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"Muslims do not see practice as key."???

Reader comment on item: Was Barack Obama a Muslim?

Submitted by John Philips (Japan), Dec 25, 2007 at 22:57

You overgeneralize from your experiences in the Middle East, Professor Pipes. In the Hausa language, the largest in west Africa, and arguably in Africa south of the Sahara, one does not ask "Are you a Muslim?" but "Do you pray?" (Ko kana salla?). Mere shahada or profession of faith is irrelevant. I have seen a west African in Los Angeles refuse to accept a north African as a Muslim because he didn't pray regularly five times a day, or at all.

Of course many Arabs in the Middle East, even those who don't pray at all, refer to all blacks as "abid" (slaves) and "kuffar" (pagans) no matter how often or fervently they pray, but that is no reason we have to accept their prejudices, or even decide whose standards of Islam we accept. While some Muslims, especially Islamists, may consider Obama an apostate, others would agree that he was never a Muslim.

Personally I don't care whether he was (or is) or not. My constitution states that "no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States" and I hold to that standard for not only Obama, but also Romney and any other candidate for political office. Anyone who believes in the Constitution should.


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Daniel Pipes replies:

You are implying that Muslims see a born-Muslim who does not pray as not a Muslim? Such a person is considered outside the umma?

Yes, some groups historically have adopted that position but it is rare. My generalization holds true.

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