Being raised Muslim is not easy. You are born into a family whose religion must become yours, and if you do not follow that religion, you will lose your family, friends, and possibly even your life.
There is not much of a choice given to those born into Islam. The parents whisper the confession of faith into their child’s ear as soon as they can when they are born so that the child is under Allah’s protection.
How Muslims are forced to “inherit” their faith
Most Muslims who contact us with questions about the true God and who are considering leaving Islam share one common concern: The punishment that the Quran and Hadith command regarding those who leave Islam.
“Whoever disbelieves in Allah after their belief—not those who are forced while their hearts are firm in faith, but those who embrace disbelief wholeheartedly—they will be condemned by Allah and suffer a tremendous punishment.” Quran 16:106
“A man embraced Islam and then reverted back to Judaism. Mu’adh bin Jabal came and saw the man with Abu Musa. Mu’adh asked, “What is wrong with this (man)?” Abu Musa replied, “He embraced Islam and then went back to Judaism.” Mu’adh said, “I will not sit down unless you kill him (as it is) the verdict of Allah and His Apostle.” Volume 9, Book 84, Hadith 58
Even if a convert is not sentenced to capital punishment for leaving the faith, they will still lose everything and be told that Allah will punish them horribly. Their friends and family will completely disown them. They will usually be thrown out of their home and community, divorced from their spouses, separated from their children, and ignored by Muslim businesses and therefore jobless.
If an Islamic community does believe in capital punishment, it is encouraged that their families kill them as violently as possible to purge them of their sins and increase their chance of getting into paradise. So, Islam retains many of its followers through fear, not through free will.
Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world because of the birth rates among Muslims. Muslim families grow rapidly, and for these kids being born into Islam they are not given a choice and leaving Islam is the most dangerous thing they could do. We need to talk to our Muslim friends about the love of Jesus, who wants us to follow Him because of our own will and love for Him, not because of fear.
What faith looks like in a healthy Christian household
Christian families raise their children up in the faith, but a healthy Christian household will never force the children to be Christians through fear or intimidation.
There are verses that instruct us to raise our children up in the faith, a similar goal to the ones our Muslim friends have. But healthy Christian families do not create the same pressure and forced inheritance of faith that our Muslim friends experience.
For starters, a child accepts Christ because of their own free will. Then as they grow older, they are given the opportunity to explore this faith more, grow in it, and make it their personal relationship with God. The parents eventually have no influence over how their children interact with God.
In a healthy, Christ-like home there is unconditional love. This includes if a child walks away from God, converts to a different religion, etc. Obviously the family will pray for their family member to return to the faith, but nothing in the Bible instructs us to treat them with anything other than love.
How to talk about this with your Muslim friend
Asking your Muslim friend about their experiences is the best thing you can do. They don’t speak for all of Islam, they can only speak from their experiences and what they know.
Did you have an individual conversion experience where you decided to follow Islam?
Can you tell me what it was like being raised Muslim?
How would your parents respond if you left Islam?
Prayer for your Muslim friend and those who leave Islam
Dear Lord, please protect anyone who is thinking of leaving Islam. If they are considering it, give them the courage to step into a loving relationship with you. Show me how to best support my Muslim friend and introduce them to a love that is not fear-based. Amen.