Friday, October 12, 2007

Muslim clerics demand peace, or else...

The letter sent by 138 Muslim Clerics to the Christian leaders of the world is both welcome and revealing. It is perhaps an inevitable consequence of the pluralistic nature of modern society that common ground should be found in order that followers of both Jesus and Mohammed can coexist, connect and communicate. Yet that geographical or sociological closeness gives rise to a theological and political antagonism, often blamed on war, economic inequality, and religious extremism.

The letter is welcome because it is a joint communication from both Sunni and Shi'a scholars, and it is revealing because it is in essence a demand for submission. This is perhaps unsurprising, since the salvation of Allah is attained only through works, and the peace of Islam only through submission. By calling for unity, and setting out the parameters of ‘A Common Word Between Us and You’, the focus is on the lowest denominators – the love of God and love of one's neighbour. The problem is the absence of a doctrine of God, an understanding of the Trinity, and an acceptance of who constitutes one’s neighbour.

The latter point is not semantic. Jesus was clear that everyone is one’s neighbour, yet while Mohammed on occasion urged respect for ‘the people of the Book’ (ie monotheists), there is nothing but death and destruction consistently ordained for ‘idolaters’. Thus this document offers nothing to the world’s Hindus, Sikhs or Buddhists, whose practices presumably have to continue to be eradicated.

It is one thing to set out a grand theoretical statement, but quite another to articulate the praxis. The appeal is for all religions to work together, but Islam has set out its non-negotiable ‘red lines’ first. There is a veiled rebuke to Jihadists: ‘And to those who nevertheless relish conflict and destruction for their own sake or reckon that ultimately they stand to gain through them, we say that our very eternal souls are all also at stake if we fail to sincerely make every effort to make peace and come together in harmony.’ But the inclusion of ‘for their own sake’ is easily refuted by those for whom murder is in defence of Allah, and blessed martyrdom is the reward for their selfless sacrifice. The Muslim scholars further state: ‘As Muslims, we say to Christians that we are not against them and that Islam is not against them - so long as they do not wage war against Muslims on account of their religion, oppress them and drive them out of their homes.’ Again, the hand of friendship is extended on their terms; no mention of what may be the cause of the conflict or oppression. This basically says that peace and friendship are offered only if you cease your defence of and support for Israel; if you permit Shari’a practices in your countries; if Islam and the Qur’an are ‘respected’ and placed alongside your Christianity and your Bible.

In ‘love’ is patience and tolerance, yet while there are many tolerant Muslims, tolerant Islam is an oxymoron. Thus this letter talks in apocalyptic terms of the ‘survival of the world’ being at stake if Muslims and Christians do not make peace with each other. But the peace that Jesus gives is not as the world gives, and the only peace that Islam knows is that of unqualified surrender and submission. It is naïve of the Bishop of London the Right Rev Richard Chartres to spell out the similarities between passages of the Bible and the Qur’an. There are similarities between Jesus and Father Christmas, but nothing to justify joint global conferences. And what of the differences? Amidst the abundance of quotations which purport to support their calls for unity, there is no reference to 5:17, which dismisses Christians as non-believers, 4:171, which denies the crucifixion, or of 9:30, which says that those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God are accursed, or 9:29, which mandates war against Jews and Christians. Such verses have to addressed if there is to be any true and honest dialogue.

As Archbishop Williams is once again silent, it falls to that great man of God, the Bishop of Rochester, Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, to respond on behalf of the Church of England Continuing. He points out that for all the apparent similarities of the monotheistic faiths, Christians and Muslims do not actually believe in the same thing: ‘Dialogue must be in the integrity of each faith, rather than on terms set by one,' he said. 'They speak of the unity of God. Christians want to uphold the unity of God but their understanding is not the same of the Muslim one. Christians understand God as the Father the source of all existence, the Word is the one through whom the creation comes into existence and the Spirit refreshes and renews creation. What the Qur’an condemns, we do not believe. Whatever our doctrine of God, there are fundamental issues that must be addressed, such as refugees fleeing because of their faith and because of persecution… But what I would stress is that dialogue between partners must be conducted in the integrity of each faith. One partner cannot dictate the terms on which dialogue must be conducted. This document seems to be on the verge of doing that.'

He said the document appeared to be calling for dialogue on the basis of Muslim belief in the unity of God. Dr Nazir-Ali said: 'If that were the case, we would all be Muslim. I would say, we need mutual witness and learning as well as witness to faith. I am quite happy for Muslims to witness to me. But it is not a one-way street.'

He criticised parts of the document, which goes in great detail into Qur’anic passages which emphasise the unity of God. Dr Nazir-Ali said: 'One thing the document implies is that Christians have compromised their monotheism. It does this by implication, with all the business of saying we must agree that God is only none and not associated with partners, that we must not take others for Lord. It refers to various verses in the Qur’an which accuse Christians of taking Jesus and others as their Lord besides Allah.' The verse the entire letter is based on, he said, is 3:64: ‘Say, “O followers of the scripture, let us come to a logical agreement between us and you: that we shall not worship except GOD; that we never set up any idols besides Him, nor set up any human beings as lords beside GOD." If they turn away, say, "Bear witness that we are submitters".'

According to Dr Nazir-Ali, 'This verse says that if we are going to talk it must be on the basis that you [the Christians] are no longer associating others with God. What I would say to that is that Christians uphold belief in one God vigorously but our understanding of the oneness of God is not the Muslim understanding. We believe in God as source from whom everything is brought into being. Jesus is God's word and presence for us but is also human.'

In fact, the document does emphasise the humanity of Jesus, in line with Qur’anic teaching. Dr Nazir-Ali said: 'That is fine, but he is also God's presence for us. We believe in one God but how we believe in one God is not the same as how Muslims believe in one God. There is an implicit assumption here that what Muslims believe is normative and everyone else has to fall into line.'
He added that what Qur’an condemns as false belief, such as the view that the Trinity consists of Father, Son and Blessed Virgin Mary, is not believed by Christians in the first place. Dr Nazir-Ali said: 'Please find out from us what we really believe. That is one of the purposes of dialogue. Ok, we may disagree about the nature of God but there are many other important areas of dialogue as well. There is justice, compassion, fundamental freedom, freedom to express beliefs, persecution of peoples. All these are matters of dialogue. Only one of them, the need for peace, is mentioned here.'

Quite. But that is because the word ‘peace’ is simply a euphemism for Islam.

Cranmer urges those Christian leaders to whom this letter is addressed to respond firmly, corporately, and theologically. If the response is conciliatory, divided, and sociological, it will be seen as a weakness, a lack of conviction, and an open invitation for Islam to fill the spiritual void.


Anonymous Dr. Irene Lancaster FRSA said...

Thank you very much for this extremely erudite and wise posting. The Bishop of Rochester is a good friend of the family and according to my father-in-law, who lives near him, a most able Hebrew scholar as well.

I have blogged on the entire matter here:

According to Ruth Gledhill's Times blog, which you can access from mine, one of the major differences between Islam and Christianity is that Muslims do not believe that we were made in the image of God, the latter being considered such a transcendent being in Islam that any comparison at all, even metaphorically, between humans and the deity is regarded by Muslims as a sin.

In Judaism the two main principles are

a) to love your neighbour as yourself

b) we are made in the image of God.

These two principles are then tied together by stating that you can only love yourself and hence your neighbour if you know that you are made in the image of God, because love is the greatest gift which God has given us.

I do realise that superficially there would appear to be great differences between Judaism and Christianity regarding the concept of the Trinity. However, Judaism also has a system of immanence through which man can reach God and this is the sephirotic system of the kabbalists, based on readings of Genesis 1 and the Book of Ezekiel.

A very good explanation of this is given in The Essence of Kabbalah, by my husband Les, who conducts courses for Jews, Christians and those of other religions and none, based on the latest findings in brain psychology which tally with the need of humans for proximity to and empathy with God.

A religion which does not accept that humans are made in the image of God will downplay the importance of the human being and this then explains the widespread endorsement of suicide bombers in current Muslim theological circles.

It also explains their lack of a theological concept of repentance and forgiveness, which are central to Judaism and Christianity.

It is deeply ironic that 1000 years ago Muslims in Spain and Persia were capable of the deepest insights into the Koran. They used metaphor, analogy and other methodologies shared with Jews and Christians to speak a common language and engage in meaningful dialogue.

The difference then was that the Muslims were in total political control of the areas in which debate took place.

Both Christians and Jews have theologies of diaspora and indeed the Dalai Lama has addressed the Jewish community by stating that 'You have learned the secret of survival in diaspora and should teach it to the rest of the world'.

As your blog touched quite rightly on the current Muslim approach to Israel, may I say that having lived here for just over a year now, I have spoken to dozens of Arabs of all religions, citizens of the State of Israel and find them impressive, loyal and cultured. Indeed I teach some of their children at a school in a predominantly Arab area of Israel.

This demonstrates to me that Arabs can do very well as a minority and are flourishing - their population growing - in the Jewish State.

Unfortunately, the Muslim communities of Europe seem to be making a great many demands that clash with both the State and with the Christian ethos of that continent.

So two things are necessary before dialogue is really possible on an equal footing: an explanation of the Muslim view of man's relation to God and an exposition of their theology of diaspora, which does not yet appear to exist.

12 October 2007 at 10:44  
Blogger AethelBald, King of Wessex said...

I'm not sure how important Britain is in the bigger picture, but any communication from Islamic scholars directed at other religions is not going to get much attention in Britain because we're not very religious. Both His Grace and Dr Lancaster are believers and seem to make rather a lot of inter-faith differences that are hard to find significant from outside the pale.

From a secular point of view, I welcome this document. It's a start, which should be nurtured. Whether its authors regard people like me as fit to live or not is another question.

12 October 2007 at 11:32  
Anonymous Dr. Irene Lancaster FRSA said...

It's not a start, because so-called interfaith between Muslims and Christians has been going on for years and hasn't got us anywhere.

The differences are important, because if you don't recognize the theological reasons behind suicide bombings, then you won't be able to stop them, believing falsely that political, social or economic reasons are behind them.

This was obviously not the case with the recent attempted suicide bombings by Cambridge doctors.

In order to deal with violent behaviour you have to understand the ideology behind it.

Plenty of poor, minority-group, individuals, including refugees, do not become suicide bombers.

To ignore theologies (currently one of the most popular subjects in British universities) is to ignore the future of the planet.

Anyway, it is the Muslims who are insisting on taking this theological approach, so it is incumbent on all of us to see the whole theological picture and not just the side they want us to see.

12 October 2007 at 11:53  
Blogger Prodicus said...

There are those in Christendom, too, who think we must conduct dialogue with Islam for the sake of peace and the survival of humanity, based on what we hold in common. But we hold very little in common apart from the accumulated experience of all humanity, including the understanding that hate leads to war, but since when has it been clear that this knowledge could prevent one man, or one tribe, from killing another? Wishing does not make it so.

This letter demonstrates that even the most distinguished Muslim scholars are ignorant of what Christians believe. This is culpable ignorance and it is astonishing, in an age of universally available information, and this - at the very least - must be corrected before dialogue can begin. But why would they do this, when they have every reason not to?

There seems to be little possibility of re-interpretation of texts, in Islam. Fresh understandings seem to be discouraged. This may have to do with the what one might call hieratic politics, stemming from Mohammed’s own example, and the political power games which are unavoidable in a theocratic understanding of how society should be organised. In other words, the leadership quashes original thinking and exploration because it is politically threatening.

As long as this remains the case in Islamic religious leadership (and how can it change?) it is to the advantage of the leaders to prolong antagonism towards ‘the other’ – primarily Jews but also Christians, Hindus and others – precisely the stance that sustained the Eastern Bloc dictatorships during the Cold War, and Hitler and many others before that.

So, in addition to culpable ignorance per se, Islamic scholars (the political leaders) have good reason not to ‘understand’ what Christians actually believe. They are not really in a position to enter into dialogue, the way, say, a Protestant like Barth might with a Roman Catholic like von Balthazar, between whom there was more common theological understanding than there was dispute, and both of whom were fully apprised of the other’s theology because the nature of Christianity requires it.
(I am a Catholic but I readily compliment the writer of this blog not only for his intellectual rigour but for his conscientious scholarship in seeking to understand the faith of others.)

I could write more about the radically different understandings of Christians and Muslims of the oneness of God, but this is not the place. Suffice to say that enough Muslims have called Christianity a polytheist religion to convince me that there is a huge gulf between us, one which only be resolved by Muslim scholars taking a journey towards understanding what we believe. If they will not take a first step, there is nothing we can do. We have studied them. Now they must study us. Uninformed insistence that the other is mistaken and a demand that they submit is not dialogue.

A conversation between apple-breeders about the distinctions between Russets and Bramleys – in order to breed a superior apple – assumes agreement between them that both species are, in fact, apples, and a deep knowledge of both species. A botanist who only knows oranges, and believes that all fruit are oranges, will find he has a lot to learn before he can keep up with the conversation, never mind contribute to it. And if he enters the salon with a gun, threatening all present who will not both include him in their meeting AND submit to his views that all fruit are, in fact, oranges, or should be, then the likelihood of them inviting him to their next meeting will be vanishingly small.

There is another scenario, in which he enters the room (unarmed, naturally) genuinely seeking to understand what is being discussed, and believing that non-one present has seen this wonderful thing, his orange. He discovers to his amazement that they already know a great deal about the orange and have tasted but do not like oranges. They prefer apples, and their conversation is to be entirely about apples. He nods, places his orange on the table before them as a gift, takes the offered place at the table, and listens in astonishment to these strange apple enthusiasts talking about apples as though they were – fruit! The meeting closes and they all drink coffee together, and they agree to meet again, to discuss the survival of the oranges business and the apples business in the face of the threat from Brussels – and its appalling atheistic sprouts.

12 October 2007 at 11:59  
Anonymous najistani said...

If, as Dr Lancaster states, the Muslims believe that God is "such a transcendent being ... that any comparison at all, even metaphorically, between humans and the deity is regarded by Muslims as a sin", then what is the Muslims' explanation for The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics - a human mental construct, which describes, explains and predicts the behaviour of all observable creation (with the possible exception of the human mind itself) ?

Christians (and Jews?) believe in a rational lawful God, whereas Allah is capricious and irrational and does whatever he likes with the universe from moment to moment. Hence the Western mind explored the regularities and laws within creation, whereas the Muslims never progressed much beyond the 'stamp-collecting' stage of investigation. Consequently Judeo-Christian civilisation experienced the scientific and industrial revolutions and the Enlightenment, whereas Islam remains scientifically, philosophically and technologically moribund to this day.

12 October 2007 at 12:25  
Anonymous Yokel said...

Off at a slight tangent from the responses above, I wonder if the letter is not just another form of Da'wa. Having issued the "invitation to islam", they are then free to indulge their violence, again.

12 October 2007 at 13:51  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Its not surprising that the current archbishop of canterbury has said nothing on the issue. Not so long ago he declared that some muslims can go to heaven (presumably the "moderate" ones?) with papal arrogance and no Biblical justification.

With figures like him "representing" the Christian "community" in Britain then its no wonder that Islamicists feel that they have free reign. If only Cranmer were real, preaching the truth plain and simple from the pulpits and street corners.

12 October 2007 at 14:34  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The British have been deliberately led away from religion by Subversion. Irrespective of your personal opinions, Yhe Promotion of homosexual Clergy, Of Women Clergy, repeated Public acusations of Paedophilia, encouraging people to marry in registry offices and such like all combine to subvert the public image of the clergy.
Look at Blairs desire to democratize the Lords, why ? it seems a decent enough gesture but it is not, the EU wants to get rid of Christianity and replace it with Islam.
The reason the EU Socialists in Govt want to have an Elected second house is to get rid of the Bishops who have an automatic Seat.

Here is their Sell out to Islam

Here is A Dutch and a swedish Minister admitting that Islam is to be the Dominant faith in Europe.

Here is the Pope saying, attempts ti Islamify the West cannot be denied.

All being carried out on Society in a drip drip drip Fashion.
Sharia Law will allow the EU to be better able to control its 'Europeans'.

three litle pigs

Brainwashing by Political Correctness,

Into the fragmented vacuum of our Nations subverted spirituality Sharia Law Is Spreading.

British School Children converted to Islam, making Islamic Affirmations to Allah in school.

Conversion to Islam? Are Muslim children forced to pray to God ( Would Muslims be forced to pray to God )

British Children told in school they Must avert their eyes, ( already telling them they are second class citizens ).

Criminalising British children as young as three yrs of age.


Genital Mutilation, up to 60,000 a year in the UK

12 October 2007 at 14:34  
Blogger Cranmer said...

If only Cranmer were real, preaching the truth plain and simple from the pulpits and street corners.

Err... hello-oooo!

12 October 2007 at 14:39  
Blogger rosemary said...

The really alarming thing is the similarity to Mohammed's letter to Heraclius:
"In the name of God, the Beneficent, the Merciful.

This letter is from Muhammad the slave of God and His Messenger to Heraclius, the ruler of the Byzantines.

Peace be upon him who follows the right path.

I am writing this invitation to call you to Islam.[2] If you become a Muslim you will be safe - and God will double your reward, but if you reject this invitation of Islam you will bear the sin of having misguided your subjects[3]. Thus do I urge you to heed the following:

“O People of the Scriptures! Come to a word common to you and us that we worship none but Allah and that we associate nothing in worship with Him, and that none of us shall take others as Lords beside Allah. Then if they turn away, say: Bear witness that we are Muslims.”

12 October 2007 at 17:14  
Anonymous nedsherry said...

But the peace that Jesus gives is not as the world gives, and the only peace that Islam knows is that of unqualified surrender and submission.

Then does His Grace oppose continued Muslim immigration into Europe, which only increases the difficulty of teaching Europe's present Muslim inhabitants another form of peace? Does His Grace, recognizing that Muslims may be incapable of learning, wish to encourage the peaceful departure of as many of those already present as possible? It is quite inconceivable that pre-modern Christians would have allowed Islam to establish itself here so firmly. Our decadence has been their opportunity.

Dr L writes:

Thank you very much for this extremely erudite and wise posting. The Bishop of Rochester is a good friend of the family and according to my father-in-law, who lives near him, a most able Hebrew scholar as well.

I hope His Grace remembers that behind such insincere smarm lie sincere opinions like this:

More than this, I think that about 85% of the New Testament is pure Judaism, the other 15% being an attempt by the new religion to divorce itself from its mother religion, the result being 2000 years of attempted extermination of the Jews.

12 October 2007 at 18:01  
Blogger Dr.D said...

Dialog with the muslims is not what is needed. Eradication of the muslims from all of Westerns society is what is really needed. They need to be driven out of the West entirely, out of the US, out of Great Britain, out of Europe. Nothing else will save Western civilization because islam is bent on the destruction of Western civilization. There is no need to talk about it. Send them back to Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iran, Iraq, etc. but get them out of the the West now!

13 October 2007 at 04:44  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Surely the Christian response would be to welcome such dialogue and to start by saying that we respect them for their faith, even though they are wrong.

Then we could suggest that the other great religions of the world (all of them wrong but worth respecting) should be included in the discussion - including Judiasm.

14 October 2007 at 10:47  
Anonymous najistani said...


Trade Unionists (along with any remaining Christians and Jews) are among the most persecuted sections of society in Islamic countries . The vicious, elitist, sadistic and depraved Ulema - the Muslim priesthood - regard Trades Union organisers as much a threat to their power as the kaffirs and apostates.

Check out Working Class Trades Union rights in such Islamic paradises as Iran, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan

So why do Labour politicians and the Trades Union bosses ally themselves with such an oppressive, supremacist ideology as Islam?

Why do leaders like Gordon Brownlips kiss Muslim arse? Aren't these champions of the common man betraying their British Christian Socialist working-class heritage?

Well actually, no. Their heritage is neither British, nor Christian, nor socialist except in the Stalinist sense. And it certainly isn't working class.

It is very true that the original Labour movement owes far more to Methodism than Marxism, to the Sermon on the Mount than Das Kapital. It was a strong Christian faith that nurtured the Tolpuddle Martyrs in their struggle for workers' rights in the face of the bosses' wage cuts to below starvation level. "Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, the labourer is worthy of his reward."

The early history of Trades Unionism in Australia was also inspired by Christianity.

But all that has changed . Since the 1980's, the leadership of the trades union movement and Labour party have been hijacked by European-inspired atheist Marxist functionaries, many of whom have never done a productive day's work in their lives. The career path from University Social Studies department to Westminster or Congress House , with no intervening gainful employment, is all too common .

To paraphrase Gibbon: To the gullible all religions are equally true, to the skeptical all religions are equally false, and to the politicians all religions are equally useful.

So is it any wonder that Marxist Labour neglect and indeed despise the real British working class? With their rapidly multiplying new-found Muslim friends, they have people who share many of their objectives - an unquestionable totalitarian social system, destruction of free expression, control of all aspects of life, and an unnaccountable, undemocratic superstate (Caliphate/EU) . Of course push will eventually come to shove and the Marxists and Muslims will some day be at one anothers' throats in a bloody continent-wide civil war, but by that time most of the rest of us will long since have been
airbrushed out of Orwellian history.

16 October 2007 at 23:13  
Blogger aviatrix said...

Think not that I came to bring peace, but a sword said Jesus.
Allah is none other than the "god of this world"-satan who hath blinded the minds of those who believe not. Burn the document, Islam is diametrically opposed to truth and the the Truth.We will not make peace with idolators, we will live at peace as much as is in us according to Jesus but we will keep ourselves "separate" from idols and those who worship them and allah is one such idol. No deal.

5 December 2007 at 10:35  
Blogger indcoup said...

great picture. Peace is the only way; all other paths lead to suffering...

3 January 2008 at 11:00  

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