TCS Daily

Pope Benedict and the Muslims

By Stephen Schwartz - September 20, 2006 12:00 AM

It seems to have been too much to expect that the educated West, in dealing with the challenge of Islam after the atrocities experienced in New York and Washington five years ago, would do so in a spirit of caution, precision, and rationality -- thus reflecting and improving on the values for which the West has long been praised. Instead, as time wears on and the dread "clash of civilizations" becomes more profound and serious, insightful reportage on the Muslim world becomes mush in the mainstream media, intellectual constructs intended to make distinctions, rather than to confuse them are plagiarized and vulgarized, and many of those who claim to embrace liberal values and open dialogue, on both sides of the widening abyss, become indistinguishable from screeching bigots. The situation is not helped by the prevalence of sound-bite commentary and blog columns said or written with no obvious reflection.

The effort to moderate the conflict between cultures, by enabling rational voices on both sides of the divide to be heard, appears doomed. The opinions of the informed and sensible will continue to be drowned out by the witticisms of those proud of their ignorance and cynicism; the most subtle and obscure issues will be transformed into mass-market products for the consumption of lumpen intellectuals. The religious instinct toward meditation, withdrawal from the noise of the world, and refinement of spirituality will be crushed in the chaos of rhetoric.

A fresh example of the dialogue of the deaf between Muslims and non-Muslims, has made its gaudy appearance, with controversy over a lecture on philosophy by Pope Benedict XVI at a university in Bavaria. The lecture has, it seems, not been read in full by very many people outside the Catholic milieu, and it is extremely doubtful that if read it will be comprehended by a large audience. The text presents a Catholic commentary on various philosophical issues that are as impenetrable to the common reader as the arguments of Muslim theologians would naturally appear to those outside the elite of the Islamic community.

I am not adept in Christian theology and will not attempt a thorough exegesis of Benedict's lecture, which I have, however, read in full. I am a traditional, spiritual Muslim who has worked in close harmony with Catholic institutions for a long time, in solidarity with oppressed Catholic believers in such places as Nicaragua and the Balkans. I have published and am writing more on the considerable influence of the Islamic intellect on Catholic sensibility - from the revival of Greek philosophy by the 11th century Persian Ibn Sina and the 12th century Spanish Arab Ibn Rushd (Avicenna and Averroes in the West) to the reading of the Sufi classics by 14th century Franciscan mystics and their Spanish Catholic successors.

The uproar over Benedict's lecture mainly focuses on a single paragraph near the beginning, in which the pope cited Manuel II Paleologus, a Byzantine (i.e. eastern Christian) ruler, in an agitated condemnation of Islam: "Show me just what Mohammed 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." The quotation appears almost gratuitous, at first look discontinuous with the rest of the text. If it seems on its own to be inflammatory at best, it is surrounded by an aureole of blunders. Benedict cites and dismisses a verse or ayat in Qur'an, "There shall be no compulsion in religion," providing the correct textual reference (2:256) but mistaking a verse for a surah or chapter. The pope also freelances some inaccurate analysis of the place of this ayat in the chronology of Qur'an's revelation to Muhammad (peace be upon him). Benedict goes on to elaborate on the Byzantine princeling's comments as a criticism of the spread of religion by force.

There are other problems with accuracy in the lecture. Benedict refers to the 11th century Spanish Arab theologian and literary theorist Ibn Hazm by the incorrect name "Ibn Hazn," in references drawn from a secondary source, the French scholar Roger Arnaldez. Benedict ascribes to Ibn Hazm the belief that God not only did not need to endow humanity with truth, but could have kept the dwellers on the earth in a state of idolatry. In this way, Benedict attempts to contrast the acceptance of reason in Christianity with a denial of divine reason in Islam.

The topic is an extremely complex one and clarity about it will not be furthered by simplistic jibes. Ibn Hazm has never been considered a mainstream figure in Islam, and also has the unfortunate distinction, as noted by the eminent scholar of Islamic history, Bernard Lewis, of being the sole Muslim thinker in the classic period to write a sustained polemic against Judaism as a faith. Unfortunately, ibn Hazm's writings, more than those of any other prominent Muslim, have been misrepresented and exploited by superficial modern commentators, so Benedict has plenty of company. Adding my own opinion, God left the antecedents of the modern Christians and Jews in a state of idolatry for a long time before the coming of Abraham and Jesus; and idolatry or polytheism still exists in many parts of the world. I do not intend to argue the foundations of Christianity with the Pope. But Islam proclaims Adam (peace be upon him) as the first prophet, implying that God, creation, and religion were inextricable from the beginning.

Reporting on this regrettable and unproductive commotion has generally ignored its likely real meaning. It is highly doubtful Benedict intended his comments to reflect on Islam. Rather, the Pope has long anticipated a meeting in Istanbul, scheduled for later this year, with the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomaeus I. It is very possible that Benedict intended his reference to a Byzantine aristocrat and the general defense in his lecture of the Greek legacy or Hellenism - a term with different meanings for different faiths - as a conciliatory gesture to his Istanbul counterpart. This might explain why Benedict brought up a Byzantine figure who offered his opinion at a time when the schism between Constantinople and Rome had already existed for some 350 years, since 1054. (It would be enlightening to compare the views of Manuel II Paleologus toward Islam with his feelings about Catholics, who had sacked Byzantium in 1203, two hundred years before his remark on holy war. One might also usefully examine the attitudes of Byzantine rulers toward the Jews, who held a lower status under the Greeks than under the Muslims.)

The Papal visit to Istanbul had finally been set after much obstruction by the government of the Turkish Republic. The secularist Turks, far from expressing Islamic resentment of Benedict, were uncomfortable with a meeting at which Benedict would be recognized as head of the Vatican state, i.e. a theocratic entity. The Turks found a way for the meeting to go forwards; but can the Turks now be reproached if they call for the Catholic-Orthodox encounter on Turkish territory to be put off? At this point, there will be a significant risk of popular agitation by Islamist extremists, which is exactly what the Turkish government fears most. But it is more unfortunate to imagine that the Pope and the Ecumenical Patriarch would attempt to find common ground in the denigration of Muslims.

Much more could be said about this contretemps. The Christian church certainly outdid the Muslims, through history, in conversions by the sword, and were it not for a probable desire to improve relations with the Orthodox Christians, it is more than a bit surrealistic for the Pope to bring the topic up. I am perhaps one in 10 million Americans who knows who the Polabians, Livonians, and Ingrians were - pagan tribes reduced to a few survivors in the forcible Christianization of northern Europe. Everybody recalls the fate of the pagan inhabitants of the New World, the Pacific islands, and various other localities where the sword of Christianity penetrated. Demagogues expend considerable effort today in condemning Muslim rulers for allegedly treating the Christians, Jews, Zoroastrians, Hindus, and other believers they ruled over as "second class subjects" by requiring them to pay a tax. But one wonders how the Spanish conquistadores or the settlers of Massachusetts would have responded to the suggestion that the indigenous peoples of the New World be taxed, rather than converted or driven off their land. At least the Hindus survived, in quite large numbers, when compared with, say, the Aztecs. Still, none of these issues, whether obvious or hidden in the broader media, are necessarily relevant to preventing the clash of civilizations - or even, in the short term, discouraging some Muslim radicals from using Benedict's lecture as a pretext to foster their own denial of tolerance.

The central question is much simpler: how should a Christian leader address Muslims or comment on Islam?

No traditional, mainstream, or conservative Muslim expects the Pope or any other non-Muslim religious figure to give up a defense of the distinctive revelation that defines a particular faith community. Were the Pope to suddenly announce that there is no difference between Christianity and Islam (applying a kumbaya interfaith vocabulary), there would cease to be much justification for occupation of the Papal throne, or for the Vatican or the Catholic communion to exist at all. The head of the Roman Catholic church is duty bound to preach his faith, support its principles, and protect its adherents, in an articulate and aggressive manner, and, if need be, to defend the church by force. No sane Muslim expects anything different. Qur'an teaches, in addition to a repudiation of compulsion in religion, "I do not worship what you worship, nor do you worship what I worship. I shall never worship what you worship, nor will you ever worship what I worship. You have your own religion, and I have mine" (Surah 109).

Devotion to Christianity (or Judaism) requires drawing a firm line between these and the other faiths; the same certainly applies to Islam. But establishing a barrier against dilution of one's own religious commitment is not the same as needlessly picking an argument, in a period of extreme tensions and grave consequences, with those inspired by another. This is a lesson one had thought the Vatican had learned in its relations with the Jews. And perhaps it has; at this point I remain inclined to give Benedict the benefit of the doubt, and to remind my fellow-Muslims of another verse of Qur'an: "Be courteous when you argue with the People of the Book... Say: 'We believe in that which is revealed to us and which was revealed to you. Our God and Your God is one.'" (surah 29:46).

The horrors of new crusades and the further use of jihad as an excuse for mass murder can and must be prevented. In particular, a democratizing American power cannot base its intervention in the Muslim world on hatred of Islam. The solution resides in the values of the universitas Benedict praised in his Bavarian lecture. These are embodied in careful, intelligent discourse, firm in belief, but wary of improvisation and haste, both in argument and in response to argument.

Stephen Schwartz is Executive Director of the Center for Islamic Pluralism in Washington, DC (



Excellent article - but I have one little quibble
The author very eloquently reminds us of many historical examples of Christians treating non-Christians as second class citizens.

But somehow he fails to note that on this very day, and tomorrow, and the day after that Christians and others are and will be explicitly forbidden from practicing their faiths openly in Saudi Arabia, the country which contains Islams holiest cities. Furthermore Saudi Arabia restricts all non-Muslims from entry into the cities of Mecca and Medina, presumably because they are still believed to be unclean - as the Koran pronounces. And finally, it is an actionable legal crime as well as a common cause for outright unpunished murder for a Muslim to convert to any other religion in many countries to this very day.

So much for "no compulsion in religion."

Casting Stones
"Devotion to Christianity (or Judaism) requires drawing a firm line between these and the other faiths; the same certainly applies to Islam."

When the preponderence of the evidence convinces one to prefer one faith vs. another, this choice may not involve "drawing a firm line". The basis of religious tolerance is what people of faith have in common, and respect for the right to choose.

The history of man is a history of war and violence. All religions have actively participated in that history, and should be the last to cast stones.

The usual message
This is the same message we keep hearing: we may be blowing people up today, but the Christians were so much worse. Point of fact, Islam has been a warlike religion since inception. I'll point to the investments of Antioch in the early 600s, followed by the forced conversions throughout the Byzantine Empire (the rescue of which was the reason for the 1st Crusade...just to head off the "yeah, but the Crusades" argument.) Forced conversion throughout Africa, southern Europe, and the Balkans continued from 800 to the late 1800s. It would seem there's enough historical blame to go around.

This is all diversion, anyway: This is the second time in a year that rioting and violence have accompanied "insults to Islam." Considering the violence around the world seems to have one thing in common -- Islam -- it would seem the reasonable voices are actually with the West. There have been no round-ups of Muslims in the West; in fact, there's been considerable effort to accomodate these immigrants. There's been no rioting or killing of Muslims in the West -- despite the murder of van Gogh and Pim, despite the murder of 3000 people in NYc and DC, despite the killings by the DC sniper, the attack on El Al in LA, the hit & run attacks in Chapel Hill and San Francisco...all by Muslims citing jihad as their reasoning.

If anything, the West has been incredibly patient.

An author who defends nonreason
The Pope stated in his speech the following: "The decisive statement in this argument against violent conversion is this: Not to act in accordance with reason is contrary to God's nature. The editor, Theodore Khoury, observes: For the emperor, as a Byzantine shaped by Greek philosophy, this statement is self-evident. But for Muslim teaching, God is absolutely transcendent. His will is not bound up with any of our categories, even that of rationality. Here Khoury quotes a work of the noted French Islamist R. Arnaldez, who points out that Ibn Hazn went so far as to state that God is not bound even by his own word, and that nothing would oblige him to reveal the truth to us. Were it God's will, we would even have to practice idolatry. 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?"

The author tries to disinheret Ibn Hazn, which happens all the time when Muslims debate Christians or anyone else on nonreason. They always use the excuse that the person quoted, such as Ibn Hazn, is no one, stupid or simply nonexistent. The bottom line is that Hazn is real and Hazn's comments violate the principle of contradiction thus makes Islam scholars look unlearned or simply illogical. Everyone take a look yourself. Check out the Qur'an, Hadith, commentaries and religious history and notice the problems with nonreason and fantasy. The Pope is right on target. Citizens need to understand that we are up against unreason and the facts demonstrate this.

Islam perfect for subversives?
One key feature, from what I have observed, is that there is no one Muslim leader.
Catholics have the Pope. Other Christian groups have a central leadership with very few totally independent churches.
Secret organizations organize themselves into cells. Islam is organized around mosques with independent(?) leaders. (This is my perception, so if there is a central organized muslim group I would like to know, please.)
With all these independent groups, it appears easy for radical leaders to take control and spread among mosques.

A few years ago, liberal groups were going to church to see if Christian ministers were preaching against liberal causes.
How easy is it for a non-muslim to enter a mosque and see what's going on? (And to be 'fair', I would say the same for Morman temples. But I haven't heard of any Morman suicide bombers, yet.)

I see
The Muslim attrcoities are only "alleged" while the Christian "massacres" are a historical fact.


You just didn't get it...
Please read the Pope’s speech again.

You missed the reference to Duns Scotus. In effect, what the Pope said was that, at one time or another, certain quarters in Catholicism themselves committed the same error that Ibn Hazm (whatever his name was) did.

The preposterous idea that God can contradict his own nature had – at one time or another – stained both religions. The Pope was merely stating that God, by His nature, does not deceive nor can be deceived.

Is it so unfair that the Pope finds the same error on both sides of the fence? And for this, the fanatical Islamist terrorists are staging their all-too-predictable tantrums? The Islamists response is so unreasonable.

The Pope is correct to apologize for having been misunderstood. But not for telling the truth.

God, Knowledge and Survival
"The preposterous idea that God can contradict his own nature had – at one time or another – stained both religions. The Pope was merely stating that God, by His nature, does not deceive nor can be deceived."

What is "preposterous" is for men to claim they "know" the nature of God. We "know" virtually nothing about ourselves and our cosmos, much less its Creator. The Pope's discourse was much-to-do-about-nothing. The resultant discord and hostility reflects a fundemental human weakness that threatens the survival of our kind.

Oh NOW I understand!
So the burning of the churches, shooting a Nun in the back (oh what brave Muslims they are!), and rioting in the streets is all due to Benedict's misunderstanding and poor scholarship.

Here is an idea: how about blaming Muslim "outrage" on the Muslims. While I am sure that the Crusades are a sore point amongst those normally peaceful Muslims I see perpetually outraged on TV, I would say it was high time for them to get over it and settle these issues in a civilized manner.

Really Stephen, stop being an apologist and condemn the stupidity of the rioters and not the mere words of a Pope.

That poor nun......
was shot 4 times (not 3 as previously indicated) in the back by muslim cowards.
They do not even have the "guts" to shoot the victim while looking at them.
Westerners just keep TALKING and muslims keep MURDERING.
What a wonderful world.

Nice to see them proving us right.

One In the Same?
TO: Stephen Schwartz
RE: I Have My Doubts

"...remind my fellow-Muslims of another verse of Qur'an: "Be courteous when you argue with the People of the Book... Say: 'We believe in that which is revealed to us and which was revealed to you. Our God and Your God is one.'" (surah 29:46)." -- Stephen Schwartz

I say this because in the Book, it is written...

"Those who bless you I shall bless and those who curse you I shall curse." -- God to Abraham, see Genesis 12:2-3.

So. If that is the case, how is it that God blesses the Abraham and all his children while Allah curses the Jews, through Muhammed? And they are "one in the same"?

I'm 'confused'. Please educate me on how this is so.

Or, perhaps there is something more to this passage. Something of a hidden or dark meaning? Something to do with lying to Christians and Jews when arguing matters of religious belief. Lying about their being the same entity. Something to placate them.

I can see that possibility in the passage you cited.



Mr. Pope please look inside your mind what is burning there?
Is Pope have moral right to criticize the muslim?Is Catholic Christian are so progressive? Is Pope forget the killing of nonbeliever in middle age?what about your oppositon to birth contol. Mr. Pope you are most backword leader of your community please first bring some progress in your religion and then give advice to another community.

Yes, but
The fact is that we make guesses about such matters and, those guesses become matters of deep commitment on which people are willing to act. So, the content of those guesses matters a great deal; they are hardly "much ado about nothing."

If it makes you feel better to do it, you can label the whole process a matter of "human weakness," but it's probably more a matter of human nature. How these matters are related to societal or even species survival is an interesting and open question. The Europeans may have created an interesting experiment in that regard. For all we know, the most durable form of human society may turn out to be some form of theocracy that manages to exploit modern technologies. History does not have secular liberal democracy as the goal that it is working toward; it will go where it will.

Maybe the pope can see better IF....
the muslims would stop burning and bombing churches in Nigeria, Pakistan, and Egypt.
Dont forget about the gunfire against Turkish Catholic priests and the murdered nun in Somalia.
Did you forget the 3 beheaded Indonesian, Christian schoolgirls from last year?
How many mosques are burning today and how many imams have been shot in the back by those crazy Christians?
You have the nerve to call him "backwards" and your "peaceful" muslims do ALL the murdering of today.
Catholic Church of today is most advanced. They dont cover their women with blankets.

TO: heavyvinter
RE: ...I Think....

....the 'gentleman' is 'projecting'.



"If it makes you feel better to do it, you can label the whole process a matter of "human weakness,"...

Humanity faces ongoing uncertainty and guesswork is necessary and functional. However, unecessarily attaching "life or death" importance to "guesses" IS weakness, or worse. Oxygen, water and energy may be worth fighting over, but an unverifiable guess on the nature of the deity is not.

Mr. Schwartz....

You seem to have left out some of the verbiage in the passage you cited.

It appears, in my translation, that you left out the following....

"...- except with those who are wicked
among them -..."

The whole passage of Surah 29:46 reads, in my translation, as follows:

"Do not argue with the People of the Book except in good taste - except with those who are wicked among them - and say: "We believe in that which is sent down to us and that which is sent down to you; Our God and your God is the same One God to Whom we submit as Muslims."

So. Who gets to decide who is 'wicked'? And what actions are they authorized to take?

Currently, it would appear that a goodly number of your fellow believers think the Pope is 'wicked'. Some of them even to the point of saying they'll kill him if they get the opportunity.

But, as stated before, I see the possibility of a darker significance in this passage.

Give me a break
"And perhaps it has; at this point I remain inclined to give Benedict the benefit of the doubt, and to remind my fellow-Muslims of another verse of Qur'an: "Be courteous when you argue with the People of the Book... Say: 'We believe in that which is revealed to us and which was revealed to you. Our God and Your God is one.'" (surah 29:46)."

Why is this verse there in the first place? Hmm?

TO: taBonfils
RE: You Gotta Mouse In Your Pocket?

"We "know" virtually nothing about ourselves and our cosmos, much less its Creator." -- taBonfils

Don't include me in your imperialistic 'we'.

As an atheist, as I see you are, you would certainly know 'nothing' about God.

On the other hand, some of us know obviously quite a bit more than you do about Him.

So, in the future, please refer ONLY to yourself when saying you're totally ignorant.


[God is alive....and airborne-ranger qualified.]

Hey! Mr. Chuckle
I said "we" know virtually nothing about...the creator. This is not the same as denying the existance of the creator. I am in fact a Theist...a humble believer who acknowledges the limitations of faith.

Ms. tBonfils
TO: taBonfils
RE: A Fisking

"I said "we" know virtually nothing about...the creator." -- taBonfils

As I said, stop talking as if you are speaking for everyone else here. You aren't.

Your ignorance is YOUR problem. Not mine.

"This is not the same as denying the existance of the creator." -- taBonfils

True. And your point here is....what?

"I am in fact a Theist...a humble believer who acknowledges the limitations of faith." -- taBonfils

Yeah. An "a theist". Just remove the gap between the first and second letters and you've got it properly identified.

Again. It's a function of your ignorance. Not mine.


P.S. There are NO 'limitations' to 'faith'. There are only limitations to our understanding.

You had a good post on another site
Then you come up with this drool.
First, can we all agree the world has changed drastically over the past 50 years let alone the past 1,000? Comparing brutality in the world of the 1800s to similar brutality today is an intellectually bankrupt bit of mental mast urbation. No one is more backwards in the world community then the entire muslim faith.

You yourself said that Muslims must modernize their thinking or risk destroying themselves. This I fully agree with. While I agree that the Catholic Church must also catch up a bit more, they are eons ahead of the Muslims in this area at this time.

I'm of the opinion that somehow those of the islamic faith are trapped in a pre-1800 mindset; and it is worse among the islmo-facists who want to kill all westerners and impose their warped version of Islam on the world. Grow up boys before you end up causing the death of untold millions of your faith and race. Much of the world, from Asia to Canada, Europe to South America is busy rushing toward the 22nd century and that vast majority is eventually going to become annoyed enough to rise together and swat the entire Arab and Islamic world like the insignificant fly it is.

To avoid this obvious eventuality, the Islamic faith need to rise up and denounce fanatical Islamo-fascism and bring order amongst themselves. It won't take more than another 10 years, if you don't, before the rest of the world does it for you in a quick and highly effecient manner.

And here is the funny part; England and the U.S. will probably have no part in it. Africa, South America and Asia will lead the way!

Good Point - what about the people who are not "of the book"?
My Koran studies are a bit rusty, but as I recall Mohammed received some very specific instructions about handling folks like Hindus and Buddhists and Atheists and such, but the author seems not to have quoted any. Bit of an oversight perhaps.

How to you spell takeeyah?

What about the Hindu mobs killing both Christians and Muslims?
The Muslims and Hindus were both big on killing non-believers back in the middle ages.

Christians at least have grown up, to bad I can't say the same for Hindus and Muslims.

I've read quite a few stories lately about how Hindus treat anyone who isn't a Hindu in India.

Tautologies aside, all we have in any area of knowledge are best guesses, and we bet our lives on those constantly. In the particular subject matter under discussion here, you are demonstrably wrong about what is worth fighting over, since a lot of people do, in fact, find religious matters to be well worth fighting over.

But maybe you are only saying that you think they are misguided. Perhaps so, but I wonder how you'd persuade them of that. You will need something much better than your verifiability criterion, because that won't cut any ice at all.

Why couldn't he just say ...
... that he supports American free speech principles -- making this disgusting outburst of Muslim intolerance completely unacceptable.

Where's the plain old American attitude that we may not agree with a word somebody says but we'll defend to the death their right to say it?????

Or, what's REALLY offensive to Islam is the bombing, beheading, raping, torturing, killing, and terrorism that passes for religious behavior at present.

Apparently, no American Muslim is up to saying that.

What a disappointment this is.

Good Point....
TO: Gazelle
RE: ...That

Once again, someone can cut to the root of the problem.

It's not so much that what the Pope said was wrong, rather, it was that Islam has gone ballistic on what he said; calling for his removal and/or death.

Today 1000 Muslim clerics and scholars called for his removal from office.

I don't recall hearing so many Christian or Jewish clerics and scholars calling for the removal of some high mufti because he said something most Christians and/or Jews would call 'offensive'.

It's an interesting indicator.

Furthermore, as Mr. Schwartz doesn't seem to be addressing that matter, he's just doing what CAIR does, shuck and jive/smoke and mirrors.

Anyone got an Isikawa diagram going to determine Root Cause? Dollars to donuts it'll come up with Islam's predilections towards violence and other forms of behavior we consider reprehensible.

Look at the case of that al-Turki guy in Denver. Convicted of enslaving and sexually abusing his Indonesian housekeeper. But he said it was perfectly okay for him, as a Muslim, to do such.



cultural tolerance
I remember a story about the old Hindu practice of burning wives (even if they were still living) on the husbands funeral pyre.

The British governor happened upon a pyre being assembled and he objected when he saw the wife being tied up in preperation for roasting.

The man in charge of the cremations stated that this practice was simply what was done in his culture.

The governor signaled for his guards to ready their rifles, then he replied, that in his culture, they shoot people who burn women alive.

The woman was promptly released.

What right?????????????????

What right do Muslims have to slaughter people who convert to Christianity?

What right do Muslims have to carry out terrorist attacks on the West?

What right do Muslims have to limit women's rights when Allah made them EQUAL?????

Look, buddy, we're not answering to you about another thing, so don't try that supremacist crap on us.

Basically, here's the drill: What you guys do is that when you get criticized by anybody you MURDER.

Then you turn around and call us Satan, bomb us, try to procure nuclear, chemical and biological weapons to use against us ... and then scream "Discrimination!" when it occurs to us that YOU are the people we should profile before we get on a plane with you.

Get the plank out of your own eye before you come to us with this crap.

Check out today's WSJ
For an enlightened response to the Pope's speech check out today's Wall Street Journal feature article:

Ah, yes, the good General Sir Charles James Napier

.... British Commander-in-Chief in India:

"You say that it is your custom to burn widows. Very well. We also have a custom: when men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their necks and we hang them. Build your funeral pyre; beside it, my carpenters will build a gallows. You may follow your custom. And then we will follow ours."

Hey TCS, Can't you do better than "SS" , For those that just tuned in...
After admitting he's not an expert on Christianity, he proceeds to tell us how Christianity certainly leads Islam in forcible conversions. Now he'll tell us that Christianity is the beneficiary of Islamic enlightenment, though Islam itself seems unable to benefit from this purported wisdom, unless you consider killing nuns, wheeling old men of cruise ships, hair-trigger indignaion and violence, maleficient use of aircraft the pinnacle of enlightenment.

Now for those of you new to the inimitable SS's diatribes, please be advised, he's living proof of the adage about the unexcelled zealotry of converts.

In prior posts, he's taken a most condescending approach to commenters and is clearly afflicted with a self-imposed myopeia and a particularly virulent narcissism.

Anybody who dares to disagree with Schwartz about the nature of his creed or its founder, is merely a warped polemic, indeed in prior screeds you can smell rabid disgust with others who won't submit to Islamic intellectual hegemony. Paul Johnson, Robert Spencer, et al aren't leading intellectuals to be disposed of by skillful debate or be ignored, they are merely untruthful infidels, to be insulted and maligned.

Personally, I'm getting a little tired of hearing about "no compulsion in religion", its the misleading advrtisement of a cult that's trafficked in conquest ab ovo. Before taking a nine year old wife, the Prophet led and authorized numerous conquests.

If forcible conversions are incompatible with Islam, we should have seen SOME INTERNAL condemnation of the "conversions" of Steve Centanni and his cameraman, but we've seen no such thing. It will certainly be forthcoming after Centanni is the subject of a fatwa for apostasy, the first time he publicly eats a ham sandwich.

Ugly, hostile post.

Sounds like some kind of personal vendetta.

TO: Gazelle
RE: However

Let me point out that Mr. Schwartz does say....

"Benedict cites and dismisses a verse or ayat in Qur'an, "There shall be no compulsion in religion," providing the correct textual reference (2:256) but mistaking a verse for a surah or chapter." -- Stephen Schwartz

And the gentleman is correct in his statement about the conversion [to Islam] at gunpoint of the Fox reporter and his cameraman by their captors.

Islam DOES have a problem in that it says one thing and does the exact opposite. But no one, not ONE of them, as far as I can tell, has decried the act against these newsmen by these Philistines.

Not even Mr. Schwartz. He seems to have forgotten that bit while deriding the Popes observation.




It's disgusting really. You can't get a Muslim to say that the completely unIslamic things people do to this faith is wrong.

I'd like to remind them: Pride goeth before a (damned serious) fall.

A clip from Paul Belien, who makes some interesting observations in the Brussels Journal:

Dr Koenraad Elst, one of Belgium’s best orientalists and an occasional contributor to this website (if I had time I would translate more of his Dutch-language contributions into English), told me last week that he thinks “Islam is in decline, despite its impressive demographic and military surge” – which according to Dr Elst is merely a “last upheaval.” He acknowledges, however, that this decline can take some time (at least in terms of the individual human life span) and that it is possible that Islam will succeed in becoming the majority religion in Europe before collapsing.

I am not a specialist of Islam. Hence, I do not know what to think of this analysis. Perhaps it can be argued that Islam is in agony, and that this is precisely the reason why Muslims reacted so sensitively to twelve, mostly inoffensive, Danish cartoons earlier this year and why they respond in a fury beyond all reason to the words of a 14th century Byzantine Emperor quoted last week by Pope Benedict XVI. The Pope emphasized that he did not approve of the quote, but the reactions of Muslims to the Emperor’s words “Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman,” only lends credibility to what the Emperor said.

If a person is incapable of tolerating criticism, including mild criticism, and especially if he perceives criticism where there is none, this is often a sign of this person’s deep psychological insecurity. Rude aggression and wild rage, too, are usually not the normal behaviour of a self-confident person, but rather of someone who knows that he will lose an argument unless he can bully others into silence. Last Sunday, Catholics going to Holy Mass in London’s Westminster Cathedral were confronted by Christophobic Muslims, carrying hate posters such as “Pope go to hell,” “Benedict watch your back,” “May Allah curse the Pope,” “Jesus is the slave of Allah, “Islam will conquer Rome,” and the like. An English blogger has some photos here. What must one make of these Muslim protestors? Do they look like self-assured people?

It looks as if Muslims cannot cope with an open society and the modern globalized world. Should we interpret their aggression – the result of their inability to cope with the world – as a token of strenght, or rather as a sign of inherent weakness – a sign, as Dr Elst says, that the decline of Islam has visibly begun?

Direct, Yes.
Personal, definitely. I can't address your aesthetic tastes, they are intensely personal.

Mr. Schwartz made it so sometime back. Of course, if you care to dispute what I wrote, go for it.

P.S. TCS arhives its articles-go back and see how Mr. Schwartz responds to critics.

Lets not forget
The joy of being an "untouchable".

TO: superheater
RE: How Mr. Schwartz Responds

"....see how Mr. Schwartz responds to critics." -- superheater

I'm curious to see how he'll respond to my question of how God and Allah can be so 'two-faced' about the Jews, calling upon we mere mortals to bless and curse them, and still be one-in-the-same.

I've been asking that question for YEARS and no one has answered me.



Systemic and Sustained Vs. Random violence
The Christians have grown up only in the last half-century or so. Have you already forgotten the essentially Christian World War I and II (excluding the Japanese), not to mention the various intra-religious wars fought throughout the not so middle ages (15th, 16th and 17th centuries)?

There is a difference between world-wide Systemic and Sustained violence orchestrated, encouraged and condoned by Governments (of mainly ME) and the random local violence and Government paralysis that happens in other countries of the world.

In our own back yard, there were the LA riots a decade or so ago. There was a killing of a Sikh (at least the Hindus and Muslims seem to be knowing who they are killing) in the aftermath of 9/11.

You bring up (in another post in this same thread) the old Hindu practice of SATI (wives voluntarily choosing (AND forced) to burn on the husband’s funeral pyre). What about the Salem witch hunts in our own not so remote past? What about the treatment of Blacks, not so long ago?

Anyway, you are making the same mistake as most democrats and “raghunath1” are doing, namely, equating the PAST Systemic atrocities committed by various groups of people (who have since graduated to better behavior) to the PRESENT day Systemic violence being unleashed by other groups.

When we can join hands with a known atheistic Systemic butcher (Stalin) to fight our own religious brethren, why do we weaken our coalition by picking fights with societies where there is no wide spread Systemic violence?

Birth Control
what about your oppositon to birth contol.

What about it?

P.S. Muslims oppose birth control too. Selective outrage is so telling.

Knowledge of God
We "know" virtually nothing about ourselves and our cosmos, much less its Creator.

That we know (very) little about God, does not mean we know "virtually nothing" because what we may know is what is necessary, sufficient, important and fathomable.

Religion and Violence
Actually, all religions have had violent adherents. Some however, seem to have violence as a more persistent feature.

Given human nature, the concurrent presence of violence isn't particularly indicting, since where religion has been absent, the violence has been worse.

Anybody care to tally the death toll from Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Castro, Mao and all religions? Guess what-atheist states win hands down.

No Thing is worth fighting for
Nobody ever fought to death for money (or Oxygen or water or energy or A Thing). The brave soldiers who are fighting our battles in the ME are doing so for an "idea", the idea of America, of freedom, which is as "unverifiable" as the nature of the diety his/her/our enemies are fighting for.

Interesting take - eom

Reasons for Violence
"Nobody ever fought to death for money..."

This statement is not historically accurate. Most war/violence is about resources...the Roman empire, pirates, organized crime, and so on....

TO: taBonfils
RE: ....You're Right

"This statement is not historically accurate. Most war/violence is about resources...the Roman empire, pirates, organized crime, and so on...." -- taBonfils

However, from the perspective of the soldier on the battlefield, NeaRNoaD is correct.

Mercenaries are NOT reliable when it comes to prosecuting a DIP mission. [Note: DIP is the Army acronym for Defend In Place. Frequently referred to as DIE In Place.]


[Once the pin has been pulled, Mr. Hand Grenade is no longer your friend.]

and Thanks for clarifying for me

How were WWI and WWII, because there were Christians involved?
Neither war was fought over religion.

This is quite different from the war on terrorism, where the other side is deliberately targeting those who don't believe as they do. They even kill other muslims who don't measure up to their standards.

The Salem witch trials were several hundred years ago. That's six or seven generations. I consider that to be a long time.

Regarding the mistreatment of Blacks, are you seriously trying to argue that only those who are perfect have a right to criticize others? If so, since you are criticizing the west, can I infer that you are either perfect, or a hypocrite?

Regardless, I have never equated past behavior with current worth. raghunath1 frequently tries to pretend that the west is uniquely evil. I just pointed out to him that his culture is not as perfect as he wants to believe it is.

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