bismi-lLahi- rRahmani- rRahiem
In the Name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful
=== News Update ===
Reform of Islam is Not Bush's or the Pope's business
Interfaith Dialogue Should Focus on Man not God
The Pope Rejects Muslim Outreach
(Speech given at Northeastern University, Chicago, Nov 13,2007)
By: Ali Baghdadi
I was invited to talk to you about Islam. After serious consideration I declined. I am the wrong person. My views about
Islam are not the norm. They are controversial. A few weeks ago I received an email, an assassination threat, from an Indian Muslim who will be traveling to the United States to accomplish his "holy" mission. My co-religionist, who works for the Arab American oil company in Saudi Arabia, accused me of being a "murtad", a renegade. He was angered by an article in which I stated that Moses, according to archeology, a science, is a myth. He actually never existed. Muslims respect Moses as a prophet. My Indian Muslim "friend", Z. T. Minhas, an insane and a coward, has not arrived yet. The U.S. intelligence, which intercepts our electronic, particularly international mail, has not reacted. Muslims, killing one another, is consistent with U.S. policy.
I was born in Islam. Documents of old torn up paper that I inherited claim that my family descends from Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam. I spent the first twenty-three years of my life in the shadow of al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, which according to the Quran, Islam's holy book, Prophet Muhammad had journeyed to, and then ascended to heaven, and returned home to Medina in Arabia, all in one night. Some influential Muslim scholars say that the journey was only a dream. Others, with the Dark Ages mentality, insist that it was physical.
For twenty-three years, without any interruption, I listened to al-Azan, the Muslim call for prayer, five times a day. Prior to starting public school at age 7, I attended a kuttab, a madrasa, a private religious school, at age 4. The elderly teacher, a sheikh, a former officer in the Ottoman army, dressed in a long black robe and a white turban, was occasionally paid with a few loaves of bread, or eggs, or a live chicken. My family couldn't afford it. I rewarded
my sheikh with a daily kiss of his hand, and a prayer, asking God to give him a comfortable and everlasting life in heaven. At age nine or ten I was able to recite most of the chapters of the Quran from memory. I studied the Quran, Islamic thought, Islamic history, Islamic culture and Arabic as language at all educational levels. I also attended lectures on political Islam given underground by some controversial scholars.
Things, however, have changed. My association with Islam throughout my adulthood has become political and not religious. I don't go to a mosque. As you can tell, I don't fast. I have no intention of ever performing the pilgrimage to Mecca. I suspended giving al-Zakat, charity, when Bush has designated almost all Muslim charitable organizations that aided the orphans and widows in Palestine, Lebanon and Iraq, as terrorists, and forced them to close.
I am not concerned about Islam. Islam has survived all foreign invasions. Bush's crusade will be no exception. I am, however, concerned about Muslims, as well as Christians, in the Muslim World, who are targeted by the West, particularly the United States government, which possesses the most savage and destructive war machinery in human history.
Usually, I don't defend religion, but people. Religion is faith not science. I insist that every individual has the right to believe or not to believe. Each man or woman has the right to accept a religion or to reject it. A person has the right also to choose to be an atheist. People must be judged by their deeds, and contributions, not their faith. I stand for justice, freedom, equality, peace, and prosperity for all. I support women and gay and lesbian rights.
The question that you may ask is why I am here? What changed my mind? The answer is the Pope. Yes, the Pope.
I was greatly disturbed by the Pope, who, citing the Quran as an obstacle, rebuffed a massive outreach effort by Muslims. Coming at the end of the holy month of Ramadan, three weeks ago, a 29-page letter was sent to leaders of major Christian dominations by 138 high-level Muslim leaders and scholars, representing 1.3 billion Muslims worldwide. The letter appeals to religious tolerance, dialogue and understanding. It calls on Christian and Muslim religious leaders to work in unison for world peace, cooperation and prosperity. It emphasizes the similarities between Christianity and Islam as monotheistic religions. It speaks of the affinity between the Bible and the Quran. Both religions worship one God and call for the love of one's neighbor.
Fortunately, the letter titled "a Common Word between Us and You", was welcomed by various Christian leaders and institutions. It was well received by the Baptist World Alliance and the Most Rev. Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, Britain.
However, Pope Benedictine' s reaction was negative, and arrogant. It is also insulting to Christian Arabs, who are culturally Muslims. He chose to close the door to an idea which was very dear to his predecessor, Pope John Paul II, who, when the Quran was presented to him, bowed and kissed it.
Benedictine' s hostility to Muslims is nothing new. In his speech in Germany, last year, he spoke of Islam as a violent and irrational religion. He quoted Emperor Manuel II of the Byzantine Empire, who said that Muhammad had brought only "evil and inhuman" things.
The office of interfaith dialogue established by John Paul II, was shut down, but later, under pressure, was reinstated.
Dr. Karen Armstrong of Oxford, a former nun, who is amongst the most renowned theologians and has written numerous bestsellers on the great religions and their founders, disagrees:
"Certainly not. There is far more violence in the Bible than in the Qur'an; the idea that Islam imposed itself by the sword is a Western fiction, fabricated during the time of the Crusades when, in fact, it was Western Christians who were fighting brutal holy wars against Islam. The Qur'an forbids aggressive warfare and permits war only in self-defense; the moment the enemy sues for peace, the Qur'an insists that Muslims must lay down their arms and accept whatever terms are offered, even if they are disadvantageous. Later, Muslim law forbade Muslims to attack a country where Muslims were permitted to practice their faith freely; the killing of civilians was prohibited, as were the destruction of property and the use of fire in warfare."
The Vatican says: "Muslims do not accept that one can discuss the Quran in depth, because they say it was written by dictation from God. With such an absolute interpretation, it is difficult to discuss the contents of faith."
As a precondition for a dialogue, the Vatican demands that Muslims change their belief that the Quran is the word of God.
I say with a great certainty that the Pope's action and conduct are not inspired by God, on whose behalf, "his holiness" speaks. It is dictated by politics, racism, ignorance and hatred. It is a part of the cruel crusade that George W. Bush, has declared against Muslims. Since his ascension to the papal throne, Benedictine, a former Hitler youth, has been putting the papacy, as well as Christianity, in the service of the U.S. empire.
Muslims are not asking for a theological dialogue. They are not trying to convince anyone that the Quran was dictated by God himself. Unlike Christians who are asking Jews to come to the Church, Muslims are not calling on Christians to come to the Mosque. Muslims are not demanding that Christians abandon the trinity and recognize Jesus only as a prophet. Though they don't believe in the crucifixion and vindicate Jews from murdering Jesus, Muslims don't see any reason for Christians to bring down the cross and raise up the crescent.
Muslims and non-Muslims ought to focus attention on common goals that are more important to humanity than theology, such as world peace, justice, freedom, equality, love, understanding, respect for one another, tolerance, cooperation, as well as mother earth and the environment.
In Muslim lands, Muslims, Christians and Jews have lived as neighbors for almost fifteen hundred years. They didn't dialogue. They didn't debate. They lived in peace and tranquility. The fact that Christianity and Judaism continued to exist alongside Muslims, who were and still are the majority, speaks of Muslim tolerance. The fact that Jews throughout the centuries fled Christian lands and took refuge in Muslim countries, demonstrates, beyond a doubt, Muslims' respect of non-Muslims' beliefs.
I do admit that the reform of Islam is urgently needed. But this is not the business of Jews or Christians. It is a Muslim problem. It requires a Muslim solution. It must be addressed and dealt with as a Muslim concern. Christians and Jews have their own enormous problems to acknowledge and resolve.
George W. Bush has been pushing for a new Islam that welcomes occupiers as liberators and labels oppression as democracy. He is promoting an Islam that requires his adherents to turn the other cheek to U.S. and Israeli soldiers, who are ordered to kill, maim, torture, burn, and destroy. He has been working hard to restrict Islam to spirituality, only to issues that deal with God but not man. No jihad! Jihad is not suicide, which is a great sin in Islam, but a struggle against injustice, oppression, occupation and aggression. Jihad is a legitimate resistance to daily murder of men, women and children. Bush's Islam calls on Muslims to capitulate, kneel down in submission, not the Lord of the Universe, but to the
satanic" god" who resides in the White House. Muslims' answer came clear, brief and swift, "hell, no."
Hitler, who proclaimed himself a "Christian" and a fighter for "his Lord and Savior", didn't claim to have spoken to God. George W. Bush did.
"God told me to strike at Al-Qaeda and I struck them. And then he instructed me to strike at Saddam, which I did. And now I am determined to solve the problem in the Middle East."
However, God warned Bush, "This crusade, this war on terrorism, is going to take awhile." Here, Bush's destructive god is right. "The mother of all battles" will continue until all foreign troops return home.
His "obedience" to his killer god has resulted in the murder of over a million Iraqis. Iraqi death due to war and economic sanctions are three and a half million. Iraqi orphans number five million and widows are three million. Six million people fled Iraq or were displaced. Museums, libraries and educational institutions were bombed and ransacked. Their contents were stolen or burned. Thousands of scholars and scientists were assassinated. Seven thousand years of human civilization is leveled to the ground. The only ministry building that was left standing is the Ministry of Oil. What a coincidence!
What about Western achievements the Pope attempts to protect? The Church cannot take credit for the awakening, enlightenment, progress, and freedoms men and women enjoy in the West today. On the contrary, the Church resisted and continues to resist reform and change until this very moment.
Muslim leaders who enjoy the support and blessing of the United States are the obstacle for social change and development. The Saudi dynasty continues to forbid women from driving, and deny Saudi citizens the right to vote.
However, Islamic reform is taking place slowly but steadily. Polygamy was outlawed in Tunisia. Dr. Hassan al-Turabi, a former head of the Sudanese National Assembly, one of the most influential thinkers that I had the honor to meet several times, issued a fatwa, a religious ruling, which gives the right to Muslim females to marry non-Muslims, and for women to lead Muslim prayers.
Revolutionary change is taking place in Iran, U.S. enemy number one. A divorced woman has the property right to a half of the wealth her husband amassed while being married. Sex change is legal. The surgery is paid for by the state.
I must remind you that four Muslim countries, Turkey, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Indonesia had women as heads of state.
I regret that the Pope's stand has forced me to end my public silence on issues pertaining to religion, and make comparison between faiths.
The Pope wants Muslims to tailor Islam to fit Judeo-Christians values. However, in terms of peace, universal brotherhood, equality, freedom, logic and simplicity, Islam is far more rational and progressive than Christianity and Judaism. No Vatican. No sainthood. No priesthood. No present day miracles. No spiritual healing of the sick. Those who may claim to have the power of healing, end in a mental institution of a jail. The Old Testament, an integral part of the Bible, as described by Christian and Jewish researchers and historians, is blood and sex. The God of Israel, Jehovah, orders his "Chosen People", to destroy burn, kill, enslave, and rape virgins of the goyem, non-Jews.
Furthermore, Islam's religious affairs are not a hierarchy for clerics. Islamic affairs are not confined to graduates from al-Azhar University or other Islamic institutions. As a matter of fact, the greatest Muslim scholars are intellectuals, such as writers, physicians, engineers, lawyers, and other professionals.
According to an interpretation the Old Testament, Noah's three sons were the founders of the populations of the three known continents, Japheth/Europe, Shem/Asia, and Ham/Africa. Ham's children had been "blackened" by sin and a curse. Ham made fun of his lying down, drunk and naked father. Noah's two other sons who covered him were blessed. Their descendents were not black.
In Islam black is not a curse, but a beautiful color in the rainbow of the human race. Muhammad declared that all men are equal. The Quran says, "O mankind! We (God) created ye from a single (pair) of a male and female, and made ye into nations and tribes, that ye may know one another, (not that ye may despise each other). Verily, the most honored of you in the sight of God is he who is the most Righteous of you." Chapter 49, verse 13.
Islam has no confession and no intermediary. A man or a woman has direct and private line of communication with God, free of charge, anytime and anywhere. In the Quran, God stresses that He is close to all. He responds if he is called.
In Islam, no one represents God on earth. No one is infallible. Muhammad, Jesus, Moses and all prophets are not divine, but humans.
All efforts and promises for a better life made by the Vatican and other Christian groups to convince Muslims throughout the world to convert have failed. What disturbs Christian missionaries is the fact that Islam today is the fastest growing religion. According to the Seattle Times, Shortly after noon on Fridays, the Rev. Ann Holmes Redding ties on a black headscarf, preparing to pray with her Muslim group. Redding, who until recently was director of faith formation at St. Mark's Episcopal Cathedral, has been a priest for more than 20 years. Now she's ready to tell people that, for the last 15 months, she's also been a Muslim.
To multiply the number of his constituents, Benedictine, in his visit to Latin America, last year, demanded from its poverty stricken natives not to use condoms. When it comes to sex, what or how, in the privacy of their bedroom, has always been the job of a married couple, not Muslim clergy.
The Quran reveres Bible prophets, not insults them. The Old Testament presents Abraham as a pimp. He gave his wife Sarah to the Pharaoh to sleep with and enjoy. In return, the Pharaoh granted him slaves, cattle, silver and gold. Abraham repeated the same trade with one of the kings of Jordan. What a bargain.
Read the Bible. I can go on and on and on.
Religion, particularly Judaism and Christianity which were written with fire and blood, have brought more evil and less good to humanity throughout history. Interfaith dialogue should not debate theology. It should work to end death, destruction and misery. Dialogue should concentrate on building bridges of good will and coexistence. It should put less emphasis on God and more on fellow man.
Muslims are condemned for their rejection to Western values. The question is why should they? They have their own values that were developed over seven thousand years of civilization. The decision to drop the two atom bombs over Hiroshima and Nagasaki took, according to President Truman, a snap of a finger. Non-whites' life is worthless. A couple of weeks ago, in Israel, actually occupied Palestine, a young woman was savagely beaten by five of her fellow students of the Torah, because she refused to move to the back of the bus. Muslim men promptly evacuate their seats for women, anytime and anywhere. Muhammad assured his followers that Paradise is underneath the feet of mothers and entry is allowed only by their blessings and approval. Those values should remain.
Islamofascism, a new word coined by Norman Podhoretz, a former editor of Commentary Jewish magazine, the home of the neoconservatives. Bush loves the new word and sings it like a puppet, to drum up American support against Muslims, and to wage a new Zionist-white supremacist war against Iran, which insists on using nuclear technology for peaceful purposes. The October 22nd to 26th Islamofascism Awareness Week organized by the Jewish lobby and the neo conservatives, on 100 campuses, turned out to be a great disaster. Students protested and heckled the speakers. David
Horowitz, author of Unholy Alliance: Radical Islam and the American Left), Jump to: navigation, search
Who received more than $15 million in handouts from ultra conservative foundations, was forced to flee. In the sixties, he was a Marxist and a member of the new left. His Jewish parents were long-standing members of the Communist Party. Horowitz later discovered that leftism doesn't pay. The Zionist propagandist describes so-called Islam as the moral and historical equivalent of Nazism. Margaret Kimberley, a writer and a senior columnist, together with a group of influential anti-fascist activists, are calling for a counter-event: "Christian/Jewish Fascism Awareness Week."
With the collapse of the Soviet Union, Islam has replaced communism as an imaginary enemy, and thus justified the astronomical military spending in service of big business. It does not take a nuclear or a space scientist to conclude that the 911 tragedy was a home-made conspiracy. It is naïve to believe that a man with a turban on his head and a cane in his hand hiding eleven thousand miles away in the caves of Tora Boro is responsible for such an almost impossible mission. 51% of the American people question the official story. Evidence points a finger at Bush, Cheney, their lieutenants, the Israeli Mossad and certain segments in U.S. intelligence. We must demand the creation of an independent commission of scholars, scientists, engineers, and experts on demolition and intelligence to find the truth and bring the criminals to justice
The watch list of suspected terrorists, compiled by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has swelled to over 755,000. Certainly, if you oppose war and stand against genocide, regardless of your religion, or nationality, you can be sure that you are on this list. Ironically, it mainly contains scholars, academics, writers, journalists, artists, and anti-war activists.
What about Islamic "radicalism"?
Fifty years ago, in most Arab countries, one could seldom see a Muslim girl or a woman covering her hair. Today, one can rarely encounter a Muslim female without a headscarf. I must admit, all are beautiful, with or without a cover. However, I do hate the burqa, a veil, which covers the face. It is not a religious requirement. Those who impose it, as well as the women who accept it, bring shame and disgrace to the overwhelming majority of Muslims.
Muslims females wear the scarf mostly by choice. It is mainly a sign of political protest. It is a rejection to Western values, Western culture, Western domination, Western hypocrisy and Western occupation. It is a stand against theft of resources, ethnic cleansing, and genocide to which Muslims are subjected.
Muhammad said, "If you see evil, your duty is to stop it by your hand. If you cannot, you must oppose it by your mouth. But if you cannot, you should undo it in your heart." In Muslim lands, Muslim fighters oppose U.S. and Israeli tanks and bombers with gun, and sometimes by an explosive belt. In the Quran, God says, "Think not that those who fall while resisting aggression will ever die. They are alive, in the company of their Lord." Muslims believe that that is the highest form of martyrdom and the greatest honor.
Finally, I have been a U.S. citizen for over forty years. My country of origin, Palestine, is occupied, and my country men, women and children are killed daily. The United States has become my second home. I am grateful. Two of my children served in the U.S. military. Both took the oath to defend their country. Both were honorably discharged.
Regardless of my convictions and beliefs, Islam has formed my identity. It remains a source of my personal behavior and conduct. I will not abandon my heritage, my culture, my roots, or my people. The F.B.I. visited me twice, a year ago. I refuse to be intimidated. As long as the crusade against Muslims continues, as long as there is war on earth, and as long as there is hunger and disease, the least I must do is to not be in the silent majority.
Professor Bernard Lewis, the "orientalist" historian who supported US intervention in Iraq, went so far as to warn, quite seriously, that Tehran might drop a nuclear bomb (which it does not have) on Israel on 22 August 2006, because that is the day the Muslim calendar commemorates the prophet Muhammad's flight to Jerusalem and thence to heaven
The evangelical Christian political and economical support for Israel is motivated by their desire to convert all Jews to Christianity. The will accelerate the second coming of Jesus and the birth of a perfect world.
(arabjournl@aol. com or arabjournl@hotmail. com)
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