The mosques in the West are on the increase, so is the number of reverts to Islam.
In many cases, building new mosques and establishing new Islamic centers are not necessarily helping new Muslims since many mosques are labeled to belong to a particular group of Muslims.
For example, we often hear this is a Bosnian mosque, a Somali mosque, or a Pakistani mosque, just to name a few.
After the Declaration of Faith
In a certain locality, you might find lots of mosques, but only few are welcoming to new Muslims; this is not to say that the so called labeled mosques are totally not welcoming, but we have to agree that they have been tailored to their specific community so a new Muslim does not usually feel comfortable.
In addition, the few mosques that could be friendlier towards new Muslims do not offer all the ingredients new Muslims are looking for. Mosques should be made comfortable for anyone regardless of their cultural background or ethnicity; whether they are well established in Islam or new to Islam.
How Should Mosques Be?
Islam is the most beautiful religion because of its universality.
God has made His religion adaptable to all times, all people, and to every location on earth. This was done by what is known to us as standardization; it came naturally in Islam by worshipping one God (Allah), adopting a single prayer direction (qibla), a uniform prayer (salat), and one complete way of life shown to us by Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). All Muslims should walk in any mosque around the world and feel no different than their mosque in their own locality; consistent in conformity and universality.
|Each community should have at least one mosque that may fully accommodate the needs of new Muslims.|
Inconsistencies usually confuse new Muslims and they start asking questions and getting inconsistent answers that does not help them grow in their faith in anyway. It would be ideal if all mosques in one country adopt the same way of performing the Friday sermons; however, this might be unrealistic. So I will start with what is more realistic.
Each community should have at least one mosque that may fully accommodate the needs of new Muslims. So what are the characteristics of these mosques?
Characteristics of New Muslim-Friendly Mosques
Each mosque should have at least the following:
- A revert to Islam package, handed immediately after pronouncing the testimony of faith (shahadah).
- A brotherhood/sisterhood match, so new Muslims are matched with well-established Muslims to help them grow in their faith.
- Provide transport for new Muslims who live far from the community mosque, and do not have any means of transportation.
- Weekly Islamic lessons should be established that are specific to reverts so they are easily able to express themselves and explain their needs, other than consistently learning about their new faith.
- Monthly outings to local parks for example; this could be done with the rest of the community in order to expand their scope of friends.
- Quarterly trips or camps to nearby attractions.
- Yearly gatherings with other localities in a larger geographic region to share experiences of both successes and failures.
- Create a database to track progress and status of new Muslims; the purpose is to also find them jobs and suitable life partners, if need be.
- Launch a scholarship fund to help new Muslims who are interested in learning Islam in depth.
- Set up a 24 hour hotline for reverts where both male and female counselors are ready to answer questions; this could be established at the national level if there are no available resources in local communities.
- On a larger scale, establish shelters for those new Muslims who have been rejected by their families. This gives them confidence and security, without fearing of losing their faith due to social or family pressure.
Set up a 24 hour hotline for reverts where both male and female counselors are ready to answer questions.
Suggestions for a Revert Package
Revert package should include at least the following:
- A reliable translation of the meaning of the Quran
- Set of basic Islamic books talking about the Muslim creed and how to understand Islam.
- Media containing how to perform ablution (wudu), Islamic prayer (salat), pronunciation of the opening chapter, Al-Fatihah; and links to well known Islamic sites with a brief explanation of each site.
- A prayer mat and a hijab for sisters.
Suggestions for Lessons Tailored for Reverts
Weekly lessons should have beginners, intermediate and advanced levels. The minimum period for completion of all levels should be no less than two years. This article is not intended to detail the contents of all lessons, however these lessons should include at least:
- Proper learning and understanding of the five pillars of Islam and the six articles of faith.
- Lessons about the lives of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and his companions.
- Learning basic Arabic and memorizing selected chapters from the Quran.
- Understand Islamic manners and ethics.
- How to increase in faith and spirituality.
What has been suggested is only a foundation; each locality may tailor to accommodate the needs of its local revert community. What is important is to start and not procrastinate.
If you need any help in establishing your local new Muslim chapter, have suggestions, feedbacks or questions, or would like to share your success story, please do not hesitate to contact us. Our email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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