Who is and who isn’t Muslim

“If you don’t convert to (my sect) you might as well not convert to Islam!” exclaimed the ‘uncle’ to the young Christian lady. The lady’s husband, a Muslim, had requested his elder friend to come and help explain to her why Islam is so important to him, and why he’d like her, too, to share in its joy. The husband was startled by this narrow-minded bombshell. The shocking words of the ‘uncle’ highlight a lack of priorities plaguing some of those who profess themselves to be Muslim.

It is understandable for someone to feel passionately about a cause which (rightly or wrongly) they believe to be true. I remember a rabbi relating how he went home after his first year at rabbinical seminary and began self-righteously passing judgment on and correcting what seemed to be a plethora of misdeeds and mistakes of his family. But passionate belief (even when correct) becomes problematic if it results in a narrowed vision of reality and truth, and even more so when it leads to behavior that turns others away from the Path to God.

The Prophet Muḥammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was once leading prayers when he heard a man in the congregation saying, “O God! Bless me and Muḥammad, and don’t bless anyone else with us!” After the congregational prayer was over, the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) remarked, chastising him, “You have restricted a capacious [thing]!” (Sahih Bukhāri and others)

The blessings of God, and especially the spiritual blessing of right guidance embodied in the Final Revelation (the Qur’an), should not be confused with human constructions of group identity and boundaries. More specifically, some Muslims are sometimes (and any frequency is too often for something this important) too quick to declare someone to be outside the fold of Islam due to (i) imperfect practice, or (ii) disagreement on a non-core belief.

By: Ustadh Suheil

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