- What is Islam?
- What Does it Mean to be a Muslim?
- What Does it Mean to Convert to Islam?
- Who Converts to Islam?
- What You Need to Know before Converting to Islam
- The Implication of Becoming a Muslim
- When, Where and How to Convert to Islam?
- What after the Conversion?
- Dealing with One’s non-Muslim Family Members
Alhamdulillah; all praises and thanks are due to the Almighty Allah, Lord of the existence. May His Peace and Blessings be upon the final Messenger of Islam, master of all times, Habibi Muhammad, his household, his companions and all those who follow his righteous path, till the Day of Judgement.
This article presents a simple yet comprehensive guide to those who are considering converting to Islam. It also answers questions about issues that need to be addressed before and after converting to Islam. Existing Muslim readers will find it as a reference that may help refresh their knowledge on converting to Islam. A time spent on this piece may remind of a friend whom you believe should read it; in the hope, he converts, or at least; he will be informed.
At the end of the article, I welcome your feedback, comments and questions. If you find it useful, please share it with your loved ones (Muslims and non-Muslims alike) and be part of sharing the goodness among mankind.
Although it completes all the other monotheistic religions, such as Christianity and Judaism, Islam is the only recognized religion in the Sight of the One God, the Creator of all existence. This means Islam is not a new religion. It’s the same religion that was revealed to all the Prophets and Messengers sent by God.
Belief wise, Islam is a total submission to the Will and Commandments of God, the Creator. There’s no compulsion in religion; thus, no one (including parents) forces anyone to any religion. However, once one agrees to embrace Islam, he has to be a full-time Muslim, where he subjects his ego and desires to the instructions of Islam. When one starts to taste “total submission to God’s Will,” that will be when he starts to enjoy the true taste of Islam.
Practically, Islam is a way of life. It is a religion that guides us towards the natural life, which man is created to live. So, the one who lives according to the teachings of Islam is living a natural life, away from mental and psychological problems. The more he lives Islam, the lesser his spiritual, moral and social problems become.
Islam frees us from human slavery to worshiping the One God, the Creator and the Sustainer of all that is in existence. Anyone who fails to worship the one God effectively ends up worshiping other creatures. Such creatures can be the nature (i.e., sun, moon, and animals), idols, money, or one’s self-desire. A slave has never suffered more than the one who fails to free himself from idolism and desire-driven activities.
That is Islam. What does it mean to be a Muslim?
To be a Muslim means to live with an ultimate purpose, and that purpose must be always connected with the Almighty Creator. Simple daily activities, such as eating, drinking, sleeping, friendship, hatred, must be purposively connected with God, the Almighty. In order words, all we do and achieve must be means that lead us to God. The Qur’an and the Sunnah (teachings of the Prophet) are our manual of life, in aligning our whole life with Islam.
The Prophet Muhammad was commanded in the Qur’an, Chapter 6 verse 162-163, to say what can be translated into English as:
“My prayer, my sacrifice, my life and my death are all for God, the Lord of the worlds; He has no partner. So am I commanded, and I am the first of those who submit.”
When this concept is attained, comprehending the reason behind one’s existence blends in automatically. The essential purpose of the creation of man and the jinn is to worship the One God. This is emphasized in the Qur’an, 51:56, when God says what can be translated into English as:
“I created the jinn and mankind only so that they might worship Me.”
On this note, I find it necessary to indicate, that man is the most honoured creature of God, so much so, that all other creatures were created and subjected for his use and benefit, so he can better worship God. It’s therefore unfortunate that we are, sometimes, misguided to worshiping the means that are subjected to our use, instead of using them to better worship the Worth-Worshiping.
To be a Muslim means to firmly grasp and understand the compass of life, despite the challenges that come with the strong waves of life, that is meant to divert one from his goals and targets towards God. We must remember, that this world of transit is nothing but for trials and tests. Being a Muslim helps to bypass all those tests, and helps to regulate our desires and objectives.
To convert is to revert to Islam. In Islam, we believe that every child is born Muslim, but he is brought up as a Muslim, a Jew, a Christian or a follower of any other religion based on faith and circumstances of his parents, to whom he was born.
When one grows up as a non-Muslim, and realizes that the real salvation is in Islam, he has to denounce the religion, in which he was brought up, and convert or revert to Islam.
“The only true religion in God’s sight is Islam. And those who were given the Book disagreed only out of rivalry, after knowledge had been given to them — he who denies God’s signs should know that God is swift in His reckoning.” [Qur’an, 3:10].
Technically, some people choose to use “revert” over “convert.” To me, it doesn’t make a difference; so long as one embraces Islam and connects or re-connects with his Creator, and lives as a true servant of God.
The one who converts to Islam is the one who has reached the conviction that Islam is the way to salvation, in this life and in the Next Life, regardless of any other side factor or interest that may be achieved, as a result of conversion.
I don’t think you are converting to Islam, so to get married to a Muslim man or woman. Are you? If your answer is no, then you are on the right track, and you are set to convert. If your answer is (unfortunately) yes, then I’m afraid; I won’t say you are not ready yet, but rather you need to review your intention and get your objectives correct.
Converting to Islam must be genuine; for God’s sake, and not for the purpose of marriage or other worldly gains. Islam is for life. Marriage although is supposed to be a lifetime project, the unexpected can happen and divorce may follow. If you converted for marriage, will you denounce your Islam after been divorced? If one converts for other worldly gains, what will he do after achieving such gains, or if he fails to achieve them? Sincerity is an essential backbone of all deeds in Islam, and that starts with our intention behind embracing Islam itself.
The bottom line? The one who converts to Islam should be the one who converts for God’s sake. This way, you become ready to undergo all sorts of challenges in the cause of your faith, in the future.
Although every child is born Muslim, there’s no compulsion in religion. But it’s essential to know that there’s compulsion in Islam. Thus, the one who intends to convert into Islam has to understand that once you become a Muslim, you have to be Muslim for the rest of your life. We have the choice to be Muslims, but a Muslim doesn’t have the choice to denounce Islam. Yeah, it’s that serious. No one allows his loved one to commit suicide. Leaving Islam is least compared to committing suicide. You become such valued, when you become a Muslim.
It comes with moral responsibilities. Once Muslim, you are bound with certain rules and regulations, just like you are bound with rules and regulations whichever country you travel to, or in any company you step your feet into. Such regulations may be similar to what you are already used to, and some will be totally new and alien.
Truth be told, abiding by the outlined regulations of Islam distinguishes between Muslims and non-Muslims, and sometimes, between true Muslims and free-riding Muslims.
Since embracing Islam is migrating from one’s desires to the Will of God, many regulations in Islam require discipline and honesty, as they go in the opposite direction of our evil and uncontrolled desires.
After one has concluded to embrace Islam, he needs to know and understand the following:
Iman (faith) and its pillars
Islam and its pillars
The basic principles of Islam, known as the revealed wisdom (Hikkmah).
Before one makes his statement of faith (Shahadah), he has to develop a true belief in the unseen, which is related to faith. Faith takes place in the heart. Whether it’s uttered or not, only God knows who has sincerely developed the faith in his heart.
Imam (faith) comes with six pillars none of which is measurable, and we are only told about them through a divine revelation (Wahy). So, if you only believe after seeing, you need to start to believe even without seeing, for that’s where Iman starts.
The six pillars of Iman, which we are obliged to unconditionally believe in, are:
Belief in Allah (the One God)
Belief in His Angels
Belief in His Scriptures
Belief in His Messengers
Belief in the Last Day (Day of Resurrection)
Belief in the Fate and Destiny whether good or bad
Now let’s briefly touch on the pillars of Iman. (You can alternatively read about Iman here).
Belief in Allah
Although we are not meant to see God with our naked eyes in this world, the natural feelings in every human tells of the existence of the One God.
That God is One. He is Self-Sufficient. He does not give birth, nor was He born. And there’s nothing like Him.
Belief in His Angels
Angels are creatures of God, whom He created to serve Him, and they fail not to obey His commands to them and they are prompt as they are commanded.
God has used Angels to reveal all his commandments to mankind. They are only seen by those Prophets and Messengers to whom they were sent. Only God knows their number.
The famous names among Angels known to us are Jibril (Gabriel), Mikaeel (Michael), Maalik, Ridwan, Israfeel, Azraeel.
Belief in His Scriptures
The Scriptures of God are those descended to His chosen Prophets and Messengers. Those scriptures contain[ed] His commandments to us and our life manual.
Through them and the Prophets, we get concrete and undoubted information about God, the Hereafter and the unseen world.
The Qur’an in our hands today, serves as an example and is the most authentic scripture of God, which is still in use. It’s going to remain as such, till the Day of Judgement.
Belief in His Messengers
Messengers are human beings chosen from among humans to communicate with God through Angels and revelations and to then convey the message(s) of God to His servants, and to remind them of their ultimate purpose in this existence, and to guide them towards the Pleasure of God.
Belief in the Last Day (Day of Resurrection)
The Last Day is when everything is going to be eternal. There will be two destinations when the last day starts. Heaven will be for those who chose righteousness in this life, and Hellfire will be for those who chose infidelity and transgression.
Belief in the Fate and Destiny whether they good or bad
This world is meant to be the home for all trials and tests. That’s why not all incidents are is logical to human understanding. We have the right of choice, but at the same times, we are obliged to believe in Fate and Destiny. Click here to read about “Fate and Destiny.”
Next in line is Islam itself. Islam is the religion, through which the true belief (Iman) can be lived. Once you have developed a concrete belief in Allah, His Angels, His Scriptures, His Messengers, the Hereafter and Fate and Destiny, it’s time to live and practice it. The framework, which is set for you to practice it, is called Islam.
The Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, said:
“Islam is based on five [pillars]: the testimony that there is no god but Allah, and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah; establishing solat; paying the zakat; going for Hajj and fasting Ramadhan.” [Bukhari and Muslim].
So, the framework of Islam is built on five pillars, which are:
To testify and bear witness that there’s no god but Allah, and that Muhammad (son of Abdullah) is His Messenger (See how to convert to Islam below)
To establish the obligatory prayers (Click here to read articles on prayer)
To give prescribed alms (Click here to read an article on Zakat)
To fast the month of Ramadhan (Click here to read articles on Ramadhan)
To perform Hajj, for the one who can afford it (I have a reflective piece on Hajj here)
The other thing you need to note, before converting to Islam is the basic principles of Islam, which are also referred to, in the Qur’an, as Hikmah (wisdom). One should be able to commit to them. We, muslims, have to live by them and enjoin humanity to them. Allah has mentioned them in Chapter 17 of the Qur’an (Surah Al-Israa), form verse 23 to 37.
If followed properly, they are capable of increasing the goodness and wisdom of all people. They are, to:
Worship Allah alone
Treat our parents with kindness
Be kind to our relatives, to the poor, and to travelers
Be mindful with money and not waste resources
Take good care of children; no abortion
Stay away from adultery
Not to kill anyone unless in the pursuit of justice
Be responsible on the orphans
Fulfill promises and commitments
Be honest in business dealings
Act upon knowledge and abstain from hearsay or act on half-truths
Be humble and have no arrogance
It’s important to note that Oneness of God (monotheism) is indicated in Iman, Islam and the revealed Hikmah. So, it is, in whatever we do.
The first implication of converting to Islam, is that you will be born again. All your previous sins, no matter how huge, will be forgiven, and your meter of deeds will be reset to 0, like the day one came out of the womb. This is what the Prophet Muhammad assured the newly convert who worried about the major offenses (sins) he committed before his conversion. He told him that Islam wipes away all (sins) that occurred in the past (before one converts).
The second implication is that you’ll start to change gradually. You will start to abandon things and abstain from activities you used to be involved in. You may have to review some of your relationships. This is where your family member and friends will start to have issues with you. Such issues can be heartbreaking.
Also, you have to develop the pride to present yourself as a Muslim. I’m not talking about growing long beard and wearing Jubbah (for the men). I’m not also inviting you to go against one of the revealed Hikmah, which is humility. But you should be comfortable to present yourself as a Muslim. This is because, not many born-Muslims have the courage to present themselves as such in difficult situations, especially when they need to compromise their personal interests.
We need role models in our lives. The Prophet Muhammad is our ultimate role model. When one needs to have a physically living role model, that person should be a pious Muslim. This is so because one will be resurrected with whom he loves.
Qur’an should take over any form of music or songs our hearts are attached to, once one is Muslim. Allah remembrance (Zikr) and connecting all happenings to the Will of Allah (Tawakkul and Qadha wa Qadar) should be basic and common sense of one’s faith.
Islamic (Halal) food, Islamic code of conduct, Islamic dress code and Islamic lifestyle should be essential in our endeavours. Islamic education, Islamic finance/banking, Islamic trading, Islamic medication and other activities become not alternative but natural and essential requirements.
When to convert to Islam
The conviction and the decision to convert to Islam is the most crucial.
One converts to Islam once he realizes that he needs to live the life he was created to live. He does so when he finds that the answers to his endless questions are answered in Islam. He does so when he starts to feel the excitement whenever Islam is mentioned. He has to convert when he becomes willing to sacrifice everything to be a Muslim, and be free.
Where to convert to Islam
If one pronounces his statement of faith (Shahadah), alone, with full understanding of its consequences, and is able to carry out the duties and obligations of Islam, he becomes Muslim. But, whether Muslim or not, one can’t live alone. Living and interacting with others require status, especially when marriage, parenting, and other social obligations are involved.
Therefore, it’s recommended for the one who converts to Islam, to do so in the presence of a few Muslims. They will witness for him when he needs to get married to another Muslim from the opposite gender (no same sex marriage in Islam). They will also testify for him in an Islamic Shariah court, should the need arise.
Converting to Islam doesn’t require printed document or certificate, but some countries do issue them. My advice is that you go for one, since we don’t know the future and can’t predict. Having a conversion certificate is for administrative purposes. It will be needed to claim your dead body, to be buried in a Muslim cemetery. This is the minimum benefit of it. The certificate is certainly important in countries with law of order, just like marriage certificates.
How to convert to Islam
Unlike making the decision to convert, the process of converting is on the other hand, easier than what some of us thought.
Converting to Islam requires one to willingly, and genuinely bear witness that there’s no god but Allah (the One God), and that Muhammad is the final Messenger of Allah.
The Shahadah is said in Arabic, and is as follows:
أَشْهَدُ أَنْ لا إِلَهَ إِلاَّ اللَّهُ. وَأَشْهَدُ أَنَّ مُحَمَّداً رَسُولُ اللَّهِ
It’s transliterated as the following:
Ash’hadu anlaa-ilaaha illa Allah. Wa ash’hadu anna Muhammadan rasulullah.
It means, “I bear witness that there’s no god but Allah. I also bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of God.”
The moment one announces his ‘Shahadah’, he’s required to take the holy bath (Ghusl). The holy bath (Ghusl) is taken after one converts to Islam, after he releases semen, after he loses his mind and recovers, after a woman finishes her menses or post-partum bleeding. Click here to read “How Do We Perform the Holy Bath (Ghusl)”.
Once that is done, you can pray, just like any other Muslim does…
Congratulations… and Welcome to Islam!
The moment one converts, after he’s taken his Shahadah (the statement of faith), he’s ended an old chapter of life and started a new one.
After converting to Islam, the next thing one has to do is to “take it easy.” God’s Wisdom in creation is that growth takes place gradually. Whoever wants to grow against nature gains nothing or goes extreme, which can cause harm more than it can benefit.
The one who converts to Islam needs some time, to learn, understand, comprehend and properly practice the religion. He can teach the little he learns to those next to him, though, but he doesn’t become an overnight religious scholar or Mufti.
The newly convert may have to focus on his spiritual wellbeing than taking an immediate challenge to convert the whole world to Islam. To be honest, if took one that long to realize that Islam is the right path of life towards the Next, how can he expect the whole world to take no time to accept Islam? Guidance comes from God alone. If He wanted, He would have granted it to everyone at a time. The Prophet, our ultimate role model couldn’t make the world convert to Islam. How can we? This doesn’t contradict with the need for Muslims to spread the good and invite others to Islam.
When one converts to Islam, his decision to embrace the new religion should be solely connected righteously to the Almighty Creator. So, the treatment you will encounter with your fellow Muslims should not determine whether or not to remain in the new religion.
Let me be frank here. There’s something for sure; you will be disappointed with the attitude, treatment and characters of some existing Muslims whom you are going to interact with. Some existing Muslims are corrupted by cultural practices, which have nothing to do with Islam (Qur’an and the Sunnah, basically). But their weakness in practising the teachings of the religion doesn’t reflect any flaws in the religion itself. It rather reflects the level of weakness of the faith inside them. Remember, human being is weak in front of his desires. That’s why it’s important to train ourselves to develop the sufficient spiritual immunization in defending one’s self against our own evil desires, which takes a lot of time, effort, and prostration (Sujud).
I have to mention this, after converting; make it a point to learn from every Muslim scholar or Imam you may come across. This is to say abstain from subscribing to any single imam, scholar, or organization as the ultimate authority and source of knowledge. You may also need to stay away from those who would ask you to do so. Also, be careful of imams and scholars who are quick to accusing others, who insult, and who promote their teachings and opinions as “the only correct” with a disregard for those who are “incorrect and misguided.” You’ll find this type of people everywhere. They are among the Salafis, the Sufis, the Hanafis, the Malikis, and the Shafiees. If you have a question, please talk to a Shaikh or an Imam who understands your particular scenario. It’s preferable if he is someone who has a significant experience with your environment, and is very familiar with your society and circumstances.
One of the most challenging the new convert may encounter is his family members, and some friends. Anyone from a bonded and caring family may find it difficult to marry the girl of his choice without been opposed by some ‘caring’ family members. If you come from a caring and bonded family, you may find it difficult to study the specialization of your choice without annoying some ‘concerned’ family members. You will try to get their consent and blessings. Isn’t it?
If this is true in the case of your studies and choice of spouse, you should imagine it to be worse when it comes to considering changing your religion. Changing religion is not like moving a house, moving to another state, or country. It’s not even like changing one’s citizenship. Changing religion requires an absolute change to your lifestyle and routines. Maybe I have to say, changing religion means changing your thoughts.
Unless you are blessed to have a family with open mindedness or they are already Muslims, expect the worse. I mean, the more love they have for you, they more they would not want to ‘lose’ you. Sometimes, some family members may turn into enemies with you, if they feel you don’t know what you are doing and fail to understand how much love they have for you. The point I’m making here is, once you convert to Islam, expect the unexpected from your family members. At the same time, you shouldn’t delay converting because of your family. Don’t let your family bar you form Paradise.
You’ll have to explain to them. But remember it will take time for them to understand and accept the reality. Bear with them, and remember that even the Prophet had some kinship who refused to accept Islam.
A Muslim man likewise a Muslim woman (especially a new convert) may have children who are non-Muslims. But he should ensure any child he bears after conversion is bred as a Muslim. A Muslim man may have a Christian a Jewish wife. But a Muslim woman can only have a Muslim husband.
A man who converts to Islam from Christianity or Judaism can maintain his Christian or Jewish wife, if she chooses not to follow him in the conversion. But hopefully, he can invite her with his good Islamic characters, to Islam, one fine day, insha Allah. A Muslim man is not allowed to have a wife from faiths, other than Christianity and Judaism. So, it will be a good deal to be able to convince your Buddhist, Hindu or “freethinking” wife to genuinely embrace Islam, and remain with you. I hope you get the point.
A Newly convert married woman whose husband refuses to convert is required to seek divorce from her non-Muslim husband. This is regardless of his religion. If he chooses to accept Islam later (not long after) then they can reattach as they used to be; husband and wife. Click here to read “When Can Muslim Marry a Non-Muslimah.”
This article presented simple and comprehensive information on how to convert to Islam. There are certainly more to learn after one becomes Muslim. There’s something Islamic to learn, every other day. Every single thing mentioned in this article requires a book on its own, i.e., Iman and its pillars, Islam and its pillars, knowing the Prophet Muhammad, learning how to carry out the prescribed rituals in Islam and many more.
Converting to Islam is a longing dream for many non-Muslims. Some of whom have never heard of Islam, though. They are searching for the truth and for answers to their questions, but are yet to come across Islam. This may be due to the kind of environment customized to hide them. Some may be due to the failure of their Muslim friends in portraying the good ethics of Islam to them, or discussing Islam with them.
If you are a non-Muslim reading this article, this is an invitation for you to Islam. I’m open and welcoming to your questions and ready to address your curiosity about Islam. You may drop me an email to: salam[at]gsalam.net.
On the other hand, after writing this article to this point, I’ve come to realize that some of us, Muslims, need to re-convert (refresh our Iman) from time to time, due to how we are engrossed with worldly materials, which weaken our Iman and keep us away from Allah.
I pray that Allah blesses us and grants us the privilege to inspire whoever non-Muslim we interact with, to think positively about Islam, and to subsequently accept it.
The Prophet said:
“Whoever guides (another) to a good deed will get a reward similar to the one who performs it.” (Sahih Muslim)
He also said:
“By Allah, if Allah were to guide one man through you it would be better for you than the best type of camels.” (Bukhari, Muslim)
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Allah Knows best.
Allahu Hafiz 🙂