Procedures to embrace Islam
I am a teen living in the US. I am interested in Islam and want to convert. What should I do to become a Muslim? Is it an obligation to wait until age 18 to have my Islam valid? I am confused about the rituals like prayers, fasting etc. Should I severe relations with my non-Muslim friends, siblings and relatives when becoming a Muslim?
Converting to Islam is a very easy matter and it does not stipulate a certain age category. One can embrace Islam and become a Muslim at any age. The history of Islam is replete with examples of people, who embraced Islam at an early age and became the Prophet’s Companions and leaders of the Muslim community. This include Imam Ali ibn Abu Talib, who embraced Islam at the age of seven, Zayd ibn Haritha, the Prophet’s servant, Ammar ibn Yasir, one of the great leading Companions promised with Paradise to mention a few.
As long as you want to embrace Islam out of firm conviction, you must pronounce the Shahadah—i.e. the two testimonies of faith. One must say, "I bear witness that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah" [Arabic transliteration: Ashhadu anna la ilah illa Allah wa ashhadu anna Muhammdan rasoulu Allah].
After pronouncing the above Shahadah, one becomes a Muslim.
Being confused about the rituals of Islam like prayers, fasting etc., all of these rituals become obligatory upon attaining puberty.
Living in the US, you must seek advice and guidance from the nearest Islamic center. In the Islamic center, they will issue an official certificate on your Islam, and the imams will provide you with the necessary information and guidance you need on the teachings and rituals of Islam.
Islam is the religion of mercy
You should know that Islam is the religion of mercy, piety and maintaining relations. One of the most important obligations upon Muslims is to show the beauty of Islam and be its best representatives through both manners and actions.
Islam does not command you to sever ties with your family and friends or be hostile or hate them; rather, it commands you to treat your family members in a good manner.
This corrupted meaning of detestable hatred to non-Muslims is irrelevant to Islam, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and Islamic civilization which spread the religion of Islam all over the globe.
Islam does not command us to hate people but to love them because they are the creations of Allah. Moreover, man is the creation of Allah, and cursed are those who destroy him because Allah created him with His own hands, breathed of His own spirit into him and made His angles prostrate to him. For this reason, respecting humanity is an angelic characteristic; consequently, Allah Almighty commands us to love people, maintain ties of kinship, treat others well, speak good words, give friendly smiles and maintain good companionship. It is through these means Islam spread in the East and West and invaded people's hearts with love before overcoming their lands.
Dear brother, behave as you normally would and be yourself, since Islam likes munificence and the good spirit that brings happiness, optimism, hope and affection. Treat your family and friends with all good manners, and share their happiness and celebrations provided they do not involve any religious rites or practices that contradict Islam.
God the Almighty knows best.