The Future of Islam
… Allah never changes a favor [condition] which He has conferred upon a people until they change what is in their own selves, and surely Allah is Hearing, Knowing. – Qur`an [8:53]
The Muslim world, and indeed the rest of the world, has been overcome by the commercial, technological, monetaristic and political dominance of the West. More than a thousand million Muslims are divided into hundreds of economically impoverished, politically and socially divided groups. Whenever a people forget that the purpose of this life is to know the Lifegiver, they become denuded of any creative energy or vitality, spiritual or material.
The rest of the world is also undergoing a similar process of fragmentation and erosion of moral and higher human values. The early power and oppressive dominance of the Church with its superstitious dogmas were finally rendered ineffectual by the scientific and Industrial Revolution, which reduced its power to mere ceremony. Real power went into manufacturing, production, finance and commerce. Until that time, however, commerce had been subservient or married to the Church. Whenever commerce superseded the authority of the Church it was broken, as in the case of the Knights Templar, who were in effect the first European banking system.
By the nineteenth century the power of money and banking had overtaken every other power base. The advent of sophisticated industry, vast supra-national commercial concerns, and the two World Wars of the twentieth century have globalized the power of money. With the crumbling of Communism the cantilever equilibrium of Capitalism has disappeared, and there is no clear political direction for the so-called world leaders. The Church lies defunct, the creative manufacturing period is effectively over, and the hopes aroused by the promise of science and money together solving the human problem have been shattered. In the post Gulf War era, the fragments of atomization of the human situation are evident everywhere. This is the day of reckoning, the day of which the Qur`an says: ‘Whither to flee?’ (75:10). This is precisely the point where a grassroots awakening to original Islam is most likely, initially on an individual basis, and leading later to collective and societal communities.
In the present world situation there are several factors that will influence the future course of Islam. With the coming of the jet age and satellite communication, the world has indeed become a closely interlinked global entity. The egalitarian advantages of independent civil and municipal services are universally acknowledged. The military is no longer of any consequence as it is subservient to the monetary system. The ultimate decision for the deployment of military force in the West is based on economic factors.
Muslims in the East are beginning to realize the extent of the erosion of both their material and moral inheritance. The rapid rate of population growth in many Muslim countries compounded by increasing literacy and higher education is bound to produce greater awareness and deeper natural connections between Muslims in all parts of the world, in spite of state controls and political barriers.
It is unlikely that Muslim countries will go through the same rational and evolutionary processes of economic union that have taken place in Europe. People themselves will begin to find that they have much in common with other Muslims across the border because Islam does not differentiate between race or color. They will begin to discover the collective strength which they had lost, and will rediscover their true Din. Artificial state borders will be ignored and in time disappear in the same way that the Soviet Union has disintegrated. As the so-called ‘Muslim states’ become ineffective and redundant, a new system will arise which will be totally different from anything we have experienced to date. It will not be based on a Western-style federation or union, themselves the sophisticated products of a long history of economic rationalization; for while Muslims may have adopted a Western-style civil service and the ideals of democracy, they have no concomitant technological or monetaristic tradition to support these structures. What is more likely to happen is a spontaneous and organic rise of coalitions between people, but not based on a centrally governed state. ‘Self-regulating anarchy’ may well be the most appropriate description of the early stages of the new order.
Islam will not rise universally in any shape that we can predict because it has never before occurred on a global scale. The world is now so interlinked, however, that Islam will make its impact in a manner which no one can reliably forecast.
An important factor is the growing number of Muslims in the Western world, which is estimated at over 20 million if we include North America. Whilst this number is steadily increasing (Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world), awareness of Islamic teachings as well as commitment to the Din is growing in parallel.
Arab nationalism and statism are ideas from the past. In the meantime, Islam has broken loose from the past barriers of tribal or cultural confinements. The original prophetic teachings are as clear and timeless as ever. Original Islam will be rediscovered once people become tired of looking for salvation in the godless post-economic deserts. For the intelligent, sincere seeker there is no excuse or escape from the prophetic way.
The future of Islam will start, not with some evangelical event, but by simple transformation through suffering and destitution. It will begin with love for true Islam in the hearts of men and women, from which will rise the post-modem Islamic way of life, bubbling out beyond and above state boundaries, selfish regulations, and all other artificial barriers.
Islam recognizes only one barrier, and that is ignorance of Allah, for it leads to living in this world without a spiritual ideal and framework of moral conduct. To live truly in Islam is to be accountable to Allah at all times, remembering death with every breath, and it is from that remembrance that every instant of life becomes a living experience. The awakened Muslim interacts in this world as a courteous wayfarer, taking what is essential to continue on the journey of discovery. The path begins by acknowledging the outer creational world, and leads to the discovery of the ever-present Divine Light within. When this mature state is achieved, then the original human virtues of love, generosity, tolerance and service to others become the order of the day and the foundation for a moral and just society.
The Future of Islam