First of all, understand that we are obligated to learn Truth in Islam: this obligation has been stipulated in Allah’s Command:
“Obey Allah, and obey The Messenger, and the people of Authority among you.” (by consensus, “people of Authority” begins with those who are qualified masters in all fields of Islamic knowledge.)
So, from the beginning, we have been obligated to seek qualified scholars and learn from them. This was the practice even among our Prophet’s Companions. This tradition has been carried throughout Islam’s history by the 4 Schools of Sunni Islam. The 4 Schools are the schools of Imam Abu Hanifa, Imam Malik, Imam Shafi’i, and Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal. To understand the 1300 year tradition in which all Imams, Scholars, and Muslims have followed these 4 schools, you may refer to this article:
Here is a short audio series from Imam Zaid Shakir (7 segments) on the issue of following a Madhhab (School). Shaykh Zaid is a practicing scholar of the Shafi’i School.
Converts who are seeking clarity while learning Islam, to learn efficiently (more quickly), and seeking the safety of authenticity, are recommended to do what Muslims have always done: choose one of the 4 Schools, choose a local scholar who adheres to one of the 4 Schools, and start learning Islam properly.
If one wishes to learn from the Shafi’i School, I can recommend the following list of resources. Several of these books have been standard curriculum throughout the Muslim world for hundreds of years, sometimes over 1,000 years.
- Safinat al-Naja'(The Ship of Salvation) : A Concise Manual of Islamic Sacred Law
- Reliance of the Traveller (Arabic – English) A Classic Manual of Islamic Sacred Law
- The Ultimate Conspectus By Imam Abu Shuja’ Al-Isfahani – translated by Musa Furber
- Sharh Al-Waraqat: Al-Mahalli’s notes on al-Juwayni – translated by Musa Furber
- Ibn Rajab’s Refutation of Those Who Do Not Follow The Four Schools – translated by Musa Furber
- The Creed of Imam al-Tahawi – translated by Hamza Yusuf
- The Book of Assistance – translated by Mostafa al-Badawi
- Muhammad: Messenger of Allah – translated by Shaykha Aisha Bewley
- Muhammad: His Life Based on the Earliest Sources – by Martin Lings
- A couple of books on character and daily practice:
- Riyadh us-Saliheen of Imam an-Nawawi
- Fazail e-Amaal of Shaykh Muhammad Zakariya Kandhalwi
**** NOTE – I have NOT linked to sources for the other 3 Schools. The school I have studied under is the Shafi’i School. But, the other 3 Schools offer similar curriculum. Islam is easy, not confusing.