Skip to content

Article: Papal transformation – Benedict’s softer touch with Islam

February 19, 2007

Russell Shaw writing in Our Sunday Visitor:

The papal turnaround began in reaction to the furious Muslim response to his Regensburg talk, continued via fence-mending remarks and gestures that included praying in a historic mosque during his trip to Turkey, and has kept up since then.

That doesn’t mean Pope Benedict has simply thrown in the towel as a critic of Islam. Rather, as he has done often before, so also he has made it clear that Islamic terrorism is beyond the pale of civilized behavior. “War in God’s name is never acceptable,” he said in his 2007 World Day of Peace message.

The picture now emerging of where Pope Benedict stands looks something like this: Fearful of a cataclysmic clash between extremes – a hollowed-out, secularized West and jihadist Islamic fundamentalism – the pope hopes to promote entente between reasonable, responsible Christians and Muslims as an alternative.

Evidently, too, he thinks Catholicism can be a model to Islam, showing how a traditional faith can adapt to the modern world while remaining true to itself.

Pope Benedict told the curia that Islam today faces “a task very similar” to the one that Christians have faced since the 18th-century Enlightenment – and to which Catholics found “concrete solutions” at the Second Vatican Council.

The pope defined what needs doing in these words: “On the one hand, it is important to avoid a dictatorship of positivist reason that excludes God from community life and public legislation. … On the other hand, it is necessary to welcome the true achievements of the enlightenment: human rights and especially the freedom of faith and of its expression,” he said. “The Muslim world … is facing the great task of finding appropriate solutions to these questions.”

Pope Benedict apparently hopes to encourage Muslims in doing that. And however he may have seen it in the past, he now evidently believes he will achieve more with carrots than sticks.

Full article here.

See also:
Our Sunday Visitor: Pope Benedict holds tougher line in Catholic Church dialogue with Islam (July 2006)

Pope Benedict XVI: November address to Islamic leaders at the Religious Affairs Directorate
Pope Benedict XVI: 2007 World Day of Peace message

Pope’s position on Turley’s entry to the EU
Chiesa: Exercises in Disinformation: The Pope According to the Leading Newspapers
View from the Right: The Vatican’s ambiguous denials…

Dialogue hosted by the Intercultural Forum for Studies in Faith and Culture
Cardinal Angelo Scola: The primordial relationship between God and The Human Person in Catholicism and Islam
Pittsburg Post-Gazette: Muslims, Catholics try to mend after Pope’s speech
CNS: Catholic cardinal, Muslim consider deepest of questions: Why are we here?
The Little Wretches: Interrreligious Dialogue

Writings by Muzammil Siddiqi, Scola’s dialogue partner
USCCB: How an Islamic Leader Views Dialogue
Islam 101: The Bible and Terrorism

Concerns about Muzammil Siddiqi
Kenneth R. Timmerman: Pipes Objects to Fox in the Henhouse

During an anti-Israel rally outside the White House on Oct. 28, 2000, Siddiqi openly threatened the United States with violence if it continued its support of Israel. “America has to learn … if you remain on the side of injustice, the wrath of God will come. Please, all Americans. Do you remember that? … If you continue doing injustice, and tolerate injustice, the wrath of God will come.” By “injustice,” he meant U.S. support for Israel.

Siddiqi also has called for a wider application of sharia law in the United States, and in a 1995 speech praised suicide bombers. “Those who die on the part of justice are alive, and their place is with the Lord, and they receive the highest position, because this is the highest honor,” he was quoted as saying by the Kansas City Star on Jan. 28, 1995.

Militant Islam Monitor: Former ISNA president Muzzamil Siddiqui: “Treat non- Muslims as potential Muslims”

Muslim attempts to convert people to Islam as a religous obligation are often disquised under the terms ‘diversity and sensitivity training’ and brought to campuses in the form of Islam Awareness Weeks, and to the public libraries by groups like CAIR who ‘donate’ Saudi funded texts and Korans claiming they want to ‘help people understand about Islam’. The goal of these ‘outreach efforts’, known in Islam as Da’wa, are calculated exercises in public relations and the mindset behind them was openly stated by Muzzamil Siddiqui, one of the most influential Islamic leaders in North America, who wrote that:

“… you should think of and treat non-Muslims as potential Muslims”…

JihadWatch: Fitzgerald: The fifth column

It is forbidden for a Believer to ally with an Infidel against other Believers. The American government should ponder that carefully — especially the armed services, the diplomatic corps, and the intelligence services. There are people who may be Muslim-for-identification-purposes-only Muslims. There may be those who are bad Muslims, and who can be bribed to work against fellow Muslims. But those, one must assume, will be the exceptions. One must assume that when someone identifies himself as a Believer, he subscribes to the central idea of Islam (after monotheism): the idea that there is one division, and one only, that counts in the world: the division between Believer and Infidel.

This division has clear political implications, as the influential and high-profile Imam Muzammil H. Siddiqi of the Islamic Society of North America reminded us in 2002: “We must not forget that Allah’s rules have to be established in all lands…”

And how can one do that when outright military conquest is not possible?

The answer, in the new conditions in which Mr. Siddiqi now finds himself, is clear: “ Muslims, we should participate in the system to safeguard our interests and try to bring about gradual change…”

Stephen Schwartz: Hardliners in Costume as Moderate Muslims

Paradoxically, however, 9/11 also brought about another change in America: outspoken Muslim extremists began re-branding themselves as moderates.

Within days of the horrific attacks on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon, America’s main, self-appointed Muslim leaders stood up with President George W. Bush at the National Cathedral in Washington, to condemn the terrorists. Muslim moderates were shocked, then, to see that the “leaders” chosen to represent them at such a difficult moment were none other than the most outspoken radicals in the American Muslim community.

They included Muzammil Siddiqi of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) and Nihad Awad of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). Both organizations began with financing from terror apologists – ISNA from the official, ultrafundamentalist Wahhabi sect in Saudi Arabia and CAIR from Hamas. Both Siddiqi and Awad have long records of rhetorical aggression against the U.S. and, of course, Israel. ..

“Born again moderates” like Siddiqi, the people at CAIR, and Hamza Yusuf have merely changed their strategy, not their ideology….

Related Posts:
Report: Pope Benedict’s ‘soft tone’ in Turkey seeks to win Muslim hearts, minds
Report: Interreligious Dialogue a Must, says Pope
Theme: “Anti-Ecumenical Unity” as a Response to Islam


From → Articles

One Comment
  1. Convivialdingo permalink

    Really good info here. I read the Koran years ago and, to be honest, for me it was far from my value system as they say.

    Recently, I read a dialog between a senior Pakistani cleric and a former believer – and from the surface seemed quite an open dialog between religious scholars.

    After the cleric insisted that he wanted to “reclaim” the former believer – the person received a “death fatwa” nonetheless only days after he spoke out with questions concerning his faith. Basic faith questions like who can save, can people in heaven plead for others, etc…

    The non-believer had a 10,000 rupee bounty placed on his head after the open conversation

    I don’t think it’s possible to have a scholarly debate on Islam if one of the parties starts off from an unbelieving position – they are marked as a “kafir.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: