Belief in One God, but trouble with believing in a particular religion

Belief in One God, but trouble with believing in a particular religion


In your opinion, if ones believe in the one God but cannot make up ones mind whether to believe in the Books, although ones try, either because ones are confused by Them, not sure of Their authenticity or ones disagree with some things in Them and felt discouraged to explore further, would you call them disbelievers according to the Qur’an?

According to The Qur’an, the only judge is God, and thus, it will be God, and nothing else, that will be able to determine the faith that is in your heart. The sincerity of your belief, and the actions that you do in relation to that belief, is what God, and God alone, will judge you upon. This is stated clearly in The Qur’an, in Surah Al-Mu’minun [23] (the Believers).

The language of The Qur’an, many times bifurcates between a Muslim and Mu’min (singular form of Mu’minun, so ‘believer’), so the question becomes, why? Muslims generally take this concept, and like to try and generate “levels” of Muslims. So, through their logic, people who do their basic, everyday Muslim stuff, they’re just, well, Muslims. But! If you are like, super awesome, and really believe then you get the super category of “Mu’min” and you get a sticker, or something.

This may very well be true, but, I don’t see the use in even trying to explain what we need to do in order to reach this “super status.” God, alone, determines this. It may be a good goal to try and achieve personally, but it becomes very problematic when people start applying standards to other people. It is abundantly clear that we are actually violating The Qur’an when we attempt to evaluate or categorize a person’s belief.

Furthermore, this (judgment) would be impossible, because it would require us, as human beings, to be able to determine their “niyah” or “intention.” As simple human beings, we are incapable of determining anyone’s intention with certainty, that is God’s privilege alone.

Thus, who is truly a believer and who isn’t is not up to us, ever.

So, that addresses the condition of your question of one who “believe[s] in the one God.” Which I think is the foundational question, and so, taking what I discussed earlier, about the difference between “Muslim” and “Mu’min” I’d like to offer you a different possibility to the rest of your question.

The Qur’an famously argues that Adham (Adam), Ibrahim (Abraham), Musa (Moses), Eisa (Jesus) and so on were all Muslims. Even though there are differences, structurally, between the messages contained therein (whether by the hand of man or not), the goals for all of these figures is the same: to submit to the will of The Almighty God.

The idea that Eisa (Jesus) or Musa (Moses) were Muslim, while on one level is designed to affirm the continuity of God’s message, on another level, it illustrates that regardless of what an individual calls themselves, by submitting to the principles of belief, and the singularity of God, they are, without question, Muslim. If to be a “Mu’min” is a higher level of “Muslim,” and the category of “Muslim” is clearly applicable to so many people, it would follow that being a “Mu’min” is a goal for all peoples, from all times, in all circumstances.

Therefore, what book you choose is up to you. God, in The Qur’an, when asking people to see why Islam is the natural and final continuation of what preceded The Message of Islam, first reminds them that “it is He who has endowed you with hearing, and sight, and minds” [23:78] before challenging the reader “Will you not, then, use your reason?” [23:80]

Belief is the foundation, what your question describes is what strikes me as an intermediate status. To question, to have doubt, to be confused, are all temporary. If there is belief, even an attempt at belief, God will assist you. The next step is two parts: understanding the self while also seeing what makes sense to you. That is the ultimate question of The Qur’an: what does your reason push you to believe?

Many times, when people disagree with The Qur’an, they are either given a terrible translation, listen to an opinion (scholarly opinions can be bad) that does not make sense to them, or they take what is metaphorical to be literal, and what is explicitly stated out of context. These are issues that would prevent someone from accurately assessing anything, let alone a work as complex and dense as The Qur’an. 

I feel that you are seeking a more logical approach towards The Qur’an, and I would suggest reading the translation of The Qur’an by Muhammad Asad (formerly Leopold Weiss) which combined with his tafseer (notes, explanation) I think, would suit you, if I judge your position correctly.

My point is to not be discouraged, and to not allow confusion, or doubt to prevent you from pursuing that which you believe. The hard part is over: you believe. Just because you don’t understand or doubt something doesn’t mean you are not a believer. I’ve said this many times, and I will continue to relate this story, but my Islamic teacher, when asked if he believed everything in The Qur’an replies “no.” The questioner was shocked, to which my teacher replied: “I cannot believe anything, unless I understand it.” His belief in God and The Qur’an was not in question, but his understanding was, which is different.

The reality is that, even when reading The Qur’an, it becomes abundantly clear that where Truth emerges, it can be in places we do not know about. God says that He “sent forth apostles before thy [Muhammad’s] time; some of them We have mentioned to thee, and some of them We have not mentioned to thee.” [40:78] This simple statement, should humble the human being as to what knowledge they could ever know, yet at the same time, The Qur’an challenges the human being to pursue knowledge as a path towards belief.

I realize that what I have written may seem contradictory, and many times, people read The Qur’an and think that this contradiction illustrates The Qur’an’s imperfection. This is wrong. The Qur’an is a scripture that offers discretionary teachings, meaning, you will have to do different things in different situations. That’s why Islam is useful to Muslims today, because it provides them with that natural flexibility that every human being must live by.

Allow me to close this very long answer with this example: I’m sure you’re familiar with the sayings “birds of a feather, flock together” and “opposites attract.” They are both  true statements, in different situations, and thus, they are not contradictory when applied differently. That is the beauty of The Qur’an.

I hope that what I have said has helped answer your question, although I suspect I might have not. Please ask follow up questions, and I will answer them as soon as I can.

Insha Allah, I hope this helped, and invite you or anyone else to ask me questions regarding this, or any other topic.

Note: I realize that at the start I wrote that it was wrong to evaluate someone’s belief, and there is no question that it is. I then proceeded to explain the process of belief, which may be interpreted as evaluating. I’m not evaluating someone’s belief, because I am not saying what is a good belief or a bad belief, I am arguing one, of the infinite possible positions The Qur’an offers, on how to understand the process of believing.

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