A person whose heart opens up to the ideals and teachings of Islam and whose spirit is filled with the faith in the One God may become a Muslim. Accepting the teachings of Islam, as was taught by the Prophet Muhammad, places a person amongst those who call themselves Muslim. Thus, the essence of Islam is based on two factors: First, belief that there is only one God; and second, accepting Muhammad as a true Prophet and Messenger of God, which means that the person accepts and submits to all of Muhammad’s religious teachings as God’s true guidance to humanity. By accepting and submitting to these two points, a person becomes a Muslim.
Having become a Muslim – by sincerely accepting the two stated points – a person should, preferably, declare his conversion in his social circle and to any state department, if required by law. The words that the Prophet Muhammad, generally, recommended for this declaration are:
I bear witness there is no deity except the (One) God and I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of God.
Ash hadoo al la illaha illal Lah wa ash hadoo an na Muhammada rasoolul Lah (Arabic)
This declaration of faith (called Shahadah in Arabic) can be spoken in any language unless the person chooses to say them in the original Arabic.
Finally, it is desirable that the person should take a bath to complete this process of cleansing. The bath is a symbolic representation of washing one’s self of all the sins committed as well as any incorrect beliefs held in the past.
From the day of one’s conversion, the person becomes the brother or sister to every person who identifies himself or herself as Muslim.
At the moment of conversion to Islam the person is cleansed of all the sins that he or she may have committed in the past, before becoming a Muslim. In fact one starts with a fresh slate and becomes as pure as a newborn child, without sin.