The loss of religious belief is not because people are more intelligent, it is the result of an environment that is devoid of God and saturated with meaninglessness.
As religious belief is abandoned, the moral fabric of society also begins to collapse. The link that ties religious belief to the transcendent is the only possible way to objectively ground morality. Without religious belief, morality becomes mundane and subjective thus requiring the modern state to become more intrusive in nature to uphold the cohesiveness of society. The current society we live in may seem well-mannered and law-abiding, but I’m not so sure how long this behavior would last if the state would one day stop policing people.
I meet countless young people who have no religious beliefs, some of who used to be part of our own community. An increasing number of people around the world are declaring themselves as atheists or at the very least agnostics. What is ironic is that their understanding of God is unremarkable and more similar to a mythological god rather than the more theologically complex and sophisticated understanding of the divine as revealed to us by the Prophet Muhammad (s) and his Ahl al-Bayt (as).
How society is evolving is no accident. We are the by-products of our environment. What we hear and see shapes much of who we are. If we want to become sensitive, loving, caring and God-fearing people, we must be mindful of the movies we watch, the songs we listen to and the company we keep.
Even though the world today is not an ideal place for our children to grow up in, we must still do what we can to stymie and inhibit its corrosive effects. Violent videogames, shows, or meaningless Youtube videos must be censored in our homes.
The prophets taught us to be concerned with what went into our hearts and the hearts of our youth. The heart is the vessel in which the All-Merciful sits in. If the heart is broken and cannot take in the Light of God, it will remain dark and open to the Satanic influence of the world. We all strive to give our children the best possible education; but remember that the greatest gift we can give them is not an ivy league education or expensive material goods. The greatest and only sustainable gift we can give them is īmān (faith) only because it is this faith that will sustain them in the world and the one to come, not the ephemeral objects of this world.
Nabi Raza Abidi
Resident Imam of the SABA Islamic Center
San Jose, California