Written and collected by Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times
To be sure, the United States remains home to more Christians than any other country in the world, and a large majority of Americans – roughly seven-in-ten – continue to identify with some branch of the Christian faith.1 But the major new survey of more than 35,000 Americans by the Pew Research Center finds that the percentage of adults (ages 18 and older) who describe themselves as Christians has dropped by nearly eight percentage points in just seven years, from 78.4% in an equally massive Pew Research survey in 2007 to 70.6% in 2014. Over the same period, the percentage of Americans who are religiously unaffiliated – describing themselves as atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular” – has jumped more than six points, from 16.1% to 22.8%.
For years, surveys have indicated that members of the youngest generation of adults in the U.S. are far less likely than older Americans to identify with a religious group. But a major new Pew Research Center survey finds that, as time goes on, the already-large share of religiously unaffiliated Millennial adults is increasing significantly.
A high percentage of younger members of the Millennial generation – those who have entered adulthood in just the last several years – are religious “nones” (saying they are atheists or agnostics, or that their religion is “nothing in particular”). At the same time, an increasing share of older Millennials also identify as “nones,” with more members of that group rejecting religious labels in recent years.
Overall, 35% of adult Millennials (Americans born between 1981 and 1996) are religiously unaffiliated. Far more Millennials say they have no religious affiliation compared with those who identify as evangelical Protestants (21%), Catholics (16%) or mainline Protestants (11%).
Given these facts about Millennials it is reasonable to assume that in very near future more than a quarter of USA population will be unaffiliated.
No one religion or sect can cater for their spiritual or religious needs. They will chalk out their search for the Truth on their own.
It seems, every religion and sect presents a totalitarian understanding of our world with the exclusion of other traditions. The unaffiliated by their very act of unaffiliation have shown a disdain for such totalitarian views, monopolization of the truth and herd mentality and that they want a more personalized rather than a group understanding of religion and God.
Islam can offer them a better understanding of one God of Abrahamic faiths, if they choose not to focus on the noise of Shariah Law, Islamism or some other obsessions of some of the Muslims.
When asked if they believe in “God or a universal spirit” in the Pew Research Center’s 2014 Religious Landscape Study (RLS), 89% of U.S. adults say yes – down from 92% from the previous RLS in 2007. Nearly one-in-ten (9%) now say they don’t believe in God, up from 5% in 2007.
The changes have been even more substantial when it comes to certainty of belief in God: 63% of Americans are absolutely certain that God exists, down 8 percentage points from 2007, when 71% said this.
It seems Americans’ faith in God may be gradually eroding. The main issue for every seeker should always be a search for God.
The creed of Islam is “I bear witness that there is no god but (the One) God (Allah), and I bear witness that Muhammad is God’s messenger.” Islam does not force any ideas on seekers of truth. It accepts that the first step in the pursuit of the Truth is an understanding of Monotheism and belief in the prophethood of Muhammad, may peace be on him, is second to the all important issue of belief in One God. For example, in one place in the Quran, it invites People of the Book to Divine unity with the exclusion of prophethood, as the first step towards fellowship and solidarity:
Say, ‘O People of the Book! come to a word, which is common between you and us — that we worship none but Allah, and that we associate no partner with Him, and that some of us take not others for Lords beside Allah.’ But if they turn away, then say, ‘Bear witness that we have submitted to God.’ (Al Quran 3:65)
Additionally, Allah promises salvation to the Muslims, the Christians and the Jews and others provided they believe in One God and accountability in the hereafter, if they follow their inner truth:
Surely, the Believers, and the Jews, and the Christians and the Sabians — whichever party from among these truly believes in Allah and the Last Day and does good deeds — shall have their reward with their Lord, and no fear shall come upon them, nor shall they grieve. (Al Quran 2:63)
Surely, those who have believed, and the Jews, and the Sabians, and the Christians — whoso believes in Allah and the Last Day and does good deeds, on them shall come no fear, nor shall they grieve. (Al Quran 5:70)
As to those who believe, and the Jews, and the Sabians, and the Christians, and the Magians and the idolaters, verily, Allah will judge between them on the Day of Resurrection; surely Allah is Witness over all things. (Al Quran 22:18)
The boundaries between religions are blurring in our global village. Just today it was reported: Francis may become first pope to visit Rome mosque.
The unaffiliated can benefit from all the Abrahamic traditions, Jewish, Christian and Muslim.
Many a physicists have made the case for a Creator God: Deism: Common between Islam, Christianity and Judaism, in the tremendous complexity and beautiful organization of our universe.
Once we believe in a Creator God, the only way we can know about Personal God is if He chooses to reveal himself through His prophets and there were several among the Jews, according to Jewish, Islamic and Unitarian Christian understanding, Jesus was also a Jewish prophet until people started obsessing over him and made him into a man-God: Video: How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee.
Rev. Elwood Morris Wherry (1843- 1927) was an American Presbyterian missionary to India, who wrote a number of books and was a famous Christian apologist and Orientalist in his time. He wrote acknowledging the beauty of Unity of God in Islam:
A few passages, like the oases in the deserts of Arabia, stand out as truly beautiful both in their setting and in their thought. Take the first chapter, the Fatihat:
‘In the name of God, the compassionate, the merciful. Praise be to God, Lord of all the worlds! The compassionate, the merciful! King on the Day of Judgment! Thee do we worship, and to thee do we cry for help! Guide then us in the right way! The path of those to whom thou art gracious! Not of those with whom thou art angered, nor of those who go astray.’
The celebrated throne verse in Chap. II., 255, is as follows: ‘God! there is no God but he; the living, the self-subsisting: neither slumber nor sleep seizeth him; to him belongeth whatsoever is in heaven and on earth. Who is he that can intercede with him, but through his good pleasure? He knoweth that which is past, and that which is to come unto them, and they shall not comprehend anything of his knowledge, but so far as he pleaseth. His throne is extended over heaven and earth, and the preservation of both is no burden unto him. He is high, the Mighty.’
The question is often asked why a book of such singular composition should hold such sway over the millions of the Moslem world. In reply two reasons may be given: first, the beautiful rhythm, and often sweet cadences of the original language, which like some enchanting song hold multitudes with rapt attention who understand scarcely a word they hear; secondly, there is a vast amount of truth contained in the book, especially the truth of the divine unity and of man’s dependence upon God, as seen in the throne verse just now quoted.
Read more about Unity of God in Islam: God of Islam: God of Nature and the Creator of our Universe.
If we accept the paradigm of prophethood rather than one of incarnation of the Divine in human form, then we can learn from any teacher or prophet, without the exclusion of those, which our group does not officially recognize or promote and in so doing we set ourselves on a journey of genuine wisdom and universal brotherhood and sisterhood.
— Zia H Shah (@ZiahShah1) January 21, 2016