Since we as Muslims believe Islam is the truth due to clear evidence, an interesting question arises: Why would people disbelieve something so clear?
Let us take the example of the moon. Muslims would say Islam is as clear as the moon’s existence. But, almost everyone believes the moon exists, but not everyone believes in Islam.
For another example, take the fact that the earth revolves around the sun (heliocentrism) rather than the sun revolving around the earth (geocentrism). After it was discovered in the 16th century, almost everyone has come to believe in heliocentrism.
Why not the same with Islam if Islam truly was as clear and as true as those two facts?
To explain this, we can look at both unseen (supernatural) reasons and apparent reasons. The unseen reasons are commonly overlooked because the people that try to make this objection are often agnostics or atheists.
Allah guides the sincere
It is one of the central pillars of belief in Islam that Allah guides those He wishes to guide and misguides those He wishes to misguide. He guides those who are sincere and strive to look for the truth, and He misguides those who are defiant and arrogant from the truth.
This is one of the major things that separate the acceptance of Islam from the acceptance of a fact like the moon’s existence or heliocentrism. Those things are not predicated on the purity of someone’s intentions and the sincerity of his heart.
As for the acceptance of Islam, it depends on a person sincerely looking for the truth. Allah says:
Allah does not guide the Zālimūn [unjust, wrongdoers, etc.]. (2:258, and many more verses)
Satan tempts people to disbelieve
We also believe that Satan whispers to people to tempt them to disbelieve. Satan does not force people, he simply calls, and they either respond or reject.
Satan promises them and arouses desire in them. But Satan does not promise them except delusion. (4:120)
[Satan] said, “My Lord, because You have put me in error, I will surely make [disobedience] attractive to them on earth, and I will mislead them all except, among them, Your chosen servants.” (15:39-40)
Facts like the moon’s existence and heliocentrism have no one tempting you to disbelieve. There’s basically no push to either side at all. When there is no push on the level of emotions, there’s no reason one wouldn’t choose the side with more evidence.
But, when a person is tempted to one side, that is when his true sincerity comes to the surface. If he is sincere, he will follow the truth, and if he is insincere, he will delude himself in a lie.
Those are the two unseen reasons people do not accept Islam. The major takeaway is that Allah does not guide the insincere, while sincerity matters far less in other subjects. So, now we should think about the many conditions that cause people to be insincere in searching for the truth.
A few disbelievers disbelieve even when they know for sure Islam is the truth, because they would rather go to Hell than obey Islam. The obvious example of this is Iblis (the devil) himself. However, this is rare.
Most people disbelieve thinking they are correct and Islam is false. This article is more interested in understanding those people. How did they come to the conclusion Islam is false? What caused their sincerity in searching for truth to go awry?
The emotions that will be mentioned influence a person’s understanding of what is true and false until he starts to consider the false true and the true false. I will explain how the emotions allow people to stay ignorant from the truth of Islam while at the same time don’t affect other subjects in the same way. This will explain why most people are insincere about religion even when they are (supposedly) sincere in other subjects.
1. Arrogance to Truth
Arrogance is to be blind to the truth because you don’t like it. A person may have already come to a conclusion due to his own thoughts, and he will not be budged from it. If any religion comes claiming something other than what he has decided, he won’t even consider the evidences for that religion.
The prime example of this was Iblis (the devil) himself. He refused to obey Allah’s command to prostrate to Adam (AS) because he considered himself better than him. He said, “I am better than him! You created me from fire and created him from clay.” (38:76) He made his decision and rejected anything contradicting it.
Examples in the modern day are people delved into liberal ideology. If Islam contradicts them, they will not even consider Islam.
Islam forbids LGBT? “That is discriminatory and goes against science. I will never believe in such a religion!”
Islam doesn’t treat men and women equally? “That is sexist!”
Islam punishes adultery with stoning to death? “That is barbaric! How can you believe such a religion?!”
Their arrogance within predetermined yet baseless views keeps them from accepting Islam. The preservation of their views is more important to them than finding truth. Some people even outright say, “Even if God was real and command me to do this, I would still not do it because it goes against my morals.” I have actually seen such statements being said by liberals.
Although this arrogance can play a small role in non-religious matters, religion is where it rears its head for the most part. People aren’t that invested in the moon’s existence or heliocentrism to have strong opinions they are arrogant about. They are neutral, so they accept whatever the evidence supports. But, religion goes to the heart of their beliefs.
Most people follow the direction of their culture without paying attention to whether it is true. A lot of people are also too busy in their work to care about religion. They are only worried about their money and entertainment.
Investigation is hard work, and if a religion were true, following it would be even more work. So, they just ignore the whole idea and assume they would be fine even if God existed. (See also entry on assumptions)
Laziness applies to non-religious matters as well. Most only believe in heliocentrism because they were taught it either in school or popular culture. Few actually know proofs for why it is true. Things like heliocentrism also don’t require much effort to figure out the truth because there aren’t many options. Thus, it is easier to overcome the laziness.
Loyalty is when people assume their parents or their cultures are correct and never try to find truth beyond that. It played a huge role in the Arab idolaters rejecting the Prophet Muhammad (SAW).
And when it is said to them, “Follow what Allah has revealed,” they say, “Rather, we will follow that which we found our fathers doing.” Even though their fathers understood nothing, nor were they guided? (2:170)
A modern example is many Westerners sticking to Christianity even when returning to religion after a period of atheism, and they stick to it simply because Christianity is all they know. They overlook the many obvious problems with Christianity and do not even think to look for truth beyond it.
4. Arrogance to People
This is when people reject the truth because they look down on the people who brought it. This might be rooted in racism, a cultural superiority complex, or other reasons. They are averse to the truth of Islam because they don’t like Muslims or a group of Muslims for some reason.
This also existed in the time of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW). The idolaters complained about Allah choosing someone who is not wealthy or powerful to be prophet. Allah says:
And they said, “Why was this Qur’an not sent down upon a great man from [one of] the two cities?” (43:31)
Islam limits a lot of people’s desires in life including things like alcohol, premarital relationships, and promiscuity. Islam also commands a lot of things that take effort including prayer 5 times a day, fasting in the month of Ramadan, and wearing proper clothing like hijab.
This puts people off from the religion because they think it is burdensome. Islam would stop them from their dreams and makes them do things they do not want to do. This causes them not to consider whether the religion is true in the first place.
Many people stay ignorant of religion assuming they would get Paradise even if some religion were to be true. After all, they are good people, right? All religions say good people will enter paradise, right?
In this false assumption, they stop caring about religion and destroy their chances of entering Paradise. They think themselves good even when they do not have proper belief. See also: Can false beliefs be immoral or deserve punishment?
This is mentioned in the Quran in the story of the two gardens. Allah says:
And he entered his garden while he was unjust to himself. He said, “I do not think that this will perish – ever. And I do not think the Hour will occur. And even if I should be brought back to my Lord, I will surely find better than this as a return.” (18:36)
Some people are satisfied with what they have right now. They are happy living their life working, spending time with their family, volunteering, and enjoying themselves.
They have no desire to know the truth and don’t realize how significant it is. They live their life to the fullest and leave nothing for their hereafter, caring nothing about what they might owe God.
Allah says in the Quran referring to this mentality:
Have you seen the one who has taken as his god his [own] desire? […]
And they say, “There is not but our worldly life; we die and live, and nothing destroys us except time.” And they have of that no knowledge; they are only assuming. (45:23-24)
Note: Satisfaction is rare. Most people living without Islam are unsatisfied. Suicide rates among the non-religious are significantly higher than among the religious. Most people want more meaning in life.
People have a lot of misconceptions about Islam and religion in general. Although this is not a standalone reason itself (the reason why people have misconceptions returns back to arrogance or laziness), I mentioned it separately to elaborate on it.
People assume things about religion in general like “it is unscientific”, “it is just mythology”, or “it was made to explain the universe before science came”. They assume it based on popular culture or based on their arrogance without looking into what Islam actually says and what evidence it provides to prove itself.
Other people assume things about Islam specifically like “it is misogynistic” or “it supports terrorism” based on what they hear the media say.
In their laziness or arrogance, they do not investigate enough to get rid of these misconceptions or even try to justify these misconceptions.
Those are some reasons why people do not sincerely look into Islam, and Allah does not guide the insincere. In scientific facts, people might begrudgingly accept even when they have some arrogance. But, Allah will not let people who have this insincerity accept Islam. He will blind them until they become sincere. When they become sincere, He will allow them to see the truth.
This is a response to those who ask why there are so many disbelievers if Islam is clear.
Islam is clear, for sure. But, it depends on people’s sincerity whether they believe. The vast majority of people will not believe because of their insincerity, and Allah Himself informs us of that.
And We have certainly diversified for the people in this Qur’an every of example, but most people refused anything except disbelief. (17:89)