Sunday, September 17, 2006

Debunking Pope Benedict's speech on Islam and Prophet Muhammad

Pope gets it wrong - a post by Juan Cole in his blog, informed comment writes: "Pope Benedict's speech at Regensburg University, which mentioned Islam and jihad, has provoked a firestorm of controversy.

The address is more complex and subtle than the press on it represents. But let me just signal that what is most troubling of all is that the Pope gets several things about Islam wrong, just as a matter of fact.

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:

[The Quran 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. " (full post here)

From the blog Eteraz, the author points the fact that he "was alarmed by the historical inaccuracies of the Pope’s speech."

Digital Dharma wonders "Ummmm…excuuuussse me? What about the Crusades (not too long before Manuel, as a matter of fact) and the New World Genocides in the name of the Church? What about the silence over the Holocaust? What about all those good German and Polish Catholics who were not immediately excommunicated?

Yes, those things are in the past — but His Holiness would do well to consider the condition of his Pot before addressing the Kettle."

On Violence
Pope also mentioned something that "... Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul. "God", he says, "is not pleased by blood - and not acting reasonably ... 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...".

Well, tagging political (motivated by unjust world dominance) and secular violence with a particular religion alone is dangerous. You just add smoke to the real problems that exist in the world. And on the issue of violence and the nature of God, let me quote from Old Testament a few passages and let yourself analyze how pope contradicts himself the text of Bible.

Now kill all the boys [innocent kids]. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man. (Numbers 31:17-18)"

Samuel 15:2-4
Thus saith the LORD of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid. Wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt. Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.

All who would not seek the LORD, the God of Israel, were to be put to death, whether small or great, man or woman. (From the NIV Bible, 2 Chronicles 15:13)

Its so sad that people without understanding the context, quote verses from Quran, without understand the fact that God commands to use force only to upright the Laws of God, to protect the innocence and to protect the peace in general. And the battles commanded in the Quran were all such battle, only for the sake of God, to protect His commandments.

Yet it was Prophet Muhmamad who demonstrated the most sublime morality even then. For example, for the battle for the sake of God, Prophet Muhammad taught,
"Do not kill a child, nor a woman, nor an old man, nor obliterate a stream, nor cut a tree…" (such great was his compassion that he even forbade to destroy trees in the event of war).

Now lets see the the teachings of "returning good for evil" in The Quran,
41:34 "Nor can goodness and evil be equal. Repel (evil) with that is better: Then will he between whom and thee was hatred become as it were thy friend and intimate!."

28:54 "Twice will they be given their reward, for that they have persevered, that they avert evil with good, and that they spend (in charity) out of what We have given them."

"The recompense for an injury is an injury equal thereto (in degree): but if a person forgives and makes reconciliation, his reward is due from Allah: for (Allah) Loveth not those who do wrong."

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