The word "Muslim" means one who submits to the will of God, regardless of their race, nationality or ethnic background.
Becoming a Muslim is a simple and easy process that requires no pre-requisites. One may convert alone in privacy, or he/she may do so in the presence of others. If anyone has a real desire to be a Muslim and has full conviction and strong belief that Islam is the true religion of God, then, all one needs to do is pronounce the "Shahada", the testimony of faith, without further delay. The "Shahada" is the first and most important of the five pillars of Islam.
With the pronunciation of this testimony, or "Shahada", with sincere belief and conviction, one enters the fold of Islam.
Upon entering the fold of Islam purely for the Pleasure of God, all of one's previous sins are forgiven, and one starts a new life of piety and righteousness. The Prophet said to a person who had placed the condition upon the Prophet in accepting Islam that God would forgive his sins:
"Do you not know that accepting Islam destroys all sins which come before it?" (Saheeh Muslim)
When one accepts Islam, they in essence repent from the ways and beliefs of their previous life. One need not be overburdened by sins committed before their acceptance. The person's record is clean, and it is as if he was just born from his mother's womb. One should try as much as possible to keep his records clean and strive to do as many good deeds as possible.
The Holy Quran and Hadeeth (prophetic sayings) both stress the importance of following Islam. God states:
"...The only religion in the sight of God is Islam..." (Quran 3:19)
In another verse of the Holy Quran, God states:
"If anyone desires a religion other than Islam, never will it be accepted of him; and in the Hereafter, he will be in the ranks of those who have lost (their selves in the Hellfire)." (Quran 3:85)
In another saying, Muhammad, the Prophet of God, said:
"Whoever testifies that there is none worthy of being worshipped but God, Who has no partner, and that Muhammad is His slave and Prophet, and that Jesus is the Slave of God, His Prophet, and His Word which He bestowed in Mary and a spirit created from Him; and that Paradise (Heaven) is true, and that the Hellfire is true, God will eventually admit him into Paradise, according to his deeds." (Saheeh Al-Bukhari)
The Prophet of God, may the blessing and mercy of God be upon him, also reported:
"Indeed God has forbidden to reside eternally in Hell the person who says: "I testify that none has the right to worship except Allah (God),' seeking thereby the Face of God." (Saheeh Al-Bukhari)
The Declaration of the Testimony (Shahada)
To convert to Islam and become a Muslim a person needs to pronounce the below testimony with conviction and understanding its meaning:
"Ash Shaddu an La ilaha illa Allah, Wa Ash Shaddu ana Muhammadan rasoolu Allah."
The translation of which is:
"I testify that There is no true god (deity) but God (Allah), and I testify that Muhammad is the (Final) Messenger (Prophet) of God."
When someone pronounces the testimony with conviction, then he/she has become a Muslim. It can be done alone, but it is much better to be done with an adviser, so they may help you in pronouncing it right and to provide you with important resources for new Muslims.
The first part of the testimony consists of the most important truth that God revealed to mankind: that there is nothing divine or worthy of being worshipped except for Almighty God. God states in the Holy Quran:
"We did not send the Messenger before you without revealing to him: 'none has the right to be worshipped except I, therefore worship Me.'" (Quran 21:25)
This conveys that all forms of worship, whether it be praying, fasting, invoking, seeking refuge in, and offering an animal as sacrifice, must be directed to God and to God alone. Directing any form of worship to other than God (whether it be an angel, a messenger, Jesus, Muhammad, a saint, an idol, the sun, the moon, a tree) is seen as a contradiction to the fundamental message of Islam, and it is an unforgivable sin unless it is repented from before one dies. All forms of worship must be directed to God only.
Worship means the performance of deeds and sayings that please God, things which He commanded or encouraged to be performed, either by direct textual proof or by analogy. Thus, worship is not restricted to the implementation of the five pillars of Islam, but also includes every aspect of life. Providing food for one's family, and saying something pleasant to cheer a person up are also considered acts of worship, if such is done with the intention of pleasing God. This means that, to be accepted, all acts of worship must be carried out sincerely for the Sake of God alone.
The second part of the testimony means that Prophet Muhammad is the servant and chosen messenger of God. This implies that one obeys and follows the commands of the Prophet. One must believe in what he has said, practice his teachings and avoid what he has forbidden. One must therefore worship God only according to his teaching alone, for all the teachings of the Prophet were in fact revelations and inspirations conveyed to him by God.
One must try to mold their lives and character and emulate the Prophet, as he was a living example for humans to follow. God says:
"And indeed you are upon a high standard of moral character." (Quran 68:4)
God also said:
"And in deed you have a good and upright example in the Messenger of God, for those who hope in the meeting of God and the Hereafter, and mentions God much." (Quran 33:21)
He was sent in order to practically implement the Quran, in his saying, deeds, legislation as well as all other facets of life. Aisha, the wife of the Prophet, when asked about the character of the Prophet, replied:
"His character was that of the Quran." (As-Suyooti)
To truly adhere to the second part of the Shahada is to follow his example in all walks of life. God says:
"Say (O Muhammad to mankind): 'If you (really) love God, then follow me.'" (Quran 3:31)
It also means that Muhammad is the Final Prophet and Messenger of God, and that no (true) Prophet can come after him.
"Muhammad is not the father of any man among you but he is the Messenger of God and the last (end) of the Prophets and God is Ever All-Aware of everything." (Quran 33:40)
All who claim to be prophets or receive revelation after Muhammad are imposters, and to acknowledge them would be tantamount to disbelief.
We welcome you to Islam, congratulate you for your decision, and will try to help you in any way we can, so feel free to email us with any questions that you may have!