The Counter Crusade

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Three Popes: A Quick Comparison


Pope Pius XI (d. 1939)



These words were spoken in confidence by Pope Pius XI to Cardinal Facchinetti whom he had just appointed Apostolic Delegate to Libya, and were only made public much later,

Do not think that you are going among infidels. Moslems attain to Salvation. The ways of Providence are infinite.[1]



Pope John Paul II (d. 2005 )




Kissing the Qur'an



Pope Benedict XVI



"Wipe them out—all of them."

Oh wait, I'm sorry, that was Darth Sidius.

Actually he did say that,

"It is true that the Muslim world is not totally mistaken when it reproaches the West of Christian tradition of moral decadence and the manipulation of human life...This imposes on us a serious examination of conscience." [2]


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[1] L'Ultima, Anno VIII, 75-76, p. 261 (Florence, 1954).
[2] "Ratzinger denies Christianity ´superior´ to Islam"

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Kings and Caliphs on Earth: More on the Environment

this is a quick addition to my last post on man and the environment... it was sent to me by a social sciences professor that I know. He was telling me about it earlier and I asked him to tell me what he said again to refresh my memory...

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"I was talking about a movie I'd watched with Peter O'Toole playing Robinson Crusoe. The sequence at the end involves Friday putting Crusoe under custody and taking him to his original people to put Crusoe on trial. Friday wants to execute  Crusoe but the tribe say that to do this would be to sink to his level. Crusoe also defends himself and says that he can make up for what he'd done by knowledge, teaching their children about the world, which is what makes Friday so angry in the first place.

So they punish him instead by sending him back to his island again and leaving him there to live by himself. Then you have a shot of Crusoe reading from the bible how God gave man the birds in the sky and the fish in the sea. Then you get a shot of Friday and his people singing how nobody can tell the tree not to bask in the light of the sun.

The contrast here is between a people - the 'primitive' tribesmen who worship nature and respect it and don't see it as theirs to do with as they please, and Crusoe the modern European thinks of nature in terms of 'ownership'. He is a man who has a material and imperialist interpretation of the Bible. Instead of understanding the verses in the bible that are talking about nature in terms of 'taskheer' - wasakkharna lakum ma fi samawati wal ard (in the Quran, God makes nature to serve man and his needs, but nature and man both belong to God) - he thinks in terms of ownership. He interprets God 'giving' man the birds and fish literally, as in that they are given to man to do with as he please - 'ownership'.

If you own a chair, it belongs to you, you can smash it if you like and no one can tell you otherwise because it's yours. In Islam money is the money of God and we are mustakhlaphin in it. We have been given the money, as a trust - amanah - and so we mustn't spend it wrongly and must always remember where the money came from - God - and so not think there is anything particularly special about you and why you are rich and so always remember to give money to the poor. By extension the whole idea of man as khaliphatu allah fil ard (God's viceregent on Earth) is a reference to man's responsibility to God's religion and to the earth and obey God's orders, not 'rule' earth and all its creations as such, in terms of 'ownership'.

In Christianity you have the divine right of kings and various religious arguments that use Adam's status on earth as justification for the king actually owning the land and the people on it. ..."

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The movie is called "Man Friday", from 1975.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

The End Days and the Environment

I'm on a month long vacation which started last week, so I doubt i'll write much.. but who knows i might get the chance..

I do have one quick thought tho:

10 days ago, I heard a lecture by Karen Armstrong on Christian fundamentalism in America... in that lecture she said that she heard - but that she hoped what she heard was wrong- that Ashcroft was asked why their administration is not responding to calls to save the environment... and that he said because it doesnt matter anymore, Rapture was near. Rapture of course is the belief that the true Christians will fly out into the air (to go to Heaven) and to welcome the descending Jesus, while all the others are left behind on earth to meet their doom.

I doubt the Ashcroft story is true, but it's a horrible mentality for anyone to have.

The Prophet Muhammad said,

"When doomsday comes if someone has a palm shoot in his hand he should plant it" (al-Bayhaqi, 3:184)

Also, there was an old man who had neglected his land, and the Prophet's companion Umar ibn al-Khattab asked him why he stopped cultivating it. The man said he was about to die and did not need it anymore, but Umar insisted that he cultivate it anyway, and he personally helped him do that.

As our Prophet has taught us, all humans will stand before God on judgement day, and every person they have harmed will complain about their actions, and every animal, and even the Earth will come forward and complain about how each man harmed her.

When the Earth is shaken by a mighty shaking,
and the earth yields up her burdens,
and man cries out "What is the matter with her?"
On that Day she will tell her tales,
as thy Lord will have inspired her.
On that Day mankind will issue, separately, to be shown their deeds.
Whosoever has done an atom's weight of good will see it,
and whoseoever has done an atom's weight of ill will see it.
(Qur'an: 99:1-8).  

Friday, December 16, 2005

CHRISTIAN SUICIDE BOMBERS?


Here I will be discussing the position of the Islamic and Christian texts themselves on suicide and suicide bombing, and not the actions of the followers of these religions who could be misguided.

Suicide

In Islam, suicide is strictly forbidden. “And do not kill yourselves. Surely, Allaah is Most Merciful to you. And whoever commits that through aggression and injustice, we shall cast him into the fire, and that is easy for Allaah.” (An-Nisaa 4:29-30).

and the hadith:

“There was among those who were before you, a man who had a wound. The man could not bear the pain of that wound, so he took a knife and cut his hand with it and as a result, bled to death. Allaah then said: “My slave has caused death on himself hurriedly and for this, I have made Paradise forbidden for him.” (Al-Bukhaaree). and many more...

and suicide is even forbidden in the context of Jihad:

In one of the battles that the Prophet and his followers fought, the prophet pointed at a Muslim who was fighting the enemies of Islam and said, "Whoever wishes to see one of the dwellers of Hell, should look at that man". So one of the Muslims decided to observe him to see why he would go to hell even though he was fighting in war against the enemies of Islam. He then returned to the Prophet and said, "I swear that you are the messenger of Allah!" and when the Prophet asked him why he made this comment, he said that he followed that man in battle as he fought against the enemies of Islam, until he was dealt a fatal injury. The man was in so much pain that he could not bear to wait until death took him, and he killed himself with his sword. Sirat-un-Nabi; Bukhari

Thus, suicide in any form and for whatever purpose is completely forbidden in Islam, but the Christian texts do not condemn it. Job, in the Bible, asks God to kill him because of all of his pain and suffering, whereas in the Islamic version of the story Job is patient and keeps thanking God continuosly, despite his unbearable pains. Saul, in the Christian texts, chooses to die by his sword rather than be caught by the Philistines, and the hero Razis does the same when fearing being caught by the wicked. In the Qur'an, Jonah was forced to jump off the ship whereas in the Christian texts he begs the mariner to throw him off so that he may die.[1]


Suicide Bombing

As you can see above, the Qur'an and the sayings of the Prophet re-tell the stories of many biblical prophets and personalities, giving a different account of what happaned. But one biblical hero who is completely left out of the Qur'an is Samson, Israel's "little sun"[2].

According to the Bible, God sent an angel to Samson's mother, telling her that she will have a very special son and that she should not cut his hair (as his hair will give him incredible power). Samson became so strong that he once killed 1,000 Philistines with the jawbone of a donkey! (I wonder if they were all soldiers or if they included women and children). He was also one of the Judges of Israel for 20 years.

When Samson was finally caught by the Philistines, they gouged out his eyes. He was later placed between the two main pillars of a temple during a great celebration. He asked God to give him strength one more time, so that he may pay back the Philistines for the loss of one of his eyes, and asked God that he may die with the Philistines. He pushed against the pillars and brought down the temple, killing more civilian Philistines than all the people he had killed in his entire lifetime! [3]

So this judge of Israel, this special "sun" of Israel whom God wanted to grow up this strong, killed thousands and thousands of innnocent Philistines to pay back for the loss of one eye! And he wanted to go down with them in the process. So if the followers of every religion were actually following the spirit of their religion, we would have Christian and Jewish suicide bombers instead of Muslim suicide bombers!

In fact, suicide bombing is considered unlawful in Islam because of two reasons:
1) It kills non-combatant civilians
2) It involves suicide.

Suicide bombing was only accepted when one of the founders of the Palestinian group Fateh, Khalil El Wazir, told the people that it is acceptable and that those who died in suicide bombings are martyrs and will go to heaven.[4] Khalil El Wazir became known as Abu Jihad.

But since then, many Islamic scholars have denounced suicide bombings as completely unacceptable. But of course such voices are not heard because they dont make interesting news. See for example the fatwa of the famous Salafi scholar al-Albani declaring suicide bombing unlawful. According to him, they will either cause those who do them to reside eternally or temporarily in Hell. He also says that killing Jewish civilians by suicide bombing has no benefit and is harmful to the Islamic call.

More recently, 500 British Muslim religious leaders issued a fatwa saying that suicide bombings are "vehemently prohibited". They continued, "Islam's position is clear and unequivocal: murder of one soul is the murder of the whole of humanity; he who shows no respect for human life is an enemy of humanity.

Saudi Arabia's Grand Mufti, Sheikh Abdulaziz bin Abdallah Al-Sheikh, the highest religious authority in Saudi Arabia has also issued a fatwa against suicide bombings. There are on the other hand, one must admit, some Arab Islamic authorities who are afraid to speak up against suicide bombing because of all the passion that Arabs have toward the Palestinian cause. Other scholars, like the Shaikh of al-Azhar in Cairo Mohamed Sayed Tantawi, said that suicide bombings against civilians are unacceptable but against fighters they are ok because they are not really suicide, but are "a sort of martyrdom" and in "self defence". He can say whatever he wants but suicide bombing still involves suicide, and they are not the only option.

There is a complete refutation of suicide bombings as Islamic in this pdf file.



How strange it is then, that many misguided Muslims think suicide bombing is acceptable, whereas it is the Bible that shows Samson as a great hero!




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* This post was inspired by the quote, "Suicide bombing is so foreign to the Quranic ethos that the Prophet Samson is entirely absent from our scriptures" in the article "Recapturing Islam from the Terrorists " , by Abdul Hakim Murad.
1. The Origins of Suicidal Terrorism
2. The word samson means "little sun".
3. Biblical people: Samson
4. Thomas, Gordon. Gideon's Spies: The Secret History of the Mossad".


Thursday, December 08, 2005

How the Copts were saved by the Muslims


Since there has been increased talk of tensions between Muslims and Copts in Egypt recently, I thought I'd mention how the Muslims took Egypt and saved the Copts from the Byzantines.

In the seventh century C.E. (aka AD), the Byzantine empire was heavily oppressing the Coptic people in Egypt, imposing heavy taxes on them and trying to convert them to the Greek Orthodox Church. The Copts were "unwilling to pay homage to the Chalcedonian extraction of Christianity" and were therefore "imprisoned and persecuted by their Byzantine masters". The country had also been weakened because of elder Heraclius' revolt against the "vicious government of Emperor Phocas", which was fought out largely on Egyptian soil. This led to younger Heraclius taking the throne of the Byzantine empire.

The Sassanid empire in what is now Iraq and Iran had also attacked Egypt and other Byzantine territories, subjecting the Egyptians "to severe material oppression for a decade".

Benjamin I, the Coptic Patriarch of Egypt, went into hiding from the Byzantine Empire, but they caught his brother Mennas. According to Coptic sources:

And Heraclius seized the blessed Mennas, brother of the Father Benjamin, the patriarch, and brought great trials upon him, and caused lighted torches to be held against his sides until the fat of his body oozed forth and flowed upon the ground, and knocked out his teeth because he confessed the faith; and finally commanded that a sack should be filled with sand, and the holy Mennas placed within it, and drowned in the sea. For Heraclius the misbeliever had charged them, saying: "If any of them says that the council of Chalcedon is true, let him go; but drown in the sea those that say it is erroneous and false." Therefore they did as the prince bade them, and cast Mennas into the sea."


Because of this oppression of the Copts by the Byzantines, and the weakness of the country, Amr ibn al As, a Muslim general with great ambitions, wanted to take Egypt. Amr ibn al As was never exactly a pious Muslim.. He is perhaps most famous, beside for conquering Egypt, as the man who lied and cheated in the arbitration between Ali and Muawiya, causing Muawiya to become caliph unjustly. In any case, Amr knew that the Coptic majority would not fight along side the Byzantines, and this encouraged him to take Egypt, mainly out of political ambitions.

Amr begged the Caliph Umar to allow him to take Egypt, but Umar was not sure if this was the right thing to do at the time. "The conquest of Egypt itself stands in our traditions, both Arab and non-Arab, as an episode in which Amr exerted pressure on the more cautious judgment of Umar and caused the latter reluctantly to yield." Umar told Amr he could go toward Egypt, and that he should expect a letter from him once he made his decision on whether or not he should proceed to cross the border. Umar ended up writing a letter in which he said that Amr must turn back if he had not yet crossed the border, but that if he had already crossed it then he should proceed." Amr received the letter before crossing the border but did not open it until he was well into Egyptian territory, and wrote back to Umar saying that he only read it after crossing the border, and that Umar should send reinforcements.

What is known as fact by historians is that the Copts did not help their Byzantine oppressors. What remains a matter of speculation, however, is whether or not the Copts helped the Muslims take Alexandria from the Byzantines. All of Egypt was controlled by Alexadria and once the Muslims took it, possibly with assistance from the Copts, all of Egypt became theirs.

"The hostility of the Copts [to the Byzantines], amply justified in their own eyes, was probably the decisive factor in terms of local assistance provided to the Muslim troops, particularly in the Delta. This assistance is recorded beyond doubt in the later stages of the campaign by the Arab chroniclers, possibly in exaggerated terms."


Amr sent a letter to Benjamin I, former Coptic partiarch who was in hiding from the Byzantines, saying:

"There is protection and security for the place where Benjamin is, and peace from God, therefore let him come forth secure and tranquil and administer the affairs of his church and the government of his nation..."

Amr "gave orders that Benjamin should be brought before him with honour and veneration and love" and gave the patriarch "full authority to resume his intentions to regather his congregation and make amends for the destruction of the Coptic church spearheaded by Heraclius."

Benjamin was also able to retrieve the head of Saint Mark, founder of the Coptic church in Egypt, that the Greeks wanted to smuggle to Byzantium. He made such "great efforts to help with the rebuilding and revival of the Coptic Church in Egypt", that he became a hero far after his death.

"So deep was the impression of his long reign on the minds of his contemporaries that the legend was circulated among them that not only did the angels carry his noble soul to heaven but it was also escorted by Saint Athanasius the Apostolic, Saint Severus of Antioch, and Saint Theodosius."



Perhaps then it would help both the Muslims and Copts of today to remember how the Muslims once saved the Copts from the terrible oppression of the Byzantines, rid the area of the horribly oppressive Sassanian Empire, and brought back to Egypt its Coptic Patriarch with love and honor, allowing him to rebuild the Coptic church.



Citations from:
- Burke, Jeffrey C. "Coptic-Muslim Relations in the Seventh Century"



Saturday, December 03, 2005

Too busy to update this blog for at least two weeks.