I find it strange, if not unfortunate, that people that choose atheism, a great many of which despise religion, do so on the basis of acquiring (sometimes) in-depth knowledge of Christianity mainly, finding the flaws in their logic, tenets and scriptures, and then proclaiming that as the illogical base that substantiates their views on religion in totality.
Muslims, unfortunately in their present form, do very little to dissuade such an approach because we’re just so ritualistic and often illogical in our application of the beauty of Islam based on how our forefathers did it, rather than a conscious effort through understanding the principles of what Islam offers, with the only saving grace being that we have a more logically sound base off which to work.
But when we contaminate Islam with cultural rubbish and use that as a yardstick to measure the worth of other Muslims, boldly proclaiming who is kaafir and who is not, we erode that very same pristine base and expose ourselves to the same debasement and ridicule that the majority of Christians have so rightly earned, thereby playing into the hands of the atheists that can rightfully find so much in our actions to ridicule any true belief in the Oneness of Allah.
We imitate them (Christians) more than we realise. Look at our clerical hierarchies that we’ve created? Our symbolism that we attach to our places of worship? Our rhetoric from the pulpits launching our lectures on the basis of us all being sinners? The list goes on. We quote dogmatically from the books of scholars because we’ve been led to believe that we’re too simple-minded to apply the source in our own lives because the true teachings of Islam contained in the Qur’an and Hadeeth have been reduced to a science to be studied before it can be applied. We define the scholars as superior to the masses and openly refer to the masses as the ‘Awwaam’, which despite the best intentions of the one using that term, is a condescending term steeped in pride and arrogance.
I am not of the scholars, nor am I of the Awwaam. I am a Mu’min before I am a Muslim. This, to me, is the meaning of taqwa (piety/god-consciousness); realising who I am, and what I believe in before I contemplate how I wish to present my beliefs to the world in my appearance or rituals that are to be observed by others, hopefully in conformance with their expectations so that I may be accepted in those circles. Purity of intention is lost when we try to conform to a broader societal expectation. We’re breeding well-intentioned hypocrites by insisting that our children are schooled in the rituals of Islam without ensuring that they understand the principles and substance of the beauty that Islam offers.