Al Salamu 'Alaykum.
Found this article on the anti-Muslim bigot, Pamela Geller. Interesting read.
Wa Salamu 'Alaykum.
“Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free… If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.”
John 8 vv 31-32, 36
“..until the law, sin was in the world: but sin is not imputed when there is no law.” Romans 5v13
These passages tell us how we should approach the Bible in its application to our lives. Firstly, we need to realise that the truth makes us truly free. Secondly, that where there is no law, there is no sin. Thirdly, that the Spirit of the Lord brings liberty. The laws of the Old Testament are, as we have seen, useful for our instruction, and they help us to see where sin appears. However, sin makes us less free. The truth and the Spirit liberate us. We have seen there is no law of God to forbid polygamy, and therefore no sin inherent in its practice. We are therefore in an area of freedom given by God. We can practice polygamy if we wish but we do not have to do it, and we do not have to avoid it. Knowing the truth has set us free. Let us then consider the following…“Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”
2 Corinthians 3 v17
Sometimes the freedom given by God is attacked by man. Paul, in his letter to Timothy, prophesies as to methods of how this will be done, and one of these methods is “forbidding to marry”. This contrasts with Paul’s clear statement in 1 Corinthians 7 that each and every man and woman was to be allowed to marry so that sin could be avoided. It is a simple point of fact that men are outnumbered by women. According to the British Government’s official report “Social Trends”, in 1994 there were over 1,500,000 more women than men of a marriageable age in the United Kingdom. It is believed that this pattern is repeated around the world, and in many countries the imbalance is even more severe. It is also believed that within the churches the imbalances are further exaggerated. One anti-polygamist pastor in Malaysia wrote in an email, “There is a preponderance of women in the charismatic churches when compared to men (however this is no excuse for polygamy to be justified). I know of more than one christian lady who found non christian mates and abandoned their church (?faith).” It is true that the imbalance, in and of itself, does not justify polygamy, but it does run contrary to God’s rule that everyone should be allowed to marry, for in a monogamous system there is a massive surplus of women who want to marry but cannot. This is put right in a polygamous system, which allows marriage.” Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.” 1 Timothy 4 vv 1-3
“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5 vv 17-20
It has been called ummul-amradh, or the root of all sicknesses of the heart. Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, warned that a person having even an iota of it in his heart will never enter paradise. This deadliest of all sins is kibr, or arrogance.http://albalagh.net/general/kibr.shtml
No one likes arrogance --- in others. We never like a person who is haughty, too proud, or condescending. We detest a person who belittles us and has a huge ego. Similarly we love people who are humble, polite, and easy to talk to. We love people who give us respect and honor. Thus if we follow the principle of treating others the way we like to be treated, most of these problems might be cured. In reality, the treatment of ummul-amradh requires a deeper look.
For that we need to appreciate the difference between adab or manners, on the one hand and akhlaq or morals on the other. While adab deal with one’s external disposition, akhlaq as defined by Islam deal with our inner thoughts, feeling, and attitudes. In a healthy personality, the manners and morals are in harmony. But it is also possible to have the former without having the latter. The first concerns itself with how a person deals with others. The second is concerned with what a person thinks of himself. Two persons showing humbleness in their dealings with others, may have exactly opposite ideas in their minds. One may do it out of his or her "generosity"; the other may do it because he genuinely thinks that he is not better than the other person. The first person only has a shell of humbleness, which will crumble when tested. It is the second person who is really free of arrogance.
Real greatness belongs only to Allah, our Lord, Creator, and Master. Human beings are just a creation of Allah --- and a very small creation in comparison to the unimaginably vast universe. Anyone who understands this will realize that our proper status is only that of servants of Allah. In fact for a Muslim the real human model is none other than Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, who is the greatest of all human beings. His greatness lies in being the humblest of all servants of Allah! It is impossible for any person who has this consciousness to entertain any notions of his own greatness.
This leads us to the definition of kibr, given in a famous hadith: "Kibr is to knowingly reject Truth and to belittle other people." This hadith exposes two strains of this deadly disease, both dealing with our exaggerated ideas of self-importance. The first suggests that I am more important than the Truth. The second suggests that I am more important than other people.
We know about the Quraish and Jews of Arabia who had come in contact with Prophet Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, and who knew in the heart of their hearts that he indeed was the Messenger of Allah. Their arrogance, though, kept them from accepting it. History has recorded statements from some of them who said we know he is the Promised Prophet but we will keep on opposing him to maintain our leadership.
While that was the most blatant form of arrogance, we can witness the same attitude on a smaller scale in our discussions and arguments. A person realizes that he was wrong, but then his pride keeps him from admitting it. No matter how polite or "humble" that person may appear to be ordinarily, this test shows the presence of arrogance in his heart. It is arrogance that keeps a person from saying "I am sorry."
The second strain involves our feeling of superiority with respect to other people. Islam’s teaching is that one should never consider oneself greater than other people, because that Judgment will come from Allah, and Allah alone, on the Day of Judgment. None of us knows what our end will be, whether we will end up being a winner or loser over there. The person who appears to be nobody here may end up with eternal bliss because of his goodness that only Allah knew. The person who is a big shot here may end up among the sinners who will be punished there, because of his evil that only Allah knew. How foolish, it is then to congratulate ourselves over our fleeting "superiority".
What if a person does have edge over another person in measurable worldly terms? How then can he not consider himself superior than the other person in that respect? The point is sometimes made in half jest: it is difficult to be humble when you are so great. Islam does not ask us to reject reality and imagine we don’t have what we really do. Rather it asks us to take a deeper look at the reality and not be misled by a superficial perception of it. And the simple reality that escapes many is that our health, wealth, talents, and power are not of our own creation. God gave those to us as a test and He can take them back whenever He wills. Those who are conscious of this reality, their blessings will produce gratitude in them; those who are blind to it will develop pride and arrogance.
Some forms of kibr are subtle. If a person is embarrassed to bow to Allah in the presence of non-believers, that is a case of "kibr in the face of Allah," says Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi.
While throughout history humanity had agreed on the evil of arrogance and the virtue of humbleness (despite its failures in practice), this century has seen new dogmas that aim at changing the definitions of good and evil. Humbleness is no longer desirable. Rather, one has to avoid "Inferiority Complex." Alfred Adler (1870-1937) gave us that term. According to him, life is a continuous struggle to move from a position of inferiority to a position of significance. Those who fail to make the progress, develop inferiority complex, which can be treated by increasing self-esteem. Unfortunately today such pseudo-science is accepted as gospel truth.
The truth is that problems arise when we turn away from reality. A humble person is a happy, content, grateful person who thanks God for his blessings and has no notions of his own superiority. False notions of superiority or of one’s entitlements in life, on the other hand, lead to frustrations and complexes.
Newly published statistics showed that the number of men and women belonging to religious orders fell by 10%* to just under a million between 2005 and 2006.
During the pontificate of the late Pope John Paul II, the number of Catholic nuns worldwide declined by a quarter.
The downward trend accelerated despite a steady increase in the membership of the Catholic Church to more than 1.1bn.
However, correspondents say even this failed to keep pace with the overall increase in world population.
Dramatic fallStatistical decline of the Catholic Church since Vatican II...
On the back page of its official newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, the Vatican published on Monday new statistics revealing that between 2005 and 2006 the number "members of the consecrated life" fell by just under 10%. [*Note: The Vatican disputes this 10% figure, even though it came from the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano: "accurate figures showed a decline of just 7,230 over that one-year period."
The number of members, predominantly women, some engaged only in constant prayer, others working as teachers, health workers and missionaries, fell 94,790 to 945,210.
Of the total, 753,400 members were women, while 191,810 were men, including 136,171 priests and 532 permanent deacons.
The figures were published next to a report of Pope Benedict XVI's meeting with nuns, monks and priests from many countries gathered in St Peter's Basilica in Rome last weekend.
The BBC's David Willey in the Italian capital says the accelerating downward trend must have caused concern to the Pope.
The Roman Catholic Church has an aging and diminishing number of parish and diocesan clergy and this latest fall is quite dramatic, our correspondent says.
The number of Catholic nuns worldwide declined by about a quarter during the reign of Pope John Paul, and this further drop shows that new recruits are failing to replace those nuns who die, or decide to abandon their vows, he adds.
"Therefore, I warn you now as your God: You will stop your intricacies within My Church. You will stop experimenting. I gave you the rules to follow many years ago, two thousand years approximately. And why now, two thousand years later, do you deem it necessary to change My Church upon earth? I, your God, say to you, you will be judged accordingly. You will return My Church to its former glory, and in that manner you will have more vocations and more entering the seminaries, and not fleeing from them as they hear the heresies and all other innovations that are going on within My Church. This is My last and final word to My clergy: Change now or suffer a just punishment and banishment.” - Jesus, June 18, 1986********
Priests. After skyrocketing from about 27,000 in 1930 to 58,000 in 1965, the number of priests in the United States dropped to 45,000 in 2002. By 2020, there will be about 31,000 priests--and only 15,000 will be under the age of 70. Right now there are more priests aged 80 to 84 than there are aged 30 to 34.
Ordinations. In 1965 there were 1,575 ordinations to the priesthood, in 2002 there were 450, a decline of 350 percent. Taking into account ordinations, deaths and departures, in 1965 there was a net gain of 725 priests. In 1998, there was a net loss of 810.
Priestless parishes. About 1 percent of parishes, 549, were without a resident priest in 1965. In 2002 there were 2,928 priestless parishes, about 15 percent of U.S. parishes. By 2020, a quarter of all parishes, 4,656, will have no priest.
Seminarians. Between 1965 and 2002, the number of seminarians dropped from 49,000 to 4,700--a 90 percent decrease. Without any students, seminaries across the country have been sold or shuttered. There were 596 seminaries in 1965, and only 200 in 2002.
Sisters. 180,000 sisters were the backbone of the Catholic education and health systems in 1965. In 2002, there were 75,000 sisters, with an average age of 68. By 2020, the number of sisters will drop to 40,000--and of these, only 21,000 will be aged 70 or under. In 1965, 104,000 sisters were teaching, while in 2002 there were only 8,200 teachers.
Brothers. The number of professed brothers decreased from about 12,000 in 1965 to 5,700 in 2002, with a further drop to 3,100 projected for 2020.
Religious Orders. The religious orders will soon be virtually non-existent in the United States. For example, in 1965 there were 5,277 Jesuit priests and 3,559 seminarians; in 2000 there were 3,172 priests and 38 seminarians. There were 2,534 OFM Franciscan priests and 2,251 seminarians in 1965; in 2000 there were 1,492 priests and 60 seminarians. There were 2,434 Christian Brothers in 1965 and 912 seminarians; in 2000 there were 959 Brothers and 7 seminarians. There were 1,148 Redemptorist priests in 1965 and 1,128 seminarians; in 2000 there were 349 priests and 24 seminarians. Every major religious order in the United States mirrors these statistics.
High Schools. Between 1965 and 2002 the number of diocesan high schools fell from 1,566 to 786. At the same time the number of students dropped from almost 700,000 to 386,000.
Parochial Grade Schools. There were 10,503 parochial grade schools in 1965 and 6,623 in 2002. The number of students went from 4.5 million to 1.9 million.
Sacramental Life. In 1965 there were 1.3 million infant baptisms; in 2002 there were 1 million. (In the same period the number of Catholics in the United States rose from 45 million to 65 million.) In 1965 there were 126,000 adult baptisms-----converts-----in 2002 there were 80,000. In 1965 there were 352,000 Catholic marriages, in 2002 there were 256,000. In 1965 there were 338 annulments, in 2002 there were 50,000.
Mass attendance. A 1958 Gallup poll reported that 74 percent of Catholics went to Sunday Mass in 1958. A 1994 University of Notre Dame study found that the attendance rate was 26.6 percent. A more recent study by Fordham University professor James Lothian concluded that 65 percent of Catholics went to Sunday Mass in 1965, while the rate dropped to 25 percent in 2000.