Monday, March 22, 2010

Compass: A Guide For New Muslims

After finding and choosing Islam, many new Muslims are left with a community ill-equipped to help them fully embrace their new faith. Instructions following their shahadah might include tips on where to buy halal meat, or how to tie a hijab, which to the giver might seem like practical advice.

But stepping into the world of Islam can be overwhelming, with questions arising at every turn. These questions--from simple things like how to pray, to more complex issues about marriage and Islamic law--need answers, and explanations. To a new Muslim, even a simple khutbah (Friday sermon) might be misunderstood without the ability to recognize common Arabic words. Imagine someone mistaking "Rasoolullah" for "Allah," and the implications of that mistake.

Some communities of Muslims might have ongoing organized programs to accommodate new Muslims, by educating them in the religion and providing social resources, while others might have a loose social network that new Muslims might find shy to penetrate. When I was a new Muslim, I really wanted to be able to learn as much about the religion as I could--scattered bits of information were difficult to put together. I've seen other converts struggle with similar problems, and without having access to a basic guide about Islam to launch them towards their goals, and prepare them for the challenges they might face as a Muslim.

So I've given thought to the idea of classes specifically for new Muslims, or at least geared primarily towards new Muslims, and am hoping to implement one such class here locally in the coming months. I have some other ideas about providing resources for new Muslims, particularly in conjunction with the planned class--including a blog devoted to the project, podcasts, and maybe even a mobile app. Right now the project, which is going to be called Compass (logo above), is just getting started. But for now and in the future, helpful ideas and guidance from others who are approaching similar issues will be invaluable.

I have high hopes for this project--that inshaaAllaah it can continuously benefit new Muslims across the country, available as a resource and a path to help them understand and implement Islam.