Astrology, fortune telling, spirit crystals, reincarnation from a past life. Do any of these beliefs have a place in Islam? Is it permissible to believe in these things?
The clear answer is, “No.” But what if these kinds of beliefs started spreading within the western Muslim community?
That’s exactly what is happening to Christians according to Pew Research. Depending on the denomination, between 20% to 46% of Christians nowadays accept these “New Age” ideas. Of course, Christianity is not exactly known for its ability to resist pagan influence. Nonetheless, these statistics point to a trend that is also impacting Muslims: the erosion of a normative tradition.
“Normative tradition” is related to the notion of orthodoxy. It basically amounts to the idea that halal and haram, iman and kufr, etc., mean something to us. We care what the Quran and Sunna say and recognize that there are objective requirements within Islam. And these objective requirements, i.e., norms of belief and practice, are elucidated by a religious scholarly class, namely, the ulama, who are connected to each other through a long heritage of teaching and learning that goes back to the Prophet ﷺ. In so many words, this is what it means to accept the Islamic tradition.
But tradition is under constant attack by modernity. Modernity is the antithesis of tradition. Modernity says that tradition holds us back and prevents us from progress. Many among the kuffar have accepted this ethos of progress and ditched traditional religion as a result. Sadly, some Muslims have decided to follow suit, and, subsequently, some have fallen out of the fold of Islam.
The acceptance of “New Age” paganism is the tell-tale sign of the dissolution of normative tradition. Without the forceful influence of Abrahamic traditionalism, the average Westerner reaches for paganistic metaphysics to fill the spiritual void. In reality, astrology, fortune telling, spirit crystals, and reincarnation are all anathema to traditional Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. But increasingly, religion is seen as, at best, a cultural identity. Most Christians in the West are not living their lives according to the dictates of Christian traditional normativity. Their beliefs, sense of right and wrong, ultimate sense of purpose, etc., are determined by Western cultural sensibilities. It is the fault of their religious leaders for allowing liberal secularism to run amok in their midst. And now, undeterred, obscene paganism has taken root.
If we don’t want a turn to paganism within the Muslim community, we would be wise not to make their mistake. We can start by not being so complacent about the practice of Christmas, Halloween, Easter, etc., within the community. If you are OK with your kids leaving Islam by the time they reach high school, then by all means, send them to the Christmas and Halloween parties. Live it up. Just don’t act surprised when the inevitable happens.
By the way, women are more likely to buy into this new age paganism according to Pew, as you can see in the table above. I don’t want to propose any conclusions from this, but I do think it is a noteworthy gender disparity.