I discovered something interesting today: apparently, I’m a Muslim.
I don’t mean it the way the character who called me a Taliban-worshipping Salafist meant, when I told him the Afghan people have a right to defend themselves against foreign occupation. No. Nobody actually called me a Muslim today. However, I discovered that apparently I am one.
How’s that again?
Well, you know the Kalimah, that affirmation of faith Muslims are supposed to make? It goes,
Laa ilaaha illa l-laah Muhammadu r–rasuwlu l-laah
and means, “there is no God but the God (Allah) and Muhammad is his prophet”.
And, it happens to be just about the only Arabic I know except the words for yes, no, hello, and I love you, darling. It also happens to be a lilting and mellifluous phrase and I’ve often enjoyed reciting it aloud…
…which, I find, allegedly makes me a Muslim, whether I like it or not. And since I’m a pork-eating dog-loving non-praying apostate, it reserves me a place in the dungeons of Hell.
But I’m not worried about that because as an atheist I was headed there anyway.
Joking apart, I cannot believe the Prophet Muhammad actually intended that anyone who recited the Kalimah automatically and irrevocably became a Muslim. The idea is as intuitively ridiculous as saying that reading my copy of the Quran makes me a Muslim – and is even more silly when you take into account that the Shia version of the Kalimah is longer than this, and that version is not accepted by the Sunni Muslim majority.
I have a strong suspicion that this kind of literalistic interpretation was introduced by someone or other during the “expansionist” phase of Islam, when getting converts was vital and the niceties of belief could wait for later. Certainly, the Kalimah features prominently in The Thousand Nights and One Night. I didn’t know Shahrazad was to be taken so literally about people being ennobled in Islam, though.
I’d like Muslims reading this to tell me their thoughts.