Read Part I
It is simply an act of submission to God; a recognition and declaration that there is One God, Supreme and Unique.
My study took on a new relevance. My hunger grew. I learned that the things I thought I knew about Islam were so totally wrong that it was as though I really knew nothing at all. I learned that being a Muslim has nothing at all to do with being an Arab but simply means “one who submits.”
I learned that the concept of Islam is a very simple one. It is simply an act of submission to God; a recognition and declaration that there is One God, Supreme and Unique and that God gave his revelation to the Arab prophet Muhammad and this is the genuine and final and complete revelation from God and it supersedes all that came before it.
I learned that the essential creed of Islam is two parts; There is no God but Allah and that Muhammad is the Prophet of God; “La ilaha illa Allah Muhammad Rasul Allah.”
I learned that Muslims do, in fact, believe in Jesus! I learned that the Quran names twenty six prophets including some known from the Bible including Noah, Abraham, Moses, John the Baptist and others, including Jesus.
I learned about Jesus in a new way; that Jesus was indeed a prophet who taught and brought healing. Muslims even consider Jesus to be one of the greatest of all prophets. Muslims believe in the virgin birth of Jesus and that this was a miracle of God in creating a child without a father.
Where was the teaching of violence and terrorism? Well of course I did learn of “jihad.” But not in the sense that I had heard. What I learned is that jihad refers to the striving each of us has with our material existence in the world which is in opposition to the will of God.
For example, I learned that to love oneself to the point of being selfish and of putting one’s own needs and desires before right living is one of the basic wrongs recognized in Islam. I learned that jihad is the general fight of people toward the tendency to become miserly, greedy, cruel, callous, etc.
The life of the world is but a pastime and a game. Lo! Real life is the Home of the Hereafter, if you but knew it. (Quran 29:64)
As my knowledge increased, so did my desire to adopt this faith as my lifestyle and as my way of living. I wasn’t sure what I had to do to become a part of this faith but I was fairly certain there must be some ritual or ceremony, considering the richness and time honored tradition of Islam. I was wrong. Becoming a Muslim is as simple as bearing witness to the faith.
It is as simple as accepting and stating a creed that says “I bear witness that there is no God but Allah, and that Muhammad is His genuine messenger.” It is not just reciting this creed, but it is believing what it says with all one’s heart, following it to the point of giving God one’s life to his service and in trusting God with all one’s heart.
The giving of oneself to God, totally and completely brings some changes. It means dietary changes as well as changes in how one represents oneself in dress and demeanor. It means adopting a modesty that takes all the focus from arrogance and selfishness and places the focus on representing the one true God.
This “bearing witness” or Shahadah is the first pillar of Islam.
The second pillar is salah or prayer. It requires daily prayer, five times a day. It is compulsory for a Muslim to submit to salah, as they face God on a one-to-one basis. The purpose of Muslim prayer is to purify the heart and to bring about personal and spiritual growth as we are brought closer to Allah.
The third pillar is the zakah. It is the giving of material help to those less fortunate. It is not charity but more of a regular, sacrificial giving which depends on motives which are not related to sympathy or charity. Islam teaches that everything belongs to Allah so in giving we are really only giving back to Allah that which is His.
The fourth pillar of Islam is fasting during the month of Ramadan. Muslim fasting is a deliberate effort toward cultivating peace of the mind and spirit and the giving up of all manner of evil, greed, anger, etc., which can pull one from the true will of God.
The fifth pillar of Islam is the pilgrimage to Makkah, or Hajj.
It is the duty of all believers towards God to come to the House a pilgrim, if able to make their way there. (Quran 3:97)
The journey to becoming a Muslim involves the acceptance of these basic five pillars of faith. For me it was an accidental journey. A journey that began with a national disaster; a time of national grief and pain; a time of accusations and blame; a time of forgiveness and healing. But most of all it was a journey of great learning and opportunity for change.
It was an emotional journey that ended in a spiritual journey with a great destination. It was a journey of self-awareness but more importantly a journey of becoming aware of the One, Unique God of the Universe.
The journey has been one of tremendous growth. But the most significant thing about this journey is that it is on-going. It is a continuous journey of faith and believing. It is a journey of sacrifice and greater gain. It is a journey of giving and receiving. It is a journey of faith and understanding. It is a journey of daily learning and strife to become more today than I was yesterday, and more tomorrow than I am today. It is a treasure hunt for all the good things Allah has for me in this life to prepare me for the life hereafter. It is a journey of faith and a journey of great, great love.
I thank God for the questions that brought me to this place; to this great faith; to this personal journey of deliverance from the misguidance of the world. I am daily in awe of the greatness of such a God to love me enough to provide this great journey for me. It is a journey of faith and most of all a journey of love.
Source : AboutIslam