In a Papal address at the University of Regensburg on September 12, 2006, the heir to the seat of St. Peter and leader of the worlds Catholics (including this one) lamented the gradual severing, by Western academics, of faith from reason – a process he believes has done great harm to both theology and science. He also compared the secular left’s adherence to relativism to Islam’s concept of the nature of God as not bound by reason, contrasting these concepts with the Christian tradition (inherited, in part from the ancient Greeks) of a rational God in whose image man, a rational being was created. He concluded his speech with the following appeal: “It is to this great logos, to this breadth of reason, that we invite our partners in the dialogue of cultures.”[i]
A single sentence from this brilliant philosophical treatise has, in predictable fashion been ripped from its larger context and used by many leaders in the Islamic world and their leftist sycophants in the West to condemn his “intolerance” and demanded a personal apology from Pope Benedict, rather than crediting the Pope for renouncing violence and inviting Muslims to enter into a dialogue.
In this speech, Benedict (whose predecessor, Pope John Paul II was shot by a Muslim extremist in 1981 and nearly killed) postulated that “violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul.” He introduced this point by referencing a conversation which took place in the late 14th century between a Muslim academic and the Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologos during which the emperor stated “show me just what Mohammad 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.” This exchange took place, ironically during a siege of the Christian city of Constantinople by the Muslim Ottoman army in its perennial quest to bring Christendom under the heel of the Caliphate.
The tolerant practitioners of the “religion of peace” have registered their disapproval of the speech very much the way they responded to the Mohammad cartoon publications: a nun was shot to death while praying in Somalia, a number of churches have been fire-bombed in the Palestinian-occupied territories, and some prominent Muslim officials have compared the Pope to Adolph Hitler. The layers of irony evident in this over-the-top response run so deep one hardly knows where to begin to sort them all out. Let me start with the Hitler references:
Some of Islam’s most prominent leaders during the Nazi era, including the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini were either close allies of Hitler and were “personally responsible for the concentration-camp slaughter of hundreds of thousands of Jews, if not more[ii],” or were strong supporters of the third Reich’s final solution; indeed Hitler’s famous book Mein Kampf is a perennial bestseller in the Muslim/Arab world.[iii] The Fuhrer is also a personal hero of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein; Iran’s leader, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has denied the holocaust and has called for Israel (along with her millions of inhabitants) to be “wiped from the map;” religious schools (madras’s) throughout the Middle East preach hatred of Jews and Christians and refer to them, by virtue of the Koran (sura 5:6) as “apes and swine.”[iv] All of these examples of Islamic hatred and intolerance of the infidel take place without violent retribution by the West or a whisper of dissent by “moderate” Muslims.
Throughout Iraq and the greater Middle East mosques (full of Koran’s) are destroyed and Muslims slaughtered by fellow Muslims without the issuance of Fatwa’s or the mobilization of Islamic armies to intervene and save innocent Muslim lives. Yet, when false rumors of Koran’s being flushed down toilets at Guantanamo were irresponsibly published by a gullible and anti-American media, scores of innocent people were killed in the ensuing riots. The response from the secular Western left and Islamic leaders: silence.
And what do we make of the 14th century emperor’s indictment of Mohammad’s “command to spread by the sword, the faith he preached?” Is this a blasphemous misinterpretation of the benevolent Prophet’s teachings or an accurate assessment of the Koran and his Hadith?
It is true, as the Pope dutifully stated in his speech (a point the media and hypersensitive Muslims conveniently ignored) that the Koran states “there is no compulsion in religion;” however it is widely accepted dogma among Muslims that, as Robert Spencer has pointed out, later Koranic verses cancel out, or abrogate any conflicting earlier ones. The “no compulsion” sura was written during the Prophet’s ministry in Medina, before the Hijra or flight to Mecca during which he amassed a formidable army with which he eventually conquered the (largely Christian) Arabian Peninsula, by the sword for Allah. During his time in Mecca and his later life, scores of verses were added to the Koran which compelled the faithful to wage jihad and conquer and kill or subjugate the infidel; and the Koran and hadith are replete with examples of violence against and intolerance of women, polytheists, apostates, Jews, and Christians. It is not surprising that Islamic apologists ignore, rationalize, or dissemble about these verses, but it is irresponsible to the point of suicide that Western media types do likewise.
The Christian Bible and the example of Jesus, in contrast teach peace, forgiveness, and tolerance. And the much vilified crusades were, for all their excesses, in fact a belated response by the Christian West to four centuries of unrelenting attacks by the forces of jihad, not merely aggressive wars of conquest.
Today, anywhere on earth where Islam either reigns or competes with other faiths Muslim extremists are once again on the warpath. Muslim fanatics continue to kill Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, atheists, and each other (using the charge of apostasy against each other thus earning a Koranic sanction to kill) in the name of Allah.
The longer the West continues to deny these facts on the altar of political correctness the longer the bloodshed and repression will continue.
[i] Papal Address at University of Regensburg, 12 Sept 2006. http://www.zenit.org/english/visualizza.phtml?sid=94748
[ii] Joan Peters, From Time Immemorial (USA: JKAP Publications,2002), 363
[iii] “Mein Kampf.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 18 Sept 2006 18:04UTC. Wikimedia foundation, inc. 19 Sept 2006. http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=mein_kampf&oldid=76444945
[iv] The Koran. Translated by N.J. Dawood. London: Penguin, 2004, 86