Muslim world condemns Pope's criticism of Islam

Friday, September 15, 2006 File:Ratzinger Szczepanow 2003 9.JPG

Pope Benedict XVI
(Image missing from Commons: image; log)

Pope Benedict XVI has enraged the Islamic world by quoting the 14th century Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Palaiologos criticism of Prophet Muhammad's teachings on Tuesday, August 12, durring his six-day visit to Germany.

The Pope said "The emperor comes to speak about the issue of jihad, holy war. He said, I quote, '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'."

Vatican spokesman Reverend Federico Lombardi clarified the quotation, saying "It certainly wasn't the intention of the Pope to carry out a deep examination of jihad and on Muslim thought on it, much less to offend the sensibility of Muslim believers."

Many Muslim leaders have condemned the comments, some of them stating that the Pope had fallen into "the trap of bigots and racists".

Mohamed Mahdi Akef, who was convicted of leading the Muslim Brotherhood, asked Islamic nations to break off relations with the Vatican, until the Pope apologises for his statements. He said, "The Pope has aroused the anger of the whole Islamic world and strengthened the argument of those who say that the West is hostile to everything Islamic." He also said, "The remarks do not express correct understanding of Islam and are merely wrong and distorted beliefs being repeated in the West" and that the comments "pour oil on the fire and ignite the wrath of the whole Islamic world to prove the claims of [hatred] of politicians and religious men in the West to whatever is Islamic".

In reference to the Pope's plan to visit to Turkey in November, Ali Bardakoğlu, head of Turkey's Religious Affairs Directorate, "I do not think any good will come from a visit to the Muslim world by a person who has such ideas about Islam's prophet. He should first of all replace the grudge in his heart with moral values and respect for others."

The Pakistani parliament unanimously passed a resolution saying, "This House demands that the Pope should retract his remarks in the interest of harmony between religions." "The derogatory remarks of the Pope about the philosophy of jihad and Prophet Mohammed have injured sentiments across the Muslim world and pose the danger of spreading [bitterness] among the religions."

Din Syamsuddin, the chairman of Muhammadiyah, Indonesia's second largest Islamic organisation, said: "The Pope's statements reflect his lack of wisdom." "It is obvious from the statements that the Pope doesn't have a correct understanding of Islam."

Hamid Ansari, chairman of the Indian National Commission for Minorities said, "The language used by the Pope sounds like that of his 12th-century counterpart who ordered the crusades."

During a brief interview of Prince Rehman Manjee in Chicago, IL, he is quoted saying, "The pontif is not a God or a super being, he is clearly a human being and is allowed to make mistakes, he would however do well to remember God will judge his mistakes the same as the rest of ours. If he truly has contempt for the Muslim world and his beliefs are in conflict with the official position of the church, then a simple statement should be made to that effect."

In Qatar, prominent Muslim scholar shaikh Youssef al-Qaradawi discounted The Pope's comments and said that Islam was a religion of peace and reason.

In Islam, the word "Jihad" itself has a variety of meanings depending upon context and interpretation; ranging from any inner spiritual struggle to openly religious warfare.


Wikipedia has more about this subject:

* "Pope sparks fury among Muslims" — ITV, September 15, 2006

  • Text of Pope Benedict XVI's speech.