I wrote the above answer. In my answer, I said that, in order to identify a Muslim, we have to consult Islamic scriptures to seek a definition of a Muslim, not someone who identifies himself as a Muslim. For instance, if someone has the name Mohammad but eats pork, drinks alcohol, and is also gay, we cannot or should not identify him as a Muslim simply because he doesn't resemble anything like what is said in Islamic scriptures.

A user was arguing with me that this is a True Scotsman fallacy. I replied that there is not a proper definition for a True scotsman. However, Islamic texts provide a strict definition of a Muslim.

Another user pointed to a Singaporean Mufti who allegedly said something in favor of LGBTQ+. I said this Mufti has a conflict of interest as the Singaporean constitution is not compatible with Islamic laws.

Now, my question is, How should we identify a Muslim?

  1. Someone who satisfies the minimum criteria set by the Islamic texts


  1. Someone who identifies him as a Muslim even if he might not be satisfying minimum criteria (e.g., avoiding voluntary consumption of pork and alcohol, declaring him gay, etc.) to be identified as a Muslim

NOTE: I need an answer from a political point of view, not theological. I know that Islam.SE exists. But, the argument originated in this site. So, my question is for this site only.

  • 6
    This sounds like a theological question rather than a political one, and one that would be better suited to Islam.SE.
    – F1Krazy
    Commented Aug 11, 2023 at 9:37
  • @F1Krazy, I know that site exists. But, the argument originated in this site. So, my question is for this site only.
    – user366312
    Commented Aug 11, 2023 at 9:39
  • @user366312 So the question is about how we on this website should define "muslim"?
    – Philipp Mod
    Commented Aug 11, 2023 at 10:45
  • 1
    Did it occur to you that your argument is circular? "Who is a Muslim?" – Someone who follows Islamic scriptures. – "What are Islamic scriptures?" – Those that Muslims have identified to be such. ad infinitum
    – ccprog
    Commented Aug 11, 2023 at 14:06
  • @ccprog, "Who is a Muslim?" – Someone who follows Islamic scriptures. --- Nowhere did I write that. Please stop putting words into my mouth.
    – user366312
    Commented Aug 11, 2023 at 16:53
  • 3
    But you are saying that someone who doesn't follow the Islamic scriptures isn't a Muslim, correct? In which case, wouldn't the opposite also apply, i.e. someone who does follow the Islamic scriptures is a Muslim?
    – F1Krazy
    Commented Aug 11, 2023 at 17:21
  • @F1Krazy, But you are saying that someone who doesn't follow the Islamic scriptures isn't a Muslim, correct? --- Nope. What I said is in writing already.
    – user366312
    Commented Aug 11, 2023 at 17:29
  • 2
    Generally speaking, in the context of religions, this type of consideration - "who is a good member vs who is a heretic" has had the potential of being particularly toxic. The Christian world went through it on many occasions, not least the 30 yr war in Germany. Islam has its own version with the Sunni/Shia split. To say nothing of ISIS's unique claims on knowing the answer. Someone who truly believes they are following Islam's guidance would seem deserving of the benefit of the doubt, at least on theological grounds. Westboro Baptists are whacko, sure. But still Christian. Commented Aug 11, 2023 at 17:34

4 Answers 4


We should not identify Muslims. It is not within our purview to decide who is and who is not a Muslim. It is not for this site to determine what the "rules" are for being a Muslim.

Quesions about "Do Muslims believe X" are off topic and should be closed.

If some answer requires a specific definition of "Muslim" (such as would not be understood by an idiot in a hurry) then they need to say how they are defining the word.

It is on topic to ask about countries that identify as "Muslim", for example Pakistan and Iran both claim to be "Islamic.

In terms of users on this site, we should accept self identification. If you use Politics.se and you say you are Muslim, I shall not doubt this identification.

The same applies to Shinto, Buddhist, Hindu, Christian, and Wicca.

It is not for us to judge.

  • "Quesions about "Do Muslims believe X" are off topic and should be closed." - is that somehow different from "Do progressives believe X", "do conservatives believe X", "do feminists believe X", "do transgender rights advocates believe X", "does <insert political advocacy group / lobbying group / insurgent movement / "tendency"> believe X", etc. etc. etc.? Why or why not? Commented Oct 16, 2023 at 12:02
  • All of those "Do X believe Y" questions are poor questions, and just bait for "true scotsman" fallacies. At least "Do progressives believe X" is about a political grouping. On the other hand "Do Muslims belive X" is about a religious group and off topic.
    – James K
    Commented Oct 16, 2023 at 17:25

Since you insist on asking on Politics SE:

For political purposes, it matters how one identifies oneself, and how one gets identified by others. For both questions, religious scripture has only secondary importance, by influencing how people who know and believe in the scripture see people.

Consider Executive Order 13769, the so-called "Muslim Ban" by then-President Donald Trump. Despite the name given to it by Donald Trump, the travel ban was targeted at nationals of certain countries.

  • +1 for pointing out that it's important "how one gets identified by others". In this current climate of self-identification fads, it's important to note that if I'm claiming to be part of a group and that group does not consider me a part of them, then I'm really only appropriating them, and don't really belong to them. Otherwise someone could say "I'm a vegan and I eat meat", and so would we be forced to say that "some vegans do eat meat"?
    – vsz
    Commented Sep 20, 2023 at 6:33

How should we identify a Muslim?

We (answerers) don't do that, but the question itself must do that before and it's within the discretion of the question how to define it.

All questions must be clear to be answerable. In every question, all used concepts must be reasonably well defined. It turns out that writing "Muslim" even though that sounds familiar to many, isn't so easy to define unambiguously. For a question of type "Do Muslims exist that do ..." an as clear as possible definition however is really essential. It should be given by the question before, otherwise we will get contradicting answers based on diverging definitions.

You tried to answer an ambiguously formulated question that should have been closed as being unclear until the asker specifies what exactly he had in mind when using the term "Muslim" and you made up a definition on the fly (not an unreasonable one but still one out of many possible ones including self-identification or whatnot). People pointed out that others can use many other possible definitions and the answer is therefore not so useful in this context. The true answer is that it depends on how one defines "Muslim".

Therefore, whenever a question seemingly asks about something obvious (capitalism, socialism, Muslims, ...) first ask the question to specify the concepts a bit more like defining concepts or giving valid ranges or saying that all possible definitions are valid (although that might make questions too broad to be answerable).

We could say that all questions about Muslims without proper specifications simply see all possible definitions of "Muslim" as valid but that really might make such questions too broad and I would rather avoid a plethora of answers all starting with "If a Muslim is ..., then the answer is ...".

  • 1
    This is the correct, and obvious, answer when one approaches the question from the network-wide, How Stack Exchange Works perspective. The difference between this and how others answered - even if they broadly agree - to me is emblematic of the underlying issue with trying to have a politics site on SE in the first place. Commented Oct 16, 2023 at 12:06


How should we identify a Muslim?

Good Question:

Muslims have no central authority such as a Pope, and different Muslims clearly have diverse beliefs. How you would categorize them is probable a meaningless exercise. I would say generally say we should use their definition of their faith. A Muslim is one who believes in the Shahada. It's the first pillar of Islam and the declaration of the Muslim faith.

"I bear witness that there is no deity but God, and I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of God." or prophet.

More broadly there are four other pillars of Islam if you want to be more precise.

  • Second Pillar is the Salah: It describes the obligation, posture, position of prayer.

  • Third Pillar: Zakat: It describes the obligation of charity.

  • Fourth Pillar: Sawm: Fasting

  • Fifth Pillar: Hajj: Every Muslim has an obligation to travel to their holy city of Mecca, at least once in there lifetime if they are heathy enough and can afford it.

These are the core beliefs and fundamental practices of Islam. The Five Pillars of Islam

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .