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Answer to Mike: Not necessarily a Muslim

Reader comment on item: Barack Obama through Muslim Eyes
in response to reader comment: Obama recited the Muslim call to prayer NYT

Submitted by Kevin in Chicago (United States), Sep 7, 2008 at 02:48

Mike noted that in an interview with Nicholas Kristof, published in The New York Times, Obama called the Muslim call to prayer "one of the prettiest sounds on Earth," and recited it in Arabic. Mike pointed out that the call to prayer begins with the Shahada, or testimony of faith, and that one who recites the Shahada thereby becomes a Muslim.

Not quite. According to the Muslim website at the link Mike provides, "to become Muslim, you have to pronounce the Testimony of Faith 'Shahada', with sincere faith." Why should we assume that Obama was reciting the Shahada with sincere faith rather than showing the interviewer what he meant in calling it "one of the prettiest sounds on Earth"?

I am a Jew, not a Christian, but it is my understanding that one becomes a Christian by professing faith in Jesus Christ as Son of God and Savior. One is expected to be formally baptized, but one is "saved" should one die before this is done. If I were to sing one of the many musical settings of the "Credo" from the Latin Mass, even with a perfect Italian/Church Latin accent, no one would suppose that I have converted to Christianity, even though the words affirm the tenets of the faith, because I would not be repeating those words in a religious or ritual setting. Obama was not calling Muslims to prayer, but demonstrating what the call to prayer sounds like, and this would not reasonably be thought to change his status. If he was a non-Muslim, he remained one; if he was an apostate, he remained one.

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