September 2nd, 2015Conversion

Myths about Converting to Islam

The most fundamental belief in Islam is that there is no god (deity) but Allah.  He, the One, the Only, the First and the Last, has no partners, sons, daughters or intermediaries.  He is Alone in His Dominion and in His Omnipotence.  It is a very simple concept, it is simply the truth.  Nevertheless sometimes the pure belief in god can be overwhelming.  Often we are surprised when we call for god and He answers immediately.

The word "Allah" is an Arabic word that means "The God". It originally consisted of two words: "Al Ilah". Allah means "The God" and not simply "God", it actually incorporates the concept of monothiesm (belief in one God). Monothiesm is the central and most important message of Islam. Everything else comes secondary to that.

However, the word Allah does have some special attributes that differentiate it from the word God as used in the English language. The most important, as mentioned earlier, is that Allah translates into "The God" and not simply God. Allah refers to the one God, the creator and sustainer of mankind, and of the heavens and earth and everything else in the universe. People have taken many false dieties as gods through the centuries. Some people have taken fire as god. Others have taken a specific human being as god. Others may regard an animal as god. Some people worship many different gods. These are not god but only creations of Allah. The word Allah cannot be used to refer to any of these particular creations that been worshipped by human kind throughout the history. It can only be used to refer to the concept of "The God", the one, the creator, the eternal, the all powerful, the most merciful God.

The religion of Islam encompasses that simple concept – that God is One and wraps it in a package called submission.  Islam means, submission to the will of God. The root word of Islam (sa-la-ma) is the same that is shared with the Arabic word meaning peace and security. In essence, peace and security comes from living life according to Allah’s will.  Like a circle of life it always begins and ends in the same place – there is no god but Allah.  When we submit to the will of Allah, we are Muslims and to demonstrate our sincerity we testify that we are Muslim by saying, alone or in the company of other Muslims, La ilah illa Allah, Muhammad rasoolullah.  There is no god (deity) but Allah, and Mohammad peace be upon him, is His messenger.

Whenever any human being experiences and understands Allah’s mercy, Satan tries his best to harm that individual.  Satan does not want us to feel comfort and mercy; he wants us to feel anxious and depressed.  He wants us to make mistakes and commit sins.  Satan despairs of ever feeling Allah’s love therefore he wants to corrupt as many human beings as he can.

(Satan said)  “surely I will sit in wait against them (human beings) on Your Straight Path.  Then I will come to them from before them and behind them, from their right and from their left…” (Quran Surah Al A'raf, 7:16-17)

Whenever a person realises the truth and wants to become a Muslim, Satan introduces the word ‘BUT’.  I want to become Muslim...BUT!  But I am not ready.  But I don’t speak Arabic.  But I am white.  But I don’t really know about Islam.

Moreover, many people say about their ancestor's believe and don't want to change their ancestor believe. We should realize that we are individual in this life and this life is only temporary, that relationship between human being is only for this life. In the next life, we are alone and answerable on our own account during the Day of Judgement. We need to be very careful and rethink again that we should not follow them. You can respect them but should not follow them.

  Allah warned us against Satan and his cunning ways.

“O children of Adam.  Let not Satan deceive you.” (Quran Surah Al A'raf, 7:27)

“Surely Satan is an enemy to you so take him as an enemy.” (Quran Surah Fatir, 35:6)

Satan’s whispers try to  prevent us from embracing Islam.  These ideas should not stand in the way of a person connecting, or reconnecting with the Most Merciful God, Allah.  In this article, and the next, we will discuss some of the most prominent myths, lay them open to scrutiny and see that Allah is indeed Most Merciful.  He makes converting to Islam easy, not difficult.  No buts!

1.      I want to be a Muslim but I do not want to change my name.

A person embracing Islam does not have to change his or her name.  Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, said that everybody was entitled to a good name, a name that had meaning or character.  For the vast majority of people it is not an issue, however if you discover that your name has a bad meaning or an association with sinners or tyrants it is better to change it to something more acceptable.  If the person’s name is a name of an idol or reflects servitude to something or someone other than Allah, then it has to be changed.  Remember though that Islam is easy.  If changing your name officially would cause hardship, distress or harm, it would suffice to change it only among friends and family.

2.      I want to be a Muslim but I do not know any Arabic.

The religion of Islam was revealed for all people, in all places, at all times.  It is not a religion exclusively for Arabs or Arabic speakers.  In fact the majority of the world’s 1.4 billion Muslims are not from an Arab background.  A person can become Muslim without knowing a single word of Arabic; it does not affect his or her ability to accept Islam.  However, the language of Quran is Arabic and the daily prayers are performed in Arabic, so although it is not necessary to learn the whole language, after conversion it will be necessary to learn some Arabic words.

If a person is unable to learn enough Arabic to perform his prayers because of a speech defect or because he is not able to pronounce the Arabic, he must try as much as he can.  If learning at least some Arabic is not possible, then he is relieved of this obligation, because Allah does not burden people with more than they are able to bear.  However Allah also says that he has made learning Quran easy, therefore it is obligatory for a person to try his best.

“Allah does not charge a soul except [with that within] its capacity.” (Quran Surah Al Baqarah, 2:286)

“And We have indeed made the Quran easy to understand and remember” (Quran Surah Al Qamar, 54:17)

A man came to the Prophet and said: “O Messenger of Allah, teach me something of the Quran that will suffice me, for I cannot read.” He said, “Say: Subhaanallaah, Walhamdulillaah, Wa laa ilaaha illallaah, Wa Allaahu akbar. Wa laa hawla wa la quwwata illa billaah (Far removed is Allah from every imperfection, praise be to Allah, there is no god except Allah and Allah is the most great, there is no god except Allah and there is no power or strength except with Allah).”

Entering the fold of Islam is easy.  It is a simple process, free of complications.  In part 2 we will discuss circumcision, the fact that Islam has no ethnic or race restrictions and becoming Muslim without knowing very much about Islam.

3.      I want to be a Muslim but I do not want to be circumcised.

Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, said that every child was born in a state of fitrah, with the correct understanding of Allah and the traditions of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, tell us that the conditions related to fitrah (the natural state of being) are five.

“Five things are part of the fitrah: shaving the pubic hair, circumcision, trimming the moustache, plucking the armpit hairs, and cutting the nails”. This is believed to be the ancient way, the natural way, followed by all of the Prophets, and enjoined on the believers by the laws that they brought.

The majority of Islamic scholars agree that circumcision is obligatory for men providing they do not fear that it may harm them.  When assessing the degree of harm a man must look to the Quran and the authentic teachings of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, for guidance.  If a man is not able to be circumcised due to fear of injury or any other valid reason that may make his life miserable, the obligation is waived.  It is not permissible for the issue to become a barrier that prevents a man from accepting Islam.  In other words, it is not a condition for becoming a Muslim.  Also, it does not prevent a man from leading the prayers.

There is no requirement for female circumcision in Islam.

4.      I want to be a Muslim but I am white.

Islam is the religion that was revealed for all people, in all places, at all times.  It was not revealed for a particular race or ethnicity.  It is a complete way of life based on the teachings found in the Quran and the authentic traditions of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him.  Although the Quran was revealed in the Arabic language and Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, was an Arab, it would be wrong to assume that all Muslims are Arabs, or for that matter, that all Arabs are Muslim.  In fact the vast majority of the world’s 1.4 billion Muslims are not Arabs.

There are no racial or ethnic requirements for one to be a Muslim.  In his final sermon Prophet Muhammad reiterated this fact very succinctly.

 “All humankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab and a non-Arab has no superiority over an Arab; a white person has no superiority over black person nor does a black person have superiority over a white person, except by piety and good action.  Learn that every Muslim is a brother to every Muslim and that the Muslims constitute one brotherhood.”

O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted.” (Quran Surah Al-Hujurat, 49:13)

5.      I want to be a Muslim but I do not know anything about Islam.

There is no need to know a lot about Islam to become a Muslim.  It is enough to know the meaning of testimony and the six pillars of faith.  Once a person has embraced Islam, there is time for him to learn about his religion.  There is no need to rush and be overwhelmed.  Take things slowly, but steadily move forward at your own pace.  There is time to understand the inspirational beauty and ease of Islam, and to learn about all the prophets and messengers of Islam including the last prophet, Muhammad.  A Muslim never stops learning; it is a process that will continue until death.

Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, said, “The believer will never have enough of listening to good things (seeking knowledge) until he reaches Paradise.”

6.      I want to be a Muslim but I have committed too many sins.

When a person says the testimony of faith (Shahada), I testify that there is no god but Allah and I testify that Muhammad is His last messenger, he becomes like a new born baby.  All his previous sins, no matter how great or small are washed away.  The slate is clean, free from sin, shiny and white; this is a new beginning.

“Say to those who have disbelieved that if they cease, what has previously occurred will be forgiven for them…”(Quran Surah Al-Anfal, 8:38)

There is no compulsion for anyone to accept the truth of Islam.  However if your heart tells you there is only One God, do not hesitate.

“There is no compulsion in religion.  Verily, the Right Path has become distinct from the wrong path.  Whoever disbelieves in evil and believes in Allah, then he has grasped the most trustworthy handhold that will never break.  And Allah is All-Hearer, All-Knower.” (Quran Surah Al-Baqarah, 2:256)

7.      I want to be Muslim but I know there are some sins I cannot stop doing.

If a person truly believes that there is no god but Allah, he or she should accept Islam without delay, even if they believe they will continue to sin.  When a person is used to living a life unencumbered by any set of moral principles, Islam may at first seem like a set of rules and regulations that are almost impossible to fulfil. Muslims do not drink alcohol, Muslims do not eat pork, Muslim women must wear scarves, Muslims must pray five times every day.   Men and women find themselves saying things like, “I could not possibly stop drinking”, or “I would find it too difficult to pray every single day let alone five times”.

The reality is however, that once a person has accepted that there is no god worthy of worship but Allah, and developed a relationship with Him the rules and regulations drift into insignificance.   It is a slow process of wanting to please Allah. For some, accepting the guidelines for a happy life is a matter of days, even hours, for others it can be weeks, months, or even years.   Every person’s journey into Islam is different.   It is important to remember that Allah forgives all sins.  A believer can, by the mercy of Allah, be admitted to paradise no matter what sins he has committed.  On the other hand, a non believer, one who worships something or someone other than Alalh, will be admitted to eternal Hellfire.  Therefore given a choice between not accepting Islam altogether or being a Muslim who is sinning, the second choice is certainly much better.

8.  I want to be a Muslim but I am afraid to inform others.

As we have stressed repeatedly there is nothing in the world that should prevent a person from embracing Islam.  If one fears the reaction of others, such as his or her parents, siblings or friends, and feels that they are not ready to inform them, still they should convert and try to practice Islam in secret as much as they can.  As time passes, and the connection with Allah is established, a person’s faith will become stronger and they will know how to handle the situation better. In fact the new Muslim will almost certainly feel liberated and begin to feel the need to inform the whole world about the beauty of Islam.

In the meantime it is a good idea to slowly and subtly prepare your friends and family for the changes that will obviously take place.   Perhaps one could begin to talk openly about Allah and religion in general, express an interest in other faiths or Islam in particular.  When a person begins to practice Islam, which is in fact a way of life, those close to them often notice a difference.  They will see a new found respect for them, the family and society in general; they will also see a change in demeanour often from anxious and unhappy to relaxed and contented.

Islam is a way of life and it's difficult to hide it for long.  It is important to remember that when people learn of your conversion to Islam there will be a reaction.  It will range from those that are happy and accepting, to those who feel upset and disappointed. Often those upset, with time get over it and begin to accept the change.  And when they see many positive changes in you, they may actually begin to appreciate your conversion.  One needs to stay strong, determined and know that Allah is with you.   Your words and experience may very well lead others to follow your example.  Trust in Allah, learn all you can about your new found faith and let the light of Islam shine through your eyes.

9.  I want to be a Muslim but do not know any Muslims

Some people learn about Islam from reading, others from watching the behaviour of Muslims they see in their cities and towns, some even learn about Islam from programs on TV and for others, it is the sound of the call to prayer.  Often people seek and find the beauty of Islam without ever meeting a Muslim.  It simply is not necessary to know Muslims before accepting and converting to Islam.

Conversion to Islam is as easy as saying the words, I testify that there is no god but Allah and I testify that Muhammad is His messenger.  The conversion does not have to be done in a mosque (Islamic centre) and nor are witnesses needed for the conversion.   These things however, are manifestations of the brotherhood of Islam and mark the beginning of a new faith with the moral and spiritual support of others.

Consequently after conversion it could be very helpful for the new Muslim to make contact with other Muslims.  Members of your new spiritual family can be found by approaching local mosques and Islamic centres, or introducing yourself to the Muslim who lives down the street, catches the same bus, or works in the same company.  However, even if a new Muslim is totally alone, he or she is connected to 1.5 billion other Muslims.

Japan Halal Foundation

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