Quoran is a new series of ask-and-answer styled articles where we share questions we receive from our readers and fans who wish to never deviate from halal living. Below is a question from a brother at a local masjid, Br. Pista Kulfi.
Brother Pista Kulfi: Asalaamuwalaikum Quoran we are having a new Muslim take the shahadah in our masjid insha’Allah this weekend but it looks to be delayed because of a major disagreement among the Shura council.
Somebody started saying that it was wonderful that this person who was formerly non-believer has agreed to “convert” to Islam. Another person said “no this is not correct, nobody can convert to Islam when Islam is your natural state, we must say he is ‘reverting’ to Islam.”
I suggested that we should simply avoid the issue and say, “Here is a new brother, Masha’Allah, he has accepted Islam!” Or maybe, “Alhamdullillah, this new brother has embraced Islam!”
What is the correct opinion on how to say if a person becomes Muslim?
Quoran: Brother Kulfi jazakallah khair for bringing to the attention of our readers this highly important, not at all trivial and issue. For as a Muslim, we recognize that no issue is too trivial or insignificant for Allah (swt) and His Messenger (pbuh) to guide us on the right path.
It is very important that when any action is taken by a Muslim the right terminology is used so that we do not risk angering Allah or embarrassing our Prophet, whom we love more than our own parents and children. Many scholars agree that it is more proper to say that a person has “reverted” to Islam as opposed to that they have “converted,” because the belief is that every person is born as a Muslim and that his culture makes him into a Christian, or a Hindu, a Buddhist, or a rafida Shi’a (we have not included Jews or Ahmadis here because while culture makes a person into most religions, people who are Jews are born that way because Allah swt is punishing them, and when a person is Ahmadi it is because Shaitaan has guided them to do the most hated shirk).
However, recently, many scholars have also realized that if we are saying that the millions of people who come to Islam every year are “reverting” instead of “converting,” AND if those people were indeed born Muslim as our scholars have determined to be the case, then that means that there are millions and millions of murtad babies. And while some of them do indeed revert to Islam, this creates a tremendous logistical problem for punishing all the murtad babies, because even if we hold the babies to be innocent we must at least hold the parents responsible, because someone has to be answerable for all this massive apostasy that is undermining Islam in the world. So the conclusion is we cannot say that people are “reverting” to Islam either, because of this problem.
You suggested two other possible terms as well, but both of them must be rejected for the following reasons. A person should not “embrace” Islam because this is undignified and could refer to an inappropriate physical contact with Allah and His Messenger. Women should not make physical contact with men unless they are married, and both Allah and His Messenger are male, so there is no way that new Muslima should be “embracing” them, which would be a haraam action from the beginning. And likewise if it is a man who is becoming Muslim, it is still inappropriate to “embrace” unless it is initiated by the Prophet himself (Allah swt does not embrace human beings as it is for human beings to love Allah, not the other way around).
Likewise, it is not correct to say that a person “accepts” Islam, because who is this person to suggest he is “accepting” Islam, as if Allah (swt) and His Messenger have need of his acceptance? Some scholars have suggested that it would make more sense if every time a new person became Muslim that we said “Islam has accepted this new brother,” instead of “this brother has accepted Islam.”
It is Allah and His Messenger that “accept” the new Muslim, not the other way around.
Another acceptable way of saying it that has been proposed is that “Islam has ‘entered'” the heart of this new Muslim, or that perhaps Islam has “penetrated” the new Muslim. There are many ways for Allah to bring new Muslims to His religion, masha’Allah.
Perhaps the safest way to describe what happens when a person becomes Muslim, however, is to simply use the definition that was most originally intended. When a person becomes Muslim, he “submits” to Allah (swt) and His Messenger. It is a recognition that a person is submissive to Allah (swt) and that Allah (swt) is dominant over all things, and that our purpose is to please Him.
Sometimes, a person is searching for Islam and he is wide open to receive the message of Allah swt. Other times, a person is not even aware he is searching and Islam penetrates them from behind.
Ok, I know it might sound strange to you, but you don’t know Allah (swt) like I do. He can be so sweet, and He does so much for us. And yes, sometimes He gets angry, but that’s our fault, we should really be more careful and observant. And He is under a lot of stress these days because Islam is under constant attack, so Allah (swt) does not need headaches from us Muslims.
I hope this answers your question Brother Kulfi thank you for writing.