By Ismail Royer
“And by the Mercy of Allah, you dealt with them gently. And had you been severe and harsh of heart, they would have broken away from about you; so pass over (their faults), and seek forgiveness for them.”
When you hear about someone leaving Islam, you may imagine it has something to do with religious beliefs. On some technical level it surely does. But I think the reason usually has nothing to do with, say, rational rejection of one of the six pillars of faith. Rather, most people I’ve known who left Islam did so because they became disillusioned. And nothing causes a Muslim to feel disillusioned about Islam but the bad character of other Muslims.
When a Muslim hurts you deeply, when he betrays you, when he strives to undermine you, when he behaves as if you are his enemy—worst of all, when he doubts your goodness, when he believes you are scheming against him as he schemes against you—this is when your faith is really tested. When you look to the community and find no reassurance, no words of comfort or encouragement, no understanding—this is when you feel: I have nothing in common with these people.
And then you look around at the Muslims—mostly good people, well-wishers—and look in their faces and see no good at all. Your heart is raw and no longer recognizes goodness; you see only frauds and buffoons. You have nothing in common with these people.
This effect can be strongest in converts to Islam, who as a rule imagined they were joining a utopian brotherhood of angels. The day comes for each when reality intrudes. Most are still Muslims when they wake up the next morning, their faith stronger for having survived the crisis. A few do not make it with their faith intact.
It is easy to say that one should not let the abuse of others change one’s mind about faith. Of course the mind understands that truth is unaffected by another human’s behavior. But “the heart has its reasons which reason knows nothing of…” With his foul character a Muslim drives a wedge between his brother and the religion of truth.
Oh Muslims! The believer does not taunt others, he does not curse them, he does not betray. Beware of how you treat your brothers and sisters. Do not put them to trial, and do not be a cause for their destruction.