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A Beginner’s Guide to Being a Muslim

If you’ve recently embraced Islam, blessings and congratulations! A wonderful journey lies ahead. Whether you’ve recently become a Muslim or simply found a renewed passion to practice more seriously, this quick start guide was designed to help you on your way. 

It can be both thrilling and terrifying to make any monumental life decision, and embracing a new faith is no exception. Learning the essentials of the faith are vital to growing in the faith. But, before we provide you with some steps to take next, we wanted to share some practical advice.

Practical Advice

Here are six things to keep in mind as you progress in your journey in Islam. This list isn’t exhaustive, but it is important!

  1. Intention.  “Begin with the end in mind.” Muslims are asked to think consciously about the reasons for any endeavor, particularly one as important as learning the religion.  Prophet Muhammad ﷺ taught us a foundational principle, “actions are [judged] according to the intentions.”  This self-examination should remain a constant in your spiritual journey, reminding yourself to seek the pleasure of God, Most High.
  2. Focus on God.  “You Alone We Worship.” It can sometimes be easy to mistake the means for the end.  Always strive to keep God first and foremost.  Remember everything in the religion is meant to help you develop a healthy relationship with God.  Talk to God, call upon God for help, and keep God the center of your journey as you move forward.    
  3. It’s a Marathon.  “Slow and steady wins the race.” Keep in mind that you are in this for the long run, so pace yourself.  Gradual is sustainable. Take things in gradually and do not feel that you need to figure it all out immediately.  Internalize new things at a pace appropriate to you, but do not become complacent; use your enthusiasm to push you higher.  
  4. Expect a Challenge“Anything worth doing is going to be difficult.” Set the appropriate expectations and anticipate a challenge.  You may be elated that you have been guided to God’s religion and are now committed to it.  You may assume that the rest should be easy, but know in advance that is not the case.  You’ll have good days and bad ones.  Patiently persevere and rely on God to take care of the rest.  
  5. Find a Trusted Support Group.  “No road is long with good company.” In this long journey, you will find much benefit and comfort in a good support group.  If you do not have one yet, make some good Muslim friends who can support you as you progress.  Books, lectures, and websites can be informative, but good friends to support your growth are invaluable.  If you are struggling to find a mentor or support group, Being Muslim is happy to try and connect you [or join a Being Muslim online support group today].    
  6. Don’t Erase Who You Are. “To thine own self be true.”  Islam doesn’t replace you with someone else; it enhances who you already are.  As you learn and grow, be sure not to erase who you are at your core.  Work towards becoming a devout Muslim that is still genuinely you.  This helps maintain sincerity in your relationship with God and is absolutely necessary for sustained growth.  

Importance of Learning the Foundations

The first task for every Muslim is to learn the things he or she will need to practice their religion and fulfill their duties to God (Allah).  Being Muslim is a handbook that endeavors to give you the foundation of what you will need to do so.  

God’s revelation to the Prophet, Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, provides us with heavenly guidance for both our earthly living and worshiping our Creator.  This guidance, taken from the Quran and the Prophetic Way (Sunnah), was then organized and systematized by the scholars of Islam. While not every believer needs to become a scholar, each one of us must learn the foundational aspects of our faith’s teachings that are required to fulfill our duties to God, family, and the community at large. Knowledge is the light of the faith and by it we are able to live lives that are fulfilling, balanced, and pleasing to God. 

In terms of priority, one must first ensure they have proper belief, for it is the cornerstone of religion and it is upon it that we build our religious lives. There are many summaries of foundational Islamic beliefs including what can be found in Chapter 2 of Being Muslim.  One can also read and study more in depth treatises on Islamic creed, such as the widely accepted Creed of Imam Al-Tahawi.

One must also learn the essential devotional practices by which Muslims worship God. These are the five pillars that provide the foundation of the dimension of islām.  The most important and frequent of these practices is the daily prayer (and its pre-condition of ritual purity).  This is covered in Chapter 3 of Being Muslim.  [Link to videos]   

One must also understand human nature, recognize the importance of spiritual cultivation, and learn the virtues and vices associated with that process. In this manner, one can attain sincerity in your relationship with God. Beyond these, a proper understanding of the religion is inseparable from knowing the Prophet of Islam, Prophet Muhammad ﷺ.  It is essential to know about him, his life, his relevance in our lives, his merits, and his miracles. 

Find a reliable and accessible translation of the Qur’an, the final revelation from God to all of humanity, the Quran. It is the scripture of the Muslims and a source of guidance for all time. Any Muslim who desires to embody the principles of the religion must also live a lifestyle – in all elements of life, personal, social, and otherwise – that reflects the guidance set forth by God and His prophet.  This is covered in Chapter 6.

Finally, one should have a basic understanding of the Islamic calendar and its associated holy days, along with how one can live an Islamic lifestyle in accordance with religious wisdom and teachings.  From everything to food & drink, clothing, finance, personal hygiene and our interactions with our family, friends & neighbors, we are given guidance on how to live our daily lives as Muslims.  This is covered in Chapters 7 and 8.  

Individual Obligations Checklist

  • uncheckedBelief
  • uncheckedWudu
  • uncheckedPrayer