• Joe
    9
    This topic is one that strikes a hard cord with me. I myself am a Muslim, and I have been a Muslim all my life. And yet when I hear people speaking about topics such as religious decline, I am always perplexed by the different responses. I am not sure what the latest polls and charts say on this, but the popular buzz is that certain religions, like Christianity for example, are experiencing a gradually increasing decline in the amount of followers and many cities have seen a large amount of churches closed. Another popular statement is that there are other religions like Islam that have been growing in popularity and have had large influxes of people converting. I query that I have is as follows, what are your thoughts on these statements?

    As a Muslim, I can say that as for the second statement, I have not seen such an influx in my community or even any of the surrounding Muslim communities that I am familiar with. In fact, I have observed something to the contrary. It is something that I am sad to see, however many of the youth in our communities are choosing to shrug off both the religion and the cultures in which they have been brought up in. This is a constant trend that many of us have seen. My second query is this, is this something that many of you have noticed in today's culture? Is this a trend that is commonplace throughout religious communities and is this a mind set that is growing in stature?
  • christian2017
    177


    I've heard but i don't know how true this is that Muslims tend to have more children and are growing due to population growth. I would argue Christianity is decreasing due to problems within the church. I could elaborate if you like.
  • christian2017
    177
    "children are arrows in quiver when the enemy is at our gates" (somewhere in the Old testament) check out www.biblegateway.com if you would like).
  • Bitter Crank
    7.6k
    Religious activity is strong and growing in some places, and shrinking in others. Christianity, for instance, is quite strong in China, Africa, and South America. In Europe it is quite diminished. North America is somewhere between active and shrinking; here it depends on whether one is counting mainline protestants, catholics, or evangelicals.

    I would guess some kind of similar pattern prevails for Islam.

    It is waaaay too early to announce the death of religion. 6 billion out of 7 billion people participate in some kind of religious activity/organization. 1 billion, at least, do not.

    I am of a mixed mind as to whether or not we would be better off with a good deal less religion. If strong, positive, secular and civil values replaced religion, that would be fine. If religion is going to be replaced by fascism, or blind faith, or aggressive dehumanizing conversions, then no.
  • christian2017
    177


    thats a really good answer. I usually don't see answers like that on this forum.
  • Mr Phil O'Sophy
    1.2k
    Asalaamu Alaikum. Welcome to the forum brother :D I'm a convert from the UK, and my perception of the decline of religion is generally that the churches are relatively empty apart from a small group of committed elders who turn up on Sundays for a sermon, then tea and biscuits. During the week they are completely empty and usually locked up shut. With respect to the youth here, they have quite readily let it go and religiously attend football games, pubs, bars, raves and festivals instead (or heavily invested into computer games for the more socially awkward)

    With regards to the muslim population, there is certainly a similar problem with the youth, where numbers of them have neglected their faith in order to live a more modern life style. I see them readily indulging in the weed culture for the most part, and there is usually a period of rebellion where they will experiment with alcohol. But as it is still a heavy taboo in the muslim community they generally have to keep it secret and often feel shame about the practice in the long run.

    Amazingly however, the prayer rooms are having large attendance consistently throughout the week (not just on Fridays). This is something that always amazes me. Especially in the university prayer rooms where the majority of the attendants have no external compulsion to attend prayer from people like parents or grand parents, yet they are still turning up in droves to line up rank and file to pray to Allah (swt) of their own volition. Converts are readily streaming in, and the youth return to faith generally a lot sooner than the christian populous do. Many of the people who attend prayer are in their early 20's. Which, subhanallah, always makes me so happy to see.

    I can't talk much about other religions. With respect to Judaism, I know they actively discourage converts and advice them to simply observe the Ten Commandments. They have quite active religious populations, and a very strong sense of community which I admire.

    Demographics is something I find quite interesting and most places I check always seem to have rising muslim populations, with a decrease in other religious groups. Atheism is also something which is on the rise, so it seems to be that when people are making the choice they are either letting go of faith completely, or becoming muslim. India is an interesting place to see this phenomena occurring.

    Latino's, a traditionally christian populous, are converting to Islam in large numbers, which is an incredibly interesting phenomena:


    People often say that islam was only able to grow so much because it forced people to convert by the sword; despite forced conversion being completely forbidden, and the majority of its gains occurring in times of peace.

    My conclusion:

    Islam will lose a lot of its youth to modern culture. You will see a large increase in apostasy as time moves forward and as tensions increase with respect to the dialogue between those who are anti-islam and those who are pro-islam or allied with them. This tension will be a true test of faith for the muslimeen.

    Simultaneously however, I think you will also see an influx of converts whose faith in the deen will be unparalleled compared to those who were lost to modern culture. And those who were born into the faith that do not apostate will continue to attend the mosques, and for the most part, be ambassadors for our religion.

    Although the numbers converting into the religion will not be equal to those being lost, I think this will be of little influence when you take into consideration that those with faith are more likely to readily have children and start families, where as those who apostate generally adopt a more modern lifestyle with a focus on individual freedom, of which settling down in marriage and having children is considered a massive loss of freedom, or burden.

    But in the end, this is all speculation. My perspective is limited, and as our friend pointed out, christianity is making gains in other places around the world. Only Allah knows the truth of the matter, and only time will reveal what will occur.

    very interesting topic. thanks for sharing your thoughts, and I will keep you in my dua's and hope you are with high iman.
  • whollyrolling
    229


    It's difficult to address this without specific and reliable statistics. I think that often when people say that a religion is growing and another religion is dwindling, they may be referring to a global scale as opposed to a specific region, community or culture. Religious popularity could change significantly on a global scale based on fluctuations in a heavily populated region, and if a person lives in some other region, they wouldn't notice. A reasonable outlook on statistics requires diligence and objectivity, and I hear them often thrown around unchecked, or with some spin on them, in attempts to win debates or influence public opinion.
  • NKBJ
    895


    Assuming you're right about the decline of Christianity and rise of Islam, I could venture a few theories:

    In the west (predominantly Christian) culture is moving much more toward individualism and relativism. Both of those things are somewhat antithetical to the whole point of religion. So you get a whole lot of people who are "spiritual but not religious" cause they want all the coziness of a creator without the hassle of being told what to do or what is right and wrong.

    Islam and Muslims, on the other hand, are literally and figuratively under attack world wide. That kind of adversity tends to unite people and they tend to cling to the aspect of their identities that is under attack so much more. Thus, people even tangentially related to Islam are drawn into it as an act of solidarity.
  • DingoJones
    718


    Islam is under attack world wide? By who, other than themselves? Everyone is under attack by somebody, presumably you are saying Islam is under attack “worldwide” more than all other religions?
  • NKBJ
    895
    Islam is under attack world wide? By who, other than themselves? Everyone is under attack by somebody, presumably you are saying Islam is under attack “worldwide” more than all other religions?DingoJones

    I'm not going to derail the conversation by getting into whether they are or not.
    For the sake of my argument it suffices to say that they think they are. ( I happen to agree, but that's besides the point.)
  • I like sushi
    617
    Correct me if I’m wrong, but I could’ve sworn I heard that evangelicalism is growing in numbers faster than Islam? Not exactly telling given that evangelicalism isn’t exactly all christianity.
  • andrewk
    2.1k
    you get a whole lot of people who are "spiritual but not religious" cause they want all the coziness of a creator without the hassle of being told what to do or what is right and wrong.NKBJ
    That is a cynical view of what SBNR means, and I would say that in the majority of cases it is wrong.

    One could just as well argue that allowing oneself to be told what to do is the cowardly option, because it avoids having to take moral responsibility for one's own decisions. On that analysis, the SBNRs are the courageous ones, taking the hard road.

    I don't think either extreme is correct.
  • NKBJ
    895


    I also have a cynical view towards organized religion, so it's not like I'm favoring one over the other.
  • praxis
    1.1k
    If strong, positive, secular and civil values replaced religion, that would be fine. If religion is going to be replaced by fascism, or blind faith, or aggressive dehumanizing conversions, then no.Bitter Crank

    Not that it’s easy to separate religious & secular values from any culture, but what values are currently missing from contemporary secular and civil life?

    If I’m not mistaken, you’re not religious. If that is the case, do you by chance tend to have blind faith in things? Are you a fascist? Inhuman?

    Religion may help bind groups with common values but it does not somehow create these values from nothing.
  • praxis
    1.1k
    you get a whole lot of people who are "spiritual but not religious" cause they want all the coziness of a creator without the hassle of being told what to do or what is right and wrong.
    — NKBJ
    That is a cynical view of what SBNR means, and I would say that in the majority of cases it is wrong.
    andrewk

    I don’t think it’s cynical. If a spiritual practice doesn’t offer some sort of “coziness” then what good is it. And is it good to be told what’s right or wrong by some rando religious idiot? No.
  • Possibility
    115
    My perspective is quite different to yours. I was born into Christianity, but consider myself SBNR for the purpose of this discussion. In my work I see young people both born into and exposed to Christianity on a daily basis. The way I see it, there is no decrease in spiritual awareness and thought, but there is a decrease in traditional spiritual practice as such.

    Young people get nothing useful from attending traditional church services that they cannot get outside of church. They learn this distinction very clearly as teens. There is no sense of community for them, no deeper understanding of their faith and no sharing of subjective experience to which they can relate in weekly masses at your average church. Why would they bother?

    Young people are not really after a coziness from religion, and if they are they won’t find it anymore without suspending rational and independent thought. They’re after relevant answers that they can verify in their own experiences. Church attendance doesn’t offer that anymore - we’re no longer taken in by a sense of reverence for an unquestionable authority.

    In my experience, there is a large percentage of the population who are non-practising religious or SBNR - not because they’re after coziness without rules, but because they’re after answers without sacrificing critical thinking. As long as religion fails to offer this in their practices, they will continue to lose people between school age and parenthood. And as long as they measure their faithful by either church attendance or census questions, then the numbers simply won’t add up because these two measures are worlds apart.
  • Maw
    1.2k
    Global trends are distinct from local trends.
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