Friday, February 18, 2011

Want Ads: New Muslim seeks supportive replacement to friendships lost in life transition. Full Time Only Please...

If only it were that easy. To be able to just post an ad when your first going through the transition of leaving your old life of emptiness, to fulfill your desire of closeness with God in Islam.  Or maybe, like one of those online match-maker sites, only you would need to be able to look for a whole lot more than just love. How about searching for a new identity, self belonging, friendships, possibly even a new career?  Wow, do people really ever look back and say "I can't believe I made it through that storm in one piece, but man it was worth it"?  I know I say that on a regular basis and I bet I'm not alone.  There is so much more to this, to becoming a Muslim, than just changing your faith.


Across the globe people everyday are reading, blogging, searching about Islam. It's the hottest topic, even in churches now instead of preaching about Christ, they can't seem to escape bringing up the subject of my new religion, Islam.  The demand for information on Muslims and Islam is growing and heaping and rolling into one of those giant snow balls, rolling down the hill and the best part is how many people it's grabbing into it's snowy fluff along the way. The excitement you feel when you come to Islam, I call it the "New Muslim High"...LOL.  I wish I could bottle that stuff up and sell it, it's such an amazing feeling. It's like all the sudden someone woke you up and said "Hey how's it going, let me introduce your to yourself, that old person was just your stunt double, here's the shiny amazing (you) that you've been dying to meet all this time". Along with any drastic changes to your life, you come to expect the challenges as well. I don't wanna talk about all of them, I would just like to focus on one for now.  I wanna talk about the friends you lose and the new ones you gain and lose and gain...


I remember my own life, before Islam. Sometimes I wish I could forget some things, but it makes me who I am today.  I remember all the "friends" I had before. People would blow up my cell phone when the sun started to go down. They wanted to know what was going on that night, what parties were hot, what clubs was I shooting at, can I add them to this list or that list. "Friends", I called them and they were plentiful.  We had dinner at amazing restaurants in Dallas, they would introduce me to amazing people and I would return the favor, "networking" ourselves to get what we wanted.  We partied together, held each others hair back when one of us had too much to drink and bullied whichever girl was seeing someone's ex.  Life was bliss, so I thought, and we had nothing but good times to remember together, so when I decided to walk away from this life and enter into something with a deeper purpose...these "friends" didn't quite make it through the dirty water filter. Some did, and I thank God everyday for them, but most did not. 


It's a loss that we all have to deal with in our lives but what I want to mention is the gain. The gain that should always be there. When you give up something, you replace it with something new right?  So what happens when you live a completely high energy free style life and you need to replace it with the lifestyle structure of Islam?  I like to picture this huge "worm hole" from Star Trek explosion and walking through that mirror into another dimension and you have no idea what is going to be on the other side, but you hope it's nice and doesn't mind your still wearing last night's makeup.


I went from having a cell phone explosion each night, to slowly and slowly very few calls at all. Sometimes I would just look at my phone, check it, make sure it wasn't on silent and pretend that I didn't know why it was becoming less and less used.  It was because I was becoming less and less used.  I couldn't add people to that list anymore because I chose not to be part of it. I chose not to shoot at those clubs, not to have "hangover" brunch with them the next morning, not to meet for drinks for every occasion imaginable and in the end most of the people who called made a decision also, to not.  "You don't need them" I would tell myself, if they didn't want to be happy for me or supportive then I guess I really didn't need them. What I did need however, were some new high energy exciting friends who would call and take their place, and also fill in that gap in my life so that I wouldn't feel the need to climb back through the mirror. 


No matter how amazing and beautiful and absolutely necessary Islam is in someone's life, there is a much greater need in the first "tri-mester" of their conversion...it's the need of replacement of old with the new.  I'm talking about friendship, support, healing...Open hearts and open minded people who can relate to you, who have things in common with you and hopefully who understand who you are, not as a Muslim, but you before that. This is so important because this is all you know for a while..."the old you".  As a New Muslim, I can that there is nothing more important to maintaining the faith of a New Muslim, than having true and lasting new friendships that help reinforce the decisions that were made in that persons life.  You have know idea how difficult that path can get and having the right people there to guide you, even 5 years later, could be the difference between a girl  who stays passionate about her life for God, and another New Muslim who becomes an Ex Muslim.  They didn't come to Islam for free popcorn, they came for a life focused on God, but if you can't find the common necessities of life to help keep you happy then it's very difficult to hold on to anything at all.  It's so easy to turn away from a new faith simply because you just stopped feeling happy with yourself in it. How does that happen? Simple, because a lot of times New Muslims are unable to find a replaceable lifestyle to fill in the one that they left behind, so naturally they begin to turn back to the way they used to be, because they don't know where else to go. How can we as Muslims, let this happen? Simple, because people get so excited about a person converting, and congratulations and parties and then within a year that person is either still around or they are not and a lot of times it's because of a lack of lasting support and friendships. 


Think about it, you remember seeing someone come to Islam right? You felt so happy, maybe even got a few tears in your eyes. You might have been a peer to that person, similar in age and hobbies, or new someone that could have been a great friend to them and you tried to hang out but got busy with your friends from your own culture, it's easier to spend time with them and their kids play with yours...This is totally understandable. In the end though, if no one is still having a lasting friendship with that New Muslim, then who is?  


I wanted to talk about this mainly because I felt so thankful today. I felt thankful because I enjoyed a nice lunch with a good friend of mine, Shefaq.  She would be so happy to see me finally spelling out her name right, I used to spell it Shafack, even though I knew very well it wasn't right, LOL.  We didn't meet for lunch in uptown Dallas at a posh location to be seen by hot people. We met at my favorite halal spot, Noodlewave, a yummy Tai location in Richardson.  You see, this is my lunch spot "replacement" as a New Muslim.  Shefaq is one of the first Muslim friends I ever made, when I was first learning about Islam.  I met her while attending the New Muslim class at IANT.  Even before I ever converted to Islam, Shefaq was my friend, she was my friend who got to know and like the "old me" and got to know over time the "new me" and God bless her, she still liked me...LOL.  She was there when I said my Shahada and was there when I first got married and I was there when she got married.  Today, almost 4 years after becoming a Muslim, Shefaq still calls.  When other friends had stopped calling, because I wasn't gonna meet them at the club, Shefaq was one of the "replacement" people in my life who never left and stood their next to me while I went on this powerful journey.  I know lunch is not a big deal, people do it all the time, but when you make a change to your lifestyle like me and hundreds of other New Muslims like me, then being that friend, who after years after your "New Muslim High" is still showing up on your caller ID, to ask you to spend time with them...well that lunch is enough to make you sit down and write a blog...and maybe bring a tear to your eye while doing it.  


If your a Muslim and your in contact with a New Muslim...give them a call...and maybe ask them to lunch, no matter how long it's been.


Katherine, Nicole, Shefaq @ Nicole's Shahada, 2007
Nicole, Shefaq Jan, 2009
Shefaq, Nicole & Friends July, 2010
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20 comments:

  1. Ayesha Ambreen2/18/11, 8:12 AM

    As salaam alaikum Nicole, such a beautiful blog, really u answered all my questions. i am a Revert Muslim. i sent u mail about the friendship issue i was having, and here i get the answer!! :):):)thank you so much:) Inshallah, i will find my "replacemnt" friends soon :):)Thank you once again for such a wonderful blog :) Jazakallah Khayr :)

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  2. Wow, mashallah sis this is a beautiful story. I love the way you expressed the experience of being a convert. It has helped me to understand a little more of what they go through. I have heard this issue talked about so much especially with the opinion that new muslims receive more suppport. I do think there are more nuances to it other than just being ignored and forgotten. I think there needs to be more indepth dialogue of why this often occurs. Friendship is more then just obligation, it should be about connecting on a deeper level as you alluded to. If two people can not find that then friendships can not be strong enough to forge. It is important to have trust, respect, and mutual enjoyment of ones company to open yourself to another person on both sides. I am wondering is it that the high gets blown down because people become disappointing or is it that the high brings with it expectations and maybe entitlements that are not met which then crumbles the original good feelings? I hope that makes sense sister and I would love to know what you think :)

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  3. Assalamu alaikom, So nicely put! I reverted to Islam 7 yrs ago, Alhamdulilah. Been married that long as well, but I am still seeking those replacement friends. Insha Allah. This article put things in perspective to me and I'm sure it will help many others! Jazak Allah Khair

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  4. NICOLE ur blog nd everything is soo beautiful..MAASHALLAH..keep it up sister:)

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  5. Asalaamwailaykum, I reverted to Islam 1 month shy of a year ago, and I can relate to everything you are saying. I love this sisterhood in Islam, and am blessed to be a part of such an active masjid here in Florida. I have more friends now than I ever did as a Christian, Alhumdulilah! I must also add that I watched your videos a lot, before reverting, as a part of my "Islamic" research....may ALlah bless and reward YOU!

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  6. Assalam Wailaikum!

    You have a very nice blog. I can relate to everything you just wrote in this post. I converted to Islam about a year ago, and I'm still kind of looking for some new friends who share the same interests, goals, and want to live an Islamic life. I met a few women at my 'new Muslim' classes, but our schedules are so different that we hardly get to hang out.

    The other day some really nice girls (non-muslim) invited me out for margaritas with them. Of course I didn't go, but I must admit that I kind of wanted to.....just to have some women my age to talk to. They have so much fun together every weekend, and I don't have that anymore. Until that moment, I never realized how much I missed female companionship. Having consistent friends with similar life-goals and interests is crucial for new Muslims.

    Also, I watched one of your videos on youtube and it briefly discussed an 'Islamic Village' being built in Dallas. What's the status on that? Do you know what year it might be finished Insha'Allah?

    Thank your for all that you do for the Islamic community and to help us 'new Muslims' not feel so alone!

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  7. Assalamu alaikum Ukhti Nicole.Jazak Allahu khayran for this blog and all you contribute to the muslimah's out there! This was so relative to my experience..:)) nice story.

    Noor Al Hayat if any new muslimahs need a new friend friend me on facebook nourhayat161@gmail.com... peace

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  8. Assalamu alaikom Nicole and sisters reading the blog/comments,

    I'm a 6 year old revert to Islam, Alhamdullilah and I had replacement friends where I was living. Then 2 years ago, I met a man who became my husband, moved across the country and started a business. In recent years, all my original replacement friends have spread through the country and I have not yet replaced my replacement friends. And to be honest, I don't have any new friends here, Muslim or non-Muslim. Sometimes, it gets sad and lonely and other times, I really don't notice because of my crazy schedule. I miss my friends but I haven't sought out new friends either because I've been so busy trying to get my business off the ground and nurturing my marriage. I've felt it wouldn't be fair to the "new" friends if I wasn't around to work on the friendships. Insha'Allah I'll find new (local)replacement friends when the time is right.

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  9. Assalamu alaikum

    Very nice blog Maasha Allah keep up the good work.


    Bangalore(INDIA)

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  10. Sister, I am holding a Hijabi Giveaway. I was wondering if you or any other Muslimah who reads this would like to enter! It's really simple all you have to do is send me email all the details are on my blog
    http://muslimahbloggers.blogspot.com/

    WORLDWIDE ENTRIES

    jazallah khair Rabia

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  11. notice in the last picture that you are the only one who is wearing a scarf! and you are the new convert! hopefully you can give insight on wearing hijaab to these young ladies inshallah.

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  12. I would like help from someone. I got married to a Christian man because at the time I was christian, but I have recently converted to Islam and have found the most peace and love with Islam. My problem is this my husband doesn't want to convert as I have done, what shall I do as I want a believing man but I understand we both were Christian going into our marriage and 9 years later I converted.

    Please help me

    Thanks

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  13. Assalamu 'alaikum, to the sister who converted while married to a Christian man, please contact me at 972.812.2230, ext. 1005. This is the Islamic Center of Irving Outreach department, where we assist new Muslims. Thank you.

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  14. Assalamu alaikum,
    I can feel how difficult it must have been for all new Muslims to Islam, especially sisters. My heart goes out for you! May Allah SWT help ease all your trials and difficulties, and make them a source of your strength and the support for your faith.

    I found this wonderful website/program that especially helps Revert/Convert Sisters find help in times of difficulty in the UK. Wouldn't it be wonderful if such a project was started here as well! They do have international advice line...
    http://www.solaceuk.org/

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  15. Assalamo alaikum sister Nicole
    congragulation
    I knew about you only today on youtube website, I feel happy & proud of you; a person who looks for truth of our existence and follows strongly the right road .I admire your persistence & perseverance hoping ALLAH to protect you and keep you a good Muslim untill you meet him .

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  16. AsSalam Alaikum Nicole,

    Wonderful story, I can relate to just about everything you said, " FLASHBACKS". I love your spirit, never lose it. If you need another friend, I am here ( Orlando, FL) OPPS, 1100 miles away.

    Kimberley
    (klightbo2000@yahoo.com)

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  17. your such an inspiration

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  18. Assalamualaikum,

    MashaAllah i resonate with this so much. It doesnt have to be a revert sister to experience this transition. Sometimes making a choice to change your lifestyle or at least your attire from a non-hijabi to a hijabi requires u to assess friendships and ud come to a conclusion on who are worth keeping and who aren't. Alhamdulillah a few of my friendships from pre-hijab days are still worth keeping. You'd be surprised at how accepting your true friends are about your choice. They are often the friends who would remain supportive of whatever decisions you make that would make you happy. They are the ones who know the real you beyond your partying. I agree that "replacement" friends are important, friends who would walk hand in hand with you in your journey to strengthen your iman. But how about keeping those meaningful friends who've known u back in the days, the ones who'd understand you. while at the same time,gaining new friendships with sisters who'd actively seek u out when there are Islamic talks and Islamic events or who you know would be there to assist you in your spiritual pursuits.

    Wassalam.

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  19. Masha-allah <3

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  20. Alssalamualaikum my sister Nicole:
    God softest you By the grace of Islam and alhamdulillah about that. Difficulties you encountered Nicole occur to each person who enters in new religion we know you faced many of the difficulties When you entered Islam. Difficult to talk to friends and family about entering a new religion but you are very brave Nicole and god softest you of Marriage from your husband Hassan and have a baby as beautiful as talal . And you publish the Islam to muslims and you learn principles of Islam to the muslims.. really you are great ..Nicole . Prophet Muhammad said (Reached the about me even if aya) Islam is truly the greatest blessing Nicole .. I hope to you and your husband hassan and your beautiful baby talal and your family .. safety and security always from my heart.. Nicole..jazzaky allah khair and Ramadan Mubark inshallah

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