If we were given a beautiful gift like a pair of diamond earrings or a brand new luxury sports car, by default, we would like to show the world what we have. When there is something given to us, normally we do not just keep it hidden and stored away from others so nobody can see it! We want to share with people and show them the beauty of what we own! Similarly, once we are blessed with the gift of Islam, we should feel the urge to share this huge blessing with everyone we know and don't know!
When I became Muslim four years ago, I was so full of zeal and joy that I wanted all my family members to know that Islam is the truth! Coming from a Chinese background where I was raised as a Christian, who later was forced to become a Buddhist, I wanted my parents to know about Islam so they would understand how true the religion is! Of course Allah guides whom He wills and giving dawah to my parents and family members truly was not as easy as I thought it would be. Rather, it was very difficult. I do admit though, my ignorance added to the challenge of conveying the message to them. I was trying to tell them about Islam instead of showing them Islam and what you need to know about me is that prior to Islam, I had bad manners and was a very rude person. I was very selfish and I also would go through many different phases in my life. My parents thought my reversion to Islam was just another phase but I wanted to prove them wrong! My uncle had been feeding them a lot of lies about Islam and he was always saying rude things and turning my parents against me. I know he was just worried about me but he did more harm than good. Subhana'Allah Allah took his life a few months after I had reverted and it brought me closer to my parents and from then on was when my journey to giving dawah to them truly began.
Prior to my uncle's death, I would often just preach about Islam and try to send them things that would tell to them about Islam and how Isa (Jesus, aleyhi salam) was not the son of God and I even tried to make my father read the Qur'an in Chinese ! All of this did not work and it only caused more problems between us. After some time, I moved away to America to be with my husband and the distance made my relationship with my parents much stronger. I started learning more about Islam and how to preach by good manners and good deeds instead of just with speech as Allah says in the Qur'an :
"And who is better in speech than he who (says: 'My Lord is Allah (believes in His Oneness),' and then stands straight (acts upon His Order), and) invites (men) to Allah (Islamic Monotheism), and does righteous deeds, and says: 'I am one of the Muslims.'" (Quran, Fussilat: 33)
"Invite to the Way of your Lord (i.e. Islam) with wisdom and fair preaching, and argue with them in a way that is better. Truly, your Lord knows best who has gone astray from His Path, and He is the Best Aware of those who are guided." (Quran, an-Nahl: 125)
I remembered that Allah often mentioned the importance of treating parents with kindness and gentleness and that was something I had never done before with my parents. I never had a close relationship with my mother because she sort of just had this "I give up on her" attitude with me because of all the things I put her and my father through. I was a true rebel before Islam, so I tried really hard and asked Allah for assistance to help me with my manners towards my parents. I asked Allah to soften my heart towards them and Alhamdulillah, some how , some way, I started to treat my parents with more respect and good manners. As Allah says in the Qur'an.
“And We have enjoined on man (to be dutiful and good) to his parents. His mother bore him in weakness and hardship upon weakness and hardship, and his weaning is in two years give thanks to Me and to your parents, unto Me is the final destination.” (Quran Luqman 31:14)
So I really tried to exercise these verses whenever I had to deal with my parents. Every time I went home to visit, I would try my best to go above and beyond and show them with my manners what my religion has taught me. I would bite my tongue (sometimes literally) to keep my mouth from talking back or saying rude things and I kept telling myself there was no room for failure because I am trying to represent the deen of Allah to my parents. I kept thinking that one wrong move, and they would change their perception of Islam forever. I am representing Islam and my actions and speech are crucial. Although this put a lot of pressure on me, I knew that good things don't come easy and I really needed to work hard to change their idea of me, and Islam. I kept working at it slowly and steadily and by the Permission of Allah, I saw my parent's attitude towards me slowly start to change. They became more pleased with me and happy with me! Something that was very rare in my non-Muslim days. We argued less and even my mom is more careful with her words around me. I can even wear abaya and hijab with them and go out in public with them and my mom tells her friends how proud she is of me with my huge change. This is not to boast, Allah knows best my intentions, but I wanted to share this as an example to let other knows that it IS possible for our parents to accept us and our religion, it just starts with us and our actions. We must be wise and learn how to deal with our parents.
My relationship with my parents has change a complete 180 and all because of Allah the Almighty. How important it is to read the Qur'an and reflect upon the verses and to truly know what is expected of us as Muslims? Had I not come across these verses and reflected upon them, I would still be treating my parents with an attitude that was displeasing to Allah. The key to giving dawah to your family is not just through speech, because our parents always have this "talk is cheap, actions are louder than words" mentality so we should show them through our actions because they hold a heavier weight. Making lots of duaa and being sincere to Allah and understanding the importance of spreading the deen in a kind, gentle way is something that must be done in order for success. I still struggle with my attitude sometimes , and that is normal since I am only a human being, so do realise that you are not perfect and you will have your moments where you slip, but ask Allah for forgiveness and tawfeeq and get back up and keep going. This journey is not an easy one but hopefully our parents will see the beauty of Islam and decide to follow us together to Jannah insha'Allah.