In almost every instance of someone converting to a different religion, evaluating how their family will react is a significant factor. Some people choose to keep it quiet for awhile, some choose to announce their conversion right away, while some never reveal.
For me, I chose the “keep it quiet for awhile” route. I knew there would be emotional reactions, and letting those closest to me know and grow accustomed to it before announcing it to the world would be the way to promote the quickest healing process.
Leaving the religion that you’ve been raised in (or accepting a religion when being raised in a non-religious family) can be seen as rejecting everything that your parents taught you. Personally, I’ve done my absolute best to show them that everything they taught me culminated in who I am now. I always wondered if it was working.
My parents still express their disagreement with my conversion to Islam, but over the course of the past year they have adjusted enough to spend time in public with me with a scarf on my head. A scarf, a seemingly innocuous piece of material which gains such a politically charged meaning when draped over hair.
We’ve gone to the Opera together, met for coffee at work, and attended soccer matches together now. I didn’t think I could be happier.
Last night was my uncle’s 70th birthday party, and I wore my scarf turban-style around the entire family for the first time. There were a couple silly comments, like when Johnny Cash’s Man in Black was playing and I was next to my uncle who happened to be wearing all black. He said, “I’m the man in black, and you’re in a black hat. Man in black, girl in hat!”
A couple people went out of their way to say the scarf was beautiful, or I was beautiful, and it was ultimately just a beautiful sign of acceptance. I’m still Amanda, no matter how I dress, and they love me for that.