Friday Sermon: Why Muslims leave Islam? (Part 1)

by Lord Shahid Aziz

4 August 2023 (Ahmadiyya Anjuman Ishaat-e-Islam Lahore — Lahore Ahmadiyya Community)

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الَّذِیۡنَ یَذۡکُرُوۡنَ اللّٰہَ قِیٰمًا وَّ قُعُوۡدًا وَّ عَلٰی جُنُوۡبِہِمۡ وَ یَتَفَکَّرُوۡنَ فِیۡ خَلۡقِ السَّمٰوٰتِ وَ الۡاَرۡضِ ۚ رَبَّنَا مَا خَلَقۡتَ ہٰذَا بَاطِلًا ۚ سُبۡحٰنَکَ فَقِنَا عَذَابَ النَّارِ ﴿۱۹۱﴾

“Those who remember Allah standing and sitting and (lying) on their sides and reflect on the creation of the heavens and the earth: Our Lord, You have not created this in vain! Glory be to You! Save us from the chastisement of the Fire.” (The Holy Quran, 3:191)

وَ سَخَّرَ لَکُمۡ مَّا فِی السَّمٰوٰتِ وَ مَا فِی الۡاَرۡضِ جَمِیۡعًا مِّنۡہُ ؕ اِنَّ فِیۡ ذٰلِکَ لَاٰیٰتٍ لِّقَوۡمٍ یَّتَفَکَّرُوۡنَ ﴿۱۳﴾

“And He has made subservient to you whatsoever is in the heavens and earth, all from Himself. Surely there are signs in this for a people who reflect. (The Holy Quran, 45:13)

I chose these verses and this topic because I saw a video prepared by some organisation about Muslims who leave Islam. After leaving Islam, they may join another religion or become atheists or agnostics. This topic will stretch over some weeks because of the many issues raised by these people which need to be addressed and answered.

The report said ex-Muslims are three times more likely to have a university degree! When doubts about Islam arose, they did not leave Islam immediately. They tried to learn more about Islam to try and make sense of things they didn’t understand. But they said that the further they went, the more their doubts increased. They then approached scholars or elders in their families to discuss their doubts. They were told that they mustn’t think about these things. They must believe. They were told that thinking creates doubts in their mind which is fitna [mischief]. What is happening is that the devil is putting ideas and thoughts into their head to create doubt about Islam. And the right thing was to believe and not try to understand or ask questions.

Contrary to this, the two verses I recited speak about people who reflect on the creation of the heavens and the earth. And then, they try to figure out how these came about and the reason for creation. Referring to the heavens and the earth, God said that He has made subservient to humanity whatsoever it is in the heavens that whatever is in the earth, and indeed there are signs in this for people who think.

What people didn’t understand was that most of these people were not Arabs. They were reading someone else’s translation, interpretation, and explanation of the Holy Quran. They did not doubt the Holy Quran itself but the translator’s interpretation. But because they were told simply believe, these people became disenchanted and left Islam. On the contrary, the Holy Quran speaks about those who remember Allah standing, sitting, lying on the side, and reflecting on the creation of the heavens and the earth! That is not to say that those who speak Arabic always correctly understand the meaning of the Holy Quran!

These people gave six reasons for leaving Islam. First, a conflict between Islam and science. What does science do? Science reflects on the heavens and earth. How was the universe created? How were living creatures created? The Big Bang theory and the theory of evolution do what the Holy Quran asks — to reflect on the creation of the universe and everything in it.

But the Big Bang and Relativity are all theories and not cast in stone. Scientists carry out research in the light of these theories. The result may confirm the hypothesis or require it to be amended or replaced with a new idea. We’re happy to believe those theories rather than in the existence of a Beneficent Allah.

Second, the so-called internal contradictions in the Holy Quran. This is based on the theory called Naskh-Mansukh, or the theory of abrogation. It says that some verses of the Holy Quran abrogate others. Add the idea that some Divine revelations, such as Ayah Rajm and Surah Wilayah, are missing from the Holy Quran, and you create substantial doubts about the authenticity of the Holy Quran. Hazrat Maulana Muhammad Ali debunked these many moons ago.

Third, a conflict between the teachings of the Holy Quran and human rights. This came up during the second case in South Africa as well. We [the Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement] said there’s no punishment for apostasy in Islam. But the other side said that the punishment for apostasy is death. We replied that if apostasy is to be punished by death, this contradicts the Holy Quran [in 2:256], which says there is no compulsion in religion. And it goes on to say it’s clear which is the right and wrong path. Choose whichever you want to choose.

Fourth gender inequality. We have the misinterpretation and mistranslation of the verses of the Holy Quran to try and prove that men are superior to women and that women are subservient to men, and if a wife is not subservient to the husband, he may beat her. I’ve shown many times that this is not correct.

Fifth, intolerance of other religions. The belief is that everyone else apart from us (not only Muslims but non-members of whatever particular sect of Islam a person belongs to) will go to hell. No one pointed out that Christians say everyone will go to hell if they’re not baptised and don’t believe in the death of Jesus on the cross or Jews saying that they are the chosen people. But it is Islam that is intolerant. In this respect, I want to read the translation of a short chapter of the Holy Quran.

Chapter 109 of the Holy Quran says,

قُلۡ یٰۤاَیُّہَا الۡکٰفِرُوۡنَ ۙ﴿۱﴾  لَاۤ اَعۡبُدُ مَا تَعۡبُدُوۡنَ ۙ﴿۲﴾ وَ لَاۤ اَنۡتُمۡ عٰبِدُوۡنَ مَاۤ اَعۡبُدُ ۚ﴿۳﴾ وَ لَاۤ اَنَا عَابِدٌ مَّا عَبَدۡتُّمۡ ۙ﴿۴﴾ وَ لَاۤ اَنۡتُمۡ عٰبِدُوۡنَ مَاۤ اَعۡبُدُ ؕ﴿۵﴾ لَکُمۡ دِیۡنُکُمۡ وَلِیَ دِیۡنِ ٪﴿۶﴾

“Say: O disbelievers. I serve not that you serve, and you do not serve who I serve. Nor shall I serve that which you serve, nor do you serve Him whom I serve, for you is your religion. And, for me, is my religion.”

Disbeliever, used in the Holy Quran, is not a term of abuse. It simply means those who disagree with Allah’s revelation. Obviously, they would have been Muslims if they agreed with the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). How is it intolerant to tell people to live how they want to, even if it is wrong according to Islam because at the end of the day, they will learn who was right?

At the time of this revelation, there were Jews, Christians, and idolaters living in Makkah and Medina. So where is the intolerance? This chapter of the Holy Quran says that I serve only the One God, but in addition to God, you also serve Jesus as the Son of God, for example. So, you’re not serving God exclusively. It goes on to say that you’re not going to worship only the One God or serve only the One God, and I won’t worship Jesus as the Son of God. For you, is your religion, and for me is my religion.

Where is the intolerance in that? Compare this with what the Christians did with the Jews. They said Jews murdered the Son of God. And for many thousands, not hundreds, of years, they persecuted the Jews? If you look down history, you will find that it’s not been Islam or Muslims who have been intolerant.

I was amazed that the elders of their families and the scholars they approached could not explain to these people that all these conflicts do not exist. God sent the Promised Messiah [Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian] to guide Muslims and non-Muslims because Muslim elders could not answer objections against Islam. First, he stressed that thinking, valuing, evaluating, and considering are the basis of human development. If you stop doing that, you stop developing. As an example, I only read two verses of the Holy Quran. I could have read many more. But you can see that God asks humans to look at the creation, think about it, and research. It will lead them to the inevitable conclusion that there has to be a creator.

The Big Bang Theory says that nothing existed, there was a big bang, and the universe came into being. What was it that exploded? How did it come to be there? Why did it explode? We do not ask! We are happy to believe all these things without question. But if you say well, there is a Creator who set up a scheme of things for the creation of the universe, living things, inanimate objects, and so on. People say that this is unbelievable.

There is a car outside, and if I told you, this rubber and pieces of metal and plastic were lying around, and suddenly they came together, and they became this car that I drive about. Would you believe that? But if I said that Ford Motor assembled these items and made a car. Which is more believable?

What makes religion unbelievable is forcing people to say just believe. I don’t have to explain it to you. Unfortunately, this is what many Muslims do. On the contrary, look at the compilers of books of hadith. They didn’t just believe. They set down rules to check up on the correctness of a hadith. For example, they said the Holy Prophet (pbuh) could not have said something against the laws of nature. In other words, they reflected upon what they were told and concluded. But we call it a miracle and move on.

The Quran tells the Prophet (pbuh) to say he is there to tell people what God wants them to do. Follow it, don’t follow it. Believe it, don’t believe it. I’ll be answerable for my deeds, and you will be accountable for yours. The Quran tells the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) his job was to deliver the message. Whether they believe it or not had nothing to do with him. Allah will hold them to account on the Day of Judgement.

The spread of learning and invention is based on thinking. You cannot have innovations without questioning and thinking. Sadly, those who have left Islam are correct when they say our scholars cannot satisfactorily answer questions. And it was the same at the time of the Promised Messiah. He would answer people’s questions and explain things to them. People would go to him and disagree with him, arguing from the verses of the Holy Quran to support their disagreement. He wouldn’t tell them off. He wouldn’t say I’m the Promised Messiah. How dare you disagree with me? There were certain things that God told him, such as that Jesus was not up in Heaven. He would argue with you on those points because God had told him something had a particular interpretation. For other things, he would listen to people argue their point from the Holy Quran. This can only come from thinking and reflecting. And he wanted to see if someone had reflected upon the Holy Quran and then come to a conclusion. So, for Islam to prosper and expand, even to some degree to survive, Muslims need to turn to and join the Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement. Without that, the number of people who leave Islam will increase because their objections are not adequately answered. On the following Fridays, I will deal with specific objections against Islam that I listed above.

Source: The Light (UK), August 2023, pp. 11–13