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Islam and Christianity in history
ifihadahif Posted: Wed Dec 28 11:55:30 2005 Post | Quote in Reply  
  Christianity and Islam in History
By Walter Brandmüller


I will address the topic of Christianity and Islam by limiting myself to a brief presentation of historical facts, without entering into the specifics of religious and theological dialogue. This seems useful to me, because the celebration of the fifth centenary of the birth of Pius V was a bit muted, especially in academic circles. The victor at Lepanto in 1571, this pope who had the courage and the energy to construct an alliance of almost all the Christian kingdoms against the Ottoman empire – which was advancing to threaten Europe and had already established dominion over the Balkans – today, precisely on account of the unhappy restoration of hostility between the two worlds – one formerly Christian, and to a certain extent still Christian, and the Muslim world – seems to many to be an obstructing presence best left in the shadows.

The so-called “secularism” that would silence all the monotheistic religions through accusations of fundamentalism, or that exalts dialogue by negating their differences, intends to blot out the age-old conflict that has pitted the two religious communities against one another. Above all, it intends to neutralize the Roman pontiff, who has shown himself capable of blocking the Islamic advance and saving Christian civilization.

Although the two monotheistic religions in question share, among other things and to different degrees, the Jewish tradition – a specialist like Samir Khalil Samir emphasizes how before Mohammed the Arab Jews and Christians called their God by the name of Allah – there are many differences between Christianity and Islam, and the differences are fundamental.

Since their very beginnings, there have been differences in how Christians and Muslims think of conversion and the use of violence.

For the Christians, conversion was something that must be voluntary and individual, obtained primarily through preaching and example, and this is how Christianity did in fact spread during its first centuries. Obviously, we must immediately note that this conception of early Christianity underwent changes in later eras, connected with the diffusion of a spirit of religious intolerance in Western culture. John Paul II himself acknowledged that in this regard the Church’s children “must return with a spirit of repentance [for] the acquiescence given, especially in certain centuries, to intolerance and even the use of violence in the service of truth.” (Tertio Millennio Adveniente, 35).

But on the part of the Muslims, from the earliest times, even while Mohammed was still alive, conversion was imposed through the use of force. The expansion and extension of Islam’s sphere of influence came through war with the tribes that did not accept conversion peacefully, and this went hand in hand with submission to Islamic political authority. Islamism, unlike Christianity, expressed a comprehensive religious, cultural, social, and political strategy. While Christianity spread during its first three centuries in spite of persecution and martyrdom, and in many ways in opposition to Roman domination, introducing a clear separation between the spiritual and political spheres, Islam was imposed through the power of political domination.

It therefore comes as no surprise that the use of force occupies a central place in Islamic tradition, as witnessed by the frequent use of the word “jihad” in many texts. Although some scholars, especially Western ones, maintain that jihad does not necessarily mean war, but instead a spiritual struggle and interior effort, Samir Khalil Samir again clarifies that the use of this term in Islamic tradition – including its usage today – is essentially uniform, indicating warfare in the name of God to defend Islam, which is an obligation for all adult Muslim males. Those who maintain that understanding jihad as a holy war constitutes a sort of deviation from the true Islamic tradition are therefore not telling the truth, and history sadly demonstrates that that violence has characterized Islam since its origin, and that Mohammed himself systematically organized and led the raids against the tribes that did not want to convert and accept his dominion, thus subjecting the Arab tribes one by one. Naturally, it must also be said that at the time of Mohammed warfare was part of the Bedouin culture, and no one saw anything objectionable about it.

The interpretation that Muslims today try to make of the crusades – an interpretation that finds many followers among Western historians – also fails to correspond to historical reality.

According to this representation, Western Christians were invaders in a peaceful region that was respectful of the different religions – the Holy Land, which back then was part of Syria – using religious motives to disguise imperialist ambitions and economic interests.

But the idea of the crusades emerged, above all, as a reaction to the measures that the Fatimid caliph Hakim bi-Amr Allah took against the Christians of Egypt and Syria. In 1008, al-Hakim outlawed the celebrations of Palm Sunday, and the following year he ordered that Christians be punished and all their property confiscated. In that same year of 1009, he sacked and demolished the church dedicated to Mary in Cairo, and did not prevent the desecration of the Christian sepulchers surrounding it, or the sacking of the city’s other churches. That same year saw what was certainly the most severe episode: the destruction of the Constantinian basilica of the Resurrection in Jerusalem, known as the Holy Sepulcher. The historical records of the time say that he had ordered “to obliterate any symbol of Christian faith, and provide for the removal of every reliquary and object of veneration.” The basilica was then razed, and Ibn Abi Zahir did all he could to demolish the sepulcher of Christ and any trace of it.

Today in many intellectual circles there is a lot of talk about the religious tolerance shown over many centuries by the Islamic authorities, because – while in terms of the pagan populations the saying “embrace Islam and your life will be spared” held true, and the pagans who did not convert were killed – the “people of the book,” the Jews and Christians, were able to continue practicing their religion.

In reality, the situation was much less idyllic: the Christians and Jews could survive only if they accepted Muslim political dominion and a situation of humiliation, which was aggravated by the obligation to pay increasingly burdensome taxes. So it’s no wonder that most of the Christians, even though they were not constrained by force, converted to Islam on account of the constant economic and social pressure. This led to the total disappearance of a form of Christianity that had flourished for more than half a millennium, as in the part of Africa ruled by the Roman empire, the land of Tertullian, saint Cyprian, Tyconius, and above all saint Augustine.

But the biggest difference between Christianity and Islam concerns the crucial issue of understanding the human person.

This is shown by the fact that many Islamic countries have not accepted the declaration of human rights promulgated by the United Nations in 1948, or have done so with the reservation of excluding the norms that conflict with Qur’anic law – which means practically all of them. From an historical point of view, therefore, it must be recognized that the declaration of the rights of man is a cultural fruit of the Christian world, even though these are “universal” norms, in that they are valid for all. In Islamic tradition, in fact, the concept of the equality of all human beings does not exist, nor does, in consequence, the concept of the dignity of every human life. Sharia is founded upon a threefold inequality: between man and woman, between Muslim and non-Muslim, and between freeman and slave. In essence, the male human being is considered a full titleholder of rights and duties only through his belonging to the Islamic community: those who convert to another religion or become atheists are considered traitors, subject to the death penalty, or at least to the loss of all their rights.

The most irrevocable of these inequalities is that between man and woman, because the others can be overcome – the slave can be freed, the non-Muslim can convert to Islam – while woman’s inferiority is irremediable, in that it was established by God himself. In Islamic tradition, the husband enjoys an almost absolute authority over his wife: while polygamy is permitted for men, a woman may not have more than one husband, may not marry a man of another faith, can be repudiated by her husband, has no rights to the children in case of divorce, is penalized in the division of the inheritance, and from a legal standpoint her testimony is worth half as much as a man’s.

So if Islam implied, and still implies, not merely religious membership, but an entire way of life, sanctioned even at the political level – a way of life that naturally involves and prescribes how to act with other peoples, how to behave in questions of war and peace, how to conduct relations with foreigners – it is very easy to understand how the victory of Lepanto guaranteed for the West the possibility of developing its culture of respect for the human person, for whom equal dignity regardless of his condition came to be guaranteed.

If this characterization of Islam is destined to remain unchanged in the future, as it has been until now, the only possible outcome is a difficult coexistence with those who do not belong to the Muslim community: in an Islamic country, in fact, the non-Muslim must submit to the Islamic system, if he does not wish to live in a situation of substantial intolerance.

Likewise, on account of this all-embracing conception of religion and political authority, the Muslim will have great difficulty in adapting to the civil laws in non-Islamic countries, seeing them as something foreign to his upbringing and to the dictates of his religion. Perhaps one should ask oneself if the well-attested difficulties persons coming from the Islamic world have with integrating into the social and cultural life of the West are not explained in part by this problematic situation.

We must also recognize the natural right of every society to defend its own cultural, religious, and political identity. It seems to me that this is precisely what Pius V did.




 
DanSRose Posted: Wed Dec 28 14:04:27 2005 Post | Quote in Reply  
  I liked that. Especially the first third where it glammed over for the 2000 years of Christian "hey you're different, let's kill you" POV, then historically deconstructed Islam. Actually, the last two thirds was interesting.

By the faux apology I am including: the conquistadors, the "conversions" of Africa, the Slave trade, the elimination of the Cathars and all variations of the Christianity in the west, Constantine's Nicence Creed and the Council of Constantinople, the fair and balanced treatment or the Native Americans, the Inquisition and the 1492 Jewish exile from Spain, and the free use of Christianity against a lot of scientific advancements and against condoms to prevents the spread AIDS and HIV. And how in certain governments BeaUtiful typeS of christianty Has been put over the rule of law.

I especially like that Walter Brandmuller is the bishop who is the new Pope's senior communication's man.

Also, scholars generally agree that the First Crusade, and all those that followed hence, are primarily to blame for the 'situation' in the Balkans.

Later, I will detail Samir Khalil Samir's take on violent Muslim reaction to the West, because I am the king of understatement.


 
ifihadahif Posted: Wed Dec 28 14:08:27 2005 Post | Quote in Reply  
  DanSRose said:
>I liked that. Especially the first third where it glammed over for the 2000 years of Christian "hey you're different, let's kill you" POV, then historically deconstructed Islam. Actually, the last two thirds was interesting.
>
>By the faux apology I am including: the conquistadors, the "conversions" of Africa, the Slave trade, the elimination of the Cathars and all variations of the Christianity in the west, Constantine's Nicence Creed and the Council of Constantinople, the fair and balanced treatment or the Native Americans, the Inquisition and the 1492 Jewish exile from Spain, and the free use of Christianity against a lot of scientific advancements and against condoms to prevents the spread AIDS and HIV. And how in certain governments BeaUtiful typeS of christianty Has been put over the rule of law.
>
>I especially like that Walter Brandmuller is the bishop who is the new Pope's senior communication's man.
>
>Also, scholars generally agree that the First Crusade, and all those that followed hence, are primarily to blame for the 'situation' in the Balkans.
>
>Later, I will detail Samir Khalil Samir's take on violent Muslim reaction to the West, because I am the king of understatement.
>
You missed the point entirely, no one is denying anything you said, the article was only about Christianity and Islam.


 
FN Posted: Wed Dec 28 15:38:37 2005 Post | Quote in Reply  
  Hold your horses here.

I'm not the religious type, but what does the church banning condoms have to do with the spreading of HIV?


Don't you think that if you're ignorant enough not to use condoms because the pope says so, you deserve to die?











Lol. Just kidding. Or am I?


 
addi Posted: Thu Dec 29 08:09:24 2005 Post | Quote in Reply  
  The long and illustrious history of both religions have so much blood on their hands that any "scholarly" piece written to fairly and accuratly decifer their past and current sins would be a huge undertaking.
In fact, there was religious tolerance shown towards christians and jews by some muslim civilizations. There was also forced conversion. The same could be said for christian empires in the historical ebb and flow of their imperialistic past.
Christians wiped out entire groups of people in the name of God.
Muslims have justified bloody holy jihads and the second class treatment of women in the name of Allah.

Both religions are comprised of humans and therefore their respective histories are filled with pages of reprehensible acts.
If there is a Supreme Being, both do (have done) him/her a great disservice.


 
FN Posted: Thu Dec 29 09:44:32 2005 Post | Quote in Reply  
  Unless he's evil.


 
ifihadahif Posted: Thu Dec 29 10:40:23 2005 Post | Quote in Reply  
  addi said:
>The long and illustrious history of both religions have so much blood on their hands that any "scholarly" piece written to fairly and accuratly decifer their past and current sins would be a huge undertaking.
>In fact, there was religious tolerance shown towards christians and jews by some muslim civilizations. There was also forced conversion. The same could be said for christian empires in the historical ebb and flow of their imperialistic past.
>Christians wiped out entire groups of people in the name of God.
>Muslims have justified bloody holy jihads and the second class treatment of women in the name of Allah.
>
>Both religions are comprised of humans and therefore their respective histories are filled with pages of reprehensible acts.
>If there is a Supreme Being, both do (have done) him/her a great disservice.
>
Are you saying then that both religions are on equal footing in terms of human rights and how they treat their fellow man, especially today ?


 
FN Posted: Thu Dec 29 10:53:30 2005 Post | Quote in Reply  
  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cultural_bias
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cultural_relativism



Have no fear hif, I think at this point in time the arab/muslim/whatever culture proves itself to be inferior as well. But that doesn't diminish the interesting aspects of the articles.


 
addi Posted: Thu Dec 29 11:11:39 2005 Post | Quote in Reply  
  ifihadahif said:

>Are you saying then that both religions are on equal footing in terms of human rights and how they treat their fellow man, especially today ?

No, not really.
I was attempting to point out that both religions have a past that includes some pretty deplorable acts. I don't think either can "cast the first stone".
Just be careful about lumping all of today's muslims together. When referance is made to the global muslim community today i think too often we include every muslim believer into the same group as the radical muslims. I don't think it's fair to do that, just as I don't think it's fair for muslims to categorize all Christians together.

And for the record, I don't agree with any religion that justifies taking away the rights of women (or any group) through the twisted words of their holy book.


 
ifihadahif Posted: Thu Dec 29 11:54:30 2005 Post | Quote in Reply  
  The thrust of the article illuminates the basic differences in the Christian and Muslim religions.
There are no falsehoods in the article that I can see and yet it seems that folks who read it want to say "yeah but the Christians were bad too" !

We all know about the horrible things done in the name of Jesus and no one is denying that.
We are talking about today, right now, there are countries where women are nothing more than property and you can be beheaded for owning a bible. These are not obscure places on the planet but major players in the global scheme of things.


 
addi Posted: Thu Dec 29 12:16:46 2005 Post | Quote in Reply  
  ifihadahif said:

>We are talking about today, right now, there are countries where women are nothing more than property and you can be beheaded for owning a bible. These are not obscure places on the planet but major players in the global scheme of things.

I know, hiffer. I just get queazy with some people thinking Christians always have the white hats on, and all other religions are wearing the black hats...that "evil empire" type mentality.

If I moved to an orthodox muslim country I probably wouldn't be a posting slut here...I'd be dead. I'd make a very bad muslim.


 
ifihadahif Posted: Thu Dec 29 12:54:33 2005 Post | Quote in Reply  
  How about this bullshit ?

There is no torture good enough to make this guy pay.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/10628136/


 
zht Posted: Fri Dec 30 23:16:43 2005 Post | Quote in Reply  
  ifihadahif said:
>How about this bullshit ?
>
>There is no torture good enough to make this guy pay.
>
>http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/10628136/


 
zht Posted: Fri Dec 30 23:27:52 2005 Post | Quote in Reply  
  zht said: sorry about the empty post. ifihadahif, I agree with the torture part. However religion does not make people commit heinous crimes, lack of it does. Women do not drown their kids because they belong to some religious Organiation. I hail from the same country as the man in cuffs. Female, professional, educated, can drive, very likely will not be killed by father if caught having an affair. This schmuck: uneducated, may sometimes have work, only access to religion is what his local preacher teaches him or wisdom of his forefathers from the dark ages. Why is he so? Cause the governments too corrupt to do any thing for his upliftment. Is his crime forgivable? NO. Is it because of Islam? No. As a practising Muslim, I am one of the many who were actually educated about the true meaning of my faith, and know that questioning it is not punishable by death. There are many more like me, rational, peace-loving, people like you who go to their jobs, come home to their kids and eat pizza on the weekends. And I am not a liberal, Westernized person either. I have values and standards just like you. In fact I invite you to come over to my house, my mom will make you sandwiches and my dad will gripe with you about Republican politics, rising gas prices, and the sad status of Muslims everywhere.

>ifihadahif said:
>>How about this bullshit ?
>>
>>There is no torture good enough to make this guy pay.
>>
>>http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/10628136/


 
addi Posted: Sat Dec 31 07:37:10 2005 Post | Quote in Reply  
  zht said:
>In fact I invite you to come over to my house, my mom will make you sandwiches and my dad will gripe with you about Republican politics, rising gas prices, and the sad status of Muslims everywhere.

If she made grilled cheese sandwiches I'd come.

A rational voice about muslims from the wilderness...how refreshing.
Welcome to the forum zht. Nice to hear your perspective on things.




 
FN Posted: Sat Dec 31 08:02:00 2005 Post | Quote in Reply  
  Here's the thing though, if you're not Westernized, what are you doing here.


 
addi Posted: Sat Dec 31 10:37:11 2005 Post | Quote in Reply  
  Christophe said:
>Here's the thing though, if you're not Westernized, what are you doing here.

lol

Yeah..you got a lot of nerve claiming to be "non-westernized" and knowing how to surf the net. We all know that's impossible.

: )


 
FN Posted: Sat Dec 31 11:03:22 2005 Post | Quote in Reply  
  Here=western world


 
addi Posted: Sat Dec 31 11:15:50 2005 Post | Quote in Reply  
  Christophe said:
>Here=western world

gotcha.

Though I think it's possible for a person raised in a non-westernized culture to move to a westernized culture and not be absorbed into that cultural mindset...at least the first generation. Much harder with young children that are sent to school to remain unaffected.
Also we don't really know where zht is referring to as "here". She's being mysterious : )


 



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