Around two years ago, a friend of mine asked me why I chose to believe in a religion and particularly Islam. From the anxiety of not having an answer, I probably made something up. The thing is, I answered her but not myself, and that was a problem.
Think about this. We spend so much of our time reading books, listening to music, watching movies, et cetera yet most of us are completely ignorant regarding our religion. Many people will say they are Muslims because that’s their culture or that their parents are Muslims. I don’t think that’s a good answer because in such cases, we are assuming our forefathers were always right — which certainly is not the case. We have to remember that once upon a time apartheid, slavery, colonialism, all of it were “legal”. We have been messing up since the creation of mankind so this ‘religion’ thing, we should not take it for granted. It is the only thing that affects us before and after death, and yet it is the most ignored.
Religion is not a matter of joke.
Nouman Ali Khan in one of his lectures pointed out 3 problems/observations he found while teaching Muslims about The Quran.
- Islam — the Quran and Sunnah — all of it is irrelevant for this time (Nau-zubillah!). The notion is that these religious scriptures are some old thing for backward-minded people and that you can’t be modern and have this religion.
- Islam is extremely strict, harsh and difficult. More so, the rules and guidelines of this book are not easy and that the rules are too many, too heavy, too difficult and basically impractical for all intents and purposes. In the long term, it means that this religion makes you angry and depressed. For many, the people they look towards to represent the religion are people who have no concept of what it means to be happy and therefore thousands of young people are blaming the religion for these negative emotions and coming to the conclusion that “I want nothing to do with Islam”.
- It does not answer my questions. Why should I be Muslim? How do I know this the right religion? There are roughly 4,200 religions in the world and of them all, why Islam? If I go and ask an Imam these questions, most of the times, he will tell me to make wudu and then perform 2 rakats of voluntary prayer because apparently Satan, the devil, is influencing my thoughts. After I pray, guess what, I still have the same questions! Every time I ask these question, people go “Astaghfirullah! You have doubts? Believe and don’t ask any questions!”. So, millions of young people come to the conclusion that the religion itself does not have answers and they think religion and spirituality is a plague that enslaves the human mind. They start reading books by Richard Dawkins and before you know it, an entire generation loses its religion.
These three reasons alone are enough for people to stay away from the Book of Allah.
And so, for many years, religion was this background noise in my life. Then, by the guidance of Allah, I somehow started researching my religion. I started studying for myself and I realised something profound.
Those three points are all horribly wrong!
I realized that the Book of Allah is not only relevant but it also answers my questions, solves my insecurities, my problems and it does so better than anything or anyone in the world. I realized that The Quran and Sunnah are not harsh, but the fault lies in our own selves! Allah sent The Quran as a Mercy to mankind, but unfortunately, when we represent it, we take out the mercy.
The Prophet of Allah, Muhammad (PBUH) was instructed to say, “Produce your proof, if you should be truthful!” to those who said, “None will enter Paradise except one who is a Jew or a Christian.”
This shows that Allah does not want us to have blind faith but rather have solid evidence about what we believe. The Quran is sometimes taught with an attitude of “Believe without questioning or you will burn in hell”. But in reality, The Quran actually asks the reader to “think”! No other religion tells you to do so. SubhanAllāh.
In many Muslim-dominant countries, the only thing that comprises of Islamic education is to read The Quran front to back in Arabic without understanding a thing. To me, that’s the the biggest trick the devil ever played on us. If Allah had not guided me, I too would have read simply the whole Quran and failed to learn anything, and most importantly, I too would be thinking that I am on the straight path and I’m doing it right. The Quran was never meant to be read and not understood. Think about this logically: how can the sound produced from reading Arabic possibly be the rulebook for 1.6 billion Muslims in the world? It doesn’t make any sense. Apart from reading The Quran, we should also focus on understanding it.
I want to rediscover my religion. I want to be knowledgeable, firm and loyal to my religion. I want you to join me. Let this be the year we all become better Muslims!