Assalamu alykum, I am still a Christian who really wants to become a Muslim. Islam has become the only true religion for me because the Qur’an is the only holy book where things haven’t changed after the prophet’s death. I really want to live as the holy Qur’an tells me and I am even learning how to pray. But I have much problems with the Arabian language. I am also having some problems why I am afraid of doing the shahada(testimony of faith that makes someone a Muslim 'officially). I am still living together with my parents and they have much prejudice against Islam and would be strictly against my conversion. So I have to do the prayers where they cannot see me. Can I officially become a Muslim without that my parents get to know it? And can I get an official certificate without that my parents get to know it? There is still another problem. I can’t do Ramadan in this way. What should I do? Well, when I have finished studying, I am planning to move to an Islamic country to live there. Is that possible? Maybe to Saudi-Arabia or to another? I am looking forward to your answers. May Allah bless you all.

Dear Nils,

I am happy to hear that you have decided that Islam is the true religion and that you want to live as a Muslim. Nevertheless, if you are still unsure, and want to visit a Muslim country to explore it further, then by all means do so before telling your parents. Maybe you could even get your parents to go with you.

If Allah wills, you might meet some very good practicing Muslims there, who are kind, generous and friendly. You might still meet some who are not – people differ. One of the best introductions to Islam for westerners is to meet really good practicing Muslims. If you decide not to go abroad, then you can concentrate on being a good example yourself. This is even without announcing your Islam. You can also try inviting good Muslim friends to your house.

Although it is essential to pray, it is possible to do so unobtrusively, in private etc, but more difficult to do so at home.

You ask: 'Can I officially become a Muslim without that my parents get to know it? And can I get an official certificate without that my parents get to know it?’ The answer, to both your questions, is: ‘Yes!’ You can simply do both of these at a mosque and your parents will not be asked to consent, or even be told about. Indeed it is not really necessary to get an official certificate, as Allah knows what is in your heart. You only need a certificate for official things, like, for example, getting a visa for hajj, or getting an Islamic marriage certificate.

As for Ramadan, it could be difficult for you to practice it at home without your parents noticing, especially if you are expected to eat with the rest of the family. If you can normally eat on your own in your room, or go out to eat with other Muslims, it would be easier.

When Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) received the first revelation, at first he did not tell anyone except a selected few, who all supported him. Only later did he receive a revelation to go public. It is admittedly a very difficult thing to tell people, especially parents, that you have chosen Islam. In fact, they do often react very negatively because of their preconceptions, fears etc. If you feel your faith is still too shaky to attempt this, then maybe you could leave the announcement until you feel strong enough.

Nonetheless, it is very important to tell them, especially if you are living with them. Parents are permanent fixtures in your life and in your own consciousness. One day they will have to know. It is better to share it with them yourself early on and not leave them to find out by accident. It would then shock them even more! If you can tell them in a good way - respectfully, kindly and without anger or seeming to reject them - that should help a lot.

Maybe you could lead up to it gradually, by pointing out some things about Islam that you think they might agree with. Get them to explore the issue with you, in a non-confrontational way. This could also help you clarify your own views. Remember how you yourself came towards Islam gradually. See if you can lead them gradually towards acceptance, if not of Islam, then at least of your own sincere commitment to it.

Only Allah can open people's hearts to Islam. Even Prophet Muhammad himself (peace be upon him) could not make some of his own uncles believe, like Abu Talib, who supported and protected him faithfully.

I have heard of some parents who do accept their children's conversions gracefully, and even some who accept Islam for themselves. Still, these seem to be the exception rather than the rule. The Qur'an tells Muslims to continue to be kind to parents, but to remain firm in their faith:

"We have enjoined on man kindness to parents: but if they (either of them) strive (to force) thee to join with Me (in worship) anything of which thou hast no knowledge, obey them not. Ye have (all) to return to me, and I will tell you (the truth) of all that ye did." (Surah 29 Verse 8)
With all best wishes,