By Amina Salau
Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem
“Those who disbelieve will have a severe punishment, and those who believe and do righteous deeds will have forgiveness and great reward.” (Qur’an 35:7)
Muslims know that as long as they continue to believe in Allah (swt) and do righteous deeds, they stand a good chance of entering Jannah (paradise) in the hereafter, if Allah (swt) wills. This knowledge is the major reason why we strive to worship Allah (swt) as He should be worshipped, observe our salah, give zakah (obligatory charity) and sadaqah (voluntary charity, and perform Hajj (pilgrimage).
Unfortunately, when a Muslim begins to disbelieve in Allah, we remember the verse above, and the likes of it that promise a severe punishment to disbelievers. No one wants their loved one to be punished with hellfire, and so you find people trying desperately to make a person who has left the path return to the folds of Islam.
Quite often, it is possible that our methods of helping them only drive them further away. Following are some tips to bring people back into Islam and yield more positive results.
Pray for them
Prophet Muhammad (sa) said: “Whomsoever Allah guides will never be led astray, and whomsoever is led astray cannot be guided by anyone.” (Ibn Majah; authenticated by al-Haythami) We should understand that unless Allah (swt) has chosen to guide a person to Islam, they can never see its light or enjoy its beauty. Our most important duty when someone we love has left the folds of Islam is to pray for them. Pray hard, and pray consistently. Ask Allah (swt) to open their hearts and guide them to His worship. Ask for forgiveness of sins on their behalf, and pray that they die only upon the testimony that there is no god except Allah (swt).
Someone who has stopped believing in Allah (swt) will not pray to Him, so it becomes our duty, if we truly love them and want them back on the straight path, to continue to pray for them.
Be kind to them
A lot of people leave Islam out of anger. Maybe they prayed for something to happen, and it did not. Or maybe they’ve had too many negative experiences with other Muslims who do evil deeds under the name of religion. Whatever the reason, people leave because they are unhappy with some part of the faith, with some people who practice it, or with the belief that their faith couldn’t answer certain questions they had.
The more animosity you show someone who has left Islam, the more they are convinced that they made the right choice and Islam is not a loving religion. Don’t be harsh on them, and do not disown them if they are your children. Show them love as a form of da‘wah, so that every time they remember how accepting and accommodating of them you are, they will appreciate the beauty of Islam again.
Seek to educate
It is sad that a lot of atheists who share their stories online used to be Muslims. It is also very sad that when you read these stories, you find that the underlying problem for them leaving, was a lack of knowledge. This is especially true for people who were born and raised as Muslims. For the most part, they have undergone a pattern of ‘living’ Islam without really knowing Islam.
If you have loved ones who have left Islam because of ‘unanswered questions’ about religion, you have a chance to change their heart by giving them authentic answers to their questions. Don’t call them kids who ask too many questions, or shut them down and ask them to just pray about it.
Help them find the answers that they seek by guiding them to authentic Islamic books that can give them more knowledge. You can also connect them with reputable scholars who educate people in an intelligent manner, using the Qur’an and the Sunnah. Don’t debate with them by showing them how their current path is wrong; the resources you have provided for them will help them see the truth for themselves, Allah willing.
Loss of faith is a trial for the Muslim who has experienced it, and as a person who loves them and wants to be reunited with them in Jannah (paradise), you should take it upon yourself to help them find their belief in Allah (swt) once again.
Amina Salau is a freelance writer who is passionate about women’s issues in Islam
© IIPH 2016