Thursday, February 18, 2010

When is a person Muslim?

When is a person Muslim? Is it:

- When they believe in the shahada only (might not be very knowledgable, but know what the shahada means and basic Muslim beliefs)
- When they accept all the "traditional" Islamic beliefs (this option would exclude all sorts of "moderate", "progressive", Qur'an only, and could go as far as excluding anyone who is not from your denomination/sect)
- When they try their best to submit to God alone (these people could be unitarian Christians, Buddhists who believe in a God, and others who don't actually consider themselves Muslim)
- When they are very knowledgable in Islam and accept all of its tenets and are also ready to openly be Muslim to the world (meaning that a Muslim in secret doesn't count)

It's such a complicated thing! I am of the opinion that a person is Muslim when they consider themselves Muslim. I mean, I could consider someone "Muslim" (a submitter) just because of what I know about the person, even if they don't consider themselves Muslim, but it wouldn't be any of my business to tell them they are. And I could consider someone not Muslim (like cultural Muslims who do all sorts of crap), but if they call themselves Muslim, it's really none of my business to tell them that they are not (although if I get the chance, I'd politely and privately address some issues in their behaviours).

I think we can all agree that only Allah knows the truth about who is really a Muslim. He will judge.

But in our human ways, we probably all have our own ways of thinking on who *we* consider a Muslim. Some try to judge for God and stop people they don't consider Muslim from using this term, while others will let the people make their own call on using the term and let Allah decide in the end. And I think there's probably a middle way (like not wanting someone who doesn't believe in God to call himself Muslim -- but seriously, why would he?).

What do you think?

6 Comentários:

Jamilah said...

It is a very complicated topic. In essense I think you are right. if you consider yourself Muslim, then you are.

Part of our deen is to advise others to the straight path..
From Abu Sa'id al-Khudri ra : Rasulullah s.a.w said : "If one of you sees (something) bad, he should change it with his his hand ; and if he is not capable of that, then with his tongue; and if he is not capable of that, then (he should detest) it with his heart; and that is the weakest faith". ( Muslim )

Sometimes doing the above can be really hard. Some people don't want to hear it, sometimes the person trying to fix something isn't right themselves, etc... it gets to be all too much.

Anonymous said...

Thought-provoking post!
I think that #1 is accurate - if someone says the Shahadah and believes in it then they're Muslim.
I also think #3 is possible as well.
I think the word 'Muslim' has taken on a very different meaning than it would have had 1400 years ago. Basically, someone who is 'Muslim' is one that believes in 1 God, Judgement Day, does righteous work, and forbids/tries to deter from evil.
Or just refer to 3:18 for the shahadah according to the Qur'an.
la ilaha illa Allah, and la ilaha illa Hu is found 30 different times in the Qur'an.

I agree, only Allah knows the truth. Someone can put up a good front, but Allah knows what's in their heart. ;)

Nurul said...

Assalamu'alaikum sister :)

I think what Anon commented in ur previous entry still lingers in ur mind, huh? :) I feel u, sister :).

Well, for me (I don't study Islamic study and stuff like that, but this is just a basic stuff that I came to know), TECHNICALLY a person is Muslim as soon as this person say the Shahadah. But then this person will have to say the Shahadah sincerely (in the heart, Allah is The One and Muhammad is The Messenger).

It's not even required to say the Shahadah infront of people (ALLAH is the ultimate witness. He's nearer to us than our own neck veins). But we ask the new Muslims to say the Shahadah infront of witnesses so that it'll protect this person from future complications (eg law, death, changing of name/religion/passport and stuff like that).

I honestly believe that even when a non-Muslim is reading the Quran and then suddenly it opens this person's heart to embrace Islam and this person say Shahadah by him/herself sincerely and truthfully, this person is a Muslim already. Just to make it official, then do the registration, witness thingy and stuff like that.

People can only say this and that, but ALLAH is the ultimate witness, judge and He ALWAYS know.

There was this story I heard when I was a kid (I'm sure sure sure it's a true story). There was a Majusi guy (he worshipped the fire). One day Allah gave him hidayah and he wanna embrace Islam. He walked towards the mosque from his fire worshipping place wanting to say Shahadah. Then he died on the way. People are not sure what to do with the body. Treat the body as a Muslim/not? Then the Imam asked the people to MEASURE the distance from the body to the mosque and from the body to the fire-thingy. His body was nearer to the mosque. So he was treated as a Muslim and buried in the Muslim graveyard. He's a Muslim eventho he never get the chance to say the Shahadah at the mosque. I kept thinking at that time. He's already a Muslim in his heart. That's why Allah gave him that honor. Subhanallah.

Allah knows best, He's the ultimate judge and witness. Everything in this world is just a guide. Only ALLAH can give the final answer. Wallahua'lam. Hope u're not confuse with my comment. :)

Candice said...

Jamilah: Those are good things to remember.

Aynur: For me, I believe that the third option is ultimately the right one in the eyes of God (says so in the Qur'an, as you pointed out). But of course, not all these people will think of themselves as Muslim, and that's fine. To use the name "Muslim", you just need to want to use the name, and there you go. The judging will come!

Nurul: No, I think anon had just basically told me I was a Christian missionary going to the Hellfire, so let's just agree that it would be ridiculous to leave that thought lingering in my mind!

The post came from a fellow blogger who has not converted and doesn't know if she wants to because of all sorts of reasons, but who is such a Muslim in so many ways. She has people telling her she is Muslim but she's not ready to be Muslim, so that's partly where my conclusion came from of the need to *want* to be Muslim. Can't call someone Muslim who doesn't want to be!

But that is our human reality. The ultimate reality is that Allah will judge.

Gardens of Sand said...

Candice,came across your blog and love this post. I agree with everything you said. In the Quran, Allah mentions, true Muslims, like Prophet Ibrahim who were around before Islam was. Allah also talks about Jews, Christians and others who have submitted themselves to Allah and worship Him.

I agree with you, a Muslim, can be anyone who identifies himself as such, but also can be those who have submitted to Allah, whatever else they may be.

Wonderful post and so tolerant.

Candice said...

I'm glad you enjoyed the post! It's confusing to talk about it, because there's the definition of Muslim here for humans (which I believe is anyone who considers himself one) and the reality of being Muslim which I think is anyone who submits to God... It's like talking about two different things that are both called the same thing!

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