Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Reasoned Muslim response to the Pope's Regensburg Address

Now this is news indeed. However, as it didn't involve bombings, it obviously didn't merit reporting.

An extraordinary thing happened a week ago. Thirty-eight Muslim scholars and chief muftis, from across the Muslim world, jointly replied to the Pope's speech at Regensburg (and more have associated their names with this document, since). It was presented to the Vatican's envoy at Amman; the full text in English is available through the Islamica magazine website, the Catholic website, Chiesa, and elsewhere. I look through the list of signatories, and they are a "who's who" of the learned leaders of a faith that has always aspired to be led by its most learned.

And the significance of what they said went beyond -- far beyond -- being a formal reply to the Pope's remarks at Regensburg. Truly with reason and restraint, they defend the honour of the Islamic faith as it has come down through 14 centuries of interpretation and experience -- that faith in its breadth, and not in the narrowness of postmodern psychopaths, trying to reconstruct the conditions of 7th-century Arabia.

The signatories renounced and condemned violence against Christians in the name of Islam. They accepted without qualification the Pope's post-Regensburg clarifications, and both accepted and applauded his call for dialogue. They unambiguously denounced and rejected all terrorist interpretations of the word "jihad"; they insisted on the priority of Surah 2:256 of the Koran ("There is no compulsion in religion"), stating explicitly that it is not obviated by later Koranic passages or Hadiths. They went so far as to aver that the declaration of Jesus in Mark 12:29-31 expresses the essence of all Abrahamic religion -- Muslim, Christian, Jewish.

That is Mark's version of the Gospel message that there are "two great commandments". The first is to love God with all thy heart and soul and mind; and the second, to love thy neighbour as thyself.
The open letter is here.

(via Dinocrat)

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