The following is my personal account of when I was a devout Muslim and having doubts. I was actively involved in the Muslim Student Association (MSA) of my college and would spend much of my free time in their rooms. Names have been changed.
My MSA Brother’s Advice
Allahu Akbar, shouted the brother leading the prayer. I got up from shizda and sat up, reciting my prayers.
“Does anybody even listen when you pray?”
No. No. NO! STOP IT! Astagfirullah. I need to get these thoughts out of my head. I need to get his voice out of my head. Zac gave in to Shaytan and left Islam. I can’t. I can’t let his questions harm my faith. This is Shaytan putting doubtful thoughts in my head. I need to get Zac’s doubts out of my head.
“Assalamu Alaikum WaRahmatullah,” the brother said twice. Prayer ended. I need to specifically ask Allah to give me guidance.
I recite the Anti-Shaytan dua 100 times.
“Audhu billahi minash shaitanir rajeem”
(I seek shelter in Allah from the Rejected Shaytan)
After I finish, I put my hands up in supplication.
I beg Allah to give me strength:
“Oh Allah. Please give me strength. I am being corrupted by Shaytan. My friend Zac is poisoning my heart and weakening my faith. He has been corrupted by Shaytan and he is taking me to darkness with him. Allah grant us your mercy. Only you have the power to grant us wisdom and give us answers to strengthen our faith. Oh Allah please forgive me for allowing Shaytan into my head. He is whispering into my heart as you mentioned he would in the Surah. Allah I only wish to be your faithful servant and be far away from Hell after I die. Please don’t take me to Hell for this. Forgive me. Show me and Zac the straight path: Islam.”
I began sobbing into my hands. I feel helpless. Shaytan is powerful and he is corrupting my faith. I begin reciting Surah Fatihah:
All praise is for Allah, Lord of the worlds;
The most merciful, the most kind;
Owner of the day of judgment;
You (alone) we worship, you (alone) we ask for help
Show us the straight path
The path of those whom you have favored
Not the path of those who have brought your anger, or the path of those who went astray.
My body feels so light from crying.
However, I still feel the confusion.
I leave the prayer room and see one of the brothers. Abdul. Abdul is several years older than I am. He dons a beard to honor our Prophet (PBUH), has a lot of confidence, and is very articulate.
He gives me a confused look. “Something wrong brother? You look like you just saw a jinn.”
Me: “I’m fine. I’m just going through some things. A spiritual crisis of sorts.”
Abdul: “What is wrong brother? Maybe we can talk it out InshAllah.”
Me: “I am having some doubts!”
He looked at me intently, then smiled. “I see. It’s okay brother, we all go through this at some point in our lives. It is one of the biggest tests Allah allows Shaytan to put us through. What are your concerns?”
Me: “My friend from high school. He left Islam and is now an Atheist.”
Abdul: “Ah. An atheist. Yeah they are a weird confused bunch. They are very arrogant because they look down at the faithful. I consider them bigger enemies to Islam than the Jews. People of all faiths should unite to fight against this atheism disease.”
Me: “Well. He raised some points that confused me. I am having doubts.”
Abdul: “What are some of the points?”
Me: “He challenged us on whether anybody is even listening when we pray to Allah. He mentioned that we inconveniently thank God in any situation regardless of whether our prayers are heard or not.”
Abdul: “So he really is an atheist I see. Want to hear an interesting story?”
Abdul: “There was one time when Imam Abu Hanifa was going to debate atheists. After a long journey, he explained to them a phenomena he saw. He said he saw a boat in the river constructing itself. Do you know what the atheists said?”
Abdul: “They denied his claims. They said that is simply impossible. Imam Hanifa then asked them ‘if you think that boat could not have built itself, how could you think that everything that you see came to be on its own?'”
Me: “Wow SubhanAllah he truly is wise.”
Abdul: “Yes, any more concerns brother?”
Me: “Well my friend did mention something about sex slaves in Islam.”
Abdul: “You see, slavery in Islam is different from slavery in the west. Slaves were often innocent people from the enemies tribes during war. The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) did not want to kill innocent people. He did not prefer to kill at all actually. He was perfect mashAllah but unfortunately he had to defend himself against some disbelievers. Anyways, he decided to give the captives employment through servitude so they can follow his good example and become Muslims. It was never to beat them like they did to black slaves in American history.”
Me: “But it says that men are allowed to have sex with slaves.”
Abdul: “Well yes, it was only out of consent. Think about it. A lot of these women’s husbands just died. They have sexual needs. Allah is only looking out for their sexual needs because he’s the all knowing inshAllah.”
Me: “Oh wow! SubhanAllah! Allah is amazing. I can’t believe my friend left Islam.”
Abdul: “Yes brother. Some just choose to be ignorant and ignore the context of Muhammad (PBUH). Always understand that whatever he did, he did for good.”
Me: “Okay. But what about his marriage to Aisha (RA)? I heard she was 9 when they had sex.”
Abdul: “Well that gets brought up a lot. Quite frankly it’s a silly question. Child marriages were normal in that context even though they’re not applicable today. And you can’t call him a pedophile because his pattern was older women. So you know that he’s not really into young children, which is a pattern that constitutes pedophilia. Muhammad (PBUH) married Aisha (RA) out of genuine love not for sex. Can’t you see she ended up becoming one of the leading Muslims and most of the Hadiths are narrated by her. Truly that marriage was a blessing.”
Me: “Oh you’re right!”
Abdul: “Any other concerns?”
Me: “Yes. How do I prevent these doubts moving forward?”
Abdul: “Pray to Allah for answers and read the Quran and Hadith with the idea that they’re the words of Allah and His Messenger. InshAllah.”
Me: “Thank you so much brother.”
I got up and started packing as I bid him farewell. He smiled at me and went back to his business: studying.
Wow. Alhamdulillah. I can tell Zac all these answers. Maybe he can convert back to Islam after I tell him all this.
As I begin walking out, my mind begins to wander.
Wait, I thought. That Imam Hanifa story is just an argument and doesn’t really prove Allah. It only proves intelligent design.
No. Stop this now. Astagfirullah Shaytan please get out of my head.
But were they really enslaved for good reasons? Isn’t the concept of owning someone else bad? How is that equality?
Astagfirullah, Shaytan please get out. Allah help me!
If the Prophet (pbuh) was perfect, and he married Aisha (RA) and had sex with her as a child, does that mean marrying children is allowed in Islam?
Astagfirullah. Ya Allah. Please show me the straight path.
Yuck. Consummating child marriages. That’s nasty. If it was normal at that time, and isn’t applicable today, does that mean Prophet’s (PBUH) actions were not perfect for all times?
Allah… Where are you. Must… Avoid… Shaytan…
These were not the doubts that led me to apostasy. In fact, this was not the time period I had lost faith in Islam. But this was a memory in my life when I was doubtful while religious. It was to demonstrate the mindset of a religious believer and the emphasis on Allah in their thought process. The account also shows how believers deal with doubt and critical thinking. They view it as satanic and seek answers within a purely Islamic lens.
Some believers become doubtful with more confidence, however, because they are confident Islam has the answer. But either way, both believers seek the answers in an Islamic lens and attempts to find an answer that satisfies them and reinforces their faith. They cling to the assumption that Islam is perfect no matter what and attempt to find answers based around that assumption.
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