A Muslim only part of the time

Q1 :I often draw examples from the Qur'an and Hadith to stress my point of view when I discuss topics with my friends. I feel that an Islamic argument is always stronger. A Muslim friend of mine, however, says that religious teachings should be left out of such discussions. According to him, a Muslim has to be a Muslim only when he is in the company of Muslims. From what I have learned about Islam, a Muslim must retain his Islamic identity in all situations. I will be grateful for your advice.

A1 : When you consider the religion of Islam and look at the actions it requires its followers to observe, be they part of worship or normal social dealings and consider also the practices Islam forbids, you are bound to conclude that it is very difficult for a Muslim who wants to abide by Islamic teachings to hide his identity. Indeed a Muslim has a unique identity which is reflected in his manners and behavior. He is always polite, kind, steering away from what is vulgar or obscene in words or actions. His humility, which is enhanced by his recognition that he is liable to make mistakes and slip into error, means that he is likable, sociable and caring for others. These characteristics are imparted to a Muslim first and foremost by his faith. It is Islam that requires its followers to be kind to others and to always prefer what is likely to cement good relations with their fellow human beings. From another point of view, every Muslim has a task which he must fulfill. If he fails to do this task, he will be questioned about it by Allah. I am here referring to the duty of every Muslim to convey the message of Islam to other people and make it known to them that Allah requires them to follow his last messenger, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and implement the code of living embodied in his message. It may be added here that not every Muslim can provide a good example of what Islam means in practice by living up to requirements of his faith. When people see in a Muslim man or woman who is an exponent of every virtue and who refrains from everything that does not fit with the noble position Allah has given to mankind, they want to know what gives him his refined sense of propriety. They do not need to go too far to discover the source. It is Islam, his faith which Allah has perfected as a way of life which brings out and enhances every good aspect in a human being and weakens every evil tendency. Why on earth would anyone be reluctant to own to the fact that he is a Muslim, unless he fears to lose some of the esteem of other people. Only those who are hostile to Islam or those who are ignorant of its nature may have an unfavorable attitude towards the Muslims. With the first group, a Muslim is not likely to win respect even if he disowns his religion altogether. The mere fact that he comes from a Muslim family is sufficient for those who are hostile to Islam to classify him among Muslims. Not even a person like Salman Rushdie wins any respect or esteem from the enemies of Islam. They may wish to utilize him for their own purposes, but they will never look at him with any genuine respect. With those who are ignorant of Islam, such an attitude does not earn him any privilege. Indeed, if he appears in the distinctive colors of Islam, he has a greater chance of winning their respect. If he speaks to them about the teachings of Islam in those areas which come under discussion they are bound to appreciate the wisdom of Islamic legislation. I speak about this from personal experience. Many a non-Muslim who knows very little about Islam begins to appreciate its wisdom and its comprehensive and logical approach to life, once he hears about the Islamic legislation relevant to a practical question that is faced by all human societies. Take for example the Islamic system of divorce. When an open minded non-Muslim learns about the proper Islamic legislation in divorce cases and how Islam safeguards the interests of both partners and gives each one his or her rights, he cannot fail to express his admiration for Islam. This may be the first step toward winning a friend to Islam and may be winning, in time, a new Muslim. Your friend suggests that you should not quote from the Qur'an or the Hadith in your discussion with non-Muslims. On the contrary, when you support your argument with evidence from the Qur'an or the Hadith, you show that it is not merely a personal view. It is the view of Islam that you are advancing. You will definitely draw attention of people to the strong logic of Islam and its profound argument. They will respect you for being religious. On the other hand, how will non-Muslims know about Islam if we do not tell them about it? We are required by Allah to make his message known to mankind. If we do not speak to them about it, they will remain ignorant of it. We will have failed in a duty which Allah has made incumbent on every Muslim. To be a Muslim only in presence of Muslims is to impose on ourselves the life of a mental ghetto which makes us always inward-looking. This is contrary to the nature of Islam which is outward-looking, because it considers every human being a potential believer. Indeed, mankind is the material with which Islam deals in order to produce a super-society which is characterized by the fact that its members "enjoin the doing of what is right, forbid what is wrong and believe in the Oneness of Allah." That is the best human society.

Our Dialogue ( Source : Arab News - Jeddah )