We ask Allaah to open your heart to Islam and to help you to adhere to the rituals of Islam, both outwardly and inwardly. Undoubtedly your keenness to read Qur’aan and to fast indicate that you possess a great deal of goodness and love for righteous deeds. We ask Allaah to give you strength and help you. But you have to realize that this great religion comes from Allaah, the All-Wise and All-Knowing. Whatever is enjoined by Allaah and by His Messenger is Islam, and we can only know Islam through the Messenger (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), who is the one who conveyed it from Allaah.
The Messenger (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) has told us in more than one hadeeth that Allaah does not accept any righteous deeds until after the person has uttered the Shahaadatayn. Indeed he told his companions not to tell anyone to do any of the rituals of Islam until they had pronounced the Shahaadatayn. In Saheeh al-Bukhaari (7372) and Saheeh Muslim (19) it was narrated that when the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) sent Mu’aadh to Yemen to call the People of the Book to Islam, he said to him: “You are going to some people from among the People of the Book. Call them to bear witness that there is no god but Allaah and that I am the Messenger of Allaah. If they accept that, then tell them that Allaah has enjoined on them five prayers each day and night. If they accept that, then tell them that Allaah has enjoined upon them charity [zakaah] to be taken from their rich and given to their poor…” According to a report in Saheeh Muslim he said: “Let the first thing to which you call them be…”
Hence it should be clear to you – may Allaah help you to do good – that uttering the Shahaadatayn is the first thing that the Muslim must do if he wants to become Muslim. It is not essential for you to announce that to your family if you are not able to do that and you fear for yourself and your religion. Rather it is sufficient for you to say these words to yourself, until the time comes when you can announce it to others, when you must do so.
With regard to fasting, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) told menstruating women to refrain from prayer and fasting during menses (the monthly period). When the period ends, a woman has to make up the fasts of the days that she has missed. With regard to prayer, she does not have to make up the prayers. The evidence for that is as follows.
A woman asked ‘Aa’ishah (may Allaah be pleased with her), why it is that a woman who menstruates has to make up the fasts but not the prayers? She said: “Are you a Haroori?” She said, “No, I am just asking.” ‘Aa’ishah (may Allaah be pleased with her) said: “That (menstruation) used to happen to us at the time of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), and we were commanded to make up the fasts but we were not commanded to make up the prayers.” Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 321; Muslim, 335.
This woman wondered why, when her period came and she did not fast or pray, Allaah commanded women to make up the fasts but not the prayers. ‘Aa’ishah (may Allaah be pleased with her) replied by telling her that this was the command of Allaah and His Messenger (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), and we must accept the command of Allaah and His Messenger without raising objections based on our weak mental capacity which can only encompass a little of the wisdom of Allaah the Most Wise, All-Knowing, which is what Allaah has taught us.
The ruling which we have mentioned is agreed upon by all the Muslim scholars. Imam Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr (may Allaah have mercy on him) said in his book al-Tamheed (16/67): “A woman who is menstruating should not pray, and there is consensus on this point.” And he also said (22/107): “… There is consensus that a menstruating woman should not pray during the days of her period, and she should make up the missed fasts but not the prayers, and there is no difference of opinion on any of that.”
With regard to the rest of the rituals of Islam, you have to do whatever you can. Whatever you are unable to do because of fear for yourself or your religion, you are not obliged to do, as the scholars have stated, because in that case you come under the ruling of one who has no choice, and Allaah made allowances for the one who is forced to disbelieve (outwardly), so long as his heart remains open to faith and still hates kufr (disbelief). Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“Whoever disbelieved in Allaah after his belief, except him who is forced thereto and whose heart is at rest with Faith; but such as open their breasts to disbelief, on them is wrath from Allaah, and theirs will be a great torment”
But you have to practise as much as you can of the rituals of Islam, then try to reach a place where you will be able to practise as much as you can of the rituals of Islam. This action is what the scholars of Islam call hijrah (migration for the sake of Allaah), and it is obligatory for every Muslim man and woman if they are unable to establish the rituals of Islam in their own country and they are able to migrate. The evidence for that is the verse in which Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“Verily, as for those whom the angels take (in death) while they are wronging themselves (as they stayed among the disbelievers even though emigration was obligatory for them), they (angels) say (to them): “In what (condition) were you?” They reply: “We were weak and oppressed on the earth.” They (angels) say: “Was not the earth of Allaah spacious enough for you to emigrate therein?” Such men will find their abode in Hell — what an evil destination!
Except the weak ones among men, women and children who cannot devise a plan, nor are they able to direct their way”
This indicates that only those who are weak are excused the obligation of migrating.
It says in Mughni al-Muhtaaj (6/54):
If a person is not able to practise his religion openly or he fears persecution, then it is obligatory for him to migrate, whether man or woman, even if she does not have a mahram (if they are able to migrate), because Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): “Verily, as for those whom the angels take (in death) while they are wronging themselves…” And because of the report narrated by Abu Dawood and others (according to which the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said): “I disavow every Muslim who stays among the mushrikeen (polytheists, those who associate others with Allaah).” A saheeh hadeeth - al-Irwa’, 5/30.
Ibn Rushd said: It is obligatory, according to the Qur’aan, Sunnah and consensus of the Muslims for the one who becomes Muslim in a kaafir country to migrate therefrom and move to a Muslim country; he should not live or settle among the mushrikeen. That applies if he is unable to practise his religion, or he is forced to adhere to the rulings of kufr.
From al-Mawsoo’ah al-Fiqhiyyah, 4/264
Even though migration means leaving one’s family and homeland, Allaah will fill the person’s heart with happiness which will make him keen to migrate.
Thus it will become clear to you that so long as you are unable to practise the rituals of Islam, then Allaah by His mercy will excuse you, and whatever you are able to do, then you are obliged to do it, even if you do it in secret. If you have to put up with some difficulties that you are able to bear in order to do that, then Allaah will reward greatly the one who patiently bears hardship for His sake and for the sake of His religion. The Book of Allaah is filled with stories that speak of that. Even though uttering the Shahaadatayn is so important, Allaah has made that very easy. So we advise you to utter these words even if you only say them to yourself, because the soundness of your Islam depends on that, as I am sure you understand, until Allaah makes it easy for you to announce it publicly, by His leave. May Allaah help you to do that which is good.