Although there are many articles online which contain some excellent recommendations for new Muslims, we felt the need to make a summary of some of these, simplifying the points and bullet pointing them.
Advice for New Muslims:
1) You should realize that after converting to Islam you will be tested by God as to how firm you are on your Islam. God says, "Do the people think that they will be left to say, "We believe" and they will not be tested?" [29:2]
Not only do these tests separate the sincere Muslim from the insincere Muslim but they also enable a Muslim to reach a higher rank in Paradise. There are many levels in Paradise and the best is called al-Firdaus. So to reach the best level, one should go through a more difficult set of tests. Those human beings that God honoured to become Prophets were tested the most.
After them the ones who are tested the most are the pious. No one is tested beyond their capability. So no one can say I cannot bare these tests nor say they are overwhelming and impossible. God made us and knows what we can bear - The Prophet (peace and blessings of God be upon him) said: "If God loves a people, He tests them" [Musnad Ahmad]. Remember, with hardship comes ease.
2) Islam is a beautiful and wonderful way of life.
After all it is from the One who created us. Islam governs every aspect of a Muslims life and thus has its own way of life. When you become a Muslim, there is lot to learn about Islam and if you try to learn everything you will become overwhelmed. There are certain things which you are required to learn first and thus you must prioritise your learning.
The joy, exhilaration, and lifetime importance of accepting Islam can often be accompanied by a sense of being overwhelmed and unsure of how to best approach the new dimensions of one's life. So many details, one may think, so many books, so many rules. Look again: Islam is not an obscure, complicated religion. It is the natural religion, and as such, it is a way of life - there is no need to panic.
3) Your first priority is to learn how to Pray. Salah is the second pillar of Islam, and you are obligated by God to perform them 5 times a day. Even though to begin with, you can perform them in a simple way, it is VITAL you learn how to pray in the Arabic language - this is so you can communicate in the language that God finally spoke to us in.
4) Your first year in Islam is critically important. What you learn and how serious you take Islam and your contract with God, will determine your relationship with the religion for the rest of your life.
5) Try to read and understand what the conditions of the Shahadah (declaration of faith) are and what negates ones Islam. Remember, just like one can enter Islam, there are specific statements/actions which make a person leave Islam [i.e. his/her state of submission to God].
6) Changing your name is not an obligation and there is no pressure on you to do so - however a large number of people seem to benefit from this as it helps them make a break from the past and start afresh.
7) Don't get married right away and do not let others push you into getting married. Bad marriages have sometimes ended in driving a New Muslim away from Islam. The Muslim Ummah (nation) has a wide spectrum of people some are good and some are bad.
8) Practice Islam as much as you can - As a new Muslim, you will have trouble keeping up with prayers every day, fasting during Ramadan, and the many other practices in this religion. The struggle that we face, with such a radical change in lifestyle, is difficult and will take some time. Awkward moments are bound to happen, don't fret. You are not expected to wake up at 4am every morning to pray Tahajjud (extra night prayers). If you have problems with certain practices, then gradually work yourself into the mindset of worship. A counsellor once said, "How do you eat an elephant? Just One bite at a time." Think of it as one step at a time. Pray to God and ask for Him to make it easy for you and the rest will come naturally.
Keeping up with your devotional practices is something that will strengthen your faith immensely. Read the Qur'an whenever possible. Find a collection of hadith, such as Riyadh us-Saliheen, and read it often. You will start to feel a connection to God and you will become used to Islam as a religion and way of life.
9) Find a teacher. The Prophet Muhammad [saw] said, "For him who follows a path for seeking knowledge, God will ease for him the path to Paradise." [Sahih Muslim]
Finding a teacher to bounce ideas off him/her it is a great way to learn your Deen (religion). It is good to find someone with as much knowledge as possible who also has an understanding of the English language and western culture. It is difficult to listen to someone with a thick accent or someone with a backhome mentality. "When I first accepted Islam, I would drive every day to visit my teacher and I would ask him what seemed like an endless stream of questions. Sometimes he seemed overwhelmed! This is a great way to clarify things you hear on...Youtube or Google or any part of the Qur'an you are reading at the time. This will also help you have a real grounding in the Islamic tradition. You will eventually have spent more time learning Islam than most people from Muslim families." Maintain a sense of humility if you do gain a lot of knowledge, as there will always be someone who will be more knowledgeable than you. Learn everything you can in small chunks, no one is asking you to be a scholar!
10) Educate yourself. Immerse yourself in Islamic education informally and formally when the chances come about (books, magazines, Internet, seminars, workshops, on-line learning, classes). If you hear something or read something that doesn't sit right with you, research the topic. Since Islam is from God and is the right path, every piece of it is logical and if something you hear or read seems lacking in common sense, it probably isn't right. Keep informed and never stop learning.
11) Gain a connection to the Arabic language. God said, "Indeed, We have sent it down as an Arabic Qur'an that you might understand." 12:2 Start by learning the alphabet and connecting letters together. You can learn this in an afternoon if you know someone that is a native Arabic speaker (but go at your own pace). Sit on that for a while and eventually you will be able to follow along in the Qur'an if you listen to a recitation on your computer or MP3 player. Arabic can be really enjoyable, and you are bound to gain an Islamic vocabulary after listening to talks or lectures. Eventually you will know meanings of words like "furqaan" and "sajdah" and you'll be able to use them in conversations with Muslims. Sabr (patience) is essential!
There are many flexible opportunities online to study Arabic, learn the Quran or other fields of Islam in your free time which you can also schedule in your daily activities.
12) Differences of Opinion - Coming to Islam will sometimes put you in a situation where you are overwhelmed with opinions that are hard to follow. You will find an array of views and opinions followed by different people. It is important to begin to understand the principles behind the rulings and sources from which they derived. Fundamentally, Islam is based on what God said in the Qur'an and what the Prophet Muhammad [saw] taught, via speech and action. Often you will find people's views are actually based on culture or only opinions. It is good to have a teacher who understands the subtleties of different opinion in Fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence)
13) No one expects you to become a scholar in one month. Yes, you must do your best, but just as the Quran was revealed gradually to strengthen the faith of the believers and give them the rules moderately, approaching Islam step by step is actually the best way a new Muslim can do, simply because you must understand and believe that what you are reading is the divine truth and is something for you, not against you. So don't be in a hurry! Did you know that the Companions used to read the verses of the Quran and not move on to the next one until they had implemented it in their lives? So let's go for quality and not quantity as God appreciates much more those deeds which might be small, but done continuously than those which might be bigger, but done rarely.
14) Being a Muslim is a huge part of your identity now. That doesn't mean you can't mingle with your friends. If there are things in your culture that do not directly contradict with basic Islamic creed, then you are welcome to keep those things in your life. You do not need to start wearing Arab or Indian clothing. As long as your clothes cover what they are supposed to cover, you are in the clear.
15) Love going to the Masjid. Praying in congregation is multiplied many times over in comparison to praying individually. In addition, you will meet people who are connected to Islam; networking opportunities are more readily available; and you are bound to make long-lasting friends. Many Masajid hold weekly study circles, and this can a great way to learn the basics. Naturally many new converts are shy or afraid to make their first visit to the Masjid, but if they knew the joy which Muslims share when they meet a convert, such hesitation would disappear. Also, don't worry about not doing everything perfectly from the start, no one expects a new Muslim to learn everything over night.
16) Find Muslim friends and avoid severing ties. Saying "As-salamu 'Alaykum" ( "Peace be upon you") to people you see on campus or at the grocery store is a real blessing in Islam. It immediately lets people know you are Muslim and they usually will be happy to return the greeting and hopefully share a few words with you. Doors of friendship will be opened and you will meet lots of people. Try and spend some time with Muslims when you can. It is beneficial to remind yourself that you are not the only Muslim on the planet and you share your religion with almost 2 billion people around the globe. Also, don't sever your friendships with your non-Muslim friends unless they are constantly partying or using the list of major sins as their weekend to-do list. You can be a light to your Christian, Agnostic, Jewish, or Atheist friends. You never know who God will guide, and showing that you are living an ethical life can encourage these people to learn a little about Islam or change their mind to having a positive view of the religion.
17) Avoid Loneliness."This is a major problem in the convert community. We are lonely. The best thing we can do to fight the feeling of loneliness is to spend as much time as possible with good company." Having dinners with people a few nights a week is a sure way to maintain a good attitude. The practice of becoming a nun or a monk is alien to Islam; we are social creatures and Islam recognizes this. Try not to lock yourself away in your apartment to avoid the world. This will just cause a vicious cycle that will cause deep depression. Make it an obligation on yourself to remain a sociable human being. It takes a lot of work but the result is happiness and contentment in life.
18) Do not despair. Being a convert to Islam, you will face a lot of tribulations. God guided to you to Islam, you searched for the answer and you found it. Be happy and constantly remind yourself of the blessings in your life. There are a lot of good things that will happen to you and you are on the straight road to Jannah (paradise). Rejoice in being Muslim. Remember the Sahabah (companions) were all converts to Islam and they were human beings that came from Adam and Eve just like you! Be strong and find comfort in your prayers and worship to God.
19) Before you decide to announce your Islam to loved ones who are non Muslim, make sure you are ready for their response, whether it is pleasant or horrible. Being ready means many things: understanding the basics of practicing your faith, understanding the reasons behind actions demanded of you by Islam. As hypocritical as it may be, many open-minded people cease to be open-minded when difficult issues such as religious conversion "hit home." People who are ordinarily rational, educated, and worldly unfortunately can swing 180 degrees when a person they love converts to a religion they do not appreciate or understand. It may be in your best interest, and in theirs, to not discuss your reversion to Islam for some time until you feel comfortable in your faith. At that point, it would be obvious to them that Islam has not made you a worse or lesser person, and has in fact (hopefully!) noticeably improved you!
20) The best teaching is by example. If you want to help others overcome the stereotypes bound to Islam and lessen discrimination against Muslims, be a model Muslim! Remember to be tolerant, patient, giving and helpful with those around you, be they Muslim or not. Be open to questions regarding your new faith, but do not feel compelled to answer questions to which you do not (yet) know the answers.
21) Don't break off ties with your family. The responses to conversions within many families are diverse from intensely hostile to supportive to somewhat indifferent. It requires much more patience to interact with and display excellent manners to those who are hostile to you especially from your family and close friends as they know how to push all of your buttons. And it requires wisdom, something often lost in that new convert zeal and fervour to implement the religion as much as possible. Don't be afraid to apologize to your family for past behaviour even if you think you were right because in the end we seek to call them to our faith and not simply to score brownie points in arguments.
22) Learn from the experiences of others. There are many reverts to Islam from different backgrounds. Listen to many of their stories - you will realise that you are not alone in this journey and a lot can be learnt from their stories.