June 1, 2003
Bilqis is currently on sabbatical,
so this question is being answered by Wael Abdelgawad, the Zawaj.com
Assalamu alaikum. I am
in a terrible dilemma that I see no way to fix.
I converted to Islam a
year ago and I love the religion dearly, but I have certain doubts
I cannot dispel. There are parts of the Qu'ran which I cannot
believe are the correct way that Allah would wish his faithful
I still consider myself
a Muslim and I believe almost all of Islam except for a few points,
but it is enough that no Muslim who follows their deen would
accept me as one of the faith if they knew.
Making the problem worse
is that I am in love with a very devoted Muslim sister and she
has feelings for me as well, and we are thinking of marrying.
I have not told her that I don't adhere to all the required beliefs
for a Muslim. I do not know what her reaction would be. I love
her and want to spend the rest of my life with her, but I know
that in the strictest sense I am not considered a Muslim, even
though I consider myself one.
Even though she cares for
me I do not think she would violate her deen and marry me. And
if this is the case then I am doomed because the most important
thing to me in a partner is strong Imaan, but this is the very
thing which will prevent us from being together, or anyone else
whom I would hold dear.
Please is there some answer?
Thank you for your time and help may Allah reward you.
- A Confused Brother
Dear brother, As-salamu alaykum,
You've presented a lot of questions and I will proceed step
by step to address the background issues behind your doubts
Each Person is Different
Each person who embraces Islam comes to the truth in his or
her own way. One person may have been a lifelong Christian but
has always been troubled by the deification of Jesus, and finds
in Islam the pure monotheism he has been searching for. Another
person may be attracted by Islam's emphasis on social justice.
Another person might find in Islam a deeply spiritual path that
harmonizes various aspects of her life.
In addition, each person may come into Islam with a different
degree of commitment or openness. Sure, the declaration of the
Shahaadah is a huge commitment in itself and no one takes it
lightly. And some extraordinary individuals are wide open from
that point, ready to abandon all their preconceptions and accept
whatever Islam teaches all at once.
But for most converts, the process of learning Islam's teachings,
accepting various Islamic viewpoints and achieving true Imaan,
Islam Should be Learned Gradually
Allah, in His wisdom, revealed the Qur'an gradually over the
course of twenty three years. People were not commanded to implement
every aspect of Islam all at once. Indeed, during the early years
in Makkah there were almost no Islamic rituals per se. All the
early Qur'anic verses focused on issues of faith and belief,
such as Tawheed, life after death, Judgement, Paradise and Hell,
etc. These verses prepared the Muslims' spirits, so that when
the Islamic code of behavior began to be revealed, people were
The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) was also wise in this way. Narrated
The Prophet sent Muadh to Yemen and said, "Invite
the people to testify that none has the right to be worshipped
but Allah and I am Allah's Apostle, and if they obey you, then
teach them that Allah has enjoined on them five prayers in every
day and night (in twenty-four hours), and if they obey you, then
teach them that Allah has made it obligatory for them to pay
the Zakat from their property and it is to be taken from the
wealthy among them and given to the poor." (Al-Bukhari,
So you see, he didn't say to Muadh, "Go to Yemen and
make the people accept every aspect of Islam at once." He
told him to begin with the basics and teach them one thing at
Give Yourself Time
When you accept Islam you are giving up a worldview that you
have been raised with, that you were taught by your parents and
teachers, and that you probably share with your friends and family,
and you are exchanging it for a new worldview which does not
originate with human beings at all but with the Creator. Let's
face it, this is not an easy thing to do. Most people have a
hard time letting go of opinions which have cemented over a lifetime.
Some Christians who accept Islam take a long time to give
up their old ideas about Jesus (pbuh). Americans who come to
Islam often have difficulty accepting what they think
are Islam's teachings regarding women. Or they have a stereotypical
idea of Islam's teachings about jihad - due to a lifetime of
misinformation and distortions from the American media - so they
are ready to accept all of Islam except this one issue.
As for myself, I was raised in a Muslim family, but I grew
up in the USA and I did not begin to seriously study Islam until
I was about 14 years old. By that time I had been thoroughly
indoctrinated in the standard American ideologies, and I had
difficulty with some of Islam's teachings. But I knew in my heart
that Islam was true and the Qur'an was true, so whenever I came
across something that bothered me I would make a note of it and
keep it on the back burner of my mind, and move on, always keeping
an eye out for more information on those subjects.
As the years passed I began to develop a more complete view
of the Islamic path and teachings. I read Islamic books on fiqh,
seerah, and hadith, and I also read classic conceptual books
by twentieth century authors such as Sayyid Abul A'la Mawdudi,
Sayyid Qutb, Maryam Jameelah, Muhammad El-Awa, Sayyed Abul Hasan
Ali Nadwi, Hassan al-Bannah, and many others. My mind began to
grow in new ways and I began to understand aspects of life that
had always puzzled me. I began to see how the Islamic concepts
of the world are invariably wiser and more in tune with human
reality than my previous indoctrinations. Gradually - and not
surprisingly! - the issues that had troubled me in Islam were
resolved, one by one, over the years.
Do Not Belittle Yourself
Brother, do not denigrate youself by saying, "I am not
considered a Muslim," or, "No Muslim would accept me."
Astaghfirullah. Never say such a thing. If you have declared
the Shahaadah, and you pray, and you follow the other pillars
of Islam, then you are a Muslim, al-hamdulilah. Don't belittle
yourself or the commitment you have made.
You should also not say, "There are parts of the Qur'an
that I have a hard time believing." I assume that if you
have become Muslim, then you believe that the Qur'an is the word
of Allah. And if this is the case, then how can you challenge
any part of it? Instead have the grace and the humility
to say, "There are parts of the Qur'an and elements of Islam
that I do not understand yet." There is a world
of difference between these two statements. This latter statement
allows you to keep an open mind and an open heart, and it preserves
the quality of your faith as a Muslim.
Learn From Someone Knowledgeable
I may be wrong, but I get the impression from your email that
you are reading the Qur'an on your own, and you are finding a
few things in the Qur'an that disagree with your idea of justice
or truth. If this is indeed what you are doing, then there are
several mistakes in this approach. This is why:
- To understand the Qur'an properly, you should understand
its context. Much of the Qur'an was revealed in response
to particular incidents in the lives of the Muslim community;
if you are not familiar with those issues then you will not get
a true understanding of the verses. I recommend that you study
a seerah (biography of the Prophet Muhammad) along with
your study of the Qur'an. An excellent choice is Muhammad:
His Life Based on the Earliest Sources
by Martin Lings. It is available from various Islamic bookstores
and from Amazon.com.
- You should also read a good tafseer (explanation
of the Qur'an), such as the classic Tafseer Ibn Katheer, or some
other more modern tafseers such as Mawdudi's, although it only
covers part of the Qur'an.
- Find yourself a good Islamic teacher who can help
you to understand and deal with some of the questions that are
puzzling or bothering you.
- Embark on a broader study of Islam as I described
- Lastly, you must approach your study of the Qur'an with
humility and an open heart or you will not benefit fully
from what it is offering.
The Question of the Woman You Wish to Marry
I hope that if you have understood everything I have said
up to now, then the answer to this final question may be clearer.
If you can accept a description of yourself as a relatively new
Muslim who believes firmly in Allah and Islam but still has many
questions and much to learn, then you are not much different
from any other Muslim. So there is no reason why you should not
propose to the woman in whom you are interested.
Do let her know, however, that there are certain issues in
Islam that you are still confused about, and explain to her what
these issues are. Then let her make up her mind. If she declines
to marry you because of this issue, then try to accept that you
are not quite ready to marry. Dedicate yourself to studying and
understanding Islam better for the next year or so and see where
it takes you. I am confident that a lot of your questions will
be cleared up in time, and then you will be ready to pursue a
loving and happy marriage with a strong Muslim woman Insha'Allah.
- Wael Abdelgawad, Zawaj.com Editor