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Is Being Muslim Necessary?

If I do good work and exhort others to endurance, am I a good Muslim or just a good person? Do I have to be a Muslim to be a good person?

From One who keeps losing and finding the path.

A. Of course, you can be a good person regardless of your religion. Yet, to be a Muslim is to save yourself; to establish correct beliefs (`aqida). Allah created us to worship Him in this life, and to be a Muslim is to be a believer. Therefore, it is most important to first be a Muslim and then to be a good person. Someone might be a Muslim and yet not a good person - not every Muslim is good. Someone might be Muslim, fulfilling all of Islamís obligations, yet lacking good manners. Such a person in is need to polish the heart by means of tazkiyya - purification.