Today, many people claim to follow nothing. Their reasons are varied and often confusing. I recently met a very successful businessman, who said that he does not feel the need to follow anything. I didn’t find it wise to argue with him about religion because he felt so challenged already just looking at my headscarf. Any further provocation with my words may have made him more defensive.
I kept thinking about his statement over the next few days and the words I had heard before came to my mind, “Anyone who doesn’t bow to One God, bows to everything.” It might sound contrary to logic at first, but thinking deeply makes quite a lot of sense.
What are celebrities or famous people called today? They are called “Idols” and are worshiped by their admirers without even questioning. A few years ago it was usually Hollywood celebrities who were worshiped like that. Now there is another brand of celebrities called “influencers”. Ask them about their qualifications and you will be surprised. They can’t even manage their own lives, let alone trying to “influence” others. The saddest part is that their “followers” are most often from young segments who are easily impressed by a rich lifestyle and party culture. These “followers” mimic the way of life and choices of the influencers thus destroying their individuality, and becoming part of a herd.
Compare that to a Muslim woman with her modest clothing who is standing out because of her choice to submit to the Creator. She not only retains her individuality but also does not feel the need to conform to the latest fads. Even though there is an unseen pressure to look and act the same as the majority, one who submits to God does not feel the need to oblige by the detrimental rules set by those who should have no business setting up those rules as most of them are only pushing unhealthy lifestyles over an ignorant lot.
I am curious what are the underlying reasons which make a person let go of his / her religion.
To be honest, I have yet to make sense of secularism. In itself, it is an ideology just like any other on this planet. Secularism, to me, sounds like “Hey God! I believe in you BUT I choose not to follow your laws as the ones we humans have made are superior and better. So Dear God! You have competition”.
When a person says they do not believe in anything, basically it’s just that they do not realize that they have beliefs but not in God. The human mind and heart are designed to never be empty. There is always something we believe in. There are core sets of values that every human has to rely upon just to make it through life. That very “core set of values” is our religion. It is just a matter of choosing what we prefer. If a person says “I don’t believe in “organized religion” then that essentially means there are other values, orders, or systems that appeal to this particular individual. All the “isms’ we follow are in essence a religion that we abide by; capitalism, socialism, globalism, and environmentalism to name a few. These are ideologies that shape a certain lifestyle and thus become our belief system.
I think the reason many people are put off by religion is that either they do not want to follow the rules and restrictions of religion because it conflicts with their desires or they are put off by the way religion is used politically and portrayed in the media.
Islam does not fit the modern understanding of religion in the sense that it is not limited to private worship rituals. Rather, Islam is a way of life that includes the religious or ritualistic part but also goes above and beyond to include guidelines for every sphere of human life. This differentiates Islam from other religions. Aside from prayers, it also lays down standards for different spheres of life including social norms to preserve the value system and environmental controls to conserve habitat.
Islam has guidelines in place for a healthy and prosperous society. We live in an individualistic and somewhat disconnected society. Islam focuses on collectiveness and mutual care without letting go of one’s own individuality. That’s not to say that individualistic societies are all bad but rather the level of care a human needs to thrive cannot be established in a society that focuses more on the self thus creating a selfish existence focusing only on one’s own desires or happiness. A healthy and thriving society can only be one where the elders are respected and not left alone at the mercy of institutions and the young are protected by the responsible adults of an extended family. After all the saying goes “It takes a village”.
The new trend is to deny God and find a reason to not follow the injunctions set by Him only to arrogantly turn around and blame Him when something starts to go haywire because our actions were contrary to His rules. When a person drinks alcohol and eventually damages the organs, he may get bitter and say “look what God did to me”. But the person should not have been drinking in the first place as already commanded by God. Those who cherish their secular beliefs have yet to recognize God in the true sense and how when “man-made” religion is etched out of society, it is just replaced with another “man-made” system. Additionally, it will benefit them to be humble and accept the fact that we as humans, with our limited capabilities, know so little about so much.