Character of Ancient Religious Leaders at Jerusalem
At the time of Prophet Jesus (علیہ الصلوۃ والسلام), most of religious scholars of Jerusalem were divided into groups and sects. Religious debates on minor issues were common. On the other side, moral character of these leaders was horrible. Prophet Jesus (علیہ الصلوۃ والسلام) described the reality of these scholars and warned people from the character of these scholars.
Here some of his statements are quoted from the Bible. I have explained some of his statements in parenthesis. We can see the character of some of religious scholars and monks in light of his statements. These details are not being presented to assess the characters of others. We should think about ourselves to avoid such moral weaknesses.
1. The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses (علیہ الصلوۃ والسلام) seat; all things therefore whatsoever they bid you, these do and observe: but do not you after their works; for they say, and do not. [The Scribes were the experts of Jewish Jurisprudence whereas Pharisees is the name of a specific sect.]
2. Yea, they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with their finger. [By their juristic research on minor issues, they make the religion very difficult for people, but they do no observe the religion in their personal lives.]
3. But all their works they do to be seen of men: for they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments.
4. And love the chief place at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, and the salutations in the marketplaces, and to be called of men, Rabbi. But be not you called Rabbi: for one is your teacher, and all you are brethren. [The wonderful teachings of Prophet Jesus that all human beings are equal.]
5. But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you shut the kingdom of heaven [i.e. paradise] against men: for you enter not in yourselves, neither suffer you them that are entering in to enter.
6. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows’ houses, even while for a pretence you make long prayers: therefore you shall receive greater condemnation. [The tradition of capturing lands and embezzling religious funds is now common in our religious people as well.]
7. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you compass sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he is become so, you make him twofold more a son of hell than yourselves. [Because that proselyte commits two sins: adopting the character of his leader; and not using his own intellect to identify the right path.]
8. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and anise and cumin, [receive 10% Zakat on agricultural production] and have left undone the weightier matters of the law, justice, and mercy, and faith: but these you ought to have done, and not to have left the other undone.
|The people of book made their scribes and monks ‘gods’ (by blindly following the teachings of their religious leaders.) They used to accept blindly the declarations of their scholars to declare something lawful or unlawful.
Prophet Muhammad صلی اللہ علیہ واٰلہ وسلم reported by Tirmidhi
9. You blind guides that strain out the gnat, and swallow the camel! [You are concerned about minute details of jurisprudence but ignore the major commandments of Shariah or the Divine Law.]
10. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full from extortion and excess. Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first the inside of the cup and of the platter, that the outside thereof may become clean also.
11. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the sepulchers of the prophets, and garnish the tombs of the righteous…. Therefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: some of them shall you kill and crucify; and some of them shall you scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city. [It is their double standards. They persecute the live people but make tombs of dead people.]
(Author: Mubashir Nazir, excerpts from “The Gospels of Methew, Chapter 23)
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Think about it!
a. Analyze our own character for the moral weaknesses identified by Prophet Jesus (علیہ الصلوۃ والسلام). Which of the weaknesses are generally found in our leaders without mentioning any name?
b. Describe the method to get rid of these moral weaknesses.
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