Epigraph: “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” Martin Luther King, Jr.
Source: the Muslim Sunrise, the oldest Muslim publication of North America
By Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times
The Holy Prophet Muhammad, may peace be on him, said and it is common knowledge among the Muslim circles, “In the Latter Days, the sun shall rise from the West.” The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community believes that this hadith implies that religion of Islam will spread in the West in our times.
Is this wishful thinking or are there reasons to believe that this prophecy from 14 centuries ago may come true soon?
In Europe as a whole, the Muslim share of the population is expected to grow by nearly one-third over the next 20 years, rising from 6% of the region’s inhabitants in 2010 to 8% in 2030. In absolute numbers, Europe’s Muslim population is projected to grow from 44.1 million in 2010 to 58.2 million in 2030. In the Americas the population is projected to increase from five million to 11 million. Man has always been dependent on the Providence of God. However, the prosperity generated by the industrial revolution in the last two centuries created an illusion of human self-sufficiency. This illusion and the reaction against the contradictory and irrational Christian dogma gave rise to Deism of the Founding Fathers of our beloved USA, especially the stalwarts like President Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine . Deism in the philosophy of religion is the standpoint that reason and observation of the natural world, without the need for organized religion, can determine that a supreme being created the universe. Further the term often implies that this supreme being does not intervene in human affairs.
Our universe came into being at the time of the Big Bang and is after all not eternal as Aristotle proposed, which created a basis for atheism until the discovery of the expansion of the universe by Edwin Hubble. It is now becoming increasingly known in the scientific circles that there are countless physical constants in the blue print of our universe that make our universe biophyllic or suitable for life, once again highlighting the Creator of our universe. All these scientific discoveries highlight the need of a Deist God who created our universe.
But, does He have anything to do with His creation? Is He a Personal God who participates nano-second by nano-second in the affairs of one species among the millions on the planet earth? The recent natural disasters one after another with an increasing frequency in the last decade have, if nothing else, emphasized the vulnerability of human life and the need for a Consoler ; if not for every human then at least for those who have been immediately affected by such calamities.
In the first three months of 2011 alone we have seen disasters in Australia, Brazil and New Zealand and now in Japan. If Tsunami and earthquakes were not enough, the concern for a nuclear disaster is looming large after several explosions in the Fukushima nuclear plant. The agnostics and atheists can preach their theology from the security of their ivory towers but as there is a saying there are no atheists in the foxholes or the observation that the atheists start praying when their plane hits turbulence, the vulnerable who are suffering in these calamities find no choice but to pray for help from Almighty God.
To move from Deism to Monotheism and Personal God in a rational fashion, one needs to consciously decide between Islam and Christianity, rather than fall back in a mindless fashion to the religion that one inherits. The followers of Judaism and Sikhism, the other monotheistic faiths, do not proselytize, perhaps a subtle acknowledgement of lack of universality and perfection. At any rate, here the focus is on Christianity and Islam.