The outward expression of Muslim identity is the articulation and demonstration of the faith through consistent behavior. Faith, understanding, education, and transmission together constitute the substrata of Islamic ethics and should therefore guide the actions of the believer.
To be Muslim is to act according to the teachings of Islam, no matter what the surrounding environment, and there is nothing in Islam that commands a Muslim to withdraw from society in order to be closer to God. It is actually quite the opposite, and, in the Qur’an, believing is often, and almost essentially, linked with behaving well and doing good.
The Prophet never stopped drawing attention to this dimension of Muslim identity, and its authentic flowering entails the possibilities one has of acting according to what one is and according to what on believes.
This “acting,” in whatever country or environment, is based on four important aspects of human life: developing and protecting spiritual life in society, disseminating religious as well as secular education, acting for justice in every sphere of social, economic, and political life, and, finally, promoting solidarity with all groups of needy people who are forgotten or culpably neglected or marginalized.
In the North as well as in the South, in the West as well as in the East, a Muslim is a Muslim when he or she understands this fundamental dimension of his or her presence on earth: to be with God is to be with human beings, not only with Muslims but, as the Prophet said, “with people,” that is, the whole of humankind: “The best among you is the one who behaves best toward people.”
For the individual, to bear the faith has to be translated into action that is consistent with it. One may act as oneself for oneself before God. But this is clearly not enough, and one is bound to move in the direction of participation, which clearly expresses the idea of action with an other, in a given society, with the fellow-citizens of whom it is composed. The fourth pivot of Muslim identity brings together these two dimensions of acting and participating, or, in other words, the individual and the social being, which define being Muslim in relation to society and the world.