{For indeed, with hardship [will be] ease, Indeed, with hardship [will be] ease} [Qur'aan, Al-Inshiraah, 94:5-6]

I reverted to Islam 23 years ago while living in Bahrain. My parents live in England, and I told them over the phone, so they really didn't know what I was talking out. Islam was a far-off thing for them and they didn't know what it meant.

I had a small piece of advice given to me just before my first trip back home to England after becoming a Muslimah. It was to simply be myself, let everyone see that I hadn't changed in any ridiculous way, and to answer questions (when and if they came) as simply as possible. So, that's what I did.

I went home, asked for something to be kept in the bathroom so I could make istinjaa, explained why I needed it and went about enjoying my visit with my father and his wife. The same went for my mother. When they asked a question, I answered as simply as possible so that if they wanted more information they could continue to ask questions and if that was enough then I hadn't overdone it.

Well, the years passed and my parents became more accustomed to my lifestyle. They sometimes had some very specific questions for me when I went home for visits. I noticed that they were quoting things they'd heard on the radio or watched on television about Muslims, so I knew they were paying more attention to Islam in general.

Then, perhaps 10 or 11 years after I embraced Islam, my father called me one New Year's Eve and told me he was proud of me, that I had good morals, lived a clean and decent life and had done well in my work. MaashaaAllah. I was in tears. It was a milestone in my life and in my da'wah; my father was proud of me and my faith.

During the years that I went home to visit my parents, I told them these things in answer to their questions.

-In Christianity, living together without being married is called "living in sin." I'm not doing something different by not having boyfriends and waiting for marriage, I'm just following the rules. Within a year, my father married his partner and my mother married hers.

-In every movie you've seen about Biblical times, the women wore long loose clothes and their hair was covered. It has always been the way of religious people, I'm just going back to those ways. I gave them an analogy.

question_brainThey get on a bus and a woman sits opposite them wearing a mini skirt, boobs all pushed up and cleavage out, make-up, long wild hair, high heels, perfume. She looks great. How does Daddy's wife feel about that woman? Does she check to see if my father is looking at her? Of course, my father has seen her and what will he do, put his hands over his eyes? Daddy's wife may be thinking, "She's thinner than me... she is more beautiful... she's younger." Daddy may be thinking, "She looks great!" Daddy's wife feels a resentment towards that woman for displaying herself in front of her husband.

Then, when it comes to bedtime she has a little complex. I look fat in this nightdress. I don't want him to see me and compare me to that gorgeous woman. She has lost confidence in herself and her attractiveness to my father. A barrier has been placed between them. Now, if that woman had not displayed herself that way, Daddy's wife would not have anything to compare herself with. She would not have felt inferior or that my father had seen something he must, in her mind, prefer to her. She would have had no animosity towards that woman sitting opposite them and felt no threat.

Well, after explaining that, they made a point to advise me when shopping if the thing I was trying on was suitably covering or not. They understood.

-When asked about some horrible thing a Muslim had done, I said, "What about Son of Sam, the man down the road who killed his wife, and all these criminals in the prisons? Are they all Muslim? No, they are Christians, Jews, Athiests, etc. It has nothing to do with the religion, it has to do with the people. There are good and bad people. People with good judgment and intellect, and people without. I don't say the religion is bad because of a person who associates themselves with it; I call that person bad. "

-When sitting with them on the evening of their Christmas, after leaving them to their day and just arriving back home, I was asked if I didn't believe in Jesus. I took the Quran and read the excerpt from Surah Maryam about the Prophet Isa's birth, alayhis-salaam. Daddy's wife said, "Well, that Quran has it all so we don't need our Bibles do we?"

Then, about 8.5 years ago, I got married. This was another milestone, because they now had an example of a Muslim man to observe as well.

-When I got married they asked questions about my husband's short trousers (i.e. showing the ankles) and beard... which he answered used Prophetic Narrations from the Prophet Muhammad, salla Allahu 'alayhi wa sallam. My father could see that my husband was acting based on knowledge and commitment. For every question, my husband presented proof in his answer, wa al hamdulIllah ala kulli haal.

-We had to handle the issue of not celebrating birthdays, Mother's Day, and Father's Day. Although I had explained previously that these things weren't celebrated in Islam. We sent letters to my parents explaining that we didn't need special days to commemorate our love and appreciation for them; every day was a testimony to that. We made a point to send them letters, gifts, and express our love throughout the year so they could see that they were always special and not feel that they were being ignored, just because we didn't share their holidays. We explained that the only gifts that would be accepted would be at neutral times of the year or on Eid.

My mother started noting down the Eid dates so she could send cards and gifts.

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