Are Muslims Turning Away From
By Dr Mohammad Akram Nadwi
It is a serious fault on the part of Muslims being unable to deal with doubts and questions from within their own community with tolerance & patience.
Many Muslims and others repeatedly claim that Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world. If it is true, it may have more to do with relatively higher birth-rates among Muslim communities than higher rates of conversion to Islam.
In any case, the claim somehow deflects attention from a painful reality especially in the UK that many Muslim men and women, those brought up in traditionally Muslim families and, in fewer cases, those who accepted Islam as 'new' Muslims, are turning away from Islam. A few make a point of publicly declaring their apostasy and their hatred of Islam, which the media then happily popularize.
Freedom of thought and belief is an important ideal that deserves to be respected by all communities, especially when it is expressed in the form of the positive, religious virtues of tolerance, forbearance, and patience with the doubts and questions of others.
The ideal is less impressive when it is a passive, uncaring and careless, indulgence, which lets anyone think and behave as they please so long as no immediate physical harm is done to anyone else: in this attitude there is no concern for harm to the social-ethical environment that becomes apparent only in the longer term, in the same way as damage to the natural environment becomes apparent only in the longer term.
It starts with unanswered questions
It is a serious failing on the part of Muslims, of their families, their teachers and their institutions, that they are unable to deal with the doubts and questions from within their own community with tolerance, forbearance and patience.
Far from striving to understand these doubts and questions, they seek refuge in assertions of group identity, and directly or indirectly reject those who have doubts and questions. Those who doubt and question are either told that they “do not belong”, or they are made to feel that they “do not belong”. Then, sooner or later, publicly or in secret, the feeling of “not belonging” matures into actively “not believing”.
We cannot be indifferent to this outcome. It is a part of every Muslim's responsibility to contribute, in the best way, to the protection and defense of the religion, which includes educating the young and new Muslims in such a way that they believe in the rightness and benefits of worshipping God in loving obedience.
First and foremost, we should ensure that, in our homes and in our public life, there is a correspondence between what we say and what we do. It is possible for a hospital nurse to do all the tasks and routines that make up looking after the sick but do them coldly, reluctantly, just for the monthly salary, without any effort of warmth for the situation of the patients, without any care for whether they get better or get worse.
Such a nurse does not inspire respect for the nursing profession, even if the individual acts professionally and executes all the routines correctly: all of that is not enough. In the same way, a minimal obedience to the outward forms and expressions of being Muslim is not enough.
Obedience and dutifulness must be combined with an active willingness, a loving consent, to do them. God has so created human beings that real, lasting consent is not possible for us without love for, and understanding of, our obligations. Both, the love and the understanding, become embedded in us from the words and example of those who teach us what the obligations are.
Secondly, we must learn to accept the historical reality that it is a long, long time in the past that Muslim societies, anywhere in the world, were in control of the many different areas of thought and behavior that make up collective life.
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In some places, roughly six generations have passed since it was the case that the norms and rules of an Islamic lifestyle pervaded the curriculums of study in schools and colleges, or informed economic and political choices, or international relations, and the like.
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