Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Relations with Christians according to Muhammad

Now these are not my words, so Im not counting this as a second post today. Just an interesting article from an Islamic scholar that I felt I should add for any of those who still believe otherwise...

Under the guidance of Pope John Paul II the Catholic Church provided significant leadership in promoting peace, justice and harmony among religions. Now the new Pope, the most revered figure in the Catholic world, infallible to his followers and the representative of God to his co-religionist is choosing a path of dialogue with Muslims that seems disturbing.

In a recent speech he decided to quote a 14 century monarch in his argument about Jihad. The quote of the emperor was a political statement within the context of his relations with the emerging Ottoman dynasty, not worthy of giving any credibility. Yet, the Pope chose to repeat it.

If the speech writers of Pope Benedict XVI had looked at a book the "Spread of Islam in the World: A History of Peaceful Preaching", written by a prominent 19th century historian Professor Thomas Arnold, they might not have quoted the passage of the emperor.
Stronger than the book are the words of Prophet Muhammad himself with regard to Christianity. In 628 CE he sent a charter of freedom to the monks of St. Catherine Monastery in Mt. Sinai. If Pope Benedict XVI or his speech writers had looked at this document they would have found a different image of the Prophet.

Here is the letter written to the monks. This letter was written at a time when no one was talking about freedom of religion, pluralism or protection of human life.

"This is a message from Muhammad ibn Abdullah, as a covenant to those who adopt Christianity, near and far, we are with them. Verily I, the servants, the helpers, and my followers defend them, because Christians are my citizens; and by Allah! I hold out against anything that displeases them.

No compulsion is to be on them. Neither are their judges to be removed from their jobs nor their monks from their monasteries.

No one is to destroy a house of their religion, to damage it, or to carry anything from it to the Muslims' houses. Should anyone take any of these, he would spoil God's covenant and disobey His Prophet. Verily, they are my allies and have my secure charter against all that they hate.
No one is to force them to travel or to oblige them to fight. The Muslims are to fight for them. If a female Christian is married to a Muslim, it is not to take place without her approval. She is not to be prevented from visiting her church to pray.

Their churches are to be respected. They are neither to be prevented from repairing them nor the sacredness of their covenants. No one of the nation (Muslims) is to disobey the covenant till the Last Day (end of the world)."

Such were the memorable words of Prophet Muhammad in the year 628 CE, when he granted this historic document, also known as the Charter of Privileges, to the monks of St. Catherine Monastery in Mt. Sinai. It consisted of several clauses covering all aspects of human rights including such topics as the protection of Christians living under Islamic rule, freedom of worship and movement, freedom to appoint their own judges and to own and maintain their property, exemption from military service, and the right to protection in war.

In the spirit of this and numerous other authoritative Islamic texts, one wonders why contemporary policy makers in the West insist on supporting the secular, corrupt, and authoritarian regimes of the predominantly Muslim nations. What is the wisdom of allocating billions of dollars to overthrow, through well-crafted public and covert operations, the popularly and legitimately elected Muslim governments? Have the West's 'experts' on the Middle East, the Orientalists and the national security advisers hijacked Western political institutions as the latter hijacked the legitimate government of, for example, Iran's democratic Mosadeq regime, or the Algerian peaceful election that guaranteed Muslim control, and many more cases? Should the predominantly Christian West fear and fight genuine Islamic regimes or should it change its outlook by trusting those who uphold God's Words and Muhammad's commands above secular and cultural values?

The English translated text of the Charter of Privileges was extracted from the Book 'Muslim History: 570 - 1950 C.E.' by Dr. A. Zahoor and Dr. Z. Haq, ZMD Corporation. P.O. Box 8231 - Gaithersburg, MD 20898-8231 - Copyright Akram Zahoor 2000. P. 167.

Saint Catherine Monastery is located in Egypt's Sani desert. Saint Catherine city is famous for its various sites, e.g. Firon village. Firon is considered a garden rich with the best kinds of fruits of special taste, such as apricots, peach and cantaloupe in addition to the best kind of olives. Furthermore, the city houses Maktab Valleys that is located near Maghara Valleys, besides thousands of unique historical engravings. Saint Catherine area encompasses many significant sites including al-Tarfas site that dates back to more than 30,000 years, and abu-Madis site that dates back to 10,000 years. The latter enjoys a world-wide fame, particularly among specialists, as it witnessed one of the major civilizational transformations from hunting and shooting to agriculture and grazing. In addition, Saint Catherine area is famous for the matchless locations of residential villages, dating back to thousands of years. These villages include Prophet Saleh's (PBUH) site, that is called al-Marwas, Sheikh Mohsens site, and Sheikh Awwads site. Alexandrian Saint.The Monastery was built in the 6th century A.D or the 4th century A.D., according to some sources. It is located at the foot of Mount Sinai on one of Wadi al-Sheikhs branches, and rises about 5012 feet above sea level. In 545 A.D, the Monastery was constructed by King Postilianos as a fortress for Sinai monks. It comprises several monuments that presumably date back to the Christ's era. In addition, the monastery houses a large library that is south of the big Church.It consists of three adjacent rooms and which comprises about 6000 old historical, geographical and philosophic manuscripts, written in Greek, Syriac and Arabic. Many of the monastery manuscripts were written in different languages other than Arabic. As for most of the Christian heritage, it was written in Arabic, especially the copies of the Old Testament and the New Testament (The Bible).With the help of the Metropolitan Museum of New York, a new museum has been recently inaugurated inside Saint Catherine Monastery. The new museum houses distinguished collections of rare books and volumes written in Greek, Coptic, Syriac, Latin and Arabic, and they date back to the first seven centuries A.D. Among the major acquisitions is an important document, dating back to the year 2 A.H. It is al-'Ohda al-Mohamadeyas; a document signed by Prophet Muhammad , to guarantee full protection for the monastery and Egypt's Christians. In 625 AD, the Popes of the old monastery went to Prophet Muhammad in Al-Madina, for discussion. The result of this discussion was this document.

Fortunately, all these acquisitions and monumental treasures were kept in a dry clean weather in the heart of Sinai desert for long centuries. Thus, they are still in a good condition. Furthermore, the monastery is notable for being a huge artistic, historic and religious wealth, including Bizantine icons that were painted by the monastery monks, dating back to the period from the 6th to the 9th centuries A.D. In addition, it houses several other historical manuscripts that serve as references about emperors, chief monks, leaders and sultans.

All these manuscripts date back to the period from the 4th to the 7th centuries A.D. Among the treasures found in the library is the time-honoured Syriac-registers that dates back to the year 400 A.D that was rewritten during the 7th and 8th centuries. Collections of manuscripts that total about 5000 copies are preserved in the library, dating back to the early years after the invention of printing. It goes without saying that the document of al-O'hda al-Mohamadeias, signed by Prophet Muhammad , is one of the most significant acquisitions in the library.

Dr. Aslam Abdullah is Editor-in-Chief of the Muslim Observer, director of the Islamic society of Nevada, Las Vegas and acting president of the Muslim Council of America, a Washington-based newly formed groups of Muslim activists.

Clash of Civilizations?

I must admit, I'm perplexed by this train of thought. I mean, people are so scared about the big bad Islam these days, they seem to skip right over the historical obvious. If the "West" is supposedly a civilization versus "Islam" as the "other" that the West is "clashing" with, how can one reconcile that with history? Islam has not only been a part of Western History and society since it came into being, but also influenced all those things that we consider "civilized". It’s the same argument that my grandfather heard as a child that blacks in America contributed little or nothing to American "society" yet when one examines history and the facts, one will easily see that without black slaves, inventors, minds, etc. there wouldn't even be an America. The same goes with the new Islam contributed little or nothing to civilization mantra that's taking hold. If one examined history in the facts, it would be easy to find out that behind every Western science, mathematical schema, medicine, astronomy, etc. There is a Muslim author. Even the word Algebra for instance, is Arabic. Here's a little history for ya

"Algebra is a branch of mathematics concerning the study of structure, relation and quantity. The name Algebra (from Arabic: الجبر, al-jabr) is derived from the treatise written by the Persian mathematician Muhammad ibn Mūsā al-kwārizmīA titled Al-Kitab al-Jabr wa-l-Muqabala (meaning "The Compendious Book on Calculation by Completion and Balancing"), which provided symbolic operations for the systematic solution of in Latin translation of his other major work on the Indian numerals, introduced the positional number system and the number zero to the Western world in the 12th century. The words ism algorism and algorithm stem from Algoritmi, the Latinization of his name. His name is also the origin of the Spanish word guarismo, meaning digit.

His major contributions to Islamic mathematics, astronomy, astrology, geography and cartography provided foundations for later and even more widespread innovation in algebra, trigonometry, and his other areas of interest. His systematic and logical approach to solving linear and quadratic equations gave shape to the discipline of algebra, a word that is derived from the name of his 830 book on the subject, al-Kitab al-mukhtasar fi hisab al-jabr wa'l-muqabala (الكتاب المختصر في حساب الجبر والمقابلة) or: "The Compendious Book on Calculation by Completion and Balancing". The book was first translated into Latin in the twelfth century.

His book On the Calculation with Hindu Numerals written about 825, was principally responsible for the diffusion of the Indian system of numeration in the Middle-East and then Europe. This book also translated into Latin in the twelfth century, as Algoritmi de numero Indorum. From the name of the author, rendered in Latin as algoritmi, originated the term algorithm. Some of his contributions were based on earlier Persian and Babylonian Astronomy, Indian numbers, and Greek sources.

Al-Khwārizmī systematized and corrected . Ptolemy's data in geography as regards to Africa and the Middle east. Another major book was his Kitab surat al-ard ("The Image of the Earth"; translated as Geography), which presented the coordinates of localities in the known world based, ultimately, on those in the Geography of Ptolemy but with improved values for the length of the Mediterranean Sea and the location of cities in Asia and Africa.

He also assisted in the construction of a world map for the caliph al-Ma'mun and participated in a project to determine the circumference of the Earth, supervising the work of 70 geographers to create the map of the then "known world".

When his work was copied and transferred to Europe through Latin translations, it had a profound impact on the advancement of basic mathematics in Europe. He also wrote on mechanical devices like the astrolabe and sundial."

Now this is just ONE Muslim. If one truly sought out knowledge on such things, they would find a slew of Islamic pioneers in the fields that helped develop the "civilized" world. I used this Muslim as an example to prove that Islam and Muslims are very much a part of the "civilization" we supposedly are clashing with, because Islamic beliefs instilled in these Muslims help build it. That's like saying I’m clashing with my son's identity when I’m the one that gave him the life to have an identity.

We need to be cognizant of our ignorance and seek to destroy it. We are taught as Muslims to seek knowledge and the Quran is replete with verses inviting man to use his intellect, to ponder, to think and to know, for the goal of human life is to discover the Truth which is none other than worshipping God in His Oneness. The Hadith literature is also full of references to the importance of knowledge. Such sayings of the Prophet as "Seek knowledge even in China", "Seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave", and "Verily the men of knowledge are the inheritors of the prophets", have echoed throughout the history of Islam and incited Muslims to seek knowledge wherever it might be found. During most of its history, Islamic civilization has been witness to a veritable celebration of knowledge. That is why every traditional Islamic city possessed public and private libraries and some cities like Cordoba and Baghdad boasted of libraries with over 400,000 books. Such cities also had bookstores, some of which sold a large number of titles. That is also why the scholar has always been held in the highest esteem in Islamic society.

The problem is that radicals in Islam, those who use violence, and terror have shaped or have helped shape an image that is incompatible with Islam. The truth of the matter is that these guys don't represent Islam or the truth thereof. Muslims who believe in the Quran as the word of God and strive to follow the example of the Prophet(saw) easily live in the West never losing their Muslim identity and beliefs. The numbers of Muslims in the West that are law-abiding citizens alone are staggering proof to refute the claim of a supposed "clash". How can we clash when we have been here from the beginning? Our existence here all this time proves there is no clash. It’s even that much disturbing for Americans to feed into this foolishness when Islam has been on these shores since they were colonies. Not just by the slaves, but the majority of the founders of this country were well acquainted with Islam and the Quran in one form of another and using some of it as allegorical symbolism in their "secret" affiliations, which culminated with the founding of the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine i.e. Shriners. Now I’m not claiming or suggesting any direct affiliation with Islam by these groups, I will leave that to the conspiracy theorists, but what I am pointing out that at the bare minimum in order to use Islamic symbolism one has to know about Islam.

Without getting too deep into it, my point is simply this, Muslims have been an integral part of the West and Western "society" since its inception, so to claim that after centuries of existence now all of a sudden in the 21st century there is a "clash of civilizations" is not only false, but not historically factual.

The best one can say is that there is a clash in ideology and I would agree. The clash in ideology is between those of secularism and fanaticism. Not Islam, because fanatics don't represent a religion that teaches balance, tolerance, and submission.