10 Sources of Doubts

Where do destructive doubts emanate from? In a 2016 survey study conducted by Yaqeen Institute, the author categorized the sources of doubts into three broad categories based upon respondents’ answers to the survey questions.1 These three categories are:

 

  1. Moral and Social Concerns
  2. Philosophical and Scientific Concerns
  3. Personal Trauma

 

With regards to moral and social concerns, doubts can stem from a type of moral incongruence between one’s adopted worldview and one’s proclaimed worldview. Thus a person may find society saying X is moral while Islam might consider X immoral or vice versa.  The following are some items that come under moral and social concerns:

 

  1. Teachings about the role of women
  2. The hypocrisy of religious people; that is, the nonreligious behavior of supposedly religious individuals
  3. The bad things that people do in the name of religion
  4. The intolerance that some religious people show toward other faiths
  5. The way that religious people sometimes insist that there is only one “right” way to practice faith
  6. The intolerance that some religious people show toward certain other people (e.g., homosexuals)

 

Philosophical and scientific concerns may generally fall in the domain of epistemology (refer to ‘Components of a Worldview’).  The following are some respondent concerns in this area:

 

  1. The debate over Evolution (through natural selection) vs. Creation (through God)
  2. Uncertainty over the existence of God
  3. The problem of evil and unfair suffering in the world
  4. Feeling that certain religious beliefs or practices do not  make sense

 

Finally, in the Yaqeen Institute study, respondents mentioned personal trauma as a source for doubts. Some of their concerns were:

  1. Finding that being religious does not make one happy
  2. Not feeling welcomed in your faith community
  3. The death of a loved one

 

Personal trauma can cause doubts by way of cognitive distortions.  We will expound upon this later in Part II, under the eighth strategy, ‘Dealing with Trauma’.

 

1 Chouhoud, Youssef . “Modern Pathways to Doubt in Islam.” Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research. Accessed March 29, 2022. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/read/paper/modern-pathways-to-doubt-in-islam.

 

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