In this counseling answer:
“Have a discussion with your son as a compromise. Ask him to at least study more about Islam. He is still very young and you will not push him or pressure him provided he studies and seeks knowledge about this deen from authentic sources and learned scholars for the next six months (at least), and then you can have a discussion with him again on Islam.”
As-salamu `alaykum dear brother
Thank you for the detailed question that you have submitted to us for consideration. You have mentioned many points in your letter and I would like to summarize a few points and the discussion can follow. Some of your main queries include:
“My son has decided Islam is not for him, that he has discovered too many flaws in the faith. My problem is my son refuses to accept Islam.”
“Well father, something very simple for example is the hadiths. They are not inspired by Allah and written many years after the Prophet. The irony is we Muslims say the Christians’ New Testament is flawed for the very same reason.”
“Christians could say they have many manuscripts about the New Testament showing it was preserved. However, the fact remains it was not written during Jesus’s life.”
“Father, I think if Muhammad would have wanted us to follow every one of his actions Allah would have made that clear in the Qur’an and Muhammad would have wanted his hadiths written down during his lifetime. He did not, because he wanted to preserve the Qur’an’s words.”
I asked him if he still thought the Qur’an may be the word of Allah. My son said “No. The oldest Qu’rans in existence are from around 800 CE, one being in a Turkish museum. We do not have an actual Qur’an from Muhammad’s time, which contradicts our views on why the New Testament is invalid. We do not know if the Qur’an is preserved. Even if it was, I would deny it because having a preserved holy book means nothing. One must have faith in it to mean something.”
“He tells me this is not the Middle East where there are religious police or a society based around Islamic principles. He tells me this is Canada and he has the right to believe in what he wishes.”
“The more I press my son the more difficult our relationship becomes. He believes in no religion, but believes God exists.”
The above are some of the key points arising from your letter. Please take note of the following comments, suggestions, advice, and way forward:
- It is very clear from your letter that, for some reason, a doubt has appeared in the mind of your son regarding the religion of Islam.
- This doubt could possibly have been caused by several factors, including the country, friends, discussions that he has with non-Muslim friends, and Web sites that he may have read on the Internet.
- Unfortunately, one of the repercussions of September 11 and the wars on Afghanistan, Iraq, and the global war on terror—which directly or indirectly equate to a global assault on Islam and Islamic values—is that some Muslims, especially younger ones, are faced with an identity crisis and they start to question who they are.
- The media has a very powerful and lasting influence on the hearts and minds of people. This propaganda machine is devised and scientifically orchestrated to manipulate the psychology of people to cause doubt, low self-esteem, and misery in Muslims, while creating an air of hatred, malice, or dislike of Muslims by non-Muslims. This is especially evident in some Western countries where Muslims are faced with insults, abuse, and ridicule of their basic Islamic values such as hijab, beard, salah(prayer), etc. This can be very confusing for a young child, especially a child who perhaps also has a low self-esteem.
- It is clear that your son, who is only 13 years old, already has his mind fixed that there is something wrong with Islam, the Qur’an, and the authentic Hadith. This is very clear from the discussion that he has with you. It therefore follows that the only way that he can be so clear on this matter is that he has either read something or spoken to someone who is against Islam, and his reading or discussions have sown the seeds of doubt in his young mind.
- However, it is also clear that the information that your son has about the so-called weaknesses of Islam is not based on fact or sound information. He has tried to justify and extrapolate his arguments from Christianity to Islam, and that is a misrepresentation of the truth.
- However, it is encouraging to note that your child, as young as he is, has the inquiring mind. So in sha’ Allah, let him use his intellect, logic, and reasoning and get more information from reputable sources about Islam before passing judgment.
With regard to some of the points that have been raised in your letter, I would like to shed some light on some of the aspects about Islam, which will hopefully inspire your son to seek further knowledge:
- Your son is correct when he says that the Hadith were not compiled during the lifetime of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him).
- Your son is correct when he says that the New Testament was not compiled during the lifetime of Jesus (`Isa) (peace and blessings be upon him).
- He is not correct when he says that because the New Testament is flawed then also the Hadith must be flawed (and I give the reasons below).
- He is not correct when he says that we cannot be sure if the Qur’an is preserved and that the oldest Qur’an is from 800 CE.
- He is correct when he says that there is no compulsion in religion, but he is not correct when he implies that because there are no religious police then he can do what he wishes.
To clarify the above , please take note of the following:
Before the advent of Islam, and 500 years after the message brought by Jesus (peace and blessings be upon him), the world was plunged in darkness. This is known throughout the world as the Age of Ignorance, or the Age of Jahiliyah.
Why was the world plunged in darkness? This has been a common feature throughout the history of mankind. Allah Most High has sent many thousands of prophets and messengers to guide the people away from idol worship and to guide them to the One True God, Allah Most High. So each prophet and messenger came with the light of knowledge. However, every prophet came only for a certain time and within a certain country or area.
But when the prophets died, the people slowly started going into darkness and entered into the Age of Ignorance, when they forgot or distorted or made additions to and deletions from the original message brought by all the prophets of Allah. This is the nature of people—to manipulate the Word of Allah Most High to suit their own needs or to gain a measly profit out of it.
Then Allah Most High sent the Final Messenger, the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) with the final book, the Qur’an. Now, because this is the absolute final guidance, Allah Most High sent the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) for all mankind and for all time. This means, logically, that there must be a way that this final book and the final message should be preserved. Allah Most High Himself promises to preserve this book for all time.
The message brought by Jesus (peace and blessings be upon him) and those brought by the other prophets were only recorded centuries later. However, in addition to that, some people manipulated the actual words so that some words are from man and some words are from Allah Most High. But who knows the difference? Furthermore, people changed the words to suit themselves to make it appear that their scripture is the word of Allah Most High when it is not. Hence, even today, many Christian scholars acknowledge that the New Testament in the original language has been changed and manipulated by man.
To avoid the repetition of this same problem, and to ensure that the same mistake does not happen with the Final Message and the final Qur’an, Allah Most High inspired the Final Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) to take due care in the final words. This was achieved with the very first verses, which introduce the concept of the pen, that is, the importance of the written word. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) was always surrounded by many scribes who immediately wrote down every revelation that he (peace and blessings be upon him) received, word for word.
In addition, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) then asked the scribes to read the written words back to him so that he could ensure that they were perfectly accurate. No other prophet of Allah used this method. The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) introduced in Islam the scientific method of research, observation, and accuracy during the Age of Ignorance.
In addition to writing the words, the Companions of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) also memorized the words of the Qur’an.
The entire Qur’an was rehearsed by the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) with Angel Gabriel (peace and blessings be upon him) during the month of Ramadan.
It was the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) who was instrumental in placing the various verses and passages in the final form in which we see it today.
The Qur’an is still being taught today, throughout the world, by the oral method of propagation, which is a very powerful method. No other religion can lay claim to this. At least five to ten percent of the world’s Muslim population have committed the entire Qur’an by heart in the original form that it was at the time of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him).
This translates into many millions of men, women, and children who are hafiz of the Arabic Qur’an, word for word. That means that if all the Qur’ans of the world were burned, then within 24 hours an identical copy could be produced by the printing houses because it is in the minds and hearts of millions of people throughout the world. No other religion can claim this unique and singular achievement.
There are many, many verses in the Qur’an—such as the creation of the human from a clot that hangs in the womb of the mother, the determination of male and female, the movement of the planets, the orbits of the planets, the origin of the universe with the Big Bang, the mountains, the formation of rain, the seas that do not join, the soil, the atom, the miracles in the ant, the bee, and so on—that only the latest technology and instrumentation of modern science can verify today. This proves beyond any shadow of doubt that the Qur’an is the Word of Allah Most High. There is absolutely no doubt in this matter.
The verses alluded to above and the Prophet’s (peace and blessings be upon him) encouragement to his Companions ushered in the age of science, enlightenment, and observation to study the whole of nature by studying the signs of Allah Most High.
These verses inspired the early Muslims to study the various scientific fields, and they became leaders in medicine, astronomy, botony, anatomy, human physiology, algebra, navigation, and numerous other sciences so that Muslims became the intellectual giants for more than 1,000 years. They wiped out all forms of superstition and idol worship and brought in scientific research.
Many universities in Europe translated these great works from the Arabic language into Latin and then copied the works to make them their own. For example, contrary to popular belief, it was not Columbus who discovered America, but it was the Muslims. Many Muslims had often traveled to America, and when Columbus wanted to set sail for America, he asked Muslim sailors to show him the way.
His journals show that when he arrived at the shores of America, he saw the minarets of mosques; yet this discovery was attributed to him and not to the Muslims. Further, the circulation of blood was attributed to William Harvey, yet it was the Muslims who discovered blood circulation 200 years before him. These are just two of many examples.
The same scientific method was used by the early Muslims when they started to embark on recording the words and sayings and Sunnah of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him).
For example, Al-Bukhari (may Allah be pleased with him) traveled many thousands of kilometers to verify the authenticity of even a single hadith. He ensured that the narrations from different sources matched each other. He also ensured that the chain of narration, the credibility of the narrators, the sources, and all other aspects were verified.
Furthermore, he prayed two rak`ahs before finally recording each hadith. In this way these early Muslims developed an entire scientific method to the Hadith that was totally unknown in the world at that time. No other religion can lay claim to this very strict, rigorous, and accurate method that inspired the early Muslims. This was because they were inspired by the perfect example of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him).
More and more people are entering into the fold of Islam because they realize that it is the only religious book that is from Allah Most High, which has not been changed even by a single letter. Furthermore, they are hungry for the perfect example of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) in our new age of ignorance. It is only by following the instruction in the Qur’an—follow Allah and follow the Messenger—that we can be rightly guided.
Unfortunately, some people will try to show that there are weaknesses in Islam as there are in their religion. But this is their vain desire. This is their false hope. The more you study the Qur’an , the more you study science, medicine, and the universe, the more your faith increases without any shadow of doubt that there is only One God, Allah; there is no other god. He has no partner, and He has sent Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) as the Final Messenger for all mankind for all times.
My final suggestion to you is that you know everything that I have written above so I am not addressing this to you but to your son. Please give this to your son to read so that he can read this from an independent source and so that the two of you don’t get into arguments.
You want the best for your son. Your son also wants the best in his life.
Have a discussion with your son as a compromise. Ask him to at least study more about Islam. He is still very young and you will not push him or pressure him provided he studies and seeks knowledge about this deen from authentic sources and learned scholars for the next six months (at least), and then you can have a discussion with him again on Islam.
The only reason for the six months is for him to suspend his decision and seek knowledge. But he must continue seeking wholesome and beneficial knowledge throughout his life.
My prayer for you and your son and your family is for Allah Most High to guide you all with wisdom to the straight path and not to the path that leads astray.
I hope that the above sheds some light on your problem. Please note that I have weaknesses and what I have written is my opinion. So please consult other people as well to shed more light on your problem. Two heads are better than one.
Salams and best regards.
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