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The Future of Islam and Common Ground

Published: 22/12/2011 06:27:00 PM GMT
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For centuries Islam has been a faith that is especially good at adapting to its surroundings. From its beginnings it endured persecution but through the teachings of the Prophet it managed to become the way of life of most people in the Middle East. Later it stood at the opposite end, Islam was now the authority as the great Caliphates took over Northern Africa and reached the Iberian peninsula. Even then Islam managed to adapt itself to the beliefs of the people that lived in all of these regions. Muslims and Islam embraced the faiths of those surrounding it and managed to thrive and become one of the biggest religions in the world today.

Many scholars and intellectuals believe that today, the future of Islam is being forged everyday by people living in similar circumstances. The communities of devoted Muslims that live as strangers in countries that are largely non-Muslim have managed to adapt their own lives to the norms of their adoptive countries. They have done this in a way that preserves their religious cultural identity in many cases, without changing the core of what Islam teaches. This is quite similar to the attitudes of Islam in its very beginning with respect to followers of other faiths, like Judaism and Christianity. The prophet Muhammad left many examples and sayings during his life that teach Muslims that it is possible to live in peace among people that are not Muslim. Islam clearly is not in favor of converting other people by force and the very Qur'an embraces Christians and Jews as believers in the same one God.

This kind of perspective that Muslims have gained by living within other cultures is sorely needed in the Middle East. However, thanks to the global information network and the ease in which a rapidly growing percentage of the population can now access the Internet and talk with people from around the world, this exposure is reaching even the most secluded parts of the Middle East. For a long time Islam's progress hasn't been made in the large urban centers of the Middle East. Rather, those that have helped Islam progress and embrace the modern world have been Muslims living as minorities in the Western nations, or those Muslims living in rural conditions where the main worries are getting through the day and getting along so that things get done. A sort of isolation has happened in many Islamic nations that has led to a more extremist point of view, an “us vs them” mentality that is completely opposed to what Islam should be. A religion of peace. Fortunately, it is clear that Islam is changing in the new generation. As many of the old generation that have become entrenched in tradition that is often non-Muslim are forced to come to terms with the rest of the World, the youngest generation is looking to take back their faith. To practice Islam as it was meant to be practiced, once again.

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