In getting to know new Muslims, there is one valuable piece of information needed in knowing how best to help them learn Islam and get more involved in the Muslim community. You need to understand how fast this person is willing to learn more about the religion and how much they can take on at one time. Some new Muslims can seem really energetic at the beginning and either burn themselves out or possibly get confused because they are already looking into complicated topics that may not even be relevant to a new Muslim. From the start however, you want to suggest a steady pace to go at so that a new Muslim will eventually know more about Islam and the Quran than the basics. Keeping in mind that new Muslims have begun a life long journey into Islam, it’s important to support them in learning at the right pace, even if it’s slow or it seems like they should be going a lot faster.
Going the right pace for a new Muslim means not pushing them to learn Arabic right away, or giving them lots of gifts like prayer mats, hijabs, books, pamphlets the first or second time you meet them. It seems like it would be great to be able to get someone set for life right away and right now but the new Muslim’s life might not be as easy as it looks from face value and they could be going through troubles and difficulties that make it harder for them to carry a lot of new information right away.
When I was a new Muslim, I started learning Islam mainly from going to the jumm’ah (Friday) khutbas held on my university campus every week. The khutba was a source of education, the large congregation gave me a great feel for the salah prayer and the post-jumm’ah conversations with the brothers made for a great social experience. I highly recommend encouraging young new Muslims to attend jumm’ah prayers on university campuses since they are meant for a younger audience and provide a safe space for new Muslims who have not come out to their families.
We always have the best of intentions when supporting new Muslims in their journey into Islam, but it’s important to remember that each person’s journey is different and moves at a different pace. Let’s remember this so we can better help our new brothers and sisters in Islam.
Joshua Buzzell resides in Hamilton and runs a New Muslim Care program. If you are a new Muslim looking for support, email Joshua at firstname.lastname@example.org.