السلامعليكم! I have been considering taking shahada for almost 10 years now, yet there’s always something that seems to be holding me back. My values and beliefs are inherently Islamic-influenced and I have read and understood the Qur’an multiple times as independent study. I’m just unsure of what’s holding me back and making me apprehensive. Any advice?
Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,
In order to become Muslim you need to take a “leap” of faith. No amount of knowledge is sufficient to force faith upon a person. The act of becoming Muslim is an act of the heart, it is something you feel in your chest when you accept to stand face-to-face with God, open your heart to Him, and embrace His presence regardless of the risks and fears you feel.
The process is two steps; first you need to feel God’s presence. You have to come face-to-face with Him. But that is not enough. Once that presence is felt, one needs to embrace it, to “leap” into it.
As I discuss in my essay on beauty, the most beautiful things take us face-to-face with God. Therefore rather than looking for faith in books, when you experience beauty and feel it in your heart, know that it is God who is looking back at you. From there it is just a very small step to leap into His presence. Many people, when they experience such beauty that it brings tears to their eyes, know that the universe is offering them something, but they do not know what that is. I say that that is God who is offering you His hand. You just need to take it.
As for Islam, it is merely a tool to help you know the manners of interacting with God and people. The point of Islam is God, so it is God who comes first. When you have experienced Him and embraced His presence, then embracing Islam, if you have understood it, is the logical next step (for some Christianity works in the same way), since Islam offers a beautiful and logical system that teaches one the best way to interact with God and with humanity.