I am about ready to announce, proclaim - unsure of what word to use - shahada. I am trying to make arrangements to do it at the masjid, which is about an hour away. Anyhow, my questions are probably general questions for people like me who have not grown up raised as a Muslim and therefore have to develop the discipline etc. for certain things. I have questions such as: Do I need to wear hijab to say shahada? I don't have one yet. There are many new converts, who have a hard time adjusting to waking early and being alert for prayers? If so, what do they do? Do you set alarms and what else? I read that during prayer women do need to have all covered, aside from head and hands - what do we do about feet? Wear socks?? Thank you and salaam.

Salam Caressa,

Thank you very much for your question and for contacting Ask About Islam.

May Allah bless you for your choice of Islam as your religion and your way of life!

The first thing you have to do in order to convert to Islam is to acknowledge the two key tenets of the Islamic faith:
That there is no one worthy of worship, except Allah, the One and Only God

That Muhammad (peace be upon him) is the servant and messenger of Allah
Even though the above two tenets of Islam are stated in a quite simple form, they involve a lot of transformation in the life of the new believer. If you are prepared to order your life henceforth in accordance with the commandments of Allah, embodied in the Holy Quran and the sunnah (the example of Prophet Muhammad), you can officially “convert” to Islam.

In fact, you are a believer the moment you accept that the Creator and Sustainer of the universe and everything in it is One. Also, you are so if you believe that He has sent His prophets to guide mankind to a most balanced life here, leading to a life of eternal happiness in the hereafter.

Also, always remember that Prophet Muhammad is an exemplar par excellence for all the believers. That is to say, a Muslim has to accept him as a model and follow his teachings in all the areas of his/her activities.

Every human, according to Islam is born a Muslim. The word muslim in Arabic means one who submits to God peacefully. This is in the sense that he or she willy-nilly obeys the laws of Allah, commonly known as the laws of nature. But, humans are different from other creatures in that they have a soul; which means that they have intelligence, imagination and freedom of will, as well as that of action. This is all within limits, of course.

The other side of human freedom is responsibility, which means that they should be responsible enough to lead a life of peace and harmony here on earth. Allah in His infinite mercy has given guidance to mankind through His prophets. Thus, we as humans should follow that guidance.

I always prefer to use the word ‘revert’ to Islam, than the word ‘convert’. This is because as you become a Muslim willfully, you are returning to your original natural religion of God. You have chosen to surrender to Allah or lead a life of peaceful submission to Allah.

Your becoming a Muslim is really a bond between yourself and your God. Yet, for the sake of society and official purposes, you have to publicly acknowledge your change of status. This is necessary for a number of reasons, such as the need to belong to the community of world Muslims and the need to be recognized as a Muslim for official purposes.

Please check the following answer, for more about how to revert to Islam:My Prayer, Life and Death… for Allah
As for the questions, which are worrying you, some of the duties of Muslims may appear ‘difficult’ to a new Muslim in the beginning. Yet, they sincerely and diligently strive to change the deeply ingrained habits, which are not compatible with a Muslim’s life.

At the time you formally declare the shahada in the mosque, it is just advisable that you wear the hijab; though it is not a must at that very moment. As soon as you become a Muslim, you can try to adopt the Muslim dress, if you want to submit completely to God’s will. Hijab is how God wants Muslim women to dress, but without it you are still a Muslim. It is for you to choose how far you want to fulfill God’s will.

As for getting up early in the morning, you can use an alarm clock, until early rising becomes your regular practice. In fact, most Muslims do use alarm clock to wake up for fajr prayer. Punctuality, as well as sincerity in prayer, has great significance in Islam.

Insha’Allah (God willing), you will find the change into the Islamic life style, really rewarding. I pray to Allah Almighty to shower His choicest blessings on you!

As for wearing socks and other detailed questions, please submit your inquiries to ourFatwa section. In fact, many scholars do not regard wearing socks as obligatory. Still, our Fatwa brothers would help you more with such questions, for this is their specialization.
Salam and please keep in touch.