Guidance methods questioned after atheism clip surfaces
The Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice arrested several people for blasphemous remarks against God and Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) after a videoclip on atheism went viral on a popular social networking site.
Eissa Al-Ghaith, a member of the Shoura Council and a legal expert on jurisprudence, has called for re-examining the way religion is represented in the wake of the clip, which was broadcast on KiK Messenger.
Al-Ghaith said that a distinction must be made between atheists and people who are non-practicing.
“Atheism is not a phenomenon in the Gulf or in Arab countries,” he said. “Atheists deny the existence of God altogether, while non-religious individuals may believe in God, but not practice everyday rituals.”
Al-Ghaith attributed the new wave to the far-reaching influence of the media.
“People who have grown up with strict rules may eventually associate religion with oppression and deny its existence altogether,” he said.
“Other reasons include little faith in God and traditionalism, which emphasizes memorization over deep-rooted understanding, as well as frustration over the plight of Arabs and Muslims.”
Al-Ghaith maintained that we must look at methods of teaching and education and reconsider how people are approached during Friday sermons, lectures and conversations.
“As we try to attract more people to Islam, we are finding ourselves losing Muslims who have somehow been exposed to misconceptions,” he said.
“Qur’anic verses revealed to infidels and hypocrites are taken out of context, resulting in dire intellectual clashes,” he added. “We must spread the message of Islam through moderation and tolerance.”
Shutting down websites that spread atheism is not the only way to address the core issue, said Al-Ghaith.
“Authorities, however, must then intervene and shut these sites down when people disseminate inflammatory and inaccurate information across Twitter and other social networking sites.”
“That said, the first step to dealing with the issue is investigating and trying to understand the perspective of atheists,” he said. “We cannot change opinions by force.”
“We should focus on equipping our youth with knowledge and understanding rather than just forcing them to memorize facts because they would not do them any good when trying to impact others.”