Whether it is in the masjid, on the street, or online, these incidents are too numerous to count. If you haven’t heard these stories, then you haven’t been listening. Every day, time and time again, a troubled Muslim reaches out and communicates to someone, in one way or another, that they are thinking about leaving Islam. They explain that they have been in a troubled state for a while. They say that they pray and they feel nothing; that when they sin, they no longer feel guilty. They talk about how tired they are of the rules and the restrictions and being boxed in.
Every time I hear this story, I feel a deep aching in my heart. I ache because I realize that, by this time in the conversation, it is often too late. I ache because, while this person is so far removed from their Lord that they feel Islam is the root of their problems, the real problem is that they have never truly been exposed to the beauty of their deen (religion) at all. I ache most of all, though, because this is our (the community’s) fault. By failing to properly teach and explain our deen to our youth, we have failed them and set them up for disappointment and failure.
Teaching Our Ummah—Where We Have Failed
This failure begins at the very core of what we teach young and new Muslims alike. When we begin to teach our children about our deen, we focus almost exclusively on the outward actions. We teach them that they must pray, that they must make wudu (ablution), that they must grow out their beard, that they must not eat pork or drink alcohol, that they must never date, and much more. When a new Muslim makes shahadah (the testimony of faith), the mission of the community seems to inundate the new brother or sister with a torrent of rules. I have even been present for a number of shahadat that are immediately followed with people either criticizing the new Muslim’s dress or trying to teach the person how to read and write in Arabic!
Eventually, if our new Muslim brother or sister hasn’t already been driven away from the masjid (mosque) by our torrents of dos and don’ts, they eventually ask about Iman (faith) and how it differs from Islam. This discussion is possibly the most critical point in the development of a Muslim’s deen, yet the same people who had so much to say about rules before have very little to say here. The majority of the time, we refer them to Hadith Jibril. While Hadith Jibril is certainly an excellent starting place and a primer for beginning to understand this distinction, it is a Hadith that requires a greater depth of understanding to truly appreciate. If Hadith Jibril were the end-all be-all, then Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala (Glorified is He) would not have bothered with the grand elaboration on this conversation that occurs all throughout the Qur’an and Sunnah (teachings of the Prophet ﷺ, peace be upon him).
Beyond this, most Muslims can only readily cite one other passage concerning the relationship of Iman and Islam:
The bedouins say, “We have believed.” Say, “You have not [yet] believed; but say [instead], ‘We have submitted,’ for faith has not yet entered your hearts.” [Qur’an 49:14]
Thus, our ad-hoc shaykh reasons, Iman means “faith,” and faith will only come after you have Islam or “submit.”1
Then the conversation is turned back to dos and don’ts, and an invaluable opportunity is lost.
Islam, Iman and What We Ought to be Saying
When we have the chance to sit down with our children or a new Muslim and teach them these critical concepts, we need to be comprehensive, we need to use analogies and examples, and we cannot underestimate the value of reasoning and reflection. A conversation could go something like this:
In the Hadith Jibril, we see that Islam is described through a set of actions and Iman is described through a set of beliefs. This is why you will oftentimes see Islam translated as “submission” and Iman translated as “belief.” But these translations don’t do the terms justice.
For example, Anas bin Malik radi allahu `anhu (may God be pleases with him) relates that Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said: “None of you truly believes until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself,” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî and Sahîh Muslim]. The love described in this hadith is not a passive thing; it is in fact very active! In the Qur’an, Allah (swt) also almost always pairs a description of a believer or mu’min with an action. For example:
“But they who believe and do righteous deeds – those are the companions of Paradise; they will abide therein eternally.” [Qur’an 2:82]
“This is the Book about which there is no doubt, a guidance for those conscious of Allah – Who believe in the unseen, establish prayer, and spend out of what We have provided for them […]” [Qur’an 2:2-3]
Additionally, when you look at the description of Islam in Hadith Jibril, you see that the very first act is to “witness that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah,” the witnessing of which requires not just belief, but an unwavering conviction in two of the principles of Iman (Allah’s Oneness and Messengers).
So… what does this mean? It means that your Islam and your Iman are in a mutual symbiotic relationship. An example of this is if we were to place a tree sapling and a young boy into two separate, air-tight rooms. Both the tree and the boy require certain provisions to survive: for the tree, you need sunlight, soil, and water; for the boy, he needs food, water, and affection. However, even if we provide all these necessary things, the tree and the boy will not survive while separated. Eventually, the tree will run out of carbon dioxide and the boy will run out of oxygen. To solve this problem, both the boy and the tree need to be placed into the same room. With their outside resources and each other, they can both live, grow, and develop. Our Islam and our Iman are the same way. To develop our Islam or submission requires hard work, regimentation, and focus. To develop our Iman or our utter conviction, we need sincere reflection, humility, and gratitude.
However, if we try to survive with our Islam alone and don’t combine it with Iman, we are ultimately hypocrites. Each day, we bear witness to and worship a Lord we doubt exists and we take action for a wide variety of reasons that have nothing to do with pleasing Him. If we do this, we ultimately share the ranks of those who joined Islam for political gain, for convenience, or simply because they were told to. Conversely, if we try to survive with our Iman and no Islam, we are ultimately rejecting the very Salvation we believe we’ve been given. Essentially, we are saying that while we know Allah (swt) is our Master, and we know He has sent us a Message, and we know we will be judged by how we follow that Message, we shall not follow that Message and we shall ignore our Master.
Thus, while you can build your Islam through practice and regimentation, and you can build your Iman through reflection and gratitude, either one is stunted from the start without the other. For the system to truly work, your Islam must become the Iman of your limbs, and your Iman must become the Islam of your heart. For ultimately, the greatest form of submission is the submission of your heart, and the greatest conviction is the one that emanates through your actions. Therefore, regimentation and toil alone will not do; you must also reflect, become humble, and increase in gratitude.
Ihsan and Taqwa– The Sweetness
This journey is not without its perils. While we grow in our Islam, we will most certainly be tested:
“You will surely be tested in your possessions and in yourselves. And you will surely hear from those who were given the Scripture before you and from those who associate others with Allah much abuse […]” [Qur’an 3:186]
Indeed, people will witness your actions and your demeanor change, and they will not be happy. Your friends may abandon you because you no longer engage in the questionable acts they participate in or because they feel embarrassed to be around you. Your family may begin to accuse you of becoming “extreme.” Additionally, you will be tested by Allah (swt) through your possessions and by Shaytan through whisperings in your heart. This is because this life is meant as a test. The verse continues:
“[…] But if you are patient and fear Allah- indeed, that is of the matters (worthy) of determination.” [3:186]
This is where our deen truly becomes unlike any other. As we continue to carefully provide for our Islam and Iman with their necessary ingredients and as they continue to meld and grow together, our increasing level of submission and our growing conviction and faith begin to bear fruit.
These are the seeds of Taqwa growing deep within our souls. Taqwa is oftentimes described as “God-consciousness,” but it is much deeper than that. We are beings whose only true sustenance comes from Allah (swt)—the closer we are to Him, the more directly we experience Him, the more sustenance we receive and the more we feel at home. Taqwa is when we are gifted with feeling and experiencing the presence of our Lord. As we gain Taqwa, we begin to see the world for how it truly is—the blessings and Mercy of Allah become joys and splendors for us, and the sins of the world become like thorns which we see and avoid. In fact, one of the Companions of the Prophet described Taqwa as akin to walking through a path filled with thorns while trying to leave your clothing unscathed.
This is the sweetness of our religion: because of our sacrifice and because of our devotion, we begin to feel absolute peace and tranquility through our submission to Allah (swt). Not only do we feel joy and felicity as a result of our prayers, we begin to crave worship and no longer feel toil or burden from it. The joy is infectious, and it emanates from our very being. Unless your heart is covered in darkness from sin or a seal from pure arrogance, simply being around a person who has strong Taqwa is a transformative and joyful experience. This is Ihsan (excellence), and it is beautifully summarized in Hadith Jibril.
In sum, as you begin or continue your journey in search of Salvation, please remember these things. First, that you need both Islam and Iman and neither can be neglected. This means you must toil and regiment your worship as well as reflect and grow in gratitude. On your journey, there will be times when you will feel more connected to your Lord than others, and there will most certainly be tests and challenges thrown at you from all sides. However, by being patient, the greatest reward you can possibly imagine awaits on the other side, both in this life and in the Hereafter.
Having this conversation with a Muslim, no matter what the age, is a fundamental part of preparing him or her for a successful journey. All else must come secondary: just as a journey is doomed to failure without a map or destination, a person’s life journey is doomed to failure without knowing the Straight Path and their desired Destination. May Allah (swt) empower us to guide our youth and new Muslims aright, and may He guide all of us upon the Straight Path.
- This is, in fact, a dangerously incorrect interpretation of this verse. Not only is the meaning of Iman far deeper than the English term “faith,” but this particular verse was revealed in response to a group of bedouins who declared shahadah once they saw the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ was about to be victorious and saw gain in becoming Muslim. As such, this verse does not dismiss the likelihood of a person having Iman before Islam or having both simultaneously. This is a critical illustration of how interpreting verses without referring to scholars can lead to perilous consequences. [Ma’arif Ul-Qur’an, Maulana Mufti Mohammad Shafi] [↩]
Brilliant and poignant.
Without a sincere heart full of faith, and without a soul full of light, what are we but vessels of clay.
Thank you Matthew for a real-deal article. Love it!
Thank you for an excellent article, written with insight and understanding. I’d like to direct people to thehumblei.com by Ustadh Abu Aaliyah from the UK; for similar thought proving, concise and beneficial pieces all linked in some way to our inward state, impacting on the soul and heart as well as the limbs.
Oh wow, I feel like this article was written for me!
So much of what I want to say but haven’t been able to is all up there.
Mashallah, well done and Jazakallah khair.
May Allah swt bless us with a better understanding of his deen and message so that we can practice it and some day inshallah are able to guide ourselves and others to what is right.
Jazakum Allahu Khair for this absolutely brilliant article. Our ummah needed this.
Jazakallah khair for shedding light on this very important issue which is often not discussed as much as it should be!
Salam. I seek your advice. As I begin to get closer to Islam (I was not a good Muslim before, seldom pray and involved in major sinful activities), I began to feel a deep sadness inside me. I’m not sure what to do. But this didn’t stop from continuing to learn, practice and appreciate my religion. Just that this feeling is bothering me as I didn’t know the cause and what to do with it. Is this normal? Thanks.
Asslamoualaykum warahamatulahi wabarakatu Redzuan,
Bismillah ir Rahman Ir Rahim, may Allah swt help us all to communicate supporting each other to strengthen our iman. From all the comments I read yours reached my heart because you are in pain, that sadness is pain. May Allah forgive me if I am saying something wrong to you. In the past I have been deeply sad, in pain, so much so that it felt as if a dark cloud was over me constantly. I tried to shake it off with prayer, listening to the Qu’ran, attending Islamic events, conferences, classes but it remained with me. I isolated myself from everyone as I felt guilty responding “I am ok” when wasn’t but didn’t want to be the “one complaining about my situation” as always there is someone in a worst situation than mine/ours. I also wanted to be grateful to Allah swt for all the blessings but my heart was heavy and full of sadness. I asked, begged Allah swt to help me, guide me, TO FORGIVE ME for being such ungrateful creature but I HAD NOT forgiven myself. Allah swt is merciful beyond any human measure. You started by saying that “I was not a good Muslim before… Involved in major sinful activities”. Allah swt’s mercy opened your mind and soul to TURN TO ALLAH swt and change for the better. May Allah swt forgive me if I am wrong, I believe Allah swt forgave you already and Our Creator is opening the path to Islam to you. Embrace it! Forgive yourself, ask Allah swt to forgive you, hold on to the “rope of Allah swt” in moments of weakness/sadness. “my rope is the praying beads” practice Dhikr constantly, la ilaha illalah, subhannahAllahi wa bihamdihi, etc. Allah swt has a task/mission for each of us, find out what is yours in our Ummah. May Alah swt continue blessing you. Ameen
Assalamualaikum. Alhamdulillah you’re back to be a devoted muslim. It’s normal for everyone who wants to get closer to Allah to feel the way you feel no matter what sins we’ve committed. i think the feelings just come especially when i feel Allah is the Almighty and i’m just nothing. so i keep on repenting and praying hoping that Allah bless me with His love and mercy as well as His forgiveness. Just don’t stop believe in Him.
Waalaikumsalaam. Thank you for the kind advices and words of courage. I really appreciate it. May Allah reward you for this help.
InsyaAllah, I will continue to ask for HIS mercy and forgiveness. And I will forever be grateful to HIM for bringing me back to the light.
I will slowly forget my wrong past and continue moving forward towards HIM. Hopefully, HE will replace this sadness with happiness one day.
Assalamualaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh
You guys be quite about the sins of yours which Allah has concealed. If Allah has concealed them don’t reveal them otherwise may Allah never let this happen, you might be one of the people in the hadith who are of this ummah but are not forgiven.
It is completely normal. I have always very particular in praying 5 times a day and reading the Quran. Then, after I graduated high school, I suddenly got the anxiety that I’m not doing my Islam correctly and suddenly felt sad each time I did something because I felt like my efforts won’t be accepted. Afterward, I started listening to lectures by Suhaib Webb, Abdul Nasir Jangda, Wissam Sharieff, Nouman and other notable scholars in America and aH it gave me a lot of understanding plus they have a good sense of humor which makes it much easier. Also, I suffer from anxiety so sometimes, I do get sad even though I am praying. But hold on to the rope of Allah, inshAllah you will not lose faith Allah will make things easier for all of us inshAllah.
Saheeh Al-Bukhari, #2447.
Religion is very easy and whoever overburdens himself in his religion will not be able to continue in that way. So you should not be extremists, but try to be near to perfection and receive the good tidings that you will be rewarded.
I hope that helps.
Salam, Brother/Sister, Imam Suhaib has a lecture on youtube were he talks a lot about the value of our efforts, failing and getting back up and persevering etc. The fact that you feel your efforts might not be accepted is a good sign of Imaan and a sound heart and shows Ikhlaas.
Assalamualaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh
The hadith from Hanaa is very good. Also, fearing that you deeds may not be accepted is a praiseworthy attribute.
Also, make the dua Oh Allah help me to remember you, thank you and perfect my ibadah of you because
Assalamualaikum w.b.t Redzuan.
“If you find darkness in ur heart after sin, know that there is light in your heart. Because of it you felt the darkness” Ibn Aljawzi
Firstly, praise to ALLAH that u felt it. Some of them after doing major sin they dont feel anything.
We should have a strong faith in believing Allah S.W.T. Performing shalat 5 times a day, dhua, shalat tahajud, taubat, hajat etc. Inshaallah I believe you can do it.
Through these ALLAH helps you.Inshaallah your soul and faith will be getting stronger. There is a sirah nabawi our prophet Muhammad S.A.W; One day he asked his companions and the soldiers who performed shalat tahajjud?Then he only allowed those who performed shalat tahajjud to follow him in the battle to defeat the enemies.
Through shalat,dhua, doing good deeds; these are the ways to help us get closer to HIM. ALLAH LOVES US.
In real lives, everything happens is a test from ALLAH. The only reason ALLAH does that is because He wants us to remember HIM. Human when they are happy they tend to neglect ALLAH, but when they are in trouble, they are sad and remember ALLAH.
May Allah grant us Jannah.
Great article although I do have problems with the hypocrisy part of the article. I don’t believe hypocrisy to be performing acts of worshiping without knowing or understanding why. I think the issue of hypocrisy is not as black and white as you make it out to be and I think someone reading this may get the wrong idea, allahu alam. Lol, I may have gotten the wrong idea as well.
Nevertheless, a much needed article. Everything else was awesome.
I think what was meant by the hypocrisy part was not simply doing things without understanding the meaning but instead doing things without the intention and purpose of pleasing Allah. Should we do things for the purpose of pleasing other people, for example, simply so that we may look good in their eyes, that I feel would be hypocritical.
Subhanallah.May Allah gives us hidayah and forgiveness as everyday we’re always to do sin,either it is small sin or big sin. Another way to strengthen our Iman is always read,recite and tadabbur the Quran.InsyaAllah.
This problem is real. Thank you brother Matthew for the deep insights. I wholeheartedly agree with you that the lack of a “spiritual” dimension from people’s lives, lack of growth in Iman and Taqwa will lead people to perceive Islam as a mere set of do’s and dont’s which eventually makes them tired and depressed and see Islam as a burden rather than an illumination, and forces them to leave.
I’ve encountered many folks who were practicing Muslims at some point but are no longer practicing and left the community. And what I found with them is that they did not leave because they had a problem with Islamic theology, meaning, the oneness of God Almighty, the articles of faith, and the concepts about Allah which are introduced in the Qur’an. On the opposite this area seems fine for them. What seemed to have turned them off however is either 1) bad experiences with Muslims or 2) some junk they read on the internet that brewed confusion inside them and which was not treated right and in a timely manner. And the lack of social support for converts magnify the impact of such turnoffs. Muslim converts tend to feel lonely and not fitting in the community especially at the first phase of conversion, mainly because of the ethnic “groupies” in our community and each of us preferring to hang out with their own “kind.”
To be scientific, this is an area the needs deeper research. I wish Muslim organizations would dedicate some Social Sciences resources to study and categorize the main factors leading to people leaving Islam so we can understand them in depth, and figure out mitigation steps to slow it down and reverse it.
Asslam o Alikum wr wb
By Islam you mean deeds/actions to be performed. By iman you mean to have believe in the unseen,faith in Allah swt and whatever is revealed in Quran and be conscious that our every action and thought is being monitored by Allah swt ?
Salaam Aleykoum wa Rahmatoullah wa Barakatouhou,
masha’Allah, this is such an empowering article. May Allah reward you numerously!
I recently ‘lost’ a dear friend of mine who decided to leave Islam and it soothes my heart to read this just now. It came at the right time, soubhan’Allah.
AlhamdouliLlah, the guidance of Allah is a gift, it can be taken away from us if we do not cherish it.
May Allah swt make us cherish our Dien. Amien.
With all due respect, and I hate to put you in an uncomfortable position Matthew, haven’t you considered the possibility that people have carefully weighed the arguments and come to a different conclusion?
Do you think it’s fair to paint a group that includes good, sound-minded people, friends, brothers and sisters as troubled, confused, lost souls for simply coming to a different conclusion than your own?
It’s this level of dogmaticism that puts good people in difficult, oppressive situations that stand against the freedom of belief you believe in.
To the moderators, I appreciate allowing my comment but if you’re going to snip it, even a tiny bit, it’s better adab to write “edited”.
The last edited phrase “self-fulfilling prophecy” is meant to convey that the way you approach a situation can at times create the result on its own. As in, by approaching free thinkers as troubled and lost, the resulting social stigma can bring out that result.
Some people come to reject Islam for a variety of reasons. This article is meant to visualize a very real problem (new Muslims who are not given the proper tools to grow in their deen and subsequently are left without a roadmap for success) and give the tools to Muslims in the community to preempt the problem by having a valuable discussion right at the moment a person make Shahadah.
I’ve been a part of many of these discussions. Very rarely are the discussions, especially those in the masjid or on Muslim forums, about anything concerning arguments. There are, in fact, very powerful and legitimate arguments not for just the existence of God, but for a Muslim way of life as well. Regardless, most of these conversations are about “feeling numb” or “losing that energy” or not finding the motivation to practice.
I appreciate the thoughts.
Thanks for your response Matt, you can just refer to me as SS. 😉
I understand your point, that the purpose of this article is to address the lack of a holistic understanding of Islam, which in turn leads to people leaving the Deen, and that it’s rare from your experience for people to have issues with evidence concerning validity.
I have two issues with this. One, anecdotal evidence is just that, anecdotal, and by no means a statistical reality. I on the other hand only know reasonable, balanced, holistic and good people who’ve decided against Islam entirely because of tafakkur/careful thought.
Secondly, the subject of your article is mainly leaving Islam, your explanation/focus/solution is secondary, and so a wider discussion is both warranted and inevitable. Your Sufi brethren will contend it’s a lack of spiritual experience (i.e. Ghazali’s Spiritual Crisis), your Salafi brethren will contend it’s a lack of tawheed, your super-Salafi brethren will contend it’s a lack of manhaj, your Hizb-u-Tahrir brethren will say it’s a lack of Khilafah, the ahl-al-Kalam will say it’s a lack of philosophy, and the list goes on.
My message to you is that at the end of the day, you will find more and more educated, happy and good people leaving Islam purely because of careful thought. People who actually like Islam and Muslims, as they would ancient Egyptian and Norse cultures, but find it by no means convincing as reality.
I understand this is difficult to accept, because Islam’s central dogma is that the truth is clear and obvious in favour of it for someone presented with it properly, and thus disbelief is the most horrid of crimes. The existence of such people is no doubt a fountain of uncomfortable cognitive dissonance. Such people must be very confused or very evil. But what if they’re neither?
In time, humanity will take precedence over dogma, and you’ll have to figure this issue out. I’m afraid the Reckoning of the internet is inevitable.
Alhumdullillah we are certain of what lies in the future. it is people like yourself, ex-muslims who constantly seek to justify the decision they make who suffer from cognitive dissonance. people like yourself struggle with the understanding that most people love Islam, they love the peace and serenity it brings them. So through confirmation bias and so forth, you dig up anecdotes of people who have left Islam. But hey, we are still here, we are growing, we love Islam and we love Allah swt.
By the way, I know you are doing your utmost to be polite, and I respect that. I would note however that your flowery language and your name dropping doesn’t imply any wisdom, it just implies good memorisation.
If you were on the minbar, and dropped so low that you have to visit blogs to posit your opinion, to me that is a sign that Allah swt has taken away his mercy from you and you are facing a humiliation. I will pray for you.
I appreciate your confidence. Anecdotal evidence is perfectly valid so long as I do not attempt to draw some statistical value out of it. Anecdotal evidence, especially in this form, is enough for me to notice that there is indeed a problem and that problem needs a resolution.
I thank you for your thoughts on the reckoning of the internet. I see that we are both people simply seeking truth, and I too believe that the truth is clear and evident to any person who is willing to examine it with an open heart.
Thanks again for the interesting and thoughtful comments!
People refused to believe in the Creator and in His message even when prophets and messengers were right in front of their faces performing miracles. We also know that family members of prophets (son of prophet Noah and wife of prophet Lut and the uncle of prophet Muhammad pbuh) were disbelievers, even though they ate, worked, and slept in the house of a prophet.
So having the message delivered in a clear/comprehensive fashion is necessary, having good role models and a good support system is also necessary, however those are not sufficient conditions for someone to become and stay a believer. There are other factors related to the heart and soul that we don’t comprehend, and that are only in the hands of Allah.
You speak of one group of people who are disbelievers. Allah already mentioned them in the opening answers to Al-Fatihah, dismissing them with 2 sentences before moving on to describe hypocrites:
“Indeed, those who disbelieve – it is all the same for them whether you warn them or do not warn them – they will not believe. Allah has set a seal upon their hearts and upon their hearing, and over their vision is a veil. And for them is a great punishment.” 2:6-7.
The article here is concerning what shortcomings there are among Muslims today, not doing what we are supposed to be doing, to assist the first group of people to whom the Qur’an is addressed (i.e. ourselves):
“This is the Book about which there is no doubt, a guidance for those conscious of Allah, Who believe in the unseen, establish prayer, and spend out of what We have provided for them, And who believe in what has been revealed to you, [O Muhammad], and what was revealed before you, and of the Hereafter they are certain [in faith]. Those are upon [right] guidance from their Lord, and it is those who are the successful.” 2:2-6
effectively standing in the way between them and their Guide Book with our incorrect priorities.
For the disbelievers, there is nothing we need to do aside from telling them about Islam in case we’re mistaken about them being disbelievers. Here we’re concerned about people who do actually have some faith, but which is being eroded due to completely unnecessary obstacles. Please note the difference.
Are you saying Islam is unrealistic? How would you know what is reality while you live in Canada,a country that puts everyone in a bubble.
My biggest problem with Islam and my community is the notion of men being at the top, making the decisions and being the leaders. As an American woman I am well aware of the statistics of how much better women are doing in almost every field of education in in this country. Girls are now doing better in schools at every grade level. I am tired of men that are lazy, cultural, prejudice, and just plain mediocre husbands and fatthers calling the shots. At the Masjids. I live in one of the most educated, wealthy, high tech communities in America with women doctors, lawyers, engineers ect. giving millions of dollars a year to our Masjids and other charities and there are very few women on the boards of the Masjids. While my friends and I may let this slide, I highly doubt my daughter or her friends will. I also worry about them finding a suitable husband that wants a real partner, not just a maid and cook. Many of my friends adult female relatives are marrying outside of their culture and religion because they are too educated, successful and over a suitable age. I try to have faith, but the future for this community looks grim when true equaliity of the sexes is denied. Girls of today that will be the mothers o the future will not tolerate what my friends and I do from our husbands, in laws, community and masjids.
I understand your frustration and I’ve actually seen it live even though I’m a man.
With some exceptions, leadership and society roles in Islam are and should be based on qualifications, but not on gender or ethnicity or other irrelevant factors. One would read in Islamic history that certain very high ranking positions in Islamic governments were given to non-Muslims just because they were more qualified to do the job. That’s how things should be.
Unfortunately what you’re experiencing is simply a cultural baggage that partly came with immigrants. But also to be fair, let’s not go that far, even in this country of ours women are still not treated equally to men, religion aside. Take an example the workplace, you’ve got a woman and a man doing the same job, and the woman may be even doing it better and is more qualified, however the man is paid more just because he’s a male.
Islam came to liberate women and give them their due rights. If this is not happening, it’s not the fault of Islam, it’s the fault of Muslims who cherry pick what they want to follow of their religion.
I was part of a very active community in California where the Masjid had upwards of 170 regular active volunteers to perform its activities. Those were active, doing work every week if not every day. More than 80% of those volunteers were sisters! And being involved in such work myself, I can testify that sisters often do a much better job than brothers in such leadership positions because they are careful, detail oriented, systematic, very intelligent and creative and they are more committed in general.
And this is the case in virtually any community I visited or have been a part of. Sisters are a major driving force and without them, things would be dead. God bless our sisters and may God guide our brothers to treat them with the respect and dignity they deserve.
Djazallahulghair brother Matthew for writing and posting this.
Finally a body that recognizes the pain I’m (we) are in.
As-salamu alaikum wa’rahmatullahi wa’barakatuhu,
Salam brother Imam,
Untill Muslims give dawah and teach according to the sunnah, i.e. starting with pure and sweet tawheed, we will continue to have this problem. Without understanding Allah’s greatness (and understanding he is too great to understand completely) and his rights in tawheed, everything else is just details.
Mashallah it’s a good topic to brought up, my husband is a revert once he has told me many revert go back to their old religion is bcoz how the community treat them, He has experienced by himself how other muslim doesn’t want to help him to teach Islam more just ask him do whatever he know but they are more into an Islam police who looks for the fault only everytime he go to masjid often they speak in their own language, laughing at him different if there is a women revert they will help her full. Even on socialize they mostly ignore him, he try hard to be accepted by cook for them, guard the masjid ( as he is a law enforcement ) clean the masjid coz he think it’s an ummah responsibility while they are just so lazy to clean it only depending from the charity to pay someone to clean it. He feel bad about it looks like dissapointed the way their treat him but no option coz its the only masjid here
They treat him as an outsider because he is a revert, totally doesn’t want to help him. Until he thinks doesn’t want to go to masjid at all but alhamdulillah he still think Friday prayer is a must so he only go there on friday.
I agree with you 100%, Muslimah. Those of us born into Muslim families really need to do a better job treating reverts with the respect they deserve.
I personally know 3 reverted sisters who were initially enthusiastic and VERY observant. All 3 had bad experiences with people at the masjid being overtly rude and condescending b/c 1. They weren’t South Asian and 2. They weren’t wealthy. They returned to Christianity. This classism/racism nonsense has got to stop.
I am in the same situation and while I am still A Muslim, I am experiencing a serious faith crisis. I feel totally let down by my community. I was Mormon before I got married and converted and really miss the strength, organization and support of that community. If not for my faith in God and the prophets I would leave my husband ,this community ect. All together and never look back.
Asalaam ualaikum Sister.
I’ve read quite a few comments on this article, but this one stopped me and I feel compelled to respond. My response however is that I don’t have much of a response. We as Muslims need to take a look in the mirror and recognize how ugly we in so many ways have become (I include myself in this description). I remember watching a video of an orange, how it starts out (when it’s ripe and fresh) looking so attractive and inviting, but as time passes, it ages, and if left long enough, turns grey-green, and soon turns to mold. We as a Muslim community were at one time like that bright, fresh and shiny orange, but we have not only lost our luster, we have gotten pretty rotten to be honest. If you don’t believe me, go perform Hajj and see how people behave (and those are our devout!).
The truth of the matter is that we have strayed from our own teachings, and because of that, we are now getting our just desserts. We are a mere reflection of what were because of what we have failed to do – follow this guidance with a clear-heart and discernment. As result, we are a shadow of what we used to be, and we’ve got no one to blame but ourselves.
Sister, it is unfortunate. Muhammad Abdu once said that he had been to the West and saw a lot of Islam, but no Muslims, and that he had been to the East and saw a lot of Muslims, but no Islam. This rings true today. What I suggest to you, myself, and others who see what we see is to be patient. This deen is perfection, it is light upon light. We may not appreciate it, but the problem is ours, not that of our deen. I would suggest to find a good community and stick to it. Find a scholar/alim who you trust, and follow him/her like a hawk. There will always be people who just get it, and these people truly, through Allah (swt) demonstrate the real beauty of our faith in, a beauty no one else can claim but us.
Personally, my go to guy is Nouman Ali Khan. By the grace of Allah (swt) He has given that dear brother a very special gift. If you have not watched his videos, please do. At the end of the day, the truth is the truth, even if the whole world stands against you. Let us at the very least know that irrespective of what others may do, this deen is the basis upon which we ought to live, and the basis upon which we will be judged. Let’s not get too caught up in how good or bad the community is. Though it is our concern, at the end of the day we will stand before our Creator individually and be asked questions in terms of how closely we followed this revelation. At the end, that is all that really matters.
May Allah (swt) guide all of us and strengthen all of our faiths and actions, and may He purify our hearts and forgive us our shortcomings.
when we meet outside from masjid they never want to say Assalamualaikum they will great him in casual way. It really make a big affect for him the way they treat him I see him doesn’t look had big enthusias to practice more again, he said isn’t it Islam not only doing salat and fasting or read Quran after that it’s enough being a good muslim. How bout helping each other, being clean, attitude, no backbitting, active not being lazy etc
I have been working with new muslims for the past 9 years
While I agree with your article fully this is only one side of the story.
This is not the time to discuss in detail but I want us to remember that we
do not guide people. Allah guides through us. Yes.our communities have lots
to be blamed for but the sincerity and truth of any muslim will defeat that.
It has done it for me who am a revert myself and many others who I have
met and worked with. It is too often that we just blame our community
but forget about blaming ourself. The sahabah had no community actually
they were all new muslims. Some left Islam but most took it in their hands
and with sincerity survived the tests of their faith.
Such new muslims have to take it upon themselves to unite to strive and survive.
We need to devise a curriculum for youth and new muslims. We need to stop
blaming others even if they are blameworthy and start acting.
Yes our communities are at fault. Cultural islam is evident and almost impossible
to change. These are big problems that will not be solved soon. But what we can
do is work on our own issues as youth as new muslims etc.
How? We need a strong new muslim body or an organization that will hold
a bi anual meeting where we share curriculum and ideas problems and solutions.
we have yearly islamic gatherings but nothing changes because such gatherings
are tailored for muslims who are born or have beem muslims for a long time.
We give sahadas we scream allahu akbar and go home and do the.same next year.
So if anyone is serious about this dont just complai about communities rather
offer a solution and start acting.
Allah tells the new muslims in the Quran
Do men imagine that they will be left (at ease) because they say, We believe, and will not be tested with affliction?
Thank you for the interesting thoughts! Remember, though, that the Sahabah had each other. Together, they were amongst some of the best people in character. How many masajid do you know of that share the property of each member with each other like they were blood brothers? In the time of the Prophet (saw), joining Islam was like joining a family where your well-being was looked after like in no other situation.
I agree that we need to act, and do so soon.
I agree with you, but every Muslim wants us new Muslims to be like them. I am totally lost and frustrated trying to raise kids in this religion with a husband that can only go to work and nothing else.The burden has totally fallen on me. My kids find half of the people at the Masjid to be silly or strange and can’t relate to them at all. I am worried about their faith in the future and the examples they see around them.
Assalamu Alaikum Sister,
I understand your concern about the Masjid and your kids. That concern is universal for kids will find silly or strange people everywhere, in school, at the mall, in their future workplace. It’s a learning opportunity for them. How to deal with people who are different and how to find common ground. I only take my daughter to the masjid for her to learn Quran and she finds that fun because there are other little kids like her and she gets to play for a little while after. She’s associated the masjid with friends and games. Also, talk to them about Allah a lot..teach them to love HIM and see his miracles…Kids can understand much more than we give them credit for. I have found a lot of resources online that can help you to teach your kids through fun activities.. I especially liked these: http://newmuslimkids.blogspot.ca/
Jazzak Allahu khayr for the article. The author makes many excellent points about Islam and Iman masha Allah. However, I would take it one step further. I don’t think the primary need of either a muslim child or a new muslim convert is to sit and have this discussion with someone, although that may be beneficial. What we should wish for our children and for new muslims, and the most beneficial thing for them after the mercy and blessing of Allah is not to be told or explained anything (for as all of humanity bears witness to by ijma’ talk is indeed cheap) but rather to be surrounded by people who exemplify this combination of islam and iman in their own lives. Allah knows best. Again, Jazzak Allahu Khayr for an article which has clearly touched home with many.
Salam, I could not agree with you more. I thank there has been studies that have shown that the largest part of getting a message across is based on non verbal communications i.e. behavior and something like 3% is down to the actual content. If we look at the Sahaba and the Prophet (SAW) they didn’t just sit there and talk all day – they got up and Lived Islam. I remember an incidence when in the Friday Khutbah the Imam related an incidence when a non Muslim who was collecting money for a charity crossed the road and told him that he didn’t want his money(or something similar) so the imam asked why he made the effort to cross the road and tell him this? the guy said because you Muslims talk about charity but I have seen Muslims who see me and walk past as if they didn’t and unfortunately some people think that a non-muslim is not deserving of their Zakah – no doubt this sort of hypocrisy will turn of many Muslims especially if they are not grounded in Islam which is the case with allot of converts and also young Muslims. While books and reading is important don’t just drown people in them and expect them to learn Fiqh and hadith and this scholar said this and that one said this etc these technical aspects drain the blood from the deen when someone does not know the general principles such as ‘ love for your brother what you love for yourself’ or ‘ Allah has placed love and compassion in your hearts'(regards to marriage)
Sorry for the slightly incoherent post but I hope the message gets across
Great article. Too bad nobody from the Muslim community will read it, let alone take it seriously.
Everything is run and dominated by Wahhabi and Salafi styles of islam. Meaning, all the emphasis on outward appearances and actions, none on the inner transformations, efforts, and struggles the author spoke about. Most Muslims are like “haram police”, just waiting to call out somebody on some relatively minor infraction, not looking at and weighing the circumstances, nor what effects that has on a convert. For them, calling somebody out and focusing on the lists of do’s and dont’s is a Qur’anic mandate: enjoin good, forbid evil. You can write as many articles as you like. Their attitudes aren’t going to change. They will continue to understand enjoining good and forbidding evil in this way, despite the many verses that give clear examples for this mandate, examples that aren’t fixated on legal/fiqh issues like the ummah currently is. They will continue to ignore any deeper understandings of enjoining good and forbidding evil, despite an entire book written by imam Ghazzali that talks about properly doing this.
For those of you who may not understand what converts go through that contributes to them leaving the faith, let me give you some examples.
I’ve got several mosques to choose from in my hood, and pretty much all of the dudes there mean mug me when I walk in wearing Western clothing, or am clean shaven, or don’t pray 2 rakats before sitting (in an effort to not create a roadblock as many men do when they enter, not to mention hear as much of the khutbah as possible and not be a distraction; for the record, if I get there early, I do pray them). I’ve had one young guy give me some pajama looking Bengali clothes so I can fit in and not be stared at. Culturally accepted attire shouldn’t be a pre-req for a convert to experience a sense of community. There is nothing haram about not wearing a galabaya, nor in not wearing all white.
I’ve had dudes scold me publicly cuz they caught a glimpse of my armpit hair (I didn’t know at the time you have to trim); or seen my knee when i rolled up my pants for ablution (why the man was even looking is beyond me). There is a way to guide people. Scolding them and wagging a finger in their face isn’t the way. Genuine care and empathy is. Use some tact and common sense for Chris’s sake.
I’ve had people look at me like I got 3 heads cuz I use ENGLISH in an ENGLISH-SPEAKING country, instead of using Arabic every other word in my sentences. God forbid I say God instead of Allah (and anyone who would like to cut off my infidel head for saying the G word can go and google the article “One God, Many Names” and have a read for yourself).
I’ve had uncles lecture me on the importance of changing my name, insisting I do so. In fact, when I took my shahadah, the elders and so called “leaders” of the mosque gave me a Muslim name, even after I politely declined. Too late, after a short discussion in Bengali (which I speak none of), it was decided for me. From there on the rest of the fools in that place called me by that name. My opinion didn’t matter. Some leaders. I never went back to that place, and I rejected all their phone calls. If you’re going to scold me as soon as I take my shadahah, and then not even respect my right to retain my birth name which has no pagan connotations…I have no reason to maintain contact with you. Why would I want that kind of poison in my life?
I’ve had imams give me dirty looks and scold me for not rolling up my pants. Nobody seems to ever actually read the contexts of these hadiths, like how it was the act of arrogance itself that was an issue, not the fabric of your pants touching the ground. But no, it’s up to the convert to find these stuff out, after they’ve already been made to feel unwelcome and stupid. You guys who do this create an unnecessary burden. We are new to this, and some don’t know any better and take it all in at face value. You stress us. You devalue us. You discourage us. Don’t think these and the other examples as trivial. It chips away at us. It erodes a sense of belonging to anything Islam and Muslim. Eventually we crack.
I’ve had dudes scold me for eating with a fork, saying I need to eat with my hands only, and do so only with certain fingers in a certain way. Soooo sorry uncles, forgive me and my Western sensibilities. Didn’t know I had to adopt your punjab region culture too as a part of Islam. Here I was thinking that islam was the river and your country’s culture the riverbed, giving color to the water but not having a monopoly on the color as the river moved downstream. Silly me.
I’ve had dudes tell me it is not only prohibited and a sin to be clean shaven, but also to do so is feminine. They joked and laughed at the clean shaved men in the room, calling us effeminate. Gee, you may think me gay, but at least I read the Qur’an enough to know GOD Himself told me not to use names like that in reference to my so-called ‘brothers’ (Qur’an 49:11).
I’ve had people tell me flat out my job sucks, because the job I’m working isn’t in engineering, medicine, or business. The conversations often times feel like bad cop interrogations. Lots of questions, lots on inquiry into my personal life, with no response ever being good enough. Thanks for making me feel welcome.
If that’s the ‘ummah’, I’d rather not be in it. I’ll do my own thing, following the Qur’an, sunnah, and classical scholars to the best of my ability, without the input and support (or should I say, lack there of) of all of you.
Salam brother, I cannot say that I have experiences as bad as yours but I think your spot on in the following the Quran and Sunnah without others trying to taint it with their culture. Imam Suhaib has lecture on youtube ‘ Faith and the cubicle’ which is good in regards wto working in general.
I hope the situation improves for you and others and don’t feel left out and isolated, atleast you have this site to come to as a ‘virtual mosque’, not as good as the real deal but better than nothing.
You’ve just described some deep experiences. I was born a muslim and I’m not sure I could handle half of what you’ve gone through. Seriously.
And the fact that you’re still on the deen just means Allah seriously loves you! May he continue to give you (and all muslims) the strength to overcome the obstacles created by those outside the ummmah as well as our ‘brothers’ (or ‘sisters’) in islam.
Brother, as a convert myself I totally relate to you. Many things of what happened to you also happened to me. Thank God there were people around (some very good friends) to guide and protect me.
I personally think the main problem in our community is that we forget we’re all human beings and we’re far from perfection. We forget each of us have our own limitations and tend to be quite judgmental about others – without realizing that something very easy to us, might be a challenge to someone else and vice-versa. We lack compassion, kindness and in many cases humility; not only amongst ourselves but also amongst non-muslims.
We, as muslims, need to realize we portray a religion through our actions. Many “look bad” at Islam because of the way some muslims portrayed it. It’s our jobs as muslims not only to improve intellectually, spiritually and as members of our communities – even if our communities are not only made of muslims.
I pray that Allah guides us all, grants us clear sight and effective actions in improving not only as muslims for ourselves but for our communities. Ameen!
my brother alfie, your post resonated with me. i converted in june and since then have guarded my mind and heart against external influence. i am diligent in protecting myself against the influence of culture and customs. my conversion took 4 yrs to actualize, and in that time i examined myself to understand why i felt islam was for me. i feel God wrote it on my heart. i answer to Him. i am responsible for my actions. i do not wear the hijab as i do not feel it is necessary (i will account for this choice). I get stared at as people tell me I don’t “look” muslim: I come from a celtic background, am tall, blonde with green eyes and strong willed, however, I always draw on my humour as i know islam was made for all and I get a giggle out of challenging stereotypes. i am drawn to the tranquil peace that islam represents to me, not the culture, nor the people but the faith in action that stems from the Quran. i don’t believe we in the west must arabatize islam; take on arabic names (i didn’t and won’t); say our prayers in arabic (i’m not arab and must understand what i am saying, thus I say them in english); i dress modestly because that is my nature. so what i’m trying to say is, i answer to God; he wrote islam on my heart; i want to grow in my faith by reading the Quran and following it. i do feel for you as the life of a convert can be a challenge. please continue to keep your focus on pleasing God; be strong in your desire to please Him; develop your faith and seek out scholars you trust. thankfully the imam who led me through my shahada acknowledged the difference between faith (based on the Quran) and culture. he said i would be challenged, and i have been. he also told me the greatest prejudice I would face would be from born muslims. Interesting. God bless.
This article reminds of a question that a fellow Muslim posed to me,”Would you describe yourself as spiritual or religious?” I responded that I am both spiritual and religious. I am spiritual in the sense of seeking to improve my soul. I am religious in the sense of being strict with myself about the rules of Islam. The question highlights a misconception people have that there is substance A called “spirituality” and substance B called “religion” and that they oppose each other so that one cannot exist where the other is present. In fact, Rasulullah (saws) was the paragon of both spirituality and religion. To abandon either is to forsake the Sunnah.
Well put bro! The fact is that you have only touched on the tip of the ice berg and indeed a core issue in it.
I will have to disagree with the claim that iman means more than the word faith in English. If you look up the word in a dictionary or aqeedah book you will undoubtedly find the word tasdeeq which means to affirm your conviction in something I.e. what we call faith. simialrly the word taqwa if you look it up you will not find your particular interpretation (which was nice and tied into the general meaning), rather you will find companions like Ibn abbass and others saying “performing commands and avoiding prohibitions” which is what we call devotion, obedience, God fearing or God conscious .
These claims that Arabic words individually have some special holy value which puts them above other languages is part of the ethnocentric limitation of Islam problem that sidetracks many from a natural spiritual growth and development process and alienates millions of others from even approaching it. The truth is that the Arabic words which collectively make up the holy Quran are indeed holy and beyond any other language’s ability to express as a divine book nothing more nothing less then that. But If you study the 7 dialects of original revelation even then you will see why Abu hanifa was arguing to read it in Persian .
And God knows best
Salaam Alaikum Sheikh Yahya,
Can you reference Abu Hanifas remarks about “reading it in Persian”? I wasn’t aware a Persian translation existed during that time.
I gave the references to Arabic works in one of my articles on praying in other than Arabic and could furnish more.
If you google it you will probably get various English references since it is mentioned in many Arabic resources.
OK, I’ll look through those again insha’Allah, thanks.
What almost drove me away was not just the way people chastised me, it was mainly all the contradictory hadiths that went against the Qur’an, and added to what Allah told us with no justification. Not until I stopped all outside influences and used the brains Allah gave me along with the words He sent to mankind did I feel connected to Allah. I started questioning everything I was ever told or read that could not be verified by the Qur’an. Allah tells us only His Book is guarded, and it is fully detailed. I am now happy with my life, the fate of my soul and my deen.
I’m glad you’ve found your way through the Qur’an sister Maryam. Indeed it is the only preserved word of God.
This is totally how I feel. I believe in the oneness of God and the prophets but as a female convert married to a Pakistani I feel totally let down by my community. Honestly most of the women in my community are only concerned with status, clothes and parties. The men including my husband are egotistical, lazy and spoiled. They may be Muslims but this does not translate into being nice people. If not for my faith in God and understanding of human weakness, I would ditch this religion all together…
This ‘comments section’ is not the ideal place to respond to your concerns, and I sincerely hope that you find genuine people around you with whom you can share your thoughts. However, I would like to just remind all of us through this forum that our membership in a muslim community, our and our spouse’s nationality or any other identity is NOT our religion. It is our faith and belief in God and his prophets which is our religion and which is our responsibility to protect and guard for ourselves. I pray that God gives us all, the strength and means to guard our religion, our deen, for us to present it on the Day of Judgement. Ameen!
Salam Sister, I understand what you are saying but why take it out on Islam? Islam doesn’t tell him to be lazy and arrogant – it says the exact opposite, I hope things change for the better with people becoming more educated thanks to sites like this and the people involved. I was and sometimes still am disillusioned by the community and peoples abuse of Islam for their convenience but I just have to have confidence in Allah and hope, anyway I pray and wish the best for you.
An excellent article and some very sincere thoughts and advice, masha’Allah. I am sure that the writer of the article as well as others on the forum realize very well how important this issue is and for all the people involved in such a situation, whether one is a young Muslim, new Muslim, old Muslim or a skeptic, this is not just the topic of a single conversation, but a lifetime of questions, concerns, doubts and pain that surface briefly in moments of intimate and heartfelt exchanges. Hence, we must realize that as people seeking or giving advice, as parents, as members of a muslim community, as new muslims and old, this process/exchange that has been described above might not occur in a single conversation, but over a lifetime of sincere friendship, mutual understanding of each others’ views and beliefs as well as sharing the daily ups and downs of each others’ lives. This was the responsibility towards the members of their community with which prophets were sent, and their mission lasted their entire lifetime towards each of the individuals of their community. The Prophet (saws) did not preach once or twice to the Sahabas about Iman and Islam, he lived with them, taught them at every step, listened to their questions and doubts that the same individuals asked over a period of years, and prayed for them from his Lord, in solitude. While we are only responsible for as much as we can bear, we must not take this responsibility lightly. As a new Muslim, I did not need forums and courses in the masjid to discuss my problems and ask questions, I needed friends who would be a part of my life, when I open up to them and tell them my fears and doubts. Alhumdulilah, Allah sent me such people. And now as a parent and a member of a community which is responsible for welcoming all muslims, new and old, to its fold, I feel that this responsibility that I shoulder is a lifetime of love and labour. I hope I have managed to convey my deep concerns on this sensitive issue. Since I fear that at times we consider that we have conveyed the message of Islam and the realities of Deen and Iman to another in a single conversation, and now it is up to the other person to take it or leave it.
Salam, Good to hear that you have a supportive community and Inshallah the not so supportive ones will change with time.
“…I fear that at times we consider that we have conveyed the message of Islam and the realities of Deen and Iman to another in a single conversation, and now it is up to the other person to take it or leave it.”
Never really thought of that, but true, true.
Good reminder for anyone trying to give promote change.
Having been through spouts of intense doubt, here are my reflections on myself. I primarily questioned Islam because of one main reason: A series of traumatic events that went on for a long time and the seeming silence from God. Someone earlier mentioned arguments, but when I sit back and deeply think about it, arguments were merely a cover, a shield, an attempt to legitimize my feelings. They had nothing to do with it, otherwise, I would have invoked those arguments when I felt at peace.
Someone earlier mentioned that some people say its lacking tawheed, others say its having no knowledge of kalaam, etc. The reality is, its all of the above. We have to recognize that Westernized peoples are brainwashed by a pervasive, deep-rooted and latent philosophy of the world. This erodes one’s tawheed, replaces his philosphical understanding of reality, eliminates his Ihsan by making him see everything in a purely material sense, etc.
For me, the solution is to re-orient my life around Allah. Not just in deeds, as Br Matt mentions, but in the meanings of the actions (even the mundane ones), in my philosophy, in my interpretation of my life’s direction and more.
I wrote a little about it here: http://criticallycognitive.com/2012/07/23/examining-my-disbelief/
I thought the same. Sometimes there are such annoying and frustrating thoughts in my head like “how do we know there aren’t two gods? (astaghfirullah!)” or “the Earth was created by chance?” We live in a secular thought dominated world and their way of thinking affects ours too.
I do believe in Allah, and Islam as the best and most natural religion, so these doubtful thoughts really distress me! I’m afraid to even acknowledge them, because thats not what someone firm in faith should have popping up in their head all the time, is it? The sahabah never questioned, never doubted, did they? How do I attain such conviction, and rid myself of these scary thoughts? Maybe I don’t fully understand the reasoning behind these things, just accepting is not enough. Am I supposed to explain everything to myself, myself?
But I can’t ask people questions like this, where I’m from that’s completely alien! They would think “Eh why are you thinking like this? In religion there are things we simply cannot understand, so just accept it (and you don’t really have to make any effort in understanding it, so long as you practice Islam)” The thing is I do accept it, anything Allah and the Rasul say I believe, but I don’t think I properly comprehend.
Any advice? Articles, videos, good books to read?
I understand where you are coming from and I feel that I am in the same boat due to recent circumstances in my life.
My advice, and the approach that I intend to take for myself, is to not simply shove these questions and thoughts down but to think them through and address them. If we bottle the questions, they will multiply into doubts and explode. Welcome the questions as a means of better understanding Islam. Dive into it. We are told truth is clear from falsehood, and so if we approach it with open minds, open hearts, and pure intentions, we must be able to find it.
In practical terms I would suggest to write down all your questions and concerns. Make a list. And then seek. Research and ask scholars. As humans our fitrah or natural state is to submit to Allah. We know what is truth within the deepest depths of our souls. Find scholars that reflect that truth, that inner spirituality that Allah has placed within your soul, and that help you in your journey to seek Him.
Seek and InshaAllah you will find!
MashaAllah, this is such an excellent article. Basically, it all boils down to a lot of Muslims simply talking the talk, but not walking the walk. I know of Muslims who will tell you in no uncertain terms that you must stand for congregation prayers with your feet touching each other because otherwise Shaytaan will step in, or not to do sajda placing your elbows on the ground. This is all well and good, but where is the all-important stuff about spending, spending and spending more on your family, relatives, the orphans etc. etc?? Is that all meant to be in theory, because everyone knows it’s easier to pray Salaat the right way than to open your wallets and hearts.
In terms of practicing the Sunnah, there is such a wide, wide gap among the Ummah, it’s depressing. Here in India, I am not sure how many people even know of the Prophet’s (SAW) example of devotion, fairness and love to his wives. It’s hardly mentioned in any of the Milad gatherings that take place. So many Muslims I know are surprised when I talk of how romantic he was, how concerned, and his superior example as a husband, father and friend.
I hate how shallow some people think the roles of women are.
To continue to the comment above, I think revert Muslims look around them and see so many examples of “technically proficient Muslims,” who happen to be poor examples of human beings. That is sad.
And Allah knows best.
Thanks Shiekh for the advice. I feel I am one of those for whom it is too late to have faith in Allah again. I have tried to brainwash myself into believing in Him again but the constant disappointment in life despite praying, fasting and trying to be a good person have brought to a point where I cannot even force myself into believing in Him. Prayer literally feels like talking to a wall. I fasted again this ramadan but the whole month felt like a useless exercise. Add to that everything science is proving about world that contradicts religious text and the whole case for religions in general make little sense, specially the abrahamic ones.
As salaamu alaikum, this article was well said and i have read alot of the comments. I agree with most of the comments. I converted fro, Christianity to Islam almost 3 years ago. My husband immediately rushed me to get “properly” dressed and demanded i learn Arabic (I’m an American born sister with American parents and so is he) immediately by taking the classes at the local Masjid. I had NO clue what exactly Islam was about and why i had to learn Arabic first. The Qur’aan is written with English translation, can i finish reading that first?? He pushed so much on me that i started regretting taking the shahadah. Learning Arabic should NOT be pushed down any new Muslim’s throat. Learning about Islam and the 5 pillars of Islan, who Prophet Mohammad (saw) was and why he is important, the Companions (raa) and for sisters the women of the Prophet(saw) and why they stand out so much. That should be first. I had to stop trying to learn a language i wasnt ready for in order for me to find books on my own without my husband to read and try to understand my deen.
I agree with a couple of sisters when they feel slighted by their spouses. Husbands (wives also) should not pick out what they feel is right in order to put down, demean or ridicule each other. I am not a “glorified” maid and a babysitter or a verbal punching bag i am a person with feelings. Quite sure Prophet Mohammed (saw) didnt treat his wives that way. As i continue to read and learn on my own, as an Ummah we do need more classes on the Deen not just Arabic. Make brothers and sisters feel welcome to be a part of the Ummah and not regretful.
As a sister born Muslim, I completely agree with this article. The focus today is too much on dos and don’ts at the expense of attaining a pure heart and sound character.
How many Islamic lectures, khutbas do we have about attaining pure hears and sound character? Very few.
While I agree that it is critical to practice Islam (the dos and don’ts) in order to have a sound heart and obtain good character, it is likewise, critical to work on one’s heart and character in order to truly perfect one’s actions and make them pleasing to God.
I feel a deep sadness reading some of the comments from our brothers and sisters who feel let down by the larger Muslim community :(…
May Allah help all our new brothers and sisters facing such challenges. Its truly an act of bravery and courage to revert in the first place.
Please don’t give up! Ultimately, put your trust in God – maybe this is His way of drawing you close to Him, to ultimately put your trust in Him, not in weak, frail creation…
What an awesome. I just want to say that I LOVE YOU ALL in the sake of ALLAH. May ALLAH give you all Jannah.
Well said points to focus on!!
Subhanalllah the definition of taqwa given in this article is so deep and improtant to know as we just completed Ramadan I want to remind you all of the aya about the purpose of fasting in Ramadan
which was to increase in “Taqwa”
O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous
We really need to be very careful and follow this strategy to make correct dawa.
I’ve read the article and the comments, and I have to say I feel sad that some, especially non-Muslims, are so badly treated.
Here’s my two-cents:
Culture and religion are two different things. People and religion are two different things. Religion should be at the center of our lives, and the rest should revolve around it. Unfortunately, some people do the opposite. They put culture – and oftentimes their own egos – above it, which results in whatever mess is described in the above comments.
Whatever you do as an individual is for your own sake. When you pray, fast, perform good deeds, it’s to your own benefit. If you chose Islam as your religion, it’s for your own good. PLEASE do not let some foolish people get in the way of being that good Muslim.
Make du’a. Du’a is a weapon of spiritual elevation! Ask God to help you through the hard times, He’s the One who’s placed the trial, He can remove it overnight!
Learn the deen, avoid fitna-savvy people, surround yourself with knowledgeable, balanced Muslims. If you can’t find any in your corner, ask Allah for a good, kind Muslim friend.
I know how it is to feel lonely and rejected by “your own people”, but we are doing the right thing, so we have to be patient and have hope – easier said than done, but that’s all we can do 🙂
I ask Allah SWT to remove whatever affliction they’re suffering from, to give people strenght, to help them develop and perfect their deen. Ameen!
May Allah (swt) reward the brother for writing this article and highlighting a problem this community needs to talk more about. Unfortunately this is an issue with all Muslims full stop, not just converts. May your shedding of light on this topic inspire us to do more in our communities. It has done that for me.
As a general bit of advice to help you be more impactful in the future, I do believe that the article was a bit hard to follow. I can’t exactly put my finger on why, it just was. Keep at it. We all can improve.
In addition, the author does not seem to fully value the concerns these converts present and seems to think that by following a simple formula it will help solve the problem. I will stick to the idea of them feeling boxed in. People can feel boxed in for many reasons, wanting to do the prohibited, feeling alienated from the world because of anti-Islam propaganda, etc. These concerns are wholly legitimate and need to be properly examined with a discerning eye. Let’s be honest with ourselves – for most of us at least, it’s not always easy to live within the boundaries of Islam. Anyone who says contrary to this has not studied this religion closely enough.
The Prophet (saw) said, “The Paradise is surrounded by hardships and the Hell-Fire is surrounded by temptations”. The price to get to jannah is not cheap, it is expensive. One must go through hardships (hardships which many converts are unaware of before they take their shahada). The Prophet (saw) also said, “There will come a time when holding on to your Iman (belief) will be like holding on to hot coals”. In this day and age in particular, it is not easy maintaining your iman and actions, it is tough, it’s hard work, but the reward is jannah. This is why we need to be open and honest with new converts and let them know the reality: the Muslim community is a mixed bag, we are living in a world where Islam and Muslims are being marginalized left, right and center (and this will affect them), and that not allowing your nafs to do whatever it wants in this day and age is as tough as nails. But the reward for it is a never-ending paradise, which they may not see with their eyes, but they can with their heart.
This religion is not for the faint of heart and often times we as Muslims speak sweet to potential converts to get them to convert without showing them what they are getting into. If you want to please Allah (swt) and enter jannah you have to do the business. You’re going to have to let go of things that really really tempt you because it’s not good for you in this life and the Hereafter. This is no picnic.
We also need to have relationships with converts so that they are free to talk openly about what they are going through in real-time. Often times we hear of their problems after they have reached a point of crisis (sometimes we won’t even hear that, because they have no one to say it to). We need to keep them talking from Day One. We need that support structure. The other day a convert became Muslim in a community in which I am not a resident. I felt bad telling the brother that I wasn’t going to be around, but I gave him my number and told him to call me for anything whatsoever. We need to approach new converts even if we think they have other friends who might look after them. They may not, or they may be too shy to open up to the people who helped bring them to Islam because they don’t want to disappoint them. Be that assertive person and take on the responsibility of supporting them.
My wife became Muslim before I knew her. There was one cheerful Egyptian sister who got to her, made her a close friend, taught her in a loving, spirited fashion, and was totally there for her. Masha’Allah, this set her in motion. We need this to happen for every convert. We don’t need a fancy apparatus, you and I can do it.
And let us also remember this hadith, that at the end of the day, love of Allah (swt) and the Prophet (saaw) may be just enough to save us.
A Bedouin came and asked the Prophet (sallaAllahu ‘alayhi wasalam) when the day of judgment is, he replied “What have you prepared for it?” The Bedouin replied, “Nothing, except I love Allah and his Prophet”. The Prophet then replied “You will be with those whom you love”
I am actually going through a period of intense doubt right now. I have lived as a muslim my entire life. Unlike most people who have doubt, my problem is not that I feel God has abandoned me. On the contrary, everytime I sincerely make dua to Allah (swt), he answers them. I love to read and memorize Qur’an. I see the beauty in Islam and its emphasis on love for our neighbors, its prohibitions on backbiting, the respect for parents, the emphasis that our wealth will die with us, the oneness of God, the importance of intentions.. etc.
The problem comes in the form of “rational thinking.” I fully believe that there is only one God because I cannot fathom any other reason that this universe came to being. However, when I read the translation of the Qur’an and browse the net, I come across many things that appear to be scientific inaccurate or morally wrong.
The allowance of slave women, the world is flat, the verse that allows men to beat their wives..
I feel that I have to dance around these verses and play apologetic when I shouldn’t.. not if it is the true word of god.. When I go read the answers some of the shaykhs have given, it seems they beat around the bush and this is something that I am not satisfied with.
Can someone help me? I practice and I love certain aspects of Islam. I just hate these things. Can someone please help me?
Dear Brother Jerry,
I have been in your shoes before regarding doubt, and I think a lot of people go through such phases. However I have come to learn that authentic knowledge, true knowledge is what removes doubt.
I don’t know what sites you are surfing on the internet, but I do know for a fact that there are a lot of websites that claim knowledge but you one has to have a lot of patience with them because they’re partial, incomplete, and often biased for politically charged reasons (especially websites attacking Islam). So you have to be very careful in where you get your knowledge from.
Regarding the specific items you mentioned, here is my understanding of them:
Slavery existed BEFORE Islam came. Islam did not create it. Slavery was also part of the economic fabric of all societies. People invested a lot of money into buying slaves. I know it’s sad, but that’s how it was. However if you read the Qur’an, you will find that Islam came to change how we look at slavery. As a first step, it asked us to treat them fair and well, and to marry them, and do business with them. And as a second stage, Islam started asking believers to free slaves. If you commit a certain sin, free a slave, if you do this, free a slave.. etc at every turn in the Qur’an, you will see it asking people to free slaves. So if you look at the overall sum of all things, you will find that Islam is realistic, it didn’t ask people to immediately abolish slavery because it would have impacted them economically, and severely. However it asked them to slowly get rid of the concept. And mind you, it did this 14 centuries ago. And we just got rid of slavery in the US just a few years ago.
2- World is Flat:
I’ve heard of this before and came to the realization that it’s another misconception about Islam, that was strengthened by orientalists due to misinterpretation and mis-translations of certain verses. Nowhere in the Qur’an does it say the world is flat. On the opposite there are many verses in the Qur’an that point to the spherical nature of earth. And if you think otherwise i’d like to see which verses you’re referring to. As a matter of fact, if you go one step further, you will see the Qur’an talking about the movements of the planets, the sun and the moon, and an amazing number of scientific facts from the universe and from our own selves that have been proven by science. There is a beautiful video by shaikh Abdel Magid Zanadani where he interviews several American scientists and asks their opinion regarding such verses in the Qur’an and every one of them got amazed at how someone was able to write that 14 centuries ago.
3- Verse about wife beating:
Just like every concept in Islam, you have to take it as a whole. You can’t point a finger to a specific verse, and say this is the only one I’d use to understand this concept. You have to take every verse related to the concept, add them up in order to get the full picture. And how many times does the Qur’an incite men to treat their women nicely, kindly, and be gentle with them even in the harshest and most extreme of situations (divorced)? Do you know about the Hadith of the Prophet pbuh saying that the best of men are those who are the best to their wives? And that he’s never hit a women ever? I know some scholars wrote some crazy stuff about this specific verse you’re talking about, however I think you should ask Imam Suhaib Webb about it.. he actually has an interesting view regarding that verse, and regarding the translation of the word “f’adribuhunna” which was translated as “hit them”.
Keep on seeking knowledge Jerry. True and clean Knowledge is what will clear away your doubts, God willing.
PS. If you read Arabic, there is an amazing book that I highly recommend called “Kissatul Imaan” (Story of Faith) by Shaikh Nadim Al Jissr.
Salam brother, can you give a link or reference to imam Suhaibs understanding of ‘Fadribuhunna’, it would be interesting to see.
I thought it didn’t mean to physically hit them but just to admonish them, or tell them off….translation is never the same as the actual Arabic meaning….I don’t think beating would be allowed in true Islam. Imagine even if you find your wife sleeping with another man you can’t punish her unless you have four witnesses, ( cant remember where in the quran or hadith i read that but am sure its correct) so beating her for something less than that is far far off. Just my p.o.v.
I swear I had the same problem as you, and I couldn’t be satisfied with the answers I was given either.
Two years ago I gave up on simply asking, and started looking for an explanations on my own. I wrote down all my questions and then opened the Quran and a bunch of tafasir, and began reading with an open mind.
It has been the greatest experience of my life, to allow the Quran to give me its answers. I have been more than satisfied with the explanations I found. However, I have realized that one must read the Quran over and over, and make a lot of dua before you will find an answer that makes sense.
I can understand your frustration. I too went through a very troubling phase like this. I probably watched over 100 Muslim/Non-Muslim debates at one point trying to figure out exactly what was going on.
I feel as though the first trouble is that you are seeking nearly all of your answers online. The internet is a minefield of misinformation, particularly about Islam and coming from both Muslims and non-Muslims alike. There’s a very real chance the “scholars” you are talking to are what I like to call “the two-book Shaykh.” I suggest you seek out legitimate scholars and talk to them.
The second trouble is that not only are most English translations pretty inadequate, they are often not annotated enough to show proper context for every verse you are worried about. At one point in time in Surat al-Baqarah, God talks about how there are explicit verses in the Qur’an that the believer holds onto, and other more open verses that the hypocrites use to confuse others. By studying context, you can learn a lot.
I don’t want to go into great detail, because I am not a scholar and I don’t want to misrepresent information here. If you would like to send me concerns at some point, I am also willing to look at them and provide personal takes from years of stubbornly debating people (which, by the way, caused me unnecessary stress over incredibly minute non-issues). You can PM me under my full name on twitter.
Slavery – I completely agree with what you brought up. Other perspectives which I think about are that the definition of a slave in Islam is completely different from the slave in modern times. This was someone brought into the house and clothed, fed, and taken care of.
However, it bothers me that there is nothing that explicitly states slavery is wrong. Apparently, many of the Muslim countries were the last to abandon slavery due to the idea that we should not forbid something that Allah swt has not forbidden himself.
The world is flat – Most of the quotes I have seen online appear seem to be taken out of context, or possibly open to interpretation. However, this seems unlikely due to the case of Sheikh Abdal Aziz, the old grand mufti of Saudi. Here is someone who grew up knowing Arabic, studied Fiqh, Shariah, etc. became a huge scholar, was recognized for it, and then…came out giving a fatwa saying the world is flat according to the Qur’an and anyone who disagrees is an apostate. Do you see what the issue is? Here is a man, well reknowned in his knowledge of the Islamic sciences, who studied only the Qur’an and he ended up deducing that the world is flat from it! However, Muslims who do have prior knowledge of the world being round, can point to other verses and understand them to be referring to a round globe. I feel that it really comes down to how you want to read the qur’an and how you can make it fit anything. For example, I almost feel that if somehow we find out that the World is a cube, people would then again reinterpret verses to fit that concept.
3) I agree with taking the Qur’an as a whole. There are verses that state “Woe to be on those who pray” which would not make sense until you read on to the next verse and see it refers to those who do ibadat to raise themselves in the eyes of society.
2 things with this verse… why did 6 different translations of the Qur’an all interpret this as “beat” and only recently have scholars attempted to reinterpret it?
2) Why does the Qur’an seem as if it’s talking to men only. It tells men the steps to take instead of referring to both me and women.
Sarah I plan on studying Arabic too inshallah.
Matt, I don’t know how to PM you nor do I know your Twitter name.
I appreciate your efforts. I hope you know that I do not doubt Islam as a whole. I pray, I have almost memorized the Qur’an, I love the concepts of forbidding arrogance and pride, etc. It’s these relatively “minor” issues that bother me and have set me out to seek answers.
I feel the same way.
I grew up very dedicated to Islam, albeit in a somewhat political way. I would give speeches about how Islam liberates women and defend Islam at every turn. It may have been more of an ideological position where I viewed Islam as my identity and I felt I needed to protect it. I was more focused on outward elements of Islam.
I then grew up a bit and started to understand the inner beauty of Islam, devotion and submission to Allah. I realised that Islam wasn’t a rulebook that we should robotically follow or a means in which to judge others but instead a means of purifying our heart and directing our soul in devotion to our Creator.
I then became close to a Non-Muslim who was interested in learning about Islam and it was through this experience that I have started questioning more. I am incredibly lost and confused and have very similar issues to that which you have raised.
As a whole I remain devoted to being devoted to God. It remains the primary focus and purpose of my life. Those ‘minor’ issues however claw at me and bring me down. The ‘minor’ issues have been multiplying and becoming doubts… I question whether a deen of perfection would have within it some of the things which Islam does have. And I become annoyed at the apologetics and the stock standard answers from many Muslims because I know I was once one of them, I used to be the one giving those answers. I know them.
All the things that you have mentioned, I have had concerns about as well as many others.
In relation to slavery, yes, I know that slavery has been around throughout history and Islam brought measures towards minimising it. It did not though abolish it. And it does allow sex with slave women. Women became slaves after becoming prisoners of war. So after her father, brother, and all other male relatives were killed, she was taken prisoner and slave, and could essentially be raped by her master. Yes, I know slaves are to be treated with kindness. However, there are hadeeth where sahaabah are asking about coitus interruptus when they are being given their slave women straight after battle. I’m not sure she would consent after her father and brother had just been killed by these men.
Islam categorically forbids the heinous practice of burying baby girls alive and yet allows the practice of raping slave women. And as you said, Muslim countries wouldn’t want to forbid something that Allah did not forbid- and as such, in Saudi and other such countries they bring in poverty-stricken girls and women from Indonesia/Philippines/etc purportedly as domestic help and then use them as sex slaves. And yes, I know, you can’t judge Islam by what Muslims do… that remains one of my regular lines. My concern is not with what Muslims do, but what is in the scripture.
In relation to the earth is flat- I completely agree with you that people reinterpret verses in the Quran to fit concepts. When a new scientific understanding comes through, there will always be someone who reinterprets a verse and go ‘Aha!.. that’s what that bit really means- And that’s why Islam is the truth because it fits in with what science says.’ But when scientific view of a concept updates, we then have to reinterpret. Or we say that the scientific view is wrong. Science is not the way to ascertain the validity of the Quran.
And the matter of the Quran seemingly speaking to men only has also bugged me. I understand that in the Arabic language, when speaking to a group of men and women, it is correct grammatically to use the male form of speech. However there are areas in the Quran where it seems to be pointedly directed at men beyond merely family matters to matters of the hereafter. There is a particular verse that is in my head that I am referring to, but I can’t seem to find it at the moment.
Sometimes I find that staying away from scripture and instead focusing on Allah’s attributes and focusing on purifying my heart and character is helpful. But I do very desperately need answers. As I said in another post, as humans our fitrah or natural state is to submit to Allah. We know what is truth within the deepest depths of our souls. If we seek with pure hearts and pure intentions, InshaAllah, we will find. May Allah (swt) help us both on our journey… Ameen.
Dear Jerry and K.
Can we please talk about it via chat? When you click on my name here, you will be taken to my Google profile and there we can communicate.
The rape of slave women is certainly not allowed as you think
”The Prophet (pbuh) was narrated to have said; “He who slaps his slave or beats him, the expiation for it is that he should set him free” (Sahih Muslim, Hadith 3130)
When slapping the slave is such a heinous crime in the House of Islam, how can one think that Islam would allow the raping of slave women?”
Salam Jerry, I think you have misunderstood or misheard his fatwa of the earths flatness,
With regards to slavery you cannot have it both ways, have an explicit prohibition and then a gradual prohibition of it – perhaps it can be prohibited by a Ta’zir law but someone with an understanding of law would have to answer that.
With regards to the ‘beat’ issue I think you have a taking an approach were ‘everything has already been recorded explained etc… therefore anything we do now is ‘suspicious’ or has motives such as pleasing the west etc’, this is wrong IMHO as translators and scholars of tafseer are humans capable of making mistakes – besides if I remember correctly Ibn Abbas (ra) explained this anyway as to being pretty much symbolic with the miswak.
For slavery- yes, there was a gradual minimising of it, but there wasn’t at the end a prohibition. I understand that for change to be effective in society it must be done gradually, but at the end of that gradual process, there was no final ok society has gotten used to it so now it is haraam. And because there was no final prohibition, no statement that it is haraam, it allows Muslims to feel that it may be ok. You cannot make haraam what is halaal. And yet the religion has been perfected for us.
Dear brother Jerry,
You have raised valid questions. May Allah help you discover the truth and make you firm on it! Ameen ya rabb!
With regards to slavery, please see this link:
Just because one scholar (who was not well versed in secular education) believed that earth was flat does not mean that Quran says so.
With regards to why Quran always addresses in masculine is because of the nature of Arabic language. We have such examples even in English. Example; Chairman (we do not use Chairwoman), Mr for both married and bachelors while we use Miss and Mrs to distinguish married and an spinster.
A common example from usage of Arabic will be: Assalamu Alaikum. If you literally translate Assalamu Alaikum, it would mean: “May Peace be on you males”, but we see native speakers of Arabic using Assalamu Alaikum when they greet females! This is the nature of the language!
Allah revealed His verses addressing the females in feminine gender when it was really required like in 24:31, else it is all in masculine gender due to the nature of the language.
For example: When Allah Iqaamatus Salaat it means: let the males do salaat. None have interpreted it as only males should pray as the nature of the languge is understood. Hope this clarifies insha Allah!
May Allah guide you and all of us to the straight path! Ameen ya rabb!
What about when Allah says that there are houris ( maidens with wide eyes) for men as a reward. What about women ?does that mean that there are male houris for women, if what you said about Arabic and gender is true then equally women should get attractive male equivalents in jannah. Why not?
1. What women get in heaven?
Simple answer. The women will get similar to whatever a man gets. The man gets beautiful maidens and the women will get beautiful men. Let us read the Quranic verse which confirms whatever I said.
“And you will have therein whatever your souls desire, and you will havetherein whatever you request [or wish].” Quran Chapter41: Verse 31
The above verse talks about the people of paradise. The point to be noted is: It does NOT specify any gender. The above verse applies to the people of paradise,both male and female. So if a female desires a beautiful man, she will get it. After all, this is what we mean by paradise, a place of enjoyment and pleasure.
Now,one may ask: Why Allah mentioned ONLY Hooris (Female maidens) and did NOT talkabout male maidens for females?
This is a very valid question. To know the answer, we need to understand some basics of Arabic language. In Arabic, there are ONLY two genders (NO NEUTRAL GENDER),male and female. In Arabic language, as a generality, when they want to address the mixed group of male and female, it is common that they address with the male gender. ONLY when there is a need to specify something for females or to stress on something that is important for females, they use feminine gender. Every language has its own style and nature and this is the nature of the Arabic language.Even in English we have this: We SAY: Chairman (There is NO CHAIRWOMAN).Similarly both the married man and bachelor is referred as Mr. BUT we have MRS and MISS for the females. This is NOT to discriminate. This is the nature of the language.
To give a simple example in day to day usage of Arabic, we will consider “AssalamuAlaikum”. This phrase of greeting is also used by Arab Non-Muslims. Nowif you literally translate “Assalamu Alaikum” it will mean : May peace be on all you males.
If you want to refer to females, then the phrase should read : Assalamu Alaikunna.(May peace be on all you females).
Although gramatically, Assalamu Alaikum ONLY refers to MALES, we see that the phrase isused for BOTH MALES AND FEMALES. Even Arab non-muslims use it this way. The reason is the same given above – the nature of Arabic language where as a generality, both the genders are addressed in the masculine form UNLESS there is a need to stress something or mention something specific to females.
In the Quran, if you see most of the times, the commands are referred to in male gender. For example: God talks about the command to pray, fast, give zakah etc. All these commands are given in male gender. If we see chapter 2: Verse 185, it will say, Whoever reaches the month of Ramadhan, LET HIM PRAY. This is again in masculine gender. No Muslim understands that ONLY men should fast. The male usage is because of the nature of the language.
Quran DOES use feminine gender when there is something specific for females to be mentioned (See Chapter 24: Verse 31) or to stress on something important (SeeChapter 33:35).
With keeping the rules shown above in mind, we can understand that Quran mentioned Hooris alone because as a general rule it addressed the men. The way to understand it is: Women will get beautiful men like the way men get beautiful maidens.
Hope this clarifies the first part insha Allah!
Concerning doubts, I think it’s okay – if not good? – to have doubts. I feel like tackling them will eventually lead to certainty.
I was born a Muslim, have questioned the existence of God in the past, then recommitted myself to Islam. Two years ago, I went through an intense doubt/wiswas phase: crazy thoughts going through my mind, lost appetite & sleep, was depressed and really agitated… serious stuff.
I talked to someone I knew was a good, balanced Muslim about these issues, and told me it was something everyone goes through. He also told me to go and watch The Alchemy of Happiness, which is a film/documentary produced by T.J. Winter/Abdal Hakim Murad about the life of Imam Al-Ghazali. It shows the early interest of the Imam in Islamic studies and periods of his life during which he faced serious spiritual crisis before he eventually attained certainty.
This film has helped me to understand that: a. everyone has doubts; b. people just don’t say it out loud; c. even someone who has proved to be one of the greatest scholars of Islam, whom is referred as Hujjat al-Islam, or the Proof of Islam, who influenced many non-Muslim philosophers and theologians.
What has saved me from the hell I was stuck in was the realization of the previous points made, seeking knowledge, dhikr – you wouldn’t believe the relief I got from simply saying “Allah” -, and asking Allah to be able to focus on Him.
I still have some thoughts coming to my head sometimes, I’m careful not to read, watch, or listen to things which might perturb me, and I try to do everything that’s pleasing to Allah, and I’m good 🙂
Mash’Allah! Beautiful, beautiful article!
As-Salaam 3alaykum wa ra7matullahi wa barakatuhu,
those who do leave Islam do not stick to quran,
quran is the dope for eeman,
if u do fall hold on to the rope,
the rope for your eeman is the quran.
MashAllah. This is truly beautiful.
Jazak Allah kheir.
Muslims they dont teach about how to be pure at heart. Outside follow up is easier compare to controlling heart
Dear brother Sahayam,
Thank you for your comment. What do you mean by “Muslims they dont teach about how to be pure at heart”?
For your information, in Islam, we have a concept called “Tazkiyathun Nafs” which means “Purification of the soul (heart) and lot of methods of worship have been prescribed like Charity, Prayers at night etc to achieve it. It is not true that Purification of the heart is ignored.
I think you are a Christian. Am I correct?
[…] Why are they leaving Islam? by Matthew Longacre (Guest Author) Whether it is in the masjid, on the street, or online, these incidents are too numerous to count. If you haven’t heard these stories, then you haven’t been listening. Where have we failed? […]
Brother Matt – thank you for this article. I was born Muslim and am on my second marriage, now to a reverted Muslim. My first marriage to my ex husband resulted in child abuse to my son, who as a result suffers from severe clinical depression, drug and alcohol abuse, suicidal thoughts, etc, and he has decided to leave Islam. No one can imagine the pain and suffering this has brought me and my family. I raised my son to be a Muslim and according to Shariah let my ex husband care for my son when we were divorced. I cannot even stomach describing the abuse he suffered as a young child here. In any case, my reverted husband tells me how is mistreated by members of the community but alhamdulilah he is not too effected by that as he has other friends who we are close to who support him and I try my best to give him all that he needs. I studied Islam formally for 3 years and have a strong base in Usuluddin so it is even more painful that for all the ilm that Allah has blessed me with in our deen, I cannot help our son. I raised him as a Muslim and taught him, but I could not save him from his own father. I have tried so hard to bring him back to Allah but he insists upon atheism. He is very troubled and our family is suffering financially just trying to pay for his full time care. I decided to comment here because I wanted to say that each person has it on his/her own soul to believe, but Allah will hold us all accountable for how we treat others as well. I have avoided the community in my area for many years because of the fitnah I see each time I enter the masjid. My husband prays Jumah only to do his bare minimum farD. But recently I have started to feel that this is not correct. So I have started to attend Jumah prayer and have been asking how I can help in the community. I have started teaching some of my friends who are interested a tafseer and tajweed class on weekends at my house and have volunteered to teach the youth. But I feel sick and nauseous when I talk to these youth – although I may be helping them – I feel unqualified to teach them when I could not help my own son! I also contacted the sister who meets with newly reverted sisters and asked if I could help out and I made sure to mention that I’m not here to judge or boss people around – as I’m sure that’s what they’re used to from annoying members of the community. I hope that I can do something to help. But astaghfirullah there is so much fitan in our communities now I think the problems are so overwhelming. The best thing I think we can do is each live by a good example. I have found that the best people have done what I have and avoided the community – but I think we need to come out of our holes and start pushing these misguided people away and say – “sister” or “brother – that’s not the best way to speak to our new brother in Islam.” We need to start correcting them and calling them out on their nonsense because they are creating a hostile environment in our masajid. And we need to practice the sunnah – before the khutbah starts on Fridays I go up to each and every sister whether I know her or not, introduce myself, say salaam and shake hands. We all need to start examining the behaviors that turn people away from our faiths and eliminate them. And yes, we need to invite people to Islam from an academic perspective and also from an emotional perspective, because every person will have a different sense of appeal and a thing that works for them. There was one sister there was Mormon who commented… and she is right. The Mormons have an incredible support system. And we Muslims are weak in that. We should be strong like our Sahaba used to be and love each other like the Prophet (sws) told us to and be like parts of the same body in the ummah. If each of us here starts living it eventually people will be inspired by us and will start doing the same insha Allah.
Salaam sister Mona,
I read your description of the hard struggle you and your son endured and are currently experiencing.I hope that you will keep up your strength to keep going,as the abuse symptoms you described him having ,are through no fault of his own.We mothers have hard roads to travel,one of the hardest is fighting domestic violence.I hope to hear from you.
Hi I am a recent convert.my sister has been Muslim for 15 years now and possessed a strength in her that has seen her through many trails in her life.I wanted that myself. Yet while I thought she was strong she has actually become one eyed in her view everything.She has no regard for others feelings including her children.I have found alot with muslims they have tunnel vision dont get me wrong I believe the western society is all wrong and family is all dysfunctional.I believe alcohol is bad and brings trouble.I also believe in one god and eating halal foods.The problem I have is covering my head to stop men looking at me?I am not interested in men as I am happily married but I don’t see how covering your hair conceals your beauty.isn’t your face beautiful?I agree women should cover their modesty but covering your hair seems a bit extreme.why do women have to hair to stop mens sexual desires?My neices tell me i am going to hell for this?that sounds obserd to me.Also only muslims go to heaven?so my husband a non muslim who is a lovely man and decent father is not going to heaven?I dont believe that for a second.Also praying 5 times a day leaves doubt in my mind also.having to wash over and over if you break wind etc.isnt it your heart that makes you pure?I have a 2 year old son who I bring up mostly alone as my husband works and its so hard to pray whilst he is so young and needs watching all the time.A lot of muslims i have met think everything is black and white and worship allah nomatter what.I feel that alot of muslims I have met love to fear monger everyone especially their children to the point where there is no joy in there eyes.Fear of hellfire is something that makes us mentally ill and is that negativity not infact the work of the devil?how can god be love and goodness whilst promoting fear?no place could possibly be worse than this world where there are paedophiles and children being killed.how could muhammed be perfect?only allah is perfect.isnt the devil just our ego in our minds and god allah within our hearts?doesnt religion create a divide between people and has done from the begining who loves god more?whos right whos wrong?your going to hell if u dont do this and your going to heaven if you do this?I believe in god with all my heart im unsure of how much of the sciptures are gods words and how much are infact MEN’s word?
hi selina, i too am a convert however have approached my conversion differently in that i do not allow interference to affect my relationship with God. we are told there is no compulsion, so from this and your comments i would suggest that guard your relationship with God; there are no intercessors – so your faith should grow from knowing the Quran and not from your sister or other muslims. i would also go so far as to suggest that you pull back from the community and start to build your faith on your own. trust your instinct. if you read the Quran, you will gain wisdom; if you search within for your motivation your prayers will be more intimate. God is beyond our comprehension so i do understand your comments. i do not agree that one faith is allowed in to heaven and others are not. so i choose instead to feel that God will explain the truth not just scripture. i also do not follow the sunnah. i question the validity as they are not referenced in the Quran. i am saying many things here but the one i thing i think will benefit you the most is to build your faith on your own without influence. God bless.
Thank you for writing in your comments.
1) Judgment on Hell Fire
Please understand that its Allah (God) who decides on who should be sent to Hell Fire and not human beings. Allah is Most Just and will NOT punish any innocent person.
Please read this link.
If the people instill fear of hell fire alone, it is their mistake. Quran is full of verses which encourage humans to obey God out of reason and rationale more than just fear of hell fire.
2) Who is a Muslim?
You may think anyone with a Muslim name or an appearance is called as a Muslim. Muslim is an Arabic word which is used to refer to a person who submits and obeys God with sincerity.
It is like a driver who drives. Same way, a Muslim is one who submits and obeys God with sincerity. If the person does not obey God with sincerity, then he cannot be called a Muslim irrespective of his name or nationality or appearance.
3) Why should you not live with a Non-Muslim husband?
Since you have accepted Islam, I assume that you must have agreed that it is the truth. If you are not sure of that, I think, that is where you should start. Find out, why Islam is the truth. You may download this small booklet on Islam.
Once you know that Islam is the truth, don’t you think your husband should also follow the true way of life?? We are given life on earth only once. Don’t you want your family (your husband) to live this life in a manner which is pleasing to our creator?
Think about it!
Please feel free to write in your comments.
Thanks again for taking time to share your thoughts.
May God guide all of us to the straight path and forgive us for our shortcomings! Ameen ya rabb!
“..Why Are They Leaving Islam?…”
I remember once in a gathering I was told (and this is in North America), that Muslims shouldn’t wear shirts and pants as its imitates the Kafirs. I was told that Muslim shouldn’t apply for citizenship – its Shirk – because we give allegiance to a un-islamic State.
To me, many aspects of Islam seems outdated or doesn’t make sense. Now, I can just ignore all of these aspects, and just stick to basics – which I was often told. Stick with Salaah (2nd pillar of Islam), and recite Quran regularly, and that’s all you need.
The problem is that if I was living in a much less developed society like Afghanistan (not looking down upon them), but if my life was much simple, then probably blind faith on Islam would be the best thing to me, but to me it seems that many aspects of Western laws are superior to Islamic rules, or at least it appears that way.
I am now a non-practicing Muslim because religion as a whole seems outdated to me and in many cases doesn’t make sense. I have tried many times to not believe in God, but somehow I tend to end up believing that there must be a God.
Maybe 20+ years of Islamic upbringing – and the teachings of Imam Al Ghazali – where he said that a person can never deny the existence of God through his Ru’h though he/she may deny it by lips, but the Ruh leans towards the truth – have been indoctrinated into me that its difficult to think differently. I also performed Hajj when I was about 19.
I would admit that there are many teachings in Islam which can make a positive impact on a human being, but then you would have to pick & choose parts of it, rather than taking it as a whole.
All in all, its not surprising to me to see why many Muslims would want to / or have left Islam.
Thank you for your comments.
I am interested in knowing the many aspects of Westerns laws which are superior to Islamic law. If you can share them here, it will be enlightening.
May I also ask you if you believe that Islam is from God? If yes, why and if no, why?
Salam brothers and sisters,I have too had a lot of these bad issues with Masdji and Islam centers and struggle every day as to why I have my kids follow a religion that makes them want far from it and the people,I am adult and can handle more but kids need a place where they feel welcomed and have fun in learning Islam and they have never not once felt this from other Muslim children and thats very sad very sad indeeded that Muslims makes others feel so bad!!!!To tell you the truth if I took my kids now to my aunts church they would be made to feel welcome and taught with out being judged,some churches are judging too but you also find so many Christains that are kind and welcoming not Muslims though..I have almost many times now left Islam but now my Iman is strong just something really really needs to change because this is why so many new Muslim leave the religion!!!
I am a convert and I find it so difficult to learn Arabic. I said the Shada in arabic but it had no meaning to me. I said the Shada in English and it means something to me. My wife can recite the Quran. I asked her to recite and then I asked her to tell me what it means… she didnt know. I then told her never to recite anything to me again unless she can tell me in English what it all means. So many people dont even know what the Quran says. I read the Old Testament with great interest, why dont I have the same interest in the Quran? I tell you why… I DONT UNDERSTAND IT. And that leaves me cold when I hear people pray in Arabic. But someone prays in English and my ears react…
Having said all that, I have no regrets having converted to Islam.
The article was fine but I felt like so much was missed, people leave for so many other reasons than conflicts of faith. There is no love in the community for converts, as much as converts are touted as “better” than the born muslim for their having accepted it and not being raised in the environment. The reality is far different, the reality is converts are treated usually as fake, doing it for marriage or to “fit in” somehwere or we’re treated like idiots who dont know anything about Islam unless some born muslim tells us something. We’re typically engrained with more cultural practices than Islam. I see many fellow converts who grow the beard,wear the thobe and kufi, eat dates, speak broken Arabic and yet know nothing of Islam. They enjoin into politics and conflict with their brothers over things they do not know anything about and within a couple of years they typically get burned out and it starts out slow, they miss a prayer then two, stop using arabic,stop reading the Quran,stop going to the mosque then they dont care altogether. This indifference stems from not cultivating our converts. We focus so much on dawah and shahada numbers but almost nothing is spent on retention. Muslims run from Islam because they arent taught to learn their religion from the ground up, as the article says its nothing but institutionalized doctrine for a convert with no reasoning behind it. You are simply told “do this and be a good muslim or dont do it and be in the hellfire” For the new converts this can be extremely disturbing and gives the impression that Islam is a religion of rigidity and doom instead of love and compassion. So I implore you if you participate in dawah efforts and give shahada to converts spend the same amount of time cultivating them or your efforts mean absolutely nothing.
There is no peace in any organised religion, and Islam could mean peace. There cannot be any peace when the religion has blood in its hands and there is so much or violence in the Koran itself. Being a convert is like going into a realm that is showing a different face and has a hidden agenda which will surprise you. The Muslims treat the converts badly because they themselves are like any other humans who have no compassion for the other. In the first place there is no absolute proof that Islam or any other Abrahamic religion is from God. Muhammad’s claim that he was a messenger of God is really absurd. Multiple sources exist to prove directly and explicitly that 51 year old Muhammad got himself married to 6 year old Aisha, and consummated the marriage with her when she was nine. Muhammad and his army sexually enslaved women, a tradition that continued with all Muslim armies. God may or may not exist, and if you believe God exists, perhaps he decided to reveal no religions on Earth. However If a religion make tall claims that it is from God, there must be solid irrefutable proof for it. All religions somehow produce doubtful evidence for the truth of their religion. You need external non-biased sources of information to prove that Islam or the other religions are really true. Islam views non-Muslims with a lot of hostility such as Qur’an 48:13 which says non-Muslims will burn in hellfire and similar verses are spread all over the Quran. This applies to your family and friends who are from the old religion. This information above tells you that there is so much of disorder in religion. How are you going to get order from converting into a disorder? Organized religions are organized beliefs with their hoopla, conversion, claims compulsion, and so on. Organized religion may engulf, enmesh truth, but the organized religion itself is not true. It separates humans and pitches us against each other. You are a Muslim, I am a Hindu, another is a Christian or a Buddhist and we are wrangling, butchering each other. We are not discussing religion as the pursuit of truth, but we are considering if there is any truth in organized religion. We are so conditioned by organized religion to think there is truth in it that we have come to believe that by calling oneself belonging to a religion one is somebody, or one will find God. To find God, to find reality, there must be virtue. Religions rob you of your freedom to think and act in a manner that gives you comfort thus inflicting fear into you. Only through freedom can truth be discovered, not when you are caught in the hands of organized religion, with its beliefs. And is there any truth in theories, in ideals, in beliefs, you will agree because beliefs give you security, comfort, safety, a guide. In yourself you are frightened, you want to be protected, you want to lean on somebody, and therefore, you create the ideal, which prevents you from understanding that which is the absolute truth. An ideal becomes a hindrance to true action. If there is God one will never find this God with 100,000,000,000 galaxies and each Galaxy has about 100,000.000 stars. One can be good without this hidden God and one do not need anyone to tell him who this God is if he exists especially if it is unknown.
there is always a chance to back alhamdulillah
There once was a time when all people believed in alhamdulillah and the religions ruled. This time was called the Dark Ages. Which one of the following is immoral?
a) Raping someone
b) Treating women as objects
c) Men allowed to marry four wives
f) Killing someone for having different views to you
h) Forced conversion