September 9, 2006

Regarding "Reversions"

"As one of the people on here who's part of a 'minority faith' (buddhism) as far as numbers in this community; One thing I've found is that I end up being very careful with my language to avoid even accidently implying my religions 'supremacy'."

With my use of the word "reversion" (instead of "conversion"), I certainly didn't mean to imply any type of religious superiority. Please forgive me if I've offended in any way.

"I'm sure that 'reverting to Islam', instead of 'converting to Islam' in the context of Islamic Theology has subtleties that I'm missing, and after thinking it through I don't mind that you said it that way."

You're correct in that there is a theological undertone to the use of the word "reversion." In the Qur'an there are several passages that state that mankind was brought forth long before we were born where there was a dialogue of sorts between ourselves and Allah (swt). In one particular passage, it is said that mankind swore an oath confirming that Allah (swt) is the one God:

"When thy Lord drew forth from the Children of Adam - from their loins - their descendants, and made them testify concerning themselves, (saying): 'Am I not your Lord (who cherishes and sustains you)?'- They said: 'Yea! We do testify!' (This), lest ye should say on the Day of Judgment: 'Of this we were never mindful': Or lest ye should say: 'Our fathers before us may have taken false gods, but we are (their) descendants after them: wilt Thou then destroy us because of the deeds of men who were futile?'" (7:172-3)

In this regard, Muslims believe that through this oath we all became Muslims prior to birth. It is after birth where we may lose our innate sense of the oneness of Allah (swt) (such as through the teachings of our parents, teachers and others). In that sense, those people who come back to Islam (such as myself) are not "converts," but "reverts."

Another explanation, by Muhammad Asad:

"According to the Qur'an, the ability to perceive the existence of the Supreme Power is inborn in human nature (fitrah); and it is this instinctive cognition - which may or may not be subsequently blurred by self-indulgence or adverse environmental influences - that makes every sane human being 'bear witness about himself' before God."

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