Turn on the TV and what do you see? Almost an endless stream of reports of murder, rape, killings, torture, burnt out buildings, people in despair, all these images from Muslim majority countries. You see an image splashed across your TV of a lone surviving child rescued out of tons of rubble, his home recently reduced to rubble after a series of heavy bombing.
Turn to another channel and news of the latest update on the sectarian war ravaging Iraq, Afghanistan or Pakistan plays out. If this isn’t enough to turn your mood sour, then Asian “Islāmic” channels will do the rest. Whether you prefer to watch Islam Channel over Ummah TV or Noor TV over Peace TV, (a small selection from the growing number of “Islāmic” TV channels opening in the UK).
These channels will be enough to set your mood for the night; bickering, slander and usual finger-pointing accusations of apostasy and blasphemy are never-ending, each channel championing the cause for being the authentic Prophetic example. The only thing Muslims have become good at is death. Killing, torture, rape or making means of destruction whilst rest of the world advances in education, science and technology Muslims are in a deep chasm squabbling about who took who’s shoe and eaten his portion of the pie!
The pitiful image of Muslims whether that is of constant war-torn regions from the middle-east or of polar opposite, grossly misplaced riches of UAE or other oil rich Arab countries. One image emerges out of this; desensitized misery.
People have become desensitized, a strong sense of conviction that nothing is sacred, no life, system or civilization and any perceived ideology or organised religion is not the ‘special cure’ to all human problems as it is assumed to be. Look at a forsaken image of a brutally abused and displaced boy or girl in Syria, Iraq, Yemen or Afghanistan. On his innocent mind, religion or the lack there of, is the least of his concern. In fact, it is more likely than not his views of religion will be negative. The sensitive nature of religion, to be respected, followed and admired is flushed out of people’s lives. Religion in people’s lives has become the morphine inject part of the body before an operation: numb and lifeless.
People often express some of these sentiments reflecting the stagnating reality they face, despite living in comfort and ease here in the west. ‘i used to practice Islam; pray, fast, pay my dues and be dutiful when i was young, but as i grew older these activities have slipped through my fingers. I became busy with living and the rest started to feel distasteful. I had other important things to do’. – It’s not just ‘non-religious’ folks who say or experience this.
Many people who pray or may seem to be “religious” are also in the same semi-consciousness of sensitivity. People who start of having a rigorous religious life at a young age, following the sunnah, practicing the mustabats (encouraged) deeds, visiting the sick, or other deeds, over time begin to unwind as it were, and slowly begin to loosen on their Islam. If they dressed in a particular way, slowly this begins to change, if they were active in a group, begin to take a step back and go into cruise mood, going with the flow of life on auto pilot offering their Islāmic duties but as simple chores like they do with other activities, driving the kids to school, going to work, popping into Starbucks or Costa coffee to pick up their daily dosage of caffeine pull, taking out the rubbish bin.
This seamlessly fits in with the physiological makeup which develops in a person’s mind. Most people easily fall into this whether intentionally or otherwise; as people grow older, the thirst and hunger to live fuller life, a life of ease, pleasure and satisfaction intensifies, simply put people become bored with practicing and it becomes a meaningless series of exercise. This is why many people who start off ‘religious’ at a young age slowly slip out do so because of this. The taste and hunger to live intensifies and the pleasure to continue in living an obstruction free, comfort and satisfied life holds firm on a man’s vision, his goals, aspiration and desires.
Add religion to this mix and it becomes a distasteful obstruction-causing, illusion shattering force in later life. Some who may have practiced Islam inch by inch, yard by yard, not missing any congregational prayers, optional sunnah deeds, fasts, slowly and to some degree noticeably show signs of discontent with this continual militarized-style life. Religious folks, whether they start young or later in life lose steam soon enough and steer back to a ‘normal’ life. If they stopped or never had, begin to watch movies, dramas, listen to music, or statements like ‘its okay, it’s not fard i have to do this’ begins to take hold.
This post is more for folks who categorize themselves as religious than those who don’t. When this spiral of boredom begins to creep in on a person’s Islam having practiced it religiously for years on end, then it is the beginning to a greater sense of alienation which will take hold and make them feel Islam is stopping them from having a fulfilling life.
Its strange, the older a person gets in age, the focus to live longer, to thrive and get more engaged in political activities grows stronger in a person. This is why many who may be in their late 80s or 90s undergo plastic surgery to hide their age and graying hair. Those who don’t have the financial capabilities for an expensive surgery, resort to cheaper means, colouring hair, beard or spend some money getting false teeth surgically inserted to fill in or replace their aging teeth. Despite this, the ravaging nature of age still forces its way through and it is still noticeable how deformed a person looks with blacker than black hair and yet wrinkled skin and groggy voice. Instead of the mindset changing to one of preparing for his last departure for the afterlife, the opposite happens, love of life grows exponentially.
With a hunched back, weak joints and a frail voice an aged man once asked a man of Allah how he could increase the yield from his land year on end. Hearing this, the shaykh only reply was. ‘Ajeeb!’ (strange). Yet for people of thought and grace, this was enough to teach a great lesson; although his state was as such: weak, frail and almost at the doors of death the old man’s focus and energy was still clinging to life, when will the time come to change this focus for the afterlife?