What You Need to Know Before Taking the Plunge

When you become a Muslim you are not just changing your religion, you are changing your whole life.

Now that may seem frightening, but in reality it is comforting.

Would you be frightened if the pain of your life turned to peace?

If the inner turmoil simply faded away?

If your Creator was pleased with you?

If the angels that surround us, spoke about you and your courage and fortitude and continually sought blessings for you?

Do all these changes come about just through uttering a few words? Is it a magic formula that changes your life? Wham! Without you having to do anything? Obviously not.

Before you utter the Shahadah words, you have to know the meaning of what you are saying and the state you are putting yourself in as well as the responsibility you are taking on. You can think of accepting Islam as a wheel that has come full circle.

We start out in life with the inherent nature Allah gave us all: knowledge that our Creator exists, a conscience to tell us what is right and wrong, and a desire to know the Creator. After our childhood gets swept away, either through experience or time, an echo of our inherent nature remains and we grow as we explore life and ideologies.

All this comes to a peaceful end when the soul becomes reattached to the source of life: Allah, the Creator of all. That is when the wheel comes full circle. That is what happens when you acknowledge with full conviction the existence of your Creator and the fact that He sent Prophets to guide us on the path that leads to Him.

Humanity was created with innate goodness but also weakness and vulnerability, hence in need of God and His help and mercy. Man is prone to evil and sometimes finds it attractive because it is in accordance with his lower desires. Man has an unseen kind of radar (conscience) that can guide us back to our Creator if we listen to it.

All humanity, since the beginning of time, has had access to prophets and messengers from Allah to lead mankind back to the right path: the path that guides human behavior to be such that development and human progress will occur. All the Prophets called their people to worship only Allah, and not images, idols, nature, or people and whatever other ideas people come up with.

The Prophets and messengers also called their people to universal codes of behavior that are considered ‘good’. These codes included things like being honest, feeding the poor and needy, not cheating, caring for families, being unselfish, and so on. For example, the Quran tells us how to treat parents. Allah says what means:

{And lower unto them the wing of submission and humility through mercy..} (17:25)

It also tells us how to treat the poor:

{And give to the near of kin his due, and the poor, and the wayfarer, and do not squander wastefully.} (17:26)

This message of the Prophets did not change with Muhammad (peace be upon him). It was simply extended and elaborated upon. More details were necessary because the followers of Muhammad (peace be upon him) were going to live in the most complicated times of the history of the world, the modern age with all its rules, systems, and corruption.

The Islamic Law, or Shari`ah, is unique in that it encompasses every aspect of life and contains guiding principles that enable mankind to establish a right and just system in place and time. Upon declaring your faith you are saying you will uphold the values and principles of Islam. But this comprehensive system of Islam has a base, a foundation. And it is this foundation that serves as the pivot of both the individual and society. What, you may ask, is this base?

Previously I mentioned that when a person accepts Islam, he/she has a sense of peace. When a person, anywhere in the world, is feeling troubled or confused, where do they go? Is it more likely to feel some sense of inner peace in a crowded city street or beside a flowing river? Is it more likely to be in a state where you can ponder in a noisy shopping mall or on a mountain?

There is a clear difference between being in the midst of nature and being in the midst of people and what they have constructed. When you sit in a beautiful garden, beside the sea, in a forest or at a waterfall you feel a sense of calmness and peace, even though you might be feeling troubled. What causes this? The answer is closely connected to the basic understanding you should have when you enter Islam.

Allah created everything with a purpose and a plan. He made a difference between the creation of nature and the creation of man. That difference is submission. All of nature has been created to submit to the Creator. There is no difference of opinion between the planets, for example, about their path of orbit, or between the ecosystems of the world.

Everything obeys Allah and as a natural result of their obedience, there is peace. Islam is called the religion of peace because it calls for obedience to the Creator. The creation of man was different from that of nature. Men and women have been given the right to choose to either obey or disobey Allah.

Hence, when you choose to obey Allah, you find peace, and likewise, when you choose to disobey, you feel inner turmoil and disquiet. By willingly and knowingly surrendering to Allah, you are, in fact, putting yourself in line with all of nature; that is, you are surrendering yourself to Allah and to the fact that He created you and guided you, and thus you desire to obey Him and seek His pleasure. This ties in with the Islamic world view itself. Every part of the system calls for obedience to Allah and the implementation of goodness, as well as the pure worship of the One who created this way of life and the people who live it.

So after declaring the testimony of faith, it is up to you to take up the responsibility of obeying Allah and being true to your nature. The more you obey Allah, the more inner peace you will have, even though you will be tested and have trials in life. This is the sign of the true Muslim; even though troubles abound, the face remains calm and the heart remains strong and the faith increases. 

{Now surely the friends of Allah- they shall have no fear nor shall they grieve.} (10:62)