September 18, 2006

Why The Pope Was Right About Islam

Real anti-dhimmitude from today's UK Times.

"Benedict did give offence — but no great religion should be immune from difficult questions":
It is impossible to reconcile the consistent Koranic teaching that God is most merciful with suicide bombing, which is indiscriminate and murders faithfuls and infidels alike.

It is a mistake to think that all the major religions are identical: they have real differences of doctrine that have real impacts on human society. What is true, however, is that no religion shall survive for more than a generation or two unless it has a substantial element of truth in it. The diabolical cult of Nazism lasted for only one generation. It is natural for Christians of different denominations to love what they have in common without ceasing to be aware of their differences.

A Christian should also rejoice in the positive spiritual values of the other major religions. It is natural for a Christian to feel enriched by Judaism, which was the religion of Jesus; or by Platonism, the philosophy of the opening chapter of St John’s Gospel and of St Augustine. Yet Christians also find spiritual truths in Buddhism, Confucianism, Daoism, Hinduism, Sikhism and Islam itself. There is a significant link between aspects of Islamic Sufi mysticism and the Christian mystical tradition.

When one lists these religions it becomes obvious that there are two problems: violence and the influence of reason, both of which Pope Benedict identified in his lecture. Violence is a fault from which no major religion has historically been free. St Patrick’s conversion of Ireland is sometimes given as a unique example of the conversion of a nation without the loss of a single life. It is one of the great scandals that so many persecutions have taken place in the name of Jesus.

This has been more or less true of all the great religions: human beings are the most savage of beasts, and they will kill each other in any cause, however noble.

Yet nowadays Islam is the only major religion in which violence is a serious doctrinal issue.
It is true that tribalised Roman Catholics and Protestants in Ireland have only recently stopped killing each other and vengeful Sikhs assassinated Indira Gandhi in India, but neither the Catholic nor the Protestant churches believe in terror; nor do the Sikhs.

A significant proportion of the Islamic community does believe that suicide bombers are martyrs carrying out a religious duty. Suicide bombing causes Islamophobia. There are varying degrees of authority and uniformity in different religions; rather low in most cases. This pluralism has its own virtues, but in Islam they are outweighed by the disadvantages. Those imams who preach al-Qaeda’s view of the duty of jihad are not required to answer to any authority, even the authority of reason.

Islam has only partially experienced the modern process of enlightenment and reform, which was, after all, resisted by a number of pre-Vatican II Popes. Pope Benedict will have done Islam a service if he has started a debate within Islam and between Islam and the critics.
Here's to hoping the Times won't pull this editorial, and that the paper is prepared for the inevitable criticisms and threats.

Cross-posted at Freedom's Zone, where co-blogger Richard has been all over "anti-Pope jihad"

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