Asalam Alaykum (Peace be with you),
Congratulations! Alhamdulillah (Praise to Allah) who has guided you to Islam, the path to success in this life and the next.
So now you are a new Muslim with lots on your mind. Amidst the joy and excitement of embracing Islam you may also be feeling bewildered or confused regarding what to do next. You may have concerns about how your family or friends will react. No doubt there is lots to learn and obstacles to overcome, but with a sincere effort and a strong faith in Allah, everything will fall into place. Below you will find the most important advice we can offer you as a new Muslim. Don’t rush yourself, go at your own pace, and most of all remember we are here to help and support you every step of the way.
Importance of Prayer
[“The importance of the prayer in Islam cannot be understated. It is the first pillar of Islam that the Prophet (peace be upon him) mentioned after mentioning the testimony of faith, by which one becomes a Muslim. It was made obligatory upon all the prophets and for all peoples. Allah has declared its obligatory status under majestic circumstances. For example, when Allah spoke directly to Moses, He said, "And I have chosen you, so listen to that which is inspired to you. Verily, I am Allah! There is none worthy of worship but I, so worship Me and offer prayer perfectly for My remembrance." [Taha 13-14]
Similarly, the prayers were made obligatory upon the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) during his ascension to heaven. Furthermore, when Allah praises the believers, such as in the beginning of surah al-Muminoon, one of the first descriptions He states is their adherence to the prayers.
The importance of prayer is demonstrated in the many of the Prophet’s statement. For example, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, "The first matter that the slave will be brought to account for on the Day of Judgment is the prayer. If it is sound, then the rest of his deeds will be sound. And if it is bad, then the rest of his deeds will be bad." [Recorded by al-Tabarani. According to al-Albani, it is sahih. Al-Albani, Sahih al-Jami, vol.1, p. 503.]
The importance of the prayers lies in the fact that no matter what actions one performs in his life, the most important aspect is one’s relationship to Allah, that is, one’s faith (imaan), God-consciousness (taqwa), sincerity (ikhlas) and worship of Allah (`ibaadah). This relationship with Allah is both demonstrated and put into practice, as well as improved and increased, by the prayer. Therefore, if the prayers are sound and proper, the rest of the deeds will be sound and proper; and if the prayers are not sound and proper, then the rest of the deeds will not be sound and proper, as the Prophet (peace be upon him) himself stated.
As for the Hereafter, Allah’s forgiveness and pleasure is closely related to the prayers. The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said, "Allah has obligated five prayers. Whoever excellently performs their ablutions, prays them in their proper times, completes their bows, prostrations and khushu` [Khushu` in the prayer is where the person’s heart is attuned to the prayer. This feeling in the heart is then reflected on the body. The person remains still and calm. His gaze is also lowered. Even his voice is affected by this feeling in the heart….] has a promise from Allah that He will forgive him. And whoever does not do that has no promise from Allah. He may either forgive him or punish him." [Recorded by Malik, Ahmad, Abu Dawud, al-Nasa’I and others. According to al-Albani, it is sahih. Al-Albani, Sahih al-Jami, vol. 1, p. 616.] ]
The prayers are a type of purification for a human being. He turns and meets with his Lord five times a day. As alluded to above, this repeated standing in front of Allah should keep the person from performing sins during the day. Furthermore, it should also be a time of remorse and repentance, such that he earnestly asks Allah for forgiveness for those sins that he committed. In addition, the prayer in itself is a good deed that wipes away some of the evil deeds that he performed. These points can be noted in the following hadith of the Prophet (peace be upon him):
"If a person had a stream outside his door and he bathed in it five times a day, do you think he would have any filth left on him?" The people said, "No filth would remain on him whatsoever." The Prophet (peace be upon him) then said, "That is like the five daily prayers: Allah wipes away the sins by them." (Recorded by al-Bukhari and Muslim.)
In another hadith, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, "The five daily prayers and the Friday Prayer until the Friday prayer are expiation for what is between them." (Recorded by Muslim.)”] 
Okay so now you ask yourself…I know the prayer is so important, how do I learn how to pray? There are many sources on the internet which explain the purification and prayers, and that’s a good way to get an idea. But to really learn how to do it correctly you have to make the effort of finding a practicing Muslim to help you. A good place to do so is at the local mosque in your area…this is explained in more detail below.
 Extracts from “The Importance of Prayer” by Jamaal al-Din Zarabozo
Acquiring Islamic knowledge is vital to every Muslim. Clearly knowledge must precede action, since it is the bases by which one knows his/her obligations to Allah. Knowledge will enable you to practice your religious duties correctly, be aware of things which Allah made halal (permissible) and haram (forbidden), in that way you will conduct your life according to Allah’s guidance.
Several verses in the Quran reveal to us the importance of knowledge:
"Allah will raise up, to (suitable) ranks and (degrees), those of you who believe and who have been granted knowledge. And Allah is well-acquainted with all you do." [Al-Mujadilah 58:11]
"And say: My Lord increase me in knowledge." [Ta-Ha 20:114]
Also the prophet, peace be upon him, informed us of the reward for one who seeks knowledge.
Abu Hurayrah relates that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said, "For him who embarks on the path of seeking knowledge, Allah will ease for him the way to paradise." (Related by Muslim)
So, know you may wonder what do I need to learn?
Well first of all you need to:
Have a good understanding of the basic Islamic beliefs (Aqeedah) such as knowledge of Allah, the Angels, the Prophets, and the Day of Judgment. Learn the purification and the five daily prayers correctly. Its important to learn how to recite Al Fatiha in Arabic for the prayers.
Learn about the permissible (Halal) and forbidden (Harm) things in Islam.
After that, you can continue in learning more about the other pillars of Islam such as Sawm(Fasting), Zakat, and Hajj (Pilgrimage). Also you should strive to learn the Seerah (life of the Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him), since his life is a role model for all Muslims. Another excellent goal which many converts aspire to is to learn the Arabic language to be able to read and understand the Quran in the language it was revealed by Allah(subhanahu wa ta`ala).
How can you do this?
There are many resources available to learn. There is a multitude of Islamic books, articles, and tapes which address all these topics and can give you a good start, however to learn correctly you need to do so at the hands of a practicing Muslim as we mentioned earlier regarding the prayers. Just like you can’t expect to be a good sports player by simply reading a book or two about it, you can’t expect to learn the various branches of Islam all alone; you need to practice it with other Muslims. Naturally to do so, you should frequently visit the mosque in your area…. Which brings us to the next topic.