6) Conveying the message of Islam
1) The five pillars of Islam
1.2) Pray five times a day (salat)
1.3) Fasting during Ramadan (sawm)
7) Dealing with family and friends
2) Gender Relations
8) Increasing your knowldege and strengthening your faith
3) Dietary Considerations
4) Earning and Spending your Wealth
10) Common vocabulary
Assalamu alaykum (peace be upon you)!
We would like to congratulate you upon taking the most important and meaningful decision of your life by submitting to the will of our Creator and Sustainer, Allah. On behalf of the almost two billion Muslims (and growing) from around the world we would like to welcome you with open arms.
Al-Hamdulillah, All Praise be to Allah, for turning our hearts to the true religion of Islam.
Islam is a religion of deep spiritual awareness, it is a way of life in which we strive to become closer to God with every action we take. The process of submitting to Allah is a life long dynamic experience in which the mind, heart and body come together in a complete, beautiful and balanced system of worship.
The material presented herein will be practical in nature. It will insha'Allah provide you with guidelines to start building your relationship with Allah and will focus on the remaining four pillars of Islam as well as on basic information you may find valuable during your first months as a Muslim. We sincerely hope and pray that you find this material useful and that you may benefit from it.
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1) THE FIVE PILLARS OF ISLAM.
The testimony of faith will soon become the source of your guidance, and it will be the cement that will unite your entire life with Allah and His Messenger. There is no God but Allah, nothing worthy of worship except Him, nothing nor nobody can give or take away except what He has already prescribed for you. Converting to Islam is usually followed by great trials, and tremendous stress and anxiety. It may affect your work and your studies, and it may distance you from life-long friends and family members. These trial are meant to bring you closer to Allah and to develop a love towards His Messenger (peace be upon him) as you strive to learn more and understand better the new and bright life you have chosen for yourself. Rely upon Allah to help you work through your trials and hardships as you put your best effort forward. Remember that the Prophet, Allah's peace and blessing be upon him, went through even harder trials than you will ever go through, and so studying his life should be second only in importance to learning and understanding the Quran. His life will balance yours, the beauty of his character will beautify yours, and insha'Allah every aspect of his life will inspire you to become a better human being.
Praying five times a day, an obligation on all Muslims, becomes our personal communion with God and is the foundation of our daily life. Prayer becomes the medium through which we search for peace, for inspiration, for protection against sinning, repentance, among many other things. It is therefore of paramount importance that you learn how to pray properly.
The best way to learn how to pray is through the help of another Muslim. Befriend a good practicing Muslim and ask him/her for help, but to get you started the following explanation should prove to be useful. As we mentioned above it is our duty to Allah to pray five times a day. Each prayer should be performed within the timeframes as described below, with the starting and ending times for each one being available at most mosques or better yet, on-line.
Morning Prayer (Fajr).Two rakahs
Begins about one hour and twenty minutes before sunrise and ends about ten minutes before sunrise. It is recited out loud
Noon Prayer (Zuhr). Four rakahs
Begins when the sun passes the meridian and ends about two and a half hours afterwards. It is recited in silence
Afternoon Prayer (Asr). Four rakahs
Begins from the time the noon prayer time ends and ends about 10 minutes before sunset. It is recited in silcence.
Sunset Prayer (Maghrib). Three rakahs
Begins soon after sunset and ends before darkness approaches. The first two rakahs are recited out loud, and the third is recited in silence.
Night Prayer (Isha). Four rakahs
Begins from the time the sunset prayer ends and extends till just before the morning prayer. The first two rakahs are recited out loud, and the last two recited in silence.
PREPARING FOR YOUR PRAYER (Wudu)
Before you approach prayer you should purify yourself by performing ablution (Wudu). The first step in performing wudu is to intend it in your heart and by uttering, or saying in your mind, the words "bismillah" (in the name of Allah). Then rinse your palms up to the wrist three times, rinse your mouth thrice, wash your nose by sniffing water in it thrice, wash your face three times, then wash your hands up to the elbow, the right hand first then the left hand. Then wipe your head with wet hands, rub your ears with wet hands and finally wash your right feet up to the ankle thrice and repeat it with your left foot. When washing your hands, arms and feet you should always start with your right one and repeat it three times, as the Prophet taught us to do. After you are finished you should say ashadu an-la ilaha illallahu, washadu anna Muhammadan abduhu wa rasuluh.
If you go to the bathroom for any of your necesities, pass wind, sleep or become unconscious, you should purify yourself again by following the same procedure as described above before the next prayer. If you are in a state of major impurity (discharge of semen in erotic dreams or sexual intercourse) purify your body by taking a complete bath (Ghusl). Women should also take a bath after menstruation or child-birth. The procedure is as follows (1) have the intention of ghusl, (2) wash the private parts, (3) perform ablution (wudu) as you do before prayer (4) put water over the head (5) wash the whole body, head and hair thoroughly so as not to leave a dry spot (6) say ashadu an-la ilaha illallahu, washadu anna Muhammadan abduhu wa rasuluh. A Muslim is expected to do ghusl at least once a week is on Friday before the congregational prayers, though nowadays it is hardly applicable as we take showers everyday.
Women are exempt from performing prayer during the days of menstruation and child-birth time. As for other times, they are required to perform prayer promptly.
HOW TO PERFORM PRAYER ((A Tutorial on Prayers - Press here))
Stand on a clean place, facing the Kaba in Mecca (northeast from US and Canada) and intend to perform the prayer. An example of how to make intention for the morning prayer is "I now intend to pray the morning obligatory prayer, facing the Kaba, praying to Allah". The intention for prayer could be in any language, but the actual prayer should be performed in Arabic which appears difficult at first, but insha'Allah you will gradually you'll learn it through practice, insha Allah. Practice reciting with another Muslim for proper pronounciation, or using any of the interactive tools available from any islamic bookstore. Youcan also perform a search on the internet for sounds and other manuals on how to perform your prayers.
Following is a description on how to perform the morning prayer. It consists of two units and each unit is called a Rakah:
Then recite the Opening Chapter of the Quran (Sura Fatiha) .
yawmid-diin. Iyyaaka nàbudu wa iyyaaka nasta in. Ihdinas Siraatal Mustaqiim - siraatal-laziina an
Then read any portion of the Quran. Example, recite Chapter 112 (Sura Ikhlas)
walam yakulla huu kufuwan ahad."
Then bow down, bending your head and back straight at a right angle, while putting both hands on the knees. This position is called Ruku, and in this position recite three times:
Then return to the standing position while saying
Then say "Allahu Akbar" and prostrate yourself with toes of both feet, both knees, both hands and the forehead and nose touching the ground. This position is called Sujud. Recite three times:
Return to the sitting position while saying "Allahu Akbar" and after a brief pause prostrate once more saying:
Then stand upright again saying "Allahu Akbar". This completes one unit or one Rakah.
While standing in the second unit (Rakah) again recite Sura Fatiha and some other verses from the Quran, bowing, prostrating and repeating what you did and said during the first Rakah. However, after the second prostration, instead of standing up, you should sit upright and recite the following:
And lastly say a short supplication such as the following:
punishment of the hellfire'.
You finish your prayer by saying "as-salamu alaikum wa rahmatullah"
while turning your face to the right and again saying “as-salamu alaikum wa rahmatullah” while turning your face towards the left. Meaning, ‘peace and mercy of Allah be upon you'.
This completes the morning prayer of two Rakah (units)
The early afternoon, late afternoon and night (dhuhur, asr and isha) prayers consists of four rakah each. The first two rakah of these prayers are performed in the same manner as the morning prayer. But after reciting the Tashahhud you should stand and continue to pray the third rakah(unit) reciting only sura Fatiha and not joining it with other passages of the Quran. Then in the fourth rakah, sit down as you did in your second rakah and recite the Tashahhud, Durud, supplication and ending the prayer as above.
Sunset prayer (Maghrib) prayer consists of three rakah. First two rakah are the same as above. Stand up for the third rakah reciting surah Al Fatiha, then complete this rakah as you did the fourth rakah above.
FRIDAY PRAYER (JUMMA)
Muslims gather once a week for a congregational prayer called Jumma consisting of a short speach followed by two rakahs. It is obligatory for all Muslims males to perform the Friday prayer in congregation, so if you work locate the mosque closest to your office and talk to your supervisor to let him/her know that you will be absent during that time. If you are a student, contact your local MSA to find out where Jumma is offered. It is highly recommended to take a complete bath (ghusl) on Friday mornings before the Jumma prayer.
1.3) FASTING: THE MONTH OF RAMADAN
Ramadan, the month of fasting, is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and will fall in different times of the year as the Islamic months follow the lunar calendar. Fasting is obligatory on all Muslims during this month with the following exceptions: young, sick, travelers on a journey and menstruating women. Foster mothers and pregnant women are also exempt from fasting if it will harm them or their babies. However all missed fasts should be made up.
Through fasting you will gain enormous spiritual benefits. The worship of Allah that consisted only of prayer and meditation now expands into the physical realm. Your whole body is now united with your soul in the worshipping of our Creator and Sustainer, Allah. But fasting also confers many physical benefits. It cleanses our body of toxic compounds, rejuvenates our system, eradicates bad habits (like smoking), teaches self discipline. Fasting for thirty days may seem difficult, but gradually, insha Allah, you'll endure it with ease and patience with the help and company of your Muslim brothers and sisters and with the enormous rewards promised by Allah.
Fasting begins at dawn and ends at sunset. During this period, intake of liquid or solid food, smoking, and sex is prohibited. A predawn meal (suhur) is usually taken before the fast begins and is highly recommended. The fast is broken as soon as the sunset prayer time comes in (maughrib) with healthy food and liquid (traditionally it is broken with dates, as the Prophet did) and should be done without any delay whatsoever. Precise timing for the start and finish of each fasting day can be obtained from the prayer timetables from the Mosques in your area.
1.4) ZAKAT (OBLIGATORY CHARITY)
Allah ordained every Muslim who possesses a certain amount of property to pay the ‘Zakat’ (obligatory charity) annually out of their possessions. It is a purification of our wealth, immensely rewarded by Allah and brings economic balance in the society. It is usually 2.5 % of our stored wealth. Zakat is given usually during the month of Ramadan and is collected by many Mosques which then distribute it to the needy. For precise calculation of Zakat, contact the Mosque nearest you to obtain a Zakat calculation Sheets.
1.5) PILGRIMAGE (HAJJ)
The pilgrimage to Mecca (in Saudi Arabia) is an obligation upon every Muslim and must be performed at least once in a life-time if physically and financially able. This event takes place during the eleventh month of the Islamic Calendar and Muslims of all racial, socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds congregate in one place, as one big family, worshiping One Lord, praying one way, wearing One kind of garments. Hajj is symbolic of the oneness of mankind in the eyes of our Creator, Allah.
If you are planning to go for Hajj, check the dates from the Islamic calendar. Muslims in many Mosques undertake Hajj in groups. Each group is lead by an experienced Muslim who knows the various requirements and procedures during Hajj. It is advisable for a first timer or a new Muslim to join one of these groups for guidance and support. Advantage could also be taken from various airlines and Mosques which provide complete hajj packages which usually includes transportation, hotel accommodation and guide. Plan 4-6 months in advance before your Hajj trip.
Umrah, referred to as the minor pilgrimage, can be performed during any of other months of the year and is not obligatory
If you are interested, read the letter that brother Malcolm X wrote to his wife while performing Hajj, or check out this hajj guide for a good introduction to the largest pilgrimage that humans do every year.
2) GENDER RELATIONSHIP
If you are not married yet, Islam encourages marriage to avoid the risk of falling into temptations and indulging in bigger sins such as fornication and adultery. Allah, by His Divine Wisdom has forbidden all pre-marital or extra-marital relationships. Thus dating, hugging, touching, lustful glances and thoughts of anyone besides your spouse is forbidden. The most recommended place to look for a spouse is to ask your Muslim brothers and sisters closest to you if they know anybody who is compatible with you. Also, try getting yourself involved in islamic activities such as study groups or classes where you will have a chance to get to know more people and thus increase your exposure. Many Mosques and Islamic Magazines will have a Matrimonial Sections, or also on the internet there are many matrimonial sites that you could use in you search for your companion.
Marriage is considered half of your religion, therefore you are encourage to consider marriage as soon as you believe you are ready and able to fulfill your responsibilities as a husband or wife. Learn more about equity and women in Islam by reading some selected articles available on-line.
To maintain a pure heart and a sound mind, Islam provides the necessary dietary guidelines to nourish your soul and maintain a clean and healthy body. Islam specifies what is halal (allowed) and haram (forbidden). Forbidden for you to consume is pork and any of its by-products, animals which were slaughtered in the name of a deity other than Allah, alcohol of any type or any food prepared with alcohol, blood, animals found dead. It is only permisible for you to eat any of these foods if you are faced with a life or death situation and you need to eat them in order to survive, but even then you should only consume enough to keep you nourished. Along with alcohol, any sort of intoxicants such as drugs are also prohibitted.
A recommended and cautious way to shop around for grocery is to read the labels on the food package or cans, or when eating at a restaurant ask your waiter if any of the ingredients include pork or alcohol (for instance, many dishes are made with mustard, and if dijon mustard is used then you can not eat it because white wine is an ingredient of all dijon mustards). Some food packages have toll free 1-800 numbers, call them if you are suspicious of any ingredient.
4) EARNING & SPENDING YOUR WEALTH/INCOME
The money we possess is viewed in Islam as a trust from Allah and as a test (either in excess or not) and therefore we should spend it paying close attention to the guidelines that He has given us through the Qur’an and the example of the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be on him,. The best sources to spend our wealth is on our own family, then on needy relatives, needy Muslims and in the general well-being and propagation of Islam.
It is not allowed to spend money on gambling, prostitution, paying of interest or usury or buying of any unlawful goods even if you are purchasing it for someone else. It is also unlawful to earn an income through illegitimate or forbidden means. Therefore a Muslim can’t earn his income through alcoholic beverages, pornographic magazines, interest based loans, unlawful food products, gambling tickets, and other similar activities. There are many articles available on-line that deal with the Islamic view of money and how to spend it, the more you read the better prepared you will be.
Islam, as a complete way of life, gives guidance for matters of the heart and also matters of the body. Physical purity means cleanliness of the body, the clothing and the environment. Muslims should keep their body and clothing clean according to the prescribed rules of Islam. A source of filthiness is without doubt the acts of relieving yourself when you go to the bathroom as it is necessary for you to wipe off the last drops of urine and feces with tissue paper and water to avoid them getting on your body or clothing. When you go to the bathroom it is advisable to do so sitting down on the toilet, and keeping a bottle full of water to clean the remaining urine or feces off of your body. You should hold the bottle with your right hand and clean your body with your left hand (this is one of the reason why you should eat your food with your right hand, and not with your left).
6) CONVEYING THE MESSAGE OF ISLAM
Conveying the message of Islam is of paramount importance for every Muslim. Remember that Heaven and Hell are real and that the benefits of submitting to Allah are tremendous. However, you should keep in mind that delivering the message is a life long process. Your family and friends may not understand why you decided to change your religion from the one they taught you, so be patient and keep good relations with them as Allah has commanded you to do in the Qur’an. Strive to be the best human you can be, and Islam has provided you with the tools you will need to be the very best creature in creation. Avoid trying to present Islam all at once, but strive to convey the beauty of our religion, the beauty of the truth, over your entire life, and be neither condescending nor appologetic, but be sincere and kind. Strive to be like the Prophet Muhammad, Allah's peace and blessing be upon him, by studying his life and teachings (his sunna).
7) DEALING WITH YOUR FAMILY AND FRIENDS
Upon becoming a Muslim you will certainly find opposition and distress from your family members and friends. It will probably be the greatest test you will go through in your starting life as a Muslim and can be a great source of grief and anxiety. However, you should know that for the most part they are only concerned about you and want the best for you, therefore be patient, love them more than you have before, and let the beauty of Islam shine through you. It may be a lifelong process, but be patient, because as Allah says in the Qur’an "and verily with every hardship comes relief, verily with every hardship comes relief." (94:5-6)
8) INCREASING YOU KNOWLEDGE AND STRENGHTENING YOUR FAITH
The Prophet , peace and blessings of Allah be on him, said: "He who seeks a path to gain knowledge therein, Allah will make easy for him a path to Paradise." So strive to learn as much as you can, prepare a personal development plan, read a wide variety of books and apply that knowledge to your personal life. Surround yourself with good practicing Muslims, attend halaqas (study groups) and most importantly read the Quran as often as you can. Check out this list of suggested books prepared by the Islamic Foundation of North America, which contains a short criticism on each book.
Many people who come to Islam choose to change their name to an arabic name, or adopt an arabic nickname. This is not obligatory in Islam and in many cases is not recommended. The only time a name should be changed is when it carries a negative or insulting meaning, otherwise the universality of Islam is such that there are Muslims with names from Spanish, Italian, Chinese, Russian and many other origins.
10) COMMONLY USED ISLAMIC TERMS
AL-HAMDU LILLAH: Praise be to Allah. Should be said on all occasions and especially after sneezing.
ALLAH: The Name of the Creator of the universe.
SHAHADA: The creed of Islam: 'I bear witness that there is no deity worthy of worship except Allah, and
I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.
FAJR: Early morning prayer
ZUHR: Noon Prayer (early afternoon prayer)
ASR: Late afternoon prayer
MAGHRIB: Sunset Prayer
ISHA: Night Prayer
ZAKAT: Obligatory Charity
HAJJ: Pilgrimage to the Holy city of Makkah.
SURA: Chapter of the Quran. Quran has 114 Suras or chapters.
AYAH: Verse of the Holy Quran (also means a 'sign' of Allah)
BIDAH: Any innovated practices introduced in the religion of Islam.
BISMILLAH: 'In the Name of Allah", this statement is usually made by Muslims who are about to indulge in a lawful task.
DAWAH: Propagation of Islam through word and action, calling the people to follow the commandments of Allah.
DEEN: Usually translated as 'religion'. Deen is a comprehensive word which means a total way of life, following the commandments of Allah.
DUA: Supplication: invoking Allah for whatever one desires.
EID-AL-ADHA: The feast of Sacrifice. This feast commemorates the Prophet Abraham's obedience to Allah by being prepared to sacrifice his only son Ishmael. A four-day festival that completes the rites of pilgrimage and takes place on the 10th-13th of Dhul Hijjah (the last Islamic month)
EID AL-FITR: three day festival marking the end of Ramadan - the 9th month (the month of fasting).
FATIHA: The opening Chapter of the Quran. Fatiha should be read in every prayer.
GHUSL: Full ritual washing of the body with water. Ghusl should be done after sexual intercourse, wet dreams, emission, menses, childbirth.
HADEETH: Sayings and traditions of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him)
HIJAB: Veil worn by Muslim women for reasons of modesty and protection.
IMAM: A person who leads the prayer and also for a famous Muslim Scholar.
IMAN: Truth, faith and acceptance.
ISA: Arabic word for Jesus Christ.
ISLAM: literally means 'submission to the will of Allah'.
JIBREEL: Angel Gabriel.
JIHAD: means struggling one's utmost to be a better person in the sight of Allah, and to establish Islamic way of life.
JINN: a race of created beings that are made out of smokeless fire.
JUMMA: 'Friday', the Muslim's day of gathering on Friday noon prayers.
KAABA: Holiest, and first shrine constructed for the worship of One God, Allah. Muslims face towards the direction of the Kaaba, Makkah.
KAFIR: Unbeliever, who have rejected the truth of Islam.
KHALIFA: A Muslim ruler of an Islamic State.
MOSQUE: Mosque, places of worship for the Muslims. In one sense the whole earth is a Mosque for the Muslims, The dome of the heavens its roof.
MASEEH: A title which means "Anointed" or 'Christ' Title given to Prophet Jesus.
MIRAJ: The night journey of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) from Makkah to Jerusalem and then through the realms of the seven heavens.
MUHAMMAD: The name of the final Messenger and Prophet of God to Humanity.
MUHARRAM: The first month of the Islamic Calendar.
MUSLIM: Literally means 'submitting to the will', i.e. to the will of Allah, the Almighty.
QIBLA: Direction in which all Muslims face when praying, which is the Kaaba, in Makkah, Saudi Arabia. The direction is north-east in the united states.
QURAN: The last revelation of Allah given to Humanity, through his last Prophet and Messenger, Muhammad - peace be upon him.
RAMADAN: The month of Fasting, the 9th month of the Islamic Calendar.
SAHABI: Companion of Prophet Muhammad - peace be upon him.
SAJDA: Prostration, as in prayer.
SALLALLAHU ALAIHE WA SALLAM: means 'may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him. This phrase is recited whenever the name of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing of Allah be upon him) is mentioned.
SHARIA: Islamic Law . It encompasses both the Quran and Hadith, the sayings of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him)
SHIRK: Associating partners with Allah. The grave sin of Shirk is not forgiven if a person dies in that state.
SUBHAN ALLAH: means 'Glory be to Allah'.
TAHARA: purification of body, clothing and souls.
TAWHEED: The Divine Unity, in its most profound sense. Allah is One in His Essence and His Attributes and His Acts.
TAYAMMUM: Dry purification when water is not available or is detrimental to health.
UMRA: A pilgrimage to Makkah, but not during the Hajj period.
WITR: A prayer which has an odd number of Rakat (units). Usually referred to the last prayer of the night after the Isha prayer.
WUDU: Purifying with water before performing prayers.
Alhamdulillah herein we have presented you with a basic guideline that will insha'Allah help you get started in this new stage of your life as a Muslim. Practice it, live it, and grow upon it, and Allah Almighty will bless your life with sweetness both in this world and in the hereafter. We sincerely pray that insha'Allah Islam will bring fulfillment and peace to your life, tranquility to your heart and that this guide will be the starting point of building your relationship with your Creator, Sustainer and Caretaker which is Allah Almighty.
Congratulations again. May Allah keep us on the straight path, strengthen us to live Islam to the fullest and make you and all Muslims role models for the rest of humanity; may He grant us paradise and forgive our sins and shortcomings. Ameen.
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