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Pope's remarks offensive; violent reactions unIslamic
K
19 September 2006 15:29
Pope's remarks offensive; violent reactions unIslamic

Why Pope Benedict XVI's Remarks are Offensive to Muslims, and violent reactions are against Islamic teachings.

Pope Benedict XVI's remarks tacitly associating Islam and Prophet Muhammad, may Allah’s blessings and peace on him, with evil and violence are at best regrettable: It is quite rightly offensive to Muslims; it is factually incorrect and misleading, and can very well be construed as a ‘moral justification’ for the so called war on terror which has brought much death, destruction and devastation of entire countries such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine and Lebanon and still hangs over the heads of the people of the world like the sword of Damocles.

By making such irresponsible remarks Pope Benedict has distanced himself from the policy of his predecessor Pope John Paul II who earned the admiration of people of all religions, including Muslims. It is interesting that unlike Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict has yet to make a single statement distancing himself from the war policies of George Bush and the neo-cons. This together with his opposition to Turkey’s entry into the European Union make him join the camp of those who wish to promote a clash of civilizations, thus foreboding endless wars.

There are those who excuse the Pope as an academic who was simply exercising intellectual freedom. Such an assertion is absurd; for the Pope being the moral spokesman for over one billion Catholics in the world should have known better that his words would have greater repercussions, especially in view of the alleged papal infallibility.

The Pope is wrong on equating Islam and Prophet Muhammad with violence; for neither the Prophet nor the Quran ever condoned violence; for all of his campaigns were strictly defensive. The Qur’an clearly condemns all aggressive wars; there is not a single instance of Prophet Muhammad attacking those who allowed him and his followers live in peace. The Qur’an states,
“Thus, if they let you be, and do not make war on you, and offer you peace, God does not allow you to harm them.” (Qur’an:4: 90)
“Hence, if they do not let you be, and do not offer you peace, and do not stay their hands, seize them and slay them whenever you come upon them: for it is against these that We have clearly empowered you [to make war].” (Qur’an: 4: 91)

Even during the course of war, the option for peace is not ruled out, as the Qur’an obliges the faithful to always be open for a peaceful resolution:

“But if they incline to peace, incline thou to it as well, and place thy trust in God: verily, He alone is all-hearing, all-knowing!” (Qur’an: 8:61)

Coming to the point of forced conversions, there is nothing more abhorrent to the Qura’nic view of religion and conscience than such an assertion; for the Qur’an explicitly states, “There shall be no coercion in religion.” (Qur’an 2: 256). This as well as dozens of other verses clearly establishes freedom of conscience as a deeply entrenched religious principle in the Qur’an.

Coming to the intolerance, Qur’an explodes the root cause of religious intolerance, namely the exclusivist view of salvation through clear statements:

“ And they claim, "None shall ever enter paradise unless he be a Jew" – or, "a Christian." Such are their wishful beliefs! Say: "Produce an evidence for what you are claiming, if what you say is true!
Yea, indeed: everyone who surrenders his whole being unto God, and is a doer of good withal, shall have his reward with his Sustainer; and all such need have no fear, and neither shall they grieve.” (Qur’an: 2: 111-112).

The Pope should have read the works of Christian missionary scholars such as Dr. Thomas Arnold and others who have repudiated the myth of the spread of Islam by sword. To quote the late Mahtama Ghandi’s words:
“I wanted to know the best of the life of one who holds today an undisputed sway over the hearts of millions of mankind.... I became more than ever convinced that it was not the sword that won a place for Islam in those days in the scheme of life. It was the rigid simplicity, the utter self-effacement of the Prophet the scrupulous regard for pledges, his intense devotion to his friends and followers, his intrepidity, his fearlessness, his absolute trust in God and in his own mission. These and not the sword carried everything before them and surmounted every obstacle.”

As for Islam’s compatibility with reason, again, Pope shows his ignorance of the teachings of the Qur’an. If he has no time to read the Qur’an, he could have referred to scholars such as Dr. Thomas Cleary who after having spent his whole life studying and translating various scriptures of the world has this to say about the beautiful harmony of reason and revelation as revealed in the Qur’an:
“The Qur’an today is undeniably a book of great importance even to non-Muslim, perhaps even more today than ever, if that is possible. One aspect of Islam that is unexpected and yet appealing to the post-Christian secular mind is the harmonious interplay of faith and reason. Islam does not demand unreasoned belief. Rather, it invites intelligent faith, growing from observation, reflection, and contemplation, beginning with nature and what is all around us. Accordingly, antagonism between religion and science such as that familiar to Westerners is foreign to Islam.”

While the Pope’s remarks are inexcusable, the Muslim over reaction through violent means is a clear violation of the noble teaching of Islam, the Prophet and the Qur’an. Muslims must never forget the fact that it was primarily the magnanimity of the Prophet, peace be upon him, toward his enemies that turned his relentless persecutors into his ardent supporters: Umar, Ikrimah, Khalid, Safwan, Wahshi, etc. are only a few names to mention. Furthermore, Islam never allows targeting innocent people or desecrating places of worship for offences of an individual or a group. Such actions clearly contradict the clear principles of the Qur’an.

Finally, it would be appropriate to conclude by saying:
The world today is at a critical juncture as the future of human civilization is being threatened by the mad race for power and wealth displayed by unconscionable elements that are at the helm, who simply place their own selfish economic and political interests at the expense of peace, harmony and welfare of all people of the world. It is the duty of all people of conscience to stand up against unjust wars and aggression. It behooves religious and spiritual leaders to oppose use of religion for violence. The only salvation lies in harkening back to the compassion which lies at the heart of all great religions and forge unity to achieve peace, justice and compassion for all. This alone is the way of God, as revealed through all of His prophets, messengers; and it is again, the way of seers and sages that people of all faiths revere and adore through the ages.

SHAYKH AHMAD KUTTY, ISLAMIC SCHOLAR AND SENIOR LECTURER, ISLAMIC INSTITUTE OF TORONTO.

for more
[www.islam.ca]



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/19/2006 03:34 by Krim.
c
19 September 2006 15:52
Finally, some voices of reason. However, if I may make a note, they're in Toronto, the criticism of the violent reactions would carry more weight if it came from within an islamic country. Like I said in another post, sueing the church would have had more effect than attacking churches, besides there's no deterent more powerful than the fear of losing money everytime the Pope says something stupid.
 
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