Assalamualaikum new brother or sister! Alhamdulillah that Allah has guided you to our blessed deen. Islam is trulya blessing and we should all feel overwhelmed with gratitude to Allah forguiding us to the straight path, the path of real success and peace.My advice to you as a new Muslim is to find a teacher. In my year and a halfof being Muslim (I’m 28 years old), one of the most important experiencesfor me has been the guidance and support of a very knowledgeable and piousteacher. Islam is a not a religion of self-interpretation. It is a straightpath based on knowledge that must be acquired. It is a lifestyle that has tobe adhered to, and is unfortunately being influenced by many negativeelements, both within and outside Islam. Without a guide, it is difficult todifferentiate the truth of Islam from the created falsehoods that are beingpropogated as Islamic teachings.Although many new Muslims, especially in the US, choose to teach themselvesIslam through books, lectures and videos, there are many pitfalls to doingthis that should be avoided. Without a teacher or a guide, one armed withthe combination of knowledge and experience, the pitfalls of the ego anddesires can confuse and lead us astray quite easily. Self-teaching is awestern phenomenon, and because many of us are brought up in the west, weassume we can apply our cultural norms to Islam as well. However, Islam isnot of the west, thus, these western norms cannot be applied to it with muchsuccess.For centuries, classical Islamic education was taught through direct contactwith teachers. This is how wisdom, not just knowledge, was acquired. Youcannot gain wisdom just from reading. Anyone can read and parrot, but howmany can read and apply in the way Allah intends? One of the problems withthe Muslim Ummah today is that there are too many of us reading andparroting, but not enough applying in the way truly put forth by Allah andHis Messenger (SAW). Put simply, we have stopped learning from those withknowledge and wisdom. We have stopped becoming students. One of the firstattributes Jabril (AS) (archangel Gabriel) said he would take from the worldby Allah’s command toward the end of time would be humility. This is a signof what Jabril (AS) was talking about. It takes humility to be a student andto give our trust over to someone to teach us, which is why fewer and fewerare willing to do it.The easiest way to know the true akhlaq (character) of a teacher is to lookat how he lives. How does he live his life? Does he live the deen or justtalk about it? Does he say one thing and do another? Does he invite you intohis home and show you how to practice Islam, not just tell you? Does he makefive solats a day? These are some ways of knowing the authenticity andgenuineness of a teacher. Unfortunately, in this day and age, many peopleclaim to be sheikhs and imams, yet have very little knowledge or wisdom ofIslam. So don’t be fooled by titles in your search for a teacher.I don’t mean to put fear into anyone’s heart on this matter. I have seen,however, the importance of having guidance and the consequences of whathappens without it. How we learn and are indoctrinated into Islam willgreatly effect our appreciation for it, our love of it, our devotion to it,and most importantly, our ultimate success or failure with Allah. Knowledgewith wisdom will make you LOVE Islam, not just blindly follow it. So I urgeyou to go out and find a good teacher to help you along the path to Allah.May Allah bless you and guide you further in your journey. Assalamualaikum!