Much has been made in the last week about the the Pope’s recent statement and the Muslim reaction to it. Here are some good comments being made on the web this week:
First from Muslim commentator Magdi Allam:
It is sad and worrying that Muslims have given birth to a united international front to attack the Pope and ask for public apologies. From Bin Laden to the Muslim Brotherhood, from Pakistan to Turkey, from al Jazeera to al Arabiya, the transversal and universal alliance, which has already come into being following the Danish cartoons affair, has reappeared. Reaffirming very clearly that the root of evil is like a blind and prevailing ideology which outrages the faith and darkens the minds of many Muslims.
Why do not Muslims, especially the so called moderates, react with such strength and intensity against the real and eternal desecrators of Islam, that is, the Islamic terrorists who kill other Muslims in the name of the same God, radical Muslims who legitimize the destruction of Israel and teach the faith on Islamic “martyrdom?” Why do they now believe they must start a kind of Islamic “holy war” against the Chief of the Church who does have the right to express his views about Islam, with respect but at the same time with all clarity due to the natural difference between the two religions?
The Pope’s words, while quoting the Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Paleologus, about the expansion of Islam through the sword, either at Muhammed’s times inside the Arabian Peninsula and after his death outside it (with some exceptions), underline an undeniable historical truth. The Quran itself states it; furthermore, the forced conversion to Islam of the whole Byzantine Empire in the East and South of Mediterranean, and the further expansion northwards in Europe and Eastwards in Asia, demonstrates the point made by the Byzantine Emperor. It is foolish to deny the truth, as it can only engender insane reactions. In the mid Nineties one of the most prominent scholars in Islamic studies, the Egyptian Mohamed said al-Ashmawi, told me that he did not approve the Arab tribes’ military conquest of Christian lands in the Mediterranean and that he would have preferred Islam to expand in peace like it did in South-Eastern Asia. The Pope is threatened because he has said things that every single honest and reasoning Muslim should accept: the historical truth.
It is time that both the West and Christianity stop thinking that they are the cause of all that happens, either good or evil, inside Islam and all over the world. The ideology of hate is an ancestral reality inside Islam, since its early beginnings, due to his refusal to recognize and respect the plurality of religious communities which are natural since in Islam the relationship between the believer and God is personal and there is no unique spiritual guide who embodies the absolute dogmas of faith. And it is true as well that since the defeat of the Arab armies in the war of June 5 1967 the situation has been worsening along with the rise of Islamic extremism from Iran to Indonesia. Until the rise of global Islamic terrorism which turned the West into a “factory of suicide bombers”.
This is the tragic truth of the ideology of hate which binds together all Muslims obsessed by anti-Americanism, anti-Westernism and by the prejudicial denial of Israel right to exist. They are able to find many pretexts to fly into a rage, from Israeli occupation to the American war, from the cartoons about Muhammed to the Pope’s words. Nevertheless the problem is inside Islam itself, an Islam that extremists turned from a faith in God into an ideology aiming at the imposition of a theocratic and totalitarian power on everyone who is not like them. And I am really scared when I realize that even the so called moderates have given up their minds to enter upon a “holy war” in which they will be the first victims.
Also from Abu Daoud:
I think that every culture has this tendency: to idealize an earlier period of time as being the golden age. Christians have this, whether it is found in the Apostolic period, the High Middle Ages, the Reformation, or what have you. Countries have it as well. But Islam has a totalizing and universal aspect to it, as does Christianity, but Christian revelation is primarily found in a person, Jesus Christ, the Word of God–not in a book, not even in the Bible. If it were found in a book then God’s Word would be frozen in time and inextricably and completely linked to a particular instance of cultural, linguistic, ethnic, and political history. But Islam is such a religion, thus it is also a religion that Arabicizes in a very special way. One former Muslim said that Islam destroys cultures, while Christianity fulfills them. And before you think of all the stumbling and ineptitude of colonial missionaries, consider that this man was from Africa, a colonial land par excellence.
Read the rest at Even the Past Must Submit