The New World Religion, being preached to you and your kids in school and in the media. It has 7 tenets:
1. Naturalism: Everything that exists is material. All that is true must be observable to the five senses, repeatable in a lab setting, and published recently by a secular Western university. This sidelines ethics, metaphysics, and spirituality as unimportant, folkloric, superstitious, metaphorical, or simply mad. All non-naturalistic truths are just perspectives and opinions that are equally valid or invalid.
2. Power and chance control the world. There is no Logos, no dialogue, and no supernatural force. Suffering is meaningless, and comes from individuals, institutions, and nature – it is not a trial, it is not a purification, it is not person-building, and it is not a supernatural punishment.
3. Individualism: Everyone is in constant competition for their own material interests. Society is just an amalgamation of individuals with their own independent goals. Forget the “Umma”, the “Church”, or even familial or tribal associations. Economic prosperity is more important than family and community. If you decide to get married – if it suits your selfish interests – then “economic independence” must precede marriage, even though Allah encouraged early marriage and promised to give sustenance to couples and parents.
4. History must only be observed through a socio-economic lens. Muhammad (s) was, at most, a “social reformer”, military leader, and founder of a global religion. Anything more is just a personal belief and perspective beyond the scope of reason.
5. Religion is a non-rational private conviction, practiced only at home and in a place of worship. It is completely separate from all public affairs, even though politics should never be separated from ethics, and ethics is related to religion. Most religion is mythology, and mythology is no different than storytelling.
6. The agency of the individual must be maximized. Your identity is whatever you individually feel. It is not negotiated with your surroundings, nor is it demarcated by anything physical. You can choose whatever you want about yourself. “As long as you’re not hurting anyone” (even though harm is relative), anything goes.
7. Your sexuality should be celebrated, and it either just as important or more important than your religious identity.
These 7 values are reinforced everyday, and have become the basis of our conscious and subconscious beliefs and actions. Not only is it difficult to transcend this matrix, but it is resilient to change and unyielding to resistance.
So, how will our children maintain an Islamic worldview amidst all of this noise? If their schools, universities, and workplaces all operate under these 7 values, then wouldn’t they simply see the way of their parents as old-fashioned and socially irrelevant? According to Pew, 77% of children who are raised Muslim in America still identify with Islam as adults. That means 23% leave Islam altogether. How much of that remaining 77% actually maintain an Islamic worldview; how many even practice their religion? What will our communities look like in a few generations?
The answer to these looming problems must be in the formation of Islamic re-education. Not a simple reactionary return to dogma, but an intellectual re-evaluation of the problems of modernity and postmodernism, and an intelligent integration of Islamic education and spiritual rehabilitation.