I shared this post on facebook and was met by the subsequent conversation.
الحمد لله والصلاة والسلام على رسول الله
All praise is due to ALLAH and peace and blessing upon His Messenger
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
In the Name of Allah, The Most Gracious, The Most Merciful
Addressee 1 commented:
She’s an adult, so should be free to choose any religion (or atheism) she wishes too. I really hope she affords her children the same right and doesn’t spend the evening reading passages of her book to her children. Let them come to their own conclusions as she has done, regardless of what she thinks is best for them.
Religion is like sex. Children don’t understand it. It should be kept away from all people until they are 18 and able to make their own minds up in their own way.
Thanks for feedback. A response:
A) You don’t know what passages of which book(s) was read to her pre18 that may have influenced her decision post 18.
B) She doesn’t need to allow children to come to their decision (post18) – as children WILL come to their own decision regardless (post18). And this is encouraged in Islam. “There is no compulsion in deen.” (Qur’an 2:256)
C) “Children don’t understand it…” ?
Have you conducted a survey?
Islam is very easy to understand as it is the natural religion. It is tied to our natural fitrah. Studies have proven children intrinsically believe in God. See Born Atheist or Born Muslim.
Allah created the universe. Everything created goes back to an origin. Nothing can come of nothing. A moment before the big bang there was apparently an initial singularity. A spark? The splitting of the Primordial Atom? A First Cause? Allah is One (Qur’an 112:1). “He says, ‘Be,’ and it is.” (Qur’an 6:73)
(Makes more sense than a) trinity (3 in 1) or b) idols as gods or c) gods that look like men or d) men imagining themselves as gods or e) no god).
D) If Islam is kept away till 18 (for Muslims). And given that Islam is all about morality and living a moral life. And given that by 18 people have decided their moral positions. What moral guidance do you propose Muslim childen should have prior to 18?
Addressee 1 replied:
A) It doesn’t matter what passages in which religious books were being read to her.
B) The qur’an may say there is no compulsion to deen, but it still happens. Religion survives because parents encourage their children to believe. As adults we can believe what we want to and make our own decisions, but children can’t. They follow our lead and want to follow in our footsteps. Any indoctrination is bad, which means reading a religious book with children is bad.
C) Children believe in Santa Claus until they are 7 or 8, so no they don’t understand the complexities of religion until they are older. Admittedly it’s parents that tell children about santa, but then I suppose that proves my point about how dangerous it is to teach children about religion before they are old enough to understand it.
D) Are you saying that people without islam can’t lead a moral life? I had no religious upbringing (except for being christened when I was very young), so, by your account I therefore have no morals? What about the 5 billion people on the planet that don’t follow islam? Do they have no morals? My mum did a fantastic job of instilling morals, work ethic and the difference between right and wrong (to the point where I’ve only sworn in front of her once in 40 years…) and she did all the without islam, without christianity, without budism. If someone needs to rely on a holy book to teach their kids morals then they need to try harder.
All children should be free to choose for themselves. Parents that force their religion onto their kids (passively in lots of cases) are abusing their children.
Why does christianity say that babies that aren’t christened will burn? It’s to get those parents in for a christening.
All religion is about fear and control. If it wasn’t then it wouldn’t be forced onto kids. I think the biggest problem I have with all religion is the absoluteness of it. The qur’an is true because it’s the word of god written by muhammed. The bible is true because it’s the word of god written by the apostles. But what if they’re wrong? Studies have shown that one in ten people believe god has spoken to them. Far too many have stated that god has told them to harm their children and the parent has gone on to murder their children. These people are rightly seen as ill. If someone says “god spoke to me and commanded me to smite my enemies” we, rightly, think there is something wrong with them. But a prophet from the 7th century hears gods voice, writes it down and 1.5b muslims follow what he says. What if he was schizophrenic? What if he was ill? What if he just made it all up?
As an adult you are free to make these choices and believe what you want to believe. As an adult you can cross reference, you can investigate, you can spend time researching and understanding the context. As a child you can’t. What you believe should have no baring on what a child should believe, and if you are teaching your religion to a child surely that’s just for vanity?
Children should have an overview of all religion built into their school week, but parents should have nothing to do with it. Teach it from a historical point of view rather than any thing else and then children can make up their own minds.
I know it’ll never happen, because parents were indoctrinated themselves. Sometimes someone (like the person in the initial video) makes a decision about religion and “changes sides” which is fantastic. Freedom of choice and freedom of religion is great. How fantastic would it be if parents stopped indoctrination their kids and their kids still chose the right religion? How proud would you be that your child made that choice and you didn’t have to encourage it, and push it, and force it. If god is indeed great and good, and if islam is correct and the “natural” religion (as you put it) then with no indoctrination people will obviously find their way to it.
But we both know that without indoctrination all religion would die out in 2-3 generations and that’s the real root cause of why the religious read their books to their kids. Why they all read and learn together. Why they all prey together. Why Christians get christened at such a young age.
I pray for a day when there is no religion (yes, it’s intentional 😉 )
Addressee 1 added:
Oh, and just as a follow up on point C, parents normally come clean about santa not being real when the kid is 8ish. I wonder how many people would still believe in santa if, en mass, parents never told their kids that santa didn’t exist and they told them that instead of bringing gifts that santa just brought happiness (or something equally intangible or unprovable).
Children believe in santa because their parents tell them to. And they stop when their parents give them permission to stop. I don’t see a difference between believing in santa, believing in god or believing in my lucky coin.
Addressee 2 commented:
A lot of sweeping statements have been made about religion in general… Your job is to disprove Islam first, otherwise it will be abuse if we didn’t teach Islam to children from the start. As Muslims we’re not here to defend the authenticity of religion, but of Islam cos that is the only truth that has not been tampered with.
My Present Comment (Addressing Commentator 1):
1) Re: It doesn’t matter what passages in which religious books were being read to her.
It matters only insofar as it may have influenced her decision post18. I.e. without this influence she may have made no decision or a different decision. And if we respect people’s choice to make decisions post 18, then that would – in this instance, for example, necessitate appreciating the influences pre18 from whatever source, including the religious.
2) Re: The qur’an may say there is no compulsion to deen, but it still happens. Religion survives because parents encourage their children to believe.
Are you saying encouraging = compulsion? This is a dubious premise. Encouraging means (In Islamic parlance) to provide evidences and explain reasons and counter reasons. Unlike some other religions that simply say, ‘you just have to believe,’ regardless of any evidences – well, Islam would be equally critical of this position. Islam is the religion of evidences par excellence. “(Can there be another) god [anything worthy to devote ourselves to] besides Allah? Say, “Bring forth your proof, if ye are telling the truth!” (Qur’an 27:64)
3) RE: Children follow our lead and want to follow in our footsteps.
Yes. This is natural. This is the right of parents. To get in there and dictate to parents what they can or cannot do in how to raise children is a serious imposition. And who should dictate? The State? Are you serious? Sounds Fascist to me? You actually trust the State, peopled by politicians – which should ring alarm bells in your brain – to casually allow them to brainwash your kids – with no parent intervention in their upbringing! I don’t think you have kids, but if you did, I’m not sure you will be as trusting of these goofs. Islam gives space (#freedom) for muslim/nonMuslim parents to nurture their children as they see fit. But because Islam is a social religion, it encourages people to mix and mingle so people become aware of current trends (the good encouraged, the bad rejected via discourse etc) so the Way (revealed by Allah, Most High, via the prophets culminating in the Last Prophet, peace be upon them all) can be revived and made relevant in every age.
4) RE: Any indoctrination is bad.
Are you aware of sociological studies on education? You do realise that modern mass schooling is a type of indoctrination. Hence Pink Floyd’s track, ‘The Wall.’ (Music Alert)
Pink Floyd – obviously non-Muslims – but following Marxist theory, were very critical of the School as an instrument of the ruling elite (capitalists) to normalise and justify the status quo in order to protect their positions of self-interest. Anti-modern critiques too focus on the de-humanisation of people: there is a critique of modern mass schooling, which is described as being a system devised to create clones for a consumer-based society of atomised individuals (who will be easily manipulated by market forces); this is good for business! We learn to serve the rich: a plutocracy or oligarchy (disguised as democracy). With cliches like ‘money makes the world go round’, it appears that one of the modern gods is Wealth that people are encouraged (indoctrinated?) to devote themselves to (worship).
Modern mass schooling is not neutral, but is ‘the new Church of secularism’.
In fact, one may argue that you’ve only come to your opinion because of this more subtle (and therefore more sinister) indoctrination you’ve received from cradle-school-work. In school, for instance, RE was an irrelevant lesson, and the school syllabi touched on a variety of subjects which were consciously and consistently silent about God. Sometimes, not talking about a topic is saying something…
This system of schooling did not magically appear, but was a development from over 100 years ago that is directly connected to the European experience of the disintegration of Christianity because of its flaws in compilation and consistency. (Notice: nothing to do with Islam!) That is, there is an organic development to the way your thinking was shaped largely by the pre-existence of the socio-cultural developments in the relationship between the Church, the State and Education in our contemporary Western culture.
Moreover, you firstly received your education in the home, then in the school and finally in the workplace (primary, secondary and tertiary socialisation). To what extent were you indoctrinated? Education is not unbiased. To be fair, you ought to be equally critical of your own presumptions too, as you are requesting me to be. The request to self-reflect is good, by the way. The difference is I’ve grown up having to critically assess much as the way of thinking I was taught at home was at odds at school, work and wider society.
(Furthermore, the Islamic experience differs massively from the Christian experience. Modernity is in the process of disintegrating Muslim societies but it is not as successful with the religion of Islam itself, as the Qur’an is pretty robust and able to withstand the criticisms of the modern period. Islam is confident. And rational. And evidential. And it differs from all the other religions that has bowed down to the pressures and soft-atheistic premise of secularism. Islam will never bow – except to The Truth with a capital T: i.e. to The One Real God that always Is/Was/Will-Be.)
J. T. Gatto (a non-Muslim and) an education specialist, has mentioned how mass schooling is creating clones as indicated above. He supports the idea of home-schooling or setting up community schools. See The Problem with Modern Schooling. His premise is that a community of professional parents know more about what is best for their kids than government ‘suits’. Mass schooling is pushing the religion of the secular state down our throats and even non-Muslims can see it! Conclusion: enlivening parents know better than deadening bureaucrats.
5) RE: which means reading a religious book with children is bad.
Depends which religion. (Islam is pro-Truth.) But, parent’s choice, at the end of the day (for kids).
6) RE: Children believe in Santa Claus until they are 7 or 8, so no they don’t understand the complexities of religion until they are older. Admittedly it’s parents that tell children about santa, but then I suppose that proves my point about how dangerous it is to teach children about religion before they are old enough to understand it.
Santa Claus has got nothing to do with Islam.
(In Islam, we would tell all the facts, and nurture the children to seek to understand all there is to do with this world and the next.)
7) RE: Are you saying that people without islam can’t lead a moral life?
You misunderstand. My point was, I singled out Muslim children because I can only speak for Muslims – not for Christians, Jews, Hindus, Atheists etc. I asked you what should they be taught of morality as they grew up. My concern is your way is to force everyone to your way of thinking. I.e. you’re dictating to Muslim parents that they must teach this and not teach that. And I feel this is wrong. My way would be not to interfere with how you choose to raise your children, or people of other faiths, but to encourage debate and discussion, so the children can decide for themselves as they grow up. My way is less to do with indoctrination: if Atheist parents want to raise their kids with Atheism, and Muslim parents as Muslims, that’s fine. We know they’ll have to think things through as they get older anyway. But yours is about forcing ALL kids to not be taught about God at home. This, to me, is indoctrination – but against everyone!
8) RE: I had no religious upbringing (except for being christened when I was very young), so, by your account I therefore have no morals? What about the 5 billion people on the planet that don’t follow islam? Do they have no morals?
You misunderstand. See above.
(But the question of what is the Islamic value of someone’s morality, outside of Islam – is interesting – and will be addressed in a pending post. But see 10. below, for a starter.)
9) RE: My mum did a fantastic job of instilling morals, work ethic and the difference between right and wrong (to the point where I’ve only sworn in front of her once in 40 years…)
Exactly. Leave the parents alone in how they raise their children. You’ve proven my point about that.
10) RE: And she did all this without Islam, without christianity, without buddism. If someone needs to rely on a holy book to teach their kids morals then they need to try harder.
Revelation is needed. We can rely on reason and theories… but sometimes this leads the wrong way… (see eugenics and racism). Also, 100 years ago, being gay was frowned upon. Now being gay is accepted in modern culture. Going by that logic: nowadays peadophiles are frowned upon. 100 years from now they will – presumably – be accepted in modern culture? Moreover, if something is right/wrong now but it wasn’t before – or if something is right/wrong now but it becomes wrong/right later, it undermines the categories of what is – in truth – right and wrong, good and bad, absolutely. What you’ll have is a morality that’s neither here nor there. Conclusion: It’s difficult to trust the whims of a culture that changes its morality using the mind alone, or people’s subjective opinions. Modernity needs to try harder to teach kids morality in a more rigorous way.
They say Islam is being challenged by Modernity. I also see Modernity being challenged by Islam.
11) RE: Parents that force their religion onto their kids (passively in lots of cases) are abusing their children.
Teaching children to be good is child abuse?
12) RE: Why does christianity say that babies that aren’t christened will burn? It’s to get those parents in for a christening.
Christenings have got nothing to do with Islam.
This is clearly wrong, in any case, as children are innocent. That’s the logical Islamic stand point.
13) Re: Religion is about fear and control.
Religions – whatever that is – can defend itself.
I can only speak for Islam and Islam is purely about devotion to The Loving One, The Just, The Truth and to Peace… (Some of His titles). There is love of God and fear of God. Love for his mercy and blessings, and heaven (Godwilling) and Fear for his wrath in our sinning (killing others, hurting parents, bullying children etc.) and hellfire. This is a religion of balance and the middle way (“A community of the middle way” or a “just (i.e. ethical, moral) community”, Qur’an 2:143). Not of extremes as the media would lie and have you believe.
14) Re: I think the biggest problem I have with all religion is the absoluteness of it.
Your position that parents can’t teach their own religion to their own kids, which is a god-given right (excusing the pun) is pretty absolute. And I have a problem with that. So you could rephrase this: I think the biggest problem I have with atheism is the absoluteness of it.
In actual fact (and I’ve said this before) in Islam, our objective is NOT to force you to believe! That’s idiotic. And un Islamic (“There shall be no compulsion in deen” 2:256). So, how can what I believe or what my kids believe affect you? Conversely, how can what you or your kids believe, affect me. “To you, your deen, and to me, mine” Qur’an 109:6. Of course, we can have a chin-wag; discuss our similarities and differences. No harm done 🙂
15) RE: The qur’an is true because it’s the word of god written by muhammed?
No, it wasn’t written by Muhammad (peace be upon him) as he was illiterate. He had scribes write it down in front of him. The Qur’an was an oral revelation. It was revealed to him, and he uttered what he was given to utter. It was heard by others, then written in his presence. Zayd bin Thabit was the most famous of the scribes. The Qur’an was the first book of the Arabs. It means ‘The Recitation’. All the words in the book is used regularly for prayer. 5 times a day. Others can correct you – even now – when doing prayers (by reciting from the same said Qur’an) in congregation and you accidentally make a mistake in your articulation. This is a beautiful safeguard. The words are unchanged for 1400 years. Empirically proven. There’s only one version of the Qur’an in the world… See the Qur’anic Verses.
16) RE: the bible… What if it’s wrong?
There are massive problems in the compilation of the Bible. Though Muslims agree that somewhere in the Bible, there is truth of The revealed Way, because we have lost Jesus’ own teaching that was revealed to him (peace be upon him), what we have now is actually other people’s accounts of his mission, that has been tampered with over time (and this tampering has been documented)… This is the problematic, as significant errors have crept in, like the suggestion that Jesus claimed to be part of the trinity. Nowhere in the bible is the trinity specifically mentioned… The reality is He called to Allah, the One God (like all the prohets, and just as the Muslims still do in Islam today – because in origin, his way and the way of prophet Muhammad (peace be on them both) is the same religion. This is the point.
17) Re: But a prophet from the 7th century hears gods voice, writes it down and 1.5b muslims follow what he says. What if he was schizophrenic? What if he was ill? What if he just made it all up?
He wasn’t schizophrenic. Pending post on the Prophet of Islam.
18) RE: Children should have an overview of all religion built into their school week, but parents should have nothing to do with it.
Whoever devises the overview of religions will be putting their judgement as authoratative. No way out of this. See point 4, above. I.e., to plonk all religions in the same basket is to say they’re all the same. But they’re not. This happens already in RE. It therefore presupposes a secular perspective (non theistic) to be the overseer – which is a biased point of view. Especially as in Islam, the Qur’an describes itself as the overseer (Furqan or criterion) of all religious traditions, centuries before secularism.
“And We have revealed to you, [O Muhammad], the Book in truth, confirming that which preceded it of the Scripture and as a criterion over it. So judge between them by what Allah has revealed and do not follow their inclinations away from what has come to you of the truth…” Qur’an 5:48
19) RE: Teach it from a historical point of view rather than any thing else and then children can make up their own minds.
The historical dimension is beneficial. But you still have teacher bias or curriculum bias, as above (see point 4 and 18). Also history is not neutral, but is equally ideological. Regardless, to pull parents out from teaching their kids any religious matter, as you suggest, is a fascist move, and – especially if parents involvement in their children’s own religious upbringing becomes an illegal act – this will not merely be unkind, but outrageously diabolical.
You’re too trusting of ‘the system’, I feel. The politicians would love such a move as you’re suggesting. So they can control – via education – the next generations to a way of thinking where morality can be shaped by the whims of the people. And people can easily be manipulated. And we know politicians serve the interests of the wealthy. This would certainly not be anything based on what is true, what is right or what is genuinely good.
20) RE: If god is indeed great and good, and if islam is correct and the “natural” religion (as you put it) then with no indoctrination people will obviously find their way to it.
This is true, but people do influence children. We do not live in an ideal world where children are untouched by the world to make independent judgements. They need to be steered. Parents know what’s best for their child than a paid teacher ascribed to him/her for one year or a remote politician with vested interests and Tony Blair smiles. If you trust teachers or politicians with your children to handle these matters, you’re more naive than I thought. It’s pretty shocking.
21) RE: But we both know that without indoctrination all religion would die out in 2-3 generations and that’s the real root cause of why the religious read their books to their kids. Why they all read and learn together. Why they all pray together. Why Christians get christened at such a young age.
It is true that if secularism (soft-core atheism) wasn’t being indoctrinated to the masses via secular education – hence the decline in Christianity to Atheism in the UK, for instance (2011 Census) – it would die out in 2-3 generations and that’s the real root cause of why the secularists read their books to their kids (Nursery rhymes, Greek myths, fairy tales, Harry Potter, Where’s Wally – instead of biographies of the prophets who spoke truth against pharoes of falsehood). Why they all prey together. Why secularists get secularised at such a young age.
I pray for a day when we are all (independently and freely) rightly guided to all that is good by being guided to The All-Good (al-Naafi).
22) RE: Children believe in santa because their parents tell them to. And they stop when their parents give them permission to stop. I don’t see a difference between believing in santa, believing in god or believing in my lucky coin.
- Santa = in origin from creation (a fat man, based on a historic (Christian) figure and given, through time, first a pagan (Odin) and then at last, a secular (Coca-Cola) make-over)
- Lucky coin = from creation (coin + pagan origins)
- Batman = from creation (man + bat + secular fiction writing)
- Idol of Thor = from creation (stone statue + pagan associations)
- Fairy = from creation (little person + wings + pagan associations)
- Spaghetti monster = from creation (spaghetti + ugly man + secular idea of a god-like thing)
- Allah = The Creator (beyond your imagination, comprehension, nothing like creation – Qur’an 112)
Conclusion. Allah is nothing like all the rest, which are all amalgamations or composites of created things. (This notion of composites was taken from Asadullah Ali Al-Andalusi’s articles – see the section on ‘the limitations of science’).
23) END NOTE:
A final quick comment: I’ve noticed many of your points sometimes follow this logical sequence:
- A) Religions are bad
- B) Examples are given from Christianity
- C) Islam is a religion
- D) Therefore Islam is also bad.
You must see the error in the logic here: examples given in B) from Christianity, which, as far as Islam is concerned, proves nothing, because it is meaningless to the point being made as far as Islam is concerned.
Thanks mate. Cheers. All the best.
سبحان ربك رب العزة عما يصفون وسلام على المرسلين والحمد لله رب العالمين والصلاة والسلام على رسول الله محمد وعلى اله وصحبه أجمعين
Exalted be your Lord, the Lord of Glory, above what they attribute to Him, and peace be upon the Messengers, and all praise be to Allah, the Lord of the Universe. And the peace and blessing upon prophet Mohammed and his relatives and all his companions.