Becoming a Muslim
Becoming a Muslim is a simple process. You simply say:
I bear witness that there is none worthy of worship except God, and I bear witness that Muhammad is the messenger of God.
“Ashhadu An La Ilaha IllAllah, Wa Ashhadu Anna Muhammad Rasulu Allah.”
Saying these simple words, with conviction, enters one into the religion of Islam. This statement is known as the Testimony of Faith.
The Arabic word ‘Islam’ means ‘submission’, and is derived from a word meaning ‘peace’. As such, the religion of Islam teaches that in order to achieve true peace of mind, one must submit to God. The word “Muslim” means one who submits to the will of God.
Islam is not a new religion because ‘submission to the will of God’ (i.e. Islam), has always been the only acceptable religion in the sight of God. For this reason, Islam is the true ‘natural religion’, and it is the same eternal message revealed through the ages to all of God’s prophets and messengers.
The main message of all the prophets has always been that there is only One True God and He alone is to be worshipped. These prophets include Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, Solomon, John, and Jesus, peace be upon them all.
“We did not send before you (O Muhammad) any messenger but We revealed to him: ‘none has the right to be worshipped except I, therefore worship Me”.
[The Quran, Chapter 21, Verse 25]
Benefits of accepting Islam
1. Accepting Islam liberates a person from slavery to manmade systems and lifestyles.
Islam emancipates the mind from superstitions and uncertainties; it liberates the soul from sin and corruption and frees the conscience from oppression and fear. Submission to the will of God, does not curtail freedom, on the contrary it gives a very high degree of freedom by freeing the mind from superstitions and filling it with truth and knowledge.
Once a person accepts Islam they are no longer slaves to fashion, or consumerism, and they are free from the slavery of a monetary system designed to subjugate the people. On a smaller but equally as important scale Islam liberates a person from the superstitions that rule the lives of those not truly submitted to God. A believer knows that good and bad luck do not exist. Both the good and the bad aspects of our lives come from God and as Prophet Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, explains all the affairs of a believer are good, "If he is granted ease then he is thankful, and this is good for him. And if he is afflicted with a hardship, he perseveres, and this is good for him".
After a person is freed from manmade systems and lifestyles he or she is free to worship God in the correct manner. A believer is able to put his trust and hope in God and sincerely seek His mercy.
2. Accepting Islam allows a person to truly experience God’s love.
Converting to Islam allows a person to achieve God’s love by following His guide to life - the Quran, and the authentic teachings and traditions of Prophet Muhammad. When God created the world He did not abandon it to instability and insecurity. He sent a rope, firm and steady, and by holding tightly to this rope an insignificant human being can achieve greatness and eternal peace. In the words of Quran, God makes His desires perfectly clear, however human beings have free will and are free to either please or displease God.
Say (O Muhammad to mankind): "If you (really) love God then follow me (i.e. accept Islamic Monotheism, follow the Qur'an and the Sunnah), God will love you and forgive you your sins. And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful." (Quran 3:31)
And whoever seeks a religion other than Islam, it will never be accepted of him, and in the Hereafter he will be one of the losers. (Quran 3:85)
There is no compulsion in religion. Verily, the Right Path has become distinct from the wrong path. Whoever disbelieves in Taghut and believes in God, then he has grasped the most trustworthy handhold that will never break. And God is All-Hearer, All-Knower. (Quran 2:256)
3. Another benefit of accepting Islam is that God promises Paradise to the believer.
Paradise, as described in many verses of Quran, is a place of eternal bliss and it is promised to believers. God shows his mercy to the believers by rewarding them with Paradise. Whoever denies God or worships something with, or instead of Him, or claims that God has a son or daughter or partner, will be doomed in the Hereafter to the hellfire. Converting to Islam will save a person from the torment of the grave, suffering on the Day of Judgement and eternal hellfire.
"And those who believe (in the Oneness of God) and do righteous good deeds, to them We shall surely give lofty dwellings in Paradise, underneath which rivers flow, to live therein forever. Excellent is the reward of the workers." (Quran 29: 58)
4. Happiness, tranquillity and inner peace and can be achieved by converting to Islam.
Islam itself is inherently associated with inner peace and tranquillity. The words Islam, Muslim and salaam (peace) all come from the root word "Sa - la – ma" denoting peace, security, and safety. When one submits to the will of God he or she will experience an innate sense of security and peacefulness.
Perfect happiness exists only in Paradise. There we will find total peace, tranquillity and security and be free from the fear, anxiety and pain that are part of the human condition. However the guidelines provided by Islam allow us, imperfect humans, to seek happiness in this world. The key to being happy in this world and the next is seeking the pleasure of God, and worshipping Him, without associating partners with Him.
5. Accepting Islam is the first step in establishing a lifelong connection to the Creator.
Every single member of the human race is born innately knowing that God is One. Prophet Muhammad said that every child was born in a state of fitrah, with the correct understanding of God. According to Islam this is a natural state of being, instinctively knowing there is a Creator and naturally wanting to worship and please Him. However those who do not know God or establish a relationship with Him may find the human existence puzzling and sometimes even distressing. For many, allowing God into their lives and worshipping Him in a way that is pleasing to Him, gives a whole new meaning to life.
“Verily, in the remembrance of God do hearts find rest.” (Quran 13:28)
Through acts of worship such as prayer and supplication, one begins to feel that God is close at hand, through His infinite knowledge and wisdom. A believer is secure in the knowledge that God, the Most High, is above the heavens, and comforted by the fact that He is with them in all their affairs. A Muslim is never alone.
“He knows what goes into the earth and what comes forth from it, what descends from the heaven and what ascends thereto. And He is with you (by His Knowledge) wheresoever you may be. And God is the All-Seer of what you do.” (Quran 57:4)
6. Accepting Islam reveals God’s mercy and forgiveness towards His creation.
As feeble human beings we often feel lost and alone. It is then that we turn to God and seek His Mercy and Forgiveness. When we turn to Him in true submission His tranquillity descends upon us. We are then able to feel the quality of His mercy and see it manifest in the world around us. However in order to worship God, we need to know Him. Converting to Islam opens the gateway to this knowledge, including the fact that God’s forgiveness knows no bounds.
Many people are confused or ashamed of the many sins they have committed over the course of their lives. Converting to Islam completely washes those sins away; it is as if they never happened. A new Muslim is as pure as a new born baby.
“Say to those who have disbelieved [that] if they cease, what has previously occurred will be forgiven for them. But if they return [to hostility] - then the precedent of the former [rebellious] peoples has already taken place.” (Quran 8:38)
If after converting to Islam a person commits more sins the door to forgiveness is still wide open.
“O you who believe! Turn to God with sincere repentance! It may be that your Lord will expiate from you your sins, and admit you into Gardens under which rivers flow (Paradise)…” (Quran 66:8)
7. Accepting Islam teaches us that trials and tests are part of the human condition.
Once a person converts to Islam he begins to understand that the trials, tribulations, and triumphs of this life are not random acts of a cruel and unorganised universe. A true believer understands that our existence is part of a well-ordered world, and life is unfolding in exactly the way God, in His infinite wisdom, has ordained.
God tells us we will be tested and He advises us to bear our trials and tribulations patiently. This is difficult to understand unless one embraces the Oneness of God, the religion of Islam, where God has given us clear guidelines about how to behave when faced with trials and tribulations. If we follow these guidelines, found in the Quran and the authentic traditions of Prophet Muhammad, it is possible to bear afflictions with ease and even be grateful.
“And certainly, We shall test you with something of fear, hunger, loss of wealth, lives and fruits, but give glad tidings to the patient ones.” (Quran 2:155)
Prophet Muhammad said, “A man will be tested according to the level of his religious commitment, and the trials will keep affecting a believer until he is left walking on the face of the earth with no burden of sin whatsoever”. A Muslim knows with certainty that this world, this life, is no more than a transient place, a stop on the journey to our eternal life in either the hell fire or the paradise. To face the Creator with no burden of sin is a marvellous thing, certainly worth the tests that befall us.
8. Accepting Islam answers all life’s BIG questions.
One of the major benefits of converting to Islam is that it lifts the fog. Suddenly life, and all its ups and downs becomes clearer, it all makes more sense. The answers to the big questions that have been plaguing humankind for millennia are all laid bare. At any time during our lives, when we stand on the precipice, or at the fork in the road we ask ourselves – “Is this it, is this really all there is?” Well no, this is not all there is. Islam answers the questions and asks us to look beyond materialism and see that this life is little more than a transient stop on the way to life everlasting. Islam gives a clear aim and purpose to life. As a Muslim we are able to find answers in the words of God, the Quran, and in the example of His final messenger Prophet Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him.
Being Muslim indicates complete submission to the Creator and the fact that we were only created to worship God Alone. That is the reason we are here, on this spinning planet in the seemingly infinite universe; to worship God and God Alone. Converting to Islam frees us from the only potentially unforgiveable sin, which is to associate partners with God.
“And I (God) created not the jinn and humankind, except to worship Me (Alone).” (Quran 51:56)
“Oh humankind, worship God, you have no other god but Him.” (Quran 7:59)
It must be said however, that God is not in need of human worship. If not a single human worshipped God, it would not diminish His glory in any way, and if all of humankind worshipped Him, it would not increase His glory in any way. We, humankind, need the comfort and security of worshipping God.
9. Accepting Islam allows every aspect of life to be an act of worship.
The religion of Islam was revealed for the benefit of all humankind who will exist until the Day of Judgement. It is a complete way of life, not something only practiced on the weekend or at annual festivals. A believer’s relationship with God is twenty four hours a day, seven days a week. It does not stop and start. Through His infinite mercy, God has provided us with a holistic approach to life, one that covers all aspects, spiritual, emotional and physical. He has not left us alone to stumble in the darkness rather God has given us the Quran, a book of guidance. He has also given us the authentic traditions of Prophet Muhammad that explain and expand on the guidance of the Quran.
Islam fulfils and balances our physical and spiritual needs. This system, designed by the Creator for his creation, not only expects a high standard of behaviour, morality and ethics but it also allows each and every human act to be transformed into worship. In fact, God commands the believers to dedicate their lives to Him.
“Say: ‘Surely my prayer, my sacrifice, my living and my dying are for God, the Lord of all the worlds.’” (Quran 6:162)
10. Accepting Islam makes all relationships harmonious.
God knows what is best for His creation. He has complete knowledge of the human psyche. Consequently Islam clearly defines the rights and responsibilities we have towards God, our parents, spouses, children, relatives, neighbours, etc. This brings order out of chaos, harmony out of confusion and replaces friction and conflict with peace. Converting to Islam allows one to face any and all situations with confidence. Islam is able to guide us through all aspects of life, spiritual, political, familial, societal and corporate.
Adapted from Aisha Stacey (© 2011 IslamReligion.com)
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