Which Islam is a religion of peace?

cc6 26Ever since Sept. 11, there have been several consistent themes in the mainstream media’s coverage of Islam. There have also been some interesting holes, as GetReligion keeps pointing out, and there have been some interesting contradictions.

One of the major themes has been that Islam is a religion of peace.

Another major theme is that there is no “one Islam,” because this faith has no central authority system that says what is right and what is wrong.

Thus, it is wrong to say that Wahabi evangelists in the mountains of Pakistan are preaching the same sermons as peaceful Sufi mystics in Kashmir. Not all Muslims believe precisely the same things, when it comes flying airplanes into buildings and, as shown in new headlines from Egypt, blowing up Israeli tourists and Coptic Christians (hours after Pascha, no less).

I thought about these themes yesterday when reading Richard Serrano’s latest Los Angeles Times piece on Zacarias Moussaoui, entitled “Life of a Terrorist: Seeking, and Finding, His Jihad.”

You see, “jihad” is one of those words, isn’t it? It has different meanings to different believers and that is what this piece is all about, as a young man in London is recruited into a radical form of Islam that is not — let’s face it, reporters — a religion of peace.

Had Moussaoui not surrendered to the spell of the radicals, his life might have been different. After all, he had broken away from his impoverished childhood in France, as well as his violent, alcoholic father. He had made it to London. He was smart; he earned a master’s degree in business.

But that was the road not taken. At the Brixton mosque, he began wearing military camouflage and black boots. He criticized fellow Muslims as too soft. “Where’s the jihad?” he kept asking. “Where’s the jihad?”

In other words, Moussaoui was trying to find out which Islam is the real Islam, because there was conflict over key doctrines.

Note the contradiction. It is hard to say, like a White House mantra, that “Islam is a religion of peace” and then turn around and say that there are many different Islams. So which Islam is a religion of peace? If journalists (and White House talking heads) then say, “The real Islam is a religion of peace,” isn’t that a rather simplistic statement? Imperialistic, even?

Who, in global Islam, gave President George W. Bush, the editorial board of the New York Times or even the Islamic studies faculty at a place like Georgetown University the right to decide which is the real Islam and which is the false one? What if the people who taught Moussaoui have their own doctrines, their own traditions, their own schools and their own definitions of words like “peace”? What if they think they get to define which Islam is the true Islam?

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About tmatt

Terry Mattingly directs the Washington Journalism Center at the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. He writes a weekly column for the Universal Syndicate.

  • http://paragraphfarmer.blogspot.com/ Patrick O’Hannigan

    One of my favorite bloggers had a cartoon germane to this discussion just yesterday. Panel one quoted the president of Iran saying “Our nuclear program is for ‘peaceful’ purposes.” The second panel was a drawing of a headstone on which the words “Israel– Rest in Peace” were engraved.

    There’s another question related to the ones raised in this post, as well, namely: assuming for the sake of argument that Islam is a relion of peace, and that the majority of its adherents mean the same thing that Christians, for example, mean by “peace,”what is it about the Koran that makes it so malleable in the hands of Islamist jihadis?

    One theory has it that later and more violent verses supersede earlier and more peaceful onees. That would seem to track pretty closely with the trajectory of Mohmammed’s life and political/military career. But how many in the media even ask these questions?

  • Daniel

    Is Christianity a religion of peace? How about Judaism? Until we can answer those, maybe we aren’t prepared to answer whether Islam is. Given the amount of warmongering and killing done by Christians and Jews, I think the mantle of “religion of peace” is up-for-grabs in those faiths too.

  • Steve

    If you want to know what a religion teaches, don’t look at the followers, look at the founder. When you compare Jesus to Mohmammed’s you see two very different people. No where in the New Testement do you see Jesus, or anyone in the earily Church, taking up the sward to defend the faith. When Peter pulled out his sward to defend Jesus prior to his death, Jesus told him to put away the sward. Mohmammed, on the other hand, was very good with the sward.

  • Rathje

    All religions are potentially “violent religions.” Just as all people are potentially “violent people.”

  • Steve

    Welcome to original sin. We are all sinners.

  • http://www.geocities.com/hohjohn John L. Hoh, Jr.

    Or all people, born with original sin, have evil tendencies tempered by the Law.

    One thing that makes Islam hard to define and discern is that moderate clerics are not vocal in condemning the radicals. Then again, if one’s life is potentially on the line (think of the bounty placed on Salman Rushdie’s head), I guess I might keep quiet, too. Better to gripe about the American government and seeming abuses as a result of security measures than to say anything bad about murderous thugs who advocate violence in the name of your religion.

    Does CHristianity have a pure past? No. We have the Inquisitions and Luther’s dandy little book on the Jews (funny how no one remembers the earlier book Luther wrote advocating kindness and brotherly concern for Jews so that they might see Jesus as their Savior; read “That Jesus Was Born A Jew”).

    What was that line from the movie “Angel Heart?” Oh, yeah, when Louis Cypher says, “There’s enough religion in the world to make men hate each other, but not enough for them to love each other.”

  • BluesDaddy

    “Is Christianity a religion of peace? How about Judaism? Until we can answer those, maybe we aren’t prepared to answer whether Islam is. Given the amount of warmongering and killing done by Christians and Jews, I think the mantle of “religion of peace” is up-for-grabs in those faiths too.”

    Ah, you got to love moral equivalency. While there was a brief period of “Christian” violence (mostly as a reaction to Muslim incursion, but that’s another story), the whole history of Islam is one of violence.

    Where are the Christians rioting in the streets over the cross in urine? Where are the murders by Christians over “The Last Temptation of Christ”? What city did Christians burn down because of the ridiculous Da Vinci code?

    While Christians are certainly not perfect, and any religion wedded to political power can be a tool for ambitious men, Christianity has never taught violence against one’s neighbor or anything approaching dhimitude.

  • Rathje

    Actually, the Muslim enjoyed long periods of enlightenment while Christian peoples were having crusades and inquisitions. While Jews were being burned at the stake in medeival Europe, they were welcomed in places like Morocco and Egypt, which had thriving Jewish communities coexisting peacfully with their Muslim neighbors.

    It has been claimed that El Cid’s feat of driving the Moors out of Spain probably set the country back three hundred years on the civilization evolutionary path.

    The problem with Islam today is:

    a) It’s highly unregulated (Mohammed and the caliphs are dead)

    b) Most Muslims have the misfortune of being located squarely within the third-world block.

  • Daniel

    BluesDaddy,

    How quickly you’ve forgotten Northern Ireland or even modern Uganda. While Christians don’t riot and murder now for the small offenses (outside of places like Uganda and arbuably Bosnia), there was a time less than 100 years ago that Christians rioted over much smaller offenses than that.

  • http://www.ismail.com.my Oreng

    Which Islam is one that is in the Quran and Hadiths (in context). This one, does not lead to own-self blowing and terrorism. Everybody, be muslim or non-muslim, have the responsibility to teach anybody, about Islam that is in the Quran and Hadith (in context).

    I have read the so-called Bin Laden’s long fatwa. I cant find he quote a single verse from Quran or Hadith. All that is in the fatwa is his own deduction. Seemingly he is not aware that Quran forbids excessiveness and transgress in practising religion (Islam). As a fellow muslim, I would like to call upon Mr Bin Laden to repent.

    I then believe that the own-self blowing is based on own deduction and opinion, not based on Quran and hadith (in context). It is then the responsibility of everybody, muslim or non-muslim, particularly OIC, to issue statements and teach everybody about what is actually in the Quran and hadith. Own opinion, no matter how true it look, cannot supercede Quran and hadith.

    Thank you.

  • Reader John

    TMatt is right that you cannot have a univocal “religion of peace” when there are patent and sometimes murderous divisions between, say, Sunni and Shiite.

    I see not moral equivalency, but genuine parallels, especially between Islam and Protestant Christianity. Both are based almost entirely on interpretation of a holy book of which neither has an agreed interpretive tradition, though the book is not self-interpreting. Thus both faiths are deeply fragmented, even if there is no significan Protestant group that teaches suicidal violence.

    Dubya (and the Gray Lady, and the Georgeown department) show themselves as foolish when they says “Islam is a religion of peace” as they would if they said “Protestantism is a religious tradition that rejects predestination.”

  • http://www.psonnets.org/ Michael Rew

    “I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit….If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned” (John 15:1-2, 6).

    “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them” (Matthew 7:15-20).

    Islam is not a religion of peace at all. It is a religion of hatred, violence, and death. Christians who do not bear godly fruit, which includes love and peace, are cast forth as branches from the Vine of Christ. Muslims who do not bear hatred, violence, and death are cast forth as branches from the evil tree of Islam, and radical Muslims take them up and burn them. Take note how outspoken voices of peace and moderation in the Muslim world are constantly under threat of death from adherents of their own religion.

  • Saeed

    GO TO http://HARUNYAHYA.COM YOU WILL FIND FREE VIDEOS OF SCIENTIFIC FACTS AND TRUTHS ABOUT ISLAM.

    THE PEOPLE WHO BELEIVE JESUS AS A GOD AND PEOPLE WHO BELEIVE HIM AS A SON OF THE GOD WILL NEVER GO HEAVEN.

    THE BIBLE WHICH ASIAN USE AND AMERICAN’S USE IS VERY DIFFERENT. MANY FALSE STORIES IN BOTH, SOME ADDED, SOME REDUCED, PEOPLE EDIT THOSE BIBLES AND INCLUDE THEIR OWN WRITINGS IN IT.

  • Mohamed Ali

    It is amazing for citizens of the world’s most advanced countries to streotype Islam. At this time it is the age of information and deductive reasoning. How can over 1.1 billion muslims be judged and hated just for the actions of a few individuals? There is only one Islam. And for my friends in the west I beg them not to quote texts from the Quran out of context just to prove their point. The Quran (and any religion) will tell you how to defend yourself against oppressors and not to be the first to attack. It also further adds that it is even better that a war can be averted! In summing up then the Quran is telling us to revert to dialogues in as much as possible. It even invites all religions to come together and despise the evil. Which other religions do this? About 90% of the Quran is all about praising God’s creation and encouragement to investigate the Universe and Stars and the rest of God’s wonderful signs! Is this the work of a false prophet? The few individuals roaming about with distruction cowardly in the name of Islam will be despised by all humans.

  • n.allen

    Nice post tmatt. I’ve often wondered why Western media outlets and governments have taken it upon themselves to construct a definitive, peaceful, Islamic theology. When it comes to religion we seem to have a fear of complexity. There is an unspoken assumption that there must only be two choices: either Islam is a religion of peace or it is a religion of violent aggression. Naturally, we choose the former option. It’s reassuring.

    In reality we find a wide spectrum of Muslim groups. Starting with the assumption that the bin Ladenites are not true Muslims causes us to overlook the religious context in which they operate. It’s silly and self-defeating. However, given the ongoing struggle to ‘get’ Christianity, the chance of ‘getting’ the fractured nature of Islam any time soon looks bleak.

    [As a side note, I’d like to put forward the “Iron Law of Torquemada.” Simply stated, the law proposes that as a discussion of Islam and terrorism grows longer, the probability that the Inquisition will be mentioned approaches 1 (see also: Godwin’s Law). I wait for the day when we can explore the issue of Islamic militancy without the entire discussion devolving into a petty competition to determine the world’s most violent faith.]

  • Herb

    With regard to Christians and violence, a German Christian duo, Arno and Andreas, years ago wrote a song entitle (translation attempt): Jesus heals the one who was injured by His disciples” (Jesus heilt den, der von den Juengern verletzt ist . . .). The reference was to Peter cutting off the ear of the high priest’s servant (no doubt he was aiming for more than his ear, as many have observed).

    No one can use the NT as a basis for doing violence to someone else as a Christian. Jesus does give “Caesar” a role to play, which Paul explains in Romans 13: he does not “carry the sword in vain.” Luther developed this, albeit a bit one-sided, in his doctrine of the two realms.

    However, for Christians acting as Christians, the bottom line is 1 Peter 3:15 and following verses into chapter 4.

  • Herb

    I should have explained that the content of Arno and Andreas’ song is that Christians have a tendency, with our misplaced zeal, to “cut off the ears” of non-believers, so they don’t want to hear.

  • Rathje

    The problem is really that most Americans don’t believe in Islam. We don’t believe in that version of God. Or, alternatively, in the case of much of the political left (including many reporters), we don’t believe in God at all.

    For the non-believer, this is all reducable to human personality quirks. Islam, therefore, only has value as far as it contributes to some utilitarian calculation. So it makes sense to ask whether Islam is “peaceful” or not.

    The gist of the non-believer’s calculation is: “well, they’re all irrationally following these myths, but I’ll indulge them as long as the myths provide a societal benefit.” It’s like a wife tolerating her husband’s fascination with fast motorbikes. Harmless, as long as it doesn’t get out of hand.

    But this is were the non-believers just don’t “get religion.”

    The believer is certainly concerned about whether her religion is beneficial or not, both personally, and for society.

    But that’s not the primary concern. The primary concern is truth. Truth is God. The primary concern is to follow God, utilitarianism be damned. For the true believer, the question of whether Islam is peaceful, or whether it is even useful or helpful is of secondary importance.

    You follow God, regardless of whether it has positive results. If He orders a suicide bombing, you do it.

    The left has never been able to effectively talk to the believer because they have never been able to countenance the possibility of an Angry God. To them it’s all just crazy talk that shouldn’t be dignified with a response.

    The left’s response to religion has therefore been to “look the other way” as long as religion remains harmless and marginalized, or to mock and belittle whenever people start to actually take religion seriously.

    But the ridicule has absolutely no clout with the believers. It does no good call the suicide bombers fanatics. First off, the suicide bombers themselves would take it as a compliment, secondly, “religious moderates” are turned off by the inevitable assertions that anyone who takes religion seriously should be cast out from our midst.

    If you want to seriously engage unhealthy elements of a religion, it’s pointless to call them fanatics, or crazy.

    But call them blasphemers, and NOW you’re getting somewhere.

    Religious thought cannot be transformed by hostile outsiders. It can only be transformed by those who are willing to proclaim the true word of God. To do that, you have to take religion seriously. Namely, you have to act like it’s really true.

    So far, the left has refused to do this. Which is why they currently have almost zero chance of ever changing religious thought.

    For believers, the real question is not whether Islam is “peaceful” or not. That’s irrelevant. The question is whether Islam is true. That’s where the real defining battle is.

  • Scott Allen

    Rathje, I certainly agree with your last comment. Absolutely correct. TMATT’s original post also demonstrates the absurdity of those who are least interested in religion — the secular humanists — telling believers what they believe, particularly when it is clear that there are a great many different sects. It’s also cool that many muslims decided to post comments here, even though Saeed’s comments are incredibly weak. Hey dude, Christians can easily refute the silliness on your web site. We compete in the “arena of ideas” every day, in contrast with Islam which is often enforced by societal norms and, yes, the sword. Overall, Steve’s post recommending that we “look to the founder” is most germane. Think what you want about Mohammed, his life was one of bloodshed. Christians must recognize, however, that Christ has promised to return as a lion, with the sword and in judgement on mankind. His role as savior in payment for our sins vs. a muslim’s jihad/struggle to live a good life are the primary differences between Christianity and all other religions and human belief systems.

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  • Fred4now

    It is interesting that all the ills and evils of Islam can only be referenced using events, individual or small group related for the most part, that took place only in the last few decades. If Islam is so evil, how come its history is void of anything even close to the Holocaust, or the Inquisition, or the Crusades, or World War I, or II?

  • Scott Allen

    Gee Fred, perhaps you ought to read a little bit about the history of Islam. Pull out any encyclopedia to learn how it spread by the sword, massacred all who resisted, and consistently used dhimmitude to persecute all “infidels” (that’s you). In fact, the words “holocausts” “inquisitions” and “crusades” are an accurate description of CONTINUOUS actions of Islam from its very beginning to this day. If ignorance is bliss, you must be a very happy guy.

  • Fred4now

    Well Allen you did not really answer the question nor did you cure my “ignorance.”

    Islam is over 1400 years old. Where are the Holocausts were millions of non-muslims vanished at the hand of Islam? In which year did the Inquistion that burned and tortured non-muslims wholesale to force them to convert occured? What world war did Islam impose on the world in which nations and millions of peoples died like we have seen in WWI and WWII?

    How is it that a faith so evil can exist for all this time, and all the evil you can point to can only be decades old?

  • Scott Allen

    Well, Fred4Now, thanks for checking up on your previous comment. I figured you’d move on so I didn’t bother to give you examples. I did, however, recommend that you go to an encyclopedia, ANY encyclopedia or reference, and learn how Islam was founded and expanded.

    I suspect you are a muslim, and that you are not a native English speaker. Why? First, you call me “Allen.” You’re getting the word order of our names mixed up. You should normally address me by my first name, “Scott” as is done in the West.
    Second, your English grammar is poor.

    Still, I could be wrong, and even if you are a muslim this does not mean that you are wrong. So here are some articles that are easy to find on the Web.

    Try Wikipedia.com for starters. Do the following searches:
    - Islamic Conquests (for an easy-to-read timeline, go to here:
    http://www.americanthinker.com/articles.php?article_id=5024&search=arlandson
    The West had a few crusades. Islam had continuous Crusades. If it had the power to start a worldwide conquest, it would have done so. Don’t confuse weakness with good intent)
    - Dhimmi (while you read this remember that Dhimmi status applied to Ahl al Beyt = the People of the Book, NOT to polytheists. If you weren’t a Christian, Jew, Zorastrian or occasionally a Sikh, all men of age were killed outright and women raped (or forcibly taken as “wives” if you want to view it that way) or enslaved along with the children. As you noted, this has been practiced for 1400 years and still occurs today in Africa. A continuous Inquisition.)
    - Jizya (a special tax for the People of the Book, along with no standing in the courts, that is, zero political rights for the entire 1400 year history of Islam. Muslims didn’t kill everyone, instead they had a nice underclass to persecute and exploit in every conquered land)
    - Muhammed: click on the “battle” links and also treatment of the Qurayza Jews.

    Now, consider how the continuous violence in the history of Islam is consistent with the life of Muhammed. Warfare, massacre, rape.
    Want something more in-depth?
    - Muhammed and Dissent: http://www.americanthinker.com/articles.php?article_id=5307&search=arlandson
    - Muhammed and the Qurayza: http://www.americanthinker.com/articles.php?article_id=5281&search=arlandson
    - Torture in the Quran and early Islam: http://www.americanthinker.com/articles.php?article_id=5137&search=arlandson

    Hey, how about Islamic contributions to humanity? Read these:
    http://www.americanthinker.com/articles.php?article_id=4744&search=carson
    http://www.americanthinker.com/articles.php?article_id=4685&search=carson

    Do you believe that these articles are biased??? Well, that’s why I told you to do your own research.

    Allow me to give you a little personal background. I went to the University of Virginia in the early 1980s and took every history of Islam and history of the Middle East course in the syllabus. My instructors were nearly all (I’d say “ALL” but my memory may be faulty) Arab expatriates.
    I did well in history and there is NOTHING in the links I gave you that is contrary to what I learned from the Arab expatriates.
    Also, I minored in Arabic. My professor, Muhammed Sawaie, was still Department Chair the last time I checked. Now, I was a very bad Arabic student. I mention this so you know I’m not full of myself, and that this area is not just of recent interest to me, nor are my beliefs knee-jerk reactions to the Sept 11, 2001 attacks.

    You ask about evil, “How is it that a faith so evil can exist for all this time?” Almost all of the countries that ever existed in the history of mankind have been dictatorships, to this day. Some are more evil than others, but if you believe living in any of the Islamic countries that have existed throughout history was a good deal, you don’t know what freedom means. If you currently live in the U.S. or Europe, your life is an exception, and is exceptionally good. Thank God for it.

    Christians believe that man is evil from birth, so the prevalence of evil is not surprising. I doubt you’re interested in Christ, but allow me to point this out: he didn’t kill anyone, nor did his followers, he didn’t rape anyone, nor did his followers, and if you read the Bible you’ll know that it is IMPOSSIBLE to “convert” someone to Christianity. Christ changes your heart, no one else can. The crusades, Inquisition, and World Wars committed by parts of Christendom may have been just (depending on your opinion) but they were NOT done for the cause of Christ. They were part of broader cultural conflicts. Nonetheless, the influence of Christianity has clearly produced superior cultures to Islamic cultures in every meaningful respect.
    I don’t care if you believe the West is better than the East. But you should try these web sites if you care to compare Christianity vs. Islam
    http://www.arabicbible.com/
    http://www.answering-islam.org/

    I respect you for checking in on this web site. I hope you explore your opportunities for greater knowledge.
    Sincerely,
    Scott

  • Fred4now

    Well Scott (better now?), let me begin by thanking you for posting an answer. For a moment there I thought that due to my “poor grammar” I was unworthy of your attention. Furthermore, I am reassured that you tell me “….even if you are a muslim this does not mean that you are wrong.”

    You are the fifth person (the first on this blog) that sent me these links. In all the blogs I posted my question on, the answers I received were almost identical, all feeding on each other using the same links. That of course, as you say, does not mean they are wrong. But their argumentative worth as evidence is the same as if President Bush where to refer us to a website by Dick Chaney to prove he was right about WMDs.

    I think you will agree that even if both parties to a historical event agree on the facts of what really took place; both will have their own conflicting interpretations and justifications of the same event. Now imagine, as it is the case here, if events are prejudiced by infinite inaccuracies, add on top of that the language gap and the difficulties of communication and mutual understanding are multiplied exponentially.

    I can of course reciprocate with an elaborate set of links and articles that tell a totally different story about Islam and Muslims. But that will be ineffective. That kind of response will have little impact, partly because Americans in particular and Westerners in general are dependent on main media outlets in forming their view of the world. Main media has long taken aim at Islam and Muslims, aided by their own inability to articulate themselves.

    Look for instance at your characterization of life in the Middle East, you tell me ”.. if you believe living in any of the Islamic countries that have existed throughout history was a good deal, you don’t know what freedom means.” Judging by your brief autobiography the closest that you got to the Middle East was a book or a movie. Yet it bothers you not to make a sweepingly judgmental statement like this.

    In his Western Views of Islam in the Middle Ages, R. W. Southern explains:

    “There can be little doubt that at the moment of their formation these legends and fantasies were taken to represent a more or less truthful account of what they purported to describe. But as soon as they were produced they took on a literary life of their own. At the level of popular poetry, the picture of Mahomet and his Saracens changed very little from generation to generation. Like well-loved characters of fiction, they were expected to display certain characteristics, and authors faithfully reproduced them for hundreds of years.”

    Who says we are out of the Middle Ages?

    Since first grade, I was educated in Christian Schools. My teachers in the early years of my education where nuns; fully adorned in their beautiful habits. Thanks to them, since first grade I was tri-lingual. I had been exposed, with love and care to Christianity, Jesus, and the Bible. I can confidently say that I know of and about Christianity more than most Christians. My Christian education continued until I graduated from a Jesuit University. The first course on Islam I took in College was taught by a Jesuit priest (Introduction to Islam by Denny, was the textbook.)

    When I used to hear the word Christianity, what the word conjured up in me was the love Ms. Rosette, my first nun teacher, engulfed me with since first grade. This sweet and positive feeling stayed with me for a long time because in my mind the word had more to do with the nuns, whom I loved, than with the West. It was not stained by the Western “legends and fantasies”, until I moved to the West that is.

    My original question in my first post was an attempt, in spite of my “poor grammar”, to pull the discussion out of what friends and foes of Islam are engrossed in; this endless back and forth between the “legends and fantasies” on the one hand and the feeble attempts at defending the indefensible on the other. I obviously did not all too well succeed. But let me try again.

    On Sunday evening 6 May at 5 p.m., speaking at the Syrian Orthodox Cathedral of St. George in Damascus, the late Pope John Paul II said:

    “My heart is filled with gratitude to God that I have been able to come to Damascus as a pilgrim in the footsteps of Saint Paul. It was on the road to Damascus that the Apostle of the Nations was claimed by Jesus Christ; and it was here that he received the light of the Holy Spirit and was baptized.” L’Osservatore Romano (Weekly Edition in English) 9 May 2001, page 9

    The Pope gave mass in the biggest stadium in Damascus, over 40,000 Christians came from all over Syria and the neighboring countries. Service was given in countless languages, including Aramaic, the language that almost all churches in that area use for service, and the language that Jesus and the apostles spoke.

    The Pope visited with Ignatius IV (Hazim) the patriarch of the other “Vatican”, that of the Holy See of Antioch, founded by Saints Peter and Paul. The Holy See was transferred to Damascus in 1342. Ignatius IV is the 170th in an uninterrupted line of patriarchs that began with Saint Peter.

    Now the peculiar about all this is that all took place in a Muslim society, and in a country that is close to 90% Muslim. The question is: how can one reconcile this with the “legends and fantasies” that are propagated in the websites and blogs you forwarded to me?

    How is it that the “Dhimmi” regime did not succeed in curtailing this flagrant show of longevity of the “infidel Christians?”

    How was it that the taxing burdens of the “Jizya” did not break the financial back of the Christian minorities to the point where they are unable to continue their blasphemous existence in the heart of Muslim lands?

    And how did these millions of Christians escape the forced conversions “by the sword” that Islam is so famous for in the Western mind?

    Now contrast that with Spain. The Muslims lived in Spain close to 900 years, where are they now? Where are the Muslim families that populated Granada? Who prays in the Mosques strewn all over the Andalusian countryside?

    You and I know the answer to that, in 1942, Ferdinand and Isabella signed the Edict of Expulsion. The aim was to rid Spain of its Jews. In 1499, seven years after the Edict of Expulsion, the Christian Spanish State gave its Muslims the same choice: convert or leave. Some converted and remained, only to be beleaguered by the Inquisition, which accused them of hypocrisy and deceit.

    God was worshiped in the monasteries and churches of Syria since St. Peter founded the Holy See of Antioch in 45. These prayers were not interrupted nor were they muted after the Muslims took over Syria, they continue until this day. Contrast that with the fact that the marinates of Spain fell silent after 1492.

    Had your “legends and fantasies” about Islam been true, the Pope would not even see the need to show up in Syria, let alone be celebrated by 40,000 from his flock of millions in the area. Peter’s followers would have vanished under the forced conversions and pressures of Jizya and Dhimmi life (or death by the blood thirsty Muslims.)

    But that did not happen, because as I noted in my original statement, Islam has no history of Crusades, Inquisitions or World Wars.

    One last thing, I do not view these issues in the same light you view them. To me this is not Christianity vs. Islam, this is not a competition. To me as it is to millions of Middle Easterners, both Islam and Christianity are part of our lives, be it to differing degrees. That is certainly far from the venomous disregard to Islam that the West seems to insist on no matter what.

    It does not matter. It will not matter.

    Peace be upon you Scott.


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