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Talking to the Pope
Posted by: McQ on Tuesday, October 24, 2006

28 Islamic scholars have written a reply to Pope Benedict's Regensburg speech which got him in such hot water. From what I understand, they constitute, at least partially, a sort of "who's who" of such scholars.

The letter is interesting for a number of reasons. Primarily because, by sending such a letter, a dialog has been opened. For that we can thank Pope Benedict, as well as these scholars who've decided this is important enough to talk about.

A second reason is it lays out some precepts concerning Islam which are, at least in my mind, extremely important. Their primary importance is the letter, in may cases, directly contradicts much of the radical Islamic propaganda put out by the terrorists.

We begin with the tone of the letter - it is respectful and scholarly. It is also quite direct, which makes it easy to read and understand.
While we applaud your efforts to oppose the dominance of positivism and materialism in human life, we must point out some errors in the way you mentioned Islam as a counterpoint to the proper use of reason, aswell as some mistakes in the assertions you put forward in support of your argument.
They begin by examining the line "there is no compulsion in religion" and conclude that the Pope had it wrong:
In fact this verse is acknowledged to belong to the period of Quranic revelation corresponding to the political and military ascendance of the young Muslim community. There is no compulsion in religion was not a command to Muslims to remain steadfast in the face of the desire of their oppressors to force them to renounce their faith, but was a reminder to Muslims themselves, once they had attained power, that they could not force another’s heart to believe. There is no compulsion in religion addresses those in a position of strength, not weakness. The earliest commentaries on the Qur’an (such as that ofAl-Tabari) make it clear that some Muslims of Medina wanted to force their children to convert from Judaism or Christianity to Islam, and this verse was precisely an answer to them not to try to force their children to convert to Islam.
While the Pope may have gotten the time in which the verse was used wrong, the intent of his point remains valid. There is no compulsion in religion ... for Jews, Christians or Muslims and for Muslims their holy writings say so clearly. And apparently Muslims in positions of power are warned that it is wrong to force conversions.

They discuss God's transcendence and the use of reason. They then get to what many would characterize as the "main feature". A discussion of "Holy war". It opens with a surprising sentence:
We would like to point out that “holy war” is a term that does not exist in Islamic languages.
However:
Jihad, it must be emphasized, means struggle, and specifically struggle in the way of God. This struggle may take many forms, including the use of force. Though a jihad may be sacred in the sense of being directed towards a sacred ideal, it is not necessarily a “war”.
That established, if it is "violent" and is a "war", what are the parameters according to Islam?
The authoritative and traditional Islamic rules of war can be summarized in the following principles:

1. Non-combatants are not permitted or legitimate targets. This was emphasized explicitly time and again by the Prophet, his Companions, and by the learned tradition since then.

2. Religious belief alone does not make anyone the object of attack. The original Muslim community was fighting against pagans who had also expelled them from their homes, persecuted, tortured, and murdered them. Thereafter, the Islamic conquests were political in nature.

3. Muslims can and should live peacefully with their neighbors. And if they incline to peace, do thou incline to
it; and put thy trust in God (al-Anfal 8:61). However, this does not exclude legitimate self-defense and maintenance
of sovereignty.

Muslims are just as bound to obey these rules as they are to refrain from theft and adultery.
There it is in black and white. Precisely the opposite of what the jihadis and their complicit imams preach and issue in their fatwas. Proof that they are illegitimate heretics who are not preaching the words of Islam, but their own twisted version of them.

There is much more to the letter and it is an interesting read, but I wanted to emphasize the salient points which specifically refute the points our enemies use when they claim Islam as their guiding light. 28 leading Islamic scholars disagree completely.

And this letter should be posted on every available space and shouted from every minaret in Islam condemning the pretenders and their methods.
 
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I, too, admire the letter and hope it takes root within the overall Muslim community. But this has been said before (maybe not by a who’s who of Muslim scholars) and it has fallen on deaf ears. The wrong ears, too. The "pretenders" as you called them are not that at all. They are the practitioners of muhammed’s Islam. It is not about me feeling that way, they feel that way too. The no compulsion in religion bit? I would be willing to bet that Osama, and the rest of the "crazy" Mullah’s, agree. However, the choice isn’t just accept Islam or go on. It is accept Islam or be dhimmi. So, I don’t have to be a Muslim, but my other choice is a second class citizen? Nah, I don’t think so. A nice game of semantics, but I ain’t playing.

"2. Religious belief alone does not make anyone the object of attack. The original Muslim community was fighting against pagans who had also expelled them from their homes, persecuted, tortured, and murdered them. Thereafter, the Islamic conquests were political in nature." Yeah, sure. McQ, do you actually believe this revisionist history? There was never a separation between the civil and the religious with Islam. Islam is both. It was both for muhammed. And that is ALL that is important. So, whenever they feel persecuted, break out the scimitars and start a hacking I guess? Once again, no thank you. A little too subjective for me.

Listen, I realize that I will be branded a racist, an Islamophobe and every other "easy" label that the apologist can find, but the proof is in the pudding. I believe that the majority of Muslims want to live in peace with the remainder of mankind, but please no more duplicity of the origins of this religion and/or political movement. Be upfront, acknowledge it’s bloody past. Acknowledge that the prophet/founder was a murderer, extortionist and rapist. Call it a reformation if you like. Call it whatever, but no more declarations of it’s peacefullness in the face of 1400 years of contrary evidence. I am hoping that the "reformed" Muslims win this battle. I truly am, but I would like to see more action than just words. It is a step, I guess. But excuse me if I remain extremely "cautiously" pessimistic.

 
Written By: HappyInTheMiddle
URL: http://
In order for so-called Moderates to take a stand, they need to be confronted.

Right now I believe many look at the situation as outsiders to the conflict. They need us to knock on their front door with more than a ’how do you do?’ to force them to become involved. By confronting them, the Pope has taken the first steps.

Otherwise if we continue to meet Muslims as a whole with acquiescence, they won’t become involved.
 
Written By: jpm100
URL: http://
The root of the modern problems are with he Wahabist movement which began shortly after the fall of the Mahdi’s army to the British in the 1890’s.

To some extent it is a throwback to earlier teachings, but you would have to go back to the rise of the Ottomans to find Islamic teachings which are so xenophobic.

So I guess I believe that Islam can coexist with everyone else, but it will have to root out this murderous version of itself.

As to whether the Wahabists are correct in their interpretation is another matter. I suspect that they are. Mohammed was very bloodthirsty .
 
Written By: kyle N
URL: http://impudent.blognation.us/blog
However, this does not exclude legitimate self-defense and maintenance of sovereignty.

Behold the Loophole, with a capital L.
 
Written By: Achillea
URL: http://
"There was never a separation between the civil and the religious with Islam."
Did you know that, at the height of the Baghdad caliphate in the tenth century, there were forty-five thousand Christians living at peace right there in that city, and there were loud complaints from the locals that too many Christians and Jews were risen to offices in the government?

 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
By the way, it’s 38 not 28 scholars, and it is an important opening to dialogue. Click my url and check out my blog entry (October 24) for my thoughts on this. Pope Benedict may be an unlikely hero in the "clash" between the West and Islam.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Did you know that, at the height of the Baghdad caliphate in the tenth century, there were forty-five thousand Christians living at peace right there in that city, and there were loud complaints from the locals that too many Christians and Jews were risen to offices in the government?
Which has no bearing on the fact that Islam was the state religion and enforced as such. Ever hear of dhimmitude?

Try to make relevant points.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
Try to pay attention, Tom: they were Christians and Jews practicing as such in the city, and this was also common throughout the caliphate. They had their own churches and synagogues, they ran thir funerals through the streets, and everything. The ignoramus that I quoted asserted that "there was never a separation between the civil and religious in Islam". See? It’s right up ^^^^ there where you can try to focus your beady little eyes on it. Well, it’s not true, that person didn’t know what he was talking about, and neither do you.

So sit down and close your insipid mouth.

Thanx. Have an ice day.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
AS long as Muslims scolars continue to tow-the-line that the "early Muslim community" never did anything wrong or immoral then we will continue to be at an impasse.

Asra Q. Nomani at the Washington Post recently refered to something called the "4:34 dance." The Koran clearly states that wife-beating is permissable under certain circumstances in verse 4:34. Scolars such as the authors of this letter never directly repudiate the verse, instead, they always try to worm away from the converations about it.

One could make the same arguement here, and call it the "Sura 9 dance," where the Koran clearly calls upon its believers to slay pagans where you find them and to subjugate Jews and christians. Its silly to claim that Omar’s ransacking of Damascus and subsequent siege of Jerusalem in 637-638 was justified, yet the Crusader’s attempt to do the same 500 years later was morally wrong; however, this position is what these Muftis and apologists like Billy Beck appear to be advocating.
 
Written By: Jimmy the Dhimmi
URL: http://moorejack.ytmnd.com/
Try to pay attention, Tom: they were Christians and Jews practicing as such in the city, and this was also common throughout the caliphate.
Which has no bearing on the dhimmi tax, does it? Could non-Moslems and Moslems marry> Without the non-moslem converting? Could apostate Moslems hold office? It has no bearing on whether the religious minorities actually had any influence on policy commensurate with the fraction of the population they represented, or that public or official behavior consistent with the minority religion but not with Islam was tolerated. I’m sure that consistent with the mores of the time, many positions in the beauracracy were filled by eunuchs.

While true, that has the same applicability as your post—none.
They had their own churches and synagogues, they ran thir funerals through the streets, and everything.
More meaningless blather. Words written beside the point. We know which culture evolved towards more genuine tolerance in any case.
The ignoramus that I quoted asserted that "there was never a separation between the civil and religious in Islam".
And what you are unable to intuit is that there is no inconsistency between useful and talented members of religious minorites being employed in government, and in their being severely oppressed minorities at the same time—there was no separation between civil and the religious extant at the time.
See? It’s right up ... and neither do you.

So sit down and close your insipid mouth.
Comoing from someone who doesn’t recognize the significance of a lower case versus a capital letter, I’ll take insipid as a complement.

As long as people like you are the libertarians, you’ll have all the political success you deserve.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
Awww shucks, Billy is a name caller. Nice. Billy, or as I will from now on reference you, useful idiot, the thing is that to Muhammed (the only true barometer of TRUE Islam) there was never a separation between church and state. Islam is both. Since your panties obviously got into a bunch, let me just state that of course at times during the 1400 years of Islam, that the principled/civilized among Islam realized that total and complete servitude by the dhimmi was not conducive to a well heeled populace and thus they did indeed allow concessions. However, they were STILL second class citizens. The PROBLEM is that those people must not only counter act but also suppress, wholly, the muhammedan warriors that still wish to complete his dream.

But let’s look at your snarky quote. "Did you know that, at the height of the Baghdad caliphate in the tenth century, there were forty-five thousand Christians living at peace right there in that city, and there were loud complaints from the locals that too many Christians and Jews were risen to offices in the government?" Living at peace? Yes, if you qualify peace soley as the absence of war and/or retribution. Most people don’t. Your ignorance is noted and try to stay away from the name calling, ok. It only makes whatever position you have get muddied by your own insecurity.

Thanks, Tom, for articulating the point better than I can. As I said in my intitial post, I knew there would be some apologist responding viscerally and not intellectually. I guess billy was that some one. My only point is that I hope that Islam can steer itself away from the early teachings and enter into the humanism of the 21st century. However, that can ONLY be accomplished by it coming to grips with its dangerous and bloody past. I understand that it will be very hard, though and am just looking for concrete steps to its enlightenment by more than just a relative few. For Islam is fundamentally different from the other major religions. When Christians killed in the name Jesus, they were NOT doing Jesus’ works. They were failing Him. When Bhuddists killed in the name of God, they were not doing Bhudda’s works. They were failing Him. When Hindus killed in the name of God, they were not doing God’s works. They were failing Him. As these religious/spiritual peoples have grown they have seen their acts as complete failures and have stopped doing evil in their God’s names. But it is harder, much harder, for Islam. Because Islam has the works of muhammed as their founder. How do you maintain his religion while refuting his actions?
 
Written By: HappyIntheMiddle
URL: http://
That’s all well and good, but the history of Islam does not bear out their interpretation of things. Islam has made a name for itself through the application of widespread violence, conquest and subjugation of any group in their way toward a humanity united under Islam. The fruit that Islam has brought us has been thoroughly poisoned.
 
Written By: MikeT
URL: http://www.codemonkeyramblings.com
"Awww shucks, Billy is a name caller."
That is what’s known as identification, kid. It’s too bad if you have a problem being what you are. What you wrote about Islam was just dead wrong and — like I said — ignorant.

Perkins:
"Which has no bearing on the dhimmi tax, does it?
When you look back at history, do you call it a "dhimmi tax" when Christians laid it on muslims or Jews, or do you have different name for it?
"Could non-Moslems and Moslems marry> Without the non-moslem converting?"
That quite depends on the time, place, and ruler, exactly like medieval Christian practice.
"Could apostate Moslems hold office?
You’re talking about something like twelve hundred years of Islamic history before the modern era (depending on where you want to draw lines), including different empires on the scale of Rome at its height, and these questions are just stupid. In the broad stroke, apostate muslims were most likely just snuffed, but it’s very interesting how, in all this "never a separation between the civil and religious in Islam" you’re running this sort of a back-fill and ignoring the the political implications of Christians and Jews serving in muslim governments.

Why are you two doing that? What’s your problem with the facts?
"More meaningless blather. Words written beside the point.
Says you, with a hearty handwave. Reasonable people are going to understand that Christians and Jews permitted their own religious practices in the heart of a muslim empire is a very distinctive and notable "separation between the civil and religious in Islam", whether you’ve got bone enough to admit it, or not.
"We know which culture evolved towards more genuine tolerance in any case."
Now, you’re just changing the subject. It’s almost cute when you roll tits-up like that, but it’s a lot more pathetic.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
LOL, Billy. You didn’t prove a thing, other than you’re a useful idiot. Pat yourself on the back. You say something (i.e. me being wrong), so it is true? It doesn’t work that way. Well let me identify you, ok? We already know of useful idiot so how about...rambunctious? Kid? You aren’t projecting there, are you billy?

Once again. There is no separation of the civil/religious in genuine Islam.

"Reasonable people are going to understand that Christians and Jews permitted their own religious practices in the heart of a muslim empire is a very distinctive and notable "separation between the civil and religious in Islam", whether you’ve got bone enough to admit it, or not." Not as second class citizens or dhimmi. And when you show me a reasonable person, I’ll let you know. Are you sure your real name isn’t something like Billy Badass? ’Cause you sure talk tough!

 
Written By: HappyIntheMiddle
URL: http://
"We know which culture evolved towards more genuine tolerance in any case."
Now, you’re just changing the subject. It’s almost cute when you roll tits-up like that, but it’s a lot more pathetic.
I wouldn’t put it quite like Billy, but that at this moment much of the Muslim world is less tolerant than Western Europe doesn’t prove anything about the compatibility of Islam with a more peaceful and democratic future. Certainly many Islamic societies have been more tolerant than many western societies at times in the past. I don’t mean 900AD either. I would take contemporary Indonesia (the largest Mulsim majority country in the world) over most of Europe in the 1930’s and 1940’s in a heartbeat. Or how about the Soviet bloc pre-1989 or Franco’s Spain? I would take the democracy of contemporary Indonesia over Putin’s Russia today.

Not to mention that many of the most odious regimes in the Muslim world are not or have not been Islamic but explicitly modeled after western fascist states.

None of that means that much of the Islamic world isn’t a cesspool of violence and oppression now, but the historical evidence does not show that Islam has been any less tolerant or more warlike than any other culture over the last 1400 years. Does much of the Islamic world need to evolve, yes. This constant reference to supposedly hard wired aspects of Islam that have analogous aspects in western culture is just wrong headed and hurts the ability to evolve. It is also the same game the jihadist’s use in talking about us.

There is no separation of the civil/religious in genuine Islam.


Well, glad you are an expert on Islam, because millions upon millions of Muslims believe otherwise. You should go and tell them exactly why they need to join Osama, because they have it all wrong!
 
Written By: Lance
URL: http://www.asecondhandconjecture.com
Well, glad you are an expert on Islam, because millions upon millions of Muslims believe otherwise
And millions upon millions agree with him, including just about all of the eccumenical leadership throughout the Muslim world, including all 7 Ayatollas of the Shiites, every Grand Mufti of every major city in the middle-east and south asia, as well as all 4 schools of Sunni jurisprudence. Who are the experts on Islam again?

The problem is, that in order for Islam to be considered separate from civil law, Muslims must distance themselves from what Mohammad said and did. For Christians to do the same with their religion, they must come to more fully embrace what Jesus said and did.
 
Written By: Jimmy the Dhimmi
URL: http://moorejack.ytmnd.com/
The problem is, that in order for Islam to be considered separate from civil law, Muslims must distance themselves from what Mohammad said and did. For Christians to do the same with their religion, they must come to more fully embrace what Jesus said and did.
At least two things separate Islam from the West on this:

1) Christianity was a persecuted religion early on, meaning that while they had community solidarity, the idea of a strong single rule based on religious authority was difficult; and

2) Once Rome converted and there was a link between Church and State (as link as strong as that in Islam today), that persisted for a long time. But the Christian tradition that emerged was a meshing of the Bible and Greek philosophy. The Greek influence gave the Christian West an inherent opening for secularization — the West runs on two legs, one a religious tradition, the other a secular tradition. That tradition moved to dominate with modernity.

In Islam, modernization will likely not be the same kind of secularization that the West had; we’ve got a Greek inspired secularized Christendom in the West. Islam will likely rediscover traditions from its golden age, and find a different path to modernize, with a different kind of secularization.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm

 
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