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Muslim Spirituality affected by Modernity (Essay Sample)

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Muslim Spirituality Affected By Modernity
Not only in Islam but in many religions of the world, the issue of modernity is viewed with a lot of skepticism; for many the notion of modernity when related to religion tends to bring images of distortion and corruption of the religious principles by the secular, worldly and unprincipled or undisciplined nature of the world. The religious values are perceived by many as giving meaning to the issue of human life at large and encouraging the living of moral virtuous life due to the fact that most religions belief in paranormal beings and an afterlife in which one’s actions and deeds will be rewarded depending on whether they were moral or not. Modernity-or Godless Science, as it is commonly interchangeably referred to- does not have much purpose or morality driven values attached to it. One then wonders: due to the fact that these two co-exist side by side in the universe that we live in, is there a chance of one being affected or assimilated by the other? And if indeed there are effects on each other, are they constructive or destructive effects?
For one to be able to come to a non-fallacious conclusion, it is important to exhaust both sides of the argument by analyzing both the precepts of Islam and Modernity. With the genesis of the intellectuality of scientific disciplines, modernity also came into being. Immediately after the rise of Modernity, it was very clear that it was a school of thought in great opposition and conflict with any available sacred or customary beliefs and principles. The characteristic of Modernity to rebuff the matters that appeal or incline to faith and emotive predispositions- which constitute most of the foundations of Islam, or any religion for that matter- and instead overemphasize the significance of reasonableness and the quest for knowledge, make it a very dangerous opponent to the foundations of Islam. Modernity does not recognize or acknowledge any source of information that cannot be subjected to scientific empirical parameters; more so if the only explanations that are given in support of the information are paranormal, unobservable and beyond the realities of humans. It is a well known fact that Islam- like many other religions- has most, if not all, of its tenets based on matters of faith and the unseen, intangible and immeasurable spiritual world of the supernatural beings.
For most times, the concept of Modernity is seen as being tantamount to a humanistic group or association due to the significance that it places on an individual, his liberation and pleasure seeking character. Man is believed to be full of unlimited and immeasurable capacity for innovation and invention. The school of thought of Modernity does not put much consideration to the concept of afterlife but has as its sole aim the making of the present world as comfortable and pleasurable as possible for the human. Islam, on the other hand has Allah, Khalifa, 1992, Quran 35: 37, who gives direction to the Muslim’s way of life. Unlike Modernity which just dwells on the bodily nature of mankind, Islam believes in the three parts in a human person- the body, the spirit and the soul.
Modernity is constituted by data and information that comprises unrestricted empirico-rationalist philosophies. The unrestricted nature of Modernity presupposes that its principles and core tenets can be altered and transformed with the discovery of new knowledge or the invention of new technology through research as long as there is tangible and observable evidence to confirm it. The Western Culture, which is very heavily influenced by modernity, has an insatiable enthusiasm and vigor for the acceptance and incorporation of alterations and modifications in their political, societal, customary, educational and fiscal ways of lives. Islam on the other hand, believes that Allah, Khalifa, 1992, Quran 35: 37- the name for the Islam God- is the founder and genesis of all creation and all knowledge. Allah, unlike Modernity, is unchanging and remains the same then, now and forever more. Unlike the principles of Modernity that are alterable and transformable, there can be no additions or deductions from the holy book of the Muslims, the Quran; Allah does not change due to his all knowing nature and there is no way that the tenets of Islam can change to accommodate any information that is not incorporated or accepted by their God Allah.
Modernity is seen as encompassing the issue of civilization and attaching much value to it. This causes it to be ethnocentric, with heavy expectations placed upon an individual person to display devotion and allegiance to one’s own race or cultural roots. Due to the matters of reorganization that are very common to many nations, Modernity is perceived as placing more weight and emphasis on the issue of a civilization’s customs and way of life rather than humanity. As is to be expected due to its religious nature, the values of Islam place a lot of significance on humankind with the issues of love and compassion for fellow beings being encouraged and promoted. Islam teaches that the body will only last for a short while on this world after which it dies and releases the spirit; the spirit will live forever in the afterworld even after the human body has died, been buried and decomposed. Instead of nationalism therefore, the Islam principles put an emphasis on the issue of worldwide brotherhood regardless of one’s color, race or economic status. The statutes of the Islam religion are what bind the Muslim fraternity together. This is due to the fact that unlike some other religions that have split up into different facts, the religion of Islam remains one believing in the existence of one God, Allah, Khalifa, 1992, Quran 35: 37, his prophet and messenger Muhammad and one holy book named the Quran.
Unlike Modernity that seeks to please the self, the aim of Islam is solely the gratification of Allah by the obeying of his commands and living a life that is in obedience to his statutes and commandments. Despite the fact that Islam does indeed acknowledge the fact that there exists dissimilarities in the cultural, racial and verbal expressions common to the multinational and broad based world in which humans live in, these do not provide room for prejudice, discrimination or regarding one extreme as superior or inferior to the other.
The issues of globalization and modernity have thus caused a lot of apprehension amongst the Muslim academicians and scholars. It would be fallacious to assert that the issue of modernity has not affected the spirituality of Islam. In the contemporary world, due to the rise of the United States as a fertile ground for many to achieve their economic, academic and even social dreams, there has been a lot of migration of many natives of the Islamic countries to the U.S. The constant civil warfare in the Islamic nations has also seen a lot of Islamic refugees running to find refuge in the territories of their neighbors who are mostly Christian especially in the case of Africa; Many Somali refugees have sought refuge in Kenya leading to the creation of the largest refugee camp the whole world over. Owing to the majority of the inhabitants of people in the U.S., Kenya and many other regions where these Islamic adherents have found themselves in being mostly Christian, the spirituality of the Muslims and their radicalism is affected heavily ( Morris, Grimshaw, 2008, p. 100- 123).
According to Katz, 2004, p. 10-30, there was in existence a decree among the Muslims that allowed for the passing down of the death sentence for a Muslim who shifted their religious beliefs and decided to affiliate with other forms of religious beliefs such as Christianity. One of the Islamic principles of Jihad advocates for the complete all out war on non-believers even to the point of death. It is for this reason that there are many cases of suicide bombers as was the case in September 11th and in many other parts of the world. According to the Islam any attack on the non-believers so as to completely annihilate them merits rewards in paradise; this could be one of the reasons why there a rise in cases of suicide bombers. Rabasa et al, 2004, p. 59- 62, asserts that the Islamic schools of religion have played the greatest role in the escalation of the terrorism issue which has affected Islamic spirituality greatly. In the Madrassas the content taught is that which advocates for religious radicalism. This has caused diverse divisions among the Muslim fraternity with the moderates separating themselves from the radicals who are mostly accused of aiding terrorist activities on non- Islamic regions. Due to their lack of funds to disrupt the networks of the more radical Muslims especially those linked to the al Qaida, the moderate Muslims believe that only a change in education, with particular reforms on the content of Madrassa education, can bring back peace in the Islamic world and foster back their spirituality.
As asserted by Morris, Grimshaw, 2008, p. 100- 123, the other area that has seen the spirituality of Islam challenged by modernity is the sector of education. Initially the Muslims attended Madrassa classes that were mostly for boys and taught religious based principles (Rabasa et al, 2004, p. 60- 62). Nowadays, with the insurgence of modernity, for the Islamic countries and Muslim individuals to be able to efficiently compete with the individuals from other religions and cultural backgrounds, they have been forced to abandon this aspect of the Islam spirituality and shift their enrollment from revolving entirely on madrassa education into formal schools that equip them with the skills and abilities necessary to compete effectively in the contemporary employment industries. In many Muslim schools nowadays, there is the trend to put side by side the Madrassa schools of religion and the indi...
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