It has to be admitted that in the last fifty years or so, Western culture has degenerated. It's now the norm for teenagers to indulge in sex before marriage, even casual sex, drunkenness, and other vices. It's unfortunately normal for Westerners to grow up seeing nothing wrong in spending a lot of money on selfish pursuits instead of being concerned for the welfare of the needy. These are things forbidden by the Koran, as well as by the Bible, for very good reasons. It's time for young Muslims, as well as Christians, to take on a role as civilisers of those in Western society around them who partake of immoral lifestyles, leading by example, persuading and inspiring others to give up lifestyles that harm so many of them in the end, and showing them by example that the moral way is better. It's time for Muslims to become influential in improving Western morals. It's time for them to realise that they must stand up for what's right, and argue, debate, persuade and show by example that the morality of refusing to go along with the crowd and have sex before marriage, get drunk and live selfishly is superior to current Western cultural norms, where that kind of behaviour is encouraged.
It's also time for Muslims to speak out against adultery in Western society. It's time for Muslims to stand up and condemn it, speaking up for the victims of unfaithful spouses, and pointing out the harm affairs can do.
Muslims have a very important role in Western societies. It's time for them to start to become opinion-formers. It's time for them to start influencing those around them to a better morality. It's time for them to make their voices heard in protest at the degeneration of Western morals and to persuade those around them that there's a better way.
Along with Christians, Muslims need to be working towards bringing Western morals back to the way they used to be.
Muslims should approach others with humility, urging them to change, and explaining the reasons why it's a good idea. They should not approach anyone with an attitude of superiority, since this will only make their message seem unattractive and will cause antagonism.
It may be that many people who accept a lifestyle of binge drinking and sex with someone outside of a committed long-term relationship do so simply because they've been taught that that's the way things are done, and would be eager to hear about an alternative lifestyle. So young Muslims can take on the role of teachers, making an alternative lifestyle sound attractive as well as warning of the dangers of following current Western cultural norms. It may well be that if Muslims can be successful in persuading Westerners to follow a more moral lifestyle, they'll be doing those who change and others around them a big favour, because changing their behaviour might protect them from harm they would have suffered otherwise because of the consequences of unwise decisions. Some Westerners make unwise decisions because they haven't had the privilege of growing up with clear moral guidelines to follow and so they don't have a clear idea of what's acceptable behaviour, so they allow themselves to be easily led by others. Muslims have a role to play in helping young Westerners develop clear ideas of what's acceptable behaviour, so Westerners can protect themselves by refusing to engage in much of the behaviour that others can eventually find themselves being harmed by, and also refuse to allow others to infringe their rights by pushing them into it. Muslims can take on a role as advisers, helping people to avoid risky behaviour or recover after they've been harmed by it.
Of course, any Muslim who isn't living up to high moral standards ought to start doing so before trying to persuade others to do so, if they want them to listen.
It has to be acknowledged that certain aspects of Western culture are superior to aspects prevailing in many Muslim cultures. Young Muslims should form their own opinions, and promote the best of both worlds, while rejecting what's bad about both, as far as possible.
It may well be that many Muslims have unfortunately been the victims of this at school, or in a workplace. Any Muslim who's been bullied can use the following articles to help themselves, as well as to try and improve things for others:
The first two articles contain information about what people can do to help themselves. The third one contains information about what schools can do, which people may be able to band together to persuade their school to start doing.
The first two articles are about dealing with verbal harassment, which can be handled by the person being harassed if they have enough ideas on how to respond. But when it comes to violence, it's best if the school deals with it. So Muslim families could read the third article, or find other articles and books on the matter, and be influential in working out ways of persuading the schools their children go to to take a firmer stand against bullying.
The following links are to web pages where there are good arguments and illustrations that Muslims can use to persuade others around them that the holy way, the way commanded in the Koran and the Bible of abstaining from sex before marriage and adultery, is the best way. Some of the web pages are Christian, but the arguments are equally valid for Muslims to put forward, as well as other concerned people, since they're not religious arguments, but arguments to do with health and emotional well-being. So Muslims as well as Christians can use them to persuade others in Western society that sex before marriage and adultery are bad things and that their holy books can show them a better way in that respect.
Regarding adultery, as well as reasoning with people as to why they should avoid having affairs, Muslims can advise people on how to heal their marriages after one marriage partner has had an affair, and how to improve their marriages so they'll be less tempted to stray in the future. At first, this may seem to run contrary to the teaching of Islam, which decrees the death penalty for adultery. But in fact there is no contradiction. In the olden days, such a harsh punishment for adultery was often totally proportionate to the crime. Before the days of the welfare state, and when many people lived off the land they owned and other work was more difficult to come by, a son would often inherit part of his father's land and marry and start a family there, supporting them from its produce. If a greedy relative wanted the land for himself, he could mercilessly claim that the son had no right to the land because he was the product of adultery and not a legitimate heir. If the mother's character could be brought into disrepute because it could be proven that she had had affairs or sex before marriage, the children of her marriage could lose their shares of the inheritance to the greedy relative; and if they'd married and had little children of their own, it would be worse, because their entire families would be thrown off the land and made destitute, and might all starve to death. So people had to be prevented from having adultery by a fierce deterrent to stop that kind of thing happening. And the death penalty for adultery was really matching like with like, decreeing death for people whose irresponsible actions might lead to the deaths by starvation of people in the next couple of generations.
Nowadays, at least in the West, it would be rare for adultery to lead to the deaths of family members. It happens far more commonly in Africa where AIDS is too often brought into the family. But in the West, the worst thing that happens will most often be the severe emotional hurt an affair can lead to, although if it leads to divorce, the person looking after the children instead of being free to further their career will grow a lot poorer without the support of their former spouse, and the children will suffer. But a proportionate punishment would be lighter than the death penalty.
Since a family break-up can cause all its members distress, it's often best if it's avoided after an affair, at least in the case of a first-time offence. Muslims can learn how to advise couples on how to prevent either one of them being tempted into adultery by keeping their marriage healthy, and how to heal their marriage if one of them has already had an affair, and to improve it so if they had the affair because they were unhappy in their marriage, they'll be less likely to be tempted to be unfaithful again.
Here are some articles Muslims can use to do that:
One of the virtues of Muslim teaching is that it forbids people to get drunk. Unfortunately, drunkenness is a common vice in Western society and it's especially worrying that so many young people are engaging in it. Muslims, again along with Christians, can take a leading role in doing what they can to clean up this vice in society, by persuasion, by highlighting the dangers, by encouraging pursuits that can be enjoyed without alcohol, and by leading by example by appearing more virtuous, in order that they may hopefully be able to provoke those who drink to envy in that they find the clean living of the Muslim more attractive and wish to emulate it.
Here are some links to articles that Muslims can use in their battle of persuasion to try to clean up Western morals. They demonstrate the superior wisdom of the commands laid down for Muslims (as well as those given by the Bible for Christians) not to get drunk:
Another vice growing more popular in the West is gambling. It can cause severe problems among those prone to addiction and can be quite a waste of money for many more. So the Koran is wise to forbid it. Muslims can take a moral stand in warning others of its risks and promoting ideas for a responsible use of money. Here are some articles that may give more information on gambling:
Muslims who take on the role of helpers of others will not only benefit others, but they will win respect for themselves. Sometimes, when people who have suffered bullying have taken on the role of helping others, people have stopped bullying them.
One way Muslims can help others around them is by looking out for their needs. If, for instance, they know someone who is addicted to alcohol, gambling, smoking or something else but would like to kick the habit, they can read up about ways of breaking free from addiction and give them suggestions on how to do so. There's a self-help article on this website that may give them a lot of information:
There are edifying verses in the Koran, as there are in the Bible, that forbid slander. For instance:
Sura 49:11 - Oh you who believe! Let not a group scoff at one another group, it may be that the latter are better than the former. Nor let (some) women scoff at other women, it may be that the latter are better than the former. Nor defame one another, nor insult one another by nicknames. How bad is it to insult one's brother after having Faith [i.e. to call your Muslim brother (a faithful believer) as: "Oh Sinner" or "O wicked"]. And whosoever does not repent, then such are indeed Zalimun (wrongdoers).
Sura 49:12 - O you who believe! Avoid much suspicion; indeed some suspicions are sins. And spy not, neither backbite one another. Would one of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? Would you hate it (so hate backbiting). And fear Allah. Verily, Allah is the One Who forgives and accepts repentance, Most Merciful.
Unfortunately, backbiting and gossip are other things that are acceptable in many sectors of Western society. They probably are in many parts of the world, but Western Muslims have an important sphere of influence and they need to take a leading role in changing Western thinking patterns on this issue. Many people may have grown up accepting these vices as the norm, not questioning their morality or analysing what harm they might do. If something is widely practised in a culture, its acceptability is likely to be taken for granted.
So Muslims, again along with Christians, should try to clean up this evil habit by persuasion, and lead by example by refusing to participate in it. Here are some articles with viewpoints that can be adapted and used to defend a stand taken against backbiting, gossip, and other forms of degenerate talk:
This is another area where Muslims need to take a stand. It's unfortunate that it seems that small-scale stealing is considered of no real consequence by many people in the West. Again, this is probably the case in most of the world; but Muslims in the West have an important sphere of influence, and they ought to play a leading role in trying to change these habits. Muslims, in obedience to Muslim teaching that forbids stealing, along with Christians for whom stealing is forbidden by the Bible, ought to lead by example by not following the behaviour of others, and do their best to persuade others by reason that stealing is wrong. Here are a few tools they may be able to use to help them:
It may be that in raising the issue of stealing, Muslims will often be confronted with the taunt that they'd probably like people's hands chopped off for such offences as are mentioned in the articles, and they will be put on the defensive and the real moral issues will be forgotten. However, Muslims can avoid becoming distracted by such things. They can perhaps explain simply, before getting back to the moral issue of why stealing is wrong, that again, in the olden days and in some countries where there was/is no welfare state and no insurance, and people had/have far fewer goods, stealing could be a far graver offence that could sometimes seriously affect the livelihood of the one being stolen from. Though cutting off a person's hand may well be an effective deterrent, a more proportionate punishment may well be appropriate where the crime is considered less severe in its effects. A method thought to be promising is Restorative Justice.
People's duty to help the poor is a theme that runs throughout the Koran. Unfortunately, Western culture is often far too focused on selfish pursuits such as spending money on worldly pleasures to the exclusion of people in need in the community and in the world. Muslims can lead the way in inspiring the Westerners around them to be more concerned about the welfare of those less fortunate, and by motivating them to give time, money and energy on their behalf. Muslims can lead by example, and also persuade those around them to emulate them, by finding projects they're enthusiastic about joining in, or starting projects themselves, and sharing their knowledge about people they wish to help and their enthusiasm for helping them. They can spark off compassion in those around them this way, and enthusiasm can be contagious. Here are some ideas to give Muslims ideas on where to start:
It's unfortunate that certain groups in the Muslim community preach that revenge is a desirable thing, even revenge for things done centuries ago. Revenge is unfortunately also considered desirable and committed by many Westerners. But the Koran teaches that Muslims should revere the books of the Law in the Bible and the teachings of Jesus Christ, and Jesus taught that people shouldn't take revenge. So Muslims can exhort Westerners around them to adopt a more moral lifestyle in this regard, too, using arguments such as the ones put forward here:
It's unfortunate that divorce is too often seen as the easiest way out or the path to more personal happiness in the West, because it so often damages lives and creates more problems than it solves. Jesus also taught that people shouldn't get divorced except under particularly bad circumstances. Muslims can take the lead in turning things around in the West, reasoning with people and informing them about the damage divorce can do and about various ways of solving marital problems so couples will be happier staying together instead. Here are some articles Muslims can use to inform themselves in order to inform others:
Islamic values such as not having sex before marriage, not getting drunk, being concerned for the needy, and other things, are also values that were taught by Jesus and his followers like Paul. It's unfortunate that so many Westerners scorn books that were written to help and protect them by their instruction, such as the ones containing the teaching of such people. Bible teaching designed to keep people out of trouble, to inspire them to greater goodness, to reduce their suffering and that of those around them by admonishing against harmful behaviour and promoting behaviour that will increase communal harmony, to help them to guard their health, and to increase their emotional well-being, is being rejected, while people in the societies that once claimed to uphold such values are growing up thinking that getting drunk, having sex before marriage, living selfishly, backbiting about others and doing other such things is just the normal way to behave. Muslims would be doing Westerners a service by reintroducing them to the values their societies have largely forsaken, and in particular reminding young people who attend church of these things, since even many people who attend church and call themselves Christians have forsaken the values contained in the teaching they're supposed to follow. It's time for Muslims to challenge Christians to live up to the values found in their own Bible.
Some leading Western politicians claim to be Christian, but their actions, such as causing unnecessary violence in the world, run contrary to the teaching they claim to follow. It's time they were reminded of this, and shamed or manipulated into either dropping the label of Christian or changing their policies. A major factor in George Bush being re-elected in 2004 was apparently the support drummed up for him among people who attended evangelical Christian churches who thought he would follow the most godly policies. The number has even been estimated as high as forty million. If people can be persuaded in large numbers that leading politicians who profess to be Christian are actually not following biblical teaching in some respects but living in disobedience to it, then maybe their support will be diminished. If it is, maybe those politicians either won't be re-elected next time, or they will change their policies to try to make sure they are re-elected. Muslims, besides trying to sway public opinion by putting forward the best humanitarian arguments they can as to why some of the policies of such politicians are harmful, can demonstrate how such people are failing in following the values Christians are supposed to live up to, by gaining a good grasp of Bible quotes that teach the values such politicians and people in general who profess Christianity are supposed to follow, and publicising them, pointing out where such people are falling short, and exhorting them to start following the instruction in such Bible quotes again - Bible quotes found here:
Some of those Bible quotes make reference to things like the death and resurrection of Jesus, and other things Christians believe; but Muslims don't have to believe those things themselves to try to persuade Christians to live up to the moral guidelines in those quotes better. Muslims can think of the bits that refer to Jesus etc. as nonsense even, and still recognise the beauty in the moral guidelines in the verses and the need to make Christians more aware of them.
Wherever Christians are seen on the Internet supporting policies of unprovoked aggression, Muslims can illustrate to them with Bible quotes that they perhaps aren't being true to their faith.
Another tactic is to spread information around the Internet that seriously calls into question the fitness of leading politicians to govern, especially where numbers of people liable to vote for them are likely to congregate. This can be done by finding and disseminating links to articles that do so. There are probably several on the Internet.
It may be that the opposition candidates aren't much better than the current leaders. But if many of the supporters of the current leaders can at least be discouraged from voting at all, that'll cut down support for those leaders; or if the leaders become worried about losing the election because they're losing so much support, that might at last compel them to change their policies.
Several hundred years ago, Muslims were in the forefront of medical advancement and science, and learning was promoted in Muslim cities that became a haven for scholars.
It's time for Muslims to take up the role of leaders in learning and civilisation again, and become well-versed in the arguments as to why Western morality needs to be improved. Muslims need to become convincers of those around them; wise counsellors of those who want advice; and demonstrators by example that the moral way is better, since it leads to far less problems than the behaviour young Westerners are socialised into. It's time for Muslims to stand up proudly and take on a new identity as civilizers of Western morality.
It's time for Muslims not only to do this individually, but to come together and discuss creative ways of promoting a more moral lifestyle through publicizing the benefits of it. One person might not be able to make a difference to the lives of that many people on their own, but if tens of thousands or more people all think similarly, then they could make quite a big difference together, or if they're all doing the same thing. Muslims ought to unite and plan how best to go about changing things, getting together in groups set up for Muslims in schools and colleges, on Internet forums, in mosques, etc.
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