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Obama is not an apostate in Islam

Reader comment on item: Was Barack Obama a Muslim?

Submitted by Amjad Khan (United States), Dec 25, 2007 at 13:11

Mr. Pipes:

Recall the saying of the Prophet of Islam from Bukhari: "Every infant has an in-born predisposition to be a Muslim, but his parents make him a Jew or a Christian or a Zoroastrian." Thus, the identity of a child's religion depends upon a child's upbringing. Assuming that Obama's biological and step-father both were Muslim, this would not necessarily imply that Obama was a Muslim. In point of fact, his mother raised him to be Christian (Obama has mentioned this fact multiple times).

Obama cannot be considered an apostate in Islam because, as a child who was raised Christian, he never could renounce Islam. Your contention that Obama is a Muslim by virtue of his name and birth to a Muslim father is inaccurate. As the Prophet of Islam suggests, the litmus test to gauge the identity of a child's religion is to ascertain the child's upbringing. Obama clearly was not raised a Muslim (living in Indonesia and having limited instruction in Islam at a public school cannot reasonably count as being raised a Muslim). Obama was raised Christian and remains a Christian. He cannot therefore be an apostate in Islam.

Some Muslims might have a more rigid view of apostasy as it relates to children. Without empirical evidence, however, you cannot say for certain whether most Muslims -- in this country or otherwise -- would conceive of Obama as as an apostate, or whether they would even care or not. Assumptions should not be touted as fact.


Amjad Khan



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Daniel Pipes replies:

"As the Prophet of Islam suggests, the litmus test to gauge the identity of a child's religion is to ascertain the child's upbringing."

That is not how Muslims generally understand the hadith you cite. Rather, they generally believe that (1) children are born Muslim and converted by their parents to other religions and (2) a child born to a Muslim father is a Muslim. I think it important not to hide these basic facts of Islam.

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