I almost hijacked another thread with discussion of this, so decided to open a new one here instead to discuss it.
As mentioned in a few threads, while I see a lot of truth in Islam, I still don't yet feel that it would be right for me to take Shahada yet. My reasoning for that has two main parts, one is self readiness, the other is out of respect for those who have taken Shahada and have fully adhered to the responsibilities that it entails.
While I'm aware that none of us are perfect, I consider myself to be further from perfect than most people. There are numerous aspects of my day to day life that are haraam, and I believe it would be sinful to take Shahada before being completely ready to rid my life of haraam habits. Such habits include:
- Smoking cigarettes. I've smoked cigarettes since my early teenage years. I would love to quit, and wish it was as simple as making a promise to Allah (SWT), but sadly it isn't. It's tough, really tough.
- Smoking marijuana. As a teenager, I was diagnosed with a mild form of high functioning autism (sounds more serious than it is). The only things it really seems to effect are my concentration when trying to complete a long task, and my social interactions. I'm fine dealing with people in small groups, or online, but I don't do well in social situations, and I get very anxious about even the smallest of things. I was prescribed Ritalin when I was about 14, and very quickly made a decision that I wasn't going to spend the rest of my life taking it. I ended up using marijuana instead, and over the years it has served me well. However, none of that changes the fact that it is haraam. I'm a bit conflicted about the whole thing, because I don't want to spend the rest of my life taking pills when there is a natural alternative that I know to be effective for my situation.
- Music. I've played jazz piano since I was about 5 years old, and guitar since a few years after that. I've often used music as a calming force when I'm angry or anxious, and getting used to giving that up is not impossible, but it's not something I'll just be able to stop instantly.
- Finance. Now this is an interesting one, because I can't even begin to justify it. One of the things I most admire about Islamic culture is the financial system that results from the following of Sharia, yet a large percentage of my income comes from activities that constitute Riba. That is something I can change, but it will require a lot of planning.
- Dogs. This was discussed already in another thread so I won't go into detail again. Needless to say, I have two dogs that I love dearly, and I find even the mere suggestion that they may be "impure" to be offensive. If they are haraam, then so am I.
- Belief. I guess this is the most important part. As I said, I see a lot of truth in Islam, but I can't honestly put my hand on my heart and tell you that I believe every word of the Qur'aan in a literal sense. Much of it I do believe, but there are elements that conflict with things I have long considered to be scientific fact. I still need to work this stuff out in my head before I can completely submit to accepting the whole thing as absolute fact.
When I have found a way to be sure within myself that I can address all of these issues, eliminate the haraam practices from my life, and embrace Islam in full, I will gladly take my Shahada. Until then, I plan to just keep trying to learn all I can, and work on improving myself as a person.