From time to time, I hear from our youth about a young person who claims he has left Islam and become an atheist or agnostic. Most of the time, the news leaves parents in denial or worry, close friends in shock, and for the general Muslim community unfortunately nothing but new gossip to spread. The most disturbing part are those Da’wah activists and Imams who not only have failed to implement substantial programs to help our youth hold on to their faith, they lock themselves in their Mosques serving only those who come to them, but then are the first to participate in the gossip and throw labels at these young men and women as Kafir or apostate!

I believe that most of such claims by our sons and daughters are not really a status of apostate or real atheism, but rather one of a non-religiosity status affected by many aspects and circumstances around them that led them to an unfortunate conclusion. From broken families, bullying at schools, media portraying Islam in terrorism, entertainment outlets feeding desires over intellect and self-consciousness, to intellectual or social challenges around college campuses, the lack of true Da’wah from Mosques or Islamic leaders, and even harsh judgment or exclusion, will ultimately produce young men and women who will not identify much with Islam.

What confirms my claim is the notion that in many instances these individuals still maintain an almost subconscious status of religiosity even in the simple format of social practices. Whether it is coming to the mosque for marriage, accepting condolences for a death in the family in the Islamic traditional way, or the refusal to eat pork for example, are all true signs of Islam in the hearts of these individuals. It is our duty to embrace and catch people who are holding on by a thread rather than declare them unfit for the title of Muslim by focusing on what Islamic practices are missing from their lives!

We must understand that many of these individuals did not know much about Islam in the first place, and to rush into making judgments on them is just not fair. Some believers from the Sahabah who were students of the prophet (SAAW) and earned the title of the best generation had felt doubts in their hearts about faith and feared to even speak of it! Abu Hurayrah (RAA) said that a group of Sahabah came to the prophet (SAAW) and said: “We find a burden in our hearts so heavy on us, we dare not even mention it!” The prophet (SAAW) said: “Did you find it?” They said: “Yes.” He (SAAW) said: “That is the true status of faith.”

[1]

Struggles in keeping or practicing faith is a normal phenomenon, and we need to lean on each other for help and support, not bash each other because of it. In this environment we live in today, many of our young men and women find themselves with doubts. We need to embrace them and make their hesitation or doubtfulness toward practicing Islam a healthy sign not a bad one, exactly the way the prophet (SAAW) handled it.

Invite in Mercy

The change for good for these individuals starts with our willingness to accept them and make them feel that they belong despite their major issues. We must be merciful toward others the same way we are all in need of mercy for ourselves. It is interesting that the prophet (SAAW) was described in the Quran as mercy to mankind {For We have sent you [O Prophet,] as none other than a mercy to all the [people of the] world} 21:107. At the same time, he said: “No one of you shall be saved by his deeds.” Sahabah asked: “Even you, O messenger of Allah?” He said: “Even myself, unless Allah covers me with His Mercy.”[2]  If people feel that humility within us, that we are in as much need of God’s Mercy as they are, then we might have a chance to earn their trust, start a relationship on a journey we are all traveling, and hopefully by the Will of God and by His mercy and forgiveness, reach the final destination in Heaven.

Invite in Manners

A true believer will always exude excellence and humbleness. People need to see how our faith reflects peace and contentment within us and makes our lives beautiful. I believe that real life is more powerful than all kinds of lectures and verbal reminders. Actions speak louder than words. It is interesting that the prophet (SAAW) was also described in the Quran as being the best in character and manners. Allah (SW) said: {For, indeed, you are most surely, [a man] of outstanding character} 68:4.

In Conclusion

I remember many years ago, after the death of a young person, I gave a talk at the cemetery urging young men and women to give themselves a chance for peace and tranquility by establishing a relationship with God, for only God can offer that. A young lady came to me afterwards and said: “This is the first time I heard a speech telling us how much God loves us.  We were always only taught how much He will punish us, and that made me afraid in a way I just wanted to forget about God and not think about it!”

If it is of our doctrine that people of major sins who died even without repentance are under the Mercy of God, if He (SW) wishes to forgive them and have them enter Heaven, and that if He (SW) wishes to purify them by some punishment and then let them enter Heaven, why do we assume that He will punish them? Isn’t this a bad assumption (سوء الظنّ بالله) about God? He (SW) is the One who neither benefits from our good deeds nor is affected by our bad ones! And if the prophet (SAAW) said: “No one shall enter Hell with an atom’s weight of faith in his heart,[3] who are we to judge people away from the Mercy of God?

Let us perfect the art of inviting the love of God into the hearts of our sons and daughters instead of perfecting the art of sending them to Hell.

By Sh Kifah Mustapha

 

[1] Muslim

[2] Muslim

[3] Bukhari & Muslim