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Since the end cold war politics, there has been a growth in the Muslim population not only in the United States but also in other parts of the world. In the USA, the population of Muslims has increased in an unprecedented way owing to many factors. In Europe, France has seen the number of Muslims increase largely. This paper explores various factors that have led to the increase of Muslims and the spread of Islam, especially after the cold war.
Although the increase of Muslim population has been impressive, it is imperative to mention that the growth has been modest. The rationale is that it remains a minority religion in many parts of the Western world. Also, the paper will highlight the reasons that have hampered the spread of Islam in the US and in the modern world.
Factors leading to the increase of Islam
In the United States, the increase in the Muslim population has been modest. According to various religious analysts, Islam grew by 109% from 1990 to 2000 (Curtis 117). Although this percentage may seem staggering, it is imperative to highlight that Islam is not the fastest-growing religion in the US. This is contrary to numerous notions and perspectives that attempt to project the religion as the most attractive.
For instance, the growth of Hinduism was higher than that of Islam within the same period. Many factors have led to the increase of Islam in the US as well as other parts of the world. At the outset, the culture of Islam has allowed an increase of Muslim population. Demographically, many Muslims are within the childbearing age (Ahmed 61). This implies that religion is poised to increase in all parts of the world as the global population continues to grow.
Besides, Islam allows followers to engage in polygamy. This implies that an average Muslim household has many members than any Christian household. As such, children born in Muslim households are likely to follow Islamic teachings due to the influence of the socialization process (Ahmed 63). This implies that the Muslim population enjoys higher fertility rates not only in the US but also in other parts of the world.
Further, Islam has experienced increased growth in parts of Europe. In particular, France has one of the largest Muslim populations in Europe. The rationale is that Islam has been one of the major religions in France since the end of the cold war. Besides, France has allowed numerous immigrants from the West of Africa to work and live in the country (Curtis 132). Undoubtedly, the dominant religion in Western Africa is Islam.
As such, numerous immigrants do not abandon their religion leading to a surge in the Muslim population in many parts of France. Although the increase of Islam in France has been outstanding, it has grown slowly owing to other factors (Pauly 59). Also, it is important to point out that democracy and enshrinement of fundamental human rights have allowed the religion to grow in an unsurpassed way since the end of the cold war.
The justification is that every member of the society has a right to religion and no person should suffer discrimination on the grounds of religious affiliation. In the United States, over 60% of immigrants allowed to live and work in the country come from Islamic nations (Pauly 62). Immigration is, therefore, a major cause of the rise of the Muslim population in the US.
Another factor that has allowed the increase of Islam in the Western world is the ‘anti-western rhetoric’ projected by various Islamic sects. As such, many people who believe that the Western countries have marginalized Islam and demeaned its teachings tend to convert to Islam. For instance, the war on terror that President Bush started allowed the religion to thrive and grow in a manner not witnessed before.
This is because many people who believed that the war was unjustified joined Islam as a way of showing sympathy (Pauly 43). This did not only happen in the US but also many parts of the world.
This has led to an increase in the number of people who sympathize with innocent people caught in the middle of the war on terror. According to Pauly, powerless people who do not support the Western attacks on Islamic countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq opt to convert to Islam as a way of expressing their dissatisfaction and displeasure (42).
Pauly says that Islam has continued to teach strict doctrines that restrict followers from converting to other religions (57). With the secularization of Christianity and Hinduism in the modern world, Islam has promised an alternative religion that does not allow secular teachings. For instance, many Christians profess their faith in different ways than the majority of Muslims.
Hence, many people in search of spiritual fulfillment find solace in Islam. Besides, the increase of immorality within the larger Christian community has played a big role in diluting the religion to the advantage of Islam. For the last few decades, cases of pedophile and gay priests typified the media, especially in the United States.
This has left many Christians with reservations about their religion. To this end, the increase in the cases of immorality that have continued to mar many Christian denominations has played a supportive role for Muslims leading to the high number of people joining Islam.
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Finally, Islam is a monotheistic religion that allows all people from across the world to practice its teaching. This has demystified the notion that Islam belongs to a particular race. It has also encouraged many people who do not come from Muslim nations to convert to Islam as opposed to other religions. In particular, many financial institutions across the world have embraced Islam banking.
This service allows the followers to enjoy banking services that are in line with the teachings of Muhammad (Ahmed 72). Also, there has been an effort to dissociate Islam from violence.
Many people in the contemporary world have understood that Islam is a peaceful religion that values humanity and human rights. To this end, the religious clash that existed has reduced substantially. This has allowed Islam to spread in many parts of the Western countries especially the USA and France.
Factors That Impede Growth of Islam since the End Cold War
Although the rise of Islam and the increase of Muslim population have been impressive, it has remained at the periphery in many countries in the West. Many factors have hampered the growth of Islam in the United States and France. At the outset, Islam as a religion has been associated with violence and terrorism. As President Bush pointed out, not all Muslims are terrorists, but the majority of terrorists happen to be Muslims (Ahmed 78).
The stereotype and prejudice have made many people hold reservations about Islam. Also, the rise of radical Muslims in the Middle East and parts of Africa (Al Shabab and Boko Haram) has played a negative role in promoting religion in many parts of the world. According to many theologians, people fear religious profiling and as such, decide to remain in other religions.
For instance, there has been a widespread outcry in the manner through which American antiterrorism agencies gather intelligence. The rationale is that Muslims, especially in the US, live under the scrutiny of intelligence officers due to their religious affiliation. To this end, the association of Islam with violence and radicalism has hindered the growth of the Muslim population.
Also, the association of Islam with violence has substantial justifications. First, the teachings of Islam allow the followers to revenge through ‘holy war’ (Jihad). This does not only limit the penetration of Islam in many parts of the world, but it also scares away potential converts. Besides, many theologians agree that the strict punitive measures that the religion advocates have made people be wary of the religion (Ahmed 82).
For instance, the religion prescribes the death sentence to a woman found engaging in adulterous activities. This is a violation of human rights. Such violations have made Islam to become an unattractive religion for people who would like to join it. Stringent measures and unreasonable pressure placed on the followers have hampered the increase of Islam in the world. It is worth mentioning that many countries have gone contrary to the teachings of Islam.
For instance, France was among the first countries in Western Europe to ban women from wearing veils (hijab) as a way of professing their religion.
Second, the processes of globalization and westernization have played major roles in hampering the growth of Islam. On the one hand, the process of globalization has led to the convergence of many cultures of the world implies that the world is headed for a singular and uniform culture. This has also affected religious cultures not only in the West but also in the Muslim nations.
The rationale is that globalization leads to the secularization of religions and cultures. As such, many people who migrate to the US from Muslim nations end up abandoning the religion (Ahmed 82). This is an attempt to be integrated into American society.
To this end, scholars pinpoint that over 60% of Muslims who migrate to the United States annually, only about half of them remain Muslims (Ahmed 78). This is because of the process of globalization. On the other hand, the process of westernization has brought new principles to the entire world. For instance, democracy and enshrinement of human rights are major principles that many countries have adopted from the West through the process.
These principles have contradicted the teachings of Islam despite their noble intentions. As such, many people have failed to embrace Islam due to its apparent abuse and violation of human rights. Besides, the Sharia law has undermined the democratic principles largely. As such, Muslims who embrace democracy end up joining other religions (Ahmed 82). Westernization process has also empowered women across all nations.
This has allowed women in predominantly Muslim nations to embrace such services as family planning and birth control. The net effect is a reduced number of people in households leading to a marginal percentage of people joining Islam. It is therefore clear that globalization and westernization processes have led to the unattractiveness of Islamic doctrines.
To end with, Ahmed points out that the role of religion in supporting societal structures has declined across the world (89). In fact, modern societies emphasize strong political and economic institutions across the world.
This has left religious institutions at the periphery. With the growth of atheistic sects, such religions as Christianity and Islam have suffered from a reduced number of people who incline to them.
Undoubtedly, despite the increase in the global population, there has been a significant decline in the percentage number of Christians as well as Muslims. To this end, it is apparent that the importance of religion as a social institution has reduced remarkably over the last two decades.
In sum, Islam has experienced growth in France and the United States since the end of cold war politics. Although the growth has been impressive, it is important to point out that the percentage growth of the Muslim population has been modest. Various factors have enhanced the growth of Islam in France and the US. They include immigration, Islamic culture and doctrines, democracy and anti-western rhetoric.
Nonetheless, the growth of Islam has not been outstanding. The reasons include the association of the religion with terrorism, westernization, globalization and a general decline in the importance of religion across the world. These factors have made Islam an unattractive religion after the end of the cold war (Curtis 141).
Ahmed, Akbar. Journey into America: The Challenge of Islam, New York: McGraw Hill Publishers, 2010. Print.
Curtis, Edward. Encyclopedia of Muslim-American History, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 2010. Print.
Pauly, Robert. Islam in Europe: Integration or Marginalization, California: Sage Publishers, 2013. Print.