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.”