How to choose a school of Jurisprudance/madhab
Salat (How to pray)
12 Tips for muslim converts
1. Practice Islam as much as you can
"He who loves my Sunnah has loved me, and he who loves me will be with me in Paradise."
-The Prophet Muhammad (Tirmidhi)
As a new Muslim, you will have trouble keeping up with prayers every day, fasting during Ramadan, and the many other practices in this religion. The struggle that we face, with such a radical change in lifestyle, is difficult and will take some time. Awkward moments are bound to happen, don't fret. You are not expected to wake up at 4am every morning to pray tahajjud (extra night prayers). If you have problems with certain practices, then gradually work yourself into the mindset of worship. A counselor once told me when I was young, "How do you eat an elephant? Just One bite at a time." Think of it as one step at a time. Pray to Allah and ask for Him to make it easy for you and the rest will come naturally.
Keeping up with your devotional practices is something that will strengthen your faith immensely. Read the Qur'an whenever possible. Find a collection of hadith, such as Riyadh us-Saliheen, and read it often. You will start to feel a connection to Allah and you will become used to Islam as a religion and way of life.
2. Respect your parents
"Heaven lies under the feet of your mother."
-The Prophet Muhammad (Ahmad, Nasa'i)
Keeping up a good relationship with your family is essential. Try to avoid bringing up or taking part in controversial subjects regarding religion. This is almost unavoidable, but your parents will eventually accept that Islam is not going to turn you into a terrorist if you stay calm during these tense moments. Gradually, your parents will gain some respect and understanding of Islam and may start to become genuinely interested. This is a great sign and insha'Allah, God will make a way for them to accept Islam.
What you do not want to do is act like you know everything, attempt to debate everything, or overly defend yourself in a way that might make you angry or upset. This will just cause heartache and uneasiness. Your priority now should be to work on yourself.
3. Find a teacher
"For him who follows a path for seeking knowledge, Allah will ease for him the path to Paradise."
-The Prophet Muhammad (Muslim)
Finding a teacher to bounce ideas off of is a great way to learn your deen (religion). I found it is good to find someone with as much knowledge as possible who also has an understanding of the English language and American culture. It is difficult to listen to someone with a thick accent or someone with a back-home mentality. When I first accepted Islam, I would drive every day to visit my teacher and I would ask him what seemed like an endless stream of questions. Sometimes he seemed overwhelmed! This is a great way to clarify things you hear on Sheikh Youtube or Google or any part of the Qur'an you are reading at the time.
This will also help you have a real grounding in the Islamic tradition. You will eventually have spent more time learning Islam than most people from Muslim families. Maintain a sense of humility if you do gain a lot of knowledge, as there will always be someone who will be more knowledgeable than you. Learn everything you can in small chunks, no one is asking you to be a scholar!
4. Keep away from debates and arguments
"Verily anger spoils faith as aloe spoils honey."
-The Prophet Muhammad (Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi)
Trying to constantly defend your religion is something that will cause you a lot of stress. I remember when I first accepted Islam, it seemed like the whole world was after me. This may happen to different people at different levels, but it was a very overwhelming experience for me. The best thing to do is avoid these arguments at all costs. If you are mature about your religion and display a desire to explain yourself without refuting others, then many doors will open for you. You are bound to give someone a refreshing view of Islam, which is what so many people are hungry for after seeing Islam in such a negative light in the media.
Staying away from these discussions will put you at peace and give you breathing room. A lot of converts are not really comfortable with bringing up their religion because of the backlash they receive. Personally, I recognized that if I just mention it when necessary, I get a more positive reaction. You'll be surprised to hear "Oh that's cool dude, what made you pick that religion?" This is always an opportunity for da'wah (inviting to Islam).
5. Gain a connection to the Arabic language
"Indeed, We have sent it down as an Arabic Qur'an that you might understand." Qur'an, 12:2
This is one of my favorite parts of becoming a Muslim. To be honest, I'm a language-lover and I realize everyone is not the same in this regard. Just because you failed high school Spanish though doesn't mean you will have trouble with Arabic. There are many tricks to learning the language that I won't go into here, but there are ways to make this easier on yourself. These methods can be found online or in books; with a little research you can pave your way to gaining an understanding of Arabic.
Start by learning the alphabet and connecting letters together. You can learn this in an afternoon if you know someone that is a native Arabic speaker (but go at your own pace). Sit on that for a while and eventually you will be able to follow along in the Qur'an if you listen to a recitation on your computer or MP3 player. You will start to recognize words, after which you can get into simple grammar rules. I recommend learning common nouns and prepositions first (words like "in", "on", "for" and "with").
Arabic can be really enjoyable, and you are bound to gain an Islamic vocabulary after listening to talks or lectures. Eventually you will know meanings of words like "furqaan" and "sajdah" and you'll be able to use them in conversations with Muslims. Sabr (patience) is essential!
6. Understand Islam's organic nature
"Those who make things hard for themselves will be destroyed. (He said it three times.)"
-The Prophet Muhammad (Muslim)
Coming to Islam will sometimes put you in a situation where you are overwhelmed with opinions that are hard to follow. If one looks, there is always a workable solution. In such situation, opt for the majority held view of the scholar but do not assum others opting for a different view is wrong. Scholars says we follow with sincerty and in the hope of being correct with a possibility of being incorrect. All this all be made easy as one learns the multilayerd/multicoloured understanding of Islam within the boundary set by the Sciences/USUL of the relegion.
7. Maintain your Identity
"O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes
that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah
is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted." Qur'an, 49:13
Being a Muslim is a huge part of your identity now. That doesn't mean you can't barbeque with your friends or watch football on Sundays. If there are things in your culture that do not directly contradict with basic Islamic creed, then you are welcome to keep those things in your life. You do not need to start wearing Arab or Indian clothing. As long as your clothes cover what they are supposed to cover, you are in the clear.
Many converts are also exposed to really weird food that is overly spicy or funny tasting. This might lead us to think that eating curry is sunnah or something righteous. We can still have our own culture and tastes in food: pot roast and beans are still halal!
There are many other examples of things that you will be exposed to that are from foreign cultures and do not necessarily have anything to do with Islam. Our goal as new Muslims is to worship Allah , not to add a Pakistani or Arab identity to our persona.
It is good to have a teacher who understands the subtleties of different opinion in fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) and can inform you of differences among the scholars on issues that are of concern. Most people in masajid will have a very limited view of the juristic possibilities inside the Islamic tradition. Islam is a vast tradition and we should not make it small. These diverse opinions are there to help us, not cause strain on ourselves.
8. Force yourself to go to the masjid
"The person who receives the greatest reward for the Salah is one who lives the farthest and has the farthest to walk."
-The Prophet Muhammad (Bukhari, Muslim)
Going on Fridays is a given, but I would also recommend trying to fit a few prayers (at least) per week in the masjid. This will open many doors for you and will insha'Allah grant many good deeds to your account. You will meet people who are connected to Islam; networking opportunities are more readily available; and you are bound to make long-lasting friends. This is one of the things that I really love about Islam, that you can almost always find people in the masjid.
Although this may be hard initially, try and go to the masjid. The payoff will be huge, even if you just pray and leave right after. You will eventually warm up to the community and you can feel more comfortable going to the masjid whenever you like.
9. Find Muslim friends and avoid severing ties
"On the Day of Resurrection Allah Almighty will proclaim: "Where are those who have mutual love for My Glory's sake? Today I shall shelter them in My shade where there is no shade but Mine."
-The Prophet Muhammad (Muslim)
Saying "As-salamu 'Alaykum" ( "Peace be upon you") to people you see on campus or at the grocery store is a real blessing in Islam. It immediately lets people know you are Muslim and they usually will be happy to return the greeting and hopefully share a few words with you. Doors of friendship will be opened and you will meet lots of people. Try and spend some time with Muslims when you can. It is beneficial to remind yourself that you are not the only Muslim on the planet and you share your religion with almost 2 billion people around the globe.
Also, don't sever your friendships with your non-Muslim friends unless they are constantly partying or using the list of major sins as their weekend to-do list. You can be a light to your Christian, Agnostic, Jewish, or Atheist friends. You never know who Allah will guide, and showing that you are living an ethical life can encourage these people to learn a little about Islam or change their mind to having a positive view of the religion.
10. Avoid Loneliness
"Islam began as something strange and will revert to being strange as it began, so give glad tidings to the strangers."
-The Prophet Muhammad (Muslim)
This is a major problem in the convert community. We are lonely. The best thing we can do to fight the feeling of loneliness is to spend as much time as possible with good company. Having dinners with people a few nights a week is a sure way to maintain a good attitude. The practice of becoming a nun or a monk is alien to Islam; we are social creatures and Islam recognizes this.
Try not to lock yourself away in your apartment to avoid the world. This will just cause a vicious cycle that will cause deep depression and can lead to searching for solace in haram (unlawful).
Make it an obligation on yourself to remain a sociable human being. It takes a lot of work but the result is happiness and contentment in life.
11. Stay away from extremism
"And thus we have made you a just community that you will be witnesses
over the people." Qur'an, 2:143
Most converts do not enter Islam looking for an extremist point of view. Unfortunately, we have seen some converts do end up overseas working for terrorist organizations. This is something that can happen from a person feeling victimized or ostracized by their own culture and being overcome with anger.
I personally have not had a problem with anyone trying to "radicalize" me. It does happen enough though that it should be a concern. It will be best for you to keep your head on your shoulders and not get caught up with extreme points of view. Know that all of the scholars overseas and in America have absolutely refuted terrorism in their fatawa (legal rulings). Extremism is on the very edges of the Islamic thought. Do your best to stay on a middle way.
12. Do not despair
"So know that victory is with patience, and relief is with distress and that with hardship comes ease."
-The Prophet Muhammad
Being a convert to Islam, you will face a lot of tribulations. There is not anything that you cannot overcome though, and never despair in Allah .
Allah guided to you to Islam, you searched for the answer and you found it. Be happy and constantly remind yourself of the blessings in your life. There are a lot of good things that will happen to you and you are on the straight road to Jannah (paradise). Rejoice in being Muslim. Remember the Sahabah (companions) were all converts to Islam and they were human beings that came from Adam and Eve just like you! Be strong and find comfort in your prayers and worship to Allah . The first six months were the hardest for me, and insha'Allah we will all continue to grow as a convert community in America.
Source: SuhaibWebb - By Brother Alex (Dallas, TX)
Guideline of Muslim dress code
Qur'an and Sunnah have provided ample guidance on the subject which can be summarized in four essential principles. There is no prescribed particular dress style. However, these principles can be used to accommodate our needs, circumstances and tastes.
1. Our dress must cover our body adequately.
Men - it is the middle part of the body from navel to knee.
Women - It is the entire body except hands and face. These parts must never be exposed to any other person (except in case of genuine need e.g. medical treatment). In addition, the cloth must be neither see-through nor tight fitting.
2. Dress should provide adornment. It should provide for decent appearance. Our appearance should not be an eyesore for decent human beings.
Men - This extends the coverage requirements to include most of the body.
Women - The essential requirement is that their dress should identify them as respectable ladies who would be honoured not harassed. Additionally, hijab rules aim at protecting them from the gaze of other men. She should also try not to wear clothing that attracts attention according to the culture of the area where she lives. For example, bright colours are perfectly normal in some parts of Africa, whereas they would turn heads in some parts of Canada.
3. Dress ought to establish some sort of Islamic identity. At the least it should not identify us as followers of another religion.
It can be stated that “Prohibition of Imitation” of the non-Muslims comes into effect in one of two ways:
· Either through one’s directing oneself in imitating them, of his own accord, with the intention of being like them, or
· Through imitation of something religiously or otherwise unique to them, in a way that would allow an onlooker to consider one as “one of them”.
4. The design of the dress must avoid three deadly sins: show off, arrogance, and self indulgence. Our garments provide an easy opportunity to nurture them. Hence the need to be extra cautious. One Hadith states "Eat what you feel like and wear what you feel like. But avoid two things: extravagance and arrogance." [Bukhari]. At the risk of stating the obvious one should be reminded that this Hadith establishes an overriding concern that limits our choices within the realm of what is considered halal. It does not do away with the distinction between halal and haram.
Simply, wearing the everyday clothes most of us wear is perfectly fine. One should, though, try to avoid modern day fashion brands that are signs of the corrupt - as wearing such clothes does have spiritually negative effects regardless of whether we “feel” it or not.
However, one should equally strive to emulate the prophetic sunna . It is highly recommended to follow the sunnas of dress, which are general principles one should follow not limited to any specific type of clothing. The prophetic message was for all mankind and not merely a specific group. Thus, we see in the sunna these general principles that are applicable everywhere.
In addition to the above, the following sunna actions of dress are:
For men wearing white (sign of purity) and black (sign of majesty), keeping the trouser above the ankles folded neately, to cover the head (scalpcap, turban, e.t.c).
One should be mindful of all sunna especially when one is at the mosque and at the time of worships.
Disliked and ProhibitionThe Prophet (PUBH) prohibited men from the wearing of red coloured cloth.
It is reported in the hadith collection of Imam Muslim that that Propphet (PUBH) disliked yellow as it is associated with women.
Conclusion* Clothes should be considered a great bounty of Allah Taa'la and one should wear them and express thanks. Undoubtedly if all clothes are worn whilst taking heed of the divine laws of Allah, it will assume a degree if Ibadah and lean to the nearness of Allah Taa'la.
The Prophet (PUBH)said:
“Whomsoever utters the following supplication after wearing clothes, all his past sins will be forgiven- All praises are due to Allah who clothed me with this and which He bestowed upon me without any toil and effort on my part.”
Men - It is impermissible for a man to wear a necklace, pendant or any other type of jewellery except for a silver ring. A man may wear his ring on either his right or left hand, since some scholars preferred the former whist others the latter.
However, it is Sunna and preferable for men to wear their silver rings on the little finger of either their right or left hands. To wear it on the middle and index fingers is somewhat disliked, but not forbidden.
Women - Women are without doubt allowed to wear rings made from gold and silver. However, to wear rings made from other substances such as metal, wood, etc is impermissible. If the rings are plated with gold or silver, then there is nothing wrong in women wearing them. They may wear their rings on any finger of their right or left hands.
It would be permitted for her to wear a pendant with a Qur’anic verse or Allah’s name inscribed on it. However, two points must be taken into consideration:
· If the pendant has a Qur’anic verse inscribed on it, then she should not wear it during her menstruation, for wearing a pendant entails direct contact with a verse of the Qur’an.
· It must be removed before entering into the toilet/bathroom.
Men – It is permissible for men to wear scented perfume The alcohol used in perfumes or deodorants is normally a synthetic alcohol, which is not impure (Najis) according to the prevailing view of Imam Abu Hanifa and his followers. Therefore, the external use of this type of alcohol is not Haram. However, its oral intake is still impermissible except in the cases of necessary medication.
Women- It is impermissible for women to wear scented perfume except for beautification for their husband.
Article extracted from Albalagh, Sunnipath & Darul Iftaa weblink
List of reading materials
Deen of Islam is Fitra (a natural disposition of man). Knowldge of islam aids one to inculcate this natural state with ease. Hence what and when we learn is part of our natural growth as a muslim. Keeping this in mind and after consultation with the scholars, the following list of books are recomeneded for the education of a new muslim. Please note: The study material will vary from scholar to scholar but the following books are deemed most suitable due to high standard of English tranlsation and scholarly input and at the same time sensitive to the fresh mind of a convert/new muslim.
1. Essential Islamic Knowledge Author: Qadi Thanaullah Panipati ISBN: 1-872531-34-2 IslamicFoundation – Lecister
The Absolute Essentials of Islam (9780972835848)by Shaikh Faraz Rabbani
Used for new muslim in Sunnipath Online course
One of the two book listed in red above is a must for new muslim before any other book.
3. The Compendium Of Knowledge AndWisdom by Ibn Rajab Hambali (RAH), Commentery of Imam Nawayis 40+ hadith, Turath Publsihing
4. Ash Shifa (Muhammad: Messenger of Allah) by Qadi 'Iyad, translated by Aisha Bewley
Muhammad His Life based on the Earliest Sources by Martin Lings
5.Manners In Islam (Al-Adabal-Mufrad) (11-HAD0017) by Imam Buhari (RAH)
Compiled and referenced by: Sa'eed Ibn Wahf Al-Qahtaani.
Pocket size Dua book for all occasions. Contains the basic duas that every Muslim should know.
Other additonal books one may like to refer to are as follows to develop ones understnading
1. Aqaid at Tahawhiyaa - The Creed Of Imam Al-Tahawi,
translated by Shyakh Hamza Yusuf, Zaytuna Institute
2.Prayers For Forgiveness (PB)(9780972835817) Small Classical compilation of supplication, translated by Mufti Abdur Rahman Ibn Yusuf
3.Differences of Imams
Codification of fiqh in simple terms and relation to the hadith.Author: Shaykh al-Hadith Maulana Muhammad Zakariyya,
Publisher: White Thread Press
4.Bidah & The Salaf's Worship
authored by Maulana Abu al-Hasanat Abd al-Hayy Lucknawi (RH) and edited by
Shaikh Abd al-Fattah Abu Ghuddah (RH)
In absence of qualified scholars to learn from, try the online base courses
The online courses are designed for New Muslim in mind.
NMP recomends in absense of suitable venue, learned teacher or facility to utilise the following internet based learning method which combines traditional methodolgy with modern tecnology.
On line Islamic Articles -
seekersguidance.org, www.daruliftaa.com, www.sunnipath.com, www.askimam.org
Becomming a muslim - Shaikh Nuh Ham Meem's Journey
Islamic Information Centre launches Free Course for New Muslim Sisters and New Muslim Brothers
Which Madhhab/school of jurisprudence Do I Follow?Answer by Mufti Abdur Rahman Ibn Yusuf and Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Any of the four Sunni schools of law are valid to follow, and which one chooses to follow is a matter of personal preference and circumstances. One should consider:
(1) Which madhhab you can learn properly, given your life circumstances
(2) Which mahhab you can get your questions answered for
(3) Your personal inclination, and general life considerations (such as family background, community, and so on).
Choosing a school to study and follow is a decision which should be based on accessibility of material and scholars of that school, rather than anything else.
It is difficult to say which the easiest school to follow is. Each school has certain issues which would be considered more difficult than what is fond in another school and some issues which would be considered easier.Hence, inquire around your area to see what is the madhhab that most people follow and have access to. If there are proficient scholars of the Hanafi school found in your area, then take up that school by learning the basics rules of everyday worship from them or by reading a text under their guidance then consult them on any deeper issues that arise. Likewise, if you find scholars from the Shafi'i or Maliki school, and have access to them or the relevant materials then adopt that school.
My Comment: One fiqh:
The response was formulated to give a general guidance for average muslim and is by the highly respected scholar with speacility in Islamic scinence, one being a faqih expert in IFTA, one of the toughest sciences to master.
As a layperson with limited knowldge other then being able to understand some basic text, I lack the ability or the capacity to decifer inorder to obtain ruling of Shariah. The shariah was understood and applied by the notable sahabas (RAD) differently and as such my humble and limited knowldge prevents me from making such a bold claim that there was always one fiqh.
Anyway, the lecture titled 'Juristic Differences' by Shaikh Abu Yusuf Ryadul Haq inshallah will give you some appreciation into this vast and complex islamic sciences
There are two types of law, absolute and speculative. The absolute law has no room for difference of opinions in them. The speculative laws have more than one possible meaning. There were many schools of thought/ Jurisprudance [pl. Madhhaahib. singular = Madhhab] before but many died out. Due to this, only 4 extensively stood the test of time. All are correct since they differ in terms of interpreting the speculative laws.
In my limited knowldge, I can't say which jurisprudance is more authentic. It is like comparing apple with pear. There are various Hanafi scholars for instance who wrote extensively in Malaki Fiqh. Malaki Fiqh uses tradition practiced by people of madina where sahaba lived, similarly hanafi fiqh is developed in Iraq where notable Sahaba such as Ibn Masud (RAD) and many other notable sahaba taught. Imam At Tahawiya (acce[ted view of Muslim Creed] for instance followed Hanafi Fiqh, Ibn Rajab & Ibn Taymiah followed Hambaly fiqh, Imam Bukhari studied Shafi fiqh as well with Imam Ghazali. Many of times, people with limited knowldge try to weigh one against one another, forgetting Imam Matrudi and Imam ashari are two side of the same coin, similar is the case for accepted view of scholars. Most scholarly reverts like Imam Abdusamad Clark, learnt the malaki fiqh with whom I liase regularly works closely with Hanafi scholars in translating classical books. Just for information I follow Hanafi Fiqh/ jurisprudance and I remember Imam Abdusamad Clark stating that Islamic view point is not driven by personality'. Ustad Abdul Hakim Murad (shafi)adds it is about following due process/usul, and Shaikh Ryadul Haq (Hanafi) states knolwdge is not knowledge if not accompanied with humility and realisation. One only realises it after apprciation and following due process in seeking knowldge. Hence process is more important then which fiqh you study. The 3 pointer are simple keys to start the process of seeking knowldge of shariah.
In todays age, it is rare for anyone to master more then one fiqh. If one is able to do so, good on him. Life experience is about priorotising so that our small and humble effort is accepted by the Most sublime, the Most Merciful in this life and in the hereafter. For most of us, in addition to learning one fiqh, there are ibadah we can engage in for gaining nearness of Allah by performing Sunnah and Nawafil act i.e Adkar, reciting Quran and pondering over it, charity work, helping the needy and aged, dawah and being with those who are forgotten by most of us and to summerise be a good human so that Allah, the most Sublime makes us of his favoured servent.
A Basic Guide to Salah,
Salah Animation simple guide for Female
Salah Animation simple guide for Male
Prayer/Salah time calculator
Performing ablution/ Wudu
Small Difference between men and women salah
1] There are several books on Salah according to the Hanafi school of law and can be found in most Islamic bookshops. One book in particular that can be recommended is: "The Salah of a Believer in the Quran and Sunnah" by Shaykh Abu Yusuf Riyadh ul Haq . The Salah of the female is similar to that of a male in terms of what is recited in it amongst other things. However, there are some important differances. Some of the main differances are mentioned below; [please note it may be clearer if you ask another female, who is Hanafi, to demonstrate these postures etc. for you]:
According to Imam Shafi in Al-Umm, Imam Malik (acc. to the narration of Ibn Ziyad), the hanbali jurist Ibn Qudamah in Al-Mughni and an array of other scholars, when a woman prostrates she will bring her arms close to herself. The basis of this opinion are several narrations, such as:
[a] It is narrated from Ibn Umar (r.a.) who ascribes it to the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, that:
"When a woman sits in Salah she will place one thigh on the other (i.e. very close together) and when she prostrates she will join her stomach with her thighs which is more covering for her. Allah taala verily looks at her and says to His angels, 'O my angels be you witnesses that I have forgiven her." (In Sunnan al-Bayhaqi, vl.2 pg.223)
[b] The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, once passed by two women praying and said: "When you prostrate then attach yourselves to the floor. For verily women are not like men in that." (In the Marasil of Abu Daud, pg.5)
[c] Ali (r.a.) said: "When a woman prostrates let her close up and join her thighs." (In the Musannaf of Ibn Abi Shaybah, vol.1 pg.270)
RAISING HANDS AT THE START
Wail Ibn Hujr (r.a.) narrates that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said: "O Ibn Hujr when you pray bring your hands opposite to your ears. Women raise their hands opposite to their chests." (In Kanz al-Ummal, vl.7 pg.307)
In fact the practice of the women of the entire Ummah for centuries has been nothing but this as indicated by the Fatwas of the very early scholars Imams Hammad, Zuhri and Ata, (In Musannaf Ibn Abi Shaybah).
PLACING HANDS ON THE CHEST
Whereas men may place their hands below the navel or above, it is a must for women to place them on their chests. Imam ABd al-Hay al-Laknawi in his al-Siayah (vl.2 pg.156) writes there is Ijma amongst the scholars that this is the Sunnah for women.
 It is allowed to change schools, however there must be a reason, for example, because there happen to be more scholars of that particular school where you live. Though, it should not be that one is forever changing from one school to another, as this inhibits one's development in knowledge and practice. Furthermore, it has with it, at the very least, the suspicion of following one's desires.
Mufti Mohammed Sajjad
Convention of keeping name
1. The name must be meaningful
2.On the day of judgment a person will be called by his or his parents name
3. Allah, the Exalted likes best the name Abdullah and Abdurahman
4. Prophet (SAW) always changed names (to good meaning ones) that are found to be derogaotry
5.Select name that signify servitute to Allah alone and noneelse
6. Better to keep a name of Prophet (primarily) or of some pious individual
Keeping all this in mind one can retain their entire names prior to conversion if there is no negative conotation assoicated with the names. However often some finds adopting or arabising the first name helps personally as well socially. It is important that you are known to be muslim by the community you live in as well as by your relative who you feel to be at ease with. Usage of the term 'Bint / Ibn / Abu/ Umm' is Arabic custom, generally not employed by non arabic muslims as the emphasis is on the self rather than family members.
Some example of muslim name for convert with last/family name retained
David Burns to Dawud Burns,
Abdur Rahim Green
Islam has not come to replace a culture or identity but to perfect it.