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How To Convert To Islam

For some, the decision to embrace Islam may come after years of study, reflection, and prayer; for others it’s a more intuitive leap of faith. In either case, here’s what you need to know to take the plunge.


  • TIP: When you decide to make the pilgrimage, or hajj, another of Islam’s pillars, you might need your local mosque to write a letter certifying that you are now Muslim, as only Muslims are allowed in the city of Mecca.
  • Step 1: Begin to practice the other pillars of Islam as soon as you are ready. Most immediately, this means offering the five daily prayers.
  • Step 2: Use this time to pray for others. God says the prayer of a new convert is likely to be accepted.
  • Step 3: Some converts like to start using an Arabic name in addition to or instead of their given name. Changing your name, however, is not required.
  • TIP: While you will need to master a small amount of Arabic to correctly say the daily prayers, learning Arabic is not required.
  • FACT: In the West, some of the most prominent Muslim are converts, including Yusuf Islam, formerly known as Cat Stevens, and boxing champion Muhammad Ali.
  • Step 4: Gradually incorporate other aspects of Islam into your life, whether that means dressing more modestly, reading the Quran, or visiting the mosque. While you may be tempted to completely change your lifestyle right away, realize that making slow, deliberate changes will serve you better in the long run.
  • Step 5: When you are ready, begin to tell your friends, family, and co-workers that you have embraced Islam. Be patient with them if they express alarm or hostility. Don’t forget that there was a time when you, too, knew little about Islam.
  • Step 6: Accept God’s mercy in forgiving all your past sins. It’s part of the gift of becoming Muslim.
  • Step 7: Take a shower or bath, completely immersing your hair and body. With this washing, you are shedding all of the sins you may have committed before becoming Muslim.
  • TIP: If someone is pressuring you to convert to Islam—for example a spouse or a boyfriend/girlfriend, remind him or her that according to Islamic law, a conversion without inner conviction is morally meaningless and religiously invalid.
  • Step 8: Sitting quietly by yourself, make your intention, either silently or out loud, to convert to Islam to please God alone, not for personal gain or to please other people.
  • TIP: Familiarize yourself with the various strains of Islam. Sunnis, Shias, and Ismailis are all Muslim but have slightly different core beliefs or _aqeedah_. Because Sunnis make up roughly 85 percent of the world’s Muslim population, this represents a sort of default option for conversion.
  • Step 9: Read out loud this statement in Arabic: “Ash-shadu an laa ill-laaha illa-lah.” This means in English: “I testify there is no God but God.”
  • TIP: While many converts like to profess their new faith in a mosque and/or in the presence of other Muslims, witnesses are not required. You can become Muslim by yourself at home.
  • TIP: Saying the _shahadah_ in Arabic is required, but it might also help to repeat the statements in your native language.
  • Step 10: Repeat Steps 3 and 4. These two statements are known as the shahadah, or testament of faith, and they comprise the first pillar of Islam.
  • Step 11: Read aloud this statement: “Wa ash-shadu anna Muhammadun-a rasuulu-lah.” This means “And I testify that Muhammad is the prophet of God.”
  • Step 12: Review the five pillars of Islam: testifying that there is only one God and Muhammad is his prophet; praying five times a day; fasting for the month of Ramadan; offering charity each year; and making the pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in your lifetime. Affirm these to yourself.

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