An Academic Fortress against Islamophobia

· Christianity, Islam, Islamophobia, Judaism

Courtesy of: Islamophobia Watch: Documenting anti Muslim bigotry

Islam and Muslims are not monolithic. The Muslims come with different theological, political and social views. The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community believes in complete separation of Mosque and State and shrines religious freedom for every human being.

To those Christians, who are excelling in their Islamophobia let me suggest, look around you, read some books by Andrew Dickson White, Bart Ehrman, Joseph Priestly, John Dominic Crossan and John Shelby Spong. Look at the empty churches in Europe and notice that Christianity, with its irrational dogma is imploding all around you. Do not rush in your zeal to destroy Islam or the Muslims, as you or your generations may soon need Islam as the only viable way to Monotheism!

If someone has a stubborn and rebellious son who does not obey his father and mother and will not listen to them when they discipline him, his father and mother shall take hold of him and bring him to the elders at the gate of his town. They shall say to the elders, “This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a glutton and a drunkard.” Then all the men of his town are to stone him to death. You must purge the evil from among you. All Israel will hear of it and be afraid.  (Deuteronomy 21:18-21)

It is important to study all religious and political traditions side by side and not focus on the dirty laundry of one particular tradition as that only confirms ones prior prejudices and biases.
Often the Islamophobes in their hate mongering are tilting at windmills, at least in as much as they stereotype and lump, more than 1.5 billion Muslims with diverse ideas and backgrounds, together in one basket.Tilting at windmills is an English idiom which means attacking imaginary enemies, or fighting unwinnable or futile battles. The phrase is sometimes used to describe confrontations where adversaries are incorrectly perceived, or courses of action that are based on misinterpreted or misapplied heroic, romantic, or idealistic justifications.
The phrase derives from an episode in the novel Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes. In the novel, Don Quixote fights windmills that he imagines to be giants. Quixote sees the windmill blades as the giant’s arms, for instance. Here is the relevant portion of the novel:
Just then they came in sight of thirty or forty windmills that rise from that plain. And no sooner did Don Quixote see them that he said to his squire, “Fortune is guiding our affairs better than we ourselves could have wished. Do you see over yonder, friend Sancho, thirty or forty hulking giants? I intend to do battle with them and slay them. With their spoils we shall begin to be rich for this is a righteous war and the removal of so foul a brood from off the face of the earth is a service God will bless.””What giants?” asked Sancho Panza.”Those you see over there,” replied his master, “with their long arms. Some of them have arms well nigh two leagues in length.””Take care, sir,” cried Sancho. “Those over there are not giants but windmills. Those things that seem to be their arms are sails which, when they are whirled around by the wind, turn the millstone.”
—Part 1, Chapter VIII. Of the valourous Don Quixote’s success in the dreadful and never before imagined Adventure of the Windmills, with other events worthy of happy record.

Phillip Cary (born June 10, 1958) is a philosophy professor at Eastern University with a focus on Saint Augustine. He received his Ph.D. from Yale Divinity School, he preaches respect of all the Monotheistic traditions in the following words:

Religious traditions, of course, work differently from scientific traditions, but I think they have several things in common. In order to be intellectually healthy, they will be self-critical. They will have an authority in the past. You think about the past in science; Einstein’s theories are viewed with great respect, even if you’re criticizing them, and you can criticize them. Both authority and self ­critical thinking are part of the tradition. I think this ought to work the same way in religious traditions. Even if you are believing in the Bible as the word of God, you can certainly criticize the history of interpretation of the Bible, and you should. This in fact works for all the monotheistic religions, and let me focus my account on those three traditions now.
Judaism, Christianity, Islam–all of them have scriptures; all of them have Scriptural texts to which they have an unrevisable allegiance. To be a Jew is to have an allegiance to Torah; to be a Christian is to have an allegiance to the Bible; to be a Muslim is to have an unrevisable allegiance to the Koran. But that means also to be a Jew is to be involved in critical discussion about the meaning of Torah, and to be a Christian is to be involved in critical discussion and argument about the meaning of the Bible, and to be a Muslim is to be involved in critical discussion of the Koran.
These three traditions can never be insulated from one another because their scriptures are interrelated. Christian scripture is inherently dependent on Jewish structure; that’s something that Luther got right. If the Jewish scriptures do not bear witness to Jesus Christ, then Christianity is false. Christians and Jews do have to fight in one sense over the Bible; Christians and Jews do have to argue about whether the Jewish Bible bears witness to Jesus Christ. They shouldn’t fight about it in warfare, there shouldn’t be bloodshed, but they should argue about it. What I want to suggest is that we should get used to the idea that traditions are engaged in ongoing arguments, that this argument is a good thing. It should be respectful argument, not bloodshed.
It should give up the notion of certainty, give up the notion of proving that the other person is so wrong that they’re irrational, they’re stupid, they’re dishonest, you don’t have to listen to them. Jews, and Christians, and Muslims have to listen to each other because they’re not stupid, they’re not irrational, and therefore they have something to say to each other that has to be listened to. But it is an argument; it is about the truth; so, Christians can say to Jews: “I think your reading of your own Bible is mistaken,” but then, if it’s mutually respectful, Christians have to listen to Jews say: “But here’s why you Christians are wrong about the reading of the Jewish Bible.” That’s what makes it mutually respectful; you not only say: “I think you’re wrong, and here’s why,” but you hear the others say: “I think you’re wrong, and here’s why.”
What makes it respectful is hearing the word of the other, and that’s where Luther can help us. As I suggested, Luther is all about hearing the word of the other. When you hear the word of an honest person, a trustworthy person, you need to consider the possibility that it’s true. That is, indeed, how you end up knowing people. Indeed, for the monotheist religions, that’s also how you know God as a person. Perhaps, indeed, that’s how the two points are connected; perhaps the way we know God as a person is connected to the way we deal with other human beings as persons, and know who they are, and listen to the truth of their words–or at least consider the possibility that their words are true and ours are not.
That ongoing argument, then, is not just a matter of believing God’s Word and hearing what God has to say, but also believing what these other folks have to say and listening to the possibility that they’re right. It’s not just a matter of conscience, but also a matter of community-not just a matter of faith, but also a matter of love–and here Luther’s theology of hearing can help us. If we get rid of this urge for certainty-this need to show that the other person is just wrong, irrational, speaking for the devil-we can apply this theology of hearing not just to God, but to other people who are arguing with us, and learn a little bit about the structure of the respect we owe to the authority of other people, as well as the authority of God.[1]
This is certainly good advice, as to how to be an active and a good listener.  Additionally, the Christian Islamophobes their zeal of hate mongering and intolerance forget the tolerant streak in the Christian tradition.  They forget what Saint Francis had penned centuries ago, when in human history religious tolerance was still the exception rather than the rule in international politics:

Lord make me an instrument of Your peace

Where there is hatred let me sow love

Where there is injury, pardon

Where there is doubt, faith

Where there is darkness, light

Where there is sadness, joy

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek

To be consoled as console

To be understood as to understand

To be loved as to love

For it is in giving that we receive

It is in pardoning that we are pardoned

And it is in dying that we are born to the eternal life 

                       Saint Francis of Assisi



  1. Prof. Phillip Cary. Luther: Gospel, Law, and Reformation. Teaching Company Course Transcript, 2004. Pages 212-213.

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  1. Rafiq A. Tschannen

    In Europe most of the Islamophobic attacks seem to come from atheists and others hating all kind of religions… In the US it may be a bit different with the fundamentalist Christians also playing a major role. (Is my assumption correct?)

  2. Zia H. Shah

    Pat Robertson and all the news anchors and talk show hosts of Fox network come to mind first and they by definition are Christians.

    Jerry Falwell said that “…Muhammad was a terrorist. I’ve read enough of the history of his life written by both Muslims and non-Muslims, that he was a violent man, a man of war.” Whereas, the Holy Prophet Muhammad, may peace be on him, only condoned defensive war and was very mindful of casualties on both sides. Falwell was only worried about fundamentalist Christians and never about humanity at large!

  3. Zia H. Shah

    Some positive steps taken by the Catholic Church
    Dr. Maurice Buccaille writes about Catholic Church’s efforts to fight Islamophobia, in his book the Bible, the Quran and science:

    In the Introduction to this work, I mentioned the great change that has taken place in the last few years and I quoted a document produced by the Office for Non-Christian Affairs at the Vatican under the title Orientations for a Dialogue between Christians and Muslims (Orientations pour un dialogue entre chrétiens et musulmans). It is a very important document in that it shows the new position adopted towards Islam. As we read in the third edition of this study (1970), this new position calls for ‘a revision of our attitude towards it and a critical examination of our prejudices’ . . . ‘We should first set about progressively changing the way our Christian brothers see it. This is the most important of all.’ . . .

    It refutes the falsely spread notion that Muslim morality hardly exists and the other notion, shared by so many Jews and Christians, of Islamic fanaticism. It makes the following comment on this: “In fact, Islam was hardly any more fanatical during its history than the sacred
    bastions of Christianity whenever the Christian faith took on, as it were, a political value.” At this point, the authors quote expressions from the Qur’an that show how, in the West, the expression ‘HolyWar'[49] has been mis-translated; “in Arabic it is Al jihâd fî sabîl Allâh, the effort on God’s road”, “the effort to spread Islam and defend it against its aggressors.” The Vatican document continues as follows: “The jihâd is not at all the Biblical kherem; it does not lead to extermination, but to the spreading of God’s and man’s rights to new lands.”-“The past violence of the jihâd generally followed the rules of war; at the time of the Crusades moreover, it was not always the Muslims that perpetrated the worst slaughters.”

    Finally, the document deals with the prejudice according to which “Islam is a hidebound religion which keeps its followers in a kind of superannuated Middle Ages, making them unfit to adapt to the technical conquests of the modern age.” It compares analogous situations observed in Christian countries and states the following: “we find, (. ..) in the traditional expansion of Muslim thought, a principle of possible evolution in civilian society .”

    I am certain that this defense of Islam by the Vatican will surprise many believers today, be they Muslims, Jews or Christians. It is a demonstration of sincerity and open-mindedness that is singularly in contrast with the attitudes inherited from the past. The number of people in the West who are aware of the new attitudes adopted by the highest authorities in the Catholic Church is however very small. Once one is aware of this fact, it comes as less of a surprise to learn of the actions that sealed this reconciliation: firstly, there was the official visit made by the President of the Office for Non-Christian Affairs at the Vatican to King Faisal of Saudi Arabia; then the official reception given by Pope Paul VI to the Grand Ulema of Saudi Arabia in the course of 1974. Henceforth, one understands more clearly the spiritual significance of the fact that His Grace Bishop Elchinger received the Grand Ulema at his cathedral in Strasbourg and invited them during their visit to pray in the choir. This they did before the altar, turned towards Makka. Thus the representatives of the Muslim and Christian worlds at their highest level, who share a faith in the same God and a mutual respect for their differences of opinion, have agreed to open a dialogue.

    Click to access xx.pdf

  4. Zia H. Shah

    Watching against copy cat Emperor Nero!
    A lot of world history has been created by copy cat Neroes, who have established themselves by being defenders against an external, partial or non-existent threat, appealing to the sentiments of the masses of fear and prejuidice. In this century Islamophobia can certainly serve as an explosive fuel for copy cat Neroes. All of us will do well to know the style of Nero:

    According to Tacitus, upon hearing the news of the great fire, in Rome, Nero returned to Rome to organize a relief effort, which he paid for from his own funds. Nero’s contributions to the relief extended to personally taking part in the search for and rescue of victims of the blaze, spending days searching the debris without even his bodyguards. After the fire, Nero opened his palaces to provide shelter for the homeless, and arranged for food supplies to be delivered in order to prevent starvation among the survivors. In the wake of the fire, he made a new urban development plan. Houses after the fire were spaced out, built in brick, and faced by porticos on wide roads. Nero also built a new palace complex known as the Domus Aurea in an area cleared by the fire. According to Tacitus, the population searched for a scapegoat and rumors held Nero responsible. To deflect blame, Nero targeted Christians. He ordered Christians to be thrown to dogs, while others were crucified and burned. Tacitus described the event:

    “Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians …, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judaea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular. Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind. Mockery of every sort was added to their deaths. Covered with the skins of beasts, they were torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed to crosses, or were doomed to the flames and burnt.

    The following link describes a copy cat of Nero who was not Islamophobic but Islamomaniac, but was able to play on the prejudice of the masses to hold onto power for 11 years:

  5. Zia H. Shah

    Additional reasons to watch against Islamophobia
    Quoting from Wikipedia:

    The most infamous event from the city’s history dates from late 1098, during the First Crusade. After the Crusaders, led by Raymond de Saint Gilles and Bohemond of Taranto, successfully besieged Antioch they found themselves with insufficient supplies of food. Their raids on the surrounding countryside during the winter months did not help the situation. By December 12 when they reached Ma`arra, many of them were suffering from starvation and malnutrition. They managed to breach the city’s walls and massacred about 20,000 inhabitants, as they often did when they captured a city. However, this time, as they could not find enough food, they resorted to cannibalism.[1]

    One of the crusader commanders wrote to Pope Urban II: “A terrible famine racked the army in Ma`arra, and placed it in the cruel necessity of feeding itself upon the bodies of the Saracens.[1]

    Radulph of Caen, another chronicler, wrote: “In Ma`arra our troops boiled pagan adults in cooking-pots; they impaled children on spits and devoured them grilled.”[1]

    These events were also chronicled by Fulcher of Chartres, who wrote: “I shudder to tell that many of our people, harassed by the madness of excessive hunger, cut pieces from the buttocks of the Saracens already dead there, which they cooked, but when it was not yet roasted enough by the fire, they devoured it with savage mouth.”[2]

    Among the European records of the incident was the French poem ‘The Leaguer of Antioch’, which contains such lines as,

    Then came to him the King Tafur, and with him fifty score
    Of men-at-arms, not one of them but hunger gnawed him sore.
    Thou holy Hermit, counsel us, and help us at our need;
    Help, for God’s grace, these starving men with wherewithal to feed.’
    But Peter answered, ‘Out, ye drones, a helpless pack that cry,
    While all unburied round about the slaughtered Paynim lie.
    A dainty dish is Paynim flesh, with salt and roasting due.
    From “The Leaguer of Antioch”[3]

    Those events had a strong impact on the local inhabitants of Southwest Asia. The crusaders already had a reputation for cruelty and barbarism towards Muslims, Jews and even local Christians, Catholic and Orthodox alike. (the Crusades began shortly after the Great Schism of 1054). Many authors suggest that the crusaders’ behaviour was not really born of their hunger but fanatical belief that the Muslims were even lower than the animals. Amin Maalouf in his book The Crusades Through Arab Eyes points out the most crucial line for such belief among the Muslims: “Not only did our troops not shrink from eating dead Turks and Saracens; they also ate dogs!” by Albert of Aix.

    1. Amin Maalouf, The Crusades Through Arab Eyes, trans. Jon Rothschild (News York: Schocken Books, 1984), 39.
    2 Edward Peters, The First Crusade: The Chronicle of Fulcher of Chartres and Other Source Materials (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1998), 84.
    3. Von Sybel; History and Literature of the Crusades; translated by Lady Duff Gordon

    Additional Readings:
    The Cannibals of Ma`arra at Utah Indymedia
    Encyclopedia of the Orient

  6. Zia H. Shah

    Muslim Tradition is not equal to wife beating or child marriage like the Western civilization is not equal to torture in Abu Gharaib or alcoholism or Christian tradition or atheism equal to Spanish inquisitions or holocaust

    Any tradition that is followed by billions and have millions of apologists is bound to show some dirty laundry for one reason or another. Without going into specific reasons, why we all have dirty laundry, because we all sweat and are smelly mammals, let me just suggest that to understand a tradition, you want to immerse yourself in it at least temporarily, while you study it, so you can judge it in a holistic fashion as an insider rather than as an outside critic, who just frowns at what he or she finds ugly!

    One may not agree with individual details of what is written in the Holy Quran and it does not have to be forced on a society. It only gives a choice to the society. For example, I have never known any woman, including my mother, whom I respected and loved a lot, who would be fully happy with the permission of polygamy. However, this does not mean that polygamy is bad for those women who cannot find a suitable husband or for those children, who do not have a loving and responsible father. So, as legislative body examines the utility of any idea before approving its details, likewise, in a pluralistic society, a congress could discuss the merit of any idea, or lack thereof, whether it comes from the Quran, the Bible, the mind of a visionary or someone with a myopic vision. As long as we agree on the legislative process, there should be perfect peace and harmony!

    Each and every recommendation of Sharia, whether it is mentioned in the Holy Quran or not, should be judged on its utilitarian value and not lumped together to promote the monster of Islamophobia or a political agenda of grabbing power. If we lump every thing together, it is not a dialogue but merely political posturing!

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