Monday, 14 June 2010

Muslim pork lovers, beer drinkers and Hell raisers

I'm not surprised by your comments.
I kind of guessed that the only people with Muslim sounding names that hated the dress of the wives of the Prophet pbh were pork lovers.
My blog posts don't always elicit such fierce comments from readers. Mostly, the comments are more constructive and force me to revisit the assumptions underlying my article.
A Chinese style 'minaret' at the Grand Mosque of Xi'an, Shaanxi Province, China. The mosque was constructed during the reign of Emperor Xuanzong (685 - 762) of the Tang Dynasty. The mosque remains in use until today.

The above (anonymous) comment disturbed me. The tone and the use of the phrase, 'Muslim sounding name,' imply the commentator does not believe I am a Muslim.
Further, the comments invoked the Prophet Mohammad and suggested I showed disrespect to his beliefs – an extreme accusation in Islam. The Muslim world did not unexpectedly erupt into rioting following the Danish cartoon saga - it was almost a natural corollary to a perceived act of disrespect against the Prophet. As God's last messenger, the Prophet Mohammad has a special place in Islamic tradition.
Islam is a part of my identity. So are my Pakistani heritage and the values taught to me by my parents. As are those beliefs I adopt following reflection on personal experiences during the course of my life. No one aspect of my personality defines me entirely, they are complementary and fuse together to form the whole.
Nevertheless, I felt it necessary to react to the 'pork lover' comments in more detail. (Islam, of course, is much larger than the views of one misguided individual.)
In Islamic theology, 'takfir' is the act of calling a Muslim a kafir or an un-believer. Let there be no doubt, such an accusation is a grave sin in Islam.
Whoever attributes kufr [unbelief] to a believer, he is like his murderer.
Tirmizi, ch. Iman (Faith); vol. ii, p. 213. See also Bukhari, Book of Ethics; Book 78, ch. 44
Not one to normally quote from 'fundamentalist' literature, but sometimes one has to fight fire with fire! Maulana Maudoodi (1903 – 1979)*, a respected Islamic 'revivalist' figure amongst 'fundamentalist' circles wrote the following about takfir:
As to the question of a person being in fact a believer or not, it is not the task of any human being to decide it. This matter is directly to do with God, and it is He Who shall decide it on the day of Judgment ... In neither case are we empowered to judge what is in the heart [the two cases being those who practice the outward Islamic rituals, e.g. prayer, fasting, etc. versus those who do not].  
At its heart, the real question is how one defines a Muslim. In its broadest sense, a Muslim is an individual who submits to the Will of God and the finality of the Prophethood, i.e. as expressed in the recitation of the kalma or there is no God but Allah, and the Prophet Mohammed is his last and final messenger.
Abu Hanifa, the founder of the Hanafi school of Islamic law, stated, "Nothing expels a man from faith except the denial of that which made him enter it." (Rad al-Mukhtar, vol. iii, p. 310). Muslims enter Islam by professing faith in Allah and the finality of the Prophethood. Subsequently, Muslims may practice the faith to varying degrees but they remain Muslims in the eyes of God.
The day's prayer times indicated at a mosque in Turkey

So, a Muslim may enjoy bacon and eggs for breakfast, red wine with lunch, beer with dinner and a brandy nightcap before retiring to bed each day but those acts in themselves do not make him a non-Muslim. A sinner, yes.
But enough of a sinner to burn in hell-fire for eternity, I certainly don't know.
Now, if I grow a beard, wear a turban, fast each Ramadan, pray five times a day, give Zakat annually, make the Haj pilgrimage and profess my belief in the unity of Allah daily, I still will not know with any certainty whether the pork loving, beer drinking Muslim enters heaven or hell.
But I do know he remains a Muslim.
Withhold [your tongues] from those who say `There is no god but Allah' --- do not call them kafir. Whoever calls a reciter of `There is no god but Allah' as a kafir, is nearer to being a kafir himself.
* I would have preferred to quote from Maulana Kausar Niazi (1934 – 1994), if for no other reason than his nickname was 'Maulana Whiskey' - no medals for guessing the reason for the moniker!


  1. There is no justification for any person to pass any judgment or even comment on others’ belief – simply because it’s not his business – “it is not the task of any human being to decide it”. Belief in God is a DIRECT relationship between Allah and his beings. Is there any relationship closer, more direct, more open or wider than one’s relationship with Allah? Certainly NOT! Others cannot know – hence, others cannot comment.
    This article would have been substantially incomplete without the statement: “So, a Muslim may enjoy bacon and eggs for breakfast, red wine with lunch, beer with dinner and a brandy nightcap before retiring to bed each day but those acts in themselves do not make him a non-Muslim. A SINNER, YES”
    In a struggle to practice Islam as it ought to be practiced, the most important thing is a realization of committing a “sin”. This realization is a blessing – like a ray of hope or direction to the purest path. On the other hand is a thought that “I’m a perfect Muslim which entitles me to judge others” – this thought has implications ....... which are right in front of our eyes.

  2. Hi,

    Thank you for your visit and taking the time to post a comment. You seem to be at peace with your own religiosity - something which not many people can claim.

    I was extremely happy to read your comment - you are preaching to the converted (so to speak)! The relationship with God is indeed intensely personal. There are no barriers other than those we impose on ourself.

    I look forward to more comments from you in the future.

    Kind regards,