It sounds unlikely, but Aftenposten, relying on new statistics, may be on to an important new trend of declining Muslim mosque-going in Europe. Here, as reported by the "Islam in Europe," are some snippets:
The number of church-goers has dropped steadily for decades, but now there also a lot of space in mosques around Europe. Recent data from the extensive European Social Survey (ESS) show that the number of Muslim immigrants who regularly go to the mosque drops significantly after they've lived in their new homeland for some time.
The ESS figures, which are being published for the first time in Europe in Aftenposten, show that 60.5% of Muslims immigrants who have lived less than a year in Europe regularly go to the mosque. But after they've lived more than a year in their new homeland, the figure drops to 48.8%. More than half rarely or never go to the mosque to pray.
"In all European countries we see that Muslim immigrants are integrated and adapt to their new society. Part of that is that they become less religious and that they reject the traditional religious practice which their parents had in their homeland. They become more secular, says the famous Finnish religion-sociologist Heikki Ervasti from the University of Turku.
Ervasti, who analyzed the ESS figures, emphasizes that this development doesn't happen quickly. "This secularization process will take generations, and for the individual the changes aren't as dramatic. Even it it doesn't happen fast, it's a clear trend," says Ervasti, who says that this same development also occurs among immigrants of other faiths.… [He] points out that the secularization process among Muslim immigrants starts soon after they come to Europe, which he thinks is surprising. "Already after a year in the new homeland, they're clearly less religious. They become integrate into the way we live; they get more education and become more individualistic," he explains.
He points out that the immigrants - like all others - look for more personal solutions to deal with everything that happens in life, and that this also applies to religion. In the countries they came from, religion is much more collective and unites people, but in Europe religion becomes very personal and private.
Of course, there is also a trend toward greater religiousity. Ervasti notes that this
"It slows the pace of the secularization process, and it occurs as a reaction to it. Some immigrants, and in particular those who don't integrate, get irritated by the secularization. They're more interested in emphasizing their culture and their religion." After immigrants have bee in Europe for five years, the drop in the number of mosque visits flattens out. Ervasti describes it as an aging effect. "The immigrant who have a longer history in Europe are older on average. when people become older, they also become more religious. It's well documented."
A research report from Utrecht University shows that young Dutch Muslims are far less religious than their parents. They go less often to the mosque and they pray less, which the researchers think is because they grow up in a secular society. At the same time, a large majority in all age groups say they believe, but an increasing number among the youth say they don't believe in any god at all.
Another large study by Statistics Netherlands (CBS) shows that more and more Dutch Muslims drop the mosque. The number of Muslims who go to the mosque at least once a month has dropped by 12% in the past decade - from 47% ten year ago to 35% today. Last year, more than half of Dutch Muslims rarely or never went to the mosque to pray, while just a quarter went regularly. 34% of the men go every week, while just 14% of the women do so.
According to Jan Latten, population statistician for CBS and professor of demographics at the University of Amsterdam, the believers need institutions - like mosques - less than in the past. "Religion is becoming more of a private issue. This is a general trend who is now also affecting the Muslim community," he tells Aftenposten.
Comment: As this final comment suggests, it is not clear how connected piety is to mosque attendance. (May 31, 2010)