If you’re willing to go against your culture and its acceptable in Islam then its not going to be easy. It never was but you embarked on this journey so be prepared to be strong. Don’t expect them to accept it right away with kindness, persistance and good character they may just come along but it will take time – that’s just the way it is. And when they do you have a responsibility to show them they did the right thing, failing is not an option as others are hoping you pass.
When we have a choice between doing something in our culture or following the commands of Allah, in theory it seems it will be an easy choice, however in reality it may not be so easy. Whether we accept it or not but the culture of the place we live in and of our family background has big influences on our life, from the way we view life to the way we dress and the type of food we eat. So when we reach a point where the culture clashes with our religion it may not be such an easy choice to make. We will have influences from our family, friends and the society around us and they can lead us towards either option.
For example, in some cultures it is okay for a woman to not wear hijab in front of her non-mahrem male relatives but Islam says that she must cover in front of them. What do you do in these situations? If you insist on keeping your hijab on then your relatives may become upset that you are implying that they have bad intentions towards you. Or that they don’t consider it necessary as you are family and keep insisting you take it off to be more comfortable. You may also want to take off your scarf as it might be hot and stuffy in the room or that no one else is wearing there’s. On the other hand you know that in taking it off you are disobeying Allah.
Another situation may be that you are invited to a party but it will be mixed and there will be music and dancing. It may be that all your family and friends are going and you will feel left out. It may be work related and you feel you must go as all your colleagues are going. You do not want to upset the person who invited you by not going to the party. You also want to go because you know everyone will have a good time. On the other hand you know that this type of environment is not acceptable be in. These situations can be very difficult to deal with especially if you are young. But when I am faced with a situation where I have to choose between my culture and Islam I always remember
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Whoever gives up something for the sake of Allah, Allah will compensate him with something better than it.” Ahmed
I know for sure that if I choose to do what Allah has commanded over what my desires are telling me then Allah will surely reward me for it. As long as my intentions are to please Allah. This reward can come in the dunya or the aakhirah. People may cause problems for you initially but if you stay firm then they will eventually accept it. Be firm with people but never rude, speak kindly and have good manners and ensure you explain to them why you are doing what you are doing, and they are more likely to accept your decision. Everyone now knows that if there are male relatives I will have my hijab on, they even tell me in advance if someone is about to walk in the room giving me time to put my hijab on if necessary. Allah does makes things easier for you but you have to be strong and remain firm on your belief. There is always difficulties initially as people are always resistant to change, especially from culture that dates back to their parents and grandparents.
To help us make the right decision and stay firm on it we need to seek help from Allah, we need to make dua and ensure we have the correct intention. We also need to study our religion and learn what it actually teaches us, a big problem is that a lot of the time we are unable to distinguish between culture and religion. The more we actually know about our religion the easier it is to stay firm on its belief. We may from time to time give in to that culture pressure but don’t despair, we are human and we make mistakes. We should turn back to Allah and seek forgiveness and surely Allah will forgive us if it is sincere.
Whenever we do something that clashes against the norm always remind yourself that whatever you give up for the sake of Allah, Allah will most definitely replace it with something better than you could even imagine. InshaAllah