Saturday, September 16, 2006

Infantile Muslim responses to the Pope's latest fatwa

Recently a famous South African gentleman died. He had become a household name across the Islamic world, travelling and lecturing widely. His early speeches in South Africa and overseas included calls to end apartheid in his homeland, and criticisms of enforced racial segregation.

Yet the politics of apartheid wasn’t the main concern of the late Ahmed Deedat. Indeed, his main occupation was to discredit Christian theology. Despite not attending university, he was exceptionally well-read and was a fearsome debater. Some of his more crude book titles included “The God Who Never Was” and “Crucifixion or Cruci-fiction?”. Charming.

I grew up reading Deedat’s books and watching his debates with evangelical Christians in various countries. Deedat’s style was confrontational, and he frequently ran rings around those unfortunate enough to find themselves on the opposite side of him.

Deedat believed Islam was the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Despite his in-your-face and abrasive style, Deedat was motivated by a desire to share his truth with others so that they might benefit from it.

Christianity and Islam are both missionary religions. Both faiths believe they have a monopoly over the truth. Both want to share their version of truth with others. Both compete in seeking converts.

It is therefore natural that leaders of both faiths will from time to time address their minds to the faith of their competitors. Sometimes this takes the form of criticism or of focussing on a group’s perceived weaknesses.

Indeed, one of Ahmed Deedat’s last public acts was to challenge the late Pope John Paul II to a debate in Vatican Square. Thankfully the Pope had other more pressing issues to deal with.

I find it strange that religious and political leaders of Muslim-majority countries are up in arms about recent comments of the new Pope. Perhaps their frustration is a reflection of the fact that they don’t expect Christian leaders to criticise the Islamic faith. Or perhaps the leaders are concerned about some Muslims behaving in the same manner as they did in response to the Danish cartoons.

There were times when Christians and Jews would feel speaking and writing against Islam. Ironically these were times when Muslims ruled much of the known world. One precedent in Islamic Spain can explain this.

Spain was home to a physician and religious scholar named Sheik Musa bin Maymoun. Sheik Musa spoke and wrote in Arabic. One of his many treatises was a work entitled (in English) “Guide to the Perplexed”. In this book, Sheik Musa sought to compare the three Abrahamic faiths of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

Sheik Musa’s conclusion was clear. Judaism was superior to its sister Abrahamic faiths.

The Muslim response? Muslims who disagreed with Sheik Musa’s views did so by writing responses. Spanish Muslims still consulted Sheik Musa’s expertise in medicine. Sheik Musa himself wasn’t attacked, and copies of his book were not burnt until Catholic armies took back Muslim Spain. Burning books was too uncivilised for those polished and proud Muslims.

Sheik Musa was in fact the great Andalusian rabbi Maimonides. His critique of Islam, together with his skills as a physician, led the Kurdish general Saladin to appoint him as chief medical officer to the army that eventually conquered Jerusalem from the Frankish crusader kings. Maimonides went onto become one of Saladin’s closest and most trusted advisers.

Islam was robust and strong enough in those times to withstand criticism. Muslims were sensible and educated and civilised and confident enough to be able to accept criticism. They could debate their critics on an intellectual level without having to resort to violence or being highly strung and reactionary to even the mildest rebuke.

I once surprised a Catholic priest with a range of questions. This priest had made public statements to the effect that the Koran preaches violence. I asked him whether he could read Arabic, given that the Koran was in Arabic. He said no. I asked him which translation he used. He said he couldn’t remember. I listed some 10 translations to him. He still couldn’t answer. In the end he became defensive.

In an environment as free as Australia, a humble layman like myself can expose the relative ignorance of a cardinal. I could do this using intellect and logic, far more powerful tools than defensiveness or threatening violence.

Muslims offended by the Pope’s comments about Islam and history are better off addressing these arguments than condemning the Pope. If Muslims become defensive or even hint at violence, they will merely be personifying (and thus confirming) of the Pope’s claims.

It’s only to be expected that the leader of a missionary faith will criticise other missionary faiths. Just as we expect Don Brash to criticise Helen Clark or Kim Beazley to criticise John Howard. Thankfully, clerics tend to be more polite than politicians most of the time. But criticism is part of the Abrahamic tradition.

If you can’t stand the missionary heat, you should think about getting out of Abraham’s spiritual kitchen.

© Irfan Yusuf 2006

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10 comments:

Law Student said...

Irfan is it ok if i put this up on my blog. Of course im going to say its your work. let me know.

Spacehamster said...

Irfan,
Thanks once again for a very good contribution to the ongoing, and increasingly xenophobic and farcical, debate in the Mainstream press. I would love to see the above article printed in a mainstream paper. I wonder what the responses would be...from both sides?

Keep up the great work!

Irfan said...

No probs law student.

Law Student said...

cheers boss :)

THIRD WORLD WAR said...

CHRISTIAN POPE BENEDICT XVI IS RIGHT ABOUT ISLAM THE RELIGION OF SWORD- KALKI GAUR
(1) ISLAMIC TERRORISM IS EVIL & INHUMAN: Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached. Pope Benedict XVI is right. It is Evil and Inhuman to propagate Islam by sword. John Paul II's Pontificate was largely defined by his relationship with a global conflict between West and East, and he implicitly supported the Islamic terrorists that bombed on 9/11, by defending the rights of Islamic terrorism and opposing President Bush’s war on Islamic terrorism. In 1391 AD in the winter barracks near Ankara - by the erudite Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Paleologus and an educated Persian on the subject of Christianity and Islam, and the truth of both. With a startling brusqueness on the central question about the relationship between religion and violence in general, saying: "Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached." Pope Benedict XVI in a speech in Germany quotes the fourteenth-century Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Palaeologus, who challenged a Muslim correspondent to name anything not "evil and inhuman" spawned by the Prophet Mohammed. "Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached," was part of an historic dialogue between the emperor, whose throne in Constantinople was then under siege by a Muslim army. Yet some question the wisdom of his decision to use a besieged emperor's depiction of Islam as a faith, which condones "acting unreasonably. Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Libya and Algeria might not have fallen to Islam had Persia, Byzantium and Rome militarily supported Gnostic Christians of Syria and Egypt. Persia would not have fallen to Islam had Byzantium supported Persia against Islam. Turkey would not have fallen to Islam had Papacy and Rome supported Byzantium. Europe and India has a moral obligation to win back the lands of Asia Minor and North Africa back into the fold of Christian Civilization before 2050 AD. During Pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI Hindu-Christian Pact of Civilization is possible and Christian lands stolen by Islam would return back to Christian fold in 21st Century, because the religions that expand by sword die by the sword.

(2) CHRISTIAN-HINDU PACT OF CIVILIZATIONS: Hindu-Christian Pact of Civilizations to launch Christian Crusades on Islam and Crusades of Democracy in the Middle East. Hindus can provide 10 million soldiers to back it up. Pope John Paul II supported Wahhabi terrorists that bombed on 9/11. Pope Benedict XVI is wisely launching Crusades on Islam. The 900 million Hindus of India wholeheartedly support new Christian Crusades on Islam and new Crusades of Democracy on Islamic Middle East. Pope Benedict XVI is right that Mohammad taught nothing new except Evil and Inhuman. Hindus support all what Pope Benedict said. Hindu India wants to have a Hindu-Christianity Pact of civilizations to tame Islamic barbarism. Hindu India is willing to provide 10 million Hindu soldiers to new Christian Crusades in the Middle East and on Crusades of Democracy to the Middle East.

(3) RECLAIM MEDITERANEAN AFRICA FOR CHRISTIANITY: Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Libya, Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco were thriving Christian civilizations, before they fell for Arab Muslim Bedouin invaders after 630 AD, and Arab Muslim killed all Christian men and took over Christian women by sword. The Christian Manifest destiny in 21st Century is to regain Christian Lands of Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Libya, Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco for Christianity again before 2050 AD. Hindu India is willing to join Christian Crusades on Mediterranean Islam and provide 10 million Hindu volunteers soldiers for this noble cause in the name of Jesus to regain Mediterranean Africa and Asia Minor back to the folds of Christian Civilization, to help Pope Benedict XVI realize his Christian Dream in first quarter of 21st Century Age of Aquarius. If Jews can return to Israel after 2100 years, there is no reason that Christians cannot return to North Africa after 1300 years and Turkey after 700 years. Victory of Christian-Hindu Alliance is predestined. Jesus shall rule over Turkey, Asia Minor and North Africa again before 2050, with the blessing of Hindus.

Kalki Gaur, “GLOBAL CLASH OF RELIGIONS”
http://360.yahoo.com/gaurkalki/ ;
http://360.yahoo.com/clashofreligions/ ;
http://360.yahoo.com/diplomacyofcivilizations/ ;
http://clearblogs.com/kalkigaur/ ;
http://kalkigaur.blogstream.com/ ;
http://my.opera.com/kalkigaur/blog/ ;
http://my.opera.com/kalkitv/blog/ ;
http://indiatalking.com/blog/kalkigaur/ ;
http://diplomacyofcivilizations.blog.com/ ;

sammy said...

Every eeediot and his (or her) dog is an expert on what Islam reeeeeeally means these days...and yet all of these experts seem to have only taken the 10 minute google course in the religion. They all avidly avoid talking to any actual Muslim scholars (perish the thought!) and - surprise, surprise - somehow manage to come to their already preconceived conclusions. Actually, here's one expert who seems to have become particularly unhinged (cross out Muslims and replace it with Jews and see how many seconds it takes you to be called an antisemtic nazi lover).

Anonymous said...

Oh it is not hypocrisy, it is the moolah!
http://www.ibnlive.com/news/fatwa-for-money-stirs-muslims-protest/21763-3.html
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/2000279.cms

Get ready for disclaimers!

muslim_perth said...

the previous pope was so scared of Deedat.... pope paul and this new pope always lie when then say they want to have a dailogue with muslims, cos they would never actually hold a public dialgoue with any muslim (as Deedat knows)

wasaslam

Anonymous said...

Wasaslam... better join Onlineopinion to see some well sourced reasoned debate :)
Deedat does not scare me at all. Sad that he left this world outside of Christ.
3RD WORLD WAR... I feel your passion, but in all truth, Christ did not send us to make war in His name. What secular governments do in order to defend their lands is a different matter, but lets not confuse or link our Lords name with War. As he Himself said, as the crucifixion drew nearer "Do you not know that I can call on legions of Angels".

The difficult challenge from Islam is demonstrated by the Pact of Medina and the subsequent political assassination of the Jewish Poet and Tribal chief Kaab bin Al Ashraf.

The ideology established here, was that if you are a political or military 'threat' to the Islamic state, you are marked for death.

The problem comes, when the Islamic state moves from simply dealing with perceived internal threats to external. To not have a treaty with the Muslim States is to be at war with them.

This was the experience of Christian Prince Ukaydir of Dumah (Norther Arabia) During the increasing competition between the existing Byzantine Empire and the Emerging Islamic State, the Muslims saw it as absolutely crucial to their survival to 'bind' the Northern Arabian tribes (most of whom were Christian/Byzantine Allies) by treaty to the Muslims.
So, he sent kalid bin Al Waleed, to confront them with "Fight me or become my ally" (search Campaign of Tabuk) http://www.witness-pioneer.org/vil/Books/MH_LM/campaign_of_tabuk_and_death_of_ibrahim.htm

Scroll to "Ibn al Walid's Campaign against Dumah" about half way down.

Islam is built on Political relationships as much as spiritual and the 2 cannot be separated from what I can see.

Conclusion, let me re-iterate, to keep Christs name out of any 'crusade' against Islam. That is a political and military issue.
Cheers.
BOAZ_David

ainelivia said...

Irfan, found your blog while goggling Ayaan Hirsi Ali. I agree with the previous commenter who said that this article should be in mainstream press.

Unfortunately, we only seem to hear the views of the loudest voices, and extremists on both "sides". And that seems to encourage polarisation of all opinions. I enjoyed reading your article and thank you.