The goal of this work is to present the new Muslim with a basic guide that will help him understand and implement Islam. As already noted, the newly converted Muslim has set himself upon a new path that, most likely, is very different from the path that he was on before. The convert understands enough about Islam to recognize that it is the truth but he usually does not have enough detailed information about Allah’s religion to guide him in his everyday affairs.
The author sincerely hopes that the individual will have the best experience in Islam by understanding it properly from the beginning and by applying it correctly in his life. Many are the converts to Islam who are bewildered and confused once they convert. Unfortunately, not every Muslim today is a good ambassador of Islam and not every Muslim today understands all of the basics of Islam. This can lead to a great deal of confusion, as some Muslim converts cannot even recognize the Islam that they see when compared to the Islam that they read about. This work is a modest attempt at assisting the new Muslim to set out along the correct path based on the Quran and Sunnah.
Many introductory works on Islam are currently available. However, it is hoped that this work is distinct from the others due to a number of characteristics.
First, this is one of the few books currently available that specifically targets newly converted Muslims. In other words, it is directed toward those who have already been convinced of the truth of Islam and, hence, no arguments are presented herein to attempt to convince the reader of the truth of Islam.
On the other hand, once a person embraces Islam there is still a wealth of information that the new convert needs. First, he needs to understand properly the foundations of his new faith. He also needs guidance concerning the most important practices of his new faith, including a good awareness of what deeds he must avoid as a Muslim.
Second, the writer himself is a convert to Islam. Thus, the author is able to draw upon his own experience as a convert and, by reflecting back upon that after so many years, can provide insight into what a convert needs to know and what are some of the pratfalls that he must avoid. This book can be looked upon as the book that the author wishes he had received when he first became Muslim. Furthermore, the author has dealt with many converts throughout the years and is aware of many of the conceptual and practical issues that other converts have had to deal with as well.
Third, the author has done his utmost to ensure that all of the information contained herein is verified and authentic. This is particularly true for any of the words attributed to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). Unfortunately, not everyone who writes about Islam gives this issue the attention it deserves, thereby including false information in their introductory works. In reality, one of the main reasons why this author embraced Islam is because its original teachings were kept pure: One can actually claim that the Quran is the word of God and the hadith are the words of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). This religion has come down to this generation in preserved form and it is a must that it not be distorted in any way. It is, therefore, incumbent upon those who write or speak about Islam to continue to make sure that what they are saying is the confirmed truth from Allah and the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him).
The most important source for any work about Islam must be the Quran itself.1 The Quran lays the foundation for the entirety of Islamic teachings.2 Hence, due emphasis will be placed on Quranic evidence for the views expressed in this book.
However, the Quran was not simply revealed upon a mountainside for anyone to read and understand on his own. Allah chose to reveal the Quran to the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and within the Quran itself ordered the Muslims to follow his example and to obey his commands.3 His way of life is known as the Sunnah and has been captured in what is known as the hadith literature. Therefore, the guidance of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) as contained in the authentic hadith4 literature will also be heavily relied upon.
The Quran and Sunnah, therefore, form the ultimate sources of one’s understanding of Islam. Any other source must be secondary to these sources and subject to their overall approval. In other words, if something is contrary to the Quran and Sunnah, it cannot justifiably be considered part of Islam.
Furthermore, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) raised up a generation under this guidance and direction. Although his Companions were simply humans—and as such had, to some extent, human faults—their overall understanding and application of Islam was approved by the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) himself. Thus, their overall way will be treated here as the proper and correct way of understanding Islam.
Finally, the author has benefited from the works of many who have written about Islam, including the leading scholars throughout the history of Islam as well as many others who have also written introductory works. Reference to such authors or works will be made throughout this book.
2 If a book is supposed to be about Islam while it is void of Quranic verses and proofs for its view, the reader should be immediately and rightfully suspicious of such a book and the positions propagated in it.
3 The authority and status of the Sunnah—the example and teachings of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him)—has been affirmed in more than forty places in the Quran. For more on this point, see this author’s The Authority and Importance of the Sunnah (Denver, CO: Al- Basheer Company for Publications and Translations, 2000)
4 The hadith are the reports of the Prophet’s actions and statements. The evaluation of hadith is very precise and scientific, allowing the scholars throughout the ages to sift the authentic reports from the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) from the inauthentic reports.