Declaring shahaadah and performing salaat for a new non-Arabic speaking Muslim

Dear Brothers & Sisters,
As-Salaamu-Alaikum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh. (May Allah's Peace, Mercy and Blessings be upon all of you)
One of our brothers/sisters has asked this question:
I have read the many pages of your web site that instructs a non-believer. I believe that there is only Allah (one God). Ibelieve that Muhammed is the seal of the prophets. History bears this out. My question is: How do I declare this (shahadah) if I do not speak arabic?  How do I perform the five daily prayers (salah) without understanding arabic? Finally would I have to change my name?
(There may be some grammatical and spelling errors in the above statement. The forum does not change anything from questions, comments and statements received from our readers for circulation in confidentiality.)
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Answer:

Praise be to Allaah.
To the dear inquirer:I welcome you with a warm greeting.  I was besieged with great joy as I discovered your question while browsing through the ten questions which arrived during the past hour today, and it was the dearest question for me.  This fact is not surprising, as how could our hearts not open to a wise man who has discovered the truth and has acknowledged and confirmed it for himself--one who wishes to embrace Islaam and asks about the next steps?

In reality, everything that poses a problem for you is actually an easy matter, and can be solved simply, God willing (in shaa' Allaah), so let's take them one by one:

First:  all that is required of you to embrace this religion right now as you are reading these lines is to pronounce al-shahaadatain, or the two confirmations and attestations of faith, to the best of your ability.  Perfect pronunciation of the Arabic letters is not required, and the following is a transliteration of the phrases with English letters to help you:

ash-hadu an laa ilaahah illallaah (I bear witness and attest that there is no god worthy of worship but the One God Allaah)

ash-hadu anna muhammad-ar-rasool ullaah (I bear  witness and attest that Muhammad is the messenger of Allaah)

After pronouncing them, you should promptly hasten to take a shower to purify yourself and prepare to start performing your regular prayers which will be an obligation as soon as you have declared your belief.

Second:  If you have not yet learned the manner and characteristics of performing the prayer (i.e. at least the movements and positions), appended to this message is a description from which you can learn.  What is requried from you for the time being is to say in the beginning of the prayer and between each movement between positions "Allaahu ak-bar" (a glorification of Allaah).  While standing, bowing, prostrating, and sitting, you should say "subhaan allaah wal-hamdu lillaah wa-laa ilaaha illallaahu wallaahu akbar."  (Glory be to Allaah, and praise and thanks be to Allaah, and there is no god but Allaah, and Allaah is the most Exalted and Great.)  Then conclude the prayer by turning your head to the right then left, each time saying "as-salaamu alaikum."

This way of performing salaat is permissible for you until you can learn and memorize what should be said in each movement and position of the salaat.

Third:  You are not required to change your name, and in fact, a number of scholars among the forefathers and modern-day Muslims have indicated declared that your name is in fact the name of one of the prophets!

I ask Allaah to aid you and ease your affairs, and to bestow upon you the blessing of Islaam and perseverence in adhering to it.  We are ready and willing to assist in explaining or helping to solve any problem or difficulty you may face, and to provide support and aid in any way possible.

Whatever written of Truth and benefit is only due to Allah's Assistance and Guidance, and whatever of error is of me. Allah Alone Knows Best and He is the Only Source of Strength.

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