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Popery 19 September 2006

Posted by TwentyTwoYards in Hypocrisy, Islam and contemporary society.

Just watched the peerless Dr. Zakir Naik being interviewed on ARY by Dr. Shahid Masood (so even liberal Pakistani TV channels are not completely useless!) on the popery (aka jiggery pokery) which is the current flavour of the week for the world’s Islamophobes and anti-Muslim bigots. The good doctor (Naik, not Masood), as is his wont, made some excellent points, which reinforce my thoughts on this whole sordid affair – my own thoughts are summarised below; apologies if they bear little or no resemblance to what was discussed by Dr Naik – he provided the inspiration, not the full song-sheet!

1. Freedom of speech? Bah! Humbug

My own views on the nonsensical and impractical notion of absolute freedom have been recounted in previous posts.

Those who say that Muslims should simply ignore the ignorant have missed the point – accepting such lies and including them in ‘civilised discourse’ does not diminish their impact, but rather, serves to establish and ‘mainstream’ them.

Imagine the furore if instead of quoting some medieval Byzantine loser, the bloke with the funny hat had instead quoted some medieval Catholic on Jews; how about he had started with the blood libel and carried on about sorcery and the ‘murder’ of Christ -nah, even my overactive imagination cannot imagine such an outlandish scenario. A ‘mainstream’ Westerner daring to be even mildly critical of Israel, Jews or Zionism? After what happened to Mearsheimer and Walt, even factual and relevant comment on Israel is beyond the pale, let alone some idiot regurgitating 14th century drivel.

Or imagine the rumpus had he repeated early (and established) Church doctrine on the role and status of women (“they don’t have a soul – thus are not full human beings, if at all“).

But attacking Islam is of course “fair game”, is it?

2. The brazen, bare-faced, shameless cheek of this rascal…
Three words: pot – kettle – black

Actually, how about three more: glasshouses – throw – stones

Should be enough. Okay, okay, I will spell it out.

For the leader of the Catholic church, the world’s leading Christian, to criticise any other religion on the flimsy pretext that the other religion was (in the said leader’s fertile imagination, perhaps?) spread by the sword, is hypocrisy of an unsurpassed magnitude.

Remind me, Ratzinger, me ole chum, which religion came up with the concept of “Holy War”? Louder, please? What? “Holy war” was a construct created and nourished by a previous holder of the same ‘august’ office that you currently occupy? My, my.

So what about Christian atrocities against Jews and Muslims for most of the past 2,000 years? What about the fact that far more humans have been killed by Christians in the name their god, than by Muslims, and the fact that the Christians committing such murders are lauded as lionhearts, chivalrous knights and bravehearts by their co-religionists, whilst the Muslims rightly condemn their far fewer murderous conquerors as misguided ‘black sheep’?

The roll call of horrors visited upon humanity by the followers and adherents of the ‘Cross’ is almost endless; from the Mayas to the Incas, and from the Aztecs to the Australian aborigines; from the Spanish Inquisition to the Salem witch trials, and including the wanton killing and murder of hundreds of thousands of Muslim (and Jewish and Orthodox Christian!) civilians during the previous bout of crusading zeal visited upon Muslim lands…. where does one even begin?

The number of people killed in warfare during the entire 13 year rule of the Noble Messenger in Madinah? 1,018.

The number killed during the six years of WW-II? 60 million.

hmm…yes…its the Muslims who have caused the most bloodshed throughout history. After all, Stalin, Hitler, Genghis Khan, Mao, Pol Pot, et al were all Muslim, right?!

3. The bigger picture

Context, they say, is all important. Well, what is the context these remarks are being made in? Ratzinger (“Ratzy-boy”) may have been a Nazi as a lad, but he is no raving skin-head neo-Nazi now (or at least, not in public).

He is not uttering these fallacies as Joe Ratzy Bloggs, but rather, as the spiritual guide and religious father of 1.2 billion Catholics, perhaps the largest religious grouping on the planet.

This cannot be dismissed as the ranting and raving of a demented xenophobe who has no support in the wider Christian community. This is not akin to some Muslim terrorist in Iraq or Afghanistan coming out with batty ideas that have little resonance in the wider Muslim community and certainly no official or religious sanction, and are condemned by the scholars of Islam. This is just the opposite – what the pope says is official Christian thinking and needs to be understood, addressed and countered in that vein. Rather, Ratzy-boy has thrown down the gauntlet, and its upto Muslims to respond – calmly and sensibly, yes – but also with conviction and knowledge.

So let’s acknowledge his words for what they are – a direct, frontal and aggressive attack on Islam. Let’s also not forget Urban II; when it comes to attacks on Islam, the holder of this office has form!

It seems the head of the Catholic religion wants to re-open theological debates that had been won by Islam already; maybe the tens of thousands of Christians reverting to Islam every year in his own back-yard troubles him. Fine – he ‘s obviously spoiling for a clash of civilisations! Demented and semi-demented Muslim “liberals” go to great lengths to refute, deny and negate Huntingdon’s “clash of the civilisations” ideas; in a way, they do have a point:civilisational schisms and conflicts, leading to thousands or millions of deaths, are something that no decent human could welcome. However, at least (and thankfully!) at the theoretical level, the pope-chappy has expressed his willingness for a”clash of civilisations” – as Muslims, let’s not ignore that either.

4. Bigoted and Ignorant? Well there’s a surprise!

If someone is as keen as Ratzy-boy appears to be to criticise Islam, firstly he should get his facts right or at least, not start with barefaced lies. The Qur’anic verse about there being no compulsion in religion (Surah Baqarah: 256) was revealed in Madinah when the Prophet and Islam were both in a position of strength, and not in Makkah when they were in a state of weakness, as alleged by the Pope – such an obvious error – tut tut – don’t they have papal researchers for this sorta thing?

In any case, the Pope’s central argument, that Islam spread by the sword, is built on lies and untruths. Which extensive Muslims armies went to conquer the whole of Malaysia? What great battles were waged to convert the world’s most populous Muslim country (Indonesia) to Islam? I don’t remember stirring conquests of Tanzania and Timbuktoo; of the Maldives and Madagasgar. In fact, which of the early Muslim wars were religious wars of conquest, the way the Catholic wars were? Not many at all. And there certainly were no conversions at sword-point.

The Muslims ruled Spain for 800 years, creating a society unsurpassed in culture, in learning, in scholarship, in tolerance, in decency, in innovation and in religious freedoms – the majority of the subjects, and many of the important functionaries of the state(s) remained Christian and Jewish. If conversion through sword was Islam’s aim, would all people have been allowed to remain in their original faiths by the most advanced governments the world had hitherto seen? Hardly.

Contrast this with what happened after the “Reconquest” of Spain by the Catholics. Tens of thousands of Muslims and Jews were murdered; within decades, all of them had to practice their faith in secret; with a few more decades, all were forced into exile, killed or converted at the risk of death. With a generation or two, all traces of Islam had been wiped out, through the sword. What a contrast with the 800 years that had preceded it!

Now consider this: if forced conversions were Islam’s aim, would 80% of the people of India be non-Muslim today? Muslims ruled India for over 1,000 years. Many of the Muslim rulers were fairly conservative types, irritable chaps who were not averse to a spot of religious discrimination themselves, especially if it meant more land and more wealth. Yet, they afforded religious freedoms and rights to their Hindu subjects? Let’s face it – the mighty Mughals did not do this because they were weak.

And what about Christianity’s record? Wiping out whole nations, races and civilisations, whether in Australia, Peru, Mexico, or the USA!

The Arabic speaking countries of Western Asia and Northern Africa (aka the ‘Middle East’) have been predominantly and almost continuously Muslim for almost 1,400 years. To this day, 14 million Coptic Christians not only survive as native Arabs but also thrive and have done for centuries depsite 14 centuries of Muslim rule. “Spread by sword” indeed! If forced conversions were what Islam wanted, these and other Arab Christians would not have survived in their preferred religion.

In fact, when the rampaging, pillaging and murdering European Christians, inspired by Ratzy-Boy’s predecessor, arrived in Asia in the 11th and 12th century for the Crusades, they treated the Orthodox Greek Christians and the Coptic Arab Christians with the same inhumane barbarity they reserved for Muslims and Jews. Historical records and contemporary accounts prove that the oriental Christians were far happier living in the regions and cities with the Muslim rulers, rather than being treated like slaves by the chilvalrous European Christian Crusading Knights. Many Christian tribes and communities, not all Arab by any means, fought alongside the Muslims against the European Christians, as they had experienced truly oppressive and inhumane treatment at the hands of the invading Christian hordes.

Doesn’t say much for Ratzy-Boy’s compassion, does it? Or for his scholarship, for that matter…!