Bint us salaam – Cii Radio | 28 August 2014/02 Shawaal 1435

In a little town close to the Indian Ocean, a piece of land was given for a Masjid. After the Masjid was built it was named after the sister who donated the property. The woman married a Hindu man and became Murtad (apostate). The Masjid is still there only waiting for her to become a Muslim again.

Losing one’s faith (Imaan) and stepping out of the fold of Islam is not a light matter. So serious is it that this life step is akin to taking a leap off a cliff.

The general rule is once any person in any situation has taken to the Kalimah and has proclaimed belief in Allah SWT as The Creator then the devil will continuously attack that person for the simple reason that he has the most valuable gift in the entire universe – the gift of Imaan. The gift of the recognition of Allah SWT as one deity is by far the greatest acknowledgement that anybody can make to anything in this world.

“Once a person has denied this, and Allah SWT saves us all and Allah protects us and our children, then that person has been doomed perpetually. There is no way of understanding or explaining or expounding the deep loss that such a person will have when he leaves this world without a Kalimah,” explains Maulana Obaidullah Bhoja from the Jamiatul Ulama South Africa.

“… The effort of the entire universe put together, if it was to save one person that was to leave this world without the recognition of Allah as the only deity, then Wallah we have achieved something.”

If a person leaves this world in such a way that he is not on the true faith there is no hope for such a person ever, so much so even if it be a close relative. There is no hope of intercession, even from a nephew who is a Prophet, for anyone who leaves this world without recognising the Oneness of Allah.

‘Blood is thicker than water’, as the saying goes, once a person enters the fold of Islam then equally Imaan is thicker than blood. Any person who recites the Kalimah becomes a blood brother unto us, closer than that actually.

“[Muslims], by virtue of whatever goodness we can do, immaterial of what the situation another is in, if we can fill the vacuum that a new Muslim is experiencing in his life, to make him feel comfortable as a Muslim, we have indeed done much for that person,” says Maulana Bhoja.

Any person, whether they are born a Muslim or revert to Islam, will always have the challenge of Imaan. As fellow Muslim brothers and sisters we need to make an effort on that person’s Imaan, so that when those challenges come, their Imaan has the capacity to deflect that situation and they are able to remain steadfast on Deen. It is a Muslim’s responsibility to help in the nurturing of new Muslims and each other, explains Maulana Bhoja.

“We must talk to people in such a way that they love to hear us and we must listen in such a way they love to talk to us. If we can get this right then when that person will have the confidence to talk with us, we will have the confidence to be able to bring them closer to Allah SWT. And this is no doubt the Sunnah of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam).”

Any Muslim considering leaving Islam must be spoken to affectionately. This method of approach is important agrees Maulana Zakariyyah Philander of the Discover Islam Centre in Cape Town. Discover Islam are involved in Da’wah work, building bridges in Islam and educating, counselling and supporting new Muslims.

“… Although it is a bitter pill for our community to swallow that people do leave Islam, it is a reality,” says Maulana Philander, but the number of people expressing an interest in Islam and reverting to the true faith is overwhelmingly more.

“Reasons” given by people for leaving the fold of Islam are marrying across religious boundaries or disillusionment with the faith or the behaviour of other Muslims. “When it comes to a person becoming disillusioned with Islam because of their interaction with other Muslims, it begs the question about what type of understanding did the person receive initially about what Islam is,” explains Maulana Philander.

In a person’s induction and in the explanation that one gives a person who embraces Islam there is the understanding that people strive to be good Muslims. “There is no such thing as a Muslim gene in people so it doesn’t mean that if you’re born in a Muslim home that you necessarily adopt all the morality of Islam and all the acts that Islam prescribes and stay away from all the acts that Islam prohibits. Every Muslim is actually a work in progress.”

Maulana Philander stresses that when a person embraces Islam or when Muslims speak about Islam to others, they should make it clear that just as they are a work in progress, so is each and every Muslim a work in progress. Everyone is at a particular stage in their development and in their recognition of Allah SWT in terms of their submission to Allah SWT. This is why it is essential to give new Muslims the tools to be able to distinguish between Islam the ideal and Muslim practice.

“If we can from the outset create an understanding that Islam is not to be measured by the actions of Muslims, then we will be doing well in creating a dichotomy in the minds of people.”

While it may be permissible for Muslim men to marry Jewish or Christian women – women of the Book –  provided they are chaste and all of the children must be brought up Muslim, it is disliked. Muslim women are not permitted to cross marry.

“When a man approaches the Imam and says they want to marry a woman of the book and the imam says he is allowed, it’s not just a Fiqh question. It’s a scenario of brother do you understand your faith. Do you understand that you have to work twice as hard as a man who marries a Muslims woman, to reflect the beauty of Islam, to reflect a Quraanic character, to reflect the morals and values of Islam. Do you understand this and do you know what it entails,” explains Maulana Philander.

This has to thoroughly be made clear to a man considering marrying a woman of another faith, be she Jewish or Christian, to make him understand the importance of that role. Philander says it’s really a scenario where a man went into the marriage not understanding the work in front of him.

At times a man who cross marries becomes alienated by his family and friends. “Sometimes it is the Muslim community themselves who alienate the man for something, which was permissible, but in their sense of right and wrong he had brought dishonour to the family or he had done something wrong. And we alienate them further. Another question to consider is that is this person just weak by nature and did they ever strive to become closer to Allah SWT.”

A family member or close friend “needs to man up” and approach a man in an interfaith marriage when he sees that he and his children are in danger of losing their way. This must be done without judgement and with sincere concern about his spirituality.

“A friend in Deen is a friend indeed. Your close circle must be made up of people who are righteous, strong in Deen, knowledgeable and encouraging you to become closer to Allah SWT. And if anybody that is weak in faith or non-Muslim works their way into that circle it will gradually have an effect on your Deen. Slowly erode it away.

In some cases of marriage and even during times of poverty, people accept Islam not because they sincerely want to be Muslim. Muslims must be aware that helping another to become a Muslim is not just about going through the motions of making the person take the Shahadah.

… The act of Hidayah, this is in the hands of Allah SWT. Whatever the catalyst is for the person entering Islam, we should still make it clear to the person that actions in Islam are judged by their intentions. It should be that what you’re uttering on your tongue coincides with what you have in your heart. And what you utter on your tongue is going to mean absolutely nothing if within your heart you are denying.”

The Shariah is clear that we approach a person three times to understand their reasons for wanting to leave Islam. During this time da’wah (invitation) must be given and if the person refuses then they have broken their covenant between themselves and Allah SWT. Whoever cuts the covenant between himself and Allah SWT, it is the duty of others to cut whatever ties they have with that individual as difficult and as bitter as it may be.