In the Name of Allah, The Most Gracious, Most Merciful
The topic of our sermon of today is a hot issue, namely the lecture that the Pope, Benedict XVI, delivered in the auditorium of his university in Germany on Wednesday, 12/9/2006, in which he said that the religion of Islam is based on the idea that Allah’s Will is not subject to mental judgment or logic, and that Muhammad came with nothing but bad inhuman things, such as his command to spread Islam by the sword.
But before I put forward the Islamic enlightenment to the meanings of the Pope’s words, I would like to put forward, in front of my esteemed audience and listeners, the following facts:
1. Quranic teachings and Prophetic Directives forbid us to argue with the people of the Book, except in the best possible way. Therefore, I shall be committed to our Prophetic decorum, which was substantiated when the holy Prophet, Muhammad, (PBUH), sent a message to Caesar, the Roman king, addressed as follows:
“From Muhammad, Allah’s Messenger, to the great Roman king.”2. This sermon is not meant to be delivered in this Great Umayyad Mosque in order to defame or vilify a certain religious personality in the Western World but rather to clarify things, which is the responsibility of religious scholars, about whom Allah, All Mighty, says,
“Those who convey the Message of Allah and fear Him, and fear none save Allah; and Sufficient is Allah as a Reckoner.”3. In our country, both Muslims and Christians live together with a lot of mutual understanding, cooperation and peaceful co-existence, unmatched by any other country. In this context, Allah, All Mighty, says,
“So long as they are true to you, stand you true to them. Verily, Allah loves the pious and righteous.”4. Christians in our country expressed their deep sorrow and strong condemnation of the Pope’s words; and none should be held responsible for the faults of another. In this context, Allah, All Mighty, says,
“And no bearer of burdens shall bear the burden of another.5. International mass media have recently reported a statement of apology made by the Pope, showing that he did not intend to hurt the feelings of Muslims and that he was very sorry for the misunderstanding that resulted from his words.
6. In this good country, we refuse strongly to opt for violence. This is because an irrational reaction to a bad action is as dangerous as the bad action is. An idea should be responded to with an idea, a saying with a saying, a declaration with a declaration, a lecture with a lecture, and a discussion with a discussion.
His Holiness, the Pope, quoted, and actually adopted, a saying that was made by the Byzantine Emperor, Manuel II, in a book published in the 14th C. Such unfair out-of-date saying is a mere false accusation that is not based on a careful objective study but rather on an irrational personal impression, although His Holiness, the Pope, holds a Ph.D. in the field of Comparative Religions, and therefore, he should by no means ignore the reality of Islamic religion.
The dangerous thing about the Pope’s public address is that it is unprecedented and unfamiliar; and in this public address, the Pope violated not only rules of oration and dialogue but also those of truth and reality as well as the former Pope’s policy. We used to believe that His Holiness, the Pope, who symbolizes the highest Christian authority, was the furthest Western personality from exploiting religion for the benefit of the Super Powers or providing religious covering for the unjust tyrannical aggression launched by the West against the Islamic World. By the way, some Muslim religious scholars, in the Muslim World, do provide an Islamic cover for the attitudes and behavior of their rulers.
I would like to reiterate that such statements of the Pope do not serve world peace, dialogue between civilizations, or peaceful co-existence between religions.
According to the teachings of our Islamic religion, it is not permissible for any religious scholar to become the Greatest Imam or to take over the Highest Religious Position unless he is equipped with adequate, authentic, and scientifically based knowledge of other religions, which makes him able to argue on a fair and just basis.
As usual, reactions towards the Pope’s statements in the Islamic World began with condemnation, denunciation and the demand for an apology by the Pope. But we believe that such a way does not befit the Muslim nation - which has been made a witness over other nations and which has more than 1.5 billion people - to be content with such demands. We even believe that such demands for apology and explanation may entail underestimation of our Islamic nation and holiness of our Islamic religion. But this does not mean that we should opt for violence. It means that we should go further than demanding for an apology, i.e. we should face argument with argument and evidence with evidence. This is not only a right but a duty as well. We have become both familiar and fed up with such unfair and unjust accusations of Islam, as being the religion of violence, extremism, fascism or terrorism, which come, every now and then, from 4th class writers and journalists; and we believe that he who knows himself properly is not injured with what people say about him. But it is most amazing that such unfair and unjust accusations come not only from the highest political authorities in the Western World but also from the highest religious authorities therein.
In his public address, His Holiness, the Pope, quoted a statement, made by an ignorant malevolent Byzantine king, that Allah’ Messenger, Muhammad, (PBUH), came only with evil inhuman things.
1. Is it an evil thing that which Muhammad, (PBUH), came with as regards the miraculous birth of Jesus Christ, (PBUH):
“Then, she (Mary) brought him (her newborn baby, Jesus) to her people carrying him. They said: ‘O Mary! Indeed, you have brought a horrible thing. O sister of Aaron! Your father was not a man who used to commit adultery, nor was your mother an unchaste woman.’ She just pointed at him. They said: ‘How can we talk to a baby in the cradle?’ He (Jesus) said: ‘Verily, I am a slave of Allah: He has given me the Scripture and made me a Prophet; and He has made me blessed, wherever I may be. And He has enjoined on me prayer and almsgiving as long as I live, and (has bidden me to be) dutiful to my mother. And He has not made me an arrogant unblessed tyrant. And peace be upon me the day I was born, the day I die and the day I shall be raised alive.’”2. Is it an evil thing that which Muhammad, (PBUH), came with as regards the noble affectionate description of the honorable character of Jesus Christ:
“When the angels said: ‘O Mary! Allah gives you the glad tidings of a Word from Him: whose name is the Messiah (Jesus), son of Mary; high in honor shall he be in this world and in the Hereafter, and one of those who are near stationed to Allah.”3. Is it an evil thing that which Muhammad, (PBUH), came with as regards the miraculous Prophecy and Message of Jesus Christ:
“When Allah said: ‘Jesus, son of Mary! Remember My Blessing upon you and upon your mother, when I confirmed you with the Holy Spirit, to speak to men in the cradle, and of age; and when I taught you the Book, the Wisdom, the Torah, and the Gospel; and when you created, out of clay, by My Leave, as the likeness of a bird, and you breathed into it, and it was a bird, by My Leave; and you healed the blind and the leper by My Leave and you brought the dead forth by My Leave.”4. Is it an evil thing that which Muhammad, (PBUH), came with as regards the Gospel, which Allah sent down to Jesus, (PBUH):
“And We sent, following in their footsteps, Jesus, son of Mary, confirming the Torah before him; and We gave to him the Gospel, wherein is guidance and light, and confirming the Torah before it, as a guidance and an admonition to the pious and Righteous.”5. Is it an evil thing that which Muhammad, (PBUH), came with as regards glorification of Jesus’ holy believing mother, Mary, and in defending her, speaking well of her and confirming her chastity in Allah’s Book, the Holy Quran:
“And when the angels said: ‘O Mary! Verily, Allah has chosen you, and purified you, and chosen you above all women.”6. Is it an evil thing that which Muhammad, (PBUH), came with as regards describing some of the people of the Book as being pious and righteous:
“Not all of them are alike; a party of the people of the Scripture stand for the right and reauthor the Verses of Allah during the hours of the night, prostrating themselves in prayer. They believe in Allah and the Last Day, they enjoin good things and forbid evil ones, they hasten in good deeds, and they are among the righteous.”7. Is it an evil thing that which Muhammad, (PBUH), came with as regards making belief in Jesus Christ, (PBUH), as a pillar of Islamic Faith and an entrance into Paradise, when he, (PBUH), said:
“He who bears witness that there is no god by Allah, Alone, with no partner, that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger, that Jesus is Allah’s slave and Messenger, and His Word, Which He cast unto Mary, and a spirit from Him, and that Paradise and Hell-Fire are true: Allah will admit him into Paradise, irrespective of whatever he does,” or when he said: “I am the supplication of my father Abraham, the glad tidings of my brother Jesus, and the vision of my mother, Aminah.” ?8. Is it an evil thing that which Muhammad, (PBUH), came with as regards the relationship between both religions, of Christianity and Islam, as being established on the basis of affection and high esteem:
“And you will find the nearest in love to the believers (Muslims) those who say: ‘We are Christians.” That is because amongst them are priests and monks, and they are not proud.”
What evil can ever be found in such justice, equity, perfection, and beauty, which Muhammad, (PBUH), came with to mankind? And what reason, or logic, is that which turns beauty into ugliness, perfection into imperfection, or veneration of Jesus, (PBUH), and his mother and religion into inhuman disdain?
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We, as Muslims, wish that before adopting the opinion of an ignorant spiteful Byzantine Emperor, who knew nothing about the real esteem of the holy Prophets, His Holiness, the Pope had read “The First One Hundred in the Human History” by the American astronomer and scientist Michael Heart in 1978. After having read a lot about thousands of the greatest men in the human history in all places and times, this catholic American scientist chose a hundred out of such thousands of celebrities all over the world; and he placed the holy Prophet, Muhammad, (PBUH), on top of these best hundred, according to certain objective criteria, such as: power of influence, kind of influence, range of influence, and length of time of influence. After having applied such criteria to the best hundred, he found that the holy Prophet, Muhammad, was the top best one.
We wish that before adopting the opinion of an ignorant malicious Byzantine Emperor, who knew nothing about the real esteem of the holy Prophets, His Holiness, the Pope had familiarized himself with what the Russian philosopher, Tolstoy, who was so dazzled by the great character of the holy Prophet, Muhammad, (PBUH), wrote, in an article entitled “Who was Muhammad”:
“Muhammad was a Messenger and an establisher; and he was one the greatest men who gave the human society a lot of magnificent services. It suffices him in honor that he guided a whole nation to the light of truth and made them inclined to peace and tranquility and that he prevented them from bloodshed and opened for them the way to development and civilization; and only a mighty person can achieve such great things. A man like Muhammad is worthy of every respect and honor, because his mission gave to the world a glorious service, as it deeply rooted pillars of peace, stability and prosperity and paved the way for the forthcoming generations to development and civilization. Undoubtedly, such a person is worthy of all respect and honor.”
We wish that before adopting the opinion of an ignorant hateful Byzantine Emperor, who knew nothing about the real esteem of the holy Prophets, His Holiness, the Pope had acquainted himself with what a Western researcher, whose name became Kamaluddeen after he had converted to Islam, wrote:
“Muhammad established the greatest Call witnessed by the whole world, the Call that realized for man his perfect existence and was deeply embedded in his entire essence. The noble and honorable traits substantiated by the great character of the holy Prophet made people believe in all of the principles that he brought them. They did not read about the Prophet’s great qualities but saw them in his noble character, which made them look upon him with utmost respect and admiration. He was, indeed, the greatest exemplar for all mankind throughout its long history; and he was a guider and teacher with his personal behavior that always went ahead before his kind gentle words.”
We wish that before adopting the opinion of an ignorant malicious Byzantine Emperor, who knew nothing about the real esteem of the holy Prophets, His Holiness, the Pope, had familiarized himself with what a western thinker wrote about Muhammad, (PBUH):
“In fact, Muhammad came with a Message that cannot be denied. It sums up, and excels, all of the former Messages. Therefore, Muhammad’s Message is, indeed, a stable constitution for the whole world; and his words are in perfect harmony with the human taste and mentality of this age.”
We wish that before adopting the opinion of an ignorant cruel Byzantine Emperor, who knew nothing about the real esteem of the holy Prophets, His Holiness, the Pope, had read what Miller, the well-known British writer, wrote about this great Prophet, Muhammad:
“Upon the rise of Muhammad’s mission and the religion of Islam, this Prophet proved that his Call is for all mankind, that this sacred religion is suitable for all times, races and nations, and that human beings, everywhere and under any civilization, cannot do without this religion, whose teachings are in full harmony with the human mentality.”
We wish that before adopting the opinion of an ignorant malicious Byzantine Emperor, who knew nothing about the real esteem of the holy Prophets, His Holiness, the Pope, had familiarized himself with what the French writer, Coursier, wrote about this holy Prophet, Muhammad:
“When Muhammad carried on his mission, and before and after his mission, he was a brave noble young man whose ideas were far more sublime than those prevalent in his community. With his noble character and manners, he was able to rightly guide pagan fanatic Arabs, who used to worship idols, to worship Allah, the One and Only. Under the rule of his unified democratic government, he was able to eradicate all kinds of chaos, dissension and warring, which were very common in Arabia, and to deeply root good manners, changing the ignorant Arab community into a developed civilized one.”
We wish that before adopting the opinion of an ignorant spiteful Byzantine Emperor, who knew nothing about the real esteem of the holy Prophets, His Holiness, the Pope, had familiarized himself with what the British philosopher, Thomas Karil, wrote about the holy Prophet, Muhammad, after having singled out a whole chapter of his book for the Prophet of Islam, which he entitled “The Hero in the Form of a Messenger”, in which he considered Prophet Muhammad, (PBUH), as one of the greatest seven men in the human history, and confirmed that the heart of such great man, the son of deserts and desolate regions, who had rosy eyes and magnanimous character, was full of mercy, goodness, tenderness, piety and wisdom.
We wish that before adopting the opinion of an ignorant wicked Byzantine Emperor, who knew nothing about the real esteem of the holy Prophets, His Holiness, the Pope, had acquainted himself with the reality of this noble Prophet of Islam with information extracted from books of Muslims and not from books of their rancorous enemies. This is not only a basic principle of objective scientific research but also an essential requirement for attaining a Ph.D. degree or becoming a professor at university.
Writers of Prophet Muhammad’s biography described his noble character and manners as follows:
“The holy Prophet, Muhammad, (PBUH), was a man of great modesty and politeness. He would always hasten to greet people and pay full attention to those speaking to him, irrespective of their age or social status. He was the last to pull back his hand after having shaken hands with anyone. When giving charities, he would hand such charities with full respect and modesty towards the poor and needy. Whenever he came to attend a meeting, he would sit wherever it was possible for him to sit. In other words, he did not have a special lofty place for him to sit among his Companions. He was never seen stretching his legs while sitting down. He never rejected haughtily to fulfill his own needs or the needs of a friend or a neighbor. He used to go shopping and carry his own things by himself; and if someone offered to carry his things for him, he would say, “It is more appropriate to carry my things myself.” He used to answer the invitation of all people, free men, slaves, and poor people; and he would accept other people’s apologies. He used to mend his clothes and shoes and do all of his things by himself. He used to hobble his camel and sweep the floor of his house by himself. He used to serve his family and eat with his servants. He used to fulfill the needs of the weak and miserable people and do favors to them. He used to walk peacefully and moderately, lowering his gaze. He was always sad and pensive, and he never spoke unnecessarily. He was always silent and serious, but when he spoke, his words were most eloquent and meaningful. He was gentle and kind. He was never ungrateful or haughty. He used to magnify and highly appreciate favors even if they were little; and he never spoke badly about anything. He never praised, or dispraised, any kind of food. Nothing of this world angered him. He was never angry for himself or avenge for himself. When he got angry, he would only turn his face away; and when he was delighted, he would only lower his gaze. He used to strive to unify people and not to seed dissension among them. He used to draw people nearer to him and not to alienate them. He used to honor chieftains of all tribes and maintain their honorable positions for them. He would always enquire about conditions of his Companions and common people. He would always approve of, and encourage, good things, but disapprove of, and discourage evil things. He never neglected to get, or give, a right. Those who sit with him would always feel utmost care, honor and attention on his part. He never neglected or tarried to offer help or do favors to sh3er. He was always smiling, well behaved, kind-hearted and gentle; and he was not rude, hard-hearted, cruel, or impolite. He was never critical or unserious. He would overlook unpleasant things; and he would never let anyone down. He never criticized or disparaged anyone. He never slandered or defamed anyone. He never spoke in vain or to no avail. He would laugh at what made his Companions laugh and wonder at what made them wonder. He was always patient with strangers and their odd behavior or speech. And He would never interrupt anyone speaking.
In fact, the talk about Prophet Muhammad’s noble, honorable, sublime traits needs lots and lots of books and sermons, but the Almighty, Lord, Allah, summed up his noble character and manners, saying,
“Verily, you are upon a mighty morality.”
Finally, we, Muslims, wish His Holiness, the Pope, would follow the good example of the former Pope, John II, who called for peaceful co-existence between religions, and the good example of the former Pope, Paul VI, who not only acknowledged Islam as a revealed religion and stopped Christian missionary activities in the Islamic World, but also declared that those who believe in Muhammad’s Message will be safe on the Day of Resurrection -even if they did not believe in the Savior - and sent cables of congratulations to some Arab and Muslim leaders on the holy Feast of Immolation, and even received a delegation of prominent Islamic religious scholars, most of whom were from Syria, and whom he honored duly.
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We really wish that His Holiness, the Pope, had noticed that Muslims did not build up their glory on the wreckage of other peoples, nor did they build up their richness on the poverty of other peoples. We wish that His Holiness, the Pope, had known that Muslims did not build up their security on insecurity of other peoples, nor did they build up their honor on the dishonor of other peoples. We wish that His Holiness, the Pope, had noticed that Muslims do not strive to humiliate or oppress other peoples, nor do they strive to misguide or corrupt them and that Muslims do not seek to exterminate other peoples or plunder their resources.
We certainly wish that His Holiness, the Pope, had known that Islamic history does not abound in pictures of the most violent civilization destruction, mass annihilation, selfish exploitation of other peoples’ resources or usurpation of their treasures. We wish that His Holiness, the Pope, had realized that it was not Muslims who established inquisition (inspection) courts or exterminated the Red Indians and that it was not they who enslaved the Negroes or colonized countries. We wish that His Holiness, the Pope, had understood that it was Europe that invaded the Islamic World under the name of “Crusades” and, now, under the name of “Democracy” or “Freedom”.
We definitely wish that His Holiness, the Pope, had noticed that Islam did not stand behind the First and Second World Wars, in which more than eighty million people were killed, and tens of millions were disabled.
We do wish that His Holiness, the Pope, had known that it was not Muslims who decided to bomb the peaceful cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan with atomic bombs that claimed the lives of 300,000 people in a few seconds. We wish that His Holiness, the Pope, had realized that it was not Muslims who used internationally prohibited mass-destruction weapons, such as smart bombs, cluster bombs, or phosphorus bombs, or even enriched Uranium bombs, in order to kill women, children and old men and demolish bridges, buildings and the infra-structure of unarmed peoples. We wish that His Holiness, the Pope, had understood that it was not Muslims who tortured, in a most inhuman way, the national prisoners, who resisted forces of occupation in Iraq.
We really wish that His Holiness, the Pope, had acquainted himself with the fact that Islam is not the religion of those who migrated to remote countries and called for Freedom after they had exterminated tens of millions of the aboriginals of such countries. Muslims do not know such a thing as ethnic cleansing, which the Westerners admitted committing when they eradicated the Red Indians in America and the Australian aborigines, claiming that they managed to end the war against such innocent peaceful people successfully. Such strong Westerners had no moral values or humanitarian feelings; all they had was perfect Scenarios and big deals.
We do wish that His Holiness, the Pope, had realized that it is not Muslims who throw away thousands of tons of wheat and other food crops into the sea or destroy harvests, in order to keep their prices high, and that it is not Muslims who poison the extra productions of food crops in order to prevent the poor and needy from eating them gratis. His Holiness, the Pope, should have known that it was not Muslims who shot 20 million sheep and buried them into the earth in order to keep their price high at a time when millions of some peoples die of starvation.
We really wish that His Holiness, the Pope, had noticed that it is not Muslims who send their nuclear wastes in the form of food aids to weak peoples, already suffering from famines and civil wars, to export, to such peoples, cancerous diseases for thousands of years.
We certainly wish that His Holiness, the Pope, had known that it is not Muslims who test new medicines on the weak poor peoples, as if they were guinea pigs, and do not give such medicines to their people except after having been proved safe and healthy.
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Finally, it is necessary to whisper the following facts into the ears of Muslims:
Why do we always condemn words but over look or fail to condemn deeds? Have not a lot of both Arab and Islamic authorities made the most of their informatory, educational, jurisdictional, and deterrent powers and forces to eradicate the correct conceptions of Islamic religion from the minds of Muslims? Why do we release tens of lowly immoral space channels? Do we not do that in order to corrupt minds, spoil the youth, and deform facts? What is the purpose of releasing such tens of lowly immoral channels, which besiege us from all directions, except to demoralize Islamic communities and turn their youth into dancers, singers, profligates, corrupt irreligious ones, and bisexual ones? Is there another purpose of most of the space channels than to enhance corruption and immorality and to cause Muslims to deviate from the real meaning of Islam?
Which is more dangerous for Muslims and their religion of Islam: a word uttered by the Pope, or the daily outpour of rotten information by mass media into the minds of both Arabs and Muslims in order to wash such minds, in an organized well-planned manner, and to remove from them all feelings of dignity, honor, self-respect, pride, enthusiasm, and nobility?
It is quite clear that the Pope’s unfair and untimely lecture came at a time, so critical and serious, that it might give rise to disputation among religions or struggle among civilizations. Such an untimely lecture may also increase ideological, religious, political and human controversies among peoples.
Therefore, the Pope’s unfair and unjust lecture should be classified among destructive weapons, such as deadly smart bombs, as it is really meant to hinder attempts of reconciliation and bridging the gap between peoples and civilizations.
It is not acceptable that the Pope’s words were an unintended slip of the tongue or a misunderstood statement. This is by no means expected from His Holiness, as he holds a Ph.D. degree and a professor position in Comparative Religions. He certainly did not deliver his lecture off-handedly. He actually read it from a written, already prepared and revised, text, just as a university lecturer usually does, even before he becomes the Pope, the highest religious personality in Rome and the head of the Vatican.
His Holiness, the Pope, might have meant with his words – but I hope I am wrong in my estimation – to push Muslims to Extremism, because Extremism of the West, with its organized international terrorism, seeks to produce constant Islamic Counter-Extremism, in order to justify continuity of its secret plans. Even if there were no Islamic Extremism, the political and moral leaders of the West would push Muslims to it, or would make it themselves but attribute it, one way or another, to Muslims.
Mr. President, Bashar Al-Assad, clarified this point in the Islamic Summit Conference, held lately in Malaysia, saying:
“In the eighties, the West used to support Islamic Extremism and not Islam; but today, they fight Islam and not Islamic Extremism. If we ask why do these fanatics Westerners fight Islam although it is the religion of justice, love and tolerance, the obvious answer is: because the real Islam forbids Extremism, as it is the religion of moderation. Wishes and actions of those fanatics contradict their claims. In their actions, there is violation of sovereignty, economic blockade, cultural invasion, and secret financial support to some groups in order to enhance and increase Islamic, or any other, Extremism, because such Extremism is the logical equivalent to their own Extremism, and the strong justification for their remaining in the centers of power and control in several places of the world. In other words, Extremism survives through Counter-Extremism, but it cannot survive in an environment of moderation.
We have to support the real Islamic religion in both ideology and behavior, because this will fortify Islam and Muslims and weaken their enemies. This support begins by avoiding, and fighting against, all kinds of abnormal practices resulting from misunderstanding religion, which directly do a lot of harm to Islam and give sh3er, particularly those who have evil intentions, an excuse to attribute to Islam different negative and inhuman qualities. Just as we strongly reject all attempts to attribute terrorism only to Islam, we also reject, as strongly, all attempts to attribute the misbehavior of some individuals to a certain religion or civilization.”