Answered by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Is there any reference works on the “gradualisation” of reverts / converts to Islam. e.g.. a person reverts to Islam at end of sha’ban and next day is ramadan, however he will have to fast 14hrs (Cape Town). In this part of the world (western), how can we gradually usher him into fasting without scaring him away with the 14 hrs. I do not know of any fiqhi rules or concepts regarding this situation. I have heard by some Shuyukh (without evidence) that it [gradualisation] can be done (in certain specific cases) and it was done in the time of the Prophet (saw). Can we still apply this rule today.
In the name of Allah, the Compassionate and Merciful,
One thing that is important is that Allah does not accept or forgive kufr, while He may forgive a sin. As such, the fuqaha tell us that agreeing to let someone remain a kafir could be kufr! (e.g. if someone asks you to give them the shahada, or how to become Muslim, and you refuse.)
As such, in such situations, we let the person become Muslim. And explain to him that obligation to fast, and then explain the spiritual significance of the action. Like Sayyidi Ibn `Ata’illah said in his Hikam, “Actions are lifeless forms whose soul is the secret of sincerity in them.” If we present the duties and obligations of Islam as “chores”, then people would be reluctant to do them. But if we go through the door of love, spiritual significance, and the “joy of slavehood to Allah” because of the meaning, purpose, significance and direction it gives one’s life, then few who had the will to convert would refuse.
Also, we should present such obligations, to new converts, in a way that does not make it seem that the validity of their being a Muslim rests on the performance of these duties. They must be Muslim. Salvifically, they don’t have a choice. But (while accepting that they are obligatory) the non-performance of religious duties is sinful, but does not prevent ultimate salvation. (Even though it could well result in punishment.)
Once, in the early 90s, some of us upset of Shaykh Abdullah Hakim Quick, when he was still in Toronto, and was one of my first mentors in deen. I sister wanted to convert right at the beginning of Ramadan, but her (staunchly Christian) mother was with her, and it was impossible for her to fast if she converted. We didn’t know what to do, so we asked Shaykh Abdullah Hakim Quick. He told us, firmly, that we should tell her to become Muslim. If she doesn’t fast, but is a Muslim, it is better than for her to remain an unbeliever.
She entered Islam. Within a few days, in the company of other believers, she started fasting.