Please note: The answers on constitute friendly advice rather than fatwas. Where relevant, we translate the opinions and fatwas of respected scholars and present them in our answers.

IslamQA: On today’s capitalist and materialistic making life as a Muslim more difficult

Assalamualaikum, what do you think about the fact that the world is becoming increasingly harder for Muslims to navigate. For example how capitalist society has designed peoples lives to be all work and any spare time they have is now to consume media and this kind of society is causing increase in mental illness which makes every day life even harder to handle and the consumerist life even more appealing. I just feel like the odds are against people

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

What we see around us is simply the aftermath of the decline of Christianity. Things will not last this way forever. When a civilization’s motivating force runs out, it is inevitably replaced by a new civilization. Japan’s population is imploding because once it embraced the Western way of life, fertility rates plummeted.

Cultures can be divided into two kinds. Sustainable cultures that enable the population to remain stable over time or grow, and unsustainable cultures that cause the population to decline over time. Japan’s major culture is unsustainable, but it also has 100,000 or more Muslims and perhaps other religious groups who do have sustainable cultures. What this means is that over time the unsustainable culture disappears and is replaced by the sustainable ones.

Egypt is a great example of a sustainable culture. Despite modernizing, fertility rates remain high, because most of the population is made up of practicing Muslims.

So if you think in terms of generations and centuries, then the current materialistic Western culture is just a small blip, a temporary aberration from the norm that is not going to last for long. Faithful Christians (such as the Amish), Muslims and Orthodox Jews continue to grow while the secular population declines. So far the US population has managed to grow due to the high rate of immigration. But that’s not going to be forever. Mexico will soon have a below-replacement fertility rate, meaning its own population will start declining soon, so that it will have fewer and fewer people to send to the US. The same applies to India and many other countries. All unsustainable cultures will decline and disappear over time. We will continue to have more and more faithful people working in business, so that they will change the nature of capitalism for the better. Wall Street used to have many extremely good and principled businessmen in 1900, and that state of things will come back again sooner or later.

And God knows best.

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