The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) sent me as a governor to Yemen and he instructed me thus: "You will go to people of the Scripture (i.e., the Jews and the Christians). First of all invite them to testify that La ilaha ill Allah (There is no true god except Allah) and that Muhammad (PBUH) is His slave and Messenger; and if they accept this, then tell them that Allah has enjoined upon them five Salat (prayers) during the day and night; and if they accept it, then tell them that Allah has made the payment of Zakat obligatory upon them. It should be collected from their rich and distributed among their poor; and if they agree to it, don't take (as a share of Zakat) the best of their properties. Beware of the supplications of the oppressed, for there is no barrier between it and Allah.'' [Bukhari & Muslim]
This hadith is one of my favorite, as it illustrates a level of priority to the salah for those people who embrace Islam. The very first thing taught to the new Muslim after shahadah should be salah, as the Prophet (saws) commanded that salah be taught.
As a new Muslim, learning to pray was for me one of the greatest hurdles. And I think that as a Muslim community, we do not adhere to the teachings of our Prophet (saws) when we abandon our new brothers and sisters after their shahadahs, instead of teaching them to pray.
I was listening a few weeks back to a khutbah by Muhammad Alshareef as he discussed the plight of a new Muslim. The brother was told again and again the importance of eating halal meat. And then one brother actually gave him some halal meat or took him to the halal meat shop--and we listeners are supposed to learn the importance of putting words into actions. But I can't help asking... halal meat!?
The person just accepted Islam as his deen and the most important thing to tell him is about halal meat? No!
Teach him to pray. Teach new Muslims to pray. This is a new objective for me--I am greatly disappointed that any convert to Islam can leave the masjid without learning how to pray, and I will consider it to be a personal failure if I am present and the person misses the opportunity to learn this precious and supremely important act of worship.
For someone who learned how to pray by watching his or her parents, growing up, it might not seem a strange and foreign procedure. But for a new Muslim it can be wholly intimidating. And I know there are tons of videos, books, pamphlets, and other source material to learn, but they all pale in comparison to being taught in person.
Don't assume someone else is taking the responsibility--that is perhaps our biggest mistake. I don't think Muslims intend to abandon a new Muslim, or intend to neglect his education about the deen, I truly don't. But I think we might have the impression that someone else will teach them, maybe the imam or the da'wah committee, or the uncle who is always in the first row. But we should take that responsibility--and unless the convert already knows how to pray, or has someone else already to teach him (and he specifically declines your offer), do not leave until you've shown him.
And if your excuse is that you don't know how to teach someone to pray, then my answer is that if you know how to pray, then you can teach someone. But if you don't know yourself, then you should learn, and then you can teach. (Try AlMaghrib's Divine Link, for instance!)
If there are any sisters in the Raleigh area, even anywhere in the Triangle, and you don't know how to pray, or you haven't found someone to teach you, please contact me right away, and I will teach you inshaaAllaah. If you know someone who needs to learn how to pray, please direct them to me. For any brothers in the area, inshaaAllah I will find a brother to teach you.