#1 Learn how to pray ASAP. This one may sound a bit too obvious - the salat (prayer) is the second pillar of Islam -, but remember that that's one of the first challenges every new revert faces. Some people (including myself) take way too much time to get the hang of the whole thing. Since the prayers must be performed (I don't like this word to describe this action, but it's the only one I could think of) in Arabic, they become something even harder to tackle. Therefore, stop wasting your time with trivial things and do yourself a favor: learn how to pray right NOW. The sooner, the better! No more procrastinating!
P.S.: Ok, ok... Easier said than done, right? You may want to check this out. I bet it will help you somehow. Not enough? Then it's time to go into full-blown reading mode! Just read this PDF. :)
#2 Wise up! Religion is a tough subject... If you're not prepared, you will merely go with the flow and do what you're told (or what you see others doing). That's why you should STUDY Islam. You don't need to go for a degree if you don't feel like doing it, but I highly encourage you to read up on as many topics as you can. Exhaust them all! Extract every bit of information, because it WILL make a huge difference when you're in a situation where you find yourself being questioned by a bunch of people that just want to make you look like an a#^%*%^+ in front of everybody else - not to mention, of course, that you'll come across a lot of fake information that's out there. Knowing things will definitely help you tell what's true from what's not. Don't be a sheep.
P.S.: Have you ever heard about the New Muslim Academy? Or the Islamic Online Univeristy? Muslim Now, maybe? Kalamullah? Islam Unveiled? Shannon Abulnasr? No? Then check them out!
#3 Find a Masjid (mosque). Oh, boy! Not everyone is lucky enough to have a mosque around - and this is, UNFORTUNATELY, my case as well. If you live in a place where you're blessed with at least one, don't miss out on this opportunity. There, you'll be able to meet brothers, sisters, sheikhs, sign up for the quaranic classes, attend lectures, pray in congregation and then some! Just get the ball rolling!
"Offering the prayer in congregation carries 27 times greater reward than offering it alone individually." (Bukhari, Muslim)
P.S.: If you're not so sure whether or not there's a mosque in your city, just go to the App Store and download an app called Muslim Pro. It not only provides you with this information, but also a Qibla Locator, a digital version of the Quran, the muslim calendar, the prayer times and much more!
#4 Surround yourself with Muslims. If you really want to live Islam, do NOT take this tip for granted! It's time for you to leave the past behind and start over - and I really mean it! Move on! Remember those people who used to invite you to the creepiest things? They're just an old memory now. It's all water under the bridge! If you have a muslim community in your location, that's easy-peasy. But uh... What if you don't? Well, if you're reading this post, you have an internet connection. That's all you need. While it won't be the same as having real friends, it will at least make you feel "part of the family." As the saying goes, "it's better to be alone than in bad company." I'm not saying that this is something easy to do, but once you get them out of your life, it pretty much sets the whole dominoes into motion.
Keep in mind:
"Let not the believers take the disbelievers as Awliyaa’ (supporters, helpers) instead of the believers, and whoever does that, will never be helped by Allaah in any way, except if you indeed fear a danger from them" (Aal ‘Imraan 3:28)
"You (O Muhammad) will not find any people who believe in Allaah and the Last Day, making friendship with those who oppose Allaah and His Messenger (Muhammad), even though they were their fathers or their sons or their brothers or their kindred (people). For such He has written Faith in their hearts, and strengthened them with Rooh (proofs, light and true guidance) from Himself" (al-Mujaadilah 58:22)
And (remember) the Day when the Zâlim (wrong-doer, oppressor, polytheist, etc.) will bite at his hands, He will say: "Oh! would that I had taken a Path with the Messenger (Muhammad). "Ah! Woe to Me! Would that I had never taken so-and-so as a friend! "He indeed led Me astray from the Reminder (this Qur'ân) after it had come to Me. And Shaitân (Satan) is ever a deserter to man in the hour of need." (Al-Furqaan, 25 v.27-29)
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "A person is likely to follow the faith of his friend, so look whom you befriend." (reported by Abu Dawood & Tirmidhee)
The Messenger of Allah [said] "Do not keep company with anyone but a believer and do not let anyone eat your food but one who is pious." Abu Dawud (41:4832)
P.S.: Facebook and Twitter are great places to get started. Like some pages such as ISLAM is ?, Mission Dawah and Proud to be a Muslim. Maybe you'll make some friends there! Feeling skeptical? Well, if you never try, you will never know... Come on, give it a shot! :)
#5 Watch out for posers. Thought you could get rid of them, huh? Guess what? You actually can't! They (unfortunately) exist even in the muslim world. It's very likely that you will find some "muslims" who are, in reality, just muslims for show. Don't worry! It's REALLY easy to spot most of them. Just ask yourself: do they drink, eat pork, have girlfriends/boyfriends, watch porn, go to worldly parties, always seem to come up with an excuse to avoid the rules, miss the prayers and so on? Yes? Then stay away from them! If you can't advise these brothers/sisters to do good, just leave them before they drag you down to this filth with them. I don't mean to put you out with what I'm saying, but this is just something you'll have to get used to. Like Eddie (from The Deen Show) says, "focus on the Creator - not on the creation." So... Suck it up!
#6 Ease into your new life. You've just taken a huge step forward! Things are not going to change overnight, so... Try to do what needs to be done when you're ok with that. You're the one who needs to adapt yourself to fit into Islam - and not the other way around. Therefore, take as much time as you need to get your act together but, when you do, make sure you're all set.
P.S.: Allah (God) knows what's in your heart. Don't ever think you can deceive Him!
#7 Tough it out. This is usually the part where "the wheat is separated from the chaff." People will call you names, curse your religion, say that that's the biggest mistake of your life, turn you down, treat you differently, look daggers at you, say bad things about the Prophet (PBUH) and do whatever they can to make you give up. How long do you think you can hang tight? True believers WILL endure it all without stooping down to their level. "Patience is a virtue."
The Quran says:
And the Jews will not be pleased with you, nor the Christians until you follow their religion. Say: Surely Allah's guidance, that is the (true) guidance. And if you follow their desires after the knowledge that has come to you, you shall have no guardian from Allah, nor any helper. (2:120)
#8 Be a role model. You've just lost your identity - you're a muslim now. From now on, people (especially in the west) won't refer to you as Marco, Coby, Tim, Steve, Tory, Cindy, Leslie, etc, anymore. Now, you're Marco the Muslim, Coby the Muslim, Tim the Muslim and so on. Whatever you do, be aware that it WILL affect the way others around you feel towards our religion somehow. Times are tough for us. "If you are not a part of the solution, you are a part of the problem." Don't make things even worse!
#9 Invite others. I know this is not that simple - believe me! I still feel a bit uneasy sometimes. However, we can't let it get in our way and keep us from giving dawah! You don't need to go straight up to someone and start talking about Islam. There are many ways to convey the message without doing so! You can use your social media, create a blog and/or a YouTube channel, write a book or uh... I don't know! Use your creativity to send it out to others and make sure that you're getting your point across. Maybe it will work, maybe it won't. This is not up to you - it's up to Allah. Just pull your own weight and see how it turns out.
"Whoever guides (another) to a good deed will get a reward similar to the one who performs it." (Muslim)
"Invite to the way of your Lord (i.e. Islam) with wisdom and fair preaching, and argue with them in a way that is better. Truly, your Lord knows best who has gone astray from His path, and He is the best aware of those who are guided." (Surah an-Nisa’ 16:125)
The Prophet (PBUH) has said: "Convey from me, even one verse." (Al-Bukhari).
"Verily, those who conceal the clear proofs, evidences and the guidance, which we have sent down, after We have made it clear for the people of the book, they are the ones cursed by Allah, and cursed by the cursers." (Quran 2:159)
P.S.: Here is a step-by-step on how give dawah. Enjoy!
#10 Be proud (but humble at the same time)! You shouldn't be embarrassed to let others know that you're a muslim. After all, the Quran says:
You are the best nation produced [as an example] for mankind. You enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong and believe in Allah . If only the People of the Scripture had believed, it would have been better for them. Among them are believers, but most of them are defiantly disobedient. (3:110)
See? Then keep your head up and your heart strong! :)
BONUS TIP: If possible, try to learn Arabic. It will make a huge difference in the long run. Just think about it: you'll be able to get all the information that you need straight from the horse's mouth! If you don't know how to get started, read this post. You'll find a lot of free stuff.
That's it! I'm totally aware that I've barely touched the tip of the iceberg here, but I hope you're feeling at least a little bit less confused. By the way, welcome to your new family! May Allah grant you Jannah (Paradise)!