As the global population keeps rising, it would be expected that major, or all, religions grow proportionately. However, this is not necessarily the case. Christianity, Islam, Judaism, and all other religions face challenges that impede them from expanding or maintaining their numbers. Islam, which forms the basis of this discussion, seems to be the worst affected. Most of these challenges are shared among all religions, but there are those unique to Islam.
Top on the list of the challenges facing is the issue of misinterpretation, especially from the Americans and allied nations. Since the September 9th 2001 bombing the relationship between Americans and Muslims was altered, and may never be the same again. The terrorist attacks on the aforementioned date were masterminded and executed by Muslim extremists. Nonetheless, convincing non-Muslim citizens that not all Muslims are terrorists remains a tall order. Today, most attacks, terrorist or otherwise, are interpreted as Muslims’ fault. Citizens of Arab origin almost always become first suspects of terror attacks. What this essentially means is that preaching Islam in states such as the United States, Canada, Australia and most European nations is equated to preaching terrorism.
Secondly, extremism and stereotyping issues also stand on the way of expanding is Islam. There are several instances that have been reported particularly in the Middle East where Muslim extremists have been involved in suicide bombings. All these acts, according to the extremists, are explained as defense for religion, and more importantly in the name of going to heaven. As a matter of fact, no civilized lay man would be willing to join a religion where adherents conduct themselves in an uncivilized manner. Unless, and until there is a change, converting and winning believers to Islam may only remain a mirage.
Modernity is another issue that encumbers religions of all walks. Christianity, for instance, keeps losing followers to secularism because of modernity. Hinduism, Judaism and the others are equally affected. When it comes to this issue, however, Islam suffers the biggest blow. Islam has all along clung to traditions. While other religions do their best to keep pace with changing times, Islam continues to demand its followers to remain stuck to traditions. A splendid example to illustrate this is the mode of dressing that Muslim women are required to adhere to. In nations like Saudi Arabia, for instance, women are required to cover every part of their bodies, except the eyes. In other nations, this requirement is less demanding; women are exempted from covering their face. Many have been frustrated by such requirements to the extent of abandoning their religion to secularism, or to other religions. In addition, the noted and other traditions deter new members from coming on board. With the modern fashion trends, no one acting rationally would defy modern fashion craze for veils.
Misinterpretation, extremism and stereotyping, and modernity are just a just a few challenges that affect Islam more than any other religion. Other issues include anti-Islam propaganda spread by western nations; fear of Muslims (Islamophobia) by non-Islam citizens; and the fight against Muslims (and Islam) in the guise of fighting terrorism (Smart and Shepherd 44). All these issues, directly or indirectly, pose a challenge to not only expanding the number of Muslims but also maintaining the current numbers.
Overall, all religions face a long list of challenges that hinder them from growing. Islam, unfortunately, seems to be worst hit. A number of challenges are unique only to Islam. Some of these are misinterpretation of what this religion stands for; extremism, particularly that displayed by Muslim suicide-bombers of Middle East; and modernity and all that goes with it. Preaching Islam in the American and European continents may remain a tall order as far as these challenges persist.
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