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The Future of Islam: Evolution and Changes Report


Introduction

Islam is the second largest religion on the globe. Admittedly, it has evolved throughout centuries. The religion is based on the texts of the Holy Qur’an which has been interpreted by philosophers and devout Muslims. At present, there is an ongoing debate on the necessity to return to the core values of Islam as many Muslims believe that the religion evolved in something new and something far from the original, i.e. something vicious and completely wrong. However, it is hardly possible to stop the change which has been taking place since the very first days of the existence of Islam. In this paper, I argue that Islam will continue evolving and I will single out some factors contributing to the change and examine a number of stories to justify this argument.

It is necessary to point out that the change will not affect the core values of the religion. The change is more concerned with interpretation of the core values and attitude towards such interpretation. The practice may undergo certain changes though Muslims will still be able to manifest their devotion to God as the primary goal of righteous Muslims’ lives is to live properly to be “rewarded with the highest place in heaven, because of their patient constancy: therein shall they be met with salutations and peace” (Qur’an Surah 25:75). Therefore, Islam will evolve in a very specific way, i.e. this religion will fit the new era while remaining the same in central aspects.

One of the Factors Contributing to the Change

Changing World

In the first place, it is necessary to note that the world is changing and many conventions cease to fit in. At present, many people have to live at a very fast pace and they try really hard to keep up with the changing world and remaining a righteous Muslim. Nevertheless, even though there is little time to pray and contemplate over important issues, Muslims manage to do this and have time to handle their daily routine. Admittedly, even time and new tasks and responsibilities cannot change dramatically the core values of people who accumulated some major principles for centuries. The fourth Hadith goes as follows, “[a]s the Almighty is the Ordainer of all things, to inveigh against misfortunes that are part of Time is tantamount to inveighing against Him” (“Hadith Qudsi” n.p.). Obviously, Muslims are prepared to adjust to the changing world as any changes are brought by God.

Evidence from the Past

At the same time, the world has become highly multicultural and Muslims have found it rather difficult to preserve their religious practice in some situations. For instance, people are often put in circumstances which make it impossible to remain the same. One of the brightest examples of the forced change is slavery in the Americas. African Muslims were brought to the new land as slaves. They were put in inhumane conditions. However, even in those conditions people continued practicing their religion as many documents suggest that lots of slaves brought managed to remain religious and practice Islam (Diouf 146). Nonetheless, there were far too many obstacles that prevented people from remaining righteous Muslims in the world of slavery.

One of the obstacles African Muslims had to endure was disproportional demographics among slaves (Diouf 179). Thus, male African slaves made up to 72% of the slaves in the Americas. Slaveholders focused on obtaining strong workers to complete a variety of physically difficult tasks. Females were necessary for some household tasks and for reproduction purposes. Muslims could not create proper families. It goes without saying that a family is the necessary seat to transmit religious traditions. Diouf also notes that slaves were also transported from different parts of Africa which brought to the fore linguistic obstacles as slaves could not develop proper relationships (180). Besides, many families did not have children due to a variety of reasons which also led to certain decay in Islam among slaves and former slaves. Islam in the United States revived when Muslims from Europe, Asia and Middle East came.

In the contemporary multicultural world, it is rather difficult to preserve traditions. People often have to leave their country and start a new life in the world where other religions dominate. Mixed marriages often lead to certain changes. More so, development of technology also affects development of any human society.

Another Crucial Factor Affecting the Religion

Changing People

It is necessary to note that people are changing as they learn more about the world around them, which leads to the change in their beliefs and the change in the way they see themselves in the world. The third Hadith is very conspicuous in this respect. It is concerned with the cause of rain (“Hadith Qudsi” n.p.). Thus, rain (as anything in the world) is the mercy of the Almighty. Though, some Muslims believed that rain was caused by movements of the stars. In the contemporary world, people know what exactly causes rain as this is taught in schools. Nevertheless, it does not follow that the complicated processes which are taking place on the globe should be perceived as something other from the Almighty’s mercy. On the contrary, Muslims glorify wisdom of God who created such a complicated universe.

However, accumulated knowledge and a variety of historical events do affect the way people interpret religious texts. Thus, a number of schools have evolved within Islam. Sunni, Shi’ah, Sufi and Khawarij are major schools of Islam. They are very similar, but they differ in some aspects. Major differences between the schools can be found in the terrain of “the respective roles that they accord to revelation, reason, and imagination” (Murata & Chittick 257). Philosophers interpret the Holy Book differently due to their vision and their backgrounds.

Likewise, contemporary people can also have opposing views on Islam and its future. Some claim that it is crucial to go back to the roots of the religion. Some long for following exact postulates of the book. These people are against any changes which are seen as something destructive and harmful for righteous Muslims (Murata & Chittick 32). These people are afraid of changes as they state that changes corrupt Islam.

However, it is necessary to note that even those who strive for conservative approach are subjected to the change. Islam is a religion which is ‘alive’, i.e. which is developing. Any religion is a part of human society and a part of human consciousness. Since the consciousness is changing, the religion is also evolving. Even those who preach conservatism and returning to the roots and exact reading of Qur’an will hardly be able to interpret the text in the way first Muslims did, as they themselves changed. People are now exposed to a variety of cultures and facts. Education, technology and interaction with other cultures affect the way Muslims interpret the Holy Book.

Historical Illustration

In the times of crusades, some Muslims formed a very specific vision which contradicted Qur’an. At the beginning of the 13th century, there were people who “advocated the rejection of all infidels” even though Qur’an teaches to live in peace with those who have different beliefs (Munir 281). People had their reasons as Christians started the war as they attacked other nations (e.g. Muslims, Jews) to convert them into Christians (but in reality to take away their possessions). Crusades made Muslims feel hostile to the newcomers. Many Muslims formed a belief that war could be justified.

However, there were still those who remained faithful to their religion and interpreted the Holy Book differently. Sultan al-Kāmil was one of those people. He envisioned that peace was essential and he understood that it was possible to start a dialogue with Christians as righteous Muslims know that “[i]f one among the rejecters (of your religion) seek [dialogue] and aid, grant it to him, so that he may hear the word of God” (qtd. in Munir 282). This ruler was wise and he chose peace instead of war. This can be explained by the ruler’s background. His interpretation of Qur’an was rooted in his philosophical vision (Sunni) and his education and background.

Conclusion

On balance, it is possible to note that Islam is a religion which has been evolving throughout centuries. It will continue changing as the world as well as people is changing. It is necessary to note that core values of Islam will remain untouched and Muslims’ traditions will survive. The religion may become more open as people are getting closer and are ready to open up new horizons. This openness may result in people’s tolerance and further spread of Islam in the world. Admittedly, many people may choose this religion as the core values of Islam can help people create a better world of those who cherish such notions as peace, love and acceptance of the universe as it is.

Annotated Bibliography

Diouf, Sylviane A. Servants of Allah: African Muslims Enslaved in the Americas. New York: NYU Press, 1998. Print.

This book deals with African Muslims who were brought to the Americas as slaves. The author focuses on the way Islam developed among slaves and former slaves in the Americas. The author stresses that Africans who were brought to the continents were Muslims. More so, they tried to preserve their religious beliefs however difficult it was. The book is an important source for the present research as it provides true stories to illustrate the way Islam evolved under certain circumstances. These illustrations can help justify the argument that religions are subjected to changes and Islam is changing and will continue to evolve.

“Hadith Qudsi”. Sunnah.com, 2012. Web.

Hadith Qudsi is one of the primary sources of the present research as these texts form the basis of Islam. These religious texts help understand Islam and be able to interpret its postulates. This is important for the present research which aims at analyzing the religion and its future.

Munir, Fareed Z. “Sultan al-Malik Muhammad al-Kāmil and Saint Francis: Interreligious Dialogue and the Meeting at Damietta.” The Cord 60.3 (2010): 271-289. Print.

This article dwells upon one of the most significant dialogues between Muslims and Christians (between St. Francis and Sultan al-Malik Muhammad al-Kāmil). The author reveals positions of both sides, but focuses on Muslims’ accounts of the event. The author argues that the both sides were overwhelmed with ideas of war, though the wise representatives of the two camps longed for peace. The article is valuable for the present research as it provides an illustration of different interpretations of Qur’an. Thus, even though Qur’an teaches to long for peace, many Muslims strived for war. This article also helps illustrate the argument that interpretations differ and change, not the core values.

Murata, Sachiko and William C. Chittick. The Vision of Islam. New York: I.B. Tauris, 1994. Print.

This book provides insights into the core values of Islam as well as major schools and branches of this religion. The author provides analysis of different visions of a variety of philosophers and different interpretations of Qur’an. The author concentrates on such dimensions as faith, practice and historical development of the religion. The present book is a valuable source for the present research as it helps better understand peculiarities of Islam as a religion. The book also helps understand the way the religion has evolved throughout centuries, which, in its turn, can help foresee the way Islam will develop.

Qur’an. Tr. Abdullah Yusufali. Islam101.com, n.d. Web.

Qur’an is the primary source which is crucial for the work which is concerned with Islam. The texts of Qur’an are basis of the religion under analysis, therefore, this source is used. It is vital to analyze particular quotes from the book to avoid bias of other author’s interpretation. Qur’an texts provide the most conspicuous and the most precise illustrations of the core values of the religion.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "The Future of Islam: Evolution and Changes." May 20, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-future-of-islam-evolution-and-changes/.

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