Can a Muslim Be Atheist?

Question and answer details
Fatema Mahfuz
As-salamu `alaykum. What is the punishment of Muslim atheists? Please, help me. I want to know the fatwa (with famous scholars’ opinion) about this topic in the light of the Qur’an and Hadith.
Mohammad Qatanani

Wa `alaykum as-salamu wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh.

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.

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Dear sister, we appreciate your question and commend your interest in Islamic knowledge.

There is no a Muslim atheist, as atheism, the doctrine or belief that there is no God, is totally contradicting Islam that is based on monotheism, the existence and oneness of Allah Almighty.

Responding to you question, Dr. Mohammad Qatanani, Professor in the Islamic American University and Imam of the Islamic Centre of Passaic County in New Jersey, stated,

A person is not considered a Muslim unless he believes in the five pillars of Islam, the first of which is the belief in the oneness of Allah.

Allah Almighty says, “And whoever of you reverts from his religion [to disbelief] and dies while he is in a state of disbelief - for those, their deeds have become worthless in this world and the Hereafter, and those are the companions of the Fire, they will abide therein eternally.” (Al-Baqarah 2: 227)

If one does not believe in Allah, then he, as an atheist, has to be treated as a non-Muslim. This means that it is not permissible for a Muslim woman to accept him as a husband. Also, he will not be treated in the funeral services as a Muslim.

Most importantly, on the Day of Judgment he will be considered a disbeliever.

If he lives in a Muslim country, scholars or concerned authorities should help him repent to Allah and take away all the doubts that he might have. There are no further punishments except by the state and legal courts.

Allah Almighty knows best.