Rajiv was unusually late for his meeting with his two friends, and as soon as he finally appeared on the computer screen’s chat program, his friend Michael said to him:
Michael: Hello Rajiv! Nice to see you could finally join us! We have always known you to be punctual. We hope that this delay was not due to something being wrong?
Rajiv: Sorry my friends, I must apologize indeed, and thankfully, there is nothing wrong. I was just busy completing some research that I wanted to present to you both in our meeting today.
Michael: Excellent, then it will be a rich dialogue. So what is this research of yours about then?
Rajiv: In fact, the information that we've exchanged in our conversations about Islam has really aroused my interest and I wanted to look into the spread or decline of this religion around the world.
Michael: The same issue caused me to carry out research too, but in relation to other respects. I expanded the research to include aspects that we touched on in greater depth, and from its original sources... But what did you find in your research? Mr. Yousef!! Are you with us??!
Yousef: Yes, Yes... I am following you.
Rajiv: I have found that all sources and information gathered indicate a rise in the spread of Islam throughout the world. My research reveals that there are more than 4200 creeds and religions around the globe! Statistics indicate that Islam is the fastest growing religion among all the beliefs around the globe, and that today it is spreading in all the continents at a remarkable speed! If we consider the rate of the increase of Muslims and we compare it to the rate of the increase of followers of Christianity for example, we find that a U.N. statistical study states that the annual rate of increase of Muslims in the world is (6.4%), while it is not more than (1%) for Christians.
In my research I have focused on Europe, and I found for example that Islam has become the second largest religion in Spain, France and Britain.
The numbers of Muslims in Germany are growing rapidly too, according to "Die Welt" daily German newspaper.
A study prepared by the French Ministry of Interior confirms that more than 3600 people convert to Islam annually. It also states that there are approximately 2300 mosques and 7 Million Muslims in France. In fact, there are expectations that Muslims will represent a quarter of France's population by the year 2025, while those expectations indicate that Muslims will represent 20% of Europe's population by 2050. Furthermore, there are other statistics that suggest that in 2040, Muslims will form the majority of Europe's population.
Figures also tell us that one third of the Dutch population will be Muslims after 10 years. One study confirms that Islam is spreading astonishingly among the Swedes, as official numbers reveal that the amount of Muslims is on the rise and is estimated to be more than 120,000.
Moreover, expansion in the building of mosques is an indication of the spread of Muslims, especially those who are strong adherents to that religion. Statistics speak of the presence of more than 25,000 mosques in Europe, with a high attendance number.
In contrast to this, studies also confirm the low attendance of Christians in churches. And a study conducted by the "Bank of Dresden" expected a decline in the number of churches in Germany in the coming years. It is predicted that religious masses will completely stop in 96 of the total 350 churches in the "Essen Parish" alone, and the church buildings will be made available for other purposes as a result of the decline in the number of those attending churches and the low returns of church tax.
Perhaps what clearly shows the extreme decline in the attendance of Christians to their churches is that one of the churches in a European country actually held a competition, where one of the prizes was a car, in order to attract people to prayers and sermons!!
Michael: Perhaps that may explain why we see this alarming amount of right-wing parties and some fanatics in Europe harassing and ridiculing Islam and its teachings, as well as attacking its adherents or its symbols, and that’s not all, they also demand the expulsion of Muslims from all of Europe. However, I wonder what the reasons are for this great expansion...We haven't heard your opinion yet, Mr. Yousef. You're unusually silent.
Yousef: Of course I am happy with what I hear! I therefore prefer to be silent to enjoy it more! Nevertheless, in my opinion there are reasons inherent in Islam, as well as reasons inherent in the Western society, and also there are reasons on the ground that form factors which combine together to increase the spread of Islam. However, I must point out that this isn't a strange thing for such an ancient religion as Islam, which is deeply rooted in history since the beginning of creation, from the time of Adam [peace be upon him], and this historical extension hasn't stopped to the present day.
Michael: But Mr. Yousef, we know that Islam only appeared some 1400 years ago, and that there are other heavenly revealed religions, like Christianity and Judaism. Do you deny that?
Yousef: There is a concept that must be corrected in this regard, which is that the religion of Allah is one, and not several. It is one because it emanates from one source, Who is Allah, Who created everything in the universe. There are, however, some situations which this religion pays attention to that require the presence of some laws which are specific for these situations or nations, and also deviations may occur to this religion as the length of the period from the time the message was first revealed becomes longer. This necessitates the renewal of religion by sending a new messenger that emphasizes the fundamentals of this religion and its foundation. This is what was indicated by the hadeeth of the Prophet of Islam, who said: "Prophets are paternal brothers, their religion is one and their mothers are various," that is, their times and laws are varied and different. The human race reached its age of reason at the time of the Prophet of Islam, and the message of this prophet included the inherent factors that protect the soundness of this religion from being lost, and that regenerate it and return it to its original purity, if that ever becomes necessary. So, this religion won't be interrupted and this historic extension will continue until the end of mankind, as it is the seal of religion, which was favored by the Creator for humans. It is only natural that He chooses that which suits them and that which is in conformity with their natural disposition. It is then normal to find Islam spreading in such a way, if things are left to interact naturally and spontaneously.
Rajiv: This is a new and exciting concept for me. Let's then go back Mr. Yousef to what you were about to mention about the reasons for the spread of Islam.
Yousef: Well, as for the reasons inherent in Islam, they can be summarized in that its properties qualify it for this spread, since:
Islam is a simple religion in its structure, deep in its meaning, clear in its concepts, comprehensive in its approach and uncomplicated in its teachings. It doesn't need a high mental ability or special intellectual faculties, and it doesn't contain secrets, talismans, complexities or ambiguities.
Islam is a human religion that addresses human nature, deals with man's circumstances, satisfies his desires, addresses his problems, and answers his questions, and the truths it contains are consistent and harmonious with the reality of life. It also prohibits all kinds of social injustice and emphasizes complete equality among human beings in terms of their origins, regardless of their different colors, their languages, their races or their social levels.
Islam is a realistic religion that doesn't rise above the reality of human beings, nor does it melt in that reality, or decay and become corrupt. Part of this realistic attitude is that it is a religion that combines the worldly life and the hereafter, and doesn't create a conflict between them.
Islam is a religion that respects the human mind and respects human thought, and uses arguments of reason and logical methods first and foremost to lead to helpful understandings, discussion and debate.
Islam is a religion that does not fight science and progress, but rather it encourages them. Established scientific facts that have been reached by science in the modern era agree with the interpretation of Qur'anic texts which were revealed about these fields fourteen centuries ago.
Islam is a religion that keeps pace with progress. It has proven its ability to deal with all the new social situations and changes that happen in life as a result of the change of time and place.
Islam is a religion that achieves real freedom for humans, a freedom which cannot be achieved in its most sublime sense unless humans direct their pure worship only to their Lord, Allah, because in this way they are not servants of any person, or any other creature in nature.
Islam is a religion that was and forever will be open to other cultures.
Michael: And I'll tell you the true condition inherent in Western society, a condition that has left its imprint on the society:
Our Western society lives in a real intellectual tragedy, especially since the beginning of the last century, and even before that. This crisis has led to multiple conflicts which are experienced by our Western society, particularly between the church and science, and then among the different philosophical schools of thought, and also among the different branches of society. This resulted in the appearance of a wide array of different value systems, and a sense of bewilderment and loss of identity.
Then came the emptiness and the spiritual vacuum which eats away at the Western human entity…An emptiness in which the spirit of man chokes, in which he is considered to be of no value, and his characteristics become degraded, but at the same time material possessions pile up and their values rise, surpassing every value given to the human being until man becomes like a machine, or just one cog in a huge machine!
Another important factor is the uncertainty experienced by many Westerners about their religion and what they see as a contradiction, and a conflict and defect in their creed, despite the apparent fanaticism many of them show in relation to their religions. In addition to that there is what the church describes as the way of purity and salvation which is represented in monasticism. It is seen by most of us as being against human nature and being in conflict with it in many aspects of life.
Furthermore, we cannot ignore the decline of morals and the disintegration of the family and the community which the general conditions of the Western society have come to.
Yousef: If we want to speak about the factors on the ground, we see that campaigns smearing Islam and persecuting its followers may result in the reverse effects happening, which are represented in a reaction to want to get more acquainted with this religion.
There are also the efforts of Muslims who call others to the religion of Allah in spreading Islam. This includes debates held between Islamic scholars and those of other religions. These increase the chances of a Western audience to learn about Islam and what it really is.
We also shouldn't forget the impact of the presence of Muslim minorities in the West, where there is an opportunity for Westerners to become closely acquainted with the Muslims, paving the way for Islamic concepts to become known, and for them to actually see the Islamic pattern of life on the ground.
All that makes me have a bright and optimistic view that confirms that the future is for this religion.