You did your due diligence and researched what it is that Muslims actually believe.
You may have even talked to a few Muslims about what Islam really is outside of news reports, extremism, and Hollywood stereotyping.
You may actually have found that Islam speaks to you, that it makes sense, and you are considering becoming a Muslim yourself. But you have so many questions you want answered before you take that leap of faith, quite literally.
I get it. I have been there.
I once was in this boat.
I believed in the absolute oneness of God, His message and His messengers (still do). But I was concerned with the hundred million things I didn’t know and worried deeply if this knowledge would be expected of me.
Would I need to start praying immediately, even though I had no idea how to do such a thing?
Would I have to wear hijab right away even though I didn’t own a hijab or know where to get one?
Would I be expected to learn Arabic by next week?
These were some of the nagging questions I was too shy to ask for fear of looking like an idiot.
So the questions mounted and I became paralyzed. I delayed my conversion to find out more, but what I found was that I didn’t need to do that. Because in Islam there are five pillars that uphold the foundation of one’s faith. And as in most construction projects, building faith is a process-one pillar at a time.
Taking the first step to becoming a Muslim does not mean you have to immediately thereafter take all other steps. Islam was revealed over a period of 23 years. The first converts to Islam did not know it all, all at once. And neither do you.
What follows are some questions that I had and that others have asked me about coming to Islam.
What Should I Do to Prepare for Conversion?
You don’t need to do anything to prepare for conversion.
If you believe God is one and then He sent messengers to guide humanity and that Muhammad was God’s final messenger, all you have to do is find a witness.
How Do I Go About Converting?
The conversion process is super simple. All you have to do is say in front of a witness (a Muslim) with conviction (the conviction part is paramount):
Ash hadu an la illa ha ill Allah. Wa dahu la shareeka lah. Wa ash hadu anna Muhammad Rasulullah.
Which means I bear witness that there is none worthy of worship except for God without partner. And I bear witness that Muhammad is the messenger of God.
What is the First Thing I Should Do after I Convert?
Learn about the five pillars and how they are implemented in the life of a Muslim.
Once you say the shahadah (testimony of faith, as seen in the previous answer) you have already established the first pillar.
Continue to learn about this first pillar and all that it means as you begin to learn about the next pillar, the prayer.
What Resources Are Available?
There are so many resources out there for you. You can find tons of videos about how to pray, make ablution and so on, on YouTube.
You can find many articles here at Aboutislam.net to answer any questions you may have about Islam.
These are just a few of the online resources available to new Muslims or those thinking about converting to Islam.
You can also find information at your local mosque. If you don’t know where your local mosque is or don’t know how to get in touch with them, you can search for it on salatomatic.com.
How Should I Act in the Mosque?
Many people feel nervous about entering a place of worship that they are not familiar with. Being unfamiliar with a place and its people can be nerve racking in any setting. But if you follow these few guidelines you can be assured that you will not offend anyone.
Basic mosque etiquette is simple: Don’t curse, scream, or be rude. You know, have basic good manners. Both men and women should consider dressing modestly when visiting the local mosque.
Wear loose clothing that covers arms and legs, and if you are a lady and happen to own a scarf, it can’t hurt to cover your hair. Take off your shoes as soon or before you enter. You will probably see a pile of shoes or sign for where shoes go.
Some mosques have one communal area for women and men to worship in. But many mosques have separate sections for men and women. There is a debate over whether this is necessary, but for now if there is gender separation, make sure you are entering the mosque from your gender’s side.
There are usually signs. If not, don’t feel shy to ask.
As a Woman, Will I Have to Wear a Head Scarf?
Hijab was a big obstacle to my conversion. I didn’t want to wear it. I was super into fashion and thought I would have to wear all black and boring stuff which I later found out is not the case.
You can express your personality and style in your clothes as long as they are modest.
I didn’t wear hijab at first because of my reluctance and misunderstanding. But shortly after I converted, it just started to feel wrong to leave the house without being covered.
Men and women both have hijab. We are asked by Allah to guard ourselves by protecting our modesty in front of the opposite sex, except those we are closely related to and our spouses. For men that means they have to cover from the navel to below the knees.
For women that means covering everything but our face and hands. Hijab is a covering (a barrier). So whatever your gender is, you must cover the required parts of your body loosely as to not show your shape with material that is not see-through.
That being said, you don’t have to wear hijab until you are ready and feel it is something you can stick with. People might insist that you wear hijab and push you to do something you aren’t ready for. Don’t listen to them. It is your relationship with God not theirs.
Remember that new Muslims are like new-born babies. You must crawl before you can walk, and walk before you can run. And wearing hijab might be harder for you than it is for others. Hijab is not a pillar of faith, but if you build the foundation for your faith you will find that pleasing God in any way He asks will come easily.
Do I Need to Learn Arabic Before I Convert?
Islam was sent by God to all of mankind, no matter the language of the people, level of education or what you have.
It is better to have knowledge of the original language of the Quran but no, you do not need to learn Arabic to convert to Islam. But once you become a Muslim, you should start learning what you are saying in prayer, since prayers are said in Arabic.
How Can I Tell My Family that I Am a Muslim?
This can be tough. Especially with all the slander Muslims receive in the media.
But you can start telling your family about your conversion by educating them on the truth of Islam. And hopefully they will be more understanding when you tell them about becoming a Muslim.
Your family might surprise you with love and support. Here is a letter to families of New Muslims that might be helpful to you in telling your family why you are choosing Islam.
Islam is not a destination but a journey that even those born into Muslim families are taking.
If you are thinking about becoming a Muslim, understand that does not mean you are expected to be perfect, you are not expected to run before you can walk, and you are not expected to know everything.
All you have to do is to start by testifying to your belief in one God and His messenger. And build your faith from there, one pillar at a time.