Thursday, September 14, 2006

"fundamental difference between Christianity" and Islam?

One should not judge a religion or philosophy just by actions of its practitioners. It would be ludicrous, opportunistic to use actions of self proclaimed leader of Islam Bin Ladin, or born again George W Bush as representative of Islam or Christianity, religions that are practices by millions of people. But the words of its scholars on the other hand opens a window into the current interpretation and mind set of the religions.

In a homecoming speech to his native homeland, Germany, Pope Benedict XVI quotes Byzantine empire....

"The emperor comes to speak about the issue of jihad, holy war," the Pope said. "He said, I quote, 'Show me just what Muhammad 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.'" Benedict added "I quote" twice to make it clear these were someone else's words.

What is next "I quote" twice from Adolf Hitler statements on Jews and Gypsies?

"Jihad" has a simple meaning, it means struggle. Nancy Reagan called for "War on Drugs" in Arabic that would be called Jihad against drugs. There has been war on illiteracy, that would be Jihad against illiteracy. Right now people of New Orleans, and Lebanon have a struggle to rebuild their communities, that would be Reconstruction Jihad. And yes, there are some in the Islamic world that feel their countries are being occupied, the resources being taken away against their will, they have called for Jihad against the invaders.

He also says:

...fundamental difference between Christianity's view that God is intrinsically linked to reason (the Greek concept of logos) and Islam´s view that "God is absolutely transcendent." Benedict said that Islam teaches that God's "will is not bound up with any of our categories, even that of rationality." The risk he sees implicit in this concept of the divine is that the irrationality of violence can potentially be justified if someone believes it is God's will. "As far as understanding of God and thus the concrete practice of religion is concerned, we find ourselves faced with a dilemma which nowadays challenges us directly. Is the conviction that acting unreasonably contradicts God's nature merely a Greek idea, or is it always and intrinsically true?"

I am not sure on what logos his Holiness makes a claim that there is any historical "logos" in Christianity. Wasn't it the Chaotic church that was prosecuting the Galilee for reasoning that earth is round? Evne today, isn't it the Catholic church that is against the basic common sense issues as contraceptive and aids prevention?

May the victims of the Christian atrocities, the South American Indian culture that was devastated by the invading Catholics, the victims of the Spanish inquisitions, the victims of the crusaders, the witch hunts, the world wars....... one day will find comfort in that there is "logos" behind the christian atrocities.

It is far more interesting to compare the comments of the Pope Benedict with that of a Islamic scholar, former Iranian president Seyed Mohammad Khatami, in a speech he delivered at the Washington National Cathedral, he said:

"Jesus is the prophet of kindness and peace. Muhammad is the prophet of ethics, morality and
grace. Moses is the prophet of dialogue and exchange," he said. "It's good at the present time,
where war, violence and repression is so prevalent across the world, for all of us who are
followers of God's religion to pursue all efforts for the establishment of peace and security."

What is evident is that in the eye of an Islamic scholar, there is no putting down the Christianity or Judaism. For the pope it appears as if Islam is a nuisance that he just needs to deal with. Where as for A Muslim scholar he accepts Christianity and Judaism and feels that his interpretation is closer to reality. It appears that at least as far as the scholars are concern, the Catholic church is stuck in Byzantine times, while Islam has moved on with sensibilites that are required in the Global Village.

Full text of Khatami Speech is available at: National Cathedral Web Site

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