I did it. I told my family – at least some of them – that I am Muslim.
I can’t tell you how scary it was. I did it because some of my family were coming to visit me at Christmas, and I thought that even if I don’t wear hijab or pray in front of them they will likely see the books in my house and the prayer rugs kept under my bed. (My apartment is not that big.) As well as the fact I don’t drink alcohol anymore, which would be quite noticeable by them on New Year’s Eve.
But mostly I just wanted them to know. I have felt so detached from them for so long. I am very close to them and I hated them not knowing about such a big thing in my life. And at the same time I really feared that by telling them I could lose them.
It really impacted the rest of my life and relationships too. I mean, if I could not tell my sisters – my best friends – who could I tell?
So — what happened? I decided to call my sisters first prior to my brother and his family arriving here to visit.
My first sister was shocked and upset, but was careful to stay calm and assure me that she loved me and would accept my choice. She became more upset as time went on, but mostly because she was afraid for me based on everything she sees in the news. She was open that it was her hang up and prejudice, but it did not stop her from being upset. But the key here is that she accepted it.
My second sister was a bit surprised, but seemed fine with it. She was quite funny in fact. She has a work friend who is Muslim so knows that Ramadan is right in the middle of summer for the next few years, and she told me I better not cheat during Ramadan. She was even fine with the fact she might one day see me wearing hijab.
Finally, I told my brother when he was here. I waited until after Christmas in case things went badly. However, while he said he did not understand it, he also said that he did not care as it was my decision. I think it upset him more than he said as he was a bit distant for the rest of the day and he did not want to talk about. But things seemed to go back to normal after a day or two.
A few days later I told my sister-in-law. She was actually happy for me. She said she was glad I found something. There are many things she does not understand about Islam or my choice, but was ultimately very accepting.
Interestingly, all of them were adamant that I should not tell my parents, noting that they think my parents would never accept it or ever get over it.
Even though I had the same thought, it was a very tough message to hear. I certainly won’t tell them anytime in the near future. But can I really not ever tell them? On the one hand if it will upset them so, I should be careful not to hurt them as they are my parents. On the other hand, shouldn’t they know who I am? What if there was a circumstance such that it would be inevitable that they know. Wouldn’t they be more upset that I waited to tell them?
Ultimately, now that my siblings know, I am sure my parents will find out. And knowing I won’t lose my brother and sisters – and that they will support me even – I am okay with whatever happens.
It is really life-changing that they know. I know not all of my old friends will be as understanding as my family. And I know that my family will not understand everything. But having faced this fear it gives me more courage to continue this journey.
And I feel even closer to those in my life who already know and who have been supportive all this time. I feel incredibly blessed. Alhamdulilah.
What was your experience telling your family and friends?