram/halal, remember this: you are putting your word against that of Allah (swt) and those who have studied His deen. Pretty scary, huh?

But inevitably, becoming more practicing may make you more quick to declare things as haram/halal.  A word of advice: don’t. Just because someone holds a different opinion on a matter than yours, doesn’t make their opinion less valid. There were differences of opinions during the time of the Prophet ﷺ and after his death! But these differences did not divide Muslims as they do today – instead, they highlighted the beauty of Islam and how it is truly a religion that has transcended time, history, and culture.

5. You Isolate Yourself

Just because you have become more practicing, doesn’t mean that you should only limit yourself to your home or Islamic events, activities, the MSA, etc.

Listen to me: LIVE YOUR LIFE

Allah (swt) has set boundaries that cannot be transgressed. If you remove your head from the sand for 5 seconds, you will realize that there is a LOT of leeway as to what we can do as Muslims.

As long as they do not transgress the bounds of Allah (swt), feel free to engage in the things that bring joy and happiness to your life.

Do not ditch your long-time friends just because you have become more practicing than them. Do not quit your job or schooling (unless, of course they are, or lead to, haram). Do not limit your days to locking yourself in your room and only studying Islam. You will go nuts, trust me.

And my dear Sisters, becoming more practicing should never impede on your rights as a woman. You should never become invisible or unheard. You should never be silenced. Islam is empowering and anything that makes you feel otherwise is not – in my humble opinion – Islam.

Becoming more practicing should open you to the world and new possibilities. Also, it should make you more engaged within your community, whether it be through non-profit organizations, sports, etc.

6. You Lose Your Identity

This is a big one. Sisters and Brothers, you are all unique, creative and different human beings. You should never feel that you now have to wear all black, roll up the bottoms of your pants, or start interjecting Arabic terms like ukhti or akhi into your vocabulary. Also, if you are a revert – you can keep your legal name (unless it is specifically un-Islamic)!

Getting closer to Allah (swt) should bring you closer to your truer self. Embrace your culture, language, experiences and unique nuances. Despite what you may have seen or heard, a “Muslim” can’t truly be categorized, labelled or molded. Embrace your identity and be proud of how Allah (swt) has created you.

7. You Look Down On Others

This speaks for itself. Again, humble yourself because as they say:

Every righteous person has a past, and every sinner has a future.

Also, cut out the discrimination against non-Muslims. They may not be your sisters/brothers in faith, but they are certainly still your sisters/brothers in humanity and deserve every ounce of your respect and kindness.

8. You Instantly Become a “Scholar”

Google, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and any social media site or piece of technology does NOT make you an expert in the field of Islam. Think of the work it takes to become a doctor – would you ever accept the claims of someone who simply Googles their information without any valid form of education?

Do not make fatwahs, do not rebuke others and do not think that you know everything. Simply assume the position of a student. Recognize, too, that being on the receiving end of knowledge is a life-long thing.

9. You Get Married

This is mainly for new reverts to Islam who may have become Muslim for the sake of marrying someone OR who are now being pressured to get married to “preserve their deen.”

To simply put it, if you have just turned back to Allah (swt) (and by just, I mean within the last few years of your life) then let marriage happen, do not try and force it. In the mean time, you have just started the best relationship of all: the one with your Lord. Allow it to come into fruition. Bask in its glory. Truly love and revere those intimate moments you enjoy when you praise, thank, and pray to your Lord.

We talk about completing “half our deen” without realizing that we are not complete. Marry your deen, and the rest will fall into place, bi’ithnillah (by the will of Allah).

10. You Race to Catch Up

Please go easy on yourself. Yes, you may have less Qur’an memorized than your friends. Yes, you may have less Islamic knowledge. Yes, you may not be as steadfast on Islamic acts of worship. Yes, you may constantly stumble, fall, and falter.

But remember, this is your personal journey to Allah (swt), it is not a race. It makes no sense to compare the beginning of your story to another person’s middle. Start from whatever level you may be at and keep going. Do not give up and purify your intentions. It is not about quantity, it is about quality. Remember that.

And Allah (swt) knows best.

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37 Comments

  1. ASEEY says:

    Subhannah! This article comes at the right time that i need it.
    Jazakallah kheiran.

    • Ubah says:

      Wa iyyak!

      Ubah

      • Paul Bartlett says:

        Which means what, please, for those of us who were not raised in Islam and were never exposed to “Islamic” terminology? (This is a situation of many people who were not raised as Muslims or who never really received an Islamic upbringing. Either they think that the more Arabic terms they throw into their utterances the “better” Muslims they are, or else they throw up their hands in exasperation at those who do.)

        • Kay says:

          From one convert to another, I figured this one out by googling. Wa iyyak/wa iyyakum means “you too” or “and you too”.

          Unless you’re asking about subhanallah, which means “glorious is god” or jazakallah khair/khairan which means “may god reward you with goodness”. Most of these words are on wikipedia.

        • Paul Bartlett says:

          Peace be with you (“salaam alaikum”). Why should anyone in ordinary, day to day, conversation need to go to Google or any other such resource when plain English (or whatever else is the local vernacular language) terms are available? This just contributes to a(n admittedly distorted) perception that Islam is “foreign,” “strange,” “not for people like us.” “Why can’t these strange Muslims speak English like the rest of us?”

          If the message of the Noble Qur’an is a message for all of humanity, then it can be expressed with at least minimal adequacy in every human language on earth. If it cannot, then the Noble Qur’an is not a universal message for all of humankind. So why do we need to slather our discourse with foreign terms?

        • Mohamed says:

          Arabic is the language used in Quran and therefore used for worship. To argue that Islam is not universal when western Muslims use some Arabic words is not really logical. You can greet with Hello or Salam..it does not matter- just greet and return a greeting. It would not be Islamic if you avoid to use Arabic words out of arrogance and ignorance or even judge those who use them. It could be that they love the language..you cannot blame those who do things out of love ..as long as it is permissible and within the boundaries of Islam. Quran teaches how to love.

          @Daisy a feedback would be nice

        • Kirana says:

          But Paul, for many of us raised in Islam, many of these expressions have become de facto part of our regular utterances (bear in mind my native tongue is NOT arabic nor english). I think while we should not judge others who do not use them, neither should we prevent its use. Both ways do not achieve the goal of knowing one another. It is better to ask what it means, and then one would know. Just as you would if you traveled someplace and the locals use some words that they habitually mix in with ‘their’ english and so you ask them.

        • Mia says:

          I feel you on this Paul. And to go one further I get the feeling that some seem to use it as a way of trying to impress others. Beyond the ordinary greetings, there isn’t a whole lot of reason to throw a lot of Arabic phrases into ordinary conversation, and it could also push people away.

        • J says:

          I feel you Paul there is a confusion on what makes someone a good Muslim of upright character and knowledge. Many focus on clothing, beards, language and so forth. The outward stuff whereas we need a lot in terms of true identity.

          Also there is a confusion between the language in which the revelation was sent and its universal message e.g. we saw prophets sent who speak many other languages and what if a prophet were sent to English speakers??? O yeah that’s us. God told us “We only send messengers preaching to the people in their language so as to properly clarify it to them!” (14:4)

          It all boils down to superficial symbolism vs. true clear universal meaning.

          I feel most Muslims – scholars and laymen- aren’t understanding the relationship between culture and religion and where to draw the line… if there should be one at all!

        • Muhammed-Ali says:

          why all the anger for people who want to youse arabic words? In the end all that counts is Iman not that you use arabic words or not ….

        • Paul Bartlett says:

          Peace be with you (“salaam alaikum”). Please understand that it is not a matter of “anger” at those who use Arabic words. It is, rather, a matter that the use of such words is not necessary, if there are perfectly good equivalents in the local language, and it is a courtesy not to assume that those who did not grow up with them will understand, especially when, again, they are not necessary.

          Yes, from time to time throughout human history, there have been instances when a local language did not have adequate terms for concepts of a newly introduced religion. This happened, for example, with Christianity introduced into England (and consequently in the other English speaking countries), where a few Latin and Latinized Greek religiously technical terms were introduced into English.

          I am not disputing this phenomenon at all. I am only speaking to the matter of someone using foreign terms in day to day exchanges when there are perfectly usable counterparts in the local language.

          Islam does not cease to be a message for all of humankind just because some (not all) Muslims use some Arabic words. Not at all. All I am saying is that in so many situations it is not necessary to use those terms and may be less polite for some people to do so when the hearers / readers may not understand them.

        • Muhammed-Ali says:

          Dear Paul,

          i agree with most with what you said, you dont have to use arabic terms like “jazakallahu khairan.. ” to be a “more practicing muslim” … yet it is ok to use them, it does not hurt islam or the view of islam ( which others may hold), it is the user of such words that can hurt islam …
          that is what i meant with “In the end all that counts is Iman”.

          the muslim with his charackter and imaan in a non-muslim society is the carrier of the massage, that we praise to be universal… so in my opinion we should not focus on such small things as the usage of arabic words ( for some it is helping them to develop their identity , because they dont know better how to do it other then changing their outside look and their way of speaking ) .

          the focus in the end is the inside of us , your heart… the embodiment of islam… is what will touch other people and show them the universalness of islam…

          of course the prophet ( sas) spoke in a fitting manner so that they could understand him , but they did not chose to follow him because of his words but because of how he was …

          i may have not answered the topic you oppened correctly … i just wanted to give you my view on this matter…
          in short someone can be really unpolished and not knowledgeable in terms of speach ( like me ) , this will not hurt the picture of islam he gives, as long as he is a good muslim who can convey the true islam that the prophet (sas )teached..(through his beeing ) actions speak louder then words.. / more then thousand words ;D

          again sorry for my bad englando

        • Rubina says:

          Assalamu alaikum Paul,

          I know that I am joining in the conversation a little late; I read the article and all the comments today. Your comments/ thoughts and other people responses about using Arabic terms in day to day conversation are not wrong at all. It is totally okay not to use Arabic terms and to greet people in plain English and have conversation with them without uttering any Arabic term. The one who use the Arabic terms not necessarily is a better Muslims verses the one who doesn’t.
          But at the same time please be aware that saying, “Hello” or “How’re you doing?” is not al all the same as saying As-salamu alaikum. Hello is just a simple way to greet another person, and when you say Salaam (Peace) or As-salamu alaikum (peace be upon you) or As-salamu alaikum wa Rehmatullahi wa barakatuh (Peace and Allah’s Mercy and blesings be upon you) you actually are doing two things. You are not just only greeting another fellow but making a supplication for him. And if your fellow returns your greeting in the same manner as “wa laykumu as-salāmu wa Rehmatullahi wa barakatuh,” (may peace, mercy and blessings of Allah be upon you) he also is supplicating for you. That is why our religion Islam is special and beautiful. And for the same reason Muslims use other Arabic terms as well, not because they want to impress or confuse new Muslims. Most of the Islamic terms which we commonly use in our day to day conversation have special meanings, and these terms actually considered as duas (supplications) taught to us by the Prophet (SAW). Peace :)

  2. daisy says:

    my first time of commenting,though a constant visitor of this page.i felt compelled after reading this.sis ubah, you hit d nail,more ink to your pen.and i love you for this-it’s sunnah to express that i think.

  3. Adam says:

    Jazakallah Khair
    i like the point “You Race to Catch Up”
    sometimes i felt tired..
    ya should go easy on myself

    =’)

  4. Uzma Mazhar says:

    Good article. Some of this applies to ‘old’ Muslims also, when they start practicing more diligently.
    However, this is a natural process of growth… we learn black & white first and then see the varying shades of grey. As long as we keep our hearts & minds open for new knowledge and don’t close our eyes that look at the inner ‘me’… always aware of the possible traps of being religious. Arrogance, pride and religion don’t mix well. ;)

  5. Marya says:

    Beautiful article! Thank you so much for writing this (:

  6. John says:

    “You take extremes and ban yourself from things like television, entertainment, social activities, malls, or anything remotely related to ‘Western Fitnah'”

    I avoid tv unless there’s benefit in watching a certain show. I like NBA but I’d rather play basketball than spend 3 hours watching a game that doesn’t affect me; so I only watch the 4th quarter if it’s a close game.

    As for malls, I avoid them because I hate having to look at the ground the entire time thanks to the half-naked women everywhere.

    I don’t think this is extreme. To me, it’s a shield.

    • nadia says:

      Why just the Mall? They are everywhere.

    • J says:

      To each their own. People have different spiritual struggles. Some people aren’t in turmoil over things that others are. I think case to case there’s a balance between what you and he are saying

    • Talha says:

      I absolutely agree with you. When it comes to getting closer to Allah, we should always make stable, sustainable changes that we are able to follow consistently. With that said, we should also recognize the actions in our life that are against Islamic teachings, no matter how integral they are to us and work to eventually stop partaking in them. We also shouldn’t immediately label others as “closed minded” or “extremist” simply because they choose not to watch T.V., spend free time at the mall, or listen to music.

      An example I can give from my own life is going to the gym. I go to my University’s gym and I found that the immodest dress of some of the gym goers had a negative effect on me. I lowered my gaze, but it still had a profound effect on me. I started going to the gym only early in the morning, before the immodestly dressed girls got there to avoid this problem. Some may call me an extremist, but I realized the effect the environment had on me and worked to change it. To me, that’s not a bad thing at all.

  7. O H says:

    Jazaki Allaahu Khair sister for the beneficial article. Many great points have been made but I think it’s a tad too liberal/less strict in certain aspects. I know that whilst you do intend to suggest a well balanced attitude & plan for the more practicing Muslim, this may have skewed the article a bit to one side if you know what I mean.

    One example being point 6 where I feel that a person actually gains, rather than loses their identity by being more conscious in the way they dress, speak so as long as it represents a higher level of conformance to the Sunnah of the Prophet (peace be upon him) whilst abstaining from the negative/sinful aspects of his/her own culture. A lot of the times reverts or suddenly practicing Muslims struggle to get rid or overcome the negative cultural baggage in the aspects which are at odds with the religion. Other than I too have experienced some of those points you mentioned in the article so I can relate and benefit from this!

    • Talha says:

      I suppose that the author is referring to someone who starts thinking that a thobe is the only acceptable form of dress or something. I think it could have been worded better. I do agree with you that one can gain in identity when attention is paid to the Sunnah.

  8. Brian Cokayne says:

    The brothers & sisters that I know here in N.England always do appreciate it if I do try to use some Arabic in greeting or conversation with them. And as a non-Arabic speaker I enjoy such aspects of Islam whereby one is at least learning some elementary aspects of a new language.
    And this website helps in that when terms are explained & when written out phonetically. And in Arabic,please forgive me, but doesn’t one write from right to left the whole text. Just imagine for example the scholars and devotees for many years in the African town of Timbuctoo where the libraries are so cared for, if they had had quarrels over which language was appropriate for which piece of parchment. More quarrels, less valuable preserved text I think. Asalaam Aleykum Brian Cokayne/ Stockport/ England

  9. Shahryar says:

    Mashallah this is SO on point! Thank you so much for this article. May Allah make you amongst the awliya and grant you the highest maqam in Jannah!

  10. Said Hasan says:

    Masha Allah. Great article. Beautiful piece. No wonder your name Ubax( or Ubah if you like) in Somali language we call it flower because your two articles I’ve read so far have some sense of floral beauty.
    I look forward to reading more of your articles.
    JazakAllah khair Sister.

  11. daisy says:

    @muh’d,thanks.
    @Ubah,you’re welcome.
    …..Better late than never they say.

  12. R says:

    Nice article! #5: My personal experience is the other way around. Most of my friends and family member are very liberal and liked me more when I was not practicing Islam consciously. People resentment started when I started to take Hijab. And trust me…I not at all preach “My Islam” to them or try to look “Very Deeni” when I am with them :)

  13. qwerty says:

    Ya Allah! with a calamity falling on me due to some of my sins i guess, i hav turned back humbly to my Lord. I pray to him that HE has mercy on me and forgives me.
    Alhamdullilah! i have been doing a lot of net surfing to make dua and repent for my sins, and in this process I rediscovered the true and sole purpose of this life on earth, and thus have made a solemn resolve to be a right muslimah from now on, and have also started practicing my religion more truthfully.
    your article strikes a chord, and espescially “#2.You Rebel Against Your Family” is soo exactly i feel, but i think i should give them time and more importantly help them change and see the truth. I pray to Allah to help me, and ease my distress soon, and help me pray peacefully this ramadan. May Allah bless you for your efforts and help all muslims and non-believers towards the right path of islam. Ameen!

  14. Umm_MallyIzyEj says:

    MashaAllah . Thank you shukran for thus article . Applies to me :)

  15. Ahmed says:

    As Salamu Alaykum.

    Extremely insightful article, made me contemplate a lot about myself. I do have one problem:

    “Rights as a woman”. Are these human-given rights or God-given rights? “Silenced” “empowered” etc. are not Islamic terms. We do not understand the genders using concepts that have been recently invented by feminists. “You should never become invisible or unheard.” I get what you mean (domestic violence, etc.) but I feel like some people may misunderstand. 1. Women have been highly encouraged to lead a home-based life, which entails a certain degree of isolation from strangers. As far as I know, this is widely known and accepted. The hijab being mandatory, and the niqab being praiseworthy (or mandatory depending on opinion), may require a woman to be “invisible” to some extent, and excessive and attractive speaking is discouraged. 2. You’re making an absolute statement by saying “never”. I appreciate that you recognize that Islam has room to accommodate different cultures, not many people do. But speaking in absolutes, and imposing your cultural concept of being a woman would contradict that. Women can be whatever they want to be within their culture and according to the principles of Islam, that includes not wanting to be be seen or heard without good reason.

    The reason I’m pointing this out is because I find this part irrelevant in an otherwise excellent article. You give no examples on how a newly practicing Muslimah’s “rights” might be impeded on. I feel like it was interjected in there just to please the feminist crowd, and we should be discouraging such anti-Islamic ideologies from seeping into our discussions. A better thing to say would be: “Make sure your Islamic rights are being fulfilled but more importantly, that you fulfill others’ rights upon you.” Even this is being generous, as to my knowledge, we don’t always demand our rights but only exercise sabr when they are not being given.

    I hope you don’t take offense to anything I have said. I am grateful for your article and I wished to provide [constructive] feedback. Would welcome other views on the matter even though I realize it’s not exactly on topic.

    Jazak Allah

  16. Darryl says:

    Thank you for this I’m a new convert and learning I need this
    Trying to live righteous by Allah to do the right thing thank you

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