Am I Reading This Right?

I first heard the Pope’s comments on radio while getting ready for work, on an fm station’s half hourly news break.

Already I’ve lost all credibility.

From what I heard of the “news” on radio, I believed that the Pope had made the comments himself, when in actual fact he was quoting someone else as having made the comments. I was led to believe by the 2 second news grab that the pope not only made this comment (as read from a 14th century text) but also reinforced them/backed them up, kind of giving them his seal of approval.

I was pretty disheartened by this and had a long conversation with my sister about how sad it is that a man with so much knowledge would perpetuate such a division. Anyway, today I went to Eteraz’s blog and luckily his sister’s writing at the mo, so I got this very useful link. It’s the whole speech that the Pope made.

Here’s the particular passage in question:

In the seventh conversation-controversy, edited by Professor Khoury, the emperor touches on the theme of the jihad (holy war). The emperor must have known that surah 2, 256 reads: “There is no compulsion in religion”. It is one of the suras of the early period, when Mohammed was still powerless and under threaten. But naturally the emperor also knew the instructions, developed later and recorded in the Qur’an, concerning holy war. Without decending to details, such as the difference in treatment accorded to those who have the “Book” and the “infidels”, he turns to his interlocutor somewhat brusquely with the central question on the relationship between religion and violence in general, in these words: “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”. The emperor goes on to explain in detail the reasons why spreading the faith through violence is something unreasonable. Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul. “God is not pleased by blood, and not acting reasonably is contrary to God’s nature. Faith is born of the soul, not the body. Whoever would lead someone to faith needs the ability to speak well and to reason properly, without violence and threats… To convince a reasonable soul, one does not need a strong arm, or weapons of any kind, or any other means of threatening a person with death…”.

The paragraph before this, makes mention of the high esteem the Pope holds this Emperor dude’s opinion in.

I was reminded of all this recently, when I read the edition by Professor Theodore Khoury (Münster) of part of the dialogue carried on – perhaps in 1391 in the winter barracks near Ankara – by the erudite Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus and an educated Persian on the subject of Christianity and Islam, and the truth of both.
So now I know what was said and I’m a little more relieved. Though should I be?

The Pope was quoting the Byzantine Emporer and not directly supporting his claim. He used the passage to illustrate the point that to act without reason is against the nature of God, therefore forcing your belief system down someone’s throat is a poor shortcut to take. The presence of God should be reasoned and argued as that is congruent with the nature of God.

Something to that effect.

The problem is not so much in the first paragraph that I’ve highlighted. The Pope’s just quoting some other guy (why he would pick that quote… well then that’s questioning intentions of which we have no ilm (knowledge)).

You’ve gotta read deeper. Analyse.

The second para that i’ve quoted, gives it away. The Pope has qualified said Emporer’s work as the truth. The truth people.

All those in search of the truth, you’ve been brought it here. Via this blog.

Do you feel enlightened? Have the clogs started fitting and churning in harmony? Do you feel complete? Have you “found” yourself?

I’m glad.

That link again:


8 thoughts on “Am I Reading This Right?

  1. Maryam, thank you for this post and the link to Pope’s speech. I read something on Maliha’s blog about Pope not mentioning that the quote “There is no compulsion in religion” is from Quran. But I see that he did mention it. This only means that the media have been giving us prickly excerpts and I’m glad I got to read all of it via your blog. I’ll comment again Inshallah once I’ve read all of it.

  2. Maryam, I am probably the reason that your fiend “Lightness of Being” was upset and instituted moderation on her blog.

    I posted a few quotes from the hadiths about some very bad things done by Mohammed and his men. Very, very bad. She got upset.

    She acused me of picking and choosing my quotes. Well, that is not the case, because there are hundreds of acts in the most reliable (strongest) hadiths that tell us that Islam’s prophet was very immoral at times (well, only if you consider murder, torture, plunder, rape, slavery and wife-beating to be bad). I will spare you the details. I did provide links to these texts on Islamic sites (MSA, USC). It is interesting that she didn’t say they were untrue, just implying they were “out of context” or something – as if there is a proper context for doing these things.

    Dig hole in sand, insert head.

    Bad times are coming. I feel sorry for all you younger people, because you are going to suffer. If it is any consolation, the troubles will start in Europe, but the US, Canada and Australia will get their fair share.

    Thinking out loud. What if the Pope calls a TV conference, pulls out old Al-Bukhari and starts reading chapter 52, verse 261, or Abudawud book 38, 4348?

    All hell would break lose. It would be interesting to see the Pope quoting Muslim texts to Muslims. You would think they would be happy!

    I blame Islam because Muslims are dishonest or in denial. Sadly, Muslims cannot be honest about their religion. Words only mean to them what they want them to mean. Muslim only hear what they want to hear.

    Well, that’s it. Take care. Think about these things.

    John Kactuz

  3. i’ve figured out the problem.

    the Pope seems to agree with the Byzantine Emperor. And its interesting that he’d take that quote to highlight the very valid point he was making.

    John: thanks for stopping by.

    Saly: Awaiting your response.

  4. thanks for the background – i am sure that what we read in the newspapers is only and always only the tip of the iceberg, and it’s necessary to get to the source. i had a feeling this Pope knew exactly what he was saying and meant it. He is only sorry he didn’t get away with it.

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