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Opinion

What it means to be a Muslim in the 21st century

Karima Bashar
Karima Bashar
Independent Journalist

Islam is the only religion growing faster than the world’s population, and it will be the largest in the world by 2070 according to research conducted by the US-based Pew Research Centre. This is pretty impressive, and I think that every Muslim shall be proud about this.

Despite many Muslim groups or organisations proactively sharing positive manifestations of Islam on Internet, there are still numerous examples of negative reports in Western media producing misleading information about Islam which severely influences the image of the faith. Muslims are also being equated with terrorism: the spread of Islamophobia after 9/11 added fuel to the fire in distressing Muslim across the world.

The main difficulty for the Muslim community for decades has been the misrepresentation, misinterpretation, and even misquotation of Islam. Western media plays a central role in this challenge, by escalating irrelevant debates and creating a feeling of distress and alienation among Muslim, especially young generations.

Muslim children and youth will be the hope for safeguarding a future betterment in Islam. Hence, the correct guidance and quality education will equip children and young people with the essential life skills in combination with a high quality understanding of Islamic values under righteous leadership in alignment with Allah’s teachings. Then Muslim youth will be able to reconcile and deal with terms like fundamentalism, extremism, and Islamic radicalism in 21st century.

It can be difficult to understand all the numerous Islamic political schools of thought, social systems of Islam, the modern relevance of Islamic thought, the history of Islam, the concept of jihad in Islam, and the rights of women in Islam to just name a few.

Muslim youth should also seek to derive inspiration from “Golden Age” of Islam which included the intellectual awakening during the Abbasid period of Islam, renowned for unprecedented scientific progress,  and understand how they have contributed to our world today instead of glorifying an age without truly understanding it.

Understanding historical personalities is part of the key to truly appreciating and learning from our past. This legacy of Islam needs to be cherished, celebrated, and revived in the present times by Muslim young people themselves.

One last thing that I would like to mention is eliminating a feeling of “victim mentality”. For too long, I feel that Muslims have believed that “the whole world is against us”. Instead of blaming the whole world, Muslims have to look at their own societies and actions then take steps to resolve them. Blaming someone else is an easy excuse for sitting back and letting things run as they are.

Until the Muslim youth are well equipped with the knowledge required to comprehend these areas, they will be marginalised, suppressed intellectually and even made passive in every possible manner.

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