I recently decided to convert to Islam. I felt that Islam is much misunderstood in the USA and when I discovered its beauty, I felt at home. The thing is that I am a white Italian-American and I get responses from Muslims from the Middle East that make me feel bad. They say, “How can you be white and be a Muslim”, “How do you know who Allah is”, they make me feel that I cannot follow Islam.
How do I react or face this ignorance?
At the time when the Prophet (pbuh) was mocked and troubled by the rejecters of faith, he is reported to have prayed for them in these words:
My Lord, forgive them, for they are people who do not know.
It is indeed a great tragedy that those who were to guide people to the path of eternal salvation are doing all that they can to develop averse feelings and emotions about this path by their words as well as their deeds. They are indeed the salt that has lost all its savour, the candle that has not only been kept hidden from others, but is even losing its own glow.
However, let us not be discouraged from the immature attitudes of such people. Let us only seek the truth and try to live our lives according to the directions of our Lord, and in the process, seek no other refuge and no other support except that of God. Who else can be a more reliable partner in this journey than the Almighty Himself?
Your reaction to all such comments should be the most graceful one. Deal with people not according to their moral standards but according to your own. Forgive them for their ignorance, pray for their guidance and always remember, “Your Lord is fully aware of those who are rightly guided and is not unaware of those who have gone astray”. According to the Qur’an the ideal response to such unbecoming remarks is:
Respond in the best of manners to what is evil. (Al-Muminoon 23:96)
At another instance, the Qur’an, while addressing the Prophet (pbuh) says:
Good and evil are not equal [in their consequences]. Respond in the best of manners to what is evil. Then you shall see that he, who is your enemy, shall become your dearest of friends. But none can attain this except those who are steadfast [in God’s directives] and none can attain this except those who are truly fortunate. If satan tempts you to do otherwise, seek refuge in God. Indeed He hears [their discourses] and knows [what is hidden in their hearts]. (Fussilat 41:34 – 36)
Unfortunately, under the circumstances, I cannot do anything besides requesting you to show endurance, patience and a very appropriate response in the face of the comments that you are subjected to.
22nd February 2000