Sunday, August 30, 2009
The population multiplied 10 times faster than the rest of society, the research by the Office for National Statistics reveals. In the same period the number of Christians in the country fell by more than 2 million.
Experts said that the increase was attributable to immigration, a higher birthrate and conversions to Islam during the period of 2004-2008, when the data was gathered. They said that it also suggested a growing willingness among believers to describe themselves as Muslims because the western reaction to war and terrorism had strengthened their sense of identity.
Muslim leaders have welcomed the growing population of their communities as academics highlighted the implications for British society, integration and government resources.
David Coleman, Professor of Demography at Oxford University, said: “The implications are very substantial. Some of the Muslim population, by no means all of them, are the least socially and economically integrated of any in the United Kingdom ... and the one most associated with political dissatisfaction. You can't assume that just because the numbers are increasing that all will increase, but it will be one of several reasonable suppositions that might arise.”
Professor Coleman said that Muslims would naturally reap collective benefits from the increase in population. “In the growth of any population ... [its] voice is regarded as being stronger in terms of formulating policy, not least because we live in a democracy where most people in most religious groups and most racial groups have votes. That necessarily means their opinions have to be taken and attention to be paid to them.”
There are more than 42.6 million Christians in Britain, according to the Office for National Statistics, whose figures were obtained through the quarterly Labour Force Survey of around 53,000 homes. But while the biggest Christian population is among over-70s bracket, for Muslims it is the under-4s.
Ceri Peach, Professor of Social Geography at Manchester University, said that the rapid growth of the Muslim population posed challenges for society. “The groups with the strongest belief in the family and cohesion are those such as the Pakistanis and Bangladeshis. They have got extremely strong family values but it goes together with the sort of honour society and other kinds of attributes which people object to,” he said. “So you are dealing with a pretty complex situation.”
Professor Peach said that the high number of Muslims under the age of 4 — 301,000 as of September last year — would benefit Britain's future labour market through taxes that would subsequently contribute to sustaining the country's ageing population. He added, though, that it would also put pressure on housing and create a growing demand for schools. “I think housing has traditionally been a difficulty because the country is simultaneously short of labour and short of housing. So if you get people to fill vacancies in your labour force you also need to find places for them to live,” he said.
Muhammad Abdul Bari, general secretary of the Muslim Council of Britain, predicted that the number of mosques in Britain would multiply from the present 1,600 in line with the rising Islamic population. He said the greater platform that Muslims would command in the future should not be perceived as a threat to the rest of society.
“We each have our own set of beliefs. This should really be a source of celebration rather than fear as long as we all clearly understand that we must abide by the laws of this country regardless of the faith we belong to,” he said.
The Cohesion Minister, Sadiq Khan, told The Times: “We in central Government and local authorities need to continue our work to ensure that our communities are as integrated and cohesive as possible.”
The total number of Muslims in Great Britain:
Source: Labour Force Survey
Here are some population statistics starting from the early 1900s as well as projected figures for the year 2025 of the total overall number of Muslims across the globe.
Comparative chart - number of Muslims to Christians:
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Estimates of the total number of Muslims in the world vary greatly:
0.700 billion or more, Barnes & Noble Encyclopedia 1993
0.817 billion, The Universal Almanac (1996)
0.951 billion, The Cambridge Factfinder (1993)
1.100 billion, The World Almanac (1997)
1.200 billion, CAIR (Council on American-Islamic relations) (1999)
At a level of 1.2 billion, [in1999] Muslims represent between 19.2% and 22% of the world's population. It has become the second largest religion in the world. Christianity has slightly less than 30%.
Islam is growing about 2.9% per year which is faster than the total world population which increases at about 2.3% annually. It is thus attracting a progressively larger percentage of the world's population.
The number of Muslims in North America is in dispute: estimates range from under 3 million to over 6 million. The main cause of the disagreement appears to be over how many Muslim immigrants have converted to Christianity since they arrived in the US.
Statistics Canada reports that 253,260 Canadians identified themselves as Muslims (0.9% of the total population) during the 1991 census. Some estimated that there were as many as 500,000 Muslims in Canada. In 2001, there are an estimated 650,000 Muslims in Canada.
In the Maghrib between 1965 and 1990, the population rose from 29.8 million to 59 million. During the same period, the number of Egyptians increased from 29.4 million to 52.4 million. In Central Asia, between 1970 and 1993, populations grew at an annual rate of 2.9 percent in Tajikistan, 2.6 percent in Uzbekistan, 2.5 percent in Turkmenistan, and 1.9 percent in Kyrgyzia. In the 1970s, the demographic balance in the Soviet Union shifted drastically, with Muslims increasing by 24 percent while Russians increased by only 6.5 percent.
The increase in the Muslim heartlands will have a significant impact in Muslim minority areas as well. In some countries, such as Tanzania and Macedonia, the Muslims will become a majority within twenty years. Largely through immigration, the Muslim population of the United States grew sixfold between 1972 and 1990. And even in countries where immigration has been suppressed, the growth continues. In 2000, seven percent of babies born in European Union countries were Muslims. In Brussels, the figure was a staggering 57 percent. Islam is already the second religion of almost every European state - the only exceptions being those European countries such as Azerbaijan and Albania where it is the majority religion. If current trends continue, then an overall ten percent of European nationals will be Muslim by the year 2020.
If the west's population is top-heavy, (i.e., the ratio of youth to elderly is low) that of Muslim populations is the opposite. For example, today more than half the population of Algeria is under the age of twenty and this situation is similar elsewhere. These young populations will reproduce and perpetuate the increase of Muslims on a percentage basis well into the next millennium.
North America and Europe have increasingly aging populations and one of the most disturbing social issues of the new millennium will concern a more efficient means of disposing of the elderly. (For example, witness the new euthanasia laws in the Netherlands, and the ongoing debate in many countries about this issue.) Medical advances can assure an average life span in the high seventies, although active life spans have not grown as fast. In the early 1900s, a westerner could expect to spend an average of the last two years of life as an invalid. Today, that figure is seven years. As Ivan Illich has shown, medicine prolongs life, but can not prolong mobility nearly as well. Aging populations with their increased healthcare costs are considered a more extensive socio-economic burden to society. For example, the UK Department of Health recently announced that a new prescription drug for Alzheimer's Disease was available on the National Health Service - but its cost meant that it was only available to a small minority of patients.
An aging population tends to be introspective and sluggish, whereas a young population is more likely to be vibrant and energetic. This may or may not bode well for many countries and that will depend on whether their political structure is fragile or not.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Allah (The Most High) created all the humans with what is called 'A Fitrah' (a natural state/desire).
Islam recognises that within this Fitrah there are motivations that influence a man's role on earth e.g. a desire for good food and drink, to have a home, a desire for love and sex, to protect and be protected and to be successful and strong. Without some form of control and limit, all of these legitimate motives could prove very dangerous.
So what constitutes the perfect control for the Fitrah? It must be a method that provides an organised yet practical demonstration of how to balance all these natural human desires. It cannot be something that goes against the Fitrah, by placing on it extra burdens. Likewise, it cannot be something that allows the human desires to run wild without any form of control.
Islam is the perfect control for the Fitrah. It provides a divine method that elevates man above animals and the rest of creation.
Humans lack perfect knowledge as well as perfect wisdom. No matter how hard we try, we will never attain the perfect way of life by our own thinking and interpretation. This is the reason why Allaah being the Most Wise, sent us the Qur'an and the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) to show us this practical and organised way of life.
Allaah, being Perfect, in His Wisdom and Knowledge, perfected a complete way of life for us. He has set His limitations and rules, all of which are beneficial to mankind, and therefore, do not need changing:
"These are the limits (set) by Allaah, so do not approach them" (Surah al-Baqarah 2:187)
"These are the limits set by Allaah, so do not transgress them" (Surah al-Baqarah 2:229)
This is why Islam does not allow celibacy, because it is against the Fitrah, i.e., the desire for sex. Celibacy goes beyond the limits required by humans, and is something that cannot be fulfilled because humans arede signed to procreate. As humans we are not expected to fast every single day for the rest of our lives (for most 30 days of the year provides an up-hill struggle). It is also from ignorance to say that 'I shall not sleep during the night, but rather I shall pray!' Humans have not been created by Allah to live life in such a manner. There is a balance which must be observed.
The following incident describes the Islamic stance towards such behaviour, Anas reported that some of the Companions of Allaah's Messenger (SAW) used to say: "I will not marry women"; someone else said: "I will not eat meat"; and someone else said: "I will not lie down in bed". (On hearing this): The Prophet (SAW) praised Allaah, and glorified Him and said: "what has happened to these people that they say so and so, whereas I observe prayer and I sleep too. I observe fast and I break my fast; I marry women also. And he who turns away from my Sunnah ( i.e., my example or lifestyle), he has no relation with me" [Narrated in Saheeh Muslim vol. 2. p703. no. 32361].
Islam on the other hand, does not allow the person to surrender themselves to lust and desire, as in contemporary 'civilisation'. Islam recognises the love a man has for women, children, gold, silver, and other possessions. But it provides a limit for the amount of this worldly pleasure which we require, and reminds us of the life in the hereafter.
"Beautified for men is the love of things they desire: Women, Children, much of gold and silver (wealth), branded beautiful horses, cattle and well-tilled land. This is the pleasure of the present world's life, but Allaah has the excellent return ( Paradise)" (Surah Aali-Imraan 3:141)
The inclinations and desires of the Fitrah are not to become the objective in life. Rather they are to be taken in a stabilised manner. The way to deal with them is real and Allaah (The Most High) has given us the detailed descriptions of a levelled approach. This levelled approach gives mankind the perfectly balanced pleasure in this worldly life. The method of maintaining a well-balanced life is not an endurance test to see who lasts the longest. Allah has revealed Islam, to show us how to attain this balance in a real manner. Life is not a torturous spiritual test, where you are ordered to Iive in mountains and trees. Fasting all year round is not obligatory. Marriage is permissible and you do not have to beat yourself senseless to purify your soul! Rather as Muslims, we must try to follow the Prophet and his balanced teachings of life and living. As Allah says in the Qur'an:
"Indeed in the Messenger of Allah (saw), you have a good example to follow.." (Surah Al-Ahzab 33:21)
The use of the word "restrictive" often comes from those who think they live a "free- life". But the fact of the matter is that, wherever you go you will find rules and regulations. For example, in the workplace, in colleges and universities and more obviously on the roads, i.e. the highway and green cross codes. Wherever you are, there are rules and regulations.
Islam forbids us to follow many of the rules which are held by western culture and subcultures. Yet people in the west are more than willing to obey them, because they believe that these rules will protect them. How wrong they are! Rave subculture is a classical example of this. Informal dance floor rules dictate to us ". . . . to drink lots of water, have frequent breaks and don't take too many pills in one go!" Despite these "recommendations", young people are still dying.
Western society is obsessed with 'safe sex', in order to 'prevent the risk of catching AIDS'. Despite the wide availability of contraceptives, AIDS is still on the increase, and people are dropping like flies from this killer epidemic.
Do we think of these rules as being restrictive? If anything you would expect them to bring about a sense of control and order, as well as increasing the pleasure. Without realising, people are ready and willing to accept many man-made rules. Rules that are invented by one group of people and to be obeyed by the rest of society. These rules are not perfect because man is imperfect, yet people accept them and hope and believe that they will benefit from them.
A Better Offer!
So when the Creator of the Heavens and the Earth is offering a reward which is high, and the Benefit is eternal, shouldn't we at least see what's on offer?
"You desire the good of this world, but Allaah desires (for you) the Hereafter. And Allaah is Almighty, All Wise" (Surah Al-Anfal 8:67)
". . . in a lofty Paradise . Therein will be a running spring. Therein will be thrones raised high. And cups set at hand. And cushions set in rows. And rich carpets (all) spread out" (Surah Al-Ghaashiyah 88:10-16)
This worldly life has many good things in it. Things that Allah has created for us to utilise. But the reality is all of these luxuries and benefits of the world will come to an end. For example, a person's good looks may do them many favours during their youth, but will it hold them on good ground when they are 60. Such is the reality of old age.
Likewise with wealth. Islam allows you to gain wealth as long as you do not oppress other people, and transgress the limits set by Allaah (The Most High). An example of this is making people pay back more money than they actually borrow, through usury or interest payments.
However wealth can not benefit you when you die, as it only passes on to your family as inheritance. Such is the civility of modem society, that many people are even killed, just so that inheritance can be gained sooner rather then later!!
Thus, we should see ourselves as travellers on a journey. A traveller is one who is constantly on the move. He will only take essential provisions, and not all his life's possessions. Likewise, a person must realize that Allah did not design the luxuries of this world to last forever. They only exist to aid our worship of Allah, which will take us to the journey's end, the hereafter. Being human, we must one-day die, and our worldly benefits and luxuries will also perish. The true wealth is indeed with Allah in the next-life. As Allah says:
"Seeking the perishable goods of the worldly life. There are much more profits and booties with Allah" (Surah An-Nisa 4:94)
Man-made restrictions exist in all aspects of western society. Industry, travel and leisure, are just a few of the sectors which are dominated by human restrictions. Humans automatically assume that these restrictions are there to protect them. In part this may be true, but what about the restrictions set by Allah which can save the whole of man-kind? Such restrictions come from the One Who is Perfect, and not man, who is imperfect! The so-called 'freedom' of 'modern civilisation', is one which is defined for you, by another human. We are often told what is 'politically correct' and what is not. We are told that this is what everybody will be wearing this Summer, and that this is the film to watch. Those are the new Hollywood stars to emerge. You shouldn't be seen 'dead' in this dress and you should paint your finger-nails this colour. The list is endless. All of this is then redefined to fit in with the next wave of fashion trends.
Those who do not conform are labelled bigamist, narrow-minded, backward, out-dated and so on.
Modern civilization allows you so much freedom, that you can even waiver the law if you are 'well connected'. Laws are often defined by a small group of people, with everyone else conforming to what they consider right and wrong. What kind of justice is this? This would be more acceptable to those who accept the concept of man being divine. A concept where men decide what is moral and immoral even if it contradicts what God has already laid out for us. God has no part to play in such a civilisation, because man has adopted the role of god for himself. History bears witness to this as it was the way of the civilizations before the advent of the prophet Muhammad (SAW), as Allah says:
"They (Jews & Christians) took their rabbis and their monks to be their lords besides Allah (by obeying them in things which they made lawful or unlawful according to their own desires without being ordered by Allah)" (Surah 9:31)
The true freedom of man is found in a civilization that has a divine value system. A civilization in which man submits to his Creator alone. A civilization that reacts with the life of this world and links it to the Day of Judgment. On that Day, everyone will be held accountable in front of ALLAH, the Creator and The True Master of the universe.
Islam has become the number one non-Christian faith in Canada. It is important that Muslim communities comments through the media on current issues, articles, programs that affecting the Muslim minority.