THE CATHOLIC KNIGHT: Yes, the truth hurts, doesn't it. Of course they're angry. Pope Benedict XVI hit a nerve, and apparently it was a bull’s-eye! The violent reaction to the pope’s appeal to Muslims for peace simply proves the point. Islam has offered nothing new to the world, that hasn't already been invented, except of course for unprecedented violence in the name of religion. If ever there was a time for moderate Muslims to consider a reformation, it is now, that is if moderate Muslims are even capable of sparking one. I seriously doubt it. For years they've stood idly by while their fellow Muslims (of the more radical persuasion) have kidnapped, murdered, terrorized and waged war in the name of Islam. Now they’ve been pushed aside completely, while radicals take over everything that’s left of the once great "religion of peace." So while the pope appeals to Islam for peace, Muslims riot in the streets and call for his death. Their reputation of carrying out their threats leads us to the following story...
The Vatican is seriously concerned at the possibility of acts of violence being staged against the tiny city state situated in the heart of Rome, after a barrage of criticism from Muslims in many countries against Pope Benedict XVI.
Pope Benedict's critical remarks earlier in the week about jihad, or Islamic holy war, have been the subject of hostile comment in many Islamic countries.
Security has been discreetly stepped up around and inside the walled Vatican City, although Pope Benedict himself is not in residence there at the moment.
He is resting after his recent trip to Germany at the Papal summer villa at Castelgandolfo, in the Alban Hills 30km (20 miles) from Rome.
The outrage expressed by Muslim clerics and commentators at the Pope's quotation from a 600-year-old book containing the sayings of a Christian emperor of ancient Byzantium appears to have taken Vatican officials by surprise.
The emperor spoke of "the Prophet Muhammad's command 'to spread by the sword the faith he preached'"....
read full story here
How long do we have to wait for the fatwa calling for the pope's assassination? Surly it won't be long now. Doesn't it speak volumes of modern Islam that we all expect it to come so certainly? Doesn't that just epitomize what we've all come to expect of this so-called "religion of peace." I dare say there is no more "religion" left in modern Islam -- only hatred, rage and violence. Oh sure, I know there are still some moderate Muslims left in the world, but seriously, what relevance are they anymore? They're not in control of the religion anymore -- the radicals are! Who's calling the shots these days? The moderates have been pushed aside completely. They are irrelevant. No longer do they have any control over the institutions of the religion. No longer do they make the rules. The reason why they don't stop this madness is plain and simple for all the world to see now. It's because they can't!
The pope was right, and he may not have even realized how profound his remarks were when he made them. (Though I suspect he did.) Exactly what did Pope Benedict say that was so awful, so horrible, that the whole Muslim world now equates him to Hitler? Read his comments for yourself and see...
I was reminded of all this recently, when I read the edition by professor Theodore Khoury (Muenster) of part of the dialogue carried on -- perhaps in 1391 in the winter barracks near Ankara -- by the erudite Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus and an educated Persian on the subject of Christianity and Islam, and the truth of both.
It was probably the emperor himself who set down this dialogue, during the siege of Constantinople between 1394 and 1402; and this would explain why his arguments are given in greater detail than the responses of the learned Persian. The dialogue ranges widely over the structures of faith contained in the Bible and in the Koran, and deals especially with the image of God and of man, while necessarily returning repeatedly to the relationship of the "three Laws": the Old Testament, the New Testament and the Koran.
In this lecture I would like to discuss only one point -- itself rather marginal to the dialogue itself -- which, in the context of the issue of "faith and reason," I found interesting and which can serve as the starting point for my reflections on this issue.
In the seventh conversation ("diálesis" -- controversy) edited by professor Khoury, the emperor touches on the theme of the jihad (holy war). The emperor must have known that sura 2:256 reads: "There is no compulsion in religion." It 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 Koran, concerning holy war.
Without descending to details, such as the difference in treatment accorded to those who have the "Book" and the "infidels," he turns to his interlocutor somewhat brusquely with the central question on the relationship between religion and violence in general, in these words: "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 goes on to explain in detail the reasons why spreading the faith through violence is something unreasonable. Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul. "God is not pleased by blood, and not acting reasonably ("syn logo") is contrary to God's nature. Faith is born of the soul, not the body. Whoever would lead someone to faith needs the ability to speak well and to reason properly, without violence and threats.... To convince a reasonable soul, one does not need a strong arm, or weapons of any kind, or any other means of threatening a person with death...."
read full papal address here
The remarks come in the greater context of a criticism against western Secularism -- not Islam. The illustration was made in passing, trying to convey a point. The topic of the address wasn't even about Islam. Yet in this criticism of western Secularism, the Muslim world is unable to tolerate even the mention of criticism (albeit ancient criticism) of the Islamic religion, not even as a passing illustration. The pope's citation of history struck a chord that is resonating with Muslims around the world for one reason and one reason only. It's true! All of it! And deep down inside Muslims know it, or their starting to realize it, and it frightens them. It fighters them enough to resort to violence, and thus fulfill the the very point made in the illustration. But let us not forget that it wasn't Pope Benedict who made this point. It was Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus, and he made it some 615 years ago. Muslims aren't angry with the pope for daring to make such a point. They're angry at him for citing somebody else who did. In other words, according to the "peaceful" religion of Islam, a criticism against the religion isn't the only thing that will provoke Muslims to violence. But also the mere mention of somebody else who did the same.
I would like to close this post with a saying attributed to Jesus Christ himself: "all who draw the sword will die by the sword." (Matthew 26:52) I wonder if this saying applies to religions as much as it does to individuals. We know that the fascist radicals who promote Islamic hatred will one day die by the very same kind of violence they spawn. We need look no further than the Taliban in Afghanistan to see an example of that. My question is this. When all this is over, what will become of the so-called "religion of peace" itself? Without violence to spread the faith, will it implode? Can it possibly survive without coercion? Only God knows the answer to that question.