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Family Life

Working Together to Build And Maintain Relationships

Jodi's different lifestyle and dress were difficult for our whole family at first. Jodi's uncle, not many years older than she and always close to the family, made what he thought was a funny statement about her scarf in front of a visitor, and it hurt Jodi terribly. Yet he was the one who had dreams of Jodi being in danger and his being the one to rescue her. Her cousin, who had been a best friend growing up, no longer understood how to relate to her in this new lifestyle. Her grandma could not understand her ';choice that resulted in such changes, but Grandma, being basically kind and accepting, was able to deal with the situation in a loving way. There were stresses with other family members, but as time went by it all became easier. We are so grateful for the time and close proximity that we have had over the years to work through the various relational changes. Jodi and Reza certainly did their part too. They have had to decide where they could give, what was important to them, and how they could retain their commitment while maintaining family relationships. Each person (and each family) needs to define who he or she is, what they believe, and what values are important. This is an essential part of the growing up process for all people, regardless of culture. Therefore a wide diversity of beliefs and practices can exist within a family, a nation, or a religious system.

The Islamic world covers many countries, cultures, and ethnic peoples. What is the norm in one culture may not even exist in another Islamic area. There are five types of activity: (1) obligatory (2) encouraged (3) legal or halal (4) cautionary, and (5) forbidden. The obligatory and forbidden acts are universal and should be practiced in all Islamic areas. Examples of obligatory acts would be the daily prayers and the fasting at Ramadan. Forbidden acts would be activities such as consuming alcohol, cheating, lying, and eating pork. The other three, encouraged (or highly important), the legal (halal), or the cautionary fall in the category of personal choice. These would include doing extra prayers, getting married and having children, doing good deeds, or being cautious about behaviors such as gossip. There are many guidelines for living, and these may be highly influenced by one's particular community of Muslims, the school of Muslim thought one follows, or the traditions of the husband's country of origin.

American women converts are trying to combine who they have been in the past and their habits with the practices of Islam. The divergent path these daughters have chosen cause traditional relations to be changed. Social habits between Muslims and non-Muslims are different, belief systems may clash, and both the families of origin and the daughters will be called on to reestablish new ways to relate to each other. There are some guidelines that we can keep in mind as we relate to Muslims in the workplace, in the family, in public places, and as friends and acquaintances.

Adapted from: "Daughters Of Another Path (Experience of American Women Choosing Islam)" by: "Carol L. Anway"