I’m going to tell you a story about two converts, Marie and John. They don’t know each other but I know them both personally. I didn’t have much to do with giving them da’wah. But I did encourage them to say their shahadah sooner rather than later if they believed. They both took my advice.
Marie converted about 6 months before John. She’d been researching Islam for about a year or more because of (now ex) boyfriend. Eventually, she converted. She doesn’t wear hijab. Still wears makeup. Makes wudhu with nail polish on.
John found Islam through some of our popular “Muslim manosphere” content creators. He’d been researching Islam for a few months before converting. Read the Quran and everything. After he converted he was a model Muslim. He became celibate. Was doing voluntary fasts and prayers. Started learning Arabic and the basics of fiqh.
Reading this, you’d have wildly different perceptions of them. Mashallah, John is a real G, you’d say. And you may be inclined to treat Marie badly for nor taking her religion seriously.
But Marie’s fasting her first Ramadan as a Muslim. And John isn’t fasting because he left Islam. The difference between them is greater than the difference between the Heavens and the Earth.
“O Messenger of Allah, the first one was the one who strove harder, then he was martyred, but the other one was admitted to Paradise before him. The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: “Did he not stay behind for a year?” They said: “Yes.” He said: “And did not Ramadan come and he fasted, and he offered such and such prayers during that year?” They said: “Yes.” The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: “The difference between them is greater than the difference between heaven and earth.”
Sunan Ibn Majah
How Muslims Failed John
I helped Marie and John during their journey and after their conversion. In both cases, my number one piece of advice to them was to take things slowly and not turn their lives upside down immediately after converting. Marie listened. John didn’t.
Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “Religion is very easy and whoever overburdens himself in his religion will not be able to continue in that way. So you should not be extremists, but try to be near to perfection and receive the good tidings that you will be rewarded; and gain strength by worshipping in the mornings, the afternoons, and during the last hours of the nights.”
John’s a young, ambitious man with a type-A personality. Like many new Muslims in his enthusiasm he wanted to get everything right from day one. While this is admirable, you can’t change 20 years of life as a non-Muslim overnight. And so, he was overwhelmed.
But John faced another problem from the very Muslims who were trying to help him. One I believe amplified his difficulties.
I was in a private Telegram group with John and a bunch of other successful Muslims. From time to time he’d ask questions or advice on “advanced” issues that even born Muslims have trouble implementing. Understand, this young man’s been Muslim for all of three months.
Instead of advising him to chill and take things slow, like I’d been doing privately, these imbeciles all turned into muftis. Quoting fatawa from this scholar and that. Writing long treatises to flex their Islamic knowledge and religiosity.
In the end, Allah is the One in control of our hearts. But had these Muslims paused for a moment to understand John’s situation, he might be fasting Ramadan with us today.
Faith is a Fragile Thing
Iman takes time to set in our hearts. And many things can shake it. A convert who’s a ‘bad’ Muslim for the rest of their lives is better than a convert who’s a perfect Muslim for 3 months and then apostates.
If you’re in a position to guide a convert, remember this. And don’t make the mistake of flexing your religiosity to someone who’s heart can’t handle the burden.
Shahr bin Hawshab said, “I said to Umm Salamah, ‘O Mother of the Believers! What was the supplication that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said most frequently when he was with you?” She said: “The supplication he said most frequently was: ‘O Changer of the hearts, make my heart firm upon Your religion (Yā Muqallibal-qulūb, thabbit qalbī `alā dīnik).’” She said: “So I said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, why do you supplicate so frequently, O Changer of the hearts, make my heart firm upon Your religion.” He said: “O Umm Salamah! Verily, there is no human being except that his heart is between Two Fingers of the Fingers of Allah, so whomsoever He wills He makes steadfast, and whomever He wills He causes to deviate.”