Munavara Ghauri, UK
Editor- Women’s Section
In his article ‘Tomorrow’s Gods: What is the Future of Religion?’, former editor-in-chief of New Scientist magazine, Sumit Paul-Choudhury, argues that religions have either died out such as Zoroastrianism or evolved such as Christianity, to meet the needs of people. Paul-Choudhury claims that if history is any guide to go by then our beliefs ‘…are likely in time to be transformed and transferred as they pass to our descendants – or simply fade away.’  He reflects that there are many theories why religion exists. There is a broad idea that it can be an ‘opium of the masses’, that it is needed to support ‘the abstract intellectualism required for science and law’ and also that it provides ‘social cohesion.’ Paul-Choudhury argues that current scientific thought on religion accepts that ‘Any religion that does endure has to offer its adherents tangible benefits.’ 
Despite these arguments, Paul-Choudhury admits that in 2015 the Pew Research Center modeled the future of world religions and predicted that ‘religiosity’ will actually increase rather than decline by 2050, from 84% of the world population to 87%. Furthermore, the number of Muslims in the world will then match the number of Christians.  This does indeed suggest that Islam offers ‘tangible benefits’ which would explain its longevity and increasing prevalence.
For Muslims, God (Allah) does indeed state the universality and timeless nature of Islam in the Holy Qur’an, believed to be the revealed word of God. In fact, in a revelation to the Holy Prophet (sa), Allah Almighty declared:
‘This day have I perfected your religion for you and completed My favour upon you and have chosen for you Islam as religion.’ 
Islam does in fact offer comprehensive guidance for humans on how to live the most fulfilled and beneficial lives in their personal, social and economic spheres. I was reminded of this recently, when I read that posters had been placed on the underground train network in London by Transport for London (TfL). The posters warn travellers of unacceptable social behaviour such as ‘intrusive staring’, ‘rubbing against someone on purpose’, ‘touching someone inappropriately’ and ‘upskirting’ (taking photos under someone’s clothes).  They state such behaviours to be ‘sexual harassment.’ TfL’s campaign has been praised online for highlighting how many women have been made to feel uncomfortable on public transport. News of the campaign both pleased and saddened me. The initiative is beneficial and much needed as 97% of 18-24-year-old British women admitted being harassed in a recent UN Women poll (2021).  Sadly, it is also a damning indictment of modern society. Clearly, some individuals are now either ignorant or dismissive of basic levels of human respect and decency. Moreover, I do not think the problem is limited to the shores of Great Britain.
The campaign reminded me that Islam, my faith, that is so often associated with extremism and violence, has at its very core good behaviour, kindness and compassion. The Holy Prophet (sa) of Islam indeed declared of his mission, ‘I have been sent to complete the structure of good behaviour’ , and quite simply taught his followers that, ‘Good behaviour is half of faith.’ 
The Holy Prophet (sa) only reflected what had been revealed to him by Allah Almighty in the Holy Qur’an. It is in this divine book of 1400 years ago that men are commanded to ‘restrain their looks and guide their private parts’ in chapter 24, before the same guidance is given to women. Indeed, a leading expert in human behaviour, author and founder of Science of People, Vanessa Van Edwards, has also explained that 100% eye contact or staring at others is, ‘…a territorial signal and shows aggression. People often do it before a fight,’  and that ‘…too much eye contact can be seen as threatening and make people feel uncomfortable.’ She also states, ‘Increased eye contact also indicates that the other person may be curious.’
Elaborating on the Quranic commandment for men to lower their gazes in the company of women other than close family, the Worldwide Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, His Holiness, Mirza Masroor Ahmad (aba),has advised men of the Community:
‘No teaching of Islam is superficial and without wisdom; rather, every principle of Islam is based on absolute wisdom and solid foundation. Thus, the command for men to restrict their gazes teaches self-control because it is through a man’s gaze that his emotions and desires are aroused. To protect the society from impropriety and misconduct, Islam has instructed both men and women to keep their gazes down when facing the opposite sex or to guide their eyes from looking at anything that may lead to lustful thoughts and illicit behaviour.’ 
If anything, this point illustrates that the teachings of Islam are not obsolete and draconian but as relevant today as they were 1400 years ago. The moral and spiritual values Islam teaches provide the ‘tangible benefits’ Paul-Choudhury mentions as the ingredients of an enduring faith. It is such values that are now lacking in society if a harrowing 97% of young women in the UK admit they have been harassed. Anyone who learns something new from the current posters on London’s underground, needs to take a long, hard look at themselves rather than others.
About the Author: Munavara Ghauri BA (Hons) Eng Lit, is married with 3 children and works as a School Librarian. She is currently serving as the Branch Leader for the Bournemouth Women’s Auxiliary Organization of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community and is an Editor for the Women’s Section of The Review of Religions.
 Wisdom of the Holy Prophet, M Z Khan, The London Mosque, 1981, p62
 Ibid, p27
 https://www.scienceofpeople.com/body-language-examples/  https://www.alislam.org/library/books/Hijab-Veil.pdf