Muslims always show their reasons for accepting Islam and embracing it. However, not too much write about the other side: people’s reasons to reject Islam! It could be strange that I – as a Muslim – seek this approach, but I believe that dealing with the issue from both sides would be good and beneficial to everyone. The 7 billion, 800 million human beings living on the Earth, each adopts a certain belief, even atheists! Different backgrounds shape different lives, different beliefs and different people. I’m not here to talk about different lifestyles. I’d rather talk about why people, in general, seem to resist the change!
Allah says in Qur’an:
… that those who perished [through disbelief] would perish upon evidence and those who lived [in faith] would live upon evidence; and indeed, Allah is Hearing and Knowing.” Qur’an (8:42) (1)
Number One: The Two-Edged Sword Media
“Muslims are terrorists!”
“Muhammad married a young girl!”
“Muslim women are oppressed!”
Probably you’ve heard some or all of those one day! Just flashback when and where it came up to your ears? Or just remember, was it really based on evidence? Was it real evidence from an authentic Islamic source? Or was it cutting a text off its context? Did they show the other side’s reply?
The Effect of Media on Public Beliefs and Attitudes (2)
Published research in the Journal of Social and Political Psychology studied the effect of media on public beliefs and attitudes; I recommend you read it carefully. It stated:
“They (media messages) are key to the setting of agendas and focusing public interest on particular subjects, which operates to limit the range of arguments and perspectives that inform public debate.”
“In terms of shaping content, we argue that a number of privileged groups contribute to the production of media accounts, including social and political institutions and other interest groups such as lobbyists and the public relations industry.”
“Our research has shown that the media play a facilitating role – in the easing through of policy action by repetition and reinforcement of media messages, and the absence of proposed alternatives – and also a possible role in shaping behaviour, especially where these are linked to other types of structural support.”
Just ask yourself why many people in America, Europe and different countries are negatively stereotyping Muslims according to what they hear in the media, and why they believe in what they hear without much investigation as if they handed their dough-like minds to the media to shape it?
Media Has Always Been Affecting Us
I will not go here through a satisfying reply to all the misconceptions raised in the media about Islam, and I guess if anyone searched for it, he will find answers. But I think for now it is enough for us to realize how much impact media had on our minds. Remember how 11th September was represented in media? How media condemned all Muslims for it? The same media didn’t condemn criminals who committed thousands of brutal murders of Muslims in China, Myanmar, Afghanistan, Kashmir, Syria, Iraq …etc.
Also, had the media ever discussed where the 1,000 skeletons, 18,000 skulls at The Musée de l’Homme in Paris came from? Were they much concerned that many of these skulls belong to the Algerian resistance fighters to the French occupation in the 18th century who were brutally murdered, heads cut, and taken to Paris as a piece of art in a museum?!! Have you heard how the 20-year-old student Suleiman Al-Halabi and many others were tortured and brutally killed by the French soldiers in Egypt? Have you ever known how Al-Andalus (Spain now) was brutally forced to convert from an Islamic to a Christian country? Has media discussed Gazi Kasim Pasha Mosque, Mosque of Cordoba, Al-Murabitin Mosque, Seville Mosque, Alhambra Mosque that were turned into churches as it focused on Hagia Sofia turning into a mosque?
Was Media Fair Enough?
In general, were they fair in dealing with all events regardless of the groups behind them, or some were made a big deal and others were minimized just based on preferences of interest groups?
O you who have believed, if there comes to you a disobedient one with information, investigate, lest you harm a people out of ignorance and become, over what you have done, regretful.” Qur’an (49:6) (3)
Number Two: Bad Muslim Models
Some people meet unreligious Muslims who don’t follow the real teachings of Islam. I believe that individuals are their own media, and people tend to believe in what they see more than in what they hear. But I also believe that people should have strong judgmental minds to differentiate between true Islam and Muslims by name. It is like condemning a punctual, hard-working teacher for a lazy student who failed!
Hasty Generalization (4)
In fact, this attitude is considered one of the major logical fallacies that is called “Hasty generalization”. According to The University of Perdue, it is: “A conclusion based on insufficient or biased evidence. In other words, you are rushing to a conclusion before you have all the relevant facts.” That applies to all people all over the world; Americans, Italians, Arabs, Jews, Christians, Muslims…etc. You find the good and the bad in every place; thus, people should give themselves enough chance to discover the real teachings from its authentic sources and be fair enough not to falsely judge the real teachings for some lazy followers!
Number Three: Following Others’ Footsteps
How The Group Affects The Individual (5)
In the bestselling book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, psychologist Robert Cialdini writes, “Whether the question is what to do with an empty popcorn box in a movie theater, how fast to drive on a certain stretch of highway, or how to eat the chicken at a dinner party, the actions of those around us will be important in defining the answer.”
Cialdini uses the example of advertisers persuading us that a product is the “fastest-growing” or “best-selling.” Advertisers don’t have to convince us that a product is good; they only need to say others think so.
Julia Coultas, a researcher at the University of Essex, stated: “For an individual joining a group, copying the behaviour of the majority would then be a sensible, adaptive behaviour.”
Individual Role in Respond to The Group Ideas and Beliefs
Every one of us was raised in a certain environment and surrounded by certain beliefs. When we grow up, we realize some of these beliefs were not one hundred percent true or were totally wrong. As we grow up, our minds become mature enough to learn, judge and make decisions. It is us who decide whether to respond to our minds or shut it up.
Rather, they say, “Indeed, we found our fathers upon a religion, and we are in their footsteps [rightly] guided.” Qur’an (43:22) (6)
Number Four: The Fear of Change
People’s Perception of Change (7)
An article titled “Ten Reasons People Resist Change” stated: “People will often prefer to remain mired in misery than to head toward an unknown. As the saying goes, ‘Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t know.’”
It is somehow related to the previously discussed reason. People sometimes feel stabilized the way they found themselves whether it is right or wrong. Or sometimes they fear the consecutive changes their lives will undergo even if it is the right thing to do.
The Reason behind fear
The underlying cause is that they lack knowledge of the truth, and thus underestimate the importance of the change. They feel the benefit they will get isn’t worth this new experience. But the time they discover the truth, and that the life we are living is temporary, and in the end, each one will be responsible for his own free choices, not his family or friends, the situation will be different!
… Are those who know equal to those who do not know?” Only they will remember [who are] people of understanding.” Qur’an (39:9) (8)
Number Five: Arrogance
Rejection Due to Ego
One could know the truth and capable of changing, yet he is arrogant to follow. It is similar to that who rejects the advice of people just because he doesn’t like anyone to advise him. Also, it is similar to the stubborn attitude of some teenagers and young people towards advice!
The article titled “Ten Reasons People Resist Change” stated: “Our sense of self-determination is often the first things to go when faced with a potential change coming from someone else”
And when our verses are recited to him, he turns away arrogantly as if he had not heard them, as if there was in his ears deafness” Qur’an (31:7) (9)
Rejection Due to Shame
It could be arrogance due to the shame of the low economic level of the followers of the truth, for instance. Thus one is arrogant to belong to their category even if he will lose the truth and follow the falsehood!
So the eminent among those who disbelieved from his people said, ” We do not see you but as a man like ourselves, and we do not see you followed except by those who are the lowest of us.” Qur’an (11:27) (10)
Number Six: Following Desires
Some People Like No Control
Some people would like no control over their endless desires. They want to feel free to do whatever they want even if it will be transgressing over others’ rights. To illustrate, they hate the Dos and Don’ts, so they reject religious rules and thus reject the whole religion. Imagine your country for example with no law… anyone could do whatever he likes… anyone could break the traffic… anyone could do a great theft… no police… anyone could kill… kidnap… rape… It could be lower than a jungle!
Role of Rules
Rules in general preserve the rights of people and stop criminals from committing their crimes. It guarantees a life with minimal criminal levels. That’s human laws. The Creator’s law in the true religion is even more beneficial, as it comes from the One who best knows whom he created. Some say, I’m good and I’ll do good. They could just ask themselves from where could they know the right and the wrong? Someone else could see that stealing and kidnapping is the right thing to do too!
Doesn’t He know whom He created, and He is the Subtle, the Acquainted?” Qur’an (67:14) (11)
Also, Allah the Almighty says:
But those who wrong follow their [own] desires without knowledge.” Qur’an (30:29) (12)
Number Seven: Laziness and Postponing (13)
An article published in Psychology Today titled “Four Outcomes of Lazy Thinking” stated: “..we are lazy thinkers and cognitive misers (i.e. given that it takes additional cognitive effort to assimilate information and simultaneously assess its truth); and according to Herbert Simon (1957), rather than engage in extensive, reflective decision-making, people generally settle for a decision or solution that is satisfactory, or simply, “good enough.””
Some people are lazy to look for the truth. They are occupied by so much work, yet they don’t give some time for their hereafter when they will be asked what they were doing in their worldly life, and whether they followed God’s guidance or not. Indeed, searching for the truth and following it is the greatest project one could have for his life, as it will guarantee him good in his life and after his death.
Thus, here we came to the end of our article. However, I guess the journey has just begun! People are different, and non-Muslims are different in their reasons not to follow Islam. I discussed seven main reasons, and I guess if you are a non-Muslim, you’ll find your reason standing up there. Read it carefully and then decide. Will you continue to resist the change? Or you decide to be a Muslim?
(2) HAPPER, C., PHILO, G.. The Role of the Media in the Construction of Public Belief and Social Change. Journal of Social and Political Psychology, North America, 1, dec. 2013. Available at: <https://jspp.psychopen.eu/article/view/96/37>. Date accessed: 23 Aug. 2020.
(4) Logical Fallacies, Perdue Online Writing Lab, available at: < https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/general_writing/academic_writing/logic_in_argumentative_writing/fallacies.html>
(5) Henderson, R. The Science behind why people follow the crowd, Psychology today, available at: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/after-service/201705/the-science-behind-why-people-follow-the-crowd
(7) Ten Reasons People Resist Change, Harvard Business Review, available at: <https://hbr.org/2012/09/ten-reasons-people-resist-chang>
(13) Dwyer, C. Four outcomes of Lazy Thinking, Psychology today, available at: <https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/thoughts-thinking/201902/4-outcomes-lazy-thinking>