I promised here that my next post was going to be about his Excellency the Pope, and though I got sidetracked here there shall be no more stalling. Hope the wait was worth it .
Last month I was surprised at the news that there was some sort of controversy surrounding the Pope Benedict XVI and his alleged harsh criticism of the Muslim faith. I thought to myself , please God let's not have a re-run of the Danish cartoons , we were just beginning to forget all about that sorry episode.
I will not say that he was a card carrying Nazi, because that would be unfair . The past is the past and this is comparable to the Iraqis who have been forced to become members of the Baath party in Iraq to survive ( and so many emigrated abroad); so all must be given the benefit of the doubt. Nor will I comment that he has a history of apparent untolerance to other faiths . Or that he now seems to have made his peace with the Jews according to this "[..]Jewish-Catholic relations anyway are no longer based upon our view of the past but on the nature of relations in the present, and from that perspective Benedict XVI is as good as it gets." I don't even have to talk about Jihad or about proposed Islamic reformation. I don't need to get in the debate about the academic standard or lack of it of the Pope's speech since he apparently amazingly " bases a sweeping characterization of theological doctrine on just one footnote! "
I also read comments like the following on public forums (BBC) :
(1) "The Pope quoted one of the last Byzantine emperors, beleaguered in the remnant of his empire, about to be swallowed up by the Muslim Ottomans. He was hardly objective. In that period - the 14th century - Islam was more enlightened, scientifically and morally, than the Christian world. In Muslim Spain Christians and Jews flourished. In Christian Europe the Inquisition was torturing and burning people and resisting scientific development. The Pope's statement was both foolish and rash.[sic]"
Yael L. Hairston, Givatayim Israel
(2) "The pope made two major mistakes one after another. The first mistake was when he quoted on side of a conversation between two different sides that occurred some centuries ago. Academically that's wrong. Since that conversation was brought up then the world need to know the response of the other side as well. The second one is when he disrespected all Muslims and claimed that about a quarter of the world's population mis-understood him!! Muslims are not that ignorant.[sic]"
Awnar, St. Catharines
All the above while interesting are irrelevant and stray away from the real topic. So I chose to read on the controversy before jumping to conclusions.
The Pope's speech brought out the 'worms from the woodwork' in terms of showing the true personality of many individuals. Unknowingly people blurted out without even the pretense of political correctness what was lurking at the bottom of their hearts. The only winners from this event is Emperor Paleologus who is enjoying fame and notoriety probably more than he did when he was alive, and the terrorists who have more fuel for their oven by making a moutain out of a molehill.
But I was not satisfied , media, people and bloggers were simply quoting each other. To cut the Gordian knot of speculations I decided to download Pope Benedict's lecture "Faith, Reason and the University: Memories and Reflections", dated 12th of September and print out all 7 pages. I wanted to go to the source and see for myself what he said in context (that's what we were taught at school: check both sides and the facts). After all the guy maybe falsely accused.
I read the whole document and his only remarks about Islam (in the said lecture) are contained in page 2 and mainly concentrated in two paragraphs.The remaining 7 pages do not seem connected to these remarks and as far as I could figure out in my humble opinion and limited academic jargon did not even allude to Islam.
Thus I concluded that Pope Benedict XVI is a very clever fellow, he has not reached this eminent position with nothing in his brain. The Pope was hitting two birds with one stone. That is what I call pure genius, because while the whole world was busy analysing the now infamous words of the Byzantine Emperor revived for the occasion through the Pope's lips, and were getting sidetracked about how Islam was propagated, and whether it used reason or not . And while people were foaming at the mouth about Islam and Christianity and other religions, and was the Pope bashing Muslims or not? They let slip the main target of his diatribe which is buried under a lot of philosophy and academic speech.
I stand in awe before Pope Benedict XVI , I only have total admiration for the guy if he had not taken the vow of celibacy I would even marry him regardless of everything. We need people like him in the Arab world. I would vote for him as my benevolent dictator forever , time and over again. Chapeau !
So who or what is the main 'bird' that the Pope was attacking ? the arch-enemy of his Church! and NO that is not Islam, Islam was just a diversion he threw to the spectators :) . The bones we give to the beast in the gladiator arena
I'll let someone elses more capable words explain that to you in another post.
I also had an interesting discussion with a Libyan friend of mine ( thank you for your patience and wink at him). This is the gist of it below and is not intended to be offensive to any Christian.
"We are muslims right? if we are muslim we have a way of life and thinking
that dictates us to deal with issues in whatever that manner is in Islam. The
Pope is not Muslim ( in fact he is Catholic) and does not accept Islam as a
faith i.e rejects the divine revelation of the Qur'an and the coming of Prophet
Muhammad. If that is the case what matters what he says about Islam or our
Prophet? He sees it as natural to do that and that's what his teachings are
maybe telling him to do i.e. attacking in symbolism. On the other hand this has
another face, it could show his ignorance and bigotry, or racist motivations?
That is also his RIGHT to do since he is FREE to speak his own mind.
What matters would be our reaction as Muslims and it also helps for us
Muslims to know the method that we need to learn on how to deal with people of
this charachter when they speak like this in public. The West may have the same
ideas that the Pope has Professed to be accurate. We can say a majority of the
West have the idea that Islam is a faith that was spread by the sword. So if
they decided without previous knowledge or proof that what they say is accurate,
then they can be labelled, according to the dictionaries by a label of ignorance
and bigotry. I am only responsible for them to know only if they make the clear
decision to come and ask me for information . Since there
is no compulsion in Islam, none what so ever as per what he [the Pope] said
it is his business and it is more propaganda for the average Joe in the West to
pick up the Qur'an and read it for himself. I am not going to go out of my way
to teach someone who has ulterior motives because that would be stupid on my
behalf if I am aware I know that he/she has a different aim and insincere
That's why the Creator made the statement 'shall be no compulsion in Islam,
the right is known and the false is known'.
For example , if some one comes and climbs to the biggest tower of the city and decides to unzip and urinate in front of every one. I have nothing to do but leave him alone and move on my business. He will still be on top of that tower doing what he sees is right no ? But let him do it. To make a big fuss about it is to give it
importance that it did not deserve and a waste of time.
Time is the cure for such issues. "
What he said concurs more or less with what I have been thinking all along with regards to purported hostility to the ME or alleged statements aimed at Muslims.
Summa Summarum ( picked that from our own NBA ) :
It is the right of anyone to criticise Islam if they wish.
The smart thing to do in return is to not to swallow the bait hook, line and sinker,but rather keep calm, ignore, learn more social skills and use the same right they used to criticise back next time using the same strategy if I still feel like it :)