HUMINT: Popes and Ayatollahs


In an unprecedented move, an open letter signed by 38 leading Muslim religious scholars and leaders around the world was sent to Pope Benedict XVI on Oct. 12, 2006. The letter, which is the outcome of a joint effort, was signed by top religious authorities such as Shaykh Ali Jumu‘ah (the Grand Mufti of Egypt), Shakyh Abdullah bin Bayyah (former Vice President of Mauritania, and leading religious scholar), and Shaykh Sa‘id Ramadan Al-Buti (from Syria), in addition to the Grand Muftis of Russia, Bosnia, Croatia, Kosovo, Slovenia, Istanbul, Uzbekistan, and Oman, as well as leading figures from the Shi‘a community such as Ayatollah Muhammad Ali Taskhiri of Iran. The letter was also signed by HRH Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad bin Talal of Jordan and by Muslim scholars in the West such as Shaykh Hamza Yusuf from California, Professor Seyyed Hossein Nasr of George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and Professor Tim Winter of the University of Cambridge.

WITH REGARDS TO YOUR LECTURE AT THE UNIVERSITY OF REGENSBURG IN GERMANY ON September 12th 2006, we thought it appropriate, in the spirit of open exchange, to address your use of a debate between the Emperor Manuel II Paleologus and a “learned Persian” as the starting point for a discourse on the relationship between reason and faith. While we applaud your efforts to oppose the dominance of positivism and materialism in human life, we must point out some errors in the way you mentioned Islam as a counterpoint to the proper use of reason, as well as some mistakes in the assertions you put forward in support of your argument. [Snip]

[Snip]Something New?

You mention the emperor’s assertion that “anything new” brought by the Prophet was “evil and inhuman, such as his alleged command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.”What the emperor failed to realize—aside from the fact (as mentioned above) that no such command has ever existed in Islam—is that the Prophet never claimed to be bringing anything fundamentally new. God says in the Holy Qur’an, Naught is said to thee (Muhammad) but what already was said to the Messengers before thee (Fussilat 41:43), and, Say (Muhammad): I am no new thing among the messengers (of God), nor know I what will be done with me or with you. I do but follow that what is Revealed to me, and I am but a plain warner (al-Ahqaf, 46:9).Thus faith in the One God is not the property of any one religious community. According to Islamic belief, all the true prophets preached the same truth to different peoples at different times.The laws may be different, but the truth is unchanging. [Snip]

HUMINT: With respect to God, how do new revelations marry old revelations in a healthy society? Society is demonstratively dynamic and so must society's collective understanding of God. Can these changes be managed by a single individual Ayatollah or Pope? The answer is obviously no. No individual can possibly be God's vehicle on earth when our individual relationships with God are influential of each other but undeniably discrete. The departure from "one man, one god" theology ended with God's creation of Eve. At that instant, one on one human relations with God ended and Eve's individuality became a tertiary influence to God's relations with humankind. If the Father, Son and Holy Ghost represents the Holy Trinity - God, Adam and Eve represent another trinity. Her actions would shape Adam's destiny as much as Adam's action would shape hers.

In this statement from the letter from Muslim scholars, "The laws may be different, but the truth is unchanging." these Islamic scholars are far from clear. Are they referring to God's laws. IE. gravity? Pi - 3.141592... - as the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter? These are natural laws that once unveiled by the human intellect appear to provide mankind with great rewards. God's laws apply in quantum mechanical scenarios as well. To be sure, some of those laws remain a mystery to the human intellect. Once understood and abided by, humankind will indeed receive great reward for abiding by God's law.

It would seem they are referring to the laws of men. The laws of men are subject to change at the whim of mortals and cannot be considered God's law. God empowered humankind to govern themselves. That truth is unchanging. One individual cannot dictate terms to a community of individuals without their explicit consent. In that scenario, the dictator is supplanting God for other individuals, in effect blocking their relations with God. Adam could not have told God that all dealings with Eve should go through him. That would have been blasphemy in the extreme. So then, how can any Muslim, who acknowledges that they are warning society of their contradictions with the theological teachings handed down to humankind from God, sit quietly ignoring the inherent theological contradictions of the Iranian government. The Iranian theocracy is an anathema to the singular God it claims to represent.

I find this letter from a group of learned Muslims, in all that it could've been, loses credibility because it is signed by a ranking Iranian cleric who has every intent to obstruct the natural spiritual growth of the Iranian people.




  • HUMINT: Popes and Ayatollahs

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