A sister was remarking that a new convert admitted that she did not wear hijab except when she was around the masjid and those “conservative judgmental-type Muslims”. And so her first advice or should I say command was to tell the convert to “wear hijab, it’s very important”.
When she asked me, I said hijab is important but it’s not the most important thing right now. The first thing is the aqeedah and eman and keeping good company otherwise she may backslide and fall out of Islam completely as I have seen with far too many converts.
Once the convert is secure in their relationship with Allah built upon the correct aqeedah and emaan, then we can focus on the pillars like salaah, fasting, and zakaah. Hijab and halal chicken are secondary and tertiary issues for a convert. What good is observing hijab and eating halal meat when they do not understand tawheed or how to pray?
So often in our communities, a person takes shahadah and then we expect them to become a perfect Muslim and take on the outer appearances of Islam immediately with little or no regard to the inner dimensions. As long as she’s in hijab we think everything is ok, the reality being more often than not everything is not ok just as preventing women from coming to the masjid is not ok.
Every individual that converts to Islam or returns to practicing the deen after a lapsed period has unique issues to deal with from familial pressures, peer pressure, education, economic issues, substance abuse, sexual abuse, trauma, and the more general diseases of the heart that arise from a living a life of heedlessness to the commands of our Creator. Growing a beard, getting married, or wearing hijab will not solve any of these issues.
I feel very blessed that I did not know or have much interaction with Muslims for much of the first year after my conversion. I learned textbook Islam from books, online articles, and lectures. I was easily able to discern the difference between cultural practice and Islam and this foundation of knowledge with the help of Allah kept me on the straight path and strengthened me to face the opposition and difficulties from my family, friends, and community that arose after my conversion.
Sadly, another person I was learning about Islam with has yet to accept Islam despite being very close at one point because of an inability to get past the mixing of cultural practice and ill treatment of women as exemplified by the brothers in the documentary.
This weekend after the Family Eid Bazaar, the imam gave a lecture in which he reminded us that we are commanded to advise people in the best manner. And that our advice is just that, advice and not a command nor to compel others to agree with us. Our advice should be sincerely for the sake of Allah subhanahu wa ta ala and not for ourselves and not to show off and embarrass the other person.
Tying this all back to the struggle of women to pray in the masjid is another quote from our imam in which he said, “The masjid is not just a community center, it’s a hospital for the souls and a place people come to make taubah.”
So don’t be one of those masjid bouncers keeping away the sincere people just because their outer appearance might not live up to your expectations and don’t think that because you have not heard or seen any issues from those who seem to be practicing that they are none.