I don’t like labels.
I have always considered myself an atheist, but I was born into a Quaker family.
There is no god (but God). And Muhammad is his Messenger.
I don’t think it is inconsistent to hold beliefs that are simultaneously atheist and Muslim, and this is how.
First, the atheism. I do not believe that it is possible ever to find empirical, measurable evidence of God or anything like God. Were science ever to do so, such a thing would not be God but a new empirical force or thing. To look for God in the measurable, empirical, scientific world is to look in the wrong place; and thus, in the measurable, empirical, scientific world – the “real” world? – God does not and cannot exist.
But that does not mean that God cannot exist in worlds beyond the measurable and empirical, worlds which we can reach only through our imagination and our prayers (which, viewed empirically, are the same thing). You could call these worlds “spiritual”; I wouldn’t argue. One might disagree about the importance of such worlds, but not as to their existence even if only in the minds of women and men. These worlds of the spirit and of the imagination include worlds which scientists have explored, worlds which cannot be measured because they can never be observed, times and places beyond the visible universe, branes, projections and spaces in mathematical dimensions beyond the four we know and understand.
Thus we can appreciate the literature – texts and doctrines – describing these worlds for what it is: allegory – both beautiful and ugly, and faith is the degree to which we accept the truth of the message behind the allegory.
I believe that there is, behind the allegories of all the religious texts and doctrines of all the world, a universal Truth. It is One which I choose to accept, but not one that can ever be determined objectively. Nor is it one that I can ever fully express in words, but it is One to which I can but try (and fail) to approximate in my life by my actions, my thoughts and my Love.
I believe that the true faithful of all faiths adhere to the same One; and that this is another way of saying the first part of the shahadah: that there is no god, but God.
This Truth is, and is more than, a belief that goodness outweighs evil; that love, truth, peace, joy, life, health, prosperity and wisdom must prevail over hate, falsehood, war, sorrow, death, sickness, famine and ignorance. It’s the same Truth that Bob Marley tried to express; the same Truth as both tawhid and the Trinity.
It is a truth that is denied whenever people purporting to be religious choose to condemn the adherents of other faiths, who divide the One world into “them” and “us”, Moors and Christians, Jews and Gentiles, Muslims and kuffars, and who in doing so divide God.
I believe that this universality was a key part of the doctrines of Muhammad, pbuh, and thus I can also say that Muhammad is Messenger of God; and because I can thus truthfully say the whole of the shahadah, I could, without contradiction call myself a Muslim. (I do not intend to eschew either alcohol, bacon or lardy cakes, but I hope you get my point).
Despite this faith, I am happy to continue to think of myself as an atheist.