It's been 2 years since I embraced Islam and these 2 years have taught me a couple of valuable lessons. It's definitely been a challenging yet exciting experience for me ?
But through it all, I'm glad I didn't have to go through the experience alone. My wife, family and friends have been strong pillars of support which I'm grateful for.
So, here’s what I learnt in my past 2 years of being a Muslim:
1. I am Chinese but I am also a Muslim
Strangely, I get this quite often from Muslims and non-Muslims alike. The most common response I get after revealing that I’m a Muslim is “Huh you Malay ah?”. It’s sad that there is a tendency to associate Islam with race in this part of the world.
“And of His signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth and the diversity of your languages and your colors. Indeed in that are signs for those of knowledge.” – Surah Ar-Rum 30:22
“Indeed, We have sent down for you (O mankind) a Book, (the Quran) in which there is Dhikrukum, (your Reminder or an honour for you i.e. honour for the one who follows the teaching of the Quran and acts on its orders). Will you not then understand?” – Surah Al-Anbiya 21:10
The message is for all of humanity. While Muslims are one brotherhood, we belong to the larger brotherhood of humanity and our differences are a sign from God. Today, we see people from all over the world embracing Islam, regardless of race, nationality or status. That is the beauty of Islam.
2. Stay close to friends and family
I remember my first 2 Ramadans. I was fasting in secrecy for fear that my family and friends would find out. It was difficult and a very lonely period of time. I’m grateful that my Dad respected my decision to embrace Islam 2 years ago. It has been a challenging journey back to faith.
Now that my Dad understands why I’m fasting, it’s really nice to be able to have Iftar with my dad and also with my new found brothers of faith.
3. Spread the message of peace
I’m sure many of you have seen increasing incidents of death and destruction happening across the world these days ?. On the other side of the globe, world leaders are trying to figure out whether they should still be inviting towards Muslims.
It’s easy to close our hearts and lament the fact that Islam has gotten the bad rep in the recent years. But what you don’t realize is that we can help change public opinion about Islam and Muslims if we all try to spread the message of love and peace.
You can do this by being a good, father, mother, colleague, son, daughter and friend. You can do this by showing compassion, kindness and understanding towards non-Muslims. We all have a responsibility and capacity to fix the current situation. If only we are willing to try.
4. Trust me, it’s easier with the right intentions
This is especially true for the month of Ramadan. My non-Muslim friends find it amazing that we are able to go without water and food for vast stretches of time. My simple answer to that is intention
. It’s so much easier when you understand why you’re fasting.
My first attempt at fasting happened 4 years ago. Needless to say it was a miserable attempt, even though it was a half day fast. My tummy was screaming to be fed at 11.30am. I didn’t fare better in my second year, having to break my fast because I fell sick in the middle of the month.
“O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous” – Surah Al-Baqarah 2:183
It got a lot easier last year after I understood the reason why we must fast ? Apart from being one of the five pillars of Islam, engaging in fasting reminds us of how blessed we are to be able to afford food and water, amongst other things.
5. Struggle and Patience
Many don’t realize how challenging it is to run HHWT. There are days when I feel like anything is possible and there are days where I feel so discouraged from the number of problems we have to solve ? But through it all, I find comfort in this ayat from the Quran:
I pray that we understand that whatever bad things happened because Allah allowed it. And no calamity will strike unless decided by Him. For He is the best of planners.
For the other reverts out there, I hope your time as a Muslim has been as rewarding of an experience as mine. I’m looking forward to being able to continuously grow and learn in time to come, insyaAllah ?