Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Ghusl and shahaadah

Question: What is your comment if someone said, "Once a person believes in the Oneness of Allah and other fundamental aspects of Islam from his heart, he is already a Muslim.To confess and declare the Shahaadah is for others to regard him and treat him as a Muslim. Thus, if he takes a bath, before uttering the shahaadah at all, it is an act of worship as he is already a Muslim by heart."

Answer:  First of all becoming Muslim does not require witnesses. It is enough to declare the shahaadah to oneself by the tongue, loud enough to hear oneself. Before this, one is not considered Muslim - in light of details to be mentioned below.

After this shahaadah, and only after, one may take a bath before declaring one's shahaadah publicly. In fact, what has been narrated in terms of the actions of the shaabah in this regard should be understood as showering after becoming Muslim, by uttering the shahaadah, but before declaring it publically.

In light of this, there is no doubt that if person A came to person B and said, "I want to become Muslim!" and that B told him, "Take a shower first!" then B has committed kufr. That is because A is not Muslim yet, and B is causing him to remain in that state. It is stated explicitly in Hanafi fatwa books that if a person came and said, "I want to become Muslim," and someone told him, "Let's go to scholar 'so and so' to do it!" Then the latter has fallen out of Islam. This is mentioned in 'i^laa' Al-Sunan in the section rejecting the idea that Muhammad Ibn Al-Hasan is the author of Kitab Al-Hiyal. It is also mentioned in Ali Al-Qaariy's explanation of Al-Fiqh Al-Akbar, in the last section that explains what apostacy (falling out of Islam after having been Muslim) is.
Belief and Islam
The word "Islam" in Arabic means to declare by the tongue AND believe in one's heart (but there is no need for witnesses). The word "Muslim" comes from "Islam"; one cannot be Muslim without Islam.  

The claim that mere belief makes one a Muslim is wrong. He who said that is confusing between the word "Muslim" and "Mu'min". Some scholar said that a person is called "Mu'min", that is, a "believer", by merely believing and fully accepting the belief of Islam, because this agrees with the linguistic meaning of the word "belief". However, you cannot say he is "Muslim" before he has stated the shahaadatayn or its equivalent, because the Prophet -may Allah raise his rank- was asked by Jibriil about what Islam is and he answered in part, "to testify that there is no god but God, and Muhammad is God's Messenger...." Then he was asked about belief, and he said in part, "To believe...." In other words, there is no Islam without testification, unless there is some excuse, such as being mute.

Moreover, the scholars said that if he believes, and has the opportunity to utter the shahaadatayn (or its equivalent in meaning), then he is still a kaafir if he delays it. This is stated by Qadi ^Ayaad in Al-Shifaa, and Aliy Al-Qaariy said in his explanation of "Al-Fiqh Al-Akbar" that this is the position of Al-Bazdawiy and is the position of the scholars of authentification and verification. It is also plainly stated in the ^Aqiidah of Al-Nasafiy.

As stated by Al-Nawawiy, as mentioned in the Encyclopedia of Fiqh published by the Ministry of Islamic Affairs in Kuwait:
"The Sunni scholars, whether hadith masters, fiqh masters or belief science masters, all agreed that the believer (mu'min) that is judged to be from the people of the Qiblah, and will not be tortured eternally, is only the one that believes firmly, without any doubt,  in Islam, and uttered the two testimonies of faith. If he did only one of the two, then he is not from the people of the Qiblah, unless he was unable to utter them due to a fault in his tongue, or lack of time before death, or the like, for in such a case he would be considered a "believer" ( i.e. Mu'min-translator)." (Note that his saying "lack of time before death" does not mean the point at which the soul is on the way out of the body, for at that stage it is too late, as stated in the Quran. Farao was from those who repented at that stage, but that was too late.)

The actions of the Prophet testify to what has been discussed above, because when a man rode up to him -may Allah raise his rank- in battle and asked, "Do I become Muslim first, or do I fight first." The Prophet said, "Become Muslim, then fight." He did not say, "You are already Muslim!" Apparently then, his mere belief was not enough.

In addition, the Prophet said, "I have been ordered to fight the people until they testify that there is not god but God and they believe in me..." This is part of the hadith, and it shows that before the shahaadatayn is uttered one deserves to be fought by the Prophet! What rational being would go and take a shower while remaining in such a state?

In any case, the issue of whether mere belief in the heart is enough to be called a believer (not Muslim) is a mainly a theoretical issue, because we have no way of knowing this. Only Allah knows the reality of what a person's belief is, and that is why we can only call a Muslim a believer.

This is enough for those Allah has willed guidance for.

And Allah knows best.