Posted by: Dawud Israel | July 5, 2009

Contemporary Muslim Alienation from the Human Condition

Bismillah, alhamdulillah, wa salat wa salam ala Rasulullah

It’s sad but the real religion many Islamic movements aren’t achieving what they set out to achieve is because they are out of touch, not with modern society- but they are out of touch with the human condition. Sh. Abu Eesa Nimatullah commented on this in regards to the uproar in the Muslim community, especially among converts, regarding Michael Jackson’s death. He made a key point in saying how Muslims could learn a lot from the lyrics of these songs. Its not related to issues of halal and haram, but rather the humanity you see in those lyrics- the struggles, the day to day battles, the heartbreak, love, compassion and frustration. I commented on that blog and I wanted to continue from those ideas: 

What I appreciate even more, however, is how you have linked this topic with a whole host of issues, especially the lack of emotion Muslims display. Its saddening but the reality, I believe, is this is why our tazkya and tarbiya is not succeeding- many of us are fundamentally out of touch with the human condition. Tupac and MJ are more human to us- and Islam feels rigid, textbookish, strict and for emotionless angels. This is why Muslims get girlfriends and boyfriends! This is why brothers will reject sisters because they see amazing religiosity- but yet no compassion, mercy and caring in them. How do we expect to come close to Allah when we don’t connect Islam with our very SOUL? What value is a soul-less religion?

I understand now, more than ever, why the shuyookh of the past would not accept students if those same students had never fallen in love before.

The Prophet salallahu alayhi wasalam said, “The deen is SINCERITY.” He also rejected a marriage proposal because the women did not experience any hardships in her life. He knew people’s hearts and knew how to get to them. Why don’t we?

This understanding of the human condition has somehow, vanished from contemporary Islam. The merciful nature of the Prophet salallahu alayhi wasalam, the wisdom and understanding of Islamic poetry is disappearing. Muslims aren’t merciful to each other, nor do they understand each other. In fact, I’ve noticed “religious” Muslims are socially awkward, have psychological problems due to the repressive nature of the Islamic interpretations that are being forced upon us. So naturally, Muslim youth will listen to Tupac and find themselves with girlfriends and boyfriends because Islam arenas don’t offer them a psychological release nor relief. Few of us put ourselves in each other’s shoes and Islam is being anasthetized via dry theological discussion of its very SOUL and emotional nature. How will it then appeal to the hearts of peoples? How will dawah speakers succeed when they opt to use reductionist thinking, logical reasoning and argumentation in faith? Islam is inheriting the dead nature of scientism and reductionist thinking. We’re not robots! Already, you see two duplicitous schizophrenic personalities in a single Muslim- one person who tries to rigidly maintain Islam, giving endless motivational talks, forcibly trying to drag others to Jannah and another personality of the human nature, desiring comfort, security, love, happiness and dealing with frustrations and difficulties. In fact, if we continue this way, you shouldn’t be surprised to see Islam turn into a non-feasible or practicable religion- one which is too difficult to make into a reality. This gap is becoming wider, even though Islam was designed to be an easy, livable religion for the average person. 

We are above all humans, and Islam came to mankind to address our concerns as human beings. The Prophet salallahu alayhi wasalam was patient with people, he understood them not just at a psychological level but at a level of the human condition. It’s important for us to embody a merciful nature in our social relations- giving each other benefit of the doubt, having realistic expectations of each other and recognizing when compromises need to be made in our expectations. This is key if we are to revive the Sunnah- especially, the Prophetic ideal of resolving conflicts and healing those who are psychologically broken. 

Insha Allah, I want to start a new project to deal with this disjunction between reality and Islam. I will try to post it here later. 

Subhana kallahumma wa bihamdika ash-haduana la illaha illa ant astaghfiruka wa atubu ilayk, Ameen.


  1. That’s where tassawuf comes in as a solution. I know a shaykh who once defined tassawuf as the “why” component of the religion.As you said, the SOUL of the religion.

    When the very purpose behind the religion is forgotten, and the focus lies on rules, then we forget what it really means to be a Muslim, which is to submit to Allah, and love him and fear him, and purify ourselves so we gain proximity towards him.

    There is so much more mercy and compassion, and care prescribed in the deen that people are not demonstrating. They’d rather yell at eachother and disprove eachother because the intention is to raise the ego, instead of what it really should be.

    I think now I understand why elders will often say that we shouldn’t engage in debates, and theological disproving. After their many years, experience has taught them that these debates and dry talks are shaytaan’s way of distracting us from the “why” component of religion.

    That’s why some of the most peaceful, calm, and patient Muslims, who are the most content are the ones who sit quietly and pray, and read quran, and do dhikr, and not engage in any debates. You can see the light on their faces, and that they are tasting the sweetness of the deen.

    We need to re-emphasize love and compassion and mercy and manners that are mandatory in the deen.

  2. Amazingly truee..Looking forward to the project insha’Allah

  3. […] I hinted earlier, I am starting a little project to deal with the the alienation Muslims have from the human […]

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