“My Child Left Islam!” — The Spiritual Wood Chipper of Modernity

Some problems are virtually unsolvable, at least in terms of what we as human beings can do. Of course, everything is in the Hands of Allah, and He is capable of all things. He can solve all problems. But, as far as pursuing practical means and “tying the camel,” some problems are intractable from our limited human perspective.

What can you tell a weeping Muslim mother who comes to you begging for you to talk to her murtad son, to convince him to come back? You can tell her that you will try. But in the back of your head, you know a conversation is not going to change anything. It doesn’t matter if you have the best arguments, the best proofs, and you have an airtight answer for all the usual challenges against Islam. It doesn’t matter if you take the “soft” approach, try to be a friendly confidant, etc. It doesn’t matter what approach you take, a conversation is not going to make the difference in 99% of cases.

I have plenty of experiences, unfortunately, like this as I travel to different communities and there are Muslim parents desperate for intervention in the apostasy of their children. Increasingly common are the beleaguered parents whose children have “come out” in one way or another. What can be said to them? Is there some quick advice or, perhaps, a program that will bring back the loving, observant Muslim children they worked so hard to raise?

The answer is no. These are not intellectual problems. In this day and age, it is not faulty reasoning that leads a person out of Islam and into atheism, so an intellectual conversation pointing out the faulty rationalism of atheism is not going to help much. [And as someone who specializes in intellectual analysis of atheism, modernism, etc., I can appreciate the irony of me saying this.]

But calling this a “spiritual problem” is not accurate either. Painful as it is to admit, some of these apostate children grew up in devout households with parents who themselves were devout and “practiced what they preached.” They grew up going to the masjid, memorizing Quran (with its meaning!), and doing all the things good Muslim kids in good Muslim families do. Yet, the result was still catastrophe.

As a parent of young children, I find this utterly terrifying. How can you take precautionary measures against a danger that is as unpredictable as it is destructive? How can you protect your kids (or yourself!) from this, and if catastrophe does strike, what is the solution?

Due to modern medicine and pharmaceuticals, many of us are used to the idea that medical treatment can cure everything. Every disease has a prescription. But what medicine or medical procedure will cure someone whose arm has been fed into a wood chipper? The grim reality is, there is no way to un-woodchip an arm. An amputated arm can be surgically reattached. A broken bone can be set and healed. But the wood chipper leaves no recourse.

Sadly, this is what the wood chipper of modernity does to the iman of segments of our community. Their hearts have been fed in and spitted out by a loud, rusty, sharp, menacing piece of industrial machinery. It is depressing, but that is the situation.

If you doubt this, try having a conversation with the young murtad who practiced Islam his whole life and then went to college, took a few introductory classes on philosophy or social studies, and then promptly decided that Islam is a man-made myth and God is a figment of the imagination. Sit down with this kid for one hour, two hours, ten hours, it doesn’t matter. See if you are going to come out of it with anything other than a greater appreciation for the ayah:

Have you seen he who has taken as his god his [own] desire, and Allah has sent him astray due to knowledge and has set a seal upon his hearing and his heart and put over his vision a veil? So who will guide him after Allah ? Then will you not be reminded? [45:23]

And even if you develop a long term relationship with this kid and are equipped with not only the best intellectual arguments but also the best practices of youth counseling, etc., how is that going to compete with all the other influences in his life? His every waking moment, he is surrounded by the sources of his atheism. He is breathing it in constantly. Every part of his environment: friends, teachers, classes, music, movies, social media, etc. Everything in his modern environment is telling him to obey his desires, feed his lusts, that the dunya is all that there is and all that matters, that even if God exists, who cares? What difference does it make? And so on.

How are you going to compete with that? Imagine that we are basting in this toxic waste day in and day out. It is literally a miracle that iman can be preserved in these times. Only by the Will of Allah can anyone maintain his faith. And only by the Will of Allah can anyone regain faith after having lost it.

And this is why we earnestly pray:

Our Lord, let not our hearts deviate after You have guided us and grant us from Yourself mercy. Indeed, You are the Bestower. [3:8]

There is one avenue to keep in mind, however. And this is indicated to us in a sahih hadith:

A man killed ninety-nine people, then the idea of repentance occurred to him. He asked who was the most knowledgeable of people on earth, and he was told of a man so he went to him and said: “I have killed ninety-nine people. Can I repent?”

He said: “After ninety-nine people?!” ‘So he drew his sword and killed him, thus completing one hundred. Then the idea of repentance occurred to him (again), so he asked who was the most knowledgeable of people, and he was told of a man (so he went to him) and said: “I have killed one hundred people. Can I repent?”

He said: “Woe to you, what is stopping you from repenting? Leave the evil town where you are living and go to a good town, such-and-such town and worship your Lord there.”

So he went out, heading for the good town, but death came to him on the road. The angels of mercy and angels of punishment argued over him. Satan said: “I have more right to him, for he never disobeyed me for a moment.”

But the angels of mercy said: “He went out repenting.” ‘So Allah sent an angel to whom they referred (the case).

He said: “Look and see which of the two towns he was closer to and put him with its people.” When death came to him he strove and drew closer to the good town, and farther away from the evil town, so they put him with the people of the good town. [Muslim]

Here we have the concept of hijra, or migrating for the sake of Allah. Is migration an option for Muslims concerned about their youth? Is this something that could bring a lost soul back into the fold?

Allah knows best. But the question becomes: Migration to where?

Modernity has left virtually no square inch of the earth unblemished by its corruption. The reality is, the wayward soul can find means to feed itself through communications technology and the reach of the global marketplace even in the most remote parts of the world. Nowhere is hermetically sealed and this is due to the totalizing, hegemonic nature of modernity that demands to rule over every person, everywhere. We of course saw what happened when one relatively small nation recently decided to implement Sharia. The Western reaction was as swift as it was punitive and uncompromising.

But, the matter is not black and white, as there are certain places that are better than others. Is the toxicity found in, say, New York City, greater than Doha? Or Kuala Lumpur? Or any number of other predominantly Muslim cities? Obviously. It is up to each family to make their decisions based on their circumstances. Sadly, even those cities are not immune and ultimately it’s in the Hands of Allah, to whom we pray and beseech.

I can just hear people’s reactions after reading all this: So what is the solution?!

Again, that’s my point. Sometimes, there is no easy answer, no quick, convenient fix. Sometimes the problem is too big, too intractable and recognizing that fact is the only practical thing that can be done because it makes us realize that the only solution is turning to Allah. Sometimes, we have to understand the gravity of the situation, depressing as it is, if we are going to have any chance of coming out alive.

None of us has any power to change the course of the world, to reverse modernity. Only Allah has power.

The hungry wood chipper rumbles on.

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36 COMMENTS

  1. Allah guides whom He wills. Knowledge is not enough. We must overcome our own ego, and societal pressures. Like you said the solution is to always turn back to Allah. I have some relatives who left Islam, but unfortunately don’t wish to discuss why. They get agitated and bothered. The reality, in my opinion, is they want to have fun without any guilt. Perhaps this is the base reason for most people. Allah knows best. Thank you for the wonderful reminder and advice.

      • “O you who have believed, whoever of you should revert from his religion – Allah will bring forth [in place of them] a people He will love and who will love Him [who are] humble toward the believers, powerful against the disbelievers; they strive in the cause of Allah and do not fear the blame of a critic. That is the favor of Allah; He bestows it upon whom He wills. And Allah is all-Encompassing and Knowing” 5:54.

        I’m from a staunch liberal secular family. I apostated from that religion and became a Muslim as did many of my friends, wa lillahilhamd.

        Don’t despair brothers and sisters,

        For every Ali there are many Louis’

        “They want to extinguish the light of Allah with their mouths, but Allah will perfect His light, although the disbelievers dislike it” 61:8.

      • @Ali

        “Seeing your comments, you are probably the reason why your relatives left Islam.”

        I’m the Ahmad who annoyed the pride out of you in the comments of the other ”
        Are Muslims Obsessed with Criticizing the Left?” post – just in case your intentions were to chastise the person who did do so.

        Either way, as usual, your comments are baloney and a waste of space.

        Sit in front of a mirror and just end that fight you’re fighting with yourself. You’re pathetic (no, really) and sound more and more like a disbelieving troll with an incredibly low self esteem, who has nothing better to do than lurking around on Muslim spaces using Muslim names in his/her/its bid to attain nirvana!

  2. This is a test for everyone involved.

    Do not underestimate the power of Do’a. The mother’s prayers are the best… with utmost sincerity. No hijab to seventh heavens In syaa Allah.
    Remember that various prophets are tested with the same… disbelieving wives, sons, fathers etc. These are prophets of Allah, the best of mankind.

    Return to Allah as He possesses all guidance and disposer of all affairs. It’s not the end until we leave this world.

  3. lol, even on here Haqiqatjou is censoring comments. Funny how he continues to let abusive ones remain.

    Haqiqatjou is the reason why Muslims become apostates. I have no doubt his own children will neglect Islam.

    • Islam is merely one of many ideologies creasted by people for people to control people. Many young Muslims are connected to the outside world, beyond the limited religious communities of their parents and families. They may question the religion, do research, discover distasteful things about Islam, reject being controlled, want to live their own lives, reject the hijab/niqab, stop believing in a god, not feel answered in prayer,support LGBTQ+ people, have no interest in sharia or arranged marriages, etc. The number of murtad and secret atheists / agnostics is rising. A Pew survey shows the number of non-religious Arabs in countries like Tunisia is rising. Roughly 5 percent of Saudis declare themselves atheists or non-religious. The number of ex-Muslims in the US is equal to the number of converts. Islam is but one way to live. Most Muslims are Muslim because of their families. BTW, Daniel said of your god: “He can solve all problems.” If so, why infant mortality, malarial mosquitoes, natural disasters, only a small percentage of the world being livable, natural climate change and mass extinction, etc? This omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, omnibenevolent god is not a very nice character if it can stop all of this from happening but chooses not to, and allows Muslims to try to rationalise it all away with “God knows best. He is most merciful. He has a plan.” That’s called cognitive dissonance. Some Muslims can’t play that game, cannot accept these contradictions, so they become apostates. There’s no great mystery.

  4. Amazing article but to say that there isn’t an inch left on this earth where the modernity hasn’t spread is not right. Alhamdulillah there are places where a person can feel away from all this. There are places in Yemen, in Saudi, in African countries especially Mauritania where there is no to very little influence of Modernism. But if people are expecting to have the comforts of this life and still stay away from modernism that’s like saying you keep working in a bar without drinking alcohol.

    • Yes, I agree. But even if there was a will to do so, the vast majority of Muslims would not be able to relocate to these limited places. What should the vast majority of the Umma do?

    • ”in Saudi” how do you explain ”halal” casinos and concerts?

      • Brother. You are seeing one part of Saudi. Alhamdulillah Saudi is huge where there are smaller cities where people are busy learning Quran and Sunnah and teaching it. Alqaseem is one such state.

  5. “He whom Allah sendeth astray, for him there is no protecting friend after Him.” That’s pretty straightforward

  6. Not necessarily, there are a few Muslim countries where modernity hasn’t entirely consumed its society, Pakistan being one of them.
    My father did hijra back in the nineties from the UK to Pakistan and I can tell there was no regret, allhamdulillah we have an Islamic society (still) and try our best to help each other .

    • You must be living under a rock. Besides the Northern areas and rural parts, major Pakistani sections and cities are liberal cesspools who are already injecting their secular beliefs on conservative parts. There is a reason why many of these murtads are Pakistani, most with families back home who know about their apostasy who are pretty chill about it. Pakistani establishment and army for the post part are anything but Islamic. Also Pakistani Islam is a mix of mushrik cultural aspects besides the influence of sufism. Some of them are way out there.

      Hopefully with whats happening in India many of these dayyuths will wake the fk up or one day these dayyuths will be kissing Modis nutsack like those liberal Muslims of Bollywood due to intimidation and fear. Serves them right.

      At least one young girl from there came to her senses. Selling her soul wouldnt save her from Hindu rape gangs.

  7. This is not just an Islamic or Muslim issue. There are many Westerners who are going off the grid leaving urban areas to raise their families away from all the exploitive degenerate stuff driven by capitalist greed. The Amish and Mennonites are increasing with other such subgroups. Its a growing trend.

  8. Salam, I don’t know if anyone here has ever heard of the Benedict option, a book written by an American Christian named Rod Drehar which details how communities can segregate themselves from mainstream society, while creating alternative frameworks for things such as School and jobs.
    I think some of his insight could be valuable to the Muslim community, not just in America but in other parts of the west as well.a

  9. What a depressing article! What’s the point of making people lose hope?! Also, is modernity really that manifest destiny most people think it is?! Islam is the only viable alternative in a world losing its mind and soul, and this is true for individuals and societies alike. We shouldn’t lose sight of that fact if we are to ever contribute to the fulfillment of our duty as ummah. Muslims shouldn’t segregate themselves, not in this time and age, we are not the Amish, we are the witnessing ummah!

  10. “How can you protect your kids (or yourself!) from this, and if catastrophe does strike, what is the solution?”

    1. Raise them correctly…which means teach them the deen from a young age. The basics of the deen should be taught and understood way before puberty sets in.
    2. Raise them in an intact household where the mother is present fulltime. Do not do this dual income setup where children are often left without – proper – supervision.
    3. Preferably, raise them in a muslim country. If this isn’t possible then atleast in a muslim community. When you have the possiblity to perform hijra do so. Where to? To your ancestral land if your not from the West: where the adhan is heard, where there is still somewhat of a community life….and where English is not spoken (this will seal you off from a lot of corruption).
    4. Do not raise them in excessive luxury. This will lead to a materialist mindset which sets the door wide open to materialist philosophies and detachment from the deen.
    5. Avoid gender mixing i.e. ikhtilaat. Ikhtilaat will put you in a heightened state of arousal which will lead to navel-gazing.

    People primarily become murtad because of ignorance i.e. jahl (they never really understood islam to begin with…their understanding is generally cultural). Other then jahl it is shahawaat (desires)….particularly sexual desires. They want to engage in a promiscuous lifestyle. Islam is a barrier tot his…so they get rid of it. So no surprise irtidaad occurs many around the college age…which is the age that is the most sexually charged – through exposure and opportunity.

  11. These people leaving Islam will do nothing to undermine the truth of Islam. They need Islam. Islam does not need them. Or us. And Islam is here to stay no matter how much the haters try to eradicate it. In the war of ideas, it will merge victorious with or without us.
    The fact that Islam continues to gain new followers in the thousands within the west, despite all the negative propaganda against it is another sign that it is the absolute truth. Had this same negative propaganda been done to any other religion, that religion would have been eradicated from the face of this Earth.
    The alt right wants to outright murder us. The conservatives want to bomb Muslim countries into submission, scare Muslim citizens of the west into submission, and somehow “reform” Islam. The progressives are trying to change Islam by “befriending” us. All to no avail. Allah will always choose people to rise to the occasion and speak truth to power.

    “A group of people from my Ummah will always remain triumphant on the right path and continue to be triumphant (against their opponents). He who deserts them shall not be able to do them any harm. They will remain in this position until Allah’s Command is executed (The Day of Judgement). (Sahih Muslim)

    For all of those sleeplessly trying to “reform” or “eradicate” or convert others from Islam, you’re wasting your time.
    “Indeed, those who disbelieve spend their wealth to avert [people] from the way of Allah. So they will spend it; then it will be for them a [source of] regret; then they will be overcome. And those who have disbelieved – unto Hell they will be gathered.”(Quran 8:36)
    To those trying to eradicate or reform Islam, I have an advice. Study it sincerely. Read the Quran with an open heart. Decide for yourself. Ask yourself why the West is experiencing a severe moral decline. Perhaps you will come to realize the fallacy of secular liberalism. And the fact that the solution to all of the crises we find in society is in fact found in Islam.

  12. The pharaoh witnessed the miracles of Moses peace be upon him firsthand. Many disbelievers witnessed many prophets as well as their miracles first hand. Faith was not in their fate. Allah guides whom He Wills.

  13. MashAllah excellent and true article. Baraka Allahu Feekum.
    O Allah, revolver of the hearts, keep the honest, Allah fearing muslims and mumins hearts on firm Eman. Amin.

    Those who leave Islam need Islam the most!!!

  14. You can’t guide anyone you like. Sometimes you probably wonder why this or that murtad doesn’t believe. You should know that Allah swt Has the complete picture of a person’s life before that person was born. You really really would like this murtad to believe. But you don’t know what kind of heinous act this murtad will commit in the year 2041 that makes him or her unworthy of belief. Allah knows best.

  15. There was this Arab author who spread atheism and secularism for decades upon decades, and has written hundreds of books and articles. Then, the last years before his death, he came back to Islam, and started writing books and articles in defense of Islam. Only Allah knows how many people became atheists and died upon atheism due to his books/articles and died before seeing the author they used to follow become a Muslim again.

  16. This verse in the Qur’an already mentions what needs to be done to restrain the might of the disbelievers. When Islam is presented incompletely as a religion of hippies, hordes of people will become murtadeen and they tend to follow the mighty disbelievers instead.

    4/84 So fight, [O Muhammad], in the cause of Allah ; you are not held responsible except for yourself. And encourage the believers [to join you] that perhaps Allah will restrain the [military] might of those who disbelieve. And Allah is greater in might and stronger in [exemplary] punishment.

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