Become a Muslim

Islam requires only a simple, sincere declaration of faith to become a Muslim. The declaration is not to be made lightly, however — devoting oneself to a life guided by Islamic principles is the most important act you'll ever make.

You should know that accepting Islam deletes all sins which come before it. As a new convert, your record is clean; it's similar to a literal rebirth. One should strive to keep this record clean and strive to do as many good deeds as possible.

Make sure you know what it means to be a Muslim and how to act like one. The first and foremost rule of being a Muslim is believing in the one and only Creator and the Almighty. Allah is the only God, the only . He is the only one you should be doing your good deeds for and the only one who shall be worshipped. There should be nothing standing in His place. Allah's messenger Muhammad (peace be upon him) is the messenger and the last Prophet who came down to Earth, and there will never be any prophets after him. Islam considers itself to be the natural way of all creation. That is, Islam is the original, perfect state of being. So, when a person "converts" to Islam, he/she is actually reverting to their own original nature.

  • Islam considers anyone who follows its teachings to be a Muslim, regardless of when or where she or he lived. For instance, Islam believes that Jesus was a Muslim, though he lived hundreds of years before modern Islam's historical founding.

  • Allah, the Arabic word for God, refers to the same God worshiped by Christians and Jews (aka the "Abrahamic" God). Thus, Muslims revere the prophets of Christianity and Judaism (including Jesus, Moses, David, Elijah, etc.) and consider the Bible and Torah to be divinely inspired, but modified over time, and therefore, unreliable. The Qur'an is God's final scripture that affirms the truth in the previous scriptures and rectifies any falsehoods or corruptions.

  • Avoid associating yourself with any sect in Islam. Allah and His Prophet command us to be united. Therefore, Muslims should only obey Allah and His Prophet and avoid bid'ah (innovation in religious matters). If the Allah or the Prophet didn't command or do an action, don't do it.

    • "Indeed, those who have divided their religion and become sects—you, [O Muhammad], are not [associated] with them in anything. Their affair is only [left] to Allah ; then He will inform them about what they used to do." [6:159]

    • The Prophet (ﷺ) said: "Beware! The people of the Book before were split up into seventy two sects, and this community will be split into seventy three: seventy two of them will go to Hell and one of them will go to Paradise, and it is the majority group."

Read Islamic scripture. The Quran is the central religious book of Islam, believed to be the unadulterated word of God and the culmination of all previous Christian and Jewish scripture. Another very important religious scripture is the Hadith, the sayings and accounts of Muhammad. Hadith collections form the basis for much of Islamic law. Reading these writings will give you an understanding of the stories, laws, and teachings that make up Islamic belief.

Talk with an Imam. Imams are Islamic religious scholars who conduct religious services inside and outside the mosque (Masjid). Imams are chosen for their knowledge of Islamic scripture and their good character. A good Imam will be able to provide you with advice when deciding whether you're ready to devote yourself to Islam.

Say the Shahada. If you're absolutely sure that you accept the basic beliefs of Islam and want to fully submit to the will of Allah, all you need to do is recite the Shahada, a short oral declaration of faith in order to become a Muslim. Be aware that once you have said the Shahada, you are committed to following Islam for life. The words of the Shahada are "Ash-hadu anla elaha illa-Allah wa ash-hadu anna Mhammadur rasul-Allah", which translates to "I testify that there is no other god but Allah, and I testify that Muhammad is Allah's messenger." By saying the Shahada, you become a Muslim.

  • The first part of the Shahada ("Ash-hadu anla elaha illa-Allah") refers not only to deities from other religions, but also to worldly things which can take the place of Allah in your heart—wealth and power, for example.

  • The second part of the Shahada ("wa ash-hadu anna Mhammadur rasul-Allah") is a recognition that Muhammad is Allah's final messenger. Muslims are required to live by the principles of Muhammad, revealed in the Quran and follow his example.

  • The Shahada must be said with sincerity and understanding to be binding. You can't become a Muslim just by pronouncing the words—the oral recitation is a reflection of belief that's held in the heart.

  • You should never kill, lie, steal, or anything of the sort. Always follow Allah's commands detailing how He wishes to be worshiped. You are committing to follow all the rules of Islam, known as the Shari'ah.

Witnesses are not strictly required to become a Muslim—God knows all things, so a Shahada said alone, with conviction, will make you a Muslim in God's eyes. However, to become legally recognized by the Muslim mosque, you generally must make your Shahada in front of witnesses—two Muslims or an Imam (Islamic religious leader) who is authorized to certify your new faith.

Wash yourself. Immediately upon becoming a Muslim, you should take a shower or bath as a form of purification. This is a symbolic act that signifies the washing away of the past and of emerging from darkness to light.

  • No one's sins are too grave to prohibit newfound purity. Upon making your Shahada, your past sins are forgiven and you are pure. You symbolically begin a new life centered around striving to improve your spiritual state through good deeds.

Believe in the six articles of Faith. Muslims have faith in Allah and His divine order even though it cannot be perceived by human senses. The six articles of faith mandate that Muslims must believe in:

  • Allah (God). God is the creator of the universe and the only being worthy of worship.

  • His angels. Angels are the unquestioning servants of God's divine will.

  • His revealed scripture. The Quran is the perfect will of God as revealed to Muhammad by through the angel Gabriel (Christian and Jewish scripture is also considered holy, they were given from Allah but some or more of the content has already been changed).

  • His Messengers. God sent Prophets (including Jesus, Abraham, and others) to preach His word on earth.

  • The Day of Judgement. God will eventually raise all life for judgement at a time known only to Him.

  • Fate. God has ordained all things—nothing occurs without His will or pre-knowledge.

Understand and embody the five pillars of Islam. Islam's Five Pillars are obligatory actions that Muslims must take. They represent the core of pious Islamic life. The Five Pillars are:

  • Testimony of Faith (Shahada). You make this when you become a Muslim by declaring that there is no God but Allah and Muhammad is His messenger.

  • Performance of the five daily prayers (Salah). Prayers are made throughout the day, five times, in the direction of the holy city of Mecca.

  • Fasting during the month of Ramadan (Sawm), if able. Ramadan is a holy month marked by fasting and additional good deeds such as prayer and charity.

  • Giving 2.5% of your savings to the poor (Zakat). It is a personal responsibility of Muslims to help those less fortunate.

  • Making a pilgrimage to Mecca (Hajj). Those who are able are required to make the journey to Mecca at least once.