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Interfaith Dialogue ( 22 March 2013, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Thesis, Antithesis, Synthesis-The Numbers Game



By Aiman Reyaz, New Age Islam

There is confusion all around. Some say Islam is the fastest growing religion (Is Organized religion a Sham by Ed Sepernik, pg 166), while others say it is not Global statistics for all religions: 2001 AD. Accessed 2006-12-26. And that Christianity is getting more converts.

Johann Gottlieb Fichte said, first there is a proposition- thesis (here, Islam is the fastest growing religion) then comes antithesis, which counters the thesis (Christianity is the fastest growing religion) and finally, out of the two comes synthesis, which resolves the conflict and tries to establish common truths and forming a new thesis, leading to the same process again (the synthesis could be: both Islam and Christianity grow equally fast, which is not true  or it could be that sometimes and in some countries Islam is the fastest growing religion, in some other place and at a different time, Christianity is the fastest).

Thesis- Islam Being the Fastest Growing Religion

“Islam is the world’s fastest-growing religion. In 1990, 935 million people were Muslims and this figure had escalated to around 1.2 billion by 2000, meaning that around one in five people follow Islam. Although the religion began in Arabia, by 2002 80% of all believers in Islam lived outside the Arab world. In the period 1990-2000, approximately 12.5 million more people converted to Islam than to Christianity” (Guinness World Records 2003, pg 102).

According to CNN

“The second-largest religion in the world after Christianity, Islam is also the fastest-growing religion. In the United States, for example, nearly 80 percent of the more than 1,200 mosques have been built in the past 12 years. Some scholars see an emerging Muslim renaissance as Islam takes root in many traditionally Christian communities. Islam has drawn converts from all walks of life, most notably African-Americans. Former NAACP President Benjamin Chavis, who joined the Nation of Islam recently, personifies the trend.”

According to Dr Zakir Naik

"Despite the strident anti-Islam campaign, 34,000 Americans have embraced Islam from September 2001 to July 2002." He says Islam is a religion of reason and logic, and that the Quran contains 1000 verses relating to science, which he says explains the number of Western converts. Ghafour, P.K. Abdul. "New Muslims on the rise in US after Sept. 11". Arab News. 3 November 2002.

In a lecture, entitled ‘Why the West is Coming to Islam’ Dr Naik says that the westerners are accepting Islam because they are rational, they are scientific, they want proofs. All these thirsts, “only Islam can” quench. He says that the “East” is not “coming to Islam “as fast as the “West is coming to Islam” because the of the society. He compares that one convert (oh I have committed a sin- remember it is not “convert”, it is always “revert”) in the East is “like 50 reverts in the West”. He goes on to say “but that is no excuse for non-Muslims in India (East) for not accepting Islam” and with a smile on his face he says “they will be held responsible for it”.

He says, with great confidence and speed (read it quickly to get the feel):

“Today the fastest growing religion in America is Islam, the fastest growing religion in Europe is Islam, and the fastest growing religion in the world is Islam. Which sword is forcing people in the West to accept Islam in such large numbers?”

Antithesis- Christianity, Not Islam Is the Fastest Religion

Islam’s growth in recent times is not because of converts but because of the high birth rate and increasing life-expectancy in Muslim-majority countries.

Growth of Islam is primarily due to "their relatively high birth rate, the large number of Muslims of childbearing age, and an increase in life expectancy in Muslim-majority countries” and conversions play little or no hand. The Future of the Global Muslim Population, Related Factors: Conversion, Pew Research Centre, January 27, 2011

According to the World Christian Encyclopaedia, between 1990 and 2000, Islam received around 865,558 converts each year. This compares with an approximate 2,883,011 converts each year for Christianity during the same period. Global statistics for all religions: 2001 AD. Accessed 2006-12-26.

According to a Christian Missionary, Andrew working on John Gilchrist’s website:

“Muslim's claim that their growth rate is 235 percent and 47 percent for Christianity. This statistic came from the Readers Digest Almanac and Yearbook 1983, and represents 235 percent increase over 50 years. Muslims always leave off the 50 year fact to make it appear they are going 235% every year.”

He continues:

“A simple review of the Readers Digest study shows that the growth rate of Islam vs. Christianity is directly linked to the birth rate in Third World countries where Islam dominates and not actual conversions to each religion”.

The Wikipedia says:

“According to a 2005 paper submitted to a meeting of the American Political Science Association, Pentecostalism movement is the fastest growing religion worldwide.

In Vietnam, the US Department of State estimates that Protestants in Vietnam may have grown 600% over the last decade. In Nigeria, the numbers of Christians has grown from 21.4% in 1953 to 48.2% in 2003. In South Africa, Pentecostalism has grown from 0.2% in 1951 to 7.6% in 2001. In South Korea, Christianity has grown from 20.7% in 1985 to 29.2% in 2005 according to the Pew Forum. In China, the Christian population is expected to reach over 400 million people by 2040, which will make China the largest Christian country on Earth.”

Synthesis- some time and some place

In the West, as the trend is seen, Islam appears to be the fastest growing religion. In the East, however, Christianity is the winner. While hundreds of thousands revert to Islam in the US, Europe etc, the same, if not more number of Muslims convert to Christianity in the East.

According to 2011 Pew worldwide study: "Islam loses as many adherents via conversion as it gains.

“Muslims previously outnumbered Christians in sub-Saharan Africa. However, a study published in April 2010 by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life has found that Christians now outnumber Muslims by 2 to 1 making Islam a minority belief”. Christians now outnumber Muslims in sub-Saharan Africa by 2 to 1 - Catholic Culture, April 19, 2010

Why Numbers are Important?

Both Islam and Christianity are concerned with getting new converts. Instead of trying to improve what they have, they want more and more. They think and behave like saviors. Some Muslims go to the extent of trying to prove that William Shakespeare, Bernard Shaw, Abraham Lincoln, Leonardo Da Vinci were Muslims. Why should be bother if these men were Muslims? Even if they were, what difference will it make?

(Note- the triad thesis, antithesis and synthesis is given by Fichte, it is mostly used to describe the thoughts of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel.)