By A. Hussein:
The word Baptism is a derivation of the Greek word ‘baptizo’ meaning to immerse or submerse. There is no doubt whatsoever in the mind of every Greek scholar as to what the Greek word for baptism might mean. The meaning is simple, clear and straight forward, immersion or wetting wholly by way of submersion.
Perhaps this is why John the Baptist was baptizing where there was much water. A truly baptised Christian is therefore the one who was baptised by way of immersion into the water. There is nowhere in scripture where one can interpret baptism other than immersion or submersion.
According to Christianity whilst repentance is an inward decision, water baptism is the outward decision which seals up the inward condition of the soul after repentance. Moreso, water baptism is an absolute requirement that cannot be substituted.
Subsequently, the doctrine of salvation would be incomplete without it. Thus, the practice of baptism by the church is an ordinance in its own rite just as much as the Holy Spirit Baptism.
Henceforth, the importance and significance of Baptism is seen in the sense that baptism is done for the purpose of being cleansed or freed from sins, thus, marks the final separation of a believer from the old nature.
The Muslim Jurists agreed that there two types of purification by water: the minor purification carried out before prayers, the sources of the identification of the acts of ablution is the descriptive laid down in the words of the Exalted, ” O ye who believe, when ye rise up for prayer, wash your faces and your hands up to the elbow and lightly rub your heads and (wash) your feet up to the ankles” (Al-Qur’an 5:6) and the method of performing ablution traced to the prophet (may peace and blessings be upon him) in the well-established transmission (Riwayyah).
As for major purification, the basis for this kind of purification are the words of the Exalted, ” And if ye are involved in a major hadath (ritual impurity), purify yourself” (Al-Qur’an 5:6).
The sources of the description of the act of major purification is established in the traditions relevant to the subject of the Prophet’s bath, in tradition of Aisha she says;
“When the messenger of Allah (S.A.W) took a bath after intimacy, he would first wash his hands. He then poured water from his right hand over to the left with which he washed his genitals. Then he performed a minor purification, like he did for his regular daily prayers, thereafter, taking up water he would insert fingers down to the roots of his head. Finally, he would let water flow over his entire body.”
Minor or major purification are both part of the act of worship rituals that are incumbent upon each person who is under an obligation to perform prayers.
The method of salvation of the whole mankind according to Islam is not true purification rather, it lies in their firm belief that there is no deity worthy of worship except God and Mohammad is his final messenger.
It’s a trite that all acts of worship must stand the following test of admissibility;
- The act of worship must correspond with the spirit of sharia for which it is done, or else it would be rejected. Therefore, celebrating the twenty-seventh night of Rajab, claiming that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) was taken up into heaven on that night. , despite the fact that it has not been legislated is void ab initio.
- The act of worship must correlate with the Sharia in its nature and/or category. Therefore, it is not permissible when a person slaughters a horse instead of a camel or goat as a sacrifice after Hajj.
- The act of worship must confirm with the Sharia in its quantity and/or amount. Therefore, if somebody adds two Rak’ah to the Dhuhr prayer, making a total of six Rak’ah instead of four, this would be unacceptable as it would not be coinciding with the Sharia in its quantity and/or amount.
- The act of worship must correspond with the Sharia in the manner prescribed. Therefore, if someone begins minor purification by washing face instead of hands, the act shall be rejected.
- The act of worship must correspond with the Sharia in the timing of its performance. Therefore, praying the Dhuhr prayer after sunset or fasting Ramadaan in Sha’baan, or in Shawwaal is nullity.
- The act of worship must correspond with the Sharia with regard to the place where it is performed. Therefore, one cannot do i’tikaaf in his own house, because the place of i’tikaaf is the mosque.
In a nutshell, an act of worship is not regarded as coincident with sharia unless it combines all six prerequisite conditions namely; Reason, Type, Amount , Manner, Time and Place. If someone performs baptism as an act of ritual purification, would this act of worship be in accordance with Islam??
Further, the source of the prohibition of the act of blindly imitating non-Muslims in matters of faith is instructively laid down in the words of the prophet,
“You will surely follow the ways, steps, or traditions of those who came before you, span by span and yard by yard (very closely) even if they entered into a lizard’s hole you will enter it……….”
Muslim sociologist Ibn Khaldoon explains that those who’ve experienced a military defeat tend to suffer from a defeated mentality which then leads them to imitate their conqueror. (Al-Muqadimah, 147) He explained, “The defeated person is always infatuated, and imitates the conqueror in his motto, his religion and all his conditions and habits as well. Naturally a person always thinks that power, superiority, and excellence are with the one who conquers, so he glorifies him by imitation.”
Imitating the conqueror may not necessarily be a bad thing However, there is one category that is strictly prohibited for Muslims to imitate non-Muslims in and that is in their religions, their forms of worship etc.
Islam’s teachings have remained the same over the centuries, yet have adapted very well to constantly changing societies. Its teachings encourage us to take whatever is good and to leave whatever is bad, from Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Islam does not frown upon the growth of our intellect, rather it teaches us to continuously strive for knowledge.
Consequently, and in conclusion baptism as a mode of purification and/or salvation cannot stand in the eyes of the law (sharia) and in addition to the dictates of Islam, hence anyone claiming such to be related to Islam is spuriously far away from Islam.
The writer is a lawyer.