Sunday, July 27, 2008

Why are so many young Muslims leaving Islam?

Alhamdulilah my group of friends are pretty Muslim (whatever that means)and over the past year a few of my non-Muslim friends have become Muslim also. For the most part, I am among people who appreciate the beauty of Islam and immerse themselves in it. However, for every up there is a down and while I am among very dedicated Muslim youth, I am also among troubled youth that ultimately leave Islam. I suppose as someone who believes so strongly in Islam, I find it impossible to come up with a reason as to why anyone would ever want to leave such a perfect religion. Nonetheless I'd like to discuss it and perhaps someone could help shine light on the topic as well.

Last year I was sad to hear that someone very dear to my family left Islam. It was rather hard to believe as she came from a very religious family and was a good Muslim as well. Apparently, she was studying philosophy at University and soon started to question Islam. I for one have witnessed the dangers of Philosophy while I was studying for my undergrad as it was one of the classes offered in order to fulfill the general education requirement. I only took one class in this subject and began thinking slightly differently (Shukr Allah that I had made the Masjid my sanctuary and the Quran my guidance or I don't know where I would be today). This girl went so far as to study Philosophy as her major. I happen to think of all the subjects, Philosophy is the most detrimental to its learner's faith in that it poses questions that the Human mind doesn't naturally think. This particular person (we'll call her Alice) looks at things from an existential point of view. While I cannot remember much about existentialism besides what I have learned in my 12th grade English class, I know that it can lead to atheism. It prompts people to ask questions such as "How do I know God exists if I cannot see him?" In order for something to exist it must be tangible, for example "If a tree 'fell' in the forest 10 miles from my house, how do I know that the tree really existed if I did not hear it fall?" Naturally the human mind does not think this way. Philosophy poses such questions and Shaytan runs with them making people doubt their faith. If your are reading this and were considering studying Philosophy, please do so under a Muslim scholar and please study Islamic Philosophy - its safer.

Alice's sister is also no longer Muslim, possibly through the influence she gets from her elder sister. Alice's mother refuses to talk to her because when she does so shaytan starts whispering in her ears. Alice often asks questions like "How do I know there is a life after death?" I have pondered that question a few times in an attempt to explain it to her, but I haven't come up with an answer that pleases her, because to me it is just part of my faith and the belief in life after death makes me Muslim.

Someone else I know is no longer Muslim because her boyfriend is not Muslim and she knows that she cannot be with him if she is Muslim and he is not. May Allah (SWT) protect us, our families, and the entire Muslim Ummah (ameen).

My mind cannot fathom how anyone could believe in Allah one day and then the next denounce His existence all together. My studies have revolved around science and everything that I have ever learned in my years as a student has confirmed the existence of a higher being from chemistry and the binding of atoms to Human Anatomy and Physiology. Subhan'Allah the human body is so intricate and its function is so amazing almost machine-like that there is no way that any of this was an accident. Salt water and fresh water didn't just randomly decide not to mix. Its not mere coincidence that when a person goes for abdominal surgery and their intestines are moved out of the abdominal cavity and then place back again in a bunch after surgery that they automatically move back into the correct position. Or how about your eyes start to secrete tears in order to wash our a foreign object that has entered it? I could go into the secretion of hormones in response to different signals of the body, but it will take a while. My point is, it absolutely cannot be a fluke or a mistake, someone is behind it all, and that someone is Allah (SWT).

Although my family is not very religious (my immediate family) there are certain things that they have been rather strict about. My parents have done a good job of implementing the idea of what is acceptable and what is not acceptable to wear in public, even when I wasn't a hijaabi, they would be strict about tight clothing and enforced that I wore pants or long skirts (mind you my mom is not even a hijaabi), we only ate zabiha, we never touched alcohol, we fasted in Ramadan, we wore "proper hijaab" to the masjid and boys were never allowed at home and they also were not allowed to call home. I guess the reason I am saying this is that with all this conditioning throughout life (an I am using conditioning in a positive tone)I couldn't understand being anything but Muslim. While my parents were strict, they never were extremely tough. I know that the parents of some rebellious youth are extremely tough on their kids.

I feel that there needs to be a degree of being strict, however I find that extreme strict behavior is a mistaken on the parents' part in that it often is the extra nudge in pushing a child away. Adolescents are like children, if you tell them not to something they want to do it even more. I am not advocating not telling your children to stay away from certain things (as a matter of fact I encourage it) rather I am saying don't be too harsh. If you keep your child as a prisoner and yell at them at the drop of the hat you are building a ticking time bomb.

I am not a mother, however my belief is that there needs to be a degree of exposure to the outside world in order to balance everything out. Of course you wouldn't want your teenage child out late at night without your presence, but don't completely band him/her from going out, instead let them go out with friends you approve of and pick them up at a time you feel is decent. Be your child's friend. be the person your child wants to talk to, the one he/she asks questions when confused. I find that in our societies especially among parents who come from non-western countries we find that parents desire to build up this wall to distinguish the Parent-child relationship but the reality of the matter is we no longer live back home. Here, there are bigger fitnas to deal with. So what if your daughter dropped a glass of milk - calm down - just ask her to pick it up, there is no need to yell and call names. This is just one example.

I have seen over the top strict parents, but I have also seen the "who cares" parent. These parents don't ask questions, they don't place curfews, they just don't care. They are under the impression that just because their kid is hanging around Muslims everything is good. The truth is: It's not! I have family in England where the population of Muslims is large and parents have the "who cares" mentality.My last visit to England was in my late teen years and I was shocked to see what was happening (drinking, smoking, dating), of course this doesn't only happen in England it happens everywhere...this is just where I saw it. Teens are like babies, they are curious, they want to try different things even if they know it is bad for them, they want to try it anyway: Alcohol, drugs, sex and before they know it they are in way too deep.

I have also found that while we are all trying to live the American dream, family life has jumped out the window and committed suicide. There is no quality family time, technology doesn't help either. I mean in the living room we see everyone's eyes glued to the TV (in my case my ears are plugged to some lecture as my laptop sits on my lap), on road trips everyone has their ears busy with their ipods, there is no longer any discussion. Seriously, be your child's friend.

I have heard that women have no rights from ex-Muslim sisters. What kind of example are we putting forth in our dealings with our daughters and sisters? How are we treating them that it makes them believe that Islam has made them second class citizens? The answer "Its because you're a girl" to the question "Why not?" is ridiculous and it is an injustice to that person and the religion of Islam. When you answer a question in that manner you are saying "Because you are a woman I can treat you differently." Frankly, I think that's unjust. Don't get me wrong, there are certain roles in society a woman is meant to play and certain rules a man is meant to play, what I fail to understand is why do people make performing these roles and other roles so complicated? Why can't your daughter go out with a group of sisters? Why can't you daughter travel abroad as your son did?

I can go on and on, but its late and I'm tired.

Would anyone like to shine light on this?


Fathimah said...

It's sad about Alice and her sister. Sometimes questions flood our mind and sometimes these are destructive. When this happens I start doing something useful and ignore the Shaytan. Auzoobillahi min ashaytanir rajeem.

Your Iman seems to be very strong, Masha Allah! May Allah shower His Blessings and Mercy on you more and more! said...

Jazak'Allah Khair sister for your comment.

I think that my iman like anyone else's can use a lot of work in order to strengthen it more and more, but Alhamdulilah. I think a lot of my faith comes from the environment that I am in, the subjects that I study and the company that I take. I am truly blessed...please keep me in your dua's.

To seek refuge from Allah when shaytan starts whispering questions in your mind about your religion is a good think. May Allah SWT protect us all. Please make dua for Alice and her sister and every Muslim person that they remain steadfast on the deen.

Salaam said...

Salaam alaikum sister,

Regarding your friend Alice, her problem seems to be that she doesn't want to experience what is at the core of the religious experience: faith!
At some point with the deen, we are standing on a cliff stepping off, without any easy independent confirmation that there is a god there to catch us. It is only the knowledge in our heart of Allah (swt) that sustains us in making that step. Faith is the difference between knowing that the Quran is the uncorrupted word of Allah (swt), or thinking that it is just a swell storybook.
There is a wonderful parable in Fyodor Dostoevsky's novel, The Brothers Karamazov called "The Grand Inquisitor."
It's a Christian parable, but I think it will work to illustrate the issue with your friend Alice. In it, the author posits that Christ returns to Earth in the time of the Catholic Inquisition. The Grand Inquisitor finds out and has him arrested. He will burn Christ at the stake the next day.
The Inquisitor brings a lament to Christ: Why did he not give proofs of the existence of god? Because proofs were not given, the Inquisitor has become angry and freely admits he now works for Satan. Because proofs were not given, we have the freedom to choose Allah--or not, to have faith--or not.
Allah (swt) wants the courage of our faith, and so has not given us easy, independent scientific confirmation of his existence.
Your friend, it seems to me, is angry like the Grand Inquisitor.
Salaam said...

While I can agree with your comment some what Salaam, I must disagree with what you say in regards to a lack of signs. There are many signs of the existence of a divine being that is "in charge" of the universe. I pointed towards science and how atoms mix together and the intricacy in which they do and how they are excited when there is an odd number of electrons in the valence shell. Or how the systems in our body work, how chemicals play a vital role in whether your body functions properly or if you feel sick. Even if you look at Embryology...Subhan'Allah this process was explained in great detail and accuracy in the Quran so many centuries ago before people even had the ability to open up the womb or perform an ultrasound to see what went on in a woman's body during her nine months of pregnancy...this is no coincidence. There is far too much order in the universe for it to just be a chance happening. There are signs...things just don't happen. Of course, I agree that explaining this to an Atheist or Agnostic is difficult.

Salaam said...

Salaam alaikum sister,

Perhaps I'm using all the wrong words. I'm sorry, this is hard sometimes since I am new and without a teacher I trust. There is something in us that moves toward the divine being. The courage is in believing it and listening to it. It sounds like your Iman is so strong and you are so much farther down the path than me into absolute certainty that the conversation from both of us proceeds from different places. As a relatively new convert, I can relate to the leap of faith imagery because I just went through it (and I would call myself a "conflicted" convert right now).
What was it like when you first converted and said Shahadah? Or are you a revert? Or have you always had strong Iman? I'm asking because the answer might be of benefit to me.
Salaam said...


I didn't intend my response to your comment to sound as if I was putting you down (if it did, I sincerely apologize).

Alhamdulilah, I have always been Muslim, however like anyone with the perils of peer pressure and a family that is more understanding of culture than religion I lost my way somewhere along the line. It was a rather rough patch for me where I would put the love of others before the love of Allah (SWT)..what I mean is I knew the things that I was doing was wrong but I had the mentality of "I'll do it and make tawbah later." I know it sounds ridiculous now.

I had to go through a rough patch, through a series of let downs and a spell of depression (not clinical depression, but spiritual depression). Basically when I was in this state of 'jahilliyah' nothing went my way, everything went wrong and as any Muslim would I turned to Allah (SWT) and here I am.

I have faith now Alhamdulilah and yes, Alhamdulilah I have an understanding. I think I went through what I like to call an Iman Rush. I think it came from a series of soul searching moments coupled in with reading stories from the lives of the sahabah (RA), reading the Quran (In English), taking classes, etc. But along with that Allah (SWT) has blessed me with a wonderful group of friends who are strong in their faith and who encourage me to go to the masjid, pray on time, and overall be a good Muslim.

While I have no idea what it was like for me the first time I said shahada as I am sure that it is something I did at a very young age, I can tell you when I came to my senses it was a very liberating feeling. It is just this wonderful sense of contentment and awe that overtakes me.

I can imagine that being new to the faith is a difficult transformation, and that it comes with a lot of lifestyle changes, but the fact that you took the shahada shows that you believe. Allah (SWT) tests those who he loves and he does not put a burden on his believer that the believer cannot handle. Insha'Allah I will keep you in my dua.

Please tell me what it was like for you when you found Islam and how you felt upon taking your shahada.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Your sister in Islam.

Salaam said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sacrifice4Allah said...

SubhanaAllah leaving Islam?! I cannot even FATHOM that. May Allah Guide Alice and all 'ex-Muslims' [and i say that word with caution] back to the beautiful and perfect Deen. Ameen. I remember watching the news on an Islamic channel about young Muslims in France leaving Islam for other religions but the flip side was taking place, many native French people coming to Islam.

emj said...

hi. not salaam, hi. Ok. So i'm 16. so i think all your 'good muslim' stuff is, no offense, bullshit. I've observed myself and my (few) muslim friends. It really comes down to being your child's friend. My parents are a bit overwhelming. While they care, they care a bit too much. I can't even go to a relatives house without them there, fussing and fretting. Also, they aren't so religious. They didn't pray until i was 14, they never put me in islamic school, even though everyone in the family warned them to. The only snippets of islamic faith, aside from the basic 'allah and muhammed, pbuh' i knew were from stories my grandmother told me as a child. In the end, their constant worryings served to annoy me and to make me do whatever it was they didn't want me to do. And eventually, combined with the non-existent faith they'd established in me, it drove me off of islam. I struggled for a while back there, in fact, my 13th year was horrible for me. I wanted to keep on being a muslim, but i just couldn't do it. Once that seed of doubt is planted in you, it creeps and crawls until you just can't get it out. I never told my parents. I still haven't. I hope i never have to. Maybe ill just disappear when i turn 18. My parents, somehow, thought that i was still totally a muslim. They somehow thought id pick up on the islamic things by myself, or that id blindly believe because they told me to. In an wholly american enviroment, complete with 9/11 biases, and no strong faith, what the hell did they expect? I wasn't going to wait around hiding from boys while the rest of my friends went out and partied, especially if i didn't even know why i was hiding in the first place. I wasn't going to be that freak, the terrorists daughter everyone talks about. Guilt by association, i thought, and i even stopped visiting pakistan. No way was i gunna be a geeky outcast. Im sorry, in a way, that i left islam. In another way im relived. But for the most part, im still good and well confused.

Anonymous said...

Reasons I left Islam after reading the Quran in English translations: 1) I read the story of Safiya, I find the part where she encounters Prophet Mohammed's army, the fate of her family and her marriage to Prophet Mohammed too cruel to believe this is truly 'compassionate' or 'merciful' 2) Quran and hadith contradict each other on crucial points. Example: Quran doesn't order to punish apostates at all on earth and ahadith actually call for execution of apostates (!).

After these two points I started seriously looking at atheist arguments against Islam.
Biggest questions:
1) If Allah is almighty and allknowingly, then why does he need to test your soul to decide where you will end up?
2) If all souls are equal, then why is Jennah different for men and women? Is there still a gender difference there??
3) If Allah has no human attributes, then what do we call emotions like anger, joy, regret, happy etc.?

And the final blow was disproven 'quranic' science on embryology.

I was done, I left Islam forever and I never looked back again.

I finally became Buddhist, because this 'religion' fits my atheist beliefs and it also satisfies the spiritual needs all humans feel deep inside them.

Anonymous said...

Hahaha I have to share this with you^^

You introduced yourself at the bottom of this page with "send me an email if you'd like to be added."

But I read: "send me an email if you'd like to beheaded."

Think that speed reading course was not meant for me :P

Anonymous said...

Islam is a complete waste of energy.. Do something positive with your energy...

Anonymous said...

To th author of the blog,

I think you have a very black and white view of things and you dont stop to think that religion and belief in divinity is dependent on individuality and interpretation. It is possible to be a philosopher and religious. Just like you can be a doctor (science in a nutshell and darwin etc) and be a muslim too. Religion can not be proved. Glaring at youtube videos with signs and proof does not make it proof. It is just faith. You have it or your dont. I think your friend probably faced many personal obstacles when deciding to leave especially considering she was devout to begin with, so it could not have been easy. But you can not shy away from certain topics in case you might lose faith. It was meant to happen.

I can not speak for why people leave Islam/religion as I am confident they each have their own reasons. Just like people have their own reasons for embrassing religion and convert.

You need to open your mind. If you honestly think Philosophy poses a danger to the imaan, then your imaan is weak to begin with. At the end of the day you can come across any temptation and any opponent yet retain your faith in God, if you are meant to. I think Allah decides who will believe and who will not (as stated in the Quran). So just wish your friend the best and dont judge what you dont understand. Dont disapprove, afterall you would not like it if somebody disapproved of you being Muslim. Just live and let live.

I would also strongly encourage people who say their are Muslims to practise their faith and be humble and gentle in their dealings with brothers and sisters. Do not judge, do not play God, do not ridicule, mock, denigrate or slander others. You never know if you were the last drop to push people away from faith.

All the best,

Ross said...

The dangers of Philosophy....? While I understand what you are saying, you may need to think about why Philosophy is "dangerous" to Islamic Faith.

I someone abandons faith, family, security and familiarity for the absence of belief or another belief. Then the faith they leave must not have been satisfactory or believable.

One simple idea: If Mohammed brought the final revelation then Islamic Countries should be places of learning, prosperity and stability. If he really brought the final revelation then it would be obvious to the outsider to Islam and the Muslim.

Unfortunately it appears that Islamic States are not stable, prosperous (or as prosperous as the western countries). They are not centers of learning or the envy of the world as you would expect from a country that is following the final revelation.

Sorry if this is offensive or bothersome to you.