Sunday 15 October 2006

A Blinded Tale Of Two Religions

Last month many Muslims openly accused Pope Benedict XVI of insulting the religion of Islam during an academic address given at the University of Regensburg in Germany where he had seemingly characterized the teachings of the Prophet Mohammed as evil and inhuman. The controversial speech sparked much outrage and backlash among many followers of the Islamic faith, despite a prompt apology by the pontiff that the offending comment about the holy wars reflected neither his personal nor the Vatican’s view. At least one killing, that of Sister Leonella Sgorbati in Somalia, had been attributed possibly as retaliatory attack to the pope’s remark. While an informed (or even heated) exchange between two religions should never be discouraged (or snuffed), to this day I question exactly how many of these protestors were truly informed of the whole context in which the pontiff’s remark was made. Little was told of the fact that the inflammatory statement was actually not of his own words but a straight quote he made of the 14th century Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Palaeologus, “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.” Moreover, a complete reading of the text would reveal the fact that the pope was not at all arguing for a condemnation of the Muslim belief but, to the complete contrary, a rejection for the use of religion as a motivation for violence, Muslims or Christians. This observation proves that when a religion is so blindly followed among faith seekers without understanding the full context in which these beliefs should be asserted, then such practice is no different from that of simply acting out the roles in a fantasized tale, regardless what God or Prophet it may involve.

By Philip Jong • At 12:01 AM • Under Column • Under World
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