[quote="Sixpence, post:19, topic:293455"]
I don't know all the details of it, so I hope someone can fill me in. From what I understand,to a Muslim, religious identity does not come solely from a personal decision to adhere to a certain set of beliefs, and consideration of tradition being handed down doesn't quite cover it either. There's also the idea that everyone is born into a natural state of Islam, and everyone at least starts out a Muslim. I'm not entirely clear on exactly what it means for a newborn to be a Muslim, though, and I'm not sure about all the if/thens like if certain people are seen as having retained some aspect of Islamic identity even if they don't practice as far as the five pillars, prayers, and attending a mosque.
So I'm rather curious about that. Anyone know more specific things about natural-state Islam? It kind of seems like the opposite of original sin.
Etymologically, "Muslim" (مسلم) comes from the Arabic root s-l-m (سلم), which has a variety of meanings that essentially boil down to wholeness, safety, and surrender. The word "Muslim" is derived from the verb "aslama" (اسلم), which means "to resign oneself to the will of God." Adding the "m" changes the meaning to "one who resigns himself to the will of God."
Theologically it's a bit more complicated, again because there are so many different schools of thought within Islam (as there are within Christianity). It's fair to say that the Qur'an rejects the notion of Original Sin, or at least it is rejected insofar as Muhammad understood the orthodox (little "o") Christian concept of it. For instance, the Qur'an states that one man does not bear the burden of any other man's sin (6:164).
Does that mean that we are all born Muslims? Well, that has probably been a debate among Muslim theologians. On the one hand, a newborn hasn't yet sinned (though St. Augustine would argue that newborns sin within their first few breaths!), but on the other the newborn doesn't have the capacity to "resign to the will of God," so to speak. I'm sure this has been debated. Is an infant in a natural state of resignation to the will of God, given its helplessness?
There's no single answer to this question. What IS clear, however, is this: there is no Muslim "sacrament of initiation" as we Christians understand it. Muslims do not practice baptism or anything like it. One is simply a Muslim if one resigns oneself to the will of God... and according to Muslims this is only truly possible by accepting that "there is no god but God and Muhammad is his messenger."
Sorry for all the long posts, but Muslim theology is just as complicated as Christian theology, and we would be doing ourselves and our Muslim brothers a disservice by oversimplifying the issues.