Muhammads Schwert – Ask A Muslim

Muhammads Schwert

(part 1 of 2)


Seit den Zeiten als die römischen Kaiser die Christen vor die Löwen geworfen haben, haben sich die Beziehungen zwischen den Kaisern und den Oberen der Kirche strak verändert.
Karl der Große, der im Jahr 306 – vor genau 1700 Jahren – Kaiser geworden war, ordnete an, dass das Christentum in seinem Reich praktiziert werden solle, das Palästina miteinschloss. Jahrhunderte später spaltete sich die Kirche in einen östlichen (Orthodoxen) und einen westlichen (Katholischen) Teil. Im Westen verlangte der Bischof von Rom, der den Titel des Papstes erwarb, dass der Kaiser seine Überlegenheit akzeptierte.
Das Tauziehen zwischen den Kaisern und den Päpsten spielte in der europäischen Geschichte eine zentrale Rolle und trennte die Völker. Es gab Höhen und Tiefen. Mancher Kaiser setzte einen Papst ab oder vertrieb ihn, manche Päpste setzten Kaiser ab oder exkommunizierten sie. Einer der Kaiser, Heinrich der IV, “ging nach Canossa”, stand drei Tage lang barfuß im Schnee vor der Burg des Papstes, bis sich der Papst herabließ, seine Exkommunizierung aufzuheben.

But there were times when emperors and popes lived in peace with one another. We are witnessing such a period today. There is a wonderful harmony between the current Pope Benedict XVI and the current Emperor George Bush II. The Pope’s speech last week, which sparked a global storm, went very well with Bush’s crusade against „Islamofascism“ related to the „clash of civilizations“.

In a lecture at a German university, the 265th Pope described what he saw as a big difference between Christianity and Islam: while Christianity was based on reason, Islam rejected it. While Christians would see the logic of God’s actions, Muslims deny that there is such logic in Allah’s actions.

As a Jewish atheist, I do not intend to interfere in the dispute in this debate. This goes far beyond my simple skills to understand the Pope’s logic. But I cannot ignore a passage that affects me as an Israeli who lives fairly close to the frontier of this “war of civilizations”.

To prove the lack of logic in Islam, the Pope claims that the Prophet Muhammad commanded his followers to spread their religion with the sword. According to the Pope, this is unreasonable, because belief is born from the soul, not from the body. How can the sword affect the soul?

To support his case, the Pope quoted – by all people – the Byzantine Emperor, who of course belonged to the competing Eastern Church. At the end of the 14th century, Emperor Manuel II Palaeologus told us about a discount he had had – with an undisclosed Persian Muslim scholar. In the heat of the dispute, the emperor (as he himself reported) hurled the following words at his adversary:

„Just show me what Muhammad has brought, and you will only find things that are evil and inhumane, like his command to spread the faith he preached with the sword.“
These words raise three questions: ( a) Why did the emperor say this? (b) Are they true? (c) Why did the Pope quote them?

When Manuel II wrote this treatise, he was the head of a dying empire. He took power in 1391, when only a few of the provinces of the once important empire were left. And these too were already under Turkish threat.

By then the Ottoman Turks had reached the banks of the Danube. They had conquered Bulgaria and northern Greece, and they had twice beaten the armies sent by Europe to protect the Eastern Empire. On May 29, 1453, just a few years after Manuel’s death, his capital Constantinople (today’s Istanbul) fell to the Turks and ended the empire, which had existed for more than a thousand years.

During his reign, Manuel traveled around Europe trying to gather support. He promised to reunite the church. There is no doubt that he wrote his religious treatise to stir up Christian countries against the Turks and to convince them to start a new crusade. The goal was practical, theology serves politics.
In this sense, this quote serves the needs of the current Emperor George Bush II. He also wants to reunite the Christian world against the mainly Muslim „axis of evil“. In addition, the Turks knock on the gates of Europe again, if this time peacefully. It is well known that the Pope supports the forces that oppose Turkey’s entry into the European Union.
So is there any truth in Manuel’s argument? [1]


[1] Disclaimer: All views of this author do not correspond to those of IslamReligion or Islam – IslamReligion.


(part 2 of 2)

The Pope put in a thoughtful word. As an honest and innovative theologian, he could not afford to falsify written texts. Therefore, he admitted that the Quran itself forbade the spread of belief by force. He quoted the second sura, verse 256 (strangely fallible for a pope, he meant verse 257), which reads:

„There is no compulsion in belief.“

How can you ignore such an inappropriate statement? The Pope simply argues that this command was issued by the Prophet when he was still at the beginning of his career, weak and powerless, but later he ordered that the sword be used to spread the faith. Such an arrangement does not exist in the Quran. The fact is that Muhammad ordered the use of the sword in the fight against opposing tribes in Arabia – Christians, Jews and others – when he built his state. But that was a political act, not a religious one; mainly a struggle for territory and not for spreading faith.

Jesus said: „You will recognize them by their fruits.“ The treatment of other religions by Islam must be subjected to a simple test: how did Muslim rulers behave over a thousand years ago when they had the power to „spread the faith with the sword“?

Well, they just didn’t.

Muslims ruled Greece for many centuries. Did the Greeks become Muslims? Has anyone even tried to Islamize them? On the contrary, Christian Greeks held the highest posts in the Ottoman administration. The Bulgarians, Serbs, Romanians, Hungarians and other European nations lived under Ottoman rule for a while and stuck to their Christian beliefs. No one compelled them to become Muslims and all remained devoted Christians.

The Albanians became Muslims, as did the Bosniaks. But nobody can say that they were forced to do so. They adopted Islam to become government minions and to enjoy the fruits of it.
In 1099 the crusaders conquered Jerusalem and indiscriminately massacred the Muslim and Jewish residents in the name of meek Jesus. At that time, 400 years after Muslims occupied Palestine, Christians were still the majority in the country. No attempt had been made to impose Islam on them during this long period. It was only after the crusaders were driven out of the country that the majority of the inhabitants began to adopt the Arabic language and the Muslim faith – and these were the forefathers of most of the Palestinians today.

There is no evidence that Islam was forced on Jews. As is well known, the Jews of Spain experienced a heyday under Muslim rule like nowhere else to this day. Poets like Yehuda Halevy wrote in Arabic like the great Maimonids. In Muslim Spain, Jews were ministers, poets, scientists. Christian, Jewish and Muslim scholars worked together in the Muslim city of Toledo and translated ancient Greek philosophical and scientific texts. It was indeed a golden age. How could this have been possible if the Prophet had determined “the spread of faith through the sword”?

What happened after that speaks for itself. When the Catholics recaptured Spain from the Muslims, they established a regime of religious terror. The Jews and Muslims were faced with a cruel choice: to become Christians, to be slaughtered, or to leave the country. And where did hundreds of thousands of Jews who refused to give up their belief fled? Almost all of them were welcomed with open arms in Muslim countries. The Sephardi („Spanish“) Jews settled all over the Muslim world, from Morocco in the west, from Bulgaria (part of the Ottoman Empire) in the north to Sudan in the south. They weren’t pursued anywhere. They knew nothing like the Inquisition, the flames of the auto-da-fe, the pogroms, the terrible mass displacement that took place in almost all Christian countries,
Why? Because Islam specifically prohibits any persecution of the “people of the scriptures” [1]. A special place is reserved for Jews and Christians in Islamic societies. They don’t enjoy exactly the same rights, but they do so almost. They have to pay a special tax, but they are exempt from military service – a trade that was welcomed by many Jews. It has been said that Muslim rulers disapproved of any attempt to convert Jews to Islam, even with gentle conviction, as this would result in a loss of their taxes. [2]

Any honest Jew who knows the history of his people can support Islam, which has protected the Jews for fifty generations, while the Christians have persecuted the Jews and tried many times „with the sword“ to persuade them to give up their faith , just feel deep gratitude.

The story of the „Spreading of the Faith by the Sword“ is an evil legend, one of the myths that emerged in Europe during the greatest battles against Muslims – the Christian re-conquest of Spain, the Crusades and the Turks‘ expulsion almost took Vienna. I suspect that the German Pope honestly believes these fables. This means that the leader of the Catholic world, who is a Christian theologian, did not bother to study the history of other religions.

Why did he say these words in public? And why now?

There is no other way out than to look at them against the backdrop of the New Crusade by Bush and his evangelistic supporters, with his slogans such as „Islamofascism“ and the „global war on terrorism“ – whereby „terrorism“ has become synonymous with Muslim is. Bush’s actions are a cynical attempt to justify domination over the world’s oil wells. It is not for the first time in history that a religious robe is spread to cover the nudity of economic interests; it was not the first time that a raid became a crusade.

The Pope’s address fits this effort. Who can predict the terrible consequences? [3]


[1] Not just “People of the Book” but oppression of others in general. – IslamReligion.
[2] The author makes a mistake in this statement, because the tax imposed on non-Muslims was small compared to other means of public income. All Muslims always encourage others to join their faith.- IslamReligion.
[3] Disclaimer: All views of this author do not correspond to those of IslamReligion or Islam – IslamReligion.



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