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The Future of Faith

The world today is a turbulent place where religion, in some way, plays a central role in the daily lives of everyone. Religion has played an even more significant role in the life of Eboo Patel, an American Muslim who shares his experiences and ideas with us in his book, Acts of Faith. Patel uses his life experiences to share with the world what he believes to be the key to creating a more peaceful world. Patel claims that the possible future of a more peaceful planet rests in the hands of the youth and that the youth need to be influenced by the right institutions and people. He goes on to say that the youth of today harbors a passion unlike anything seen before, and if harnessed correctly it the passion can be used for the advancement of the whole human race.

Patel recognizes that the passion found in today’s youth can be used for good and evil.

Religious extremists have also recognized that same passion and have used it to influence the youth of the world in the ways of evil and terrorism.

“Religious extremists saw a fire in young people that others were missing. They were stoking that fire and turning it into targeted assassinations and mass murder. In my mind, I was picturing a movement of young people working for religious understanding through cooperative service.”[1]

It is clear that Patel believes that young people have been wrongly influenced. He also states the potential that he sees in the youth of the world. Patel envisions a world in which young people work towards a common goal through tolerance, understanding, and faith.

Teaching the youth these values

First, we must teach the youth these values. It is up to modern-day societies and institutions to take the responsibility of supporting and educating the youth movement. He claims that extreme religious organizations have been targeting youth for many years. “In the sphere of religion, the totalitarians have spent decades investing in their institutions and focusing like a laser on young people.”[2] Patel pleads that it is time for religious institutions of a more positive kind to take an interest in the youth of the world. Eboo Patel himself has taken the initiative in his founding of the Interfaith Youth Core (IYC), an organization based on building mutual respect and an understanding of religious pluralism among young people of different faiths. If more institutions were to follow his lead the amount of youth that would be affected by it would greatly increase.

In the world dominated by religious factions and plurality, it is important to understand one another. Patel argues that the best place to start is with our youth. He believes that the only way to a more peaceful world is by using the passion found in young people to unite everyone regardless of their differences. Patel ends his book by saying that we humans have a long road ahead of us if we wish to achieve peace, but gives us a glimmer of hope as well. “I fear the road is long. I rejoice that we travel together.”[3]

[1] Patel, Eboo. Acts of Faith: The Story of an American Muslim, the Struggle for the Soul of a Generation (Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 2007) p 127.

[2] Patel. Acts of Faith, 144.

[3] Patel. Acts of Faith, 182

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