The following statement really caught my attention from a Japanese convert, “Mustafa”, in which he stated:
“When I converted, and as a Japanese citizen, Islam was a bit intimidating to me. I bought the Qur’an but I thought about giving up. But one day I went to the mosque, and I saw people with suits and ties, I felt reassured.”
There are numerous examples in the Prophetic period of the enormous role that culture had to play in making Islam “normalized”, a component often overlooked in conversion today where often conversion is rooted in protest, not against idolatry, but against authority.
I was honored to have participated in a new media program: Muslims and Mental Health series. This episode explores legacy building in the African-American Muslim community. It examines issues of community mental health and how elders in the community are setting the tone for coming generations. We explore what the strengths and weaknesses of the community are. What works well and what could use improvement. What resources are needed in terms of human and material capital to make this community functional and healthy.
The following thought came to me last night in my sleep (I was dreaming when I wrote this…) and I’ve tried to write it down as succinctly as I can:
Do you want to be that person in your family who, after having Islam in your family for generations—perhaps even a thousand years or more—is the one who ends it, kills it off, by your inability to adapt, adopt and flourish in your new environment?
Conversely, do you want to be that person who, presented with Islam and kufr, with iman and shirk, choses Islam but then fails to propagate it? You are the potential starting point and opportunity for successive generations to be the People of Paradise.
One must seize the moment and see one’s Islam, be it by birth or by conversion—for both require choices—as a critical point in history by which Islam is either preserved, originated or eliminated, from one’s genealogy.
Needless to say I awoke in a cold sweat.