January 09, 2006

Pope: Islam can't reform

Benedict lays it all out. The Corner's Rod Dreher summarizes:

The reason is very simple: unlike Judaism and Christianity, which take the Bible to be the inspired word of God, mediated through humans and therefore subject to interpretation, Islam believes the Koran is the literal and direct word of God, dictated to the Prophet. If you believe this, then it's easy to see why diverging too far from the plain text of the Koran is blasphemous (and we know what happens to those deemed to have blasphemed against Islam).

Is Benedict right?

UPDATE (1/10 at 3:30pm): John Derbyshire thinks Muslim "inflexibility" is overstated.

Posted by Hube at January 9, 2006 05:20 PM | TrackBack

Comments  (We reserve the right to edit and/or delete any comments. If your comment is blocked or won't post, e-mail us and we'll post it for you.)

The guy who benefits from a doctrine of infallibility said what?
At least in the case or Orthodox Judaism, we believe that the Bible (Torah) is the word of God. Interpretation comes about due to points that are not specified or not clear to us.

Posted by: David Gerstman at January 9, 2006 05:49 PM

I don't know, Hube.

Fundamentalists of any stripe think that the word is literal, thus the rigid and "dangerous" behavior from the rank and file.
The bent of the US' moral majority seems to me to be in this vein of over-the-top fundamentalist usurpers of all power.

I will refrain from correlations to GOPers here!
They aren't one and the same by any means, but there is a play book similarity!!

Ends justify a means is the most dangerous human-made falsehood of all.

Posted by: Nancy Willing at January 9, 2006 06:28 PM

Nancy: Virtually any comparison to radical Islam and Christian fundamentalists here in the US (or elsewhere) is just crazy. Here's a few reasons:

1. There is no Christian fundie state or nation, unlike in Islam. Nor will there be, despite what a very very small minority of folks would like.

2. Christian fundies aren't killing innocent women and children worldwide. What was the last reported Christian fundie killing here in the US (or anywhere)? The dude who killed the abortion doctor?

3. I'd wager radical lefties are more dangerous and destructive than radical righties, especially here in the US.

Posted by: Hube at January 9, 2006 07:21 PM

The Pope can say the same thing about any faith without a titular head. The Protestant church fractured into a thousand pieces for the same reasons. Once there was disagreement on what the Bible meant, everyone went their own way. I surmise the same happens with Hindus, Buddists et al.

Posted by: Dubh at January 10, 2006 10:05 AM

Well, the problem with what Benedict is saying is that while parts of the Koran read like the Art of War or How to Make Friends and Influence People, much of the Koran is very poetic, and therefore open to interpretation. Add to that the fact that there is no central authority like a Pope or Episcopacy, nor was there ever a Council of Nicea to hash out what interpretations are good or bad. The end result is that every single imam out there can twist the word of Allah to his own purposes. Heck, they're still murdering each other over who Mohammed's successor was, sorta like if Christians couldn't agree whether Peter or Paul was the first Pope.

Posted by: G Rex at January 10, 2006 10:08 AM

I agree with Hube on most things, but let's all remember that radical Islam has a long way to go to equal the body count amassed in the name of the Christian God during the Crusades and the Inquisition. This is not to advocate the competition, but to remember that many religions have killed in the name of their God.

Posted by: delathought at January 10, 2006 11:03 AM

Danger of radical righties?...
this is where we see the slaying of doctors who perform legal abortions, the folks who would BOMB clincis and threaten those trying to enter legal places of business..though this hasn't happened in a while.
Timothy McVeigh..I don't know where he falls on the political spectrum but he bombed a governemnt building during a DEM presidency.
He was a disgruntled Gulf War vet who turned into a crazy man.
The classic hardcore skinhead types are right wing extremists whose every step oozes danger and intolerance...if I were to remove gun ownership rights to anyone it would be the radical right...and I do not advocate gun control one way or another except...it seems like teenagers and very young men now possess firearms....is that what we can assume needs to be addressed through legislation.

How horrible is it to have the teen idols now as gansta thugs, have a star football playing brother of Mike Vick wielding a weapon at kids at McDonalds?

Danger of radical lefties?...you tell me.

Posted by: Nancy Willing at January 10, 2006 01:10 PM

DT: I'm well aware of the Crusades, but are you really sure of the comparative body count? (I'm really asking 'cause I'm not well versed in that area, although I've read accounts that indicated the Muslims were pretty darn brutal themselves in the Crusades and before.)

Nevertheless, that was then, this is NOW. Western societies (mostly Christian and Jewish) have gotten way past religious fundamentalism as a major force. The mid-east (and other various spots) have not. It seems to me that Christianity and Judaism have PROgressed while Islam has REgressed. Maybe this is what the Pope is talking about. Which is what I asked in the first place anyway: Is the Pope right? I wasn't advocating his view necessarily, though I do believe he has a good point about interpretation.

Posted by: Hube at January 10, 2006 03:21 PM

Delathought: Far more people have been killed in the name of Godless communism and pagan fascism than Chritianity.

Nancy: Earth first,Animal Liberation Front, Black Panthers, Baider-Meinhoff, Red Army Faction, Shining Path, FNAC, the list goes on. I'm sure you'll distance yourself from all of these groups but they were/are left-wing.

I'd put McVeigh on the extreme right. That he attacked during a Dem presidency is immaterial. He would do the same under anyone.

Guns are not going away. No attempts to ban them will work. "An armed society is a polite society."

Posted by: Dubh at January 10, 2006 03:24 PM

Nancy: I said Christian fundies, not radical rightists like McVeigh, although your point is taken. The abortion dr. killing and abortion clinic bombings are extremely rare occurences.

OTOH, every time there's a WTO meeting, the radicals are out there destroying property all over. Environmental terrorists do same. But radicals are the "protesting" type anyway....maybe that's why they cause more havoc than righties, who rarely protest (or, when they do, havoc breaks out b/c of their opponents protesting them!).

Posted by: Hube at January 10, 2006 03:27 PM

Didn't they manage to blame Oklahoma City on Rush Limbaugh?

"...it seems like teenagers and very young men now possess firearms...is that what we can assume needs to be addressed through legislation."

Nope, you're talking about guns that are already illegal. Enforce existing laws first, then we'll see. Oh wait, that would be rascist, since young black men would be disproportionately affected.

Wow, nothing like getting off track. Now then, as far as body counts are concerned, are you including sectarian violence between Sunni and Shi'ite? I don't see any Christians burning down each other's churches...not since the English Civil War, anyway.

Posted by: G Rex at January 10, 2006 04:24 PM

Hube, I don't know the facts. I wouldn't state my name on that particular argument. I just wanted to make sure that we weren't whitewashing the history of Christianity. I do wonder what the totals are.

Posted by: Delathought at January 10, 2006 04:41 PM

Just imagine someone stating during the time of the Iquisition: "Christianity is incapable of reform."

I'm confident that people could have been just as certain of that belief then as some are of Islam today...and just as wrong.

Posted by: Dana Garrett at January 12, 2006 09:35 AM

Just imagine someone stating during the time of the Iquisition: "Christianity is incapable of reform."

Considering the Inquisition was caused by the Reformation (and ongoing conflict with the Muslims), I doubt those people would be very bright. Now if they said that it showed the Catholics were incapable of reform, they might have a point.

The Crusades didn't happen in a vaccuum either. By the time of the Crusades the Spaniards and Byzantines had been fighting off Muslim invaders for quite some time. In fact the first Crusade got started with the Pope trying to help the Byzantines out. Unfortunately it didn't stop there.

But the Pope has a point, Christians and Muslims have different theology surrounding their scriptures. Christians consider the word inspired by God and, in the case of the fundamentalists, inerrant. But despite what some people think, there is still room for non-literal interpretations. As the Pope says, the Muslims consider the Koran to be literally the words from Allah's mouth. This is why strict muslims refuse to translate it from the original arabic, to do so would sully them.

That said I think the real problem is the content of the Koran. While there is lots of "love your neighbor, tolerate the Jews" stuff early in Mohammed's ministry, once he start the religious wars things get more unpleasant. Jesus favored passive resistance and the force of moral and spiritual superiority, Mohammed favored active resistance and force of arms if necessary.

Posted by: Jeff the Baptist at January 12, 2006 04:48 PM

Good stuff, Jeff. As I understand it, everything was hunky dory in the Holy Land (pilgrims were good for business) until the Seljuk Turks took over and started massacring Christians and wrecking churches. Eventually they, too, grasped the economic benefits but it was too late to prevent the Crusades. In the interest of not whitewashing anything, the Crusaders managed to slaughter huge numbers of European Jews along the way; "Hey, why go all the way to Jerusalem when there are Christ-denying interlopers in our own back yard!"

As for the Inquisition, that grew out of the Reconquista, the effort to drive the Moors from Spain. Jews ended up being targets again. Ever notice that there aren't many Spaniards in the Crusades? That's because the Pope told them staying home and dealing with their own Muslim problem was just as good as bopping off to Jerusalem. The Jihadis still think that Spain should be theirs, since the Koran tells that no Muslim land can ever be given back to infidels.

So, two lessons here: Europeans really dislike Jews, and Islam is an expansionist faith, which provokes Christians to fight back.

Posted by: G Rex at January 13, 2006 01:01 PM

That's funny G., with the nutball president of Iran having just decalred that the Jew's homeland was set up in Palestine to get them the hell out of Europe.....sounds like a correlation of truths.

Posted by: Nancy Willing at January 13, 2006 07:19 PM

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