Thank you for your question. I would agree with you that their claim to being “atheist Muslims” is quite confusing. Generally, an atheist is one who does not believe in the existence of God or any gods. Any scholar of Islam would be able to say with great confidence that the two concepts cannot coexist in one person’s heart or mind. One is either an atheist, or believes in the existence of God, or some type of deity. There are many verses in the Qur’an that proclaim the existence of God:
“And your God is one God: there is no deity except Him, the Most Gracious, the Dispenser of Grace” (Qur’an 2:163)
“Such is God, your Sustainer: there is no deity except Him, the Creator of everything: worship, then, Him alone -for it is He who has everything in His care.” (Qur’an 6:102)
A very famous hadith outlines the fundamental beliefs and practices of Muslims:
Umar ibn al-Khattab, may God be pleased with him, said: “One day when we were with God’s messenger, a man with very white clothing and very black hair came up to us. No mark of travel was visible on him, and none of us recognized him. Sitting down before the Prophet, leaning his knees against his, and placing his hands on his thighs, he said, “Tell me, Muhammad, about Islam.”
He replied, ‘Islam means that you should bear witness that there is no god but God and that Muhammad is God’s messenger, that you should perform the ritual prayer, pay the poor’s due, fast during Ramadan, and make the pilgrimage to the House (Ka’ba) if you are able to go there.” The man said, “You have spoken the truth.” We were surprised at his questioning him and then declaring that he had spoken the truth. He said, “Now tell me about Iman (Faith).” He replied, “Iman means that you have faith in God, His angels, His books, His messengers, and the Last Day, and that you have faith in Divine Decree, both its good and its evil.” Remarking that he had spoken the truth, he then said, “Now tell me about Ihsan (Excellence).” He replied, “Ihsan means that you should worship God as if you see Him, for even if you do not see Him, He sees you.”
Then the man said, “Tell me about the Hour” The Prophet replied, “About that he who is questioned knows no more than the questioner.” The man said, “Then tell me about its signs.”
He said, “The slave girl will give birth to her mistress, and you will see the barefoot, the naked, the destitute, and the shepherds vying with each other in constructing tall buildings.” Then the man went away. After I had waited for a long time, the Prophet said to me, “Do you know who the questioner was, ‘Umar?” I replied, “God and His messenger know best.” He said, “He was (Angel) Gabriel. He came to teach you your religion.”
From this hadith we understand that Muslims have 6 pillars of belief, and 5 pillars of faith that put the beliefs into practice in our lives. Belief in God, angels, God’s books or revelations, messengers and prophets, the Day of Judgment, and acceptance of God’s Divine Decree in all matters, whether we see them as good for us or bad. Putting these beliefs in our daily practice is the proof of our faith in God. The first and most important action is to testify upon entering Islam, and repeatedly throughout our lives, that there is no god except God, and Muhammad is His Messenger. Daily prayer, regular charity, fasting Ramadan, and visiting The House of God in Mecca at least once in our lives, are the other main proofs of our Submission or Islam.
Leaving one of these beliefs means to leave Islam. We cannot claim to be Muslims if we do not believe in angels, for example. Surely then, denying the existence of God would take us out of the fold of Islam. Everything is built on the belief in the One God.
I hope this has been helpful to you. May God guide us all to what pleases Him.
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