Growth of religion

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[1] Growth of religion is the spread of religions and the increase of religious adherents around the world. Statistics commonly measures the absolute number of adherents, the percentage of the absolute growth per year, and the growth of the number of converts in the world. Projections of future religious adherence depend on assumptions that trends, total fertility-rates, life expectancy, political climates, conversion rates, secularization, etc will continue. Such forecasts cannot be validated empirically and remain contentious, but are useful for comparisons.

Christianity remains the world's largest religion and also [2]remains the one with the highest conversion rate[3] Actual growth is defined by reaching people and converting them,[4] and an increase in [5]church attendance, not birthrate or immigration. Measured in that way, Christianity is the fastest growing religion in the world, without a close second. [6]

Christianity Today reports the church has increased its numbers from 9 million in 1900 to 541 million today, with a 51% increase in the last few years: [7] [8]

The Church has seen dramatic and explosive growth in Asia, Africa and South America. The growth of the African Church in particular is jaw-dropping. In 1900 there were fewer than 9 million Christians in Africa. Now there are more than 541 million. In the last 15 years alone, the Church in Africa has seen a 51 per cent increase, which works out on average at around 33,000 people either becoming Christians or being born into Christian families each day in Africa alone.

The growth of Christianity in[9] Islamic countries is all the more remarkable considering that it is a crime, sometimes punishable by death, to leave Islam. Christians in[10] Iran, for example, suffer terrible [11]persecution. Yet Muslims are still [12]converting to [13]Christ rapidly. See 2016 Open Doors Watch List of the fifty nations that persecute Christians the most severely. Most of them are Islamic.[4][14] [15]

By 2050, the Christian population is expected to exceed 3 billion.[56] Christians have 2.7 children per woman, which is above replacement level (2.1).[57] According to Pew Research Center study, by 2050 the number of Christians in absolute number is expected to grow to more than double in the next few decades,[58] from 517 million to 1.1 billion in Sub Saharan Africa,[58] from 531 million to 665 million in Latin America and Caribbean,[58] from 287 million to 381 million in Asia,[58] and from 266 million to 287 million in North America.[58]

By 2050, Christianity is expected to remain the majority of population and the largest religious group in Latin America and Caribbean (89%),[59] North America (66%),[60] Europe (65.2%)[61] and Sub Saharan Africa (59%).[56][16]

According to Mark Jürgensmeyer of the University of California, popular Protestantism is one of the most dynamic religious movements in the contemporary world.[62] Changes in worldwide Protestantism over the last century have been significant.[63][64][65][66] Since 1900, due primarily to conversion, Protestantism has spread rapidly in Africa, Asia, Oceania and Latin America.[67] That caused Protestantism to be called a primarily non-Western religion.[64][66] Much of the growth has occurred after World War II, when decolonization of Africa and abolition of various restrictions against Protestants in Latin American countries occurred.[65] According to one source, Protestants constituted respectively 2.5%, 2%, 0.5% of Latin Americans, Africans and Asians.[65] In 2000, percentage of Protestants on mentioned continents was 17%, more than 27% and 5.5%, respectively.[65]

The significant growth of Christianity in non-Western countries led to regional distribution changes of Christians.[56] In 1900, Europe and the Americas were home to the vast majority of the world's Christians (93%). Besides, Christianity has grown enormously in Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and Pacific.[56] In 2010, 26% of the world's Christians lived in Europe, followed by 24.4% in Latin America and the Caribbean, 23.8% in Sub-Saharan Africa, 13.2% in Asia and the Pacific, 12.3% in North America, and 1% in the Middle East and North Africa.[68] The study also suggested that by 2050, the global Christian population will change considerably. By 2050, 38% of the world's Christians will live in the Sub-Saharan Africa, followed by 23% in Latin America and the Caribbean, 16% in Europe, 13% in Asia and the Pacific and 10% of the world's Christians will live in North America .[69]

Some religions proselytise vigourously (Christianity and Islam, for example), others (such as[17] Judaism)[18] do not proselytise. Christianity's reason for proselytising is based on the belief that humankind are born sinners[19] and need a Saviour, of whom they see in [20]Jesus. Islamic purposes for proselytising is based in the belief that the Message of Jesus has now been [21]fulfilled in [22]Mohammed, and it is now only through Islam one will inherit 'everlasting life'. Interestingly, is Judaism's[23] stance is the exact opposite- and doesn't believe in 'man's dire need for [24]salvation[25] from sin'. Judaism holds that God desires human an [26]intellectual [27]quest, and all people have a purpose and need to seek knowledge. The spiritual[28] 'mysteries' of Judaism remain for Jews in the [29]Covenant between [30]Jews and God, through Moses in what is The [31]Torah. Conversions do occur, but conversion into Judaism requires a lengthy process, and that process (which can take several years) cannot begin until the one seeking conversion is admitted into the process. Judaism doesn't seek conversions because, unlike Christianity and Islam, it isn't a religion based on a need for a saviour. Judaism is an intellectual quest, and 'high learned' spiritual journey without any belief in being born a sinner. Some faiths grow exponentially at first, only for their zeal to wane (note the case of Zoroastrianism). The growth of a religion can clash with factors such as persecution, entrenched rival religions (such as established religions), religious market saturation,[32] and organised atheism.

Growth of religious groups[edit]

Bahá'í Faith[edit]

World religions statistics place the Bahá'í Faith around 0.1% of the world population in recent years.[33][34] The World Christian Encyclopedia estimated only 7.1 million Bahá'ís in the world in 2000, representing 218 countries,[34] and its evolution to the World Christian Database (WCD) estimated 7.3 million in 2010[35] while accredited through the Association of Religion Data Archives (ARDA). However the WCD stated: "The Baha'i Faith is the only religion to have grown faster in every United Nations region over the past 100 years than the general population; Baha'i [sic] was thus the fastest-growing religion between 1910 and 2010, growing at least twice as fast as the population of almost every UN region."[36] This source's only documented flaw was to consistently have a higher estimate of Christians than in other cross-national data sets.[37] 2015's estimate is of 7.8 million Bahá'ís in the world.[38]

From its origins in the Persian and Ottoman empires of the 19th century the Bahá'í Faith was able to gain converts elsewhere in Asia, Europe, and North America by the early 20th century. John Esslemont performed the first review of the worldwide progress of the religion in 1919.[39] 'Abdu'l-Bahá, son of the founder of the religion, then set goals for the community through his Tablets of the Divine Plan shortly before his death. Shoghi Effendi then initiated systematic pioneering efforts that brought the religion to almost every country and territory of the world and converts from more than 2000 tribes and peoples. There were serious setbacks in the Soviet Union[40][41] where Bahá'í communities in 38 cities across Soviet territories ceased to exist. However plans continued building to 1953 when the Bahá'ís initiated a Ten Year Crusade after plans had focused on Latin America and Europe after WWII. That last stage was largely towards parts of Africa.[42][43][44] Wide-scale growth in the religion across Sub-Saharan Africa particularly was observed to begin in the 1950s and extend in the 1960s.[45] There was diplomatic pressure from northern Arab countries against this development that was eventually overcome.[46] Starting in the 1980s with Perestroyka the Bahá'ís began to re-organize across the Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc. While sometimes failing to meet official minimums for recognitions as a religion, communities of Bahá'ís do exist from Poland to Mongolia. The worldwide progress was such that the Encyclopædia Britannica (2002) identified the religion as the second-most geographically widespread religion after Christianity.[47] It has established Bahá'í Houses of Worship by continental region and been the object of interest and support of diverse non-Bahá'í notable people from Leo Tolstoy[48] to Khalil Gibran[49] to Mohandas K. Gandhi[50] to Desmond Tutu.[51] See List of Bahá'ís for a list of notable Bahá'ís.

ARDA/WCD statistics place the Bahá'í Faith as currently the largest religious minority in Iran[52] (despite significant persecution and the overall Iranian diaspora), Panama,[53] and Belize;[54] the second largest international religion in Bolivia,[55] Zambia,[56] and Papua New Guinea;[57] and the third largest international religion in Chad[58] and Kenya.[59] In 2014 the religion was officially recognized in Indonesia[60] and in addition to various countries it is the second largest religion in state of South Carolina – a fact that, despite its small size, got some attention in 2014.[61][62] Based on data from 2010, Bahá'ís were the largest minority religion in 80 counties out of the 3143 counties in the United States.[63] The countries with the fastest annual growth from 2000 to 2015 per annum, where a country has over 100,000 people, were, (starting with the fastest): Qatar, UAE, Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait, Kazakhstan, Western Sahara, South Sudan, and Niger, ranging from 3.90% growth per year up to 9.56%.[38]

A Bahá'í published survey reported 4.74 million Bahá'ís in 1987.[64] Bahá'í sources since 1991 usually estimate the worldwide Bahá'í population at "above 5 million".[65][66]

Buddhism[edit]

Phap Hoa Temple, a Buddhist temple in Adelaide, Australia. Buddhism is the fastest-growing religion by percentage in Australia.[67]

Buddhism is based on the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha, who lived and taught in northeastern India in the 5th century BC. The majority of Buddhists live in Asia; Europe and North America also have populations exceeding 1 million.[68] According to scholars of religious demographics, there are between 488 million,[69] 495 million,[70] and 535 million[71] Buddhists in the world.

According to Johnson and Grim, Buddhism has grown from a total of 138 million adherents in 1910, of which 137 million were in Asia, to 495 million in 2010, of which 487 million are in Asia.[70] According to them, there was a fast annual growth of Buddhism in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and several Western European countries (1910–2010). More recently (2000–2010), the countries with highest growth rates are Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and some African countries.[72] The Australian Bureau of Statistics, through statistical analysis, held Buddhism to be the fastest-growing spiritual tradition in Australia in terms of percentage gain, with a growth of 79.1% for the period 1996 to 2001 (200,000→358,000).[67]

And according to a 2012 Pew Research Center survey, over the next four decades the number of Buddhists around the world is expected to decrease from 487 million in 2010 to 486 million in 2050.[73] The decline is due to several factors such as the low fertility level among Buddhists (1.6 children per woman),[74] and the old age (median age of 34), compare to the overall population.[75]

Chinese traditional religion[edit]

Public worship ceremony at the Temple of Shennong-Yandi, in Suizhou, Hubei.

According to a survey of religion in China in the year 2010, the number of people practicing some form of Chinese folk religion is near to 950 million (70% of the Chinese),[76] of which 173 million (13%) practice some form of Taoist-defined folk faith.[76] Further in detail, 12 million people have passed some formal initiation into Taoism, or adhere to the official Chinese Taoist Association.[76] Comparing this with other surveys, evidence suggests that nowadays three-fifths to four-fifths of the Chinese believe in folk religion.[77] This shows a significant growth from the 300–400 million people practicing Chinese traditional religion that were estimated in the 1990s and early 2000s.[78][79]

This growth reverses the rapid decline that Chinese traditional religion faced in the 20th century.[80] Moreover, Chinese religion has also spread throughout the world following the emigration of Chinese populations, with 672,000 adherents in Canada as of 2010.[80]

According to scholars, the rebirth of Chinese traditional religion in China is faster and larger than the spread of other religions in the country, such as Buddhism and Christianity:[81]

Since the 1980s, with the gradual opening of society, folk religion has begun to recover. Especially in the rural areas, the speed and scale of its development are much faster and larger than is the case with Buddhism and Christianity [...] in Zhejiang province, where Christianity is better established than elsewhere, temples of folk religion are usually twenty or even a hundred times as numerous as Christian church buildings.

The number of adherents of the Chinese traditional religion is difficult to count, because:[82]

Chinese rarely use the term "religion" for their popular religious practices, and they also do not utilize vocabulary that they "believe in" gods or truths. Instead they engage in religious acts that assume a vast array of gods and spirits and that also assume the efficacy of these beings in intervening in this world.[83]

The Chinese folk religion is a "diffused religion" rather than "institutional".[82] It is a meaning system of social solidarity and identity, ranging from the kinship systems to the community, the state, and the economy, that serves to integrate Chinese culture.[82]

Christianity[edit]

A church, in China: The number of Chinese Christians has increased significantly; from 4 million before 1949 to 67 million in 2010.[84][85]

According to a 2011 Pew Research Center survey, there are 2.2 billion Christians around the world in 2010,[84] up from about 600 million in 1910.[84] And according to a 2012 Pew Research Center survey, within the next four decades, Christians will remain the world's largest religion; if current trends continue, by 2050 the number of Christians will reach 2.9 billion (or 31.4%).[86]

By 2050, the Christian population is expected to exceed 3 billion.[87] Christians have 2.7 children per woman, which is above replacement level (2.1).[88] According to Pew Research Center study, by 2050 the number of Christians in absolute number is expected to grow to more than double in the next few decades,[89] from 517 million to 1.1 billion in Sub Saharan Africa,[89] from 531 million to 665 million in Latin America and Caribbean,[89] from 287 million to 381 million in Asia,[89] and from 266 million to 287 million in North America.[89]

By 2050, Christianity is expected to remain the majority of population and the largest religious group in Latin America and Caribbean (89%),[90] North America (66%),[91] Europe (65.2%)[92] and Sub Saharan Africa (59%).[87]

According to Mark Jürgensmeyer of the University of California, popular Protestantism is one of the most dynamic religious movements in the contemporary world.[93] Changes in worldwide Protestantism over the last century have been significant.[94][95][96][97] Since 1900, due primarily to conversion, Protestantism has spread rapidly in Africa, Asia, Oceania and Latin America.[98] That caused Protestantism to be called a primarily non-Western religion.[95][97] Much of the growth has occurred after World War II, when decolonization of Africa and abolition of various restrictions against Protestants in Latin American countries occurred.[96] According to one source, Protestants constituted respectively 2.5%, 2%, 0.5% of Latin Americans, Africans and Asians.[96] In 2000, percentage of Protestants on mentioned continents was 17%, more than 27% and 5.5%, respectively.[96]

The significant growth of Christianity in non-Western countries led to regional distribution changes of Christians.[87] In 1900, Europe and the Americas were home to the vast majority of the world's Christians (93%). Besides, Christianity has grown enormously in Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and Pacific.[87] In 2010, 26% of the world's Christians lived in Europe, followed by 24.4% in Latin America and the Caribbean, 23.8% in Sub-Saharan Africa, 13.2% in Asia and the Pacific, 12.3% in North America, and 1% in the Middle East and North Africa.[99] The study also suggested that by 2050, the global Christian population will change considerably. By 2050, 38% of the world's Christians will live in the Sub-Saharan Africa, followed by 23% in Latin America and the Caribbean, 16% in Europe, 13% in Asia and the Pacific and 10% of the world's Christians will live in North America .[100]

Christianity adds about 65.1 million people annually due to factors such as birth rate, religious conversion and migration, while losing 27.4 million people annually due to factors such as death rate, religious apostasy and immigration. Most of the net growth in the numbers of Christians is in Africa, Latin America and Asia.[101] According to Harvard University professor Robert D. Putnam, an increasing number of Americans are leaving their faith and becoming unaffiliated.[102] By 2050, Christianity is expected to remain the majority in the United states (66.4%, down from 78.3% in 2010), and the number of Christians in absolute number is expected to grow from 243 million to 262 million.[103]

Christianity is still the largest religion in Western Europe, according to a 2018 study by the Pew Research Center, 71.0% of the Western European population identified themselves as Christians.[104] According to the same study, a large majority of those who raised as Christians (83%) in Western Europe, still identified themselves as Christians today.[104] On the other hand, Central and Eastern European countries did not experience a decline in the percentage of Christians, as the proportion of Christians in these countries have mostly been stable or even increasing.[105]

A church in South Korea: Christianity has grown in South Korea, from 2.0% in 1945[106] to 29.3% in 2010.[84]

According to a 2005 paper submitted to a meeting of the American Political Science Association, most of Christianity's growth has occurred in non-Western countries. The paper concludes that the Pentecostalism movement is the fastest-growing religion worldwide.[107] Protestantism is growing as a result of historic missionary activity and indigenous Christian movements by Africans in Africa,[108][109] and due primarily to conversion in Asia,[106][109][110][111][112] Latin America,[109][113][114] Muslim world,[115] and Oceania.[97] According to Pew Research Center, Christianity is declining in the United states while non-Christian faiths are growing.[116][117][118][119]

The US Department of State estimated in 2005 that Protestants in Vietnam may have grown by 600% over the previous 10 years.[120] In South Korea, Christianity has grown from 2.0% in 1945[106] to 20.7% in 1985 and to 29.3% in 2010,[84] And the Catholic Church has increased its membership by 70% in the last ten years.[121] In Singapore, the percentage of Christians among Singaporeans increased from 12.7%, in 1990, to 17.5%, in 2010.[122] In recent years, the number of Chinese Christians has increased significantly; Christians were 4 million before 1949 (3 million Catholics and 1 million Protestants), and are reaching 67 million today,[84][85] Christianity is reportedly the fastest growing religion in China with average annual rate of 7%.[123] Some reports also show that many of the Chinese Indonesians minority convert to Christianity,[124][125] Demographer Aris Ananta reported in 2008 that "anecdotal evidence suggests that more Buddhist Chinese have become Christians as they increased their standards of education".[126] According to a poll conducted by the Gallup Organization in 2006, Christianity has increased significantly in Japan, particularly among youth, and a high number of teens are becoming Christians.[127] In Iran, Christianity is reportedly the fastest growing religion with an average annual rate of 5.2%.[128]

In 1900, there were only 8.7 million[84] adherents of Christianity in Africa, while in 2010 there were 390 million.[84] It is expected that by 2025 there will be 600 million Christians in Africa.[84] In Nigeria, the percentage of Christians has grown from 21.4%, in 1953, to 50.8%, in 2010.[84] In South Africa, Pentecostalism has grown from 0.2%, in 1951, to 7.6%, in 2001.[129]

An event at Evangelical church: Protestantism is among the most dynamic religious movements in the contemporary world.[93]

Catholic Church membership in 2013 was 1.254 billion, which is 17.7% of the world population, an increase from 437 million, in 1950[130] and 654 million, in 1970.[131] The main growth areas have been Asia and Africa, 39% and 32%, respectively, since 2000.

Since 2010, the rate of increase was of 0.3% in the Americas and Europe.[132] On the other hand, Eric Kaufman, of University of London, argued that the main reason for expansion of Catholicism and conservative Protestantism along with other religions is because their religions tend to be "pro-natal" and they have more children, and not due to religious conversion.[133]

Protestantism is one of the most dynamic religious movements in the contemporary world.[93] From 1960 to 2000, the global growth of the number of reported Evangelicals grew three times the world's population rate, and twice that of Islam.[134] Evangelical Christian denominations also are among the fastest-growing denominations in some Catholic Christian countries, such as Brazil and France (France jumping from 2% to 3% of the population).[135][136][137] In Brazil, the total number of Protestants jumped from 16.2% in 2000[138] to 22.2% in 2010 (for the first time, the percentage of Catholics in Brazil is less than 70%). These cases don't contribute to a growth of Christianity overall, but rather to a substitution of a brand of Christianity with another one.

According to the records of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, its membership has grown every decade since its beginning in the 1830s,[139] that it is among the top ten largest Christian denominations in the U.S.,[140] and that it was the fastest growing church in the U.S. in 2012.[141]

Studies and reports[142] estimate significantly more people have converted from Islam to Christianity in the 21st century than at any other point in Islamic history.[143] According to 2015 Believers in Christ from a Muslim Background: A Global Census study estimates 10.2 million Muslim convert to Christianity around the world.[115] Conversion into Christianity have also been well documented, and reports estimate that hundreds of thousands of Muslims convert to Christianity annually. Significant number of Muslims converted to Christianity can be found in Afghanistan,[144] Albania,[145] Azerbaijan,[146][147] Algeria,[148] Belgium,[149] Bulgaria,[150][151] France,[152] Germany,[153] Indonesia,[154] Iran,[155][156][157][158] Kazakhstan,[159] Kyrgyzstan,[160] Malaysia,[161] Morocco,[162][163] Netherlands,[164] Russia,[165] Saudi Arabia,[166] Tunisia,[167] Turkey,[168][169][170][171] Kosovo,[172] The United States[173] and Central Asia .[174][175] Many of the Muslims who converts to Christianity face social rejection or imprisonment and sometimes even murder or other punishments for becoming Christians in countries with Muslim majority.[176]

The 19th century saw at least 250,000 Jews convert to Christianity according to existing records of various societies.[177] Data from the Pew Research Center has it that, as of 2013, about 1.6 million adult American Jews identify themselves as Christians, most as Protestants.[178][179][180] According to the same data, most of the Jews who identify themselves as some sort of Christian (1.6 million) were raised as Jews or are Jews by ancestry.[179] According to a 2012 study, 17% of Jews in Russia identify themselves as Christians.[181][182]

While according to Pew Research Center survey it is expected that from 2010 to 2050 significant number of Christians will leave their faith.[183] Most of the switching are expected into the unaffiliated and Irreligion.[184][185] On the other hand, conversion into Christianity have also been well documented.[186][187] Large increases in the developing world (around 23,000 per day) have been accompanied by substantial declines in the developed world, mainly in Europe and North America.[188] According to the World Christian Encyclopedia, approximately 2.7 million converting to Christianity annually from another religion, World Christian Encyclopedia also cited that Christianity rank at first place in net gains through religious conversion.[189] On the other hand, demographer Conrad Hackett of Pew Research Center stated that the World Christian Encyclopedia gives a higher estimate for percent Christian when compared to other cross-national data sets.[190] While according to "The Oxford Handbook of Religious Conversion", approximately 15.5 million converting to Christianity annually from another religion, while approximately 11.7 million leave Christianity annually, and most of them become irreligious, resulting in a net gain of 3.8 million.[101]

It's been reported also that increasing numbers of young people are becoming Christians in several countries.[127][191] It's been also reported that conversion into Christianity is significantly increasing among Korean,[192] Chinese,[193] and Japanese in the United States.[194] By 2012 percentage of Christians on mentioned communities was 71%, more than 30% and 37%,[195] respectively. In 2010 there were approximately 180,000 Arab Americans and about 130,000 Iranian Americans who converted from Islam to Christianity (however most Arab Americans are Arab Christians who trace their heritage back to the early Christian communities). Studies estimated approximately that 20,000 Muslims convert to Christianity annually in the United States.[196] According to the World Christian Encyclopedia, between 1965 and 1985 about 2.5 million Indonesian converted from Islam to Christianity.[142] Many people who convert to Christianity face persecution.[197]

Deism[edit]

The 2001 American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS) survey estimated that between 1990 and 2001 the number of self-identifying deists grew from 6,000 to 49,000, representing about 0.02% of the US population at the time.[198]

Hinduism[edit]

The Swaminarayanan Akshardham Temple Complex in New Jersey, United States will be one of the largest temple complexes outside India.[199]

Hinduism is the third largest religion in the world.[200] Unlike most major religions, Hinduism does not have a core dogma or doctrine and is more like an "open source" code which adapts to regional variations in perspective of god.[201] Hinduism is a growing religion in countries such as Ghana,[202] Russia,[203] and the United States.[204][205]

According to 2011 census, Hinduism has become fastest-growing religion in Australia since 2006[206] due to migration from India and Fiji.[207]

79.80% of India's population is Hindu, accounting for about 90% of Hindus worldwide. Hinduism's 10-year growth rate is estimated at 20% (based on the period 1991 to 2001), corresponding to a yearly growth close to 2%.[208][209]

Islam[edit]

Modern growth[edit]

In 1990, 1.1 billion people were Muslims, while in 2010, 1.6 billion people were Muslims.[210][211] According to the BBC, a comprehensive American study concluded in 2009 the number stood at approximately 23% of the world population with 60% of Muslims living in Asia.[212] From 1990 to 2010, the global Muslim population increased at an average annual rate of 2.2%. By 2030 Muslims are projected to represent about 26.4% of the global population (out of a total of 7.9 billion people).[213] "Although the religion began in Arabia, by 2002 80% of all believers in Islam lived outside the Arab world". On the other hand, in 2010, Pew Forum finds "that statistical data for Muslim conversions are scarce and as per their available information, there is no substantial net gain or loss of Muslims due to religious conversion. It stated that "the number of people who embrace Islam and those who leave Islam are roughly equal. Thus, this report excludes the religious conversion as a direct factor from the projection of Muslim population growth."[214] The growth of Islam from 2010 to 2020 has been estimated at 1.70%[213] due to high birthrates in Asia, the Middle East, and Europe. The report also shows that the fall in birth rate of the Muslims slowed down the growth rate during 1990 to 2010. It is due to the fall of fertility rate in many Muslim majority countries. Despite the decline Muslims still have the highest birth rate among the world's major religious groups.[215][216] According to the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the World Christian Database as of 2007 has Islam as the fastest-growing religion in the world.[217] A 2007 Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) report argued that some Muslim population projections are overestimated, as they assume that all descendants of Muslims will become Muslims even in cases of mixed parenthood.[218]

The mosque of Dumai, in Riau. Indonesia has the largest number of Muslims in the world.

Resurgent Islam is one of the most dynamic religious movements in the contemporary world.[93] The Vatican's 2008 yearbook of statistics revealed that for the first time, Islam has outnumbered the Roman Catholics globally. It stated that, "Islam has overtaken Roman Catholicism as the biggest single religious denomination in the world",[219][220] and stated that, "It is true that while Muslim families, as is well known, continue to make a lot of children, Christian ones on the contrary tend to have fewer and fewer".[221] According to the Foreign Policy, High birth rates were cited as the reason for the Muslim population growth.[222] With 3.1 children per woman, Muslims have higher fertility levels than the world's overall population between 2010 and 2015. High fertility is a major driver of projected Muslim population growth around the world and in particular regions.[223] Between 2010 and 2015, with exception of the Middle East and North Africa, Muslim fertility of any other region in the world was higher than the rate for the region as a whole.[223] While Muslim birth rates are expected to experience a decline, it will remain above replacement level and higher fertility than the world's overall by 2050.[224] As per U.N.'s global population forecasts, as well as the Pew Research projections, over time fertility rates generally converge toward the replacement level.[224] Globally, Muslims were younger (median age of 23) than the overall population (median age of 28) as of 2010.[225] While decline of Muslim birth rates in coming years have also been well documented.[226][227][228] According to David Ignatius, there is major decline in Muslim fertility rates as pointed out by Nicholas Eberstadt. Based on the data from 49 Muslim-majority countries and territories, he found that Muslims birth rate has significantly dropped for 41% between 1975 and 1980 to 2005–10 while the global population decline was 33% during that period. It also stated that over a 50% decline was found in 22 Muslim countries and over a 60% decline in Iran, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, Algeria, Bangladesh, Tunisia, Libya, Albania, Qatar and Kuwait.[229]

Map of the world by population of Muslims. Although the faith began in Arabia, its three largest communities are found in Indonesia, Pakistan and India.

According to the religious forecast for 2050 by Pew Research Center, between 2010 and 2050 modest net gains through religious conversion are expected for Muslims (3 million)[230] and most of the net gains through religious conversion for Muslims found in the Sub Saharan Africa (2.9 million).[231] The study also reveals that, due to young age & relatively high fertility rate among Muslims by 2050 there will be near parity between Muslims (2.8 billion, or 30% of the population) and Christians (2.9 billion, or 31%), possibly for the first time in history.[232] According to Pew Research Center the projected Muslims population will equal the Christian population by 2070. While both religions will grow but Muslim population will exceed the Christian population and by 2100, Muslim population (35%) will be 1% more than the Christian population (34%).[233] By the end of 2100 Muslims are expected to outnumber Christians.[234][235][236] According to the same study, Muslims population growth is twice of world's overall population growth due to young age and relatively high fertility rate and as a result Muslims are projected to rise to 30% (2050) of the world's population from 23% (2010).[237]

While the total Fertility Rate of Muslims in North America is 2.7 children per woman in the 2010 to 2015 period, well above the regional average (2.0) and the replacement level (2.1).[238] Europe's Muslim population also has higher fertility (2.1) than other religious groups in the region, well above the regional average (1.6).[223] A new study of Population Reference Bureau by demographers Charles Westoff and Tomas Frejka suggests that the fertility gap between Muslims and non-Muslims is shrinking and although the Muslim immigrants do have more children than other Europeans but their fertility tends to decline over time, often faster than among non-Muslims.[239]

Generally, there are few reports about how many people leave Islam in Muslim majority countries. The main reason for this is the social and legal repercussions associated with leaving Islam in many Muslim majority countries, up to and including the death penalty for apostasy. However, the report also suggest that in future, it is also possible that these societies could allow for greater freedom to religiously disaffiliate.[240] On the other hand the increasingly large ex-Muslim communities in the Western world that adhere to no religion have been well documented.[241] A 2007 Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) report argued that some Muslim population projections are overestimated, as they assume that all descendants of Muslims will become Muslims even in cases of mixed parenthood.[218] Equally, Darren E. Sherkat questioned in Foreign Affairs whether some of the Muslim growth projections are accurate as they do not take into account the increasing number of non-religious Muslims. Quantitative research is lacking, but he believes the European trend mirrors the American: data from the General Social Survey in the United States show that 32 percent of those raised Muslim no longer embrace Islam in adulthood, and 18 percent hold no religious identification.[242] Studies show that about half of the 4.2 million persons from Muslim background in Germany are no longer embrace Islam in adulthood.[243] Many Muslims who leave Islam face social rejection or imprisonment and sometimes murder or other penalties.[242] According to Harvard University professor Robert D. Putnam, there is increasing numbers of Americans who are leaving their faith and becoming unaffiliated and the average Iranian is slightly less religious than the average American.[102] According to Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans, the number of Iranian Americans Muslims decreased from 42% in 2008 to 31% in 2012.[187] On the other hand, conversion into Islam have also been well documented.[244] It is reported that around 5,000 British people convert to Islam every year (most of them are women).[245] According to a report by CNN, "Islam has drawn converts from all walks of life, most notably African-Americans".[246] Studies estimated approximately 30,000 converting to Islam annually in the United States.[247][248]

By 2010 an estimated 44 million Muslims were living in Europe (6%), up from 4.1% in 1990. By 2030, Muslims are expected to make up 8% of Europe's population including an estimated 19 million in the EU (3.8%),[249] including 13 million foreign-born Muslim immigrants.[250] Islam is widely considered as the fastest growing religion in Europe due primarily to immigration and above average birth rates.[249][251][252] Between 2010 and 2015 the Muslim fertility rate in Europe was (2.1). On the other hand, the fertility rate in Europe as a whole was (1.6).[252] Pew study also reveals that Muslims are younger than other Europeans. In 2010, the median age of Muslims throughout Europe was (32), eight years younger than the median for all Europeans (40).[250] According to a religious forecast for 2050 by Pew Research Center conversion does not add significantly to the growth of the Muslim population in Europe,[253] according to the same study the net loss is (−60,000) due to religious switching.[254]

The Pew Research Center notes that "the data that we have isn't pointing in the direction of 'Eurabia' at all",[255] and predicts that the percentage of Muslims is estimated to rise to 8% in 2030, due to immigration and above average birth rates. And only two western European countries – France and Belgium – will become around 10 percent Muslim, by 2030. According to Justin Vaïsse the fertility rate of Muslim immigrants declines with integration.[256] He further points out that Muslims are not a monolithic or cohesive group,[257] Most academics who have analysed the demographics dismiss the predictions that the EU will have Muslim majorities.[258] It is completely reasonable to assume that the overall Muslim population in Europe will increase, and Muslim citizens have and will have a significant impact on European life.[259] The prospect of a homogenous Muslim community per se, or a Muslim majority in Europe is however out of the question.[260] Eric Kaufman of University of London denied the claims of Eurabia. According to him, Muslims will be a significant minority rather than majority in Europe and as per their projections for 2050 in the Western Europe, there will be 10–15 per cent Muslim population in high immigration countries such as Germany, France and the UK.[261] Eric Kaufman also argue that the main reason why Islam is expanding along with other religions, is not because of conversion to Islam, but primarily to the nature of the religion, as he calls it "pro-natal", where Muslims tend to have more children.[133] However, Doug Saunders states that by 2030 Muslims and Non-Muslims birth rates will be equal in Germany, Greece, Spain and Denmark without taking account of the Muslims immigration to these countries. He also states that Muslims & Non-Muslims fertility rate difference will decrease from 0.7 to 0.4 and this different will continue to shrink as a result of which Muslims and non-Muslims fertility rate will be identical by 2050.[262]

It is often reported from various sources, including the German domestic intelligence service (Bundesnachrichtendienst), that Salafism is the fastest-growing Islamic movement in the world.[263][264][265][266] According to the World Christian Encyclopedia, the fastest-growing denomination in Islam is Ahmadiyya Muslim Community with a growth rate of 3.25%, however, most of the Muslim population and scholars do not regard Ahmadis to be Muslims.[267][268][269] Most other sects have a growth rate of less than 3%.[270]

In 2010 Asia was home for (62%) of the world's Muslims, and about (20%) of the world's Muslims lived in the Middle East and North Africa, (16%) in Sub Saharan Africa, and 2% in Europe.[271] By 2050 Asia will home for (52.8%) of the world's Muslims, and about (24.3%) of the world's Muslims will live in Sub Saharan Africa, (20%) the Middle East and North Africa, and 2% in Europe. As per the Pew Research study, Muslim populations will grow in absolute number in all regions of the world between 2010 and 2050. The Muslim population in the Asia-Pacific region is expected to reach nearly 1.5 billion by 2050, up from roughly 1 billion in 2010. The growth of Muslims is also expected in the Middle East-North Africa region, It is projected to increase from about 300 million in 2010 to more than 550 million in 2050. Besides, the Muslim population in sub-Saharan Africa is forecast to grow from about 250 million in 2010 to nearly 670 million in 2050 which is more than double. The absolute number of Muslims is also expected to increase in regions with smaller Muslim populations such as Europe and North America.[272] Due to young age & relatively high fertility rate,[237] Muslim population will rise nearly 30% in 2050. In Europe Muslim population will be nearly double (from 16% to 30%). In North America, it will grow 10% to 20%. In Asia Pasific region, Muslims will surpass the Hindus by the time. In 2010 Indonesia, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nigeria was home for (48%) of the world's Muslims. By 2050 Pakistan is projected to have the world's largest Muslim population followed by India, Indonesia, Nigeria and Bangladesh, and expected to be home for (45%) of the world's Muslims.[273]

Historical growth[edit]

There exist different views among scholars about the spread of Islam. Islam began in Arabia and from 633 AD until the late 10th century it was spread through conquests, far-reaching trade and missionary activity.[274][275]

Islamic presence grew rapidly under the Caliphate in the first hundred years of its conquests.
  Expansion under Muhammad, 622–632
  Expansion during the Rashidun Caliphs, 632–661
  Expansion during the Umayyad Caliphate, 661–750

According to Rodney Stark, Islam was spread after military conquests after Arab armies began overtaking Christian regions from Syria to North Africa and Spain,[276] as well as Zoroastrian, Buddhist and Hindu regions in Central Asia, parts of South Asia and Southeast Asia via military invasions,[277][278][279] traders and Sufi missionaries.[274][280][281][282] According to some scholars, the Jizya (poll tax) was the most important factor in the mass conversion to Islam, the tax paid by all non-Muslims (Dhimmis – which translated means "protected persons") in Islamic empires[283][284][285][286] (such as Christians under Ottoman Empire's authority,[287][288] Hindus and Buddhists under regime of Muslim invaders,[281] Coptic Christians under administration of the Muslim Arabs,[284] Zoroastrians living under Islamic rule in ancient Persia,[289] and also with Jewish communities in the medieval Arab world[286]) while some scholars indicate that some Muslim rulers in India did not consistently collect the jizya (poll tax) from Dhimmis.[281] Under Islamic law, Muslims are required to pay Zakat, one of the five pillars of Islam. Muslims take 2.5% out of their salaries and use the funds give to the needy.[290] since non-Muslims are not required to pay Zakat, they instead had to pay Jizya if they wanted the same protections the Muslims received.[291]

According to other scholars many converted for a whole host of reasons, the main statement of which was evangelisation by Muslims, though there were several instances where some were pressured to convert owing to internal violence and friction between the Christian and Muslim communities, according to historian Philip Jenkins.[292] However John L. Esposito, a scholar on the subject of Islam in The Oxford History of Islam states that the spread of Islam "was often peaceful and sometimes even received favourably by Christians".[293] In a 2008 conference on religion at Yale University's The MacMillan Center Initiative on Religion, Politics, and Society which hosted a speech from Hugh Kennedy, he stated forced conversions played little part in the history of the spread of the faith.[294] However, the poll tax known Jizyah may have played a part in converting people over to Islam but as Britannica notes "The rate of taxation and methods of collection varied greatly from province to province and were greatly influenced by local pre-Islamic customs" and there were even cases when Muslims had the tax levied against them, on top of Zakat.[295] Hugh Kennedy has also discussed the Jizyah issue and stated that Muslim governments discouraged conversion but were unable to prevent it.[296]

Wicca[edit]

The American Religious Identification Survey gives Wicca an average annual growth of 143% for the period 1990 to 2001 (from 8,000 to 134,000 – U.S. data / similar for Canada & Australia).[297][298] According to The Statesman Anne Elizabeth Wynn claims "The two most recent American Religious Identification Surveys declare Wicca, one form of paganism, as the fastest growing spiritual identification in America".[299][300] Mary Jones claims Wicca is one of the fastest-growing religions in the United States as well.[301] Wicca, which is largely a "Pagan" religion primarily attracts followers of nature-based religions in, as an example, the Southeast Valley region of the Phoenix, Arizona metropolitan area.[302]

Nonreligious[edit]

In terms of absolute numbers, irreligion appears to be increasing (along with secularization generally).[303] (See the geographic distribution of atheism.)

According to Pew Research Center survey in 2012 religiously unaffiliated (include agnostic and atheist) make up about 18.2% of Europe's population.[304]

The American Religious Identification Survey gave nonreligious groups the largest gain in terms of absolute numbers: 14.3 million (8.4% of the population) to 29.4 million (14.1% of the population) for the period 1990–2001 in the U.S.[297][298] A 2012 study by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life reports, "The number of Americans who do not identify with any religion continues to grow at a rapid pace. One-fifth of the U.S. public – and a third of adults under 30 – are religiously unaffiliated today, the highest percentages ever in Pew Research Center polling."[305]

A similar pattern has been found in other countries such as Australia, Canada, and Mexico. According to statistics in Canada, the number of "Nones" increased by about 60% between 1985 and 2004.[306] In Australia, census data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics give "no religion" the largest gains in absolute numbers over the 15 years from 1991 to 2006, from 2,948,888 (18.2% of the population that answered the question) to 3,706,555 (21.0% of the population that answered the question).[307] According to INEGI, in Mexico, the number of atheists grows annually by 5.2%, while the number of Catholics grows by 1.7%.[308][309] In New Zealand, 39% of the population are irreligious making it largest percentage of total population in Oceania region.[310]

According to a religious forecast for 2050 by Pew Research Center the percentage of the world's population that unaffiliated or Nonreligious is expected to drop, from 16% of the world's total population in 2010 to 13% in 2050.[311] The decline is largely due to the advanced age (median age of 34) and low fertility among unaffiliated or Nonreligious (1.7 children per woman in the 2010–2015 period). Sociologist Phil Zuckerman's global studies on atheism have indicated that global atheism may be in decline due to irreligious countries having the lowest birth rates in the world and religious countries having higher birth rates in general.[312]

By 2050 unaffiliated or Nonreligious was expected to account 27% of North America total population (up from 17.1% as in 2010), and 23% of Europe total population (up from 18% as in 2010) according to Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.[313] The religiously unaffiliated are stationed largely in the Asia-Pacific region, where 76% resided in 2010, and is expected to be 68% by 2050. The share of the global unaffiliated population living in Europe is projected to grow from 12% in 2010 to 13% in 2050. The proportion of the global religiously unaffiliated living in North America, will rise from 5% in 2010, to 9% in 2050.[313]

Overall statistics[edit]

Data collection[edit]

Statistics on religious adherence are difficult to gather and often contradictory; statistics for the change of religious adherence are even more so, requiring multiple surveys separated by many years using the same data gathering rules. This has only been achieved in rare cases, and then only for particular countries, such as the American Religious Identification Survey[297] in the United States, or census data from Australia (which has included a voluntary religious question since 1911).[314]

Historical growth[edit]

The World Religion Database[315] (WRD) is a peer-reviewed database of international religious statistics based on research conducted at the Institute on Culture, Religion & World Affairs at Boston University. It is published by Brill and is the most comprehensive database of religious demographics available to scholars, providing data for all of the world's countries.[316] Adherence data is largely compiled from census and surveys.[317] The database groups adherents into 18 broadly-defined categories: Agnostics, Atheists,[a] Baha'is, Buddhists, Chinese folk-religionists, Christians, Confucianists, Daoists, Ethnoreligionists, Hindus, Jains, Jews, Muslims, New Religionists, Shintoists, Sikhs, Spiritists, and Zoroastrians. The WRD is edited by demographers Todd M. Johnson[318] and Brian J. Grim.[319]

World religious beliefs / Non-beliefs by adherents, 1910–2010
Religion / Irreligion 1910 2010 Rate*
Adherents % Adherents % 1910–2010 2000–2010
Christianity 611,810,000 34.8 2,260,440,000 32.8 1.32 1.31
Islam 221,749,000 12.6 1,553,773,000 22.5 1.97 1.86
Hinduism 223,383,000 12.7 948,575,000 13.8 1.46 1.41
Agnosticism 3,369,000 0.2 676,944,000 9.8 5.45 0.32
Chinese folk religion 390,504,000 22.2 436,258,000 6.3 0.11 0.16
Buddhism 138,064,000 7.9 494,881,000 7.2 1.28 0.99
Ethnoreligion 135,074,000 7.7 242,516,000 3.5 0.59 1.06
Atheism 243,000 0.0 136,652,000 2.0 6.54 0.05
New religion 6,865,000 0.4 63,004,000 0.9 2.24 0.29
Sikhism 3,232,000 0.2 23,927,000 0.3 2.02 1.54
Judaism 13,193,000 0.8 17,064,000 0.2 0.11 1.02
Spiritualism 324,000 0.0 13,700,000 0.2 3.82 0.94
Daoism 437,000 0.0 8,429,000 0.1 3.00 1.73
Bahá'í Faith 225,000 0.0 7,306,000 0.1 3.54 1.72
Confucianism 760,000 0.0 6,449,000 0.1 2.16 0.36
Jainism 1,446,000 0.1 5,316,000 0.1 1.31 1.53
Shinto 7,613,000 0.4 2,761,000 0.0 −1.01 0.09
Zoroastrianism 98,000 0.0 192,000 0.0 0.51 0.74
Total Population:
1,758,412,000
100.0
6,895,889,000
100.0
1.38
1.20
*Rate = average annual growth rate, percent per year indicated

Source: Todd M. Johnson and Brian J. Grim[320]

Future growth[edit]

Projections of future religious adherence are based on assumptions that trends, total fertility rates, life expectancy, political climate, conversion rates, secularization, etc will continue. Such forecasts cannot be validated empirically and are contentious, but are useful for comparison.[321][322] Professor Eric Kaufmann, whose academic specialization is how demography affects irreligion/religion/politics, wrote in 2012:

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Atheism and agnosticism are not typically considered religions, but data about the prevalence of irreligion is useful to scholars of religious demography.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The key to growing Protestant churches - Macleans.ca". www.macleans.ca. Retrieved 12 December 2019.
  2. ^ Malcolm, James (24 April 2019). "Christianity Is Fastest Growing Religion in World". Renewal Theology. Retrieved 12 December 2019.
  3. ^ Malcolm, James (24 April 2019). "Christianity Is Fastest Growing Religion in World". Renewal Theology. Retrieved 12 December 2019.
  4. ^ "Channels to a Growing Market", China Catalyst, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., pp. 65–82, 12 September 2015, ISBN 978-1-118-66127-7, retrieved 12 December 2019
  5. ^ "The key to growing Protestant churches - Macleans.ca". www.macleans.ca. Retrieved 12 December 2019.
  6. ^ "Chapter 3. Using Muslims to Think With: Narratives of Islamic Rulers", Envisioning Islam, University of Pennsylvania Press, ISBN 978-0-8122-9144-5, retrieved 12 December 2019
  7. ^ "Figure 2.12. In South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, working age populations will increase by more than 200 million people between 2015 and 2030". dx.doi.org. Retrieved 12 December 2019.
  8. ^ Watts, Isaac, 1674-1748. (1810–1811). The works of the reverend and learned Isaac Watts, D.D. : containing his sermons, and essays on miscellaneous subjects, several additional pieces, selected from his manuscripts. Printed by and for J. Barfield. OCLC 369166110.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link) CS1 maint: date format (link)
  9. ^ [Hidden Prayer in Yemen: Islam and the problem of religious intolerance David Pinault December 07, 2009 Facebook Twitter Email Image Christians in Sanaa, the capital city in Yemen, cannot pray in church. They must congregate in secret in their homes, and non-Christian Yemenis are monitored to ensure that they do not attend. During a recent visit to the country, I attended many of these clandestine services and watched with admiration as both foreigners and local Yemenis sought ways to practice their faith in a hostile environment. Unfortunately, the plight of Christians in Yemen is not unique. In Iraq, Saudia Arabia and other countries in the Muslim world, freedom of worship is severely restricted, and the number of Christians has dwindled. The values of pluralism and diversity are dismissed in favor of a strict adherence to the rule of the Koran, which sees any visible Christian presence as an attempt at evangelization. Yemen is emblematic of an Islamic culture that fails to see the spiritual growth that can come from encounters with people of other faiths. It was not always this way. One can still find traces of ancient Christian worship in Sanaa, at a site known as the Qalis. Finding it takes work. Walk through the alleys of Sanaa’s Souq al-Milh (Salt Market) until you reach the eastern edge of the walled Old City. You will have to ask as you go for the Qalis: no placards or street signs identify the site. But 15 centuries ago it was something splendid. King Abrahah, a Christian from Ethiopia, ordered a church for pilgrims built in Sanaa within sight of the desert hills of Mount Nuqum. The building site was linked to a Christian Arabian legend. Locals believe that Jesus paused in Sanaa to pray during his journey in the wilderness prior to his public ministry. The Qalis was built to dazzle. The 13th-century Muslim geographer Abd Allah Yaqut described the church as it looked in Abrahah’s time: pulpits of ivory and ebony, crosses of silver and gold, walls of stone taken from the palace of Bilqees, queen of Sheba. Abrahah hoped the Qalis would rival Mecca’s Kaaba shrine as a venue for pilgrims. But with Islam’s triumph the church was looted, its pillars plundered to build Sanaa’s Great Mosque. According to Yaqut, the wasteland around the deserted Qalis became the lair of lions, snakes and demonic jinns. What is left is marked by a seven-foot-high circular wall that segregates the site from modern Sanaa. Climb this wall and you will gaze down into a pit that plunges 20 feet below street level. Today it is a garbage dump, its surface littered with tires and plastic bottles. Praying in Secret Christian worship persists in 21st-century Yemen in the form of secret house-church gatherings. Typically these are held on Friday mornings, the Muslim day of congregational prayer, when everyone is free from work. The services take place discreetly in rooms and private homes. The gatherings I attended were small—sometimes as few as three or four persons, never more than 25. What they lacked in number they made up for in fervor. The services featured singing, clapping, cries of petition and prayers of thanksgiving for the companionship of Jesus. “Here, in a Muslim country, we don’t take our Christianity for granted,” one participant said. “Here, with these small communities meeting ‘underground,’ the original spirit of Christianity can be revived.” The worshippers were both foreigners and long-term residents—nurses, teachers and physicians; aid workers engaged in projects involving water management, literacy or public health. Some came from Europe or America, but most were from Nigeria, the Philippines, Indonesia, Korea, India or East Africa. Some were charismatics, others evangelicals and fundamentalists of various denominations—very much a reflection, I thought, of the dynamic and expanding church worldwide. Given this variety, some tension was inevitable. When I identified myself as a Catholic at one service, a self-described “born-again believer” replied that she used to be Catholic but now was a true Christian. Our host immediately reminded everyone that we should focus on our shared devotion to Christ. Such a focus is appropriate, given the challenges facing Christians in Yemen. The government does not prohibit foreigners from private Christian worship, but authorities are intent on discouraging conversion from Islam. I heard reports of young Muslim men, apparently commissioned by the Yemeni government, posing as potential converts in an attempt to lure Christian foreigners into proselytizing. In one recent case, a Christian Ethiopian working in Sanaa as a day laborer gave an Arabic text of the New Testament to a Yemeni who feigned interest in the faith. The result: three months in jail followed by deportation. Consequences can be far harsher for Yemenis who genuinely desire to convert. In a culture where religious identity is equated with loyalty to family, clan and nation, conversion from Islam is seen as treason, a threat to Yemen’s communal identity—hence what one Muslim cleric described to me as al-khawf min al-tansir, “the fear of Christianization.” (Tansir comes from the root nasrani, “Nazarene.”) Muslims caught flirting with the “Nazarene” faith are routinely arrested, imprisoned and made to reaffirm their allegiance to Islam. Others suffer violence at the hands of their own families—“the only way,” as one American resident told me, “in an honor/shame society for a father to erase the stain of shameful behavior on the part of his children.” Minority Persecution Would-be Christians are not the only Yemenis to suffer religious persecution. For thousands of years Yemen was home to a sizable Jewish community. With the creation of Israel in 1948, however, anti-Jewish riots erupted throughout the Arab world, and most of Yemen’s Jews fled to the newly established Jewish state. Now only a handful of Jewish families remain, and many of them have had to leave their villages and take refuge in Sanaa in the wake of death threats by local militant Muslim groups that dominate rural areas. A notorious recent case involved Moshe Yaish Youssef Nahari, a resident of Raydah, a village in northern Yemen. Confronted on the street by an armed individual who demanded he embrace Islam, Nahari refused and was murdered on the spot. Violent hostility to religious minorities is a problem in other Islamic countries as well. In Iraq in recent years, terrorists have used death threats against indigenous Christians in Mosul and elsewhere in northern Iraq to extort payment of what is known as the jizyah. This is the discriminatory tax imposed on “People of the Book”—Jews and Christians living under Islamic rule—in accordance with Chapter 9, verse 29 of the Koran: “Fight against those who do not believe in Allah…from among the People of the Book, until they pay the jizyah and have been humiliated and brought low.” Enforced during the height of Islamic political power in the days of the caliphate, collection of the tax was abandoned by secularizing governments of the modern Middle East. But some of today’s Islamist movements view the jizyah as a marker of the resurgence of Islam. For years, Paulos Faraj Rahho, archbishop of Mosul’s Chaldean Catholic community, had made jizyah payments to local militants on behalf of his diocese’s Christians. Finally, as the security situation in Iraq improved, he refused any further payments, a decision that led to his kidnapping and murder in 2008. Eventually a member of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia was convicted of the crime. Under such pressure, almost half of Iraq’s Christians have fled the country. Analogous developments are occurring in Pakistan. In April 2009 Christian day laborers residing in an impoverished part of Karachi known as Khuda ki Basti found warnings chalked on the walls of their neighborhood: “The Taliban are coming.… Be prepared to pay jizyah or embrace Islam.” When the Christians registered their defiance by erasing the threats, ethnic Pashtuns living in Karachi attacked the neighborhood, killing an 11-year-old boy and injuring several men and women. The assailants torched homes and set fire to copies of the Bible. The National Commission for Justice and Peace, Pakistan’s leading human rights organization, has documented these abuses and others. Its director is the Catholic archbishop of Lahore, Lawrence John Saldanha. The N.C.J.P. reports that in Pakistan’s tribal areas, a group calling itself Laskhar-e Islam (Army of Islam) has begun imposing the jizyah on local minority populations of Christians, Sikhs and Hindus. Nearby, in Pakistan’s North-West Frontier Province, the Tehrik-e Taliban-e Pakistan (Pakistan Taliban Movement) has likewise targeted non-Muslims. At St. Mary’s School in Sangota, which lies in the Swat Valley, where government troops have battled the Taliban for control, the school’s classrooms, convent and chapel were destroyed. Statues of the Buddha in the vicinity were also reportedly desecrated. Building a Church in Yemen Several years ago, in a conversation with Ali Abdullah Saleh, president of Yemen, Pope John Paul II petitioned for the construction of a church in Yemen’s capital. The president promised he would see to it. Nothing has come of the promise. There are no churches in Saudi Arabia either, despite the presence of over one million foreign Christian workers and a personal plea from Pope Benedict XVI in 2007. Pope Benedict noted that in the 1990s the Italian government permitted the construction of a Saudi-financed mosque in Rome, a short distance from Vatican City. Yet so far Saudi Arabia’s leaders have refused to follow suit and recognize the right to freedom of worship in their own country. Anwar Ashiqi, a Saudi religious scholar, summarizes the government’s position: “It would be possible to launch official negotiations to construct a church in Saudi Arabia only after the pope and all the Christian churches recognize the Prophet Muhammad.” I raised this issue in a conversation in June with a Sunni imam in Yemen’s capital. An affable individual in his early 30s, this imam directs a mosque in Sanaa and is known as a hafiz (someone who has learned by heart the entire Koran). When I pointed out the disparity—mosques in Rome, no churches in Sanaa—he said this struck him as right. Islam, he stated, is al-din al-niha’i (the final, definitive religion). But Christianity and Judaism, he said, were religions from the past, outdated and superseded. “They may be permitted to exist,” he continued, “but they shouldn’t be allowed to propagate.” A church in Sanaa might attract Yemeni Muslims, thereby facilitating al-tansir: the propagation of the Nazarene faith. Better, he said, to keep Yemen as nearly as possible 100 percent Muslim. What this imam articulated was an attitude I encountered in all too many conversations in Sanaa: a resistance to religious pluralism. By pluralism I mean the notion that spiritual paths alternative to one’s own have value; that these alternatives have something to teach us, even as they challenge us by their difference; and that one’s religious identity and spiritual life are deepened by the self-reflection triggered in the encounter with diversity. Such encounters can take place only in settings where freedom of worship is allowed to flourish. In hindering the construction of Christian churches, countries like Yemen impoverish their own Islamic faith. p { margin-bottom: 0.08in; } Read this article in Spanish. Translation courtesy Mirada Global. This article also appeared in print, under the headline “Hidden Prayer in Yemen,” in the December 7, 2009, issue. "Finding the Peace of Jesus Even When It's Against the Law"] Check |url= value (help). line feed character in |url= at position 71 (help)
  10. ^ Akcapar, Sabnem Koser; sociologist. "Iranians Are Converting To Evangelical Christianity In Turkey". NPR.org. Retrieved 12 December 2019.
  11. ^ Fides, Agenzia. "ASIA/PAKISTAN - A woman converts from Islam to Christianity: now she and her family risk their lives - Agenzia Fides". www.fides.org. Retrieved 12 December 2019.
  12. ^ Akyol, Mustafa (25 March 2018). "Opinion | How Islamism Drives Muslims to Convert". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 12 December 2019.
  13. ^ Hidden Prayer in Yemen: Islam and the problem of religious intolerance David PinaultDecember 07, 2009 Christians in Sanaa, the capital city in Yemen, cannot pray in church. They must congregate in secret in their homes, and non-Christian Yemenis are monitored to ensure that they do not attend. During a recent visit to the country, I attended many of these clandestine services and watched with admiration as both foreigners and local Yemenis sought ways to practice their faith in a hostile environment. Unfortunately, the plight of Christians in Yemen is not unique. In Iraq, Saudia Arabia and other countries in the Muslim world, freedom of worship is severely restricted, and the number of Christians has dwindled. The values of pluralism and diversity are dismissed in favor of a strict adherence to the rule of the Koran, which sees any visible Christian presence as an attempt at evangelization. Yemen is emblematic of an Islamic culture that fails to see the spiritual growth that can come from encounters with people of other faiths. It was not always this way. One can still find traces of ancient Christian worship in Sanaa, at a site known as the Qalis. Finding it takes work. Walk through the alleys of Sanaa’s Souq al-Milh (Salt Market) until you reach the eastern edge of the walled Old City. You will have to ask as you go for the Qalis: no placards or street signs identify the site. But 15 centuries ago it was something splendid. King Abrahah, a Christian from Ethiopia, ordered a church for pilgrims built in Sanaa within sight of the desert hills of Mount Nuqum. The building site was linked to a Christian Arabian legend. Locals believe that Jesus paused in Sanaa to pray during his journey in the wilderness prior to his public ministry. The Qalis was built to dazzle. The 13th-century Muslim geographer Abd Allah Yaqut described the church as it looked in Abrahah’s time: pulpits of ivory and ebony, crosses of silver and gold, walls of stone taken from the palace of Bilqees, queen of Sheba. Abrahah hoped the Qalis would rival Mecca’s Kaaba shrine as a venue for pilgrims. But with Islam’s triumph the church was looted, its pillars plundered to build Sanaa’s Great Mosque. According to Yaqut, the wasteland around the deserted Qalis became the lair of lions, snakes and demonic jinns. What is left is marked by a seven-foot-high circular wall that segregates the site from modern Sanaa. Climb this wall and you will gaze down into a pit that plunges 20 feet below street level. Today it is a garbage dump, its surface littered with tires and plastic bottles. Praying in Secret Christian worship persists in 21st-century Yemen in the form of secret house-church gatherings. Typically these are held on Friday mornings, the Muslim day of congregational prayer, when everyone is free from work. The services take place discreetly in rooms and private homes. The gatherings I attended were small—sometimes as few as three or four persons, never more than 25. What they lacked in number they made up for in fervor. The services featured singing, clapping, cries of petition and prayers of thanksgiving for the companionship of Jesus. “Here, in a Muslim country, we don’t take our Christianity for granted,” one participant said. “Here, with these small communities meeting ‘underground,’ the original spirit of Christianity can be revived.” The worshippers were both foreigners and long-term residents—nurses, teachers and physicians; aid workers engaged in projects involving water management, literacy or public health. Some came from Europe or America, but most were from Nigeria, the Philippines, Indonesia, Korea, India or East Africa. Some were charismatics, others evangelicals and fundamentalists of various denominations—very much a reflection, I thought, of the dynamic and expanding church worldwide. Given this variety, some tension was inevitable. When I identified myself as a Catholic at one service, a self-described “born-again believer” replied that she used to be Catholic but now was a true Christian. Our host immediately reminded everyone that we should focus on our shared devotion to Christ. Such a focus is appropriate, given the challenges facing Christians in Yemen. The government does not prohibit foreigners from private Christian worship, but authorities are intent on discouraging conversion from Islam. I heard reports of young Muslim men, apparently commissioned by the Yemeni government, posing as potential converts in an attempt to lure Christian foreigners into proselytizing. In one recent case, a Christian Ethiopian working in Sanaa as a day laborer gave an Arabic text of the New Testament to a Yemeni who feigned interest in the faith. The result: three months in jail followed by deportation. Consequences can be far harsher for Yemenis who genuinely desire to convert. In a culture where religious identity is equated with loyalty to family, clan and nation, conversion from Islam is seen as treason, a threat to Yemen’s communal identity—hence what one Muslim cleric described to me as al-khawf min al-tansir, “the fear of Christianization.” (Tansir comes from the root nasrani, “Nazarene.”) Muslims caught flirting with the “Nazarene” faith are routinely arrested, imprisoned and made to reaffirm their allegiance to Islam. Others suffer violence at the hands of their own families—“the only way,” as one American resident told me, “in an honor/shame society for a father to erase the stain of shameful behavior on the part of his children.” Minority Persecution Would-be Christians are not the only Yemenis to suffer religious persecution. For thousands of years Yemen was home to a sizable Jewish community. With the creation of Israel in 1948, however, anti-Jewish riots erupted throughout the Arab world, and most of Yemen’s Jews fled to the newly established Jewish state. Now only a handful of Jewish families remain, and many of them have had to leave their villages and take refuge in Sanaa in the wake of death threats by local militant Muslim groups that dominate rural areas. A notorious recent case involved Moshe Yaish Youssef Nahari, a resident of Raydah, a village in northern Yemen. Confronted on the street by an armed individual who demanded he embrace Islam, Nahari refused and was murdered on the spot. Violent hostility to religious minorities is a problem in other Islamic countries as well. In Iraq in recent years, terrorists have used death threats against indigenous Christians in Mosul and elsewhere in northern Iraq to extort payment of what is known as the jizyah. This is the discriminatory tax imposed on “People of the Book”—Jews and Christians living under Islamic rule—in accordance with Chapter 9, verse 29 of the Koran: “Fight against those who do not believe in Allah…from among the People of the Book, until they pay the jizyah and have been humiliated and brought low.” Enforced during the height of Islamic political power in the days of the caliphate, collection of the tax was abandoned by secularizing governments of the modern Middle East. But some of today’s Islamist movements view the jizyah as a marker of the resurgence of Islam. For years, Paulos Faraj Rahho, archbishop of Mosul’s Chaldean Catholic community, had made jizyah payments to local militants on behalf of his diocese’s Christians. Finally, as the security situation in Iraq improved, he refused any further payments, a decision that led to his kidnapping and murder in 2008. Eventually a member of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia was convicted of the crime. Under such pressure, almost half of Iraq’s Christians have fled the country. Analogous developments are occurring in Pakistan. In April 2009 Christian day laborers residing in an impoverished part of Karachi known as Khuda ki Basti found warnings chalked on the walls of their neighborhood: “The Taliban are coming.… Be prepared to pay jizyah or embrace Islam.” When the Christians registered their defiance by erasing the threats, ethnic Pashtuns living in Karachi attacked the neighborhood, killing an 11-year-old boy and injuring several men and women. The assailants torched homes and set fire to copies of the Bible. The National Commission for Justice and Peace, Pakistan’s leading human rights organization, has documented these abuses and others. Its director is the Catholic archbishop of Lahore, Lawrence John Saldanha. The N.C.J.P. reports that in Pakistan’s tribal areas, a group calling itself Laskhar-e Islam (Army of Islam) has begun imposing the jizyah on local minority populations of Christians, Sikhs and Hindus. Nearby, in Pakistan’s North-West Frontier Province, the Tehrik-e Taliban-e Pakistan (Pakistan Taliban Movement) has likewise targeted non-Muslims. At St. Mary’s School in Sangota, which lies in the Swat Valley, where government troops have battled the Taliban for control, the school’s classrooms, convent and chapel were destroyed. Statues of the Buddha in the vicinity were also reportedly desecrated. Building a Church in Yemen Several years ago, in a conversation with Ali Abdullah Saleh, president of Yemen, Pope John Paul II petitioned for the construction of a church in Yemen’s capital. The president promised he would see to it. Nothing has come of the promise. There are no churches in Saudi Arabia either, despite the presence of over one million foreign Christian workers and a personal plea from Pope Benedict XVI in 2007. Pope Benedict noted that in the 1990s the Italian government permitted the construction of a Saudi-financed mosque in Rome, a short distance from Vatican City. Yet so far Saudi Arabia’s leaders have refused to follow suit and recognize the right to freedom of worship in their own country. Anwar Ashiqi, a Saudi religious scholar, summarizes the government’s position: “It would be possible to launch official negotiations to construct a church in Saudi Arabia only after the pope and all the Christian churches recognize the Prophet Muhammad.” I raised this issue in a conversation in June with a Sunni imam in Yemen’s capital. An affable individual in his early 30s, this imam directs a mosque in Sanaa and is known as a hafiz (someone who has learned by heart the entire Koran). When I pointed out the disparity—mosques in Rome, no churches in Sanaa—he said this struck him as right. Islam, he stated, is al-din al-niha’i (the final, definitive religion). But Christianity and Judaism, he said, were religions from the past, outdated and superseded. “They may be permitted to exist,” he continued, “but they shouldn’t be allowed to propagate.” A church in Sanaa might attract Yemeni Muslims, thereby facilitating al-tansir: the propagation of the Nazarene faith. Better, he said, to keep Yemen as nearly as possible 100 percent Muslim. What this imam articulated was an attitude I encountered in all too many conversations in Sanaa: a resistance to religious pluralism. By pluralism I mean the notion that spiritual paths alternative to one’s own have value; that these alternatives have something to teach us, even as they challenge us by their difference; and that one’s religious identity and spiritual life are deepened by the self-reflection triggered in the encounter with diversity. Such encounters can take place only in settings where freedom of worship is allowed to flourish. In hindering the construction of Christian churches, countries like Yemen impoverish their own Islamic faith. p { margin-bottom: 0.08in; } Read this article in Spanish. Translation courtesy Mirada Global. This article also appeared in print, under the headline “Hidden Prayer in Yemen,” in the December 7, 2009, issue.
  14. ^ "Why more Muslims are turning to Jesus | Opinion". Newsweek. 28 June 2019. Retrieved 12 December 2019.
  15. ^ "Chapter 1. When Good Things Happened to Other People: Syriac Memories of the Islamic Conquests", Envisioning Islam, University of Pennsylvania Press, ISBN 978-0-8122-9144-5, retrieved 12 December 2019
  16. ^ "Chapter 1. When Good Things Happened to Other People: Syriac Memories of the Islamic Conquests", Envisioning Islam, University of Pennsylvania Press, ISBN 978-0-8122-9144-5, retrieved 12 December 2019
  17. ^ staff, Aish com. "Conversion to Judaism". aishcom. Retrieved 12 December 2019.
  18. ^ "Frontmatter", Islam Corrects Judaism, Gorgias Press, pp. i–vii, 31 December 2007, ISBN 978-1-4632-1364-0, retrieved 12 December 2019
  19. ^ Oulton, J. E. L.; Sparrow-Simpson, W. J. (1916). "Reconciliation between God and Man". The Irish Church Quarterly. 9 (36): 320. doi:10.2307/30067666. ISSN 2009-1664.
  20. ^ "Read & Study The Bible - Daily Verse, Scripture by Topic, Stories". Bible Study Tools. Retrieved 12 December 2019.
  21. ^ "BBC - Religions - Islam: Jesus through Muslim eyes". www.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 12 December 2019.
  22. ^ "The Christian Origins of Islam | Peter J. Leithart". First Things. Retrieved 12 December 2019.
  23. ^ Campbell, William S. (2018), ""You Who Once Were Far off Have Been Brought Near": The Ethne-in-Christ According to Ephesians", The Early Reception of Paul the Second Temple Jew, T&T Clark, ISBN 978-0-567-67522-4, retrieved 12 December 2019
  24. ^ Sep 23; Kravitz, 2015by Rabbi Bentzion. "Know How to Answer Christian Missionaries". aishcom. Retrieved 12 December 2019.
  25. ^ [Answering the Challenge – Sin, Sacrifices and Atonement? There is a fundamental question posed by Christian believers that warrants a thoughtful response. The question is often phrased, along with several incorrect assumptions, like this: “We are all sinners1, and the only way to get rid of sin is by offering a blood sacrifice. Since the Jewish Temple no longer exists, and you can’t offer sacrifices, how do you get rid of your sins today?” This issue is compounded by two additional assumptions, based on the New Testament book of Romans – written by Paul whose authority is questionable because he never met Jesus. The first assumption is that mankind inherited a state of eternal damnation as a result of the “original sin” of Adam. They attribute this to Romans 5:18, "Through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men." The second assumption is that the divinely authored biblical commandments were intended only as a stumbling block to prove that frail humanity could not achieve perfection in observing them.2 Therefore, salvation could only come about through belief in the righteousness of Jesus who, they allege, fulfilled all the commandments in the believer’s place and who died an atoning death on the believer’s behalf. They bring as proof, Romans 4:15; “The Law brings about wrath, but where there is no law, there is no violation.” 3 To some with a cursory understanding of the Bible, this line of reasoning may sound logical. However, it should be scrutinized carefully (albeit within the limitations of this brief essay) to determine if it is the true biblical intent, as it says in Proverbs: “The one that brings his case first seems right, but then his neighbor comes and examines him.” Proverbs 18:17. So let’s see what the Bible really says. To begin with, according to the Bible sin is an act of rebellion, not an intrinsic state of being. The Bible actually teaches that as a result of Adam and Eve’s sin, mankind was given4 an inclination – or temptation – to do evil. This inclination is described in Genesis as, “The inclination of man's heart is evil from his youth.” Genesis 8:21 An inclination is a pull or a drive. It acts upon the person, but it is not the person. This inclination does not make the person a sinner, nor is he in a constant state of sin. Rather, via the temptation to do evil5 a person is endowed with freedom of choice and the ability to choose good over evil. This is expounded in the following verses: "I have placed before you today life and what is good, and death and what is evil.” Deuteronomy 30:15 “I have placed life and death before you, blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live.” Deuteronomy 30:19. The ability to rule over evil is not just wishful thinking. It is a directive expressed in the following verse, which mentions sin by name the very first time in the Bible, “Sin is crouching at the door; and it desires you, but you are able to rule over it.” Genesis 4:7 If sin is an insurmountable condition that no one can overcome, wouldn’t this be the logical place for the God to say so? However, this passage teaches that although it is inevitable that we will be tempted to sin, we clearly have God’s promise of an inner ability to overcome the temptation. King David said this in his well-known words, “Turn from evil and do good.” Psalm 37:27 What does Christianity do with this clear biblical teaching that we can master sin? Christianity simply changes the Bible. It presents a contradictory and incorrect translation of how God instructed mankind to turn from sin, as is demonstrated in a blatant Christian mistranslation of Isaiah 59:20. In the Hebrew original, this verse says: “A redeemer will come to Zion; and unto those who turn from transgression.” Isaiah 59:20 This verse clearly demonstrates two points: 1) People can turn from transgression; and, 2) The redeemer of Israel will come to Zion and to those who turn away from sin on their own accord. However, in the Christian New Testament the same verse in Isaiah is incorrectly quoted to give the impression that it is the messiah who removes sin. Romans 11:26 says: “The Deliverer will come from Zion,6 He will remove ungodliness from Jacob.” Romans 11:26 The mistranslation of the words “to Zion” to “from Zion” and, “those who turn from transgression” to “He will remove ungodliness,” distorts the meaning of the original text. This is an attempt to support the incorrect Christian belief that a messianic redeemer will remove sin.7 According to the Bible, sincere repentance has always been the fundamental method of removing sin. What is Repentance? The Hebrew word for repentance is Teshuvah – and it literally means “to return” to God.8 This is a process of regretting and forsaking sin, as demonstrated in the following verses: "Let the wicked forsake his way and let him return to the Lord." Isaiah 55:7 "When a wicked man turns away from his wickedness which he has committed and practices justice and righteousness, he will save his life." Ezekiel 18:27 Furthermore, the Book of Chronicles says, “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14 While there is absolutely no mention of blood in the above verses, the Bible does command sacrifices under a very narrow and specific set of circumstances, solely as a means of motivating sincere repentance. Biblically-mandated sacrifices were required primarily9 for certain unintentional sins, as it says; "If a person sins unintentionally in any of the things which the Lord has commanded not to be done... he must present to God an unblemished bull." Leviticus 4:1 An example of an unintentional sin would be violating the Sabbath because you mistakenly thought it was a weekday, or, accidently eating a forbidden food while thinking it was permissible.10 In an attempt to build a case that all sins need blood sacrifices, Christians often cite a non-existent, passage: “There is no remission without the shedding of blood.” The intention of this fabricated passage is refuted by a verse in the New Testament, that says; “According to the Law, one may almost say, all things are cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” Hebrews 9:22 Incredibly, the inclusion of the words, “one may almost say” in this New Testament passage supports the correct biblical teaching that only some sins required blood sacrifices. There is absolutely no blood sacrifice prescribed for the majority of intentional sin, only for an unintentional sin. So, in addition to referring to unintentional sins, the limited nature of blood sacrifices can also be seen in Chapter 5:13 of Leviticus11 that directs a poor penitent person, who could not afford an animal offering, to offer a non-blood, flour offering in its place. So why were unintentional sins, rather than intentional sins, singled out for sacrifices? Because when you do something accidently you commonly minimize its seriousness and downplay the need for repentance. We rationalize and tell ourselves, “It was just an accident.” The process of bringing a sacrifice focused attention on the seriousness of the unintentional transgression. An animal was offered12 to remind us that we were careless with our animal passions; the animal needed to be unblemished, so during the examination process, we would look for and contemplate our own blemishes. The taking of the animal’s life reminded us of the severity of disobeying God. Animal sacrifices were a means to a specific end. But they were not a panacea. Someone who brought numerous sacrifices without repentance would accomplish nothing. This point was made by King Solomon, the wisest of all men. He referred to sacrifices offered without repenting or acknowledging one’s sin, as “the sacrifices of fools.” As it says in Ecclesiastes; “Draw near to listen rather than offer the sacrifice of fools, who do not know that they do wrong.”13 Ecclesiastes 4:17 Jewish Scriptures makes it clear that God wants a sincere and changed person, and not rote sacrifices: “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart.” Psalm 51:22 "The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, but the prayer of the upright is His delight." Proverbs 15:8 “I desire kindness and not sacrifices, the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.” Hosea 6:6 “Doing charity14 and justice is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.” Proverbs 21:3 Almost all sins committed intentionally required only sincere repentance without an animal sacrifice, because when a person sins intentionally, they know they are doing something wrong. So when sinners make up their mind to return to God they do so because they cannot delude themselves into thinking it wasn’t serious or was just an accident.15 This is confirmed by the following verse: “When the wicked man turns away from his wickedness that he has committed, and does that which is lawful and right, he shall save his soul alive.” Ezekiel 18:27 It is essential to remember that God is just and merciful and does not torment us or make it difficult to return to Him. This is attested to throughout the Jewish scriptures. "We do not present our supplications before you because of our righteousness, but because of your abundant mercy.” Daniel 9:18 “Return to Me and I shall return to you.” Malachi 3:7 "God will redeem my soul from the power of Sheol, for He will receive me." Psalm 49:15 "Israel shall be saved by the Lord, and not ashamed or confounded to all eternity."16 Isaiah 45:17 How do Christians cope with the fact that the majority of intentional sins are atoned for without blood? They quote the non-existent passage that supposedly says, “Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sin.” But as shown above, that statement is false. This presents a stunning refutation to the validity and foundation of the tenants of Christianity, because in truth we do not need blood at all for intentional sins, nor do we need blood for unintentional sins when there is no Temple to offer a sacrifice. "Jewish Understanding of sin"] Check |url= value (help). line feed character in |url= at position 57 (help)
  26. ^ "The Jewish Course of WHY - Chabad of Durham Region". www.jewishdurham.com. Retrieved 12 December 2019.
  27. ^ "Intellectual and Social History". www.chabad.org. Retrieved 12 December 2019.
  28. ^ [On the Eternal Unfolding of the Transcendent Torah Torah Hermeneutics in the Thought of Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson By Eli Rubin Abstract: Throughout the ages the Sages of the Jewish People have applied received exegetical principles within new contexts. Conceptual, geographic and temporal diversities have led to a multiplicity of apparently conflicting conclusions, all drawn within the internal framework of interpretative methodology prescribed by the Torah itself. But when we understand the Torah as a singularity that transcends the triadic configuration of past-present-future, then the apparently disparate elements of Torah interpretation can be re-framed as narrow windows representing different facets of an integral whole. With the opening of each new window, the quintessence of Torah further unfolds and emerges, and all past applications are further illuminated by the broadening view. I have spent the later hours of the last several nights reading Prof. Elliot Wolfson’s intensely bold and thought provoking exposition of the unique brand of mystical rationalism espoused by the late Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson – a work that carries the captivatingly paradoxical title, Open Secret: Postmessianic Messianism and the Mystical Revision of [Rabbi] Menahem Mendel Schneerson. This is not an easy task, but it is certainly a rewarding one. In Tanya, the Bible of Chabad Chasidic thought, Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, known in Chabad as the Alter Rebbe, described the role of a Rebbe as being “to teach wisdom to the people, that they may know the greatness of G‑d”. Conversely, he writes, it is incumbent upon the people to invest “great and intense labor, doubled and redoubled,” in an attempt to truly assimilate those teachings.1 The Talmud (Avodah Zarah, 5b) cautions that even the most erudite student may spend forty years in study and not arrive at a complete understanding of his master’s thought. Certainly Wolfson has made the requisite effort to assimilate the Rebbe’s thought patterns,2 but at the same time there are undoubtedly important points of interpretation on which other scholars may disagree with him.3 My purpose here is not to review Wolfson’s work in its entirety, but rather to highlight a passage towards the end of the introductory chapter that I found particularly illuminating. Many scholars of the Rebbe’s work have struggled to understand what has been described as his “harmonistic” approach to the interpretation of Rabbinic texts penned by the greatest Jewish minds over the centuries. This is certainly not an approach that is unique to the Rebbe or even to Chabad in general, but in the Rebbe’s thought it is given such emphasis that it becomes impossible to ignore. Perhaps the best overview of the issue for our purposes, is the one offered by Dr. Jacob Gotlieb in his recent Rationalism In Hasidic Attire Habad`s Harmonistic Approach to Maimonides. Many scholars of the Rebbe’s work have struggled to understand what has been described as his “harmonistic” approach to the interpretation of Rabbinic texts Gotlieb cites the treatment of Maimonides by Chabad thinkers as an example of what he considers to be their view of “the developmental nature of Jewish Belief, which is continuously revealed from generation to generation... According to this view... [the doctrine of Jewish] Belief is continuously clarified and revealed over the centuries by the famed Sages of Israel whose teachings become the inheritance of the community... Major currents in Jewish thought such as rational philosophy, the Kabbalah of the Zohar, the Kabbalah of the Arizal, and Chassidic teaching, do not reflect different views of the Jewish faith, but a [single] developing view... The "revelation" of Chassidic teaching does not require the rejection of Maimonides, but its inclusion within the [Chasidic] framework… The interpretive approach… of Chabad thinkers is therefore characterized by harmonistic interpretation, based on a developmental approach.”4 Although Gotlieb does adequately demonstrate the validity of his theory, he does not satisfactorily explain the theological basis for such a bold approach. We are left to wonder at the all too obvious historiographical issues that are apparently ignored. Paradoxically, this approach maintains that the entire corpus of Jewish thought in all its conceptual, geographic and temporal diversity, is but a homogeneous system of unchanging unity. It is precisely on this issue that I was struck by the sweeping clarity that Wolfson provides. Commenting on the broader issue of historical context he writes, “Notwithstanding… the prudence of always taking the historical context into account, I would insist that the complex patterns of [Rabbi] Shneerson’s worldview need to be evaluated with a different conception of temporality in mind, a notion of time that calls into question the model of aligning events chronoscopically in a sequence stretched between before and after.”5 Using the oft repeated dictum, “There is no before or after in Scripture - ein mukdam u-me’uchar be-torah” (Jerusalem Talmud, Shekalim 6:I, 49d) as evidence of the use of atemporal forms of interpretation within the Rabbinic tradition, Wolfson points to a talk published on the 22nd of Shvat 5752 (January 27th 1992)6 where the Rebbe himself explained his view of the Torah’s essentially transcendent nature and the role that the Jewish people have in making it manifest.7 The Torah... is revealed by G‑d to the Jewish people who then study it, assimilate it and use their own intelligence and judgment to correctly reapply its principles The Midrash states that “the thought of the Jewish people came before everything else – machshavtan shel yisrael kadmah le’chol davar” (Bereishit Rabah, 1:4). Rabbi DovBer, the Maggid of Mezritch, interpreted this “thought” as being analogous to “the image of the son that is imprinted on the mind of the father” (Or Torah 2, 3). The image projected by the son onto his father’s mind is in some sense synonymous with the Torah, which is revealed by G‑d to the Jewish people who then study it, assimilate it and use their own intelligence and judgment to correctly reapply its principles within the new contexts constantly presented by the unfolding of history.8 The Rebbe used the Maggid’s paradigm to turn the regular hierarchy in which the father precedes the son, on its head. Here, it is the son’s own image (that is, the Torah as assimilated and reapplied by the Jewish people) that precedes, causes and defines, the image imprinted upon his father’s mind (i.e. the essence of the Torah as it (pre)exists within the G‑dhead). As the Maggid points out, being that for G‑d past and future are as one, in the Divine analog this can occur even before the Jewish people have been created. Wolfson calls this type of paradigm “a temporal configuration that is circular in its linearity and linear in its circularity.” In other words, the linear configuration of time has been subverted. As the Rebbe goes on to explain, we are now forced to think of the Torah as essentially transcendent of time. Insofar as it does relate to time, all that will later be unpacked by the Sages of the Jewish people as they correctly apply its principles, must already be pre-included within its essence. The very boundaries that define the Jewish People, the Torah and G d as three distinct identities standing in relation to one another, collapse into the essential core of ineffable Divinity By default, manifestation entails a linear hierarchy in which the hidden precedes the manifest. In subverting that hierarchy we are forced to subvert the very concept of manifestation itself.9 If the linearity is to be made circular, it can only appear to remain linear from the perspective of its later manifestation within the linear paradigm of time. As it exists essentially, however, it must remain circular, and if it is to remain circular it cannot be manifest. In other words, the Torah cannot both proceed from G‑d to the Jewish people, and from the Jewish People to G‑d, unless their is no actual (manifest) procession. The very boundaries that define the Jewish People, the Torah and G‑d as three distinct identities standing in relation to one another, collapse into the essential core of ineffable Divinity, so that neither one precedes the other.10 We are forced to conclude that even as specific applications later to be unpacked by the Jewish people are already included within the transcendent essence of the Torah, their inclusion therein cannot be manifest in any way. The essence of the Torah exists rather, in a form that has no form – or, as the Rebbe terms it, as “concealment that does not exist – helem she’eino be-metziot”. This is not to say that it does not actually exist; on the contrary, this configuration denotes a form of existence so eternal and infinite that it cannot be limited by our conception of existence – even as it can no longer be said to “exist” in the regular sense of the word, it yet exists. Indeed, therein lays the true potency of its absolutely non-contingent existence.11 These are issues of deep abstraction, and as Wolfson points out (Introduction, n. 119) an entire monograph could be devoted to the concept of time as dealt with in the vast corpus of Chabad thought. Doubtless there are issues that require further clarification, but the limits of this essay require us to do no more than highlight the relevant point. The Torah as it exists in its highest form, within the G‑dhead from whence it unfolds, includes within it the entirety of all that will later be unpacked by the Jewish Sages who will study and correctly interpret it throughout the ages. As Wolfson phrases it, “New interpretations of Torah that come to light in the course of history preexisted in the infinite thought or wisdom of the Divine, the supernal Torah… that transcends the triadic division of time, the eternal present wherein past and future are indistinguishable as it is perpetually becoming what it has always never been.” With the opening of each new window, the quintessence of Torah further unfolds and emerges, and all past applications are further illuminated by the broadening view. Having reframed the very nature of the Torah’s relationship with time, the difficulties posed by the harmonistic interpretive approach earlier described, simply dissolve. The entire corpus of Jewish thought with all the conceptual, geographic and temporal diversity of its specific applications, can indeed be seen as variant facets of the singular, eternally unchanging Torah, whose transcendent essence unfolds in a fragmented sequence of developmental interpretation.12 Specific applications of Torah interpretation must now be understood as contextualized windows onto a far greater truth. Each new application represents a new facet, broadening the collective view onto the greater whole. Like the manifold pieces of a mosaic, each application can be better understood when placed within the broader pattern. With the opening of each new window, the quintessence of Torah further unfolds and emerges, and all past applications are further illuminated by the broadening view. For a more humorous but no less serious demonstration of how this harmonistic system of developmental interpretation may be re-imagined in the context of the Chanukah miracle see The Menorah Files, by Tzvi Freeman (based on Kuntras Mai Chanukah, compiled and edited by Rabbis Yoel Kahn and Dovid Olidort). FOOTNOTES 1. Lekutei Amarim, Chapter Forty Two. 2. Evidenced in the thousands upon thousands of citations to all of the Rebbe’s published output made in his copious footnotes, and even in his most personal reflections. In writing of his choice to work intensively on Habad material he writes, “That I could have chosen otherwise is beyond doubt, but then, it would not have been my choosing.” (Wolfson, xiv.) A statement that to my ear echoes the Chasidic doctrine of free-will or free-choice, the principle (and most paradoxical) feature of which is that the choice is rooted in and mandated by the very essence of one’s self. This offers me the opportunity to direct the interested reader to take a look at the following passage: “Choice is loftier than intellect, and also loftier than will. For when one’s intellect determines that this object is fitting to be chosen, and also when one desires a certain object… one is forced into this [choice] and it is not free-choice, and the true concept of choice is when one’s choice is not [determined] by the intellect or by the will, but rather that one chooses with free-choice… The fact that one chooses as one wills (despite both options being equal (from that [most transcendent] perspective)) comes from the essence of the soul.” Torat Menchem, Sefer Ha-ma’marim Meluket Vol. 3, 70-71. 3. Rabbi Dr. Shmuel Klatzkin, for example, has criticized a fundamental element of Wolfson’s approach, writing, “Wolfson has an academic’s love of abstractions but lacks the Rebbe’s grasp of the continuous grounding of abstractions in the concrete.” (Revealing the Secrets: An Academic Explores The Rebbe’s Teachings.) This lead to a spirited exchange of emails, subsequently published as Elliot Wolfson And Shmuel Klatzkin: An Exchange. 4. Gotlieb, 12. This is a recurrent theme throughout the book. At the beginning of Chapter One, for example, he cites the famous statement of Maimonides, “He is the knower, He is that which is known, and He is the knowledge itself” (Yesodei Ha-torah, 2:10), and the Maharal’s critique (in the Introduction to Gevurot Hashem), that one may not limit the Deity to such a narrow definition. Gotlieb then cites the harmonistic interpretation of the Alter Rebbe in Tanya (note to Shaar Ha-yichud Ve’ha-emunah, Chapter Nine, 87a) based upon the Kabbalistic doctrine of Tsimtsum. 5. Unless otherwise stated all further citations of Wolfson refer to pages 22-24. 6. The fourth anniversary of the passing of his wife, Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson. 7. The relevant pages of the published talk, upon which the following paragraphs are based, can be viewed Here and here. 8. The process of interpretation on the part of the Jewish people must remain within the internal framework of developmental methodology proscribed by the Torah itself. In the Rebbe’s own words, “The Sages interpreted the Torah via the thirteen rules of exegesis... [thus,] the specific thought is a novelty on the part of the veteran student... [but it is] built upon the general rules that Moses received at Sinai.” In other words, the novelty is in the correct application of the received principles within a new context. If the application is made incorrectly, or the received methodological rules are discounted, then the novelty is indeed not Torah, but “contradictory to Torah, as the Mishna (Avot, 3:11) states, ‘one who interprets the Torah without according with the Halacha, although he may possess Torah knowledge and good deeds, he has no share in the World to Come.’” Likkutei Sichos Vol. 29, pages 175-6. See also below, n. 9. 9. See Rabbi Sholom DovBer Schneersohn, Discourse beginning Vayachulu in Yom Tov Shel Rosh Hashanah 5666. 10. See the closing paragraph of the discourse delivered on the second day of Rosh Hashanah 1980, beginning Zeh Ha’yom (viewable here): “Although it is said [Tanya, Chapter 2]… that just as the son proceeds from the thought of the father, so the soul of every Jew proceeds from the thought and wisdom of G‑d, this… applies [only] as it is made manifest, but its (true) root is in the essence of Divinity… (which is beyond any manifestation)… This is especially so according to the teaching of the Maggid… that it [the way the Jewish People exist in G‑d’s most essential “thought”] is analogous to the son whose image is etched on the thought of his father, only that by humankind this can only occur after the son has been born, whereas for G‑d, even before the Jewish People have been created, their image was etched in [the primordial] thought, for before Him the past and the future are one. From which it is even more understood that the root of the souls… is in the essence of Divinity.” 11. See the relevant discussion in Rabbi Yitzchak Abarbanel, Rosh Emunah Chapter 7, quoted in Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneersohn (the Tzemach Tzedek), Derech Mitzvosecha, Mitzvas Haamonot Elukut, Section 2. 12. For more on the rules that govern the developmental system of Torah interpretation, see The Thirteen Principles of Torah Elucidation by Rabbi Immanuel Schochet. By Eli Rubin More from Eli Rubin | RSS © Copyright, all rights reserved. If you enjoyed this article, we encourage you to distribute it further, provided that you comply with Chabad.org's copyright policy. More in this section 36:42Arguments for the Sake of Heaven 41:33Rationalist or Mystic? 43:53Spirituality vs. Law Communicating the Ineffable: Cosmic Manifestations of the Chasidic Innovation 1:06:55Bonding With G-d Via Torah You may also be interested in... G‑d and Us The Ten Commandments Series Creationism 5 Comments My Sojourn in the Garden of Eden 2 Comments Join the Discussion SORT BY: Newest Oldest 26 Comments  Add a comment... A Anonymous UKMarch 10, 2014 The Unfolding of the Transcendent Torah. I am not learned and it is daunting to offer my comments when I am clearly out of my depth. We cannot all understand at the same level as learned rabbis, and a Tzadik, such as the Rebbe, understands at levels that even the most learned find difficult to plumb; yet we are all confronted by this mystery. As a human being, I am programmed to understand life as it is experienced, one moment after another. Even reviewing my own life, so far, I can only see it as a progression with some areas more vivid than others. Yet, with the help of a metaphor from somewhere, if I think of my experience, I can understand this progression as an arpeggio and I can understand the divine perspective as a chord; and if that chord is my life, from start to finish, I can begin to sense all lives as other chords co-existent in harmony. Then, beyond existence, other aspects, at which I am lost in wonder at what is too profound for me to contemplate. I can say no more. Reply R Rabbi Tzvi Freeman February 19, 2012 To Shmuel Yashar Koach for the mm! I don't have TM 5744, but the Sichos Kodesh is available at HebrewBooks dot org 4620. The Rebbe seems to be adding another, quite significant point to the Urim v'Tumim: Not just that "the spirit of G-d dwelled within them," but that "since they have been accepted in all the diaspora, therefore they have become a portion of the oral Torah." The tacit words there are "if it is Torah, every word is precise"—regardless of the author's intent. The work's context as a portion of Torah overrides the context of its authorship. This lines up much more with the Rebbe's concept of Torah as Eli presents it here—an ever-unfolding singular entity. Reply S Shmuel Passaic, NJFebruary 17, 2012 The Rebbe vs. the Rambam See Rabbi Yonasan Eibshutz, Urim vTumim 25 - Kitzur Takpo Kohen 124: The laws of the Shulchan Aruch and Rema have been explained in ways that it is impossible to have been considered by their author. Rather it was the spirit of G-d that dwelled within them, and brought them to word their books in a manner that includes many more ideas. See also from the Rebbe: TM 5744 vol. 2 p. 614; Sichos Kodesh 5739 vol. 1 p. 268 (see there why one cannot attribute the 'four elements' to the limited knowledge of the time.) Reply L Lawrence Kaplan NY, NYJanuary 19, 2012 Rebbe and Rav Kook Rabbi Freeman: So would ! But I do not think I am the right person to undertake this major project. Perhaps I can persuade my good friend and colleague, Prof. Jonathan Garb to undertake it. Reply R Rabbi Tzvi Freeman January 19, 2012 Re: Rebbe and Rav Kook Prof. Kaplan, please do. I would be fascinated to read. Reply L Lawrence Kaplan NY, NYJanuary 19, 2012 Rebbe and Rav Kook It would be worthwhile comparing the views of the Rebbe and Habad Hassidut regarding harmonization with those of Rav Kook. Reply S S.D. Homnick Brooklyn, NYJanuary 18, 2012 Unification While not attempting to address all the individual points raised here, I'd like to provide a general pointer on the Rebbe's anschauung re diversity in Jewish thought vs. harmonization. Chassidus views every intellectual 'sevara' as expressing a discrete subjective spiritual reality. The variety in the system though is ultimately an expression of the 'pirud' inherent in the lower spheres, which results in multiple, partial 'truths'. Thus, whatever Rambam might state is merely representative of some subjective truth he arrived at through utilizing his admittedly mighty intellect; it expresses some higher truth, but he might not have been fully aware of its fuller context and significance. [Thus the classic chasidic assertion that 'hu ha'deah atzmah' is incorrect except in terms of describing the world of 'Atzilus']. Chasidus and a Rebbe, on the other hand, are about drawing the ultimate, objective Truth into our lives; Atzmus is consummate unity. It's certainly not about any one person. Reply R Rabbi Tzvi Freeman January 18, 2012 Re: The Rebbe & Rambam In answer to Michael's question, but also to fill in some of the holes in my previous post: There are many references, both from the Magid and from the Baal Hatanya, describing the source of "otiot" as within "kadmut hasechel" or "b'etzem hanefesh." In other words, HOW a teacher says something tells you much more than what he says. And I believe that's to the point that the talmid may even discern from the nuances of the teacher's otiot something to which the teacher himself was oblivious. For example, Rabbi Eliezer ben Hyrkanus, who never taught anything he did not hear from Rabbi Yochanan, his teacher--and nevertheless surprised his teacher with his chidushim (see the account in Pirke D'Rabbe Eliezer) and was (by some readings) of Bet Shammai, even though his teacher was of Bet Hillel! If so, I believe that to make dikdukim in otiot ha-rav, you really need a feel for the etzem ha-nefesh of the rav. That the "gedola shimusha"--and the yirat shamayim. Reply L Lawrence Kaplan NY, NYJanuary 18, 2012 Harmonizing I agree with Dr. Lefcoe. Indeed, Eitan Fishbane in his book on R. Isaac of Akko shows that this was his approach. I cite from Sefer Meirat Eynayim: The wise individual should not only make peace between the words of two different Sages by the way of truth [Kabbalah], but even with respect to matters of philosophy, the wise individual should make peace between them and matters of Kabbalah. On the other hand, R. Isaac warns against premature harmonization, against those who "confuse the traditions" ["le-arbev et hakabbalot." ] As Dr. Lefcoe states, one must first work out fully all the individual shittot, and only afterwards seek to harmonize them with each other. Reply D Dr. Yaacov Lefcoe Yesod HaMaala, IsraelJanuary 15, 2012 To Michael re: "commitment" To me the harmonizing trend comes after one has toiled in the analysis and clarification of the individual shitot, with the commitment to linear reasoning, ukimta and so on. Only after that process has reached a maturity does the individual begin to break through into "seeing" the overall picture, a holistic view wherein all the individual Torah views find their respective places as expressions of various aspects of an overriding whole of Torah. In the old days this would be done sequentially, with the "harmonizing" nistar view being taken on only later in life (40 years, with a family etc). Nowadays it seems that we teach harmonization/nistar early in life, lechora due to the lower level of emuna of our generations. We need to be reassured that there is a transcendent Whole Torah in a way that previous generations may not have. Reply M Michael Kigel ViennaJanuary 14, 2012 Re: The Rebbe and the Rambam Amen to Tzvi's H.G. Wells illustration. Eli's point about halakhic vs. other hermeneutic registers is certainly well taken. We see this profound difference at play within the Rambam (or THE Rambam) himself. My question, I suppose, concerns the Rosh Yeshiva. THE Rambam may be brought to his table and opened up for examination. But what if Leo Strauss (or R. Isadore Twersky, etc.) sits down across the same text? Will not two very different pshats emerge? Pshats, not drushim. Even regarding halakha alone. And it would not be any lack of coherence in each one's reading that would betray an inferiority or superiority. (Lawrence Kaplan's scholarly work is likewise hardly lacking in coherence or profundity or brilliance.) It would be the beautiful coherence in each reading that would leave us dumbfounded. Again, is there a way, hermeneutically, around commitment? For me, the Rebbe's Rambam is THE Rambam because the Rebbe is MY Rebbe. Anybody see a way around this? (Not a rhetorical "?") Reply R Rabbi Tzvi Freeman January 13, 2012 Re: The Rebbe & Rambam I notice that both the Lawrence and the Michael, as the Eli, refer not to Rambam, but "the Rambam." The distinction is not trite. Let's say a rosh yeshiva were to give a pilpul on a diyuk in the Rambam, and a dignified, turbaned man were to walk in the room, claiming that his name is Moshe ben Maimon, and he is here to protest the contortions through which this rosh yeshiva has been putting his writings. Let's say the rosh yeshiva would then tell a student, "Bring me the Rambam!" So the student says, "But rebbe, the Rambam is right here arguing with you!" What does the rosh yeshiva reply? "That is Rambam. I want THE Rambam." In other words, to the lamdan, the real Rambam is not a person who lived 800 years ago for 70 years and died in Egypt. THE Rambam is the text that has come down to us. This idea can be found explicitly in Likutei Torah, Vayikra, "Lo Tashbit Melach"--but I can't find it right now, and it's erev Shabbos...the idea that the essential Torah is "otiot." Reply  Eli Rubin via mychabad.orgJanuary 13, 2012 Re: The Rebbe & Rambam Lawrence, Michael, I think Lawrence is raising a valid point. Ultimately, when it comes to deciphering what the Rambam himself meant, we have to use our judgement to achieve the most objectively accurate picture possible, based on the specific and broader contexts. IMHO this is where post-modernism fails: Ultimately neither objectivity nor subjectivity is ever total. There is a spectrum, everything is either more or less objective / subjective in relation to other things. Lawrence's point is, I think, very important for understanding the Rebbe. We must always distinguish between halachic - pshat interpretations and other forms of hermeneutics, which carry a no less valid but very different type of significance. Reply M Michael Kigel Vienna, AustriaJanuary 13, 2012 The Rambam and the Rebbe Is there room to question the very premise that there may be something like a "peshat" in the Rambam? Meaning not that peshat must in fact be a kind of drash, but, on a deeper level, that any given peshat unfolds within some "unfolding larger picture." My own scholarly (as opposed to my dogmatically hassidic) persona certainly recognizes that there may be more than just one unfolding picture of Torah, e.g. the Brisker picture, the YU picture, the Chabad picture, the Rav Kook picture, etc.. My question is: On what basis can one assume that what one calls the "peshat of the Rambam" has somehow escaped the gravitational force that keeps any hermeneutic gesture - including peshat - within the finite orbit of a given unfolding picture? On what basis can one assume that one can actually be free of dogma or - to use a less ugly word - of commitment - or perhaps better still - of a hermeneutically limited massorah? Reply L Lawrence Kaplan NY, NYJanuary 12, 2012 Rebbe and the Rambam As a scholar of Maimonides, I remember reading the Rebbe's comments on Yesodei ha-Torah Chapter 1 and exclaiming to myself "But that's not what the Rambam meant!" I now see my reaction was premature. Still, if one will claim that the views of the Rambam are part of and can be assimilated into an unfolding larger picture, OK. But to give the impression that this is the peshat in the Rambam, here my scholarly persona rebels. Also note that the Rambam himself was certainly NOT a hamonizer. One can harmonize the Rambam with other systems, but one should acknowledge that in doing so he is acting against the Rambam's spirit. Reply  Eli Rubin January 5, 2012 An alternate paradigm for a circular temporality I just came across an article describing how time actually separates the individual from his or her own self, the essential "I" is "stretched out between past, present and future". You can read the article here: http://www.interinclusion.org/inspirations/the-temporal-community-part-1/ Reply  Eli Rubin via mychabad.orgJanuary 3, 2012 A common thread I'm seeing a common thread developing in the comments here: Michael drew attention to the need to acknowledge the historical or linear component, beginning with the revelation at Sinai and followed by the unfolding of the Torah via the efforts of those who study it, which Rabbi Tzvi alluded to. At the moment that unfolding seems to be fragmented, but with the ultimate historical event, alluded to by Dr. Lefcoe, the essentially circular - ahistorical - nature of the Torah will be fully manifest. So yes, the structure beyond time will be actualized in time - we will be able to gaze upon all the diverse parts of the Torah's unfolding as a single whole. I can't think of it right now, but I am sure someone here can reference a text where this idea is explicated. Reply D Dr. Yaacov Lefcoe Yesod HaMaalaJanuary 3, 2012 For Rabbi Tzvi Yes, a structure beyond time, actualizing into time, over time until "...the days of heaven on the earth." Reply R Rabbi Tzvi Freeman January 3, 2012 For Dr. Lefcoe It strikes me that while Prof. Yerushalmi's presentation of Jewish thought as linear seems to be widely accepted, the presentation here is that it is neither circular nor linear nor accumulative, but more like constructing a monolithic structure, in which every detail affects the entire gestalt. Reply D Dr. Yaacov Lefcoe Yesod HaMaalaJanuary 3, 2012 Interesting You are using the master's tools to take apart the master's house. Not being an expert in the Jewish Studies field, it's hard for me to say how well you are doing, but it's intriuging to see this in any case. In my own work on the Jewish psychology of meditation, I get around the JS tendency to use a literary approach (which always tends to separate and analyze texts into historical location, influences etc.), by focusing on the common psychological processes in meditation which shine beautifully through apparently disparate philosophic-mystic, Kabbalistic and Chassidic texts. Perhaps in your context, an enquiry into the nature of time itself, outside the text and outside of JS, could provide a platform for showing how the Torah texts reflect an *actual* translinear temporality. Like the time concepts--or absence thereof--of the Hopi Indians, there is a need to respect Judaism's perception of time reflected in its texts, rather than imposing a reductionist, modernist, linear template. Reply Chassidic Thought "Abraham's Sons are Supernatural"] Check |url= value (help). horizontal tab character in |url= at position 11553 (help)
  29. ^ "Do the Jewish people keep the Torah because they fear God?". Jews for Judaism. 0001-11-30. Retrieved 2019-12-12. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  30. ^ Simmons, Rabbi Shraga. "The Chosen People". aishcom. Retrieved 12 December 2019.
  31. ^ m. [Uniqueness of the Jewish People Jan 22, 2005 | by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan 106 SHARES Uniqueness of the Jewish People Torah is the candle and Israel is its wick, causing the light of God to shine forth. The recipient of the good for which God created the universe was destined to be man. However it was initially not determined whether the entire human race or only part of it would be the recipient of this good. The group that would be the recipient of the divine good was defined as Israel (Yisrael). These people would be the ones who would perceive the divine and become the recipients of God's goodness. It is thus taught that the concept of Israel was God's very first thought in creating the universe. It is thus written, Israel is God's holy portion, the first of His harvest (Jeremiah 2:3). Besides creating the concept of Israel as the recipient of His good, God also created a means through which this Israel would receive this good. This means was the Torah, which, as such, was God's blueprint for creation. The Torah is the way to God's good, as He said, I have given you a good teaching, My Torah, do not forsake it (Proverbs 4:2). It is thus taught that, There is no good other than the Torah. The Torah was thus among the prime ingredients of creation. The Torah itself allegorically says, God made me as the beginning of His way, the first of His original paths (Proverbs 8:22). Still, the Torah did not assume its present form until it was given. God's purpose in creation required that Israel accept the Torah. The Torah was created for the sake of Israel. God's purpose in creation required that Israel accept the Torah. If not, all creation would have lost its reason for being, and would have ceased to exist. If Adam would have been worthy and would not have sinned, then all of his descendants would have been worthy of the Torah. If not for Adam's sin, all mankind would have had the status of Israel. Because of Adam's sin, however, the Torah was restricted to the small portion of humanity who would eventually be worthy of receiving it. The rest of humanity were given seven commandments, binding on every human being. They are: Not to worship idols Not to curse God (blasphemy) To establish courts of justice Not to murder Not to engage in sexual immorality Not to steal Not to eat flesh from a living animal Of these commandments, the first six were given to Adam himself. The seventh commandment would have been redundant for him, since the eating of all animal flesh was forbidden until the generation of Noah, following the Great Flood. Thus, the final commandment, prohibiting the eating of flesh from a living animal, was given to Noah and his sons. Since this completed the giving of commandments binding on all humanity, these seven commandments are referred to as the Commandments of Noah's Sons (Mitzvot Bnai Noach). These commandments were given so that all humans could partake of God's good by obeying them. It is thus taught that non-Israelites who obey these seven commandments have a portion in the World to Come. These commandments were also meant to benefit humanity in this world, serving as the basis of morality and ethics. Thus, the prohibitions against idolatry and blasphemy teach man to worship and respect the Supreme Being, this being the foundation of all ethics. The prohibitions against murder, incest, adultery, robbery and the perversion of justice serve as the foundations of human morality. Finally, the prohibition against eating flesh from a living animal teaches man kindness toward lower creatures as well as control of his base appetites. The First 20 Generations There were 10 generations from Adam to Noah, and throughout this period, mankind experienced a continual moral decline. The world reverted to paganism, and most people forgot the universal commandments. In order to give civilization a new start, God brought the Great Flood, destroying all the descendants of Adam, with the exception of Noah and his family. Soon after the Great Flood, however, the world once again reverted to paganism and immorality. With very few exceptions, humanity again forgot God's universal laws. There were exceptions, such as Noah's son, Shem, and his grandson, Eber, but even they did not publicly teach God's law. Again, 10 generations passed, with the world's morality constantly deteriorating. It was into this pagan atmosphere that a most unique individual was born. From his earliest childhood, Abraham transcended his pagan environment and recognized that the world was governed by one Supreme Being. As one of the greatest geniuses of his time, Abraham was able to use his keen mind to see through the sham and falsehood of the values of his generation, and understand the true purpose of creation. Abraham's faith developed and overshadowed everything else in his life, until he was even willing to suffer martyrdom for it. Never in history had an unaided individual made such a complete break with his environment, overcoming all obstacles for the sake of a yet-unknown faith. The Rise of Abraham When Abraham was 48 years old, a crucial historical event took place. God saw in Abraham a force that could bring all mankind back to Him, if only humanity could be unified. He therefore brought a spirit of unity upon the world, influencing all mankind to act in one accord. However, instead of uniting to serve God, mankind united to build the Tower of Babel. Humanity as a whole then lost the opportunity to come under the category of Israel, the group designed to receive the Torah and fulfill the purpose of creation. Instead, the human race was split up into nations, each with its own language and mission. It was at this time that God decreed that the descendants of Abraham also become a nation, with the special mission of serving God and fulfilling his purpose in creation. At the age of 70 Abraham took a voluntary pilgrimage to the Holy Land. After a sojourn in Egypt, where he gained great wealth, he returned to the Holy Land, where he soon became caught up in a great battle that was raging there. After playing a decisive role in this battle, Abraham was blessed by Shem and was taught by him the traditions that had been handed down from the time of Adam. At this time, Abraham took over from Shem the task of being the bearer of these traditions. Using the methods taught to him by Shem, Abraham sought to attain true prophecy. Soon, God revealed Himself to Abraham, and promised that his children would eventually grow into a great nation. A while after this, when Abraham was 75, God revealed Himself to him again, and instructed him to leave his homeland permanently and to settle in the Holy Land. Abraham became the first one publicly to teach about God. By this time, Abraham's faith was not only fully developed, but he also had the courage to act on the basis of his convictions. Realizing that one cannot live a truth while allowing others to remain ignorant of it, Abraham became the first one publicly to teach about God and His universal commandments. Therefore, unlike the other righteous people of his time, whose children quickly became reabsorbed in the paganism of their time, Abraham was able to transmit his values to his offspring. He was able to establish his teachings among his descendants, until a self-sustaining group of the faithful was firmly established. God thus said, Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed through him. For I have known him, and I know that he will instruct his children and his household after him, that they will keep God's way, and maintain righteousness and justice, so that God will be able to grant Abraham everything He promised him (Genesis 18:18-19). Still, Abraham's environment was so corrupt that it even claimed some of his own children and grandchildren. Of his two sons, only Isaac carried on the tradition, while Ishmael reverted to paganism. Similarly, of Isaac's two sons, only Jacob remained true, while Esav soon abandoned God's law. Thus, of all Abraham's children, only Jacob and his family were able to maintain the tradition intact. Sign of the Covenant God changed Abraham's name and gave him and his descendants the commandment of circumcision as an everlasting covenant. Abraham was circumcised by Shem, after which Abraham himself circumcised the rest of his household. This occurred on Yom Kippur, and that day therefore marks the beginning of Israel's covenant with God. Circumcision was given to Abraham and his offspring so that they would be set aside by an indelible bodily sign, symbolic of their control of their physical passions. Since it was on the organ of reproduction, it symbolized that the particular distinction given to Abraham would also be passed on to his children. It implied that he would have offspring who would have the distinction of having the status of Israel. To some degree, circumcision restored Abraham and his descendants to the status of Adam before his sin. It was because they were circumcised that Abraham's descendants were able to be the recipients of the Torah. Thus it was through the commandment of circumcision that the purpose of creation could be fulfilled. The commandment of circumcision did not apply to the children of Ishmael, since it was given after his birth. Similarly, it did not apply to the children of Esav, since they rejected the distinction and responsibility that went with the covenant. Thus, of all the descendants of Abraham, only the children of Israel are bound by this commandment. God tested Abraham in 10 different ways to prove his faith. In the last of these tests, He asked Abraham to sacrifice his beloved son, Isaac. After these tests, God gave Abraham the distinction that no one other than his descendants would ever have the status of Israel. God also promised that even if his descendants sinned, they would never be abandoned. Jacob Becomes Israel Of all the Patriarchs, only Jacob was able to lead all his children in the way of God. It was for this reason that he was chosen to be the father of the nation dedicated to serving Him. Jacob became worthy of this after he wrestled with an angel and defeated him. This battle took place on a spiritual level, and was perceived by Jacob in a prophetic vision. The man with whom he wrestled symbolized all the forces of evil in the world, and hence, the fact that Jacob was victorious showed that he had enough spiritual fortitude to give over to his children the power to ultimately overcome evil. Jacob's victory showed that the spiritual fortitude to overcome evil. In this episode, Jacob was wounded in his thigh. This symbolized the partial victory of evil as well as the persecutions that his children would have to endure as a dedicated people. Jacob accepted both the responsibility and its consequences, merely asking for a blessing to give his children the power to endure. The angel then gave Jacob the name Israel. This indicated that Jacob and his offspring would be great before God, and that they would have power over the highest spiritual forces. It also indicated that Jacob's offspring would survive to carry the banner of God's teachings to all mankind. God later reaffirmed that Jacob was indeed Israel. Jacob had become Israel, the head of the group that God had originally conceived as the recipients of His good. Israel was a concept that had existed before creation, but now Jacob and his descendants would be worthy of carrying both the name and the concept that goes with it. Slavery in Egypt Even the ancestry of the Patriarchs, however, would not have been enough to mold Israel into a nation capable of adhering to their faith under all conditions. God therefore decreed that they spend 210 years in Egypt. During this time, they would be subject to the harshest persecution and slavery. The Egyptian bondage was like a refining furnace, where all the spiritually weaker elements were weeded out, while at the same time, the Israelites grew from a small desert family to a populous nation. The Egyptian bondage would expose the Israelites to one of the greatest civilizations of the time, while at the same time strengthening them and drawing them together. In many ways, the Israelites proved themselves worthy of God's choice. Even under the most degrading slavery, they maintained their identity and basic moral values. Out of the crucible of Egypt, Israel thus emerged, refined and ready to become the torchbearers of God and the recipients of His Torah. Nevertheless, in many ways, the Israelites did fall into the pagan ways of the Egyptians. In describing the Israelites before the Exodus, God thus said, They rebelled against Me and would not listen to Me. None of them reflected the detestable things that attracted them, nor did they abandon the idols of Egypt. I would have decided to pour out My anger against them… but I acted for the sake of My name… For I had given My word that in the sight of the nations I would lead My people out of the land of Egypt (Ezekiel 20:8-9). Ultimately, the Israelites were chosen by God primarily because of the merit of the Patriarchs. It is thus written, Only in your fathers did God delight, and He loved them and chose their offspring after them, namely you, above all peoples, as it is today (Deut. 10:15). It was through the merit of the Patriarchs that the Israelites were led into Egypt, only to be redeemed amid the greatest miracles ever witnessed by humanity. It is thus written, God did not set His love over you, nor choose you, because you were greater in number than any other nation, for indeed, you were the least populous of all nations. But because God loved you, and because He kept the oath that He made to your fathers, God brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of bondage (Deut. 7:7, 8). The Exodus was a unique event in the annals of history. God revealed Himself to an entire nation, and literally changed the course of both history and nature. It is thus written, Did God ever venture to take a nation for himself from another nation, with a challenge, with signs and wonders, as God your Lord did in Egypt before your very eyes? You have had sure proof that God is the Lord, there is none other (Deut. 4:34). The Exodus not only made Israel uniquely aware of God, but it also showed Him profoundly involved in the affairs of humanity. Revelation at Sinai It was the Exodus and the events surrounding it that makes Judaism unique among all other religions. Other faiths began with a single individual who claimed to have a special message and gradually gathered a following. His followers then spread the word and gathered converts, until a new religion was born. Virtually every great world religion follows this pattern. The main exception is Judaism. God gathered an entire nation, three million strong, to the foot of Mount Sinai, and proclaimed His message. Every man, woman and child heard God's voice, proclaiming the Ten Commandments. A permanent bond was thus forged between God and Israel. This unique event remained deeply imprinted in the soul of Israel, and throughout history it was something that was not to be forgotten. We are likewise commanded not to forget the Exodus… Israel had the faith and tenacity to adhere to God's teachings throughout history. Besides the merit of the Patriarchs, the Israelites also had many unique characteristics of their own. God knew that among all the nations of the world, only Israel would have the great faith and intrinsic tenacity to adhere to His teachings throughout all the vicissitudes of history. It was as though God had asked all the nations to accept the Torah and had been refused by them. In contrast, Israel's immediate reaction to the offer of the Torah had been, All that God has spoken, we will do and we will obey (Exodus 24:7). It was therefore primarily because of this ready acceptance of the Torah that Israel was chosen to the exclusion of the rest of mankind. Before the giving of the Ten Commandments, God thus said, Now therefore, if you will hearken to My voice and keep My covenant, then you will be My own treasure among all nations, for all the earth is Mine. You shall be My kingdom of priests and holy nation (Exodus 19:5). The Israelites were thus totally sanctified to God... God said, You shall be holy to Me, for I, God, am holy, and I have set you apart from all other peoples, that you should be Mine (Leviticus 20:26). Light Unto the Nations But being chosen is more of a responsibility than a privilege. Israel has the incessant mission of proclaiming God's teachings to the world. It is thus written, I, God, have called you in righteousness… and have set you up as a covenant of the people, for a light to the nations (Isaiah 42:6). This does not mean that the Torah should be taught to gentiles, but that they should be informed of the universal commandments. Israel has a mission to bear witness to God's existence. God thus told Israel, You are My witness… and My servant whom I have chosen (Isaiah 43:10). It is taught that Israel is like the heart of humanity, constantly beating and infusing all mankind with faith in God and His teachings. This universal message would often be proclaimed even at the price of suffering and persecution. It is taught that Israel is likened to an olive, since just as an olive must be crushed to bring forth oil, so Israel is persecuted so that its light should shine forth. Even the dispersion of Israel among the nations was to teach the world how to serve God. Moreover, the fact that Israel was scattered all over the world would guarantee that they not become extinct by means of their persecutions. Because of Israel's unique place in God's plan, the people must constantly be corrected whenever they stray from the true path. God thus said, Only you have I known of all the families of the earth, therefore I will keep account of all your sins' (Amos 3:2). Still, when God punishes Israel, He only does so as a father punishes his children. It is thus written, As a man chastises his son, so God your Lord chastises you (Deut. 8:5). Nevertheless, God promised that despite all these sufferings, Israel wold always continue to exist to fulfill His purpose. He thus said, The mountains may depart, and the hills may be removed, but My kindness will not depart from you, neither will My covenant of peace be removed (Isaiah 54:10)… Although Israel has been persecuted and degraded throughout history, the nation will ultimately be vindicated. God said, Although you have been hated and forsaken, so that no man is concerned with you, I will make you an object of eternal pride and never ending joy (Isaiah 60:15). It is God's promise that Israel will ultimately restore the world to good, and cannot be destroyed as long as the task is not completed. He said, [Israel] shall not fail nor be crushed until he has rectified the world, for the islands await his teachings (Isaiah 42:4). Most important, Israel has the role of fulfilling God's purpose in creation. God said to Israel, I have placed My words in your mouth, and have kept you safe under the shelter of My hand, so that I may plant the heavens and lay the foundations of the earth, and say to Zion, 'You are My people' (Isaiah 51:16). It is thus taught that God, Israel and the Torah are uniquely linked together. The Torah is like oil in a lamp, and Israel is its wick, causing the light of God to shine forth on all creation. From The Handbook of Jewish Thought (Vol. 1), Maznaim Publishing. Reprinted with permission. COMMENT ON THIS ARTICLE Share this article 106 SHARES About the Author Rabbi Aryeh KaplanMore by this Author > Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan was a multi-faceted, prolific exponent of Jewish thought -- skilled in both Kabbalah and Jewish law, as well as the natural sciences (he was listed in "Who’s Who in Physics"). He suffered an untimely death at age 48. Related Articles The Chosen People The Chosen People This is Your Light This is Your Light Partly Jewish? Partly Jewish? Jewish Day School Fears Jewish Day School Fears America and Jewish Values America and Jewish Values The Jewish Mystique The Jewish Mystique Comments (1) Submit Your Comment: Name:* Display my name? Yes No Email:* Your email address is kept private. Our editor needs it in case we have a question about your comment. One Line Summary: Comments:*
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Bibliography[edit]

  • Carolyn Chen, Russell Jeung. Sustaining Faith Traditions: Race, Ethnicity, and Religion among the Latino and Asian American Second Generation. NYU Press, 2012. ISBN 0814717365.
  • Miikka Ruokanen, Paulos Zhanzhu Huang. Christianity and Chinese Culture. William B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2011. ISBN 0802865569.
  • Todd M. Johnson, Brian J. Grim. The World's Religions in Figures: An Introduction to International Religious Demography. John Wiley & Sons, 2013.
  • Religion on the Move!: New Dynamics of Religious Expansion in a Globalizing World, BRILL, 21 November 2012, Afe Adogame, Shobana Shankar, 2012.

External links[edit]