MIDDLE EAST - Are People Losing Their Religion?

Arno Froese

Recent surveys indicate strongly that across the Middle East and Iran, almost half the population is loosening their ties to Islam. 

Officially, Arab states have major Muslim populations, varying from around 60% in Lebanon to almost 100% in Jordan or Saudi Arabia.

However, several recently conducted and very comprehensive surveys in the Middle East and Iran, have come to similar conclusions: They all show an increase in secularization and growing calls for reforms in religious political institutions. 

A recent survey among 40,000 interviewees by the Group for Analyzing and Measuring Attitudes in Iran (GAMAAN), which researched Iranians’ attitudes toward religion, found that no less than 47% reported “having transitioned from being religious to non-religious.”

Pooyan Tamimi Arab, assistant professor of Religious Studies at Utrecht University and co-author of the survey, sees this transition, as well as the quest for religious change, as a logical consequence of Iran’s secularization. 

A woman in Kuwait, who requested DW not publish her name due to safety concerns, also strictly differentiates between Islam as a religion and Islam as a system. “As a teenager, I didn’t find any proof of the government’s claimed regulations in the Quran.”

She recalls how, around 20 years ago, such thoughts had been mainly resented—but today the difference in the people’s attitude toward Islam can be felt everywhere. “Rejecting the submission to Islam as a system doesn’t mean rejecting Islam as a religion,” she explained. 

The more people differentiate between religion as a faith and religion as a system, the louder the calls for reforms. “The trend puts a dent in the efforts of Iran as well as its rivals, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates, that are competing for religious soft power and leadership of the Muslim world,” said James Dorsey, senior fellow at Nanyang Technological University’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore.

Dorsey, an expert on the region, highlights two contrasting examples. While the United Arab Emirates has lifted the bans on alcohol consumption and unmarried couples living together, Saudi Arabia has labeled having atheist thoughts as a form of terrorism.

-www.dw.com, 4 February 2021

Arno's Commentary

The tendency is clear and undeniable: Islam is slowly but surely losing its absolute grip on Middle Eastern society.

The growth of atheism is not surprising either. Google.com finds, “There has been a remarkably sharp trend away from religion. In virtually every high-income country, religion has continued to decline.” 

BigThink.com quotes the reliable Pew Report and states:

At the moment, Christianity is the religion of about 31% of the people on Earth, reports Pew. But there are telling trends, with the Christians in Europe dying faster than new ones are being born. That’s significant because Europe is considered the religion’s heartland, even if it is spreading fast in Africa. Between 2010 and 2015, Christian deaths in Europe outnumbered births by nearly six million, with Germany alone accounting for 1.4 million more Christians deceased than born. 

What does this all mean prophetically? The answer is almost too simple: a new religion is in the making, one based on technology, science, and success. 

Many historians agree: religion was the major contributing factor to the many wars throughout the centuries. Thus, it stands to reason that a global religion—scientifically confirmed, politically established, and ultimately globally enforced—will come into being. Statements such as found in Revelation 13:3b are yet to be fulfilled: “and all the world wondered after the beast.” 

Arno Froese is the executive director of Midnight Call Ministries and editor-in-chief of the acclaimed prophetic magazines Midnight Call and News From Israel. He has authored a number of well-received books, and has sponsored many prophecy conferences in the U.S., Canada, and Israel. His extensive travels have contributed to his keen insight into Bible prophecy, as he sees it from an international perspective.

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