Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Muslim Definition:

Muslim law: any person who professes as a religion, that there is but one God and that Mohammad is the prophet of that God.

Related Terms: Dhimmi, Sharia Law, Kitabia, Islamic Law

Also spelled Mohammadan or even Musulman.

The distinction is essential in Muslim law and has profound consequences including life or death.

For example, once a Muslim, the individual can only renounce his or her religion by committing apostacy, known in Muslim law as ridda, considered by some jurists as subjecting that individual to be horrible corporal punishments of hudud.

In Muslim family law, bases on the Koran, a Muslim woman can only marry another Muslim (a Muslim man has other options).

In Outlines of Muhammadan Law, Fyzee provides a judicial definition of a Muslim:

“[T]here are at least three divergent views on the subject: (i) he who believes in Muhammad as a Prophet belongs to the Muslim community; or (ii) every person who says there is no God but God and Mohammed is the Prophet of God is a Muslim; or (iii) ... other theologians hold that in addition to the belief in God and the profit, a number of other beliefs are also necessary.

“But the doctrine of the courts is simple: the Muhommedan law applies to all Musulmans (i.e. Muslims) whether they are so by birth or by conversion.... any person who professes the religion of Islam, in other words, accepts the unity of God and the prophetic character of Mohammad is a Moslem (sic) and is subject to Musulman law.”


  • Fyzee, A., Outlines of Muhammadan Law, 4th Ed. (Delhi, Oxford University Press, 1974), page 60-61

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