In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the most Merciful.
The word ‘Islam’ means submission to the will of God. A person who follows Islam is called ‘a Muslim’. Every human being, regardless of his religion has the ability to distinguish right from wrong. The repeated exposure of one to false ideas weakens the inner sense of judgment therefore, we cannot rely on our faulty ideas instead we need to look towards the divine guidance to learn how to reform ourselves to the level of humanity.
Islam is the pious religion that gives a complete guidance in human life. The basic Islamic view is that, Allah has sent Prophets to guide mankind. He sent some to guide a particular group of people, and some to guide humanity in general. All the Prophets were of perfect moral character and the best guide and role models. One of the features of Islamic legal system is that, one has choice as to accept or reject the Devine guidance. Though it’s free for one to choose his way of life, it is also warned that, a person is accountable for the decision he makes and his conduct influences the life he lived in the world, and in the hereafter.
Islamic Legal System
A person’s conduct may affect other people’s fate therefore, in Islamic legal system; a Muslim must be aware of the issues relating to societal and political affairs and must help in directing the issue towards growth and perfection of the community. While striving to achieve this goal, one must understand that the perfection of the community depends on something called ‘truth’. Of course, truth will never darken and will never become ambiguous for the people of truth. In spite of ceaseless attempts of the unbelievers to weaken the light of truth, it has never, and will never be turned off. The Holy Qur’an says: “Fain would they put out the lights of Allah with their mouths, but Allah will perfect His light however much the disbelievers are averse” (61:8). When a Muslim understands this fact, there will be better chances of leading the community towards the part of light and perfection.
When the political activities of people are being examined in early Islam, we realize that the activities of Muslim women in particular were different from those of modern societies. For example, women in early Islam take part in Jihad but presently, they contribute more in social and political decision making and protesting against despotic rulers.
During the past centuries, underdevelopments of Islamic territories were brought about by the fact that, the rulers were deliberately or ignorantly deviated from Islamic teachings which resulted in the creation of wide gap between Muslims and genuine Islamic thoughts. The appearance of Islam has brought an effective change in human history. When we compare Islam in past centuries with Islam in modern time, we realize that the new experience of human civilization has brought about the establishment of global Islamic civilization in which morality, spirituality, science and value reigns. People are now agitating for Islamic values and guidance.
Perhaps, there are certain obstacles which hindered the growth of Islam in recent century. These obstacles may include; the invasion of Islamic world and robbing of Muslim’s wealth, the colonization of some Muslim countries, etc. The western hegemony is one of the most common reasons for the underdevelopment of Muslims. Some Muslims distanced themselves from Islamic teachings and blamed Islam for their backwardness; they were oriented towards the western models while trying to compensate their failure. Of course, there are people whom understood the reason behind this, and found out that the association of Muslims with Islam was not the cause of their failure rather; distancing themselves from Islamic teachings was the major cause of their underdevelopment. Another problem common to the western world is that, religion has been greatly distanced from the society and politics and, many people thought that Islam is a personal matter. While our individual relationship with God is the basis of our faith, Islam does not accept that religion is a personal matter, it maintains that religion has a role to play in the society at large; as such religion cannot be separated from socio-economic and political life of Muslim.
From a statistical point of view, many people are embracing Islam as the perfect religion. According to United Nations Population Fund (UNPF) and other sources, in year 1999, the world population exceeded six billion. Around twenty three percent of this population (that is around 1.5 billion) adheres to Islam. The breakdown of the Muslim population that was estimated in 2003 includes; Africa (48.10%), Asia (26.39%), Europe (7.04%), North America (2.05%), South America (0.30%) and Oceania (1.09%).The total number of countries with Muslim inhabitants is 208. 85% of Muslims live outside Arab world. The majority of the Muslims live to the east of the boarders of Iran, especially India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Indonesia and Malaysia.
According to Pew Research Center, countries with Muslim-majority had an average population growth rate of 1.8% per year in 2006. In 2010, there were 49 Muslim-majority countries. Around 62% of the world Muslims lives in south and Southeast Asia. The largest Muslim-majority country is Indonesia, home to 12.7% of the world Muslims, followed by Pakistan (11.0%), India (10.9%) and Bangladesh (9.2%). About 20% of the world Muslims lives in Arab countries. In Africa; Egypt and Nigeria have the most populous Muslim communities. In the Middle East, Iran and Turkey are the largest Muslim-majority countries.
A study conducted by Pew Research Center in 2010 and released in January 2011found that Islam has 1.62 billion adherents, making up over 23% of world population. The study found more Muslims in China than in Syria and more in United Kingdom than in Lebanon. In 2011, it was predicted that the world Muslim population will grow twice as fast as non-Muslims over the next 20 years. It was also discovered that 6,000 people convert to Islam per year in Britain. Even in America, New York Times had reported that 25% of Americans are converts to Islam. The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 2007 database has identified Islam to be among the six fastest-growing religions of the world. Different sources have come up with their research therefore; the outcome of their research may vary from one another however the Muslim population is still known to be increasing at a much faster rate.
In conclusion, we can see that Islam is widely practiced in the world due to the simplicity of its doctrine. It calls for faith in the worship of only one God. It has really played a role in creating global civilization and has also developed the intellectual life of people.
Endless thanks to the Almighty, for impacting knowledge in our scholars. Islam is valuable in our lives and the more we strive to be practicing Muslims, the more we get closer to Allah. May Allah, in His infinite mercy, continue to guide us to the right path for He; is all knowing, all Merciful.