When I embraced Islam, I didn't tell my parents. I didn't know how I could explain to them my choice, especially in the post 9/11 world where the general perception of Islam was negative. I wish I could have told them on my own terms, at a time of my choosing, but Allah (swt) is the best of planners. While visiting my parents during a school break, I logged into my email and forgot to log out. My parents were worried, as they suspected I was getting serious with someone I had met online (my future husband), so they snooped in my email, and found out both about the future husband and my conversion to Islam. They confronted me about both, and unfortunately, I could do little more than stutter.
Since then, their attitude has been to pretend it never happened. When I visited, I wore my hijab up, hippy style, so as to not draw attention to myself as a muslim in public. I hid my salat from them, never letting on when I prayed, and often skipping prayers when I couldn't get away (astaghfirullah). I left some articles and a book with them, but that book sat next on the nightstand for years, never moving, getting covered in dust until it disapeared. I don't know if they ever read it.
At family holiday gatherings, I argued with my uncles about civil liberties and the war in Iraq, which would inevitably lead to discussions on Islam. My parents said I embaressed them, and that I shouldn't talk that way.
Every once in awhile, my mom would point out a cource offering or a book on native american spirituality, hinduism, buddhism, etc. "Wouldn't you be interested in that?" They would be happy if I was anything other than a muslim. It didn't matter that as a religious studies major, I had already gotten a decent introduction to most world faiths and that I was content in my choice. All the open mindedness they had raised me with disapeared once the aarabs and muzzie terrorists got involved.
So, I remained an undercover muslim when my parents were around. They knew I was muslim, but prefered to pretend otherwise. With patience and prayer, I continued, praying that one day my parents would accept my choice. I tried to remain on good terms with them, per the advice of the Prophet (saws):
Asmaa’ bint Abu Bakr was the Prophet’s sister-in-law. She was the daughter of his closest companion and the sister of Aisha, his wife. Her mother, however, did not become a Muslim for quite a long time.Asmaa’ states: “My mother came to me during the time of the Prophet (saws), hoping to get something from me. I asked the Prophet (saws) whether I should be kind to her. He answered: “Yes,” (Related by Al-Bukhari, Muslim and others).
And now, alhamdulilah, a small break through! Truely Allah (swt) is the best planner. My mother is a teacher, and was given an opportunity to travel around her state with other educators on a summer trip. She was originally not going to go, but decided at the last minute to take the trip. One of the stops was a (benedictine?) monastary, where 3 speakers - a jew, a christian and a muslim - gave a presentation on the similarities between the faiths. Alhamdulilah! I think this was the first time my mother had ever heard about Islam from a muslim source. The muslim speaker apparently impressed her, because she sought out his wife after the presentation for a chat. She mentioned her daughter was married to an Egyptian immigrant. The woman, herself an immigrant from Egypt who had been in the US for 37 years, immediately invited my husband and I to visit her home and said that they could be like a family for us. I am not sure what else they talked about, but I got the distinct impression that my mother liked this woman.
Alhamduilah, I had been unable to reach my parents and Allah (swt) found another way to reach them. Make dua for my family.