For Converts

Easing into Iman

Bismillah al-Rahman al-Raheem

Today I also wanted to share a little story about Valentine’s Day. And when everybody else is talking about the haraam-ness of it, you can bet that’s not going to be the moral of my story.

In my very first year as a Muslim, Valentine’s Day fell literally three months after my shahada.

I remember having a conversation on Skype with my husband (then fiance), and asking if we were going to do something special for Valentine’s Day. He gently explained to me that because we are Muslims we don’t really celebrate Valentine’s Day, and he personally doesn’t believe in it because, as he puts it, “he loves me every day.”

I was OK with the idea; I had never really celebrated Valentine’s Day  or made any fuss about it before, so this wasn’t any radical departure from my usual practice. Of course my mom always has and always will buy me chocolates and cute little heart-shaped knick knacks on that day, but other than that I had never really bought into the whole “romantic celebration” aspect of it.

So I promptly forgot about it, until, as February 13th rolled around, I came home from class to find an unexpected package waiting for me.

It was a package from my husband. It contained a stuffed unicorn (Frederick, who has now lived with me on three different continents), some generic Aldi-type chocolate, and a “Happy Birthday, My Wife” card (which in his defence, did have hearts and that kind of stuff all over it).

So, yes, that’s cute, but why does all of this matter?

It matters because that was the only time we have ever celebrated Valentine’s day. We didn’t celebrate it last year, we won’t celebrate it this year.

But that year, my husband took the extra step, after explaining to me why we didn’t celebrate it, to surprise me and do something that he knew would make me smile.

And on a deeper level, he understood that iman and Islamic practice aren’t something that happen overnight. He understood that I might need the space to ease into the faith, and gently phase out holidays that we no longer celebrate, or practices that are no longer acceptable.

So yeah. That’s my two cents on this ordinary February day. If you give people their space, and are gentle with them in your explanations and advice, inshaAllah the change and the shift will happen on its own. That make take a month, it may take a year, but the timing is between that person and Allah swt.

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