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Islam and the State . “A Common Word between Us and You”. Document on theological grounds for reconciliation between Muslims and Christians Addressed to the leading figures in the Christian churches, beginning with His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI

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a common word between us and you
“A Common Word between Us and You”
  • Document on theological grounds for reconciliation between Muslims and Christians
  • Addressed to the leading figures in the Christian churches, beginning with His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI
  • Signed by leading Muslim scholars Eid al-Fitr al-Mubarak1428 A.H. / October 13th 2007 C.E.,
  • www.acommonword.com
need for peace between muslims and christians
Need for peace between Muslims and Christians
  • “Muslims and Christians together make up well over half of the world’s population. Without peace and justice between these two religious communities, there can be no meaningful peace in the world. The future of the world depends on peace between Muslims and Christians.
basis for mutual understanding
Basis for mutual understanding
  • “The basis for this peace and understanding already exists. It is part of the very foundational principles of both faiths: love of the One God, and love of the neighbour. These principles are found over and over again in the sacred texts of Islam and Christianity. The Unity of God, the necessity of love for Him, and the necessity of love of the neighbour is thus the common ground between Islam and Christianity. The following are only a few examples:
the two central commandments in islam
The two central commandments in Islam
  • “Of God’s Unity, God says in the Holy Qur’an: Say: He is God, the One! / God, the Self-Sufficient Besought of all! (Al-Ikhlas, 112:1-2).
  • Of the necessity of love for God, God says in the Holy Qur’an: So invoke the Name of thy Lord and devote thyself to Him with a complete devotion (Al-Muzzammil, 73:8).
  • Of the necessity of love for the neighbour, the Prophet Muhammad  said: “None of you has faith until you love for your neighbour what you love for yourself.”
jesus on the two central commandments
Jesus on the two central commandments
  • “In the New Testament, Jesus Christ said: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One. / And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. This is the first commandment. / And the second, like it, is this: You shall love your neighbour as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.’ (Mark 12:29-31)
  • Jesus cites Deuteronomy 6:4
basis for coming together
Basis for coming together
  • “Thus in obedience to the Holy Qur’an, we as Muslims invite Christians to come together with us on the basis of what is common to us, which is also what is most essential to our faith and practice: the Two Commandments of love.”
muhammad s revelation
Muhammad's Revelation
  • 610 CE: Muhammad fasts and prays on a mountain
  • “You are the messenger of God.”
    • Painful experience
    • Fears he is losing his mind
  • Christian friend of his wife, Khadija: it’s an angel of God, Gabriel.
  • Illiterate man expresses powerful poetry of God’s messages
  • => God’s Word finally to Arabs
five pillars solutions to arabia s backwardness
Five Pillars: Solutions to Arabia’s Backwardness
  • Unity of Arab peoples in one State
  • Expressed in religion through unifying belief in one God, and unifying religious practices
    • 1) One God, and Muhammad as the Prophet of God
    • 2) Prayers: 5 times a day, facing Mecca
    • 3) Hajj: trip to Mecca once in lifetime
    • 4) Fasting (and celebration): month of Ramadan
  • And practically
    • 5) Help the needy (Zakat)
two main ideas salat and zakat
Two main ideas: Salat and Zakat
  • “Zakat and salat have often been used together in the Qur’an, being the basic elements of the Qur’anic Order. Since salat … stands for devotion [to “God the Creator”]… zakat stands for striving for the welfare and betterment, or growth and development, of mankind…. The Qur’an has not prescribed any fixed amount, limit, or percentage of wealth for zakat.” (Ahmed Ali, The Qur’an, 290.)
external ritual is secondary
External ritual is secondary
  • No piety in (merely) turning to the East or West
  • True piety: belief in One God and practical love of all human beings in need
    • Turning to the East or the West is a ritual expression of the unity of all believers
  • Recall relation of ritual (li) and inner spirit/love (jen)
openness of islam
Openness of Islam
  • “He has laid down for you the (same) way of life which he had commended to Noah, and which we have enjoined on you, and which we bequeathed to Abraham, Moses and Jesus, so they should maintain the order and not be divided among themselves.” (Qur’an 42: 13)
  • All receivers of divine revelation are the same.
    • Moses
    • Jesus
    • Krishna? Buddha? “Dhimmi status” (Spodek, 346)
cause of the division of religions
Cause of the division of religions
  • “Observe this faith, and be not divided into sects therein. Intolerable to those who worship idols jointly with God is that faith to which thou does call them.” (Qur’an 42:13)
limits to openness
Limits to openness
  • Closed to idol worshippers: makers of “sects”
  • =Those who separate themselves from One God and universal humanity
    • By adding some belief that is special to them
    • Like the animism of the Arab tribes
  • Hence: main criticism is the “self-criticism” of the historical context in Arabia
jews and christians backslide
Jews and Christians Backslide
  • “The Jews say, ‘Ezra is a son of God,” and the Christians say, “The Messiah [Christ] is a son of God.’ Such the sayings in their mouths! They resemble the saying of the infidels [i.e., polytheists and animists] of old! God do battle with them! How they are misguided! They take their teachers, and their monks, and the Messiah, son of Mary, for lords beside God, though bidden to worship one God only. There is no God but He! Far from His glory be what they associate with Him!” (9:30-1)
is christianity a sect
Is Christianity a “Sect”?
  • Nicene Creed (325 CE) For salvation need to believe (i.e., belief in doctrine, not practical trust)
    • Jesus is equal to God the Father in the doctrine of Trinity (God the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit)
    • Response by Arians, followers of Arius, a priest from Alexandria in Egypt: how is this different from polytheism?
  • So for Christians it is not enough to love God and neighbor
  • Additional requirements: “other gods beside God”?
full first pillar
Full First Pillar
  • “There is no god but God, and Muhammad is his Prophet.”
    • =one of His prophets, the most recent one
    • the prophet chosen by God for the Arab peoples
  • Muhammad is not only a religious leader, but also political leader
  • => Religious unity as basis of a single State
compare with jesus
Compare with Jesus
  • “. . . pay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and to God what belongs to God.” (Matthew, 22:22.)
  • Time of powerful Roman State
    • Emphasizes spiritual kinship community
    • Long-term strategy of the mustard seed, beginning with small communities: “Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”
  • The focus is not on otherworldly happiness after death
    • Jesus teaches presence within each person of the Kingdom of God here and now
time of muhammad no state
Time of Muhammad: no State
  • Stateless, feuding nomadic tribes
  • Different strategy: Kingdom of God on Earth now as political reality
  • Compare historical context
    • Jesus: “pax Romana” – turn the left cheek
    • Muhammad: endemic tribal wars
islamic law sharia
Islamic Law--Sharia
  • Situation at time of Jesus
    • Roman law – universal citizenship of Stoics
    • Jewish law: commandments, codes of dress, behavior
    • Message of Jesus: find inner spirit of law: universal spiritual kinship of the sons and daughters of God
  • Situation at time of Muhammad
    • Different traditions for different tribes
    • Constant feuding
    • No over-all recognized system of law, Sharia
sources of sharia
Sources of Sharia
  • 1) the Koran
  • 2) the Hadith, a body of sayings and doings of Muhammad;
  • 3) the consensus of the early Islamic community;
  • 4) Ijtihad: reasoning by analogy to new conditions
  • => four different forms of Sharia
arabic empire
Arabic empire
  • Muhammad unifies warring Arabic tribes: peace through oneness of God
  • Triumphal return to Mecca in 630
    • Hijra 622 CE
  • Death of Muhammad in 632
  • Outbreak of tribal civil wars in Arabia
  • Sassanian/Persian armies clash with Arab factions
  • Arabs unite against Sassanians > collapse
first muslim conquest history repeats itself
First Muslim Conquest: History Repeats Itself
  • 1) Recall Gilgamesh and Enkidu (Herder)
  • 2) Recall Assyrian brutalities and wars > Persian Cyrus (herders), Zoroastrian monotheism
  • 3) Sassanian empire, after long wars with Byzantium, quickly collapses
    • Arabs are herders: belief in one God (Allah)
  • > Moderate Arabic rule—with Islamic monotheism
putting an end to holy wars
Putting an end to holy wars
  • On the early Sumerian city-states: “The warfare was especially destructive because the kings and soldiers believed that they were upholding the honor of their gods.” (Spodek 60)
  • Goal of Muhammad: putting an end to “holy wars” among polytheistic Arabian tribes
  • Hence, one God for all
just war doctrine
Just War Doctrine
  • “If you are oppressed, oppress those who oppress you to the same degree. (2: 194)
    • Confucius: treat those who harm you with justice!
    • Jesus: turn the left cheek to them—demand respect, but not by force of arms, or you will be destroyed
  • “And when they [the Jews] were facing Goliath and his hordes they prayed … By the will of God they defeated them, and David killed Goliath… If God did not make men deter one another this earth would indeed be depraved.” (Qur’an 2:250-1)
islam and war
Islam and war
  • “Western people often assume that Islam is a violent, militaristic faith which imposed itself on its subject peoples at sword-point…. The Quran does not sanctify warfare. It develops the notion of a just war of self-defense to protect decent values, but condemns killing and aggression.
respect the people of the book
Respect the People of the Book
  • “Furthermore, once the Arabs had left the peninsula, they found that nearly everybody belonged to the ahl al-kitab, the People of the Book, who had received authentic scriptures from God. They were not, therefore forced to convert to Islam; indeed, until the middle of the eighth century, conversion was not encouraged.
religious tolerance
Religious tolerance
  • “The Muslims assumed that Islam was a religion for the descendants of Ismail, as Judaism was the faith of the sons of Isaac. … Once the Jews, Christians and Zoroastrians in their new empire had become dhimmis (protected subjects), they could not be raided or attacked in any way. It had always been a point of honour among Arabs to treat their clients will, to come to their aid, or to avenge an injury done to them.” (Karen Armstrong, Islam, 29-31.)
position of jews and christians in islamic world
Position of Jews and Christians in Islamic world
  • “Travellers throughout the Muslim world noted that Jews and Christians often held some of the highest positions in public and private life, and were self-governing in their religious life.” (Spodek, 376)
dar al islam
Dar al-Islam
  • “A principal goal of conquest, however, remained the creation of a dar al-Islam, ‘an abode of Islam,’ a land with a government under which Islam could be practiced freely. This did not mean that the people of the land were forced to become Muslims, only that Muslims among them must have the freedom to practice their religion and sustain their culture.” (Spodek 376)
dar al harb
Dar al-Harb
  • “Later, when many Muslims lived under non-Muslim governments, the ulama [see 376] declared that any government that permitted freedom of religion to Muslims could be a dar al-Islam. The alternative was a dar al-Harb, an ‘abode of war,’ which had to be opposed because it restricted the practice of Islam.” (Spodek 376)
two forms of jihad
Two forms of Jihad
  • 1) “Holy War”
    • 1) to preserve the “dar al-Islam”
    • 2) in self defense only: “God loves not the aggressor.” (Koran 2:187)
  • 2) “Sacred struggle” (Spodek 349)
    • Personal struggle to live a spiritual life
ulama
Ulama
  • Religiously trained scholars
  • Includes qadis (judges), assistants, Qur’an reciters, prayer leaders, and preachers.
  • “Islam has no formal hierarchical, bureaucratic institution of ulama—indeed it has no official Church. Informal networks of respected ulama have provided cohesion, stability, and flexibility within Islam, regardless of the changing forms of government.” (Spodek 376)
extent of islamic expansion
Extent of Islamic Expansion
  • See maps p. 355, 360, 365
  • In 1453 Byzantine Empire falls to Muslim Turks
  • By 1500: Islamic states in Arabia, Persia, India, Indonesia, Turkey, Greece and Balkans, Egypt, North Africa, Sahara, East Africa, Spain
major regions of old world in 1500
Major regions of “Old World” in 1500
  • Chinese empire
  • Mughal Empire in India (Islamic)
  • Savafid Empire in Persia (Islamic)
  • Ottoman Empire in Asia Minor (Islamic)
  • Songhai Empire in Africa (Islamic)
  • European collection of small squabbling states
  • Prediction of future at this time??