According to a recent survey (1) young people are becoming increasingly less religious in North America and Europe. There are no statistics to explain exactly why this is the case; but we need only to look at modern life to understand the steady decline.
If I consider my own childhood, a great portion of my life revolved around the church in front of the house of my grandmother. We spent a lot of time with Granny and so it was natural that we would all attend church activities just across the road.
Sunday School, Girls’ Brigade, and family services, religion was a central theme in our lives. We rarely came into contact with people of other faiths, and we certainly had no idea what these faiths were about. There was no reason to question anything.
When I consider my own journey to Islam, I went to a bookstore, learned the basics from a book, then met with a real person (!) to discuss any questions I had.
Fast forward to today, and, thanks to the internet, we are living in a global village. You can type any question into a search engine and you will be bombarded with links offering you information. It’s incredibly easy to connect with people from anywhere in the world to discuss spirituality, religion, and faith.
For this reason, young people are more informed, more likely to question the beliefs; they’re more able to reach out and connect with others who are also having doubts and questions about faith.
It comes as no surprise then, that church attendance in Europe is rapidly waning. According to the Pew Research Centre, of those Europeans identifying as Christian, only 22% actually attend church (2).
Fastest Growing Religion
Somehow, in the midst of all this, Islam continues to grow. There are those who argue that the growth of Islam is the result of a higher birth rate. Yet if we look at statistics, 6% of Christians in the USA are converts while 22% of Muslims are converts (3).
Islam is constantly the victim of negative press, but still the light of truth shines through.
So while the general population are leaving faith and religion behind, what is it about Islam that is not only so attractive, but holds the hearts of the faithful, both born and convert?
Coming from a Christian background, I can say that a lot of the time I had questions in my head that I just couldn’t ask. No one really questioned what they believe; but, being the deep thinker that I am, I naturally scratched beneath the surface.
My questions were similar to those that many Christians had before they discovered Islam.
Why are there so many Christian denominations? (4)
Why are there so many different versions of the Bible? (5)
Who should I be praying to? God the Father, the Son, or the Holy Spirit? The Trinity was a concept I really struggled to understand.
Reading the Quran, the complete revelation, I find that God speaks directly to His creation and clears away any misunderstandings.
This is the Book about which there is no doubt, a guidance for those conscious of Allah. (Quran 2:2)
The Quran still speaks to us, 1400 years later as we continue to understand the scientific miracles within it. Our scholars explain the richness of the text and the depth of the meaning.
Notably, there is only one version, memorized and protected by the faithful.
In a world where we now have so much uncertainty, Islam gives us understanding. Instead of feeling helpless despair at any calamities that may arise in your personal life or on a global scale, you can see that everything is part of a bigger plan.
And certainly, We shall test you with something of fear, hunger, loss of wealth, lives and fruits, but give glad tidings to the patient ones. (Quran 2:155)
We are reminded time and time again that the world is a place of tests; God tests us to see who is worthy of eternal bliss. He tells us to be patient with any troubles that may come our way; that He will be with us, and any suffering does not go unnoticed.
It is much easier to cope with life’s ups and downs when you know that your Lord is watching, helping and guiding.
Islam truly encourages Muslims to be people with an attitude of gratitude. If we look at Surah Ar-Rahman, the same verse is repeated several times:
Then which of the favors of your Lord will you deny?
Allah is a loving Creator who has blessed us with so much. He wants us to recognize these blessings in order to deepen our connection with Him.
Not only are there spiritual blessings from practicing gratitude, but there are many scientifically proven benefits from being grateful. (6)
So if we, as Muslims, follow the advice of our Creator, we can lead a happier and healthier life.
When you come to the realization that the purpose of life is to worship and please God, it truly liberates you from the trap of pleasing mankind.
Our social media culture means we are bombarded with an altered reality of perfection. Everything is photographed, filtered and published. We are led to believe that people are living their best lives, doing all the things and looking great into the bargain.
We’re expected to look, act, and think in a certain way, but Islam rejects all of that! Islam encourages us to be modest, mindful and independent.
As a Muslim convert, wearing hijab took away the pressure to conform to media standards of fashion and beauty. As a Muslim woman, my rights to financial independence are preserved in the Shariah. And as a Muslim wife, Islam grants me my right to proper treatment and support from my husband.
5- Code of Life
The wisdom and example of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is the ultimate in guidance for those who appreciate its value. He (peace be upon him) lived a life that was in complete submission to the will of Allah; and his wife, Aisha, reported:
Verily, the character of the Prophet of Allah was the Quran.
The purpose of life is to worship Allah and enjoy a connection with Him. He has made it easy for us to please Him and shows us how to do so through the example of His Prophets.
From how we eat, sleep, and interact with others to how we dress, speak, and enjoy intimacy with our spouse, everything is clear.
Say: ‘Surely my prayer, my sacrifice, my living and my dying are for God, the Lord of all the worlds.’ (Quran 6:162)
When we come face to face with our Lord, when we take that first step into Jannah, Insha’Allah, all of this will be worth it.
What better peace of mind could anyone ask for?