I have one brother. He is older than me by five years. We are the only two my mother was able to have because of complications, even though she wanted to have more.
When we were growing up, we weren't really very close. He graduated from high school by the time I got into middle school so we never had any similar friends or even spent time in the same places as I was growing up.
We didn't really become friends until my brother went into the army reserves when I was in high school. I wrote him letters while he was in basic training and he would send me some of the cartoons and grafiti style art that he did when he had free time. I loved getting his mail, I thought it was so cool getting to know my brother and realizing that he thought of me.
When he went to further training after basic, he was allowed to use the phone again and we got to talk every couple of weeks. This is when my brother told me he realized I was a "real person." I wasn't just a little sister anymore; we actually became friends.
At this time my whole family moved to a different town. My parents both got new jobs and I was going to a new high school for my senior year. My brother had dropped out of college after his first semester and he stayed for a while in my home town and worked.
After I started university, my brother decided it just wasn't going to work that his little sister got her bachelor's before he did, so he went back to school as well. He went to community college for a while to establish a grade point average and then started attending my university. For the first time in our lives we actually went to the same school. We would see each other on campus and edit each other's papers. Our friendship built even more.
During the second year of my bachelor's degree, I started making friends with ESL students, especially Muslim ones. I started learning about Islam and learning about Christianity. I was raised as a Baptist (that is a group of generally American Protestant Christian). The more I started questioning Christianity, the more religious my brother became. We had many
Eventually I converted to Islam alhamdulillah. I started wearing hijab and dresses right away and a few weeks later took 3abaya full time. However, I didn't tell my brother and father right away. They saw me for months in 3abaya before I actually told them I was muslim. I decided that I would wait to tell them and let them adjust slowly and share my knowledge of Islam and let them see how I had positively changed before I dropped the bomb, but that if they straight up asked me I would not lie. If they asked if I was muslim, I would say yes.
One day in a car ride back from from visiting my mother's family, my brother asked me "So you consider yourself muslim now?" and I replied "Yes, I do."
He was upset because he loves me, and he was so worried about me because he believes only Christians will go to heaven. But he also realizes that I practice what I preach to the best of my ability. He tells me that I am a better person and that his faith is based on belief while my faith is based on actions. I told him that I never felt like I was a good Christian until I became a Muslim.
When my brother got married, his wife asked me to be a brides maid in their wedding. Honestly I was very uncomfortable with the idea of being on display that way, especially wearing a fancy dress instead of 3abaya and standing up in front of a lot of people that I'm not even related to. My mom and brother were upset that I wanted to wear hijab to his wedding, but my sister-in-law was so supportive mashaAllah. She told me she couldn't care less what I wore, she just wanted me to be there to stand up for her. So we found a way for me to wear a big purple prom dress with a long loose cardigan and a nice embroidered chiffon scarf. I was a bit uncomfortable, but I was so happy to see my brother settling down.
He still doesn't agree with my choice of Islam, but he respects me. He has two little girls now with a third on the way. When he needed a nanny for his girls, he asked me. My friends in the masjid asked if he was uncomfortable leaving his children alone with a Muslim? When I asked he said that I'm the best person he knows, and he would be honored if I rubbed off on them alhamdulillah.
The level of respect I have from my brother, even when we don't agree, is something that is so important to me and I don't tell him often enough.
Are you close with your siblings or family? Are you closer with your friends?