The word “Muslim” means one who submits to the will of God, regardless of their race, nationality or ethnic background. Becoming a Muslim is a simple and easy process that requires no pre-requisites. One may convert alone in privacy, or he may do so in the presence of others.
Nevertheless, those who adopt Islam as their religion are advised to register themselves as Muslims with the concerned official agency, as this procedure may facilitate for them many matters, including marriage, and the possibility of performing Hajj (Pilgrimage) and Umrah.
If anyone has a real desire to be a Muslim and has full conviction and strong belief that Islam is the true religion of God, then, all one needs to do is pronounce the “Shahaada”, the testimony of faith, without further delay. The “Shahaada” is the first and most important of the five pillars of Islam.
With the pronunciation of this testimony, or “Shahaada”, with sincere belief and conviction, one enters the fold of Islam.
Upon entering the fold of Islam purely for the Pleasure of God, all of one’s previous sins are forgiven, and one starts a new life of piety and righteousness. The Prophet said to a person who had placed the condition upon the Prophet in accepting Islam that God would forgive his sins:
“Do you not know that accepting Islam destroys all sins which come before it?”
When one accepts Islam, they in essence repent from the ways and beliefs of their previous life. One need not be overburdened by sins committed before their acceptance, but if the sin involved usurping a right of another human, such as stealing, then they should strive their utmost to return what was wrongly taken. The person’s record is clean, and it is as if he was just born from his mother’s womb. One should try as much as possible to keep his records clean and strive to do as many good deeds as possible.
As for changing one’s name, it is not a necessary factor in accepting Islam, although many people choose to use Muslim names, so taking pride in their new identity. If one’s name contains some aspect of disbelief, such as one having a name which meant “the son of God”, then changing it becomes obligatory. Another reason a person should change their name is when it is one which is discouraged; such as if one had a name that meant “war” or something similar. One ought to never change the name of one’s father, which usually follows one’s personal name, such as the “last” or “family” name, even if it be a disliked or forbidden name, in order not to blur the lines of familial lineage.
The Holy Quran and Hadeeth both stress the importance of following Islam. God states:
“The Only Religion in the sight of God is Islam.“
In another verse of the Holy Quran, God states:
“If anyone desires a religion other than Islam, never will it be accepted of him; and in the Hereafter, he will be in the ranks of those who have lost (their selves in the Hellfire).”
Mohammad, the Prophet of God, may God praise him, said:
“Islam is built upon five (pillars): Testifying that there is no God (none truly to be worshipped) but God, and that Mohammad is the messenger of God, performing the Salah (prayer), paying the Zakah (Compulsory Charity), undertaking the Sawm (fasting) of the month of Ramadan, and performing Hajj (the pilgrimage to Mecca).”
In another saying, Mohammad, the Prophet of God, said:
“Whoever testifies that there in none worthy of being worshipped but God, Who has no partner, and that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger, and that Eesa (Jesus) is the Slave of God, His Messenger, and His word which He bestowed in Maryam (Mary) and a spirit created from Him; and that Paradise is true, and that the Hellfire is true, God will eventually admit him into Paradise, according to his deeds.”
The Prophet of God, may God praise him, also reported
“Indeed God has forbidden to reside eternally in Hell the person who says: “I testify that none has the right to worship except Allah (God),’ seeking thereby the Face of God.”
The Declaration of the Shahaada
The Shahaada can be declared by saying the following statement:
“Ash-hadu an laa ilaaha ill-Allah, wa ash-hadu anna Muhammadan Rasool-ullah.”
The translation of which is:
“I testify that none has the right to worship except Allah (God), and I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger (Prophet) of God.”
The first part of the ”Shahaada” (Ash-hadu an laa ilaaha ill-Allah)consists of the most important truth that God revealed to mankind: that there is nothing divine or worthy of being worshipped except for Almighty God. God states in the Holy Quran:
“We did not send the Messenger before you without revealing to him: ‘none has the right to be worshipped except I, therefore worship Me.’”
This conveys that all forms of worship, whether it be praying, fasting, invoking, seeking refuge in, and offering an animal as sacrifice, must be directed to God and to God alone. Directing any form of worship to other than God (whether it be an angel, a messenger, Jesus, Muhammad, a saint, an idol, the sun, the moon, a tree) is seen as a contradiction to the fundamental message of Islam, and it is an unforgivable sin unless it is repented from before one dies. All forms of worship must be directed to God only.Worship means the performance of deeds and sayings that please God, things which He commanded or encouraged to be performed, either by direct textual proof or by analogy. Thus, worship is not restricted to the implementation of the five pillars of Islam, but also includes every aspect of life. Providing food for one’s family, and saying something pleasant to cheer a person up are also considered acts of worship, if such is done with the intention of pleasing God. This means that, to be accepted, all acts of worship must be carried out sincerely for the Sake of God alone.The second part of the Shahaada (wa ash-hadu anna Muhammadan Rasool-ullah) means that Prophet Mohammad, may God praise him, is the servant and chosen messenger of God. This implies that one obeys and follows the commands of the Prophet. One must believe in what he has said, practice his teachings and avoid what he has forbidden. One must therefore worship God only according to his teaching alone, for all the teachings of the Prophet were in fact revelations and inspirations conveyed to him by God.One must try to mold their lives and character and emulate the Prophet, as he was a living example for humans to follow. God says:
“And indeed you are upon a high standard of moral character.”
God also said:
“And in deed you have a good and upright example in the Messenger of God, for those who hope in the meeting of God and the Hereafter, and mentions God much.”
He was sent in order to practically implement the Quran, in his saying, deeds, legislation as well as all other facets of life. Aishah, the wife of the Prophet, when asked about the character of the Prophet, replied:
“His character was that of the Quran.” (As-Suyooti)
To truly adhere to the second part of the Shahaadah is to follow his example in all walks of life. God says:
“Say (O Muhammad to mankind): ‘If you (really) love God, then follow me.’”
It also means that Muhammad is the Final Prophet and Messenger of God, and that no (true) Prophet can come after him.
“Muhammad is not the father of any man among you but he is the Messenger of God and the last (end) of the Prophets and God is Ever All-Aware of everything.”
All who claim to be prophets or receive revelation after Muhammad, may God praise him, are imposters, and to acknowledge them would be tantamount to disbelief.We welcome you to Islam, congratulate you for your decision, and will try to help you in any way we can.