Intellectual emptiness is the main gate to atheism

Intellectual emptiness is the main gate to atheism

By: Abu ‘Abdur-Rahman Al-Idreesi

By intellectual emptiness, we mean that the state a person often passes through in his childhood and youth, and which may extend into old age, and even until death. In short, 'from cradle to grave'. It is a state of ignorance that includes religious creed. An ignorant person is not necessarily an illiterate who does not understand anything and does not know how to read or write; rather, he may be highly educated in a prominent specialization, like an engineer who has extensive knowledge of engineering sciences, a doctor specialized in medical sciences, a biologist, physicist or economist, but when you talk to him about his religious matters, you realize and disapointed that he does not know anything about its pillars and basics or, at best, he acquires knowledge of only the indisputably established facts of Islam but does not exceed that to gain in-depth religious knowledge to shield himself against deviant theories and destructive ideologies. If he attends an assembly of dhikr (remembrance of Allah) or a discussion of religious topics in a waleemah (wedding banquet), ‘aqeeqah (the ritual of animal sacrifice for the newborn child), or any given occasion, he does not contribute a single word or opinion or even a comment on what is being said! When he attends the Friday Khutbah (sermon), he seems as if he is hearing what the preacher is saying for the first time. He may be hearing a Hadeeth or a Quranic verse for the first time in his life given his negligence in acquiring religious knowledge. But when he wishes to read an intellectual book, he chooses a subject, especially one written in a foreign language by a non-Muslim writer; most probably he may be either any materialist ideology follower or an atheist. But regardless of his status as a Muslim, he adopts the writer’s false ideas and embodies them at all levels and in all contexts, even if they essentially contradict his religion and creed. This is not surprising, since he only knows a little about his religion and creed, and people are enemies to what they do not know.

This clearly shows the gravity of intellectual emptiness that leads, in many cases, to atheism and disbelief or, in the best case, to holding distorted beliefs that carry more falsehood than truth!

Unfortunately, the atheists coming from Islamic backgrounds, whom we interviewed, lack the basic scientific infrastructure, pillars of sound logic and correct Islamic methodology that a person derives from the Quran, the Sunnah, and the writings of the brilliant leading scholars. Herein lies the methodological difference between those who acquired a kind of cultural self-immunization and those who suffer intellectual emptiness. The first group have ‘vaccinated’ themselves against all the rampant intellectual diseases promoted by Western writings, literature, and media programming, like documentaries, movies, and artistic production in general. The minute an idea that contradicts sound creed comes up, it is intercepted by this intellectual shield, and even if somehow it managed to penetrate it in a moment of inattentiveness, his intellectual immune system declares a state of emergency; it tracks the virus or germ and exterminates it. You may call it an inner filter that allows only what is sound and clean to pass through and blocks what is false and filthy.

Combating atheism is a practical process that starts from the early childhood for those who are endowed with the ability to understand the reality of things, or at least from the very moment a person becomes aware of the gravity of intellectual emptiness and starts to construct his defensive shield and fill the voids in his mind. Dr. ‘Abdul-Haleem ‘Uways says: “Although the factors of fragmentation are powerful and many, they do not lead the Muslim Ummah (society) astray unless it is afflicted with intellectual emptiness and lack of moral values ​​that equip it with a sound reassured knowledge and awareness of the truth about the universe, humankind and life at large. Such an intellectual emptiness emboldens the advocates of destructive calls, which contrive principles and values to achieve their personal aspirations and realize their objectives.”

Today’s world is witnessing an intellectual chaos and multiplicity of false doctrines, with each promoting their version of falsehood, in confirmation of the following Hadeeth: “The Messenger of Allah  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) drew a line (in the sand) then said: ‘This is the path of Allah.’ Then he drew lines to the right and left of the first line and said: ‘These are the paths of the devil; scattered, on each of which there is a devil who invites people to it.’ Then he recited the verse (which means): {And this is My path, which is straight, so follow it; and do not follow [other] ways, for you will be separated from His way} [Quran 6:153]” [Hadeeth reported by Imam Ahmad]

A sponge person, as defined by Imam Ibn Taymiyyah  may  Allah  have  mercy  upon  him is the one plagued with intellectual emptiness. This meaning was perceptible in the writings of the righteous predecessors who were fully cognizant of it and its gravity. Imam Ibn Taymiyyah said: “Do not let your heart be like a sponge, absorbing everything, but let it rather be like a glass vessel; you see the truth through its clear glass and nothing passes into it. You, thus, allow your heart to take what is good and discard what is evil.”

The glass vessel that Ibn Taymiyyah mentioned is what we meant by the self-immunization of man, in light of the ongoing intellectual struggle between the various nations on the one hand and between the Islamic and Western nations on the other hand.

Undoubtedly, this intellectual void has many and various reasons which I shall present to you, dear reader, whether you are Muslim or non-Muslim, so that you would be aware of them and avoid them, and to eliminate their causes if you have lost your way and work towards fixing the defects so that you and your family would find happiness, achieve the purpose for which you were created and win the pleasure of the Creator.

Parenting mistakes or imprudence

Some parents neglect the religious aspect of child rearing and may be unable to answer their child’s questions about religion, life, the universe, Allah, and human beings, and the various existential questions that a child starts to ask! The parents make mistakes or show negligence when they focus their efforts on making their child excel in subjects like mathematics, natural sciences, English or French, while neglecting subjects like Arabic language and the teachings of Islam; especially, the eventful history of Islam and its arguments based on the strong platform of intellectual wisdom and morale. What is even worse is that some parents enroll their children in non-Muslim schools that do not teach the Arabic language nor provide any Islamic education or morality and, accordingly, the child grows up to be a Westernized man in the body of an Arab!

School alone is not sufficient for the learner to acquire the intellectual fortification that we wish for. It is rather a common mistake that parents allow their child to watch Western cartoons and read foreign novels and materials that develop his imagination but they fail to choose in addition to this the materials that would actually benefit him in his real life and nurture his religiosity such as stories from the Seerah (biography) of the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) for children, stories of the Prophets of Allah, and all the various books that aim to immunize our little ones against westernization. This is one of the reasons that lead to the intellectual void that might stay with the child all the way to his adulthood, because a person becomes more inclined to read the genres, he was familiar with in his childhood. Dr. Hasan Hamad Al-Neel said: “Many contemporary families cause the creation of a huge intellectual void in their children, especially if they fail to provide good upbringing and parenting care for them and fail to protect them and keep them firm upon sound scientific and Islamic foundations, at a time marked with an abundance of intellectual differences and systemic disturbances. Moreover, the spread of ignorance and illiteracy inside the family causes this intellectual void in children, since you cannot give what you do not have.”

A person brought up in a frivolous environment lives a life of frivolity

When a boy or a young man is not brought up upon obedience to Allah, the Exalted, and sees either of his father, mother or his friends living a nightlife party culture and indulging in sins like drinking alcohol and committing immorality, he also follows their example and spends his spare time on the same immoral acts they do. As soon as he finishes his day in college, he turns to indulge in frivolity, like wasting the spare time spending in cafes, watching sports matches, participating in night parties, and committing other immoralities; then at late night going to sleep, and wake up the following day to continue this as a routine, thus he goes on like this until he is trapped in this killer habit.

An Arab poet said (what means): “Time is the most precious asset that you should preserve, yet I see that it is the easiest thing you waste!”

This is why the righteous predecessors used to say: “If you fail to preoccupy your ‘self’ with the truth, it will preoccupy you with falsehood.”

Sometimes you may find a person who is upright and does not commit immorality but he is preoccupied with his work, marital life, and worldly concerns and does not allocate any time to build his intellectual fortification. He might be accidently exposed to misconceptions, so he absorbs some of them and they corrupt his religiosity.

Bad intellectual role model

A young man often searches for an intellectual role model to imitate in all respects; rather, in any respect, especially if this role model is a university professor who is close to him. This professor then recommends some books that may be promoting irreligiousness (anti-religious coontents). This is a manifestation of the intellectual impregnation that atheist professors use with our students. They recommend that they read the books of Nietzsche, Feuerbach and Marx – who were known for their atheism and clear smooth style in presenting it – without a proper learning methodology that should be followed when studying intellectual ideologies. This is like a swimming coach who throws his student who cannot swim into a rough sea! The student drowns in the sea of ​​atheism, easily drawn into its stinking swamps, and he absorbs their evil ideas. Thus, instead of producing a genius young generation of Muslims who are able to defend the Muslim Ummah’s creed and contribute to its advancement and civilization, universities rather produce a generation of pickaxes that gnaw away at the body of the Muslim Ummah, except those upon whom Allah, the Exalted, bestows His Mercy. “An intellectually bankrupt person easily soaks up any ideology that is presented in an appealing persuasive form, even if it is deviant and destructive. Internet websites abound in thousands of deviant opinions and misguiding ideas… Moreover, an intellectually bankrupt person suffers from the absence of a scientific referential authority to which he can refer when he encounters a scientific issue or an intellectual crisis.”

This person (or intellectually confused student), who encounters an intellectual crisis, might turn to his atheist role model and starts to ask him doubts to quench his thirst of knowledge, and this would undoubtedly add to his misguidance and chaos.

Genuine goodness lies in the adherence to the straight path, and all evil lies in the underestimation of intellectual voidness and taking it lightly. By Allah, if a person adhered to the Quran and Sunnah, this would guarantee him perfect intellectual fortification, in confirmation of the Hadeeth of the Prophet  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) reading: “Indeed, I have left among you that which if you hold fast unto it, you shall not go astray; the Book of Allah.” [Imam Muslim]

He  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allah exalt his mention ) also said: “O people, be mindful of my words; you have been warned! I have left among you two things (which if you adhere to) you will never go astray: the Book of Allah (the Quran) and the Sunnah of His Prophet.” [Ibn Hazm]

These two (the Quran and the Sunnah) are the lights of Allah, the Exalted, spread out before you, so open your heart to them, read them, contemplate them, and draw from their wisdom. Allah, the Exalted, Says (what means): {That is from what your Lord has revealed to you, [O Muhammad], of wisdom} [Quran 17:39]

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