Alhamdulillah, my dad has always been very supportive. I think perhaps because he is a practising Christian and therefore thought it was great that I was trying to implement Allah's laws in my life. However, it was very difficult for my mum to accept, she really struggled with the thought of me wearing hijab, she felt that I was covering up all my femininity, I explained that I was no more feminine flaunting my body in front of men. I actually explained that since I covered myself, even non- muslim men treated me with more respect. Instead of being whistled at and judged physically, they opened doors for me in respectful, courteous manner and almost seemed to show a sense of natural modesty.
The real problems were when I reacted to questions and comments from my family in an emotional, almost explosive way. I was soo infuriated that they could dare to question the hijab, and the abstinence from alcohol, free-mixing etc., that they often rebuked them without wisdom. This reaction only proved detrimental to myself, which I later learnt. But, as I grew more confident and Insya-Allah stronger in my faith and it's certainty and truthfulness, I began to answer them on a more intellectual basis. I tried to remember that we should 'lower the wing of humility' and use beautiful speech to answer their questions and explain in a non-aggressive way.
As I began to behave like this, not only did I find it easier to live with my non-Muslim parents, but, I also felt more tranquil and at peace within myself. Therefore, my advice is to be very gentle and non-confrontational towards non-Muslim relatives. In this way, they won't feel threatened and may actually begin to admire us and notice the difference in character that Islam gives to us. Insya-Allah, if we demonstrate beautiful, humble and peaceful behaviour, then perhaps this will show them the true nature of Islam and may have a big impact on their lives.
Of course we are all human and it does hurt when we feel unaccepted for what we truly believe, but remember that Allah is with us, helping us, supporting us, guiding us. HE knows what we are going through and 'Verily, after Hardship comes ease' (Al-Qu'ran) We are very Blessed that we have been chosen by Allah to become Muslims. If we read about what the Prophet (Peace be upon him) and his companions went through. Then perhaps it serves as a comfort to realise that many have gone through similar experiences and that Allah is testing us. Patience and endurance is character building. I know that it is difficult, but remember it will make us stronger and teaches us very wise lessons, Insya-Allah.
The issue of racism was very apparent within my family. As you may probably know, in Islam no race is more superior than another race. We are all equal and only excel each other it terms of our piety/righteousness; how good our characters are. However, many non-muslims and also muslims (I am sad to say) still practice the cruelties of racism. I was most unfortunate to experience it myself, with muslim sisters. They isolated me because I was British and white, they hated the fact that I was engaged to one of 'their' people, they ignored me when I wore their traditional clothes.
Also, my grandparents were similarly racist, they were completely against mixed-marriages. Almost, every time I went to visit them they'd try and prove all the reasons why mixed-marriages were soo terrible and why whites were superior etc. I was disgusted by their offensive comments, but remained quiet, trying to keep the peace for as long as I could, but in the end I spoke out and said I could no longer listen to this, I was shaking and in tears, I explained that the real beauty about my religion, is that we are not allowed to judge people by their outer appearance, we are meant to get to know each other.
Anyway, I think they got the message that I would never sit and listen to their racist remarks again. My advice to you all, is that unfortunately you may come across racism from non-muslims, because you are white and wear a hijab, or even from Muslims themselves, of course they should know better. But, always remember that it is not Allah's way to be racist or to judge anyone by colour. In Islam, the beautiful thing is that we are One community 'Ummah', we are various colours, tribes etc. But, this is a Blessing, because wouldn't it be boring if we all looked or talked the same? So, why don't we go out into the world and appreciate the beautiful variety of people and languages etc. it is such a gift.
Also, remember that we have a right to marry who we want, I mean people have different tastes and we should not judge a person by their colour. We should love different colours and show humility to all human beings and share in the variety that Allah ahs bestowed on us. Allah is with us.