One of the problems facing new Muslims is learning and practicing Islam.
Some new Muslims may fall a prey to deviated groups or sects because they do not find someone to teach them the true Islam.
Others want to learn Arabic but, as students, they can’t afford it.
Some girls want to wear the hijab but, concerned about their family’s reaction, they wear it outside the house and take it off as they get home.
I know of some new Muslims who hide under the bed to take the pre-dawn meal in order to fast the next day. These are some of the problems new Muslims may face. But with a better understanding of the new life style, they will manage to overcome these problems.
Where and How to Learn Islam?
As for where to start learning Islam, the simple answer is by asking and inquiring. But, whom to ask?
Islam teaches that if you do not know something, go to the people who have knowledge (scholars) and ask them. You have to make sure that you are asking the right person who is qualified enough to answer your queries.
Find a Mosque
Some may ask where to find the qualified person? Local mosques are the best guide. Try to find a nearby mosque and visit it frequently. Be aware of the mosques that teach odd stuff about Islam, i.e. avoid visiting sect-oriented mosques.
Go to mosques that teach the Quran and the Sunnah according to the way the Prophet’s Companions and their followers understood it.
Muslim communities must sacrifice to help new Muslims in their journey as they do not only need the sympathy of Muslims but they also need help and assistance.
Attending lectures given by knowledgeable scholars who are certified by a recognized religious university, such as Al-Azhar University or Al-Zaytuna University, is another channel to learn about Islam.
You will find many scholars who give lectures in your language. So you just have to search for those scholars by consulting your local mosque where you will surely get to know many who attend such lectures.
Travel if Possible
If you are interested in seeking deeper knowledge of Islam, travel to a Muslim country and join one of those universities. In this case, you will have to learn Arabic so that you can follow the courses offered. But for now, you will find many universities offering courses on Islam in English and in other languages.
About learning Arabic, I can tell you that it is not necessary in the very beginning. What you need is to know a few words in Arabic so that you can offer the prayers. If you cannot manage to learn them at first, start to perform the prayers in your own language.
What to Read
Learning Islam comes also from reading books, but which books?
Those written by people who have a deeper and better understanding of Islam, scholars who have an objective prospect of Islamic law and how to apply Islam in our daily life.
Read for those that don’t use literal translations of the Quran and the Prophet’s Sunnah.
Better still, before reading books, get a good translation of the Quran and read it. If you have a problem with understanding a certain verse, get a good commentary on the Quran to know the meaning.
Many parts of the translation have been printed by the Islamic Foundation in London. I recommend Muhammad Asad’s translation and Dr. Muhammad Abdel Haleem’s.
The Biography of the Prophet
After reading the Quran, try to get a biography of the Prophet’s life. I highly recommend a book entitled “Muhammad, Man and Prophet: A Complete Study of the Life of the Prophet of Islam”, written by Adil Salahi and published by the Islamic Foundation.
Another recommended book written by Dr. Tariq Ramadan is entitled “In the Footsteps of the Prophet: Lessons from the Life of Muhammad”, published by Oxford University Press, 2007.
The Prophet’s biography will give a great insight on how the Prophet, peace be upon him, dealt with his wives, children, companions, and even his opponents, as you learn how he embraced Islam in his daily life from the moment he woke up till he went to sleep.
There are hundreds of books written about Islam and Muslims. Pick those written by skilled scholars.
When learning from the Internet, you have to be very cautious and selective as there are thousands of websites that talk about Islam and Muslims. Visit those authentic sites that introduce Islam based on the Quran and the Prophet’s Sunnah.
Many websites offer some free online courses on Islam, and are another useful tool to learn Islam. If you have time, try to register in one of them and try one course. The Islamic Online University is one of those authentic web sites.
Islam wants you to believe in Allah, His angels, His messengers, His books, and the Day of Judgment. A Muslim is a person who submits peacefully to Allah. He is required to offer five daily prayers, pay the obligatory charity (Zakah), fast during the month of Ramadan, and to perform pilgrimage to Makkah once in his life.
A Muslim is a person who is kind, generous, and tolerant with people, including those of other faith communities.
If you do this, you are indeed a true Muslim.
(This article is from Reading Islam’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date.)