There is a famous argument that which religion is most practiced in the world, and most of the times Islamist brag that their religion is been the most practiced and most popular religion in the world, it is spreading like a wildfire. They boast the fact that there are 57 Islamic nations in the World, where we have the highest percentage of Muslims, more than 90% of their respective population is of Muslims.
The primary reason for Islam’s growth is a simple demographic phenomenon. They have more Children and Youth than the members of the seven other major religious groups in the world. Muslim women usually have an average of 2.9 children, and on the other hand, Muslim fertility exceeds non-Muslim fertility by a huge margin. It is a fact that Muslims have the youngest median age (24 in 2015) of all major religious groups, more than seven years younger than the median age of non-Muslims (32). This gives them a huge demographic dividend.
However, today’s article is about a counter phenomenon, which is making Islamist fear of a challenging proposition in the future. There is a growing pattern of ‘Desertion from Islam’, that means, people are voluntarily leaving Islam. the most surprising fact is, this is not just an American or Western phenomenon anymore, even the highly conservative Islamic countries, where strict anti-apostasy laws are in place, like Iran, Sudan, or Pakistan, have been hit by desertions. In the USA itself, more than 1,00,000 Muslims desert Islam annually, per Pew Research Center Survey of 2017.
As per Sharia law, the Apostasy (Abandoning the Islam) is a big sin, there is a harsh punishment for the same. An apostate must be executed unless he suffers from a mental disorder or converted back to Islam under duress. but seems such harsh punishment is not helping people to keep a hold on Islam, they are still deserting it.
Saudi Government is shocked as the scale of Muslim conversion to Atheism has been on an alarming rise in their country, and more widely in the entire Muslim world. The numbers are really huge, ranging from thousands to millions.
As per the recent Gallup International poll, more than 5% of Saudi citizens considered themselves as ‘convinced atheists’ and 19% of Saudis, think of themselves as “Non-religious person.” These numbers are so surprising because all Arab countries uphold strict Sharia rule punishing apostasy with death. On top of that, Most Islamic nations are against the universal declaration of human rights they never sign it because it talks about ‘freedom to change religion or belief’, which is Haraam as per sharia.
Another surprise is that Richard Dawkin’s God Delusion is the most loved and downloaded book in the Middle East, especially in Saudi Arabia. This is now being translated into Arabic languages and to be offered free of cost to Arab readers.
Why Muslims are loosing faith in Islam?
1. Archaic interpretations of Islam – The Islamic youth is not persuaded by the archaic interpretations of Islam by clerics. The youth is confused about the issues like the “problem of evil” (why God allows evil to take place). They have started losing their faith in Islam as they are not getting the answers to their queries. The youth is moving towards adopting atheism or deism.
2. Rejection of Islamic Worldview – The Islamic youth is feeling deserted due to a weird Islamic worldview. The new generations are getting indifferent and distant to the traditional Islamic way of looking at the geopolitics of the World. Islamic youth often feel disconnected from the dogmatic and archaic way of Islam as a religion. This leads to secularization among the more Urban and people who love question the religion.
3. Islam is no more a religion of peace? – There is growing resentment in Arab youth, they used to hear that Islam is the religion of peace, however, they have seen the acts of ISIS and Al Qaeda in recent times, where ISIS behaved like monsters, barbarians, and even worse.
The sight of 20 Egyptian Coptic Christians being beheaded by ISIS militants on a beach in Libya in 2015 was repulsive, even to many Muslims. Such atrocities are having a double impact. First, it is turning Muslims off to their own faith. They are forced to think that “Is this a peaceful religion? If it is not at all, then they don’t want to be part of such a religion.”
4. Islamic Sectarian War – There is a dark history of Islamic sectarian war, which includes the sectarian civil wars in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen, where Muslims are fighting in the name of God, often with appalling brutally. The millions of victims and bystanders of these wars have experienced shock and disillusionment with religious politics, and more than a few began asking deeper questions, which is shaking their faith in Islam.
5. Cleric’s defense to sins in the name of religion – There is a sense of feeling in Islamic Youth that their clerics and other Islamist leaders can signify or justify arrogance, narrow-mindedness, corruption, bigotry, hypocrisy, cruelty, and bad faith, all in the name of Islam and Allah. This is making them angry and dissociated from the dogmatic flavor of Islam.
6. Deep Differences in the Islamists – The real problem is within the very sphere of Islam. There are deep contradictions between the conservatives’ alleged ideals and actual practices, as well as within the “dogmatic clerics” and the “ignorance, animosity and immorality” among Islamic communities.
7. A Secular Wave in the Arab World – there is a huge secular wave in the Arabic-speaking world. The University of Michigan and Princeton University conducted research in six Arab countries like Algeria, Egypt, Iran, Jordan, Libya, and Tunisia and they presented the fact that Arabs are losing faith in religious parties and leaders. The trust in Islamic Political parties has been going down like never before. Mosque attendance had also declined more than 10 points on average, and the share of those Arabs describing themselves as “not religious” had gone up from 8 percent in 2013 to 13 percent.
It seems the fear of Apostacy has been broken finally. Islam, which means “submission,” operates in much the same way. Yet there are hopeful signs that its grip of fear over the Arab and Muslim world is waning. The fact that more Arab youths are not afraid to tell their clerics and leaders that they are losing their religion is proof that Islam’s hold on the younger generation is slipping in the very cradle of its inception.
In our opinion, all the above reasons are actually an alarm for the Islamic leaders. It is the right time to do some sort of introspection and do some course correction as well. In today’s world we can’t live with the principles of the 7th Century, every religion has to evolve, only then it can hold the people together. The right to question the practices and the God himself is very much necessary, but this is the biggest disadvantage in Islam, as they suppress any voice against the ill practices of Islam, this has to be changed.