” In The Name of Allah, we praise Him, and we seek His guidance to distinguish falsehood from the truth”
“It was very admiring for me to see how my Muslim colleague live together as a family and respect their parents. Their loving attitude to benefit others ingrain in me to research about Islam. Watching them covered in Hijab and praying together brought an incredible sense of peace and tranquility in my heart. Decision to accept Islam was difficult and overwhelming but my colleague and her family helped me to learn slowly and steadily”. My friend who grew up in a Catholic family told me her inspiring story. As a born Muslim who made the conscious choice to follow Islam, I figured I’d been down a road that my friend came across.
It is not a big task to take Shahadah by repeating words or born in a Muslim family. The most important is to understand what commitments are coming with it to follow Siratul-Mustaqeem. What holds you back to practice fully? With all other factors, one fundamental issue is “Lack of knowledge and following cultures or traditions by considering them as part of religion.” One of the biggest challenges that new muslims face is seeking knowledge when there is bombardment of information. Apparently all is available in the forms of print or internet media but have many contradictory views. So if one likes to be on the similar journey, should consider following steps in this regard.
1. What are Initial Sources?
Its difficult to give specific advice about seeking knowledge, as Allah brings people to Islam along many different paths what He wills for them as appropriate. But we do have a criteria set by Prophet ? that it should be for seeking pleasure of Allah (Saheeh Al–Albani, Sunan Abi Dawud: 3664). It can only be achieved by learning from sound sources, but it should not be delayed in quest of them; one has to start from somewhere. It could be the person who has been a reason to Islam, local Imam of masjid, or a group that supports new muslims. To judge the correctness of other’s Knowledge, the best way is to question it to know evidences from Quran and Sunnah.
It is understood that some basic learning has brought the person to the stage of Shahadah. But there is a possibility that this learning would be incidental, or random and likely to have gaps. Before giving advice to new Muslims it is useful to know their previous understanding of faith and cultural background. Best guide is to learn from the ways of Prophet ?. He concentrated his teachings for 13 years in Makkah about who is God, the Creator and what relationship creation should have with Him. So basically one should strengthen its basis in learning correct Aqeedah on which building of faith stands.
Subsidiary to Tawheed, acknowledgement that Prophet ? is the last and final messenger of Allah is essential. It shuts the doors of deviancy. Understanding the life of Prophet ? can make it easy to learn the message of Islam and how one can embrace Islam in daily life. One of the authentic Seerah book is Raheeq ul Makhtoom, the Sealed Nectar by Safiur Rahman Mubarakpuri.
3. Relationship with God – Pillars:
Salah is the practical act of worship to develop relationship with Allah. Its importance can be seen, as the first question will be about it on the Day of Judgment (Sahih, Sunan an-Nasa’i 467). Also, excel to learn Quranic verses in Arabic so to recite them in prayers. It is not possible that you can learn everything at once. So do not devastate with details, start with basics and gradually you will build up the consistent habit of praying in proper manner. You can later advance in arabic and Tajweed by learning under the teacher.
Next priorities after firming the basics should be the learning of other acts of worships like Fasting, Zakat and Hajj (Stapley, 2017). So when times come, one can practice them with full notion. Besides that, one should grasp the guidelines of Islam about moral conducts related to daily life, work, and relationships. As best people are those who are best in their conducts (Jami` at-Tirmidhi: 1975). It is beneficial to read and understand Quran at least once cover to cover to get the complete idea of divine knowledge of Islam in the early days after accepting Islam. One can later dip into its details, Arabic language etc.
Religious over-steering is a common disorder for the new convert. On this stage remain open-minded but avoid involving with all the different schools of thought or fiqh issues can cause confusion. Similarly overpowering with the spiritual perspectives of different sects, like Shi’ism, Sufism, can also lead to the error. Religious education is evident but the key to remain on path is Moderation. As it is better than exerting yourself in biddah (Bayhaqi: 4522, Darami: 223)
5. Social Backlash and distractions:
In addition, one can maintain its ties with its non-muslim family members or neighbors; you don’t have to forsake everything from your previous life just need to make some modifications as per Islam. Remember, a true Muslim is gentle, generous and tolerant to others, including people of other faiths.
The path of the pious leads one into the continuous struggle of good and evil. Beliefs and practices are taught to new convert over and again, but least discussed subject is the way of evil that is the way of Shaitan. (Brown, 2015) It is incumbent to know ways of enemy in order to protect from it. One should remain vigilant in learning to overcome his weaknesses, distractions and tricks of Shaitan.
For most new Muslims, the above is as enough as they need about Islam to live as a practicing Muslim. But for those who like to take it further can join Islamic institutes.
There are many books written about Islam by skilled scholars and many websites that offer courses to absorb Islam. Following on that the Islamic Online University is one of the authentic sources that can be helpful tool in this regard. Similarly Al-Maghrib, and Al-Kauthar Institute does offer online advanced weekend courses (New Muslims Challenges). Likewise, Al-Huda US institute offers many online programs, one can choose as per their flexibility of time and location. Always remember to learn/take everything step by step do not accelerate too much that you feel islam is hard and give up entirely in the end. May Allah SWT be always with us in our journey of learning and practicing Islam, may He keep us firm upon Religions Ameen!
Brown, L. B. (2015). Bearing true witness: (or, “Now that I’ve found Islam, what do I do with it?”)(5th ed.). Riyadh.
OnIslam, Media Follow. (2014, April 28). New Muslims Challenges. Retrieved December 10, 2017, from https://www.slideshare.net/onislam/new-muslims-challenges
Sayings and Teachings of Prophet Muhammad ? (n.d.). Retrieved December 8, 2017, from https://sunnah.com/
Stapley, A. (2017, July 17). 4 Steps for New Muslims Seeking Knowledge. Retrieved December 10, 2017, from http://aboutislam.net/reading-islam/living-islam/4-steps-new-muslims-seeking-knowledge/