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Your First Practical Steps as a New Muslim

written by Theresa Corbin

originally written for and published on About Islam

Much has been written on what a new Muslim should do after converting. What the first steps after shahadah should be is a topic even I have expounded on many times—like the article I wrote entitled, The First Step A New Convert Should Take which is all about intentions, motivation, and matters of the heart.

But sometimes this kind of advice makes it seem as if material matters aren’t important. But you should know that they are.

Islam teaches us a balance, to be in this world and to take care of one’s worldly needs while also thinking of the life of the hereafter and taking care of one’s spiritual needs.

We are beings of duality. We have a physical existence and a spiritual existence. When the needs of one or the other are ignored, bad things happen.

Far too often the worldly needs of new Muslims are brushed off as less important than spiritual needs. And what comes from this kind of treatment is understandable.

New Muslims often complain that being a Muslim is impractical or difficult. If the Islam presented to you seems Impossible, excessively difficult, or impractical, know that this is a kind of imagined Islam that ignores the worldly needs in favor of the spiritual needs.

However, Islam demands balance and that all needs are met. Here are a few practical things to think about after taking the shahadah.

Know Your Rights as a New Muslim

As a new Muslim, one of the first things you should understand about your faith are your rights in Islam. Often new Muslims’ complaints about Islam have nothing to do with Islam at all, but a failing on the part of other individual Muslims or even their community as a whole.

It is critical that you, as a new Muslim, understand that Allah has instructed your community to provide you with support. If it is not offered to you, or if support is not given when you seek it, then you need to know that that is man’s failing, and not Islam’s.

Muslims have an obligation to help new Muslims in a number of ways, including but not limited to mentorship, counseling, education, supportive community, and even financial support if need arises. You can read a declaration of the rights of new Muslims here that discusses this in more detail.

Continue reading here on About Islam

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Muslim Converts Wrestle with Isolation, Seek Support

by Hana Baba producer of KALW’s Crosscurrents  

Listen here.

About 20% of American Muslims are converts — people who didn’t grow up with the religion and often don’t have any cultural ties.

In some faiths, there’s a clear path for prospective converts. Catholicism, for example, has an official course of rites, rituals, and classes for those entering the Church. Islam doesn’t have a formal conversion process like that. To become a Muslim, you declare your new belief with conviction in front of a Muslim witness, and that’s it. 

For this reason, many converts say they need help and support — but it can be surprisingly hard to find. One place it can be found is the Muslim Community Association in Santa Clara, which has been offering post-conversion support classes for the last seven years.

Twenty-six-year-old Nathalia Costa is in the women’s prayer hall at the mosque. She’s here for the midday Saturday prayer. Wearing a baby blue headscarf, she stands in a straight line with her hands folded above her heart, moving in unison with about 20 other women. They kneel, then prostrate, then sit, and stand back up again, all in silence. Through the corner of her eye, head bowed, Costa follows the women closely.

Read more

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Being Muslim- A Review

Being Muslim
beingmuslim.org

Reviewed by Theresa Corbin

Being Muslim: A Practical Guide is a new book written to help people learn how to live and practice the faith of Islam-to learn what Muslims believe, how to pray and fast, and how to perform the Islamic devotions appropriately.”

This is a book I really could have used in 2001 when I took my first shaky steps into Islam. As the author, Asad Tarsin, writes, when he was approached by a convert and asked for resources, he realized there really wasn’t much out there for the new adult Muslim.

Read more

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A Field Guide for New Muslims Part 4

Field Guide for New Muslims 4

Written by Kaighla Um Dayo and Theresa Corbin

Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 5

Nothing is more important than the prayer.

It’s the very first thing you’ll be asked about on the Day of Judgment. The Messenger told us in an authentic hadith

The first thing the people will be accountable for on the Day of Judgment is prayer, Allah will say to His angels (even though he already knows) : “Look at my servants prayers. Were they complete or not?” If they were complete It will be written as complete. If they were not fully complete Allah will say: “See if my servant has voluntary prayers, If he has them Allah will say: Complete his obligatory prayers shortage with his voluntary prayers.” Then the rest of his deeds will be dealt with in the same manner. {Reported by Imams Ahmad, Abu Dawood, An-Nisa’i, and Al-Hakim}

Literally. It won’t be whether or not you cooked a mean biryani or whether or not you washed your behind with your right hand or your left hand, and it won’t be whether you gave enough of your money in charity.

prayer

Prophet Muhammad taught his companions that the only thing separating them from disbelief (and, therefore, hellfire) was the prayer. The Prophet said “The difference between a Muslim and shirk and kufr is the abandoning of salaah” (Sahih Muslim: Kitab ul Iman: Book 001, Number 0147).

If the religion is getting too heavy for you, or you find yourself absolutely unable or unwilling to hit the mat in prayer, you need to sit down with yourself and search your heart for the reasons.

When Kaighla first converted and then, unfortunately, married a man who wasn’t good for her, she often noticed that when things were not going well in her marriage, she didn’t want to pray.

She had this sick notion that if her husband was mad at her, so was God (of course, he taught her that). Don’t let anything stop you from seeking nearness to God in prayer. It is our direct route to Him and He interacts with us in the prayer (Hadith Qudsi 8)

Don’t be embarrassed to say you need to go pray. Your non-Muslim (or non-practicing Muslim) friends may not understand. But if they love you, they will support you. And some may even respect you for it.

When Theresa first explained to her family that as a Muslim she will need to pray 5 times a day, they didn’t get it. But now they are so used to her running off to pray, they will even remind her if they think she is slipping. Kaighla’s non-Muslim sister used to harass her if her phone made the athan (call to prayer) and she didn’t go to pray immediately.

We will not have anyone to defend us in front of God on the Day of Judgement. The messenger of Allah– Muhammad– said

Allah will talk to everyone directly, without a translator. The person will look to his right, and will not see anything but his deeds. Then the person, will look in front of himself and will see nothing but the hellfire facing him. So protect yourself from Hellfire even by giving a charity of half a date. {Reported by Imam Bukhari}.

So saying our friends stopped us from praying won’t cut it.

in a house, on a rock, in a box, on a train, in the rain, next to a fox would you, could you pray, pray, pray?
in a house, on a rock, in a box, on a train, in the rain, next to a fox would you, could you pray, pray, pray?

Also, don’t be afraid to pray at work. It’s your legal right to pray (and have a space in which to do so) at work, even if you have to clock out to do it.

When it’s time to pray, don’t get too worried about direction and such. Most of us have a smartphone nowadays, and there are literally hundreds of apps for reminding you when to pray, and using your phone’s complex brain to determine the direction to pray in. When in doubt, do the best you can, and then pray.

Learn how to pray first, before anything else. Learn from a qualified person, and watch Youtube videos on praying like the Prophet did (see end of post). I emphasize again: nothing is more important than keeping your prayers on time.

Proof, Sources, Evidence

Everyone and their mom will have an opinion on how you’re not Muslim enough. This comes from a culture they grew up with. It’s not about you. If anyone tells you that you ‘must do x’ or ‘it’s haraam to do y’, ask for proof. This is not you being rude; This is you taking the necessary steps to ensure your religion remains untainted by outside forces.

quran

Our Prophet Muhammad taught his companions that any deviation from his teachings and actions was misguidance and being led astray. And that all such misguidance would eventually lead to the hellfire (recorded in Sahih Muslim).

If something someone tells you is based on a hadith, and if that hadith is not an authentic hadith (saying of the Prophet Muhammad traced across the centuries in a chain of unbroken and reliable narration), toss it out. If someone tells you that such-and-such ayah (verse) from such-and-such surah (chapter of Qur’an) means such-and-such, don’t take their word for it.

Study and learn from authentic, respected sources (and you’ll find a few at the end of this article). How can we find out if something is authentically Islam or not? By studying and seeking evidence when people advise us.

Also, if someone tells you something or gives you a book that seems strange, research it. Ask qualified people, even Google if you must. Finally, trust your gut. If it doesn’t sound or feel right, get to the root of it.

Check out our podcast, here, where we discuss these issues further

Preventing Bitterness a New Muslim's Guide 4

Resources:

Prayer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TDit-zlSp7g

Quran: www.quran.com

Hadith: www.Sunnah.com

Explanation of the Quran: http://qtafsir.com/

Learning Arabic: http://bayyinah.com/

Answers to tons of questions: http://www.ifoundislam.net/revert-supports/

New Muslim Support Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/RevertSupportGroup/

Find Prayer times and a Mosque near you: http://www.islamicfinder.org/

Ask a question: http://www.onislam.net/english/ask-about-islam.html?start=1420

Ask us: islamwich@yahoo.com

New Muslim Care: http://newmuslimcare.org/

Theresa Corbin is the founder of islamwich. Look her up on the About page, or on Twitter @islamwich

Kaighla Um Dayo is a writer and story-teller extraordinaire. You can find more of her work, as well as her podcast, at her blog, Lemonade For Bitter Souls. Her work was also published in Al Jumuah Magazine, in 2011 and 2012. She is a momma of four, currently living in small-town Egypt. Before embracing Islam in 2009, she was an evangelical Christian who attended Bible college before traveling the world as a missionary. Her favorite things are procrastinating, eating chocolate, fixing things, making things and taking risks.

Follow us (upper right of the page). Email us (islamwich@yahoo.com). Like our face with your face on Facebook (facebook.com/islamwich). Tumble with us on Tumblr (islamwich.tumblr.com). Pin with us (pinterest.com/islamwich). Follow us on twitter (@islamwich).

Like the post, share it, pin it, comment on it, and/or do whatever social media magic it is that you prefer. Find out more about us in the understandably named “About Us” page and browse other posts in “Table of Contents”.