The risks of being a secular Muslim

Javed Ahmad


Secular Muslims are those who believe in Islam but do not practice the religion; and this is the bottom line definition. Islam teaches full obedience to Allah by following His rule and orders while secularism teaches rule by manmade laws ignoring the divine laws. Therefore, secularism is opposite to Islam. Following a secular lifestyle would mean going against Islam. There are some other terms used to indicate secularism of Muslims like “Liberal Muslim”, “Moderate Muslims”, etc which basically means the same.


Bangladeshi Muslims are so fond of secularity that the men do not grow beard and wears western styled outfits. Women folks goes out uncovered defying the Quranic instruction that says -


O prophet! Tell thy wives and daughters, and the believing women, that they should cast their outer garments over their persons (when abroad): that is most convenient, that they should be known (as such) and not molested. And Allah is Oft- Forgiving, Most Merciful. (Al-Ahzab, Chapter #33, Verse #59)


Muslims men are careless about their duties to their families and often lazy at work and depends on earning of their women folks; whereas, the Qur’an clearly says –


Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allah has given the one more (strength) than the other, and because they support them from their means. Therefore the righteous women are devoutly obedient, and guard in (the husband's) absence what Allah would have them guard. As to those women on whose part ye fear disloyalty and ill-conduct, admonish them (first), (Next), refuse to share their beds, (And last) beat them (lightly); but if they return to obedience, seek not against them Means (of annoyance): For Allah is Most High, great (above you all).  (An-Nisa, Chapter #4, Verse #34)


Due to absence and non practice of Islamic laws by the Muslims in Bangladesh we see people dividing the wealth of inheritance as per their own desires totally disobeying the laws in inheritance outlined in the Holy Qur’an by Allah Himself. Islamic laws are designed to help the Muslim men to care for their families and women folks by allocating more for men than women. But in our secular system we find women inheriting equal shares of properties and wealth of the deceased.


A Muslim becomes ‘secular’ when he or she remains aloof and ignorant about his or her religion that they say or think they ‘believe’ in. I have listed some links of websites that are of such groups. In one of the sites I have found the following quote:


"The reality is that many Muslims are secular. We do not pray five times a day, do not read the Koran and have not spent much time inside a mosque."


This simple admission of a secular Muslim makes it clear that they are ‘secular’ simply because they are ‘ignorant’. This ignorance may not be intentional though. Often ignorance takes place due to absence of any scope, opportunity and / or pressure to learn the religion. If the governments of a Muslim majority nation instead of Islamic State Laws adopt secular mechanism of ‘separation of state and religion’ then the outcome normally results in this condition. Same logic applies to families without any Islamic values and practices.


In among the Muslim majority nations, Islam is gradually dying due to absence of Islamic governance and adoption of secular political and governance systems. The scenario took shape after the gradual decline of caliphate – the Islamic rule of law.


There was a time when the entire known world was ruled by Islamic shariah or rule based on Qur’an and Sunnah that lasted for almost a thousand years! Nevertheless, Islam survived as a religion among the ardent followers through generations up until this day, but in a changed form with many culturally influenced innovations (bidat).


This survival of Islam came with a huge price tag. Many Muslims have derailed out of Islam and a majority is just Muslims by name. The question that is raised today is does Islam allow practice of secularism? The answer is flatly ‘no’.


Islam is a complete way of life for the ‘believers’. A Muslim after declaration of faith in Islam is expected to submit completely in this religion upholding all its teachings and tenacities at any cost. We find many verses in the Qur’an and quotes in the hadiths from Prophet Muhammad (s) that makes the matter clear:


O ye who believe! Enter into Islam whole-heartedly; and follow not the footsteps of the evil one; for he is to you an avowed enemy.  (Al-Baqara, Chapter #2, Verse #208)


But keep in remembrance the name of thy Lord and devote thyself to Him whole-heartedly.  (Al-Muzzammil, Chapter #73, Verse #8)


Narrated Jarir bin Abdullah: I gave the pledge of allegiance to Allah's Apostle for the following: 1. offer prayers perfectly 2. pay the Zakat (obligatory charity) 3. and be sincere and true to every Muslim.  (Bukhari, Book #2, Hadith #54)


Narrated Muawiya: I heard Allah's Apostle saying, "If Allah wants to do good to a person, He makes him comprehend the religion. I am just a distributor, but the grant is from Allah. (And remember) that this nation (true Muslims) will keep on following Allah's teachings strictly and they will not be harmed by any one going on a different path till Allah's order (Day of Judgment) is established."  (Bukhari, Book #3, Hadith #71)


One would find many varied definitions about ‘who is a Muslim’ in different hadiths if a search is conducted. The bottom line is, without Islamic practices a Muslim is void and at risk; because, a Muslim will be judged by his or her actions and activities in this life on the basis of his or her belief. Immediately upon death, one would face the questions from the two angels called ‘Munkar and Nakir’in the grave:


Al-Bara' b. 'Azib reported Allah's Apostle (may peace be upon him) as saying: This verse:" Allah grants steadfastness to those Who believe with firm word," was rereaied in connection with the torment of the grave. It would be said to him: Who is your Lord? And he would say: Allah is my Lord and Muhammad is my Apostle (may peace be upon him), and that is (what is implied) by the words of Allah, the Exalted:" Allah keeps steadfast those Who believe with firm word in this world and in the Hereafter."  (Muslim, Book #040, Hadith #6865)


Narrated Al-Bara' ibn Azib: We went out with the Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) accompanying the bier of a man of the Ansar. When we reached his grave, it was not yet dug. So the Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) sat down and we also sat down around him as if birds were over our heads. He had in his hand a stick with which he was scratching the ground. He then raised his head and said: Seek refuge with Allah from the punishment in the grave. He said it twice or thrice. The version of Jabir adds here: He hears the beat of their sandals when they go back, and at that moment he is asked: O so and so! Who is your Lord, what is your religion, and Who is your Prophet? Hannad's version says: Two angels will come to him, make him sit up and ask him: Who is your Lord? He will reply: My Lord is Allah. They will ask him: What is your religion? He will reply: My religion is Islam. They will ask him: What is your opinion about the man Who was sent on a mission among you? He will reply: He is the Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him). They will ask: Who made you aware of this? He will reply: I read Allah's Book, believed in it, and considered it true; which is verified by Allah's words: "Allah's Book, believed in it, and considered it true, which is verified by Allah's words: "Allah establishes those Who believe with the word that stands firm in this world and the next." The agreed version reads: Then a crier will call from Heaven: My servant has spoken the truth, so spread a bed for him from Paradise, clothe him from Paradise, and open a door for him into Paradise. So some of its air and perfume will come to him, and a space will be made for him as far as the eye can see. He also mentioned the death of the infidel, saying: His spirit will be restored to his body, two angels will come to him, make him sit up and ask him: Who is your Lord? He will reply: Alas, alas! I do not know. They will ask him: What is your religion? He will reply: Alas, alas! I do not know. They will ask: Who was the man Who was sent on a mission among you? He will reply: Alas, alas! I do not know. Then a crier will call from Heaven: He has lied, so spread a bed for him from Hell, clothe him from Hell, and open for him a door into Hell. Then some of its heat and pestilential wind will come to him, and his grave will be compressed, so that his ribs will be crushed together. Jabir's version adds: One Who is blind and dumb will then be placed in charge of him, having a sledge-hammer such that if a mountain were struck with it, it would become dust. He will give him a blow with it which will be heard by everything between the east and the west except by men and jinn, and he will become dust. Then his spirit will be restored to him.  (Sunan Abu Dawood, Book #40, Hadith #4735)


Based on the outcome of this test, reward and / or punishment will be awarded to the individual. A believer will pass the test while the disbeliever would fail. Only a Muslim with strong conviction and belief in Islam would pass this primary test.


Now let us look at other risks. Islam basically comprises of some activities that are normally called the five pillars of Islam. In a nut shell, Islam is –


Narrated Abu Huraira: One day while the Prophet was sitting in the company of some people, (The angel) Gabriel came and asked, "What is faith?" Allah's Apostle replied, 'Faith is to believe in Allah, His angels, (the) meeting with Him, His Apostles, and to believe in Resurrection." Then he further asked, "What is Islam?" Allah's Apostle replied, "To worship Allah Alone and none else, to offer prayers perfectly to pay the compulsory charity (Zakat) and to observe fasts during the month of Ramadan." Then he further asked, "What is Ihsan (perfection)?" Allah's Apostle replied, "To worship Allah as if you see Him, and if you cannot achieve this state of devotion then you must consider that He is looking at you." Then he further asked, "When will the Hour be established?" Allah's Apostle replied, "The answerer has no better knowledge than the questioner. But I will inform you about its portents. 1. When a slave (lady) gives birth to her master. 2. When the shepherds of black camels start boasting and competing with others in the construction of higher buildings. And the Hour is one of five things which nobody knows except Allah. The Prophet then recited: "Verily, with Allah (Alone) is the knowledge of the Hour--." (31. 34) Then that man (Gabriel) left and the Prophet asked his companions to call him back, but they could not see him. Then the Prophet said, "That was Gabriel who came to teach the people their religion." Abu 'Abdullah said: He (the Prophet) considered all that as a part of faith.  (Bukhari, Book #2, Hadith #47)


From this particular hadith we find the five pillars – 1. Faith (Iman); 2. Prayers (Salat or Namaz); 3. Compulsory charity (Zakat); 4. Fasting (Syam or Roza); 5. Pilgrimage (Hajj), which is not mentioned here as it is an obligation only on those who can afford it. However, we find another condition which is belief in the Last Hour meaning the Day of Judgment. Interestingly, some indication of coming of the Day is also mentioned here that alarmingly resembles our present time!


The test of faith comes through actions. A Muslim would be recognized as a ‘Muslim’ through the five Islamic practices of Islam. Absence of any of it should raise doubts on his or her faith and belief.


Five regular daily prayers that all Muslims are required to offer in congregations is one of the most fundamental act or worship that openly displays that one is a believer.


Narrated Ibn 'Umar: Allah's Apostle said: Islam is based on (the following) five (principles): 1. To testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and Muhammad is Allah's Apostle. 2. To offer the (compulsory congregational) prayers dutifully and perfectly. 3. To pay Zakat (i.e. obligatory charity) . 4. To perform Hajj. (i.e. Pilgrimage to Mecca) 5. To observe fast during the month of Ramadan.  (Bukhari, Book #2, Hadith #7)


Narrated Talha bin 'Ubaidullah: A man from Najd with unkempt hair came to Allah's Apostle and we heard his loud voice but could not understand what he was saying, till he came near and then we came to know that he was asking about Islam. Allah's Apostle said, "You have to offer prayers perfectly five times in a day and night (24 hours)." The man asked, "Is there any more (praying)?" Allah's Apostle replied, "No, but if you want to offer the Nawafil prayers (you can)." Allah's Apostle further said to him: "You have to observe fasts during the month of Ramadan." The man asked, "Is there any more fasting?" Allah's Apostle replied, "No, but if you want to observe the Nawafil fasts (you can.)" Then Allah's Apostle further said to him, "You have to pay the Zakat (obligatory charity)." The man asked, "Is there any thing other than the Zakat for me to pay?" Allah's Apostle replied, "No, unless you want to give alms of your own." And then that man retreated saying, "By Allah! I will neither do less nor more than this." Allah's Apostle said, "If what he said is true, then he will be successful (i.e. he will be granted Paradise)."  (Bukahri, Book #2, Hadith #44)


Similarly, payment of annual charity and compulsory fasting in the month of Ramadan are also required to fulfill the acts of worship as prescribed in the above hadiths and to remain in the covenant of Allah. Any negligence on any of it would be a matter or questioning and accountability.


All Muslims are required to follow the Prophet (s) as a leader of the brotherhood (ummah) of Islam without any doubts and questioning –


"Those who follow the apostle, the unlettered prophet, whom they find mentioned in their own (scriptures),- in the law and the Gospel;- for he commands them what is just and forbids them what is evil; he allows them as lawful what is good (and pure) and prohibits them from what is bad (and impure); He releases them from their heavy burdens and from the yokes that are upon them. So it is those who believe in him, honour him, help him, and follow the light which is sent down with him,- it is they who will prosper."  (Al-Araf, Chapter #7, Verse #157)


"O men! I am sent unto you all, as the Messenger of Allah, to Whom belongeth the dominion of the heavens and the earth: there is no god but He: it is He That giveth both life and death. So believe in Allah and His Messenger, the unlettered prophet, who believeth in Allah and His words: follow him that (so) ye may be guided."  (Al-Araf, Chapter #7, Verse #158)


Muhammad is not the father of any of your men, but (he is) the Messenger of Allah, and the Seal of the prophets: and Allah has full knowledge of all things.  (Al-Ahzab, Chapter #33, Verse #40)


It is not fitting for a Believer, man or woman, when a matter has been decided by Allah and His Messenger to have any option about their decision: if any one disobeys Allah and His Messenger, he is indeed on a clearly wrong Path.  (Al-Ahzab, Chapter #33, Verse #36)


Most of the matter about our life has been decided by Allah and His Messenger in the Qur’an and Sunnah. Prophet Muhammad (s) reminded us once again about it on his last sermon (Khutbatul Wada) when he said –


“…O People, NO PROPHET OR APOSTLE WILL COME AFTER ME AND NO NEW FAITH WILL BE BORN. Reason well, therefore, O People, and understand words which I convey to you. I leave behind me two things, the QURAN and my example, the SUNNAH and if you follow these you will never go astray…”


Since Islam is a complete way of life; a Muslim should uphold the principles of Islam at all phases of his or her life from personal to state level. Muslims are required to live under an Islamic State as established and demonstrated by the Prophet (s) to ensure proper practices of Islam by the Muslims living under the rule. Islam is not a ‘democracy’ and democracy is not Islam. Islam is the rule of Allah for all of mankind submitting to His religion.


There is no room for ‘politics’ in Islam as the matter of state level affairs have already been ordained and exampled. No politics can change any of them. Islam does not endorse leadership of women in a Islamic State.


Allah the creator has created us to worship Him alone, and that is the fundamental theory and philosophy of all His creations. It is not just us (mankind) alone; jinns too are in the same ordination of Islam.


I have only created jinns and men, that they may serve Me.  (Adh-Dhariyat, Chapter #51, Verse #56)


A secular Muslim is basically telling the rest of the world that he or she simply do not care what the Qur’an and the hadiths say about their rights and obligations. One is not afraid of Allah and His punishments despite repeated warnings in the original sources of Islam.


A secular Muslim would find himself / herself empty of any reward on the Day of Judgment for not performing the obligatory prayers (Bukahri, Book #34, Hadith #330), for not fasting in the month of Ramadan, for not paying zakat for the extra wealth they had, for not performing pilgrimage when they had the means, etc.


They will be shown the blazing fires of hell as their abode at least for the duration of punishments that could run for thousands of years (Muslim, Book #005, Hadith #2161

)! They would not have the shield of fasts that could protect them from the fire that would seek to swallow them (Bukhari, Book #31, Hadith #128). The wealth on which zakat was due would comes as snakes constantly biting on the head and faces of the accused (Bukhari, Book #24, Hadith #486). Qur’an would not come to them to intercede with Allah for forgiveness and mercy as they never cared to read it (Bukahri, Book #93, Hadith #532v). Even the Prophet (s) would not pay any attention to them as they never really followed his sunnah. All the secular folks would find themselves in a dangerously helpless situation on the Day of Judgment. They would find it almost impossible to cross over the bridge over the hell called “Pul Sirat” –


Not one of you but will pass over it: this is, with thy Lord, a Decree which must be accomplished.  (Maryam, Chapter #19, Verse #71)


Also see Bukhari, Book #12, Hadith #770, Book #43, Hadith #620, Book #76, Hadith #542, Book #76, Hadith #577, Book #93, Hadith #532, Book #93, Hadith #532 .


Sounds like fairy tales, eh? If one is in doubt of any of the information presented above should stop and ask oneself whether he or she is a Muslim.


Say: "We believe in Allah, and in what has been revealed to us and what was revealed to Abraham, Isma'il, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes, and in (the Books) given to Moses, Jesus, and the prophets, from their Lord: We make no distinction between one and another among them, and to Allah do we bow our will (in Islam)."  (Aal-e-Imran, Chapter #3, Verse #84)


Being born in a Muslim family does not make one a Muslim automatically. A grown up individual must assert to the faith with full understanding and practices to be a part of Islam without any compulsion -


Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from Error: whoever rejects evil and believes in Allah hath grasped the most trustworthy hand-hold, that never breaks. And Allah heareth and knoweth all things.  (Al-Baqara, Chapter #2, Verse #256)


Islam is basically a simple religion to follow. Prophet (s) was against hard imposition of Islamic laws and always looked for ways to ease it for common followers. We find such a hint from the following hadith


Narrated Anas bin Malik: The Prophet said, "Make things easy for the people, and do not make it difficult for them, and make them calm (with glad tidings) and do not repulse (them)."  (Bukahri, Book #73, Hadith #146)


It took 23 years for Islam to come into a complete shape as we find it today. It is a religion of mercy and compassion for those who repents and shows willingness to return to Allah – most gracious and most merciful. Allah is One and Only, there is no God but Allah; to Him is return of all. No point going against Him. It is strongly recommended that one submit to Islam completely and throw away all secular ideas and thought to become a true Muslim as Islam is the only religion acceptable by Allah –


This day have I perfected your religion for you, completed My favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion. But if any is forced by hunger, with no inclination to transgression, Allah is indeed Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.  (Al-Maeda, Chapter #5, Verse #3)


O ye who believe! Fear Allah as He should be feared, and die not except in a state of Islam.  (Aal-e-Imran, Chapter #3, Verse #102)


After the advent of Islam all other religions and beliefs have become null and void. Being a Muslim living a secular life is like betraying Allah and His Prophet (s) as well as the Ummah


Narrated Ibn 'Umar: The Prophet said, "For every betrayer (perfidious person), a flag will be raised on the Day of Resurrection, and it will be announced (publicly) 'This is the betrayal (perfidy) of so-and-so, the son of so-and-so.' "  (Bukahri, Book #73, Hadith #196)


One basically has only two choices, either to believe in Islam as a believer or disbelieve it. Under the circumstance, one should simply drop all secular follies and enter real Islam whole-heartedly as demanded by Allah to be on the safe side.


Disbelievers portray believers as “Extremist” or “Orthodox” or “Fundamentalist” or “Islamist”, etc. but in reality we find more extremism, orthodoxy and fundamentalism among the followers of other religions. Demonization of Islam is a tactic to brew hate against the followers of this religion and keep people away or disinterested about learning Islam. What they do not know about this great religion Islam is that – more they tarnish it more it gets burnished and shines drawing attention of the crowd.


When comes the Help of Allah, and Victory, and thou dost see the people enter Allah’s Religion in crowds, Celebrate the praises of thy Lord, and pray for His Forgiveness: For He is Oft-Returning (in Grace and Mercy)., (An-Nasr, Chapter #110, Verse #2).


Finally, I would like to end this article with an example of secular act that goes directly against Islam. It is the “Mixed Marriage Act” introduced by Bangladesh government few years ago that allows marriages between idolaters and Muslims. Islam does not permit marriages between an idol worshipper (e.g., a Hindu) and a Muslim. Here is a quote from the Qur’an:


Do not marry unbelieving women (idolaters), until they believe: A slave woman who believes is better than an unbelieving woman, even though she allures you. Nor marry (your girls) to unbelievers until they believe: A man slave who believes is better than an unbeliever, even though he allures you. Unbelievers do (but) beckon you to the Fire. But Allah beckons by His Grace to the Garden (of bliss) and forgiveness, and makes His Signs clear to mankind: That they may celebrate His praise.  (Al-Baqara, Chapter #2, Verse #221)


There is noting vague or any mystery in the verse above, it is clear cut in meaning, no interpretations necessary. Defying this command of Allah, our secular government has introduced the act in a Muslim majority country without any opposition! This clearly shows how aloof we are about our religion and its practices. Muslims should know clearly that making an act by a government does not validate the marriage that has been prohibited in Islam. Such a marriage would be considered an act of fornication in the sight of Allah and will be punished for such act in the Kingdom of Allah.


Now pay close attention to the second part of the verse that tells us that the secularists (who are basically unbelievers) beckon us to hell fire by distracting us towards anti-Islamic activities, whereas, Allah through His religion Islam beckons mankind towards His grace and forgiveness. Therefore, let there be no mistake about the fact that ‘secularism’ is anti-Islam, it seeks to destroy Islam and lead the Muslims to hell fire. Don’t be fooled by the secular slogans.




Islam and secularism:


Institution for the Secularization of Islamic Society:


The secular Muslim:


Muslims for Secular Democracy:


What is a secular Muslim? :


Angels Munkar and Nakir:


The last sermon (Khutbatul Wada) of the Prophet (s):


Search truth:


Islam- The Universal Religion: