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BBC wins "Helen Thomas" award
Posted by: McQ on Saturday, September 16, 2006

I'm becoming a David Warren fan. Warren, who writes for the Ottawa Citizen, has a no-holds-barred style that I like. His latest column addresses the awful job the BBC did (I covered the same thing yesterday) in covering the Pope's speech, and in Warren's opinion, aiding and abetting the controversy which has so inflamed the Muslim world by misrepresenting what the Pope said:
The BBC appears to have been quickest off the mark, to send around the world in many languages, including Arabic, Turkish, Farsi, Urdu, and Malay, word that the Pope had insulted the Prophet of Islam, during an address in Bavaria.

He had not, of course. Pope Benedict XVI had instead quoted, carefully and without approval, remarks by the learned 14th-century Byzantine emperor, Manuel II Palaeologus, in debate with a 14th-century learned Persian. He was trying to provide a little historical depth to present controversies about the meaning of "jihad", and his very point was that on their own respective theological terms, Muslims and Christians were bound to talk past each other today, in the same ways as they did seven centuries ago. But in the most conscientious media reports I have seen, even the Byzantine emperor is quoted out of context.
Obviously, if taken out of context and presented a particular way, what the Pope discussed can certainly be spun in such a manner that those susceptable to such spin will react predictably.

Money graphs (or the "what it's all about" part):
From now on, the reporting will be about the Muslim rage, and whether the Vatican has apologized yet. That is the “drama” the media will seek to capture — the drama of the cockfight — because they know no better kind. That the Pope said nothing intrinsically objectionable will be overlooked, in deference to the Muslim rage, just as the media hid the Danish cartoons from their viewers — preventing them from discovering how mild they were.

But again: even without the BBC doing the devil’s work, with unbecoming enthusiasm, the story could have carried to the Muslim world, where a new wave of anti-Western, and specifically anti-Christian hysteria is now rising, similar to what was enhanced by tendentious misreporting after the Danish controversy. There are enough other agents provocateurs both in my business and outside it; and surely, enough radical Muslims digging for grievances to extend their own power.

The manufacture of grievances, to justify strident demands for their redress, is the tyrant’s stock-in-trade. It is what took Adolf Hitler to power over the Germans, and it is what today’s Islamic fanatics depend upon to control the Muslims, and push them towards an apocalyptic jihad against the West. Moreover, the basic tactic of bullying is to demand apologies for exaggerated or imaginary offences. It is to make the decent kneel before the indescent.
Warren asks what responsibility the BBC will take for the likelihood that their reporting might end with "Catholic priests and faithful butchered around the Muslim world."

Of course none. And his further point is just as compelling. Having stirred the pot by mischaracterizing the Pope's words, the focus on the reporting will now be on the "Muslim rage". It's is predictable and it sells news. Cynical? You bet. More and more I find instances where news is manipulated by the purveyors through distortion, mischaracterization and outright falsehood. And the BBC is right in the forefront of those doing so.

Watch and learn. And remember it the next time you read a BBC news report.

Divider


For their handling of the Pope's speech, the BBC wins the first (and newly created) "Helen Thomas" award.

(If you have to ask, you'd never understand)

More on the BBC here.

Runner up: The New York Times editorial board.
There is more than enough religious anger in the world. So it is particularly disturbing that Pope Benedict XVI has insulted Muslims, quoting a 14th-century description of Islam as “evil and inhuman.”
 
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TThis entire series should never have been written, or at least the slant should have been left at the door. I didn’t bother to read the full pope’s speech the first time, but I have now, and your claims about malicious editing by the BBC. They’re not serious claims. The Byzantine emperor’s statements aren’t mitigated in any consequential way by the context they left out. BBC correctly reported on the substance of the speech, or at least its most provocative aspect. In fact, the BBC did the pope a favor by not looking into the basic inaccuracies in the pope’s historical timeline and the incorrect dichotomy he sets up.

Now, it’s not wrong for the pope to speak out against conversion by the sword. If you’d left the angle to "here go those angry Muslims again, rioting because the pope said some true but denigrating remarks".. I wouldn’t be posting.

But the idea that the BBC slanted this as some sort of pope-sabotaging campaign is what you’re pushing, and it’s unserious. A product of your biases and expectations.

How do I demonstrate this? Well, with the Juan Cole passage I cited. Starting with the pope’s speech — QUOTE:

According to the experts, this is one of the suras of the early period, when Mohammed was still powerless and under threat. But naturally the emperor also knew the instructions, developed later and recorded in the Qur’an, concerning holy war.

UNQUOTE.

Pope

He notes that the text he discusses, a polemic against Islam by a Byzantine emperor, cites Qur’an 2:256: "There is no compulsion in religion." Benedict maintains that this is an early verse, when Muhammad was without power.

His allegation is incorrect. Surah 2 is a Medinan surah revealed when Muhammad was already established as the leader of the city of Yathrib (later known as Medina or "the city" of the Prophet). The pope imagines that a young Muhammad in Mecca before 622 (lacking power) permitted freedom of conscience, but later in life ordered that his religion be spread by the sword. But since Surah 2 is in fact from the Medina period when Muhammad was in power, that theory does not hold water.

In fact, the Qur’an at no point urges that religious faith be imposed on anyone by force. This is what it says about the religions:


’ [2:62] Those who believe (in the Qur’an), and those who follow the Jewish (scriptures), and the Christians and the Sabians— any who believe in God and the Last Day, and work righteousness, shall have their reward with their Lord; on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve. ’


McQ, you’ve claimed that the Pope set up a dichotomy between, I guess, a peaceful Islam hijacked by a violent Mohammed. Actually, the pope was setting up a Khomeini-esque character where Mohammed preaches tolerance before he achieves power in Medina, and violence afterwards. And the truth of the Qu’ran is - neither - Mohammed’s original statements condone violence to defend against aggressive action. Not as peaceful as Jesus Christ, but a concept that most Q and Oians seem to find quite appropriate. Now, to my understanding (I’m not a Quranic expert myself, but I’m asking actual Muslims about it), more aggressive doctrines were added onto the body of Islamic religious teachings in later centuries, which some of the schools of Islam include, and some don’t. Sort of like Thomas Aquinas’ just war theory or the Talmud. Religious teaching, but not claimed divine revelation.

As Juan Cole says, the pope was wrong. He quoted the Qu’ran and then added background qualifications that were not factually correct. The BBC didn’t even bring that up, probably because they didn’t know any better. They were also too lazy to find out. If anything, they were biased in the pope’s favor for not pointing out his inaccuracies.

I think you could make a pretty good living taking media reports on controversial subjects, mining the omitted passages, and carrying on about how misreprensative it all was. Then again, you might consider keeping your powder dry for genuine misrepresentations, if you value accuracy. Here, in my somewhat respectful opinion, you have failed to present a clear picture.
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
They’re not serious claims.
Of course they’re serious claims. Are you arguing that context isn’t critical to understanding what someone is saying? Are you claiming that lack of context can’t slant words to mean something that isn’t evident in context?
McQ, you’ve claimed that the Pope set up a dichotomy between, I guess, a peaceful Islam hijacked by a violent Mohammed.
Not at all. Not even close.
Actually, the pope was setting up a Khomeini-esque character where Mohammed preaches tolerance before he achieves power in Medina, and violence afterwards.
Actually he wasn’t. He was talking about Emperor Manuel’s concern about what the Qur’an stated concerning religion and compulsion (which didn’t include Mohammed at all) and then what Mohammed claimed he was directed to do to spread Islam. Manuel’s statement was to note that if there is no compulsion in religion then what Mohammed brings isn’t new, but instead "things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached."

That’s a fair statement given the state of the world at that time.

Now you can hang with Cole’s explanation if you wish, but I thought Michale W pretty much demolished that yesterday.

The fact remains that the Pope didn’t "insult" Islam any more than a discussion of the contradictions of Christianity would be an "insult" to Christianity. But, apropos to the discussion about theocons and the left, it might be worthwhile to note who, on this side of the pond, is attacking the Pope and who is defending him.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Actually he wasn’t. He was talking about Emperor Manuel’s concern about what the Qur’an stated concerning religion and compulsion (which didn’t include Mohammed at all) and then what Mohammed claimed he was directed to do to spread Islam. Manuel’s statement was to note that if there is no compulsion in religion then what Mohammed brings isn’t new, but instead "things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached."

The Byzantine emperor wasn’t correct. He could have been forgiven, perhaps, for not having read the Qu’ran. He was a Byzantine Emperor, and Muslims were conquering his territory. Of course, the Bynzantime emperor was an utter hypocrite, as he was governing the remains of the Roman empire, which spread Christianity by the sword throughout the boundaries of the empire, once the rulers converted.

But that’s okay as well. It was the 14’th century. But I think it was irresponsible for the Pope - the highest-profile religious authority you can find for the Western World - to quote an emperor who was making incorrect statements about the Qu’ran. Here’s the pope’s speech again:

In the seventh conversation (*4V8,>4H - controversy) edited by Professor Khoury, the emperor touches on the theme of the holy war. The emperor must have known that surah 2, 256 reads: "There is no compulsion in religion". According to the experts, this is one of the suras of the early period, when Mohammed was still powerless and under threat. But naturally the emperor also knew the instructions, developed later and recorded in the Qur’an, concerning holy war. Without descending to details, such as the difference in treatment accorded to those who have the "Book" and the "infidels", he addresses his interlocutor with a startling brusqueness on the central question about the relationship between religion and violence in general, saying: "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". The emperor, after having expressed himself so forcefully, goes on to explain in detail the reasons why spreading the faith through violence is something unreasonable.

The emperor was wrong: there is no such command by Mohammed in the Qu’ran. The Qu’ran is, to the understanding I have so far, a collection of statements by Mohammed. Mohammed doesn’t speak outside of the Qu’ran, that much I’m sure about. There is no command to spread Islam by the sword.

There are passages suggesting that in later collected works by Islamic teachers that, in some schools of Islam, have been included as holy works. But the point is that the pope quotes an emperor making provocative and factually incorrect characterizations of the statements of Mohammed and the Qu’ran, and, if the pope knows that the statements are not correct, he did not correct them.

Mike wrote a good post on the pope’s larger speech, which was indeed about the relationship between faith and reason. But the fact that the pope took a slap at Islam in a side-section of his speech doesn’t mean he didn’t take a slap at Islam.

Sure, in the larger context, so what? Muslim religious leaders take slaps at the West all the time. Usually not against Christianity, but I’m sure examples could be found. My only beef here is that, I don’t think it makes a lot of sense to paint the BBC as out to get the Pope, because they didn’t even address the most damaging aspect of all, which is that the pope quoted a Byzantine emperor making inaccurate statements without attempting to correct them.And:

the emperor must have known that surah 2, 256 reads: "There is no compulsion in religion". According to the experts, this is one of the suras of the early period, when Mohammed was still powerless and under threat.

The experts the pope is quoting here are also incorrect, and therefore the pope is incorrect in this characterization. As Juan pointed out, Mohammed was ruling Medina at the time of this surra, so ’powerless’ is not accurate, and the entire insinuation of Mohammed’s forked tongue on this topic is **wrong**.

And the pope clearly sets that up. He points out a peaceable statement by Mohammed, puts it as early when he was weak and powerless - incorect - and then quotes a Byzantine emperor speaking about Mohammed’s command to spread by the sword the faith he preached. Also incorrect.

the BBC rather completely fails to investigate or report these discrepancies. Therefore, you could just as easily interpret that the BBC was out to smear Muslims and protect the pope, as you were that they were out to smear the pope.

Neither are true. And the claim that the BBC misrepresented the pope is a lot weaker while the pope was misrepresenting Mohammed.

 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
The emperor was wrong: there is no such command by Mohammed in the Qu’ran
Two points. Point one. There is no doubt that the verse exists. While there is debate about its interpretation as demonstrated below (only a portion, read the whole thing) there is no debate over the verse’s exsistence:
Surah 2:256: la ikraha fi d-dini
Tolerance or Resignation?

by Rudi Paret (Tübingen)[13]

The Qur’anic passage la ikraha fi d-dini ("there is no compulsion in religion") is generally understood to mean that no one should use compulsion against another in matters of faith. There is much to commend this interpretation. As it is understood here, the statement represents a supposedprinciple which has gained a recognition of international dimensions: the principle of religious tolerance. Historically also the alleged meaning of la ikraha fi d-dini appears to be warranted. "The People of the Book", i.e., the members of the older revealed religions, particularly the Jews and the Christians, were in principle never compelled to accept Islam. They were obliged, while residing in territory under Islamic domination (dar al-Islam), only to recognize the supremacy of Muslims and, at the same time, as an external indication of this recognition, to pay a separate tax. In all other matters they could maintain their inherited beliefs and perform their practices as usual. They even were allowed to establish their own internal administration.
Point two. The Qu’aran isn’t composed of "commands" by "Mohammed". It is believed to be the literal word of God handed down to Mohammed.

Consequently Mohammed has no say over what is or isn’t in the Qur’an. He can’t amend it, include anything or leave anything out.

As pointed out above, the sura exists and is acknowldeged by Islamic scholars. Given that, it is you who appear to be wrong and certainly not the emperor or the Pope as you claim.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
McQ, you’ve claimed that the Pope set up a dichotomy between, I guess, a peaceful Islam hijacked by a violent Mohammed.
Not at all. Not even close.
I got that idea, McQ, from this statement in your original post:
So when the Emperor of whom the Pope was speaking, juxtaposed that instruction with what Mohammad claimed Islam was required to do, i.e. spread Islam by the sword, it is no surprise at all the emperor, not the Pope, said:

"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"
Here is the idea that Mohammed claimed Islam was required to spread Islam by the sword.

First: not correct.

Second: Mohammed couldn’t "claim" Islam required anything that Islam didn’t in fact require, because he’s the founding prophet. We have no idea if the emperor was juxtaposing anything. Probably, he was watching people who claimed to believe in Islam beseige his territory and assigning it without factual basis to the tenets of the Qu’ran.

Frankly, I understand why he’d think that too. Modern Muslims probably think the Talmud requires human blood, and modern Christians have the same misconceptions about Mohammed, first and foremost because of all the fundamentalist Islamic
thugs saying that one easily assumes go back to the root. And hey, what difference does it make what Mohammed said here in 2006?

My point, like I said, was only that it doesn’t make sense to paint the BBC misrepresenting the pope’s remarks as being offensive to Islam, when the pope was making inaccurate statements about Mohammed, and quoting an emperor who was also making incorrect, and quite possibly offensive, statements, and the BBC didn’t even bother to point out the inaccuracies.

The pope can say what he likes, but I understand why someone who believes in Mohammed’s statements as divine revelation being offended, when the pope claims he commanded his religion to be spread by the sword, and he did not.



 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
Two points. Point one. There is no doubt that the verse exists. While there is debate about its interpretation as demonstrated below (only a portion, read the whole thing) there is no debate over the verse’s exsistence:
The verse "there is no compulsion in religion" exists. I’ve assumed in all cases so far that if someone’s quoting the Qu’ran, the quote is true. Not the verse I’m disputing.

What isn’t in the Quran is the empereor’s characterization:
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"
There is no such command in the Quran. Or so I have been lead to believe by Juan Cole, and will believe until someone quotes me something that contradicts it - from the Qu’ran itself, not the sometimes-glorfied, sometimes-not later religious statements. My current understanding is that the Qu’ran discusses violence only to defend one’s own Islamic faith from violent suppression.

So you’re misreading my post. I’m not claiming the Pope’s quote of the Qu’ran, the tolerance one, was incorrect. I’m claiming that he quotes an emperor who claims, wrongly, that "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"

a command which doesn’t exist.
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
Is that a smile, or is the white house press briefing about to start(Dinner is served)? Please put a "hide excerpt" button over that graphic. For the children.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
Here is the idea that Mohammed claimed Islam was required to spread Islam by the sword.
OK .. that was said by Manuel ... not me, not the Pope. It was the emperor who was doing the comparison. Read it again.
First: not correct.
Entirely correct, as history and Mohammed tell us:
Muslims follow not only the Quran, which they believe is a literal transcript of God’s words, but also the Hadith, accounts of Muhammad’s words and deeds. These words and deeds are considered inspired by God and an example for Muslims to follow. According to one widely accepted hadith, whenever Muhammad would send an out expedition, he would admonish his appointed commander:
Fight in the name of Allah and in the way of Allah. Fight against those who disbelieve in Allah. Make a holy war ... When you meet your enemies who are polytheists, invite them to three courses of action. If they respond to any one of these, you also accept it and withhold yourself from doing them any harm. Invite them to (accept) Islam; if they respond to you, accept it from them and desist from fighting against them ... If they refuse to accept Islam, demand from them the Jizya [the tax on non-Muslims specified in Qur’an 9:29]. If they agree to pay, accept it from them and hold off your hands. If they refuse to pay the tax, seek Allah’s help and fight them. (Sahih Muslim 4294)
And how did Mohammed spread Islam? Let me count the ways:

The battle of Badr, the battle of Badr-2, the battle of Ohod, the battle of Ohud-2, the battle of Trench, the Banu Quraizah, the battle of Haibar , the battle of Mut’ah, the conquest of Makkah, the battle of Hunayn, the battle of Ta’if, the battle of Tabuk, the conquest of Mecca.

Sword? What sword?

So now we’ve established that Mohammed (in the Hadith) did indeed tell his followers to offer "choices" or fight them. In any parlance that’s spreading Islam by the sword.
Second: Mohammed couldn’t "claim" Islam required anything that Islam didn’t in fact require, because he’s the founding prophet. We have no idea if the emperor was juxtaposing anything. Probably, he was watching people who claimed to believe in Islam beseige his territory and assigning it without factual basis to the tenets of the Qu’ran.
As you can see above, no one "claimed" he "claimed" anything. Manuel in fact stated what he "brought" wasn’t new but instead "inhuman" and "evil" such as "his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached."

But where you miss the boat is not understanding that Islam is guided by both the Qu’ran and Hadith. And the Hadith is all about Mohammed and Mohammed’s "guidance".

There it is in the quoted Hadith paragraph, for heaven sake. So we have sura 2,256 and we have the coercive choices offered above by Mohammed which, unless accepted, give the Muslim permission to "fight them" and do them "harm". Sounds like spreading it by the "sword" to me.
My point, like I said, was only that it doesn’t make sense to paint the BBC misrepresenting the pope’s remarks as being offensive to Islam, when the pope was making inaccurate statements about Mohammed, and quoting an emperor who was also making incorrect, and quite possibly offensive, statements, and the BBC didn’t even bother to point out the inaccuracies.
But he wasn’t, that is the point. And by removing the context of what he said and how he presented it prior to the reported section, only the words which could be taken as inflammatory were left.

That’s unacceptable.

And you can say this as long as you wish...
The pope can say what he likes, but I understand why someone who believes in Mohammed’s statements as divine revelation being offended, when the pope claims he commanded his religion to be spread by the sword, and he did not.
...but it won’t change the paragraph above or the fact that you don’t seem to understand as much about Islam as you claim.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Please put a "hide excerpt" button over that graphic. For the children.
Pretty gruesome stuff, huh?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
McQ:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hadith

but it won’t change the paragraph above or the fact that you don’t seem to understand as much about Islam as you claim.


I have no expertise in Islam and have never claimed contrary. I’m accumulating knowledge as I go and attempting to reconcile contradiction.

You are apparently correct that the Hadith references the accounts of the claims of other people - oral histories - as to what the Muhammad said and did.

However, if you read all of this, you’ll see that different schools of Islam except different collections of hadith and dispute what Mohammed did and did not say. The hadith are widely studied and commonly accepted, but not inerrant. the Qu’ran is definitely, from a secular analysis, what Mohammed said, as it’s the revelations of what he claimed was told him by God. Other traditions are logically secondary. As seen by the fact that different schools of Islam accept somewhere between none, some and all of them.


Also, here’s the hadith you quote in expanded form:

It has been reported from Sulaiman b. Buraid through his father that when the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) appointed anyone as leader of an army or detachment he would especially exhort him to fear Allah and to be good to the Muslims who were with him. He would say: Fight in the name of Allah and in the way of Allah. Fight against those who disbelieve in Allah. Make a holy war, do not embezzle the spoils; do not break your pledge; and do not mutilate (the dead) bodies; do not kill the children. When you meet your enemies who are polytheists, invite them to three courses of action. If they respond to any one of these, you also accept it and withold yourself from doing them any harm. Invite them to (accept) Islam; if they respond to you, accept it from them and desist from fighting against them. Then invite them to migrate from their lands to the land of Muhairs and inform them that, if they do so, they shall have all the privileges and obligations of the Muhajirs. If they refuse to migrate, tell them that they will have the status of Bedouin Muilims and will be subjected to the Commands of Allah like other Muslims, but they will not get any share from the spoils of war or Fai’ except when they actually fight with the Muslims (against the disbelievers). If they refuse to accept Islam, demand from them the Jizya. If they agree to pay, accept it from them and hold off your hands. If they refuse to pay the tax, seek Allah’s help and fight them. When you lay siege to a fort and the besieged appeal to you for protection in the name of Allah and His Prophet, do not accord to them the guarantee of Allah and His Prophet, but accord to them your own guarantee and the guarantee of your companions for it is a lesser sin that the security given by you or your companions be disregarded than that the security granted in the name of Allah and His Prophet be violated When you besiege a fort and the besieged want you to let them out in accordance with Allah’s Command, do not let them come out in accordance with His Command, but do so at your (own) command, for you do not know whether or not you will be able to carry out Allah’s behest with regard to them.

Looks like Focus on the Family did exactly what you think BBC did: selectively edit and misrepresent the hadith. Seems like it only applies to polytheists, not to the Byzantine emperor.

http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/fundamentals/hadithsunnah/muslim/019.smt.html

I think it’s fair to say that there is no conversion by the sword in the Qu’ran. I was aware of some in the Hadith already. I’m not sure about the relationship between Mohammad, the Qu’ran, and the Hadith. Apparently from the Wikipedia source, neither are Muslims.

Plus, we’re passing over Juan Cole’s original pointed-out, although fairly small, innaccuracy.

 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
There is no such command in the Quran.
Nothing Mohammed says is in the Koran. As McQ noted above, the Koran is considered the literal, perfect word of God, and not a jot of it is to be changed. So, of course no command from Mohammed would be in the Koran.
My current understanding is that the Qu’ran discusses violence only to defend one’s own Islamic faith from violent suppression.
Sura 9:5: "So when the sacred months have passed away, then slay the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them captives and besiege them and lie in wait for them in every ambush, then if they repent and keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate, leave their way free to them; surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful."

Your understanding is incorrect. Juan Cole will do that to you.
 
Written By: Pablo
URL: http://
I am always amazed about how much slack the left will cut Islam no matter what its adherents do.
 
Written By: capt joe
URL: http://
Pablo -

good point.
Here’s what I was working with -
He notes that the text he discusses, a polemic against Islam by a Byzantine emperor, cites Qur’an 2:256: "There is no compulsion in religion." Benedict maintains that this is an early verse, when Muhammad was without power.

His allegation is incorrect. Surah 2 is a Medinan surah revealed when Muhammad was already established as the leader of the city of Yathrib (later known as Medina or "the city" of the Prophet). The pope imagines that a young Muhammad in Mecca before 622 (lacking power) permitted freedom of conscience, but later in life ordered that his religion be spread by the sword. But since Surah 2 is in fact from the Medina period when Muhammad was in power, that theory does not hold water.

In fact, the Qur’an at no point urges that religious faith be imposed on anyone by force. This is what it says about the religions:


’ [2:62] Those who believe (in the Qur’an), and those who follow the Jewish (scriptures), and the Christians and the Sabians— any who believe in God and the Last Day, and work righteousness, shall have their reward with their Lord; on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve. ’



See my comments On the Quran and peace.

The idea of holy war or jihad (which is about defending the community or at most about establishing rule by Muslims, not about imposing the faith on individuals by force) is also not a Quranic doctrine. The doctrine was elaborated much later, on the Umayyad-Byzantine frontier, long after the Prophet’s death. In fact, in early Islam it was hard to join, and Christians who asked to become Muslim were routinely turned away. The tyrannical governor of Iraq, al-Hajjaj, was notorious for this rejection of applicants, because he got higher taxes on non-Muslims. Arab Muslims had conquered Iraq, which was then largely pagan, Zoroastrian, Christian and Jewish. But they weren’t seeking converts and certainly weren’t imposing their religion.

The pope was trying to make the point that coercion of conscience is incompatible with genuine, reasoned faith. He used Islam as a symbol of the coercive demand for unreasoned faith.

But he has been misled by the medieval polemic on which he depended.

In fact, the Quran also urges reasoned faith and also forbids coercion in religion. The only violence urged in the Quran is in self-defense of the Muslim community against the attempts of the pagan Meccans to wipe it out.
It seemed plausible to me. Upon seeing your quote, I went and looked up the sura itself - here. .Putting the verse next to its previous verse, I’m not really sure what the message is:
[9:4] If the idol worshipers sign a peace treaty with you, and do not violate it, nor band together with others against you, you shall fulfill your treaty with them until the expiration date. GOD loves the righteous.

[9:5] Once the Sacred Months are past, (and they refuse to make peace) you may kill the idol worshipers when you encounter them, punish them, and resist every move they make. If they repent and observe the Contact Prayers (Salat) and give the obligatory charity (Zakat), you shall let them go. GOD is Forgiver, Most Merciful.
I’m still not sure that the Qu’ran would consider "idol-worshipers" to include, well, the Christian emperor of Byzantium - but that’s not neccesarily the point. I could also get down in the weeds and say, it looks to me like the Qu’ran permits war, but does not command it, according to my translation, although not yours.
However, it also appears to fail to explicitly limit the use of violence to a defensive scenario - although I’d still believe that the preponderance of verses refer to it in those situations. However - I admit - looks like Juan Cole has overstated his case.(Although, I also didn’t see, first time through, the passage where he suggests "at most, rule by Muslims".

In any event, if the Qu’ran is - (and it sure seems like it) - unclear on the subject, and there’s a general debate in the modern world right now about how to interpret passages like these, I’m sure that moderate muslims don’t appreciate the pope weighing in with a quote from an emperor who seems to - understandably for the emperor, perhaps - have decided the question opposite the way we’d like Muslims to decide it.

As for my opinion, I’d say, at the end of the learning process here, that the pope’s statements were defensible, for a Muslim to be irritated by them is defendible, and the whole thing should be worked out over a beer - um, nonalcoholic beverage of choice. And, I don’t think the BBC maligned the Pope by quoting only part of his statements. Partial quoting, the source of havoc and marginal accusations around the globe, is sadly to be found everywhere. I do it. Q and O does it. Public speakers everywhere are not going to look at the world correctly if they assume that partial quoting is malicious in nature.







 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
Partial quoting, the source of havoc and marginal accusations around the globe, is sadly to be found everywhere. I do it. Q and O does it.
The huge difference is you and QandO aren’t passing themselves off as a news service, the BBC is.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
Pablo - here’s Andrew Sullivan, making the same point that Juan Cole made,

http://time.blogs.com/daily_dish/2006/09/the_popes_error.html


And here’s the Times of London, pointing out the same error made by the Pope:

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,3-2360087,00.html


Quote from the TimesOnline:
The Pope has a history of criticism of Islam. According to a leading Catholic, he believes that Islam cannot be reformed and is therefore incompatible with democracy.

Earlier this year, Father Joseph Fessio, provost of Ave Maria University in Naples and founder of the publishing house Ignatius Press, said that the Pope believed that reform of Islam was impossible “because it’s against the very nature of the Koran, as it’s understood by Muslims.”

Professor Kung said: “The Pope just was not aware of the implications of what he was saying.”

The tragedy of the episode is that the Pope was arguing against the idea that violence can be justified in any religion. He was making the case for the compatibility of reason with religion at a time when fundamentalism is gaining terrifying ground across the religious spectrum.
When you want Muslims to recoincile their religion with democracy and interpret it as not sanctioning violence, don’t have the pope come out and call the whole religion a lost cause.

If this whole thing makes any larger point, it’s the universal prevlance of innaccuracy in public discourse...
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
When you want Muslims to recoincile their religion with democracy and interpret it as not sanctioning violence, don’t have the pope come out and call the whole religion a lost cause.
Here is a of G_d man objecting to an unreasonable aspect of a religion. It needs to be said, because it needs to be debated. Sweeping it under the carpet in the hope that some as yet unknown persons are going to do something about it later is not a practical solution.
 
Written By: unaha-closp
URL: http://warisforwinning.blogspot.com/

The tragedy of the episode is that the Pope was arguing against the idea that violence can be justified in any religion. He was making the case for the compatibility of reason with religion at a time when fundamentalism is gaining terrifying ground across the religious spectrum.
Where across the religious spectrum? What religions are terrifying anyone?
When you want Muslims to recoincile their religion with democracy and interpret it as not sanctioning violence, don’t have the pope come out and call the whole religion a lost cause.
Of course, he didn’t do that, but what would you expect him to preach other than Christianity? Why would he endorse Islam? Have you seen any Imams endorse Catholicism?
 
Written By: Pablo
URL: http://
n any event, if the Qu’ran is - (and it sure seems like it) - unclear on the subject, and there’s a general debate in the modern world right now about how to interpret passages like these, I’m sure that moderate muslims don’t appreciate the pope weighing in with a quote from an emperor who seems to - understandably for the emperor, perhaps - have decided the question opposite the way we’d like Muslims to decide it.
It would seem that it isn’t moderate muslims we should be worried about.

If Sura 9:5 is new to you, you should Google and study the terms "Dar al Islam" and "Dar al Harb". Then perhaps you could address the intersection between faith, reason and violence.
 
Written By: Pablo
URL: http://
A few points in random order:

If humanity is to judge religion’s by their books and not by their actions, then Muslims should shut up about the Crusades, too, because according to the Bible, you’re not supposed to fight holy wars either.

Glasnost can try to sell me on the Koran’s peaceful ways, but in reality, all they are offering is that Christians and Jews get to pay a special tax and not build any churches or look for converts, and the Moon worshippers get killed. Oh, and yes, if you want to leave Islam you can’t.

Now, if that’s the new definition of a religious freedom of choice, then we ought to use the priniciple of reciprocity to have new laws in the West:

1. Muslims can be muslims but must pay 10% additional "security" tax to fund anti-terrorist budgets.

2. Muslims will not be allowed to build any houses of worship or any schools, and they cannot win any converts or have their men marry any non-muslim woman.

BTW, the argument reminds of people who always tried to convince people that Communism was so great in principle while ignoring the reality.


p.s. where’s the poet Omar who could settle this once and for all?

 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
Glasnost can try to sell me on the Koran’s peaceful ways, but in reality, all they are offering is that Christians and Jews get to pay a special tax and not build any churches or look for converts, and the Moon worshippers get killed. Oh, and yes, if you want to leave Islam you can’t.

I think what I’m selling is the lack of the fundamental basis of the religion being based on conquest and forced conversion. If that was true, we’d have to lead a worldwide campaign to force Muslims to stop being Muslim, right? For our own safety? Is that where we’re at?

It’s clear that, to the extent that passages in the combined Islamic text sanction violence, non-violent interpretations need to win out. Read the old testament sometime: it’s horrifically violent and can certainly be read as justifying, allowing, or commanding Jewish people to slaughter every unbeliever in their path. Yet the religion works just fine with those aspects de-signified in that manner in modern life, as peaceful Jewish civilizations across the world make clear.

Same for Islam.
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
Glasnost,
Can I get a cite on the ’Romans converted people to Christianity "by the sword"’?
I spent 5 minutes searching and could not find anything. The earliest mention of conversion by sword to Christianity was by Charlemagne and he was supposedly rebuked for it.
Thanks.
 
Written By: anomdebus
URL: http://
p.s. where’s the poet Omar who could settle this once and for all?
The Poet Omar speaks only for himself, not most Moslems, and then he speaks anonymously.

When he speaks for himself, he says ridiculous things to the effect that American society is comparable to Arabic Islamist society because we have the Amish and Branch Davidians among us.

As with Glasnost, a mental lightweight who believes things that are flatly counterfactual (bottom post of thread), the Poet Omar is most useful as a weak foil or as entertainment.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp

Not a standard.
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
Glasnost wrote:
It’s clear that, to the extent that passages in the combined Islamic text sanction violence, non-violent interpretations need to win out.
When a significant number of the adherents of a faith are plotting your destruction (with no small success, at that); an ineffectual number of the other adherents of that faith oppose them; and a violent interpretation of those passages was in evidence throughout the history that faith whenever thay had the balance of power in their favor; why would that be true?

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://

 
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