Tuesday, March 20, 2012

More on the Grand Mufti's words

Over at his online Coffeehouse, Brian - a friend who is more knowledgeable in things of the Middles East than I - cautions against an over-reaction to the recent calls of Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah, the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia to "destroy all the churches".
Among other things, Brian notes that the Grand Mufti's call would violate Article 2 of the Kuwaiti Constitution, as Yousef Al-Shayeji, Secretary General of Democratic Platform, said. Even so, I don't think we such simply dismiss his words.
In an effort to correct the Grand Mufti's words, Dr. Bader Al-Dehani, Deputy Chairman of Kuwait Graduates Society, said:
It is inimical to democratic principles that revolve around values, tolerance, mutual respect and preservation of freedom to demolish any mosque, church or other places of worship.
If this is true, why are Christians not already to freely and publicly practice their faith in Kuwait and in other Muslim countries? Why are they only allowed to practice their faith - in his own words - according to the permissions provided in the Constitution?
I am grateful for the many denouncements of the Grand Mufti's words, but where are the calls for the full, public, and authentic legal extension of the freedom of religion to Christians?
While it is true that in some places in the Muslim world Christians are granted some freedom. The government of Qatar recently approved the building of a Maronite Catholic church in Abu Hammour. Even so, this very permission demonstrates a lack of full and public freedom of religion for Christians in Muslim countries.
As another example, if we look at the Grand Mufti's Saudi Arabia, his words simply could not be followed because of one simple fact: there are no churches in Saudi Arabia, despite there being many Christians. As Father Alexander Lucie-Smith writes in the Catholic Herald:
The Grand Mufti and all who think like him need to be challenged. Religious freedom is something we claim of right, not of privilege. The freedom of Christians to pray, to meet, to organise, to own buildings – these are non-negotiable.
His Eminence Jean-Louis Cardinal Tauran, President of the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue, in speaking of common misunderstandings of Christians about Muslims and of Muslims about Christians, recently said of Christians in the Middle East, "You cannot deny that they are the target of a kind of opposition. I have been in the Middle East for many years and what I felt was that Christians feel they are second-class citizens in countries where Muslims are the majority."
The Prince of Jordan, Hassan Ibn Talal, recently spoke at a conference that focused on the theme, "Christianity in the East: To Where?" He said, in part, "The Arab Christians are Arabs, and are the pioneers of thought and Arab revival."
Summarizing the Prince's remarks, Father Samir Khalil Samir, S.J. said, "Prince Hassan asked for the meeting to stop this exodus [of Christians] and to ask Christians very clearly to remain." But if this is to happen, if Christians are to remain, Father Samir said, "The conditions to remain is to be recognised by the constitutions as true citizens, having the same rights of citizenship and true equalities as everybody."
I hope and pray that these conditions are being recognized for Christians in Muslim countries, but at the moment I don't see it happening.
The Grand Mufti's words come several months after Salem Abu Al-Futouh, an Egyptian Muslim cleric said that Islam will conquer Rome:
The Prophet Muhammad told us that Islam would spread. He told us about the Islamic conquest of Constantinople - Turkey of today - and indeed, it was conquered. He also told us about the conquest of Rome, which is Italy. People find this strange. "How can we conquer Italy?" they say. "We are too weak." You should consider the number of Muslims in that great Christian center - another person converts to Islam every day. Check on the Internet how many people want to convert to Islam in the very heart of that papal center of Christianity, on their own turf.
Brothers and sisters, Islam spread by means of the power of Allah, because it is the religion of Truth. When a Westerner whose heart is not filled with the hatred of Islam, someone who has not been raised on the hatred of Islam, begins to contemplate all the religions, he finds no other religion that respects human rights, and is in keeping with equality, justice, freedom, and democracy.
How he can claim that Islam respects human rights (despite the numerous restrictions placed on women in Muslim countries) and is in keeing with equality and justice (while treating Christians, at best, as second class citizens and refusing to allow them the free practice of their faith) is beyond me.


  1. Dear Very Reverend Father Zehnle,

    Muhammad said: "I will expel the Jews and Christians from the Arabian Peninsula and will not leave any but Muslim." - Source: Sahih Muslim 19.4366.

    I would like to come back to your last question, how Muslims can claim that Islam respects human rights etc. You have to take into account that much like the Communist interpretation of democracy, the meaning of certain words might differ in Muslim mindset. Justice is often used as a euphemism for Sharia Law, and human rights might only extend to orthodox mussul-"men" since Christians and Jews are pigs and apes (in the literal sense!) according to the quran and most women go to Muslim hell anyway according to the hadiths.

    I would recommend reading books by Robert Spencer (www.jihadwatch.org) and watching memritv.org to be up to date on these issues.

  2. Thank you, Konstantin. I meant hte question in a rhetorical sense.