Tuesday, December 29, 2009

On whether a person is or is not a Muslim

The title of the post was the subject of an email I received for Ali, a friend of mine. The topic is interesting with very thoughtful content that he was trying to bring to the attentions of the friends he sent the email.
I asked him to let me share it, and he kindly agreed.

I was reading this book and this one page really stuck to me and thought I share it with some of you. Sorry for the long email but bear with me.

In the early 1950's disturbances broke out between mainstream Muslims attacking Ahmadis (a muslim sect). These muslim groups attacked because some religious leaders called Ahmadis heretics and non-muslims. They supported the killing and looting of them in Lahore, Pakistan. After everything settled a court of inquiry was established to inquire into the cause of the disturbances.

So here it is...

"The question, therefore, whether a person is or is not a Muslim will be of fundamental importance, and it was for this reason that we asked most of the leading ulama (religious scholars) to give their definition of a Muslim, the point being that if the ulama of the various sects believed the Ahmadis to be kafirs (unbelievers), they must have been quite clear in their minds not only about the grounds of such belief but also about the definition of a Muslim because the claim that a certain person or community is not within the pale of Islam implies an exact conception of what a Muslim is. The result of this part of the inquiry, however, has been anything but satisfactory, and if considerable confusion exists in the mind of our ulama on such a simple matter, one can easily imagine what the differences on more complicated matters will be....

Keeping in view the several definitions given by the ulama, need we make any comment except that no two learned divines are agreed on this fundamental. If we attempt our own definition as each learned divine has done and that definition differs from that given by all others, we unanimously go out of the fold of Islam. And we adopt the definition given by any one of the ulama, we remain Muslims according to the view of that alim, but kafirs according to the definition of everyone else."

Source: Report of the Court of Inquiry on the Punjab Disturbances of 1953 (Lahore: 1954)
You thoughts and input on this subject are welcome.


1 comment:

  1. Is it our belief that Muslims and believers are one and the same? Is it not our belief as taught by the Qur'an that believers are those that believe in one God, the day of judgement and perform righteous deeds. Based on this belief, how do we distinguish each other as Muslims or Kafirs. How can we be so self-righteous to assume that we can distinguish a Muslim from a Kafir?