Do Muslims worship idols?


#1

By Spengler

Is what divides Islam and the West a minor misunderstanding, or an incipient war of civilizations? One’s answer often depends on whether one sees Islam as a variant of Christianity or Judaism, or a pagan conqueror cult. Pat Robertson, the prominent American evangelical, claims, “The struggle is whether Hubal, the Moon God of Mecca, known as Allah, is supreme, or whether the Judeo-Christian Jehovah God of the Bible is Supreme.”

President George W Bush and his advisors, by contrast, aver that Christians and Muslims worship the same God, an argument restated recently by Daniel Pipes, a neo-conservative Middle East analyst. “However hostile political relations may be, a common ‘children of Abraham’ bond does exist and its exploration can one day provide a basis for interfaith comity,” wrote Pipes.[1]

No individual can speak for Christendom in such matters, but the most prominent voice belongs to the pope, the leader of the oldest and largest Christian denomination. Although Benedict XVI has expressed sympathy for Islam, he states quite plainly that the “martyr ideology” of Islamist terrorists amounts to an odious form of idol worship. Most Muslims, and emphatically the Muslim clergy, support this “martyr ideology”.

The pope made these comments at the anniversary celebrations of the Allies’ Normandy landing, at Caen Cathedral on December 6, 2004 [2], and included them in a German-language volume released last March [3], just as he was elected to the papacy. The title translates as “Values in Times of Upheaveal”. Had these remarks appeared in English, they no doubt would have stirred up controversy, but it is surprising that they were ignored in the world press.

Benedict argues that peace flows from the informed conscience, which in turn causes men to band together to share responsibility for justice. With the prostration of European Christianity, conscience turns into an instrument of secular ideology, whose cynicism and self-interest leads men to turn on their neighbors. Quite the opposite of a pacifist pladoyer (final speech) , Benedict’s book warns that the West must strengthen its own values in order to achieve peace:

The graves of World War II present us with a mandate. It is to strengthen the forces of the good, to support, work, live and suffer for those values and truths which God has established to hold the world together. God promised Abraham that he would not destroy the city of Sodom if 10 just men were to be found there. We should make every effort to make sure that the 10 just men are not lacking who might save a city. As a practical matter, Benedict XVI stands closer to Robertson than to Bush. He did not say that Muslims worshipped idols, but he denounced the “martyr ideology of terrorists”, which “turns God into an idol by which man worships his own will”. Given that the great majority of Muslims, and particularly Muslim clerics, support suicide bombing, the pope in effect averred that idol-worshippers comprise the Islamic mainstream.


#2

Unlike American evangelicals, the pope does not eschew Islam as such. On the contrary, in a May 13 speech before the Italian senate, he stated:

The rebirth of Islam is not only bound up with the new material riches of the Muslim lands, but also it is fed by the knowledge that Islam is in a position to offer a spiritual base that is valid for the life of a people. The traditional Christian basis that made Europe seems to be fleeing from the land of the old Europe, which, notwithstanding the persistence of its political and spiritual power, has come to be seen ever more as condemned to decline and crumble.Benedict’s respect for Islam does not vitiate his abhorrence of religious terror, however. Here is the full citation from the December 2004 speech:

God, or divinity, can turn into the means to make absolute one’s own power and one’s own interests. An image of God that has been turned thus into an instrument of partisan interests, that identifies God’s absoluteness with one’s own community or its set of interests, destroys law and morality, by elevating what is relative into the absolute. The good then becomes whatever serves one’s own power. The actual difference collapses between good and evil. Morality and law become instruments of partisan policy. This gets even worse when religious fanaticism, the fanaticism of the absolute, informs the will to put everything in the service of one’s own interests, and thus turns completely blind and brutal. God has become an idol by which man worships his own will. That is what we see in the martyr ideology of the terrorists, which, to be sure, in isolated cases simply expresses desperation at the injustice of the world. By the way, we also have before us Western sects that are examples of irrationalism and perversion of the religious, and show how dangerous religion becomes when it loses its compass. [4]We may assume that the pope is well aware that the vast preponderance of Muslim opinion supports the “martyr ideology of the terrorists”. Last year, the Pew Global Attitudes Project [5] polled Muslims in four countries, all nominally allied to the United States, as to whether suicide bombings were justifiable. In three of the four countries, substantial majorities declared that suicide bombings were justified not only by Palestinians against Israelis, but also by Iraqis against American soldiers.
Because Islam has no centralized religious leadership, it is hard to quantify the extent to which Muslim clergy promote terrorist “martyr ideology”, but anecdotal evidence is overwhelming that the great majority of Muslim religious leaders support suicide bombings, for example. Among Sunni Muslims, the leading authority is Mohammed Sayed Tantawi, the Grand Sheikh of Cairo’s al-Azhar mosque. Sheikh Tantawi has gone back and forth on the issue several times, but his most recent pronouncement (in May 2004) held that circumstances warranted Palestinian suicide attacks against Israelis, adding that anyone who blew himself up while defending Islam against an aggressor died a martyr’s death. [6] A survey of the debate among Muslim clerics about suicide attacks by Haim Malka appeared in the Spring 2003 issue of the Middle East Quarterly, concluding:


#3

Since the outbreak of the current Palestinian intifada, in September 2000, the Palestinian resort to suicide attacks has won widespread Arab public acceptance as a legitimate form of resistance against Israeli occupation. Some Muslim clerics and other commentators justify them on political, moral and religious grounds. Even those attackers who bomb and kill women and children are hailed as martyrs for their heroism in confronting the enemy. [7] Benedict XVI does not set out to attack Islam, but to preach to the secularized West. His mission is evangelical, not political. He warns against raising the banner of secular enlightenment against “fanatical” Islam:

It appears that two great cultural systems are crashing against each other - the “West” and Islam. To be sure, they embody quite different forms of power and moral orientation. But what is this “West”? And what is this “Islam”? Both are multi-layered worlds with great internal differences - worlds which act upon each other in many ways. The crude contraposition of the West and Islam is inappropriate. Many commentators tend to deepen the contrast by counterposing enlightened reason to a fanatical, fundamentalist form of religion. That would make the order of the day to destroy fundamentalism in all of its forms and help reason to its ultimate victory, which would tolerate enlightened forms of religion, but only because it recognizes them to be enlightened, because they subject themselves to the criteria of reason. [8]

The failings of Islam as practiced by Muslims are a mirror in which the West can see its own failings, in the pope’s account. Secular ideology, which in its extreme forms produced fascism and communism, worships the brute will with the same idolatrous fervor that drives the Islamist suicide bomber. Benedict ignores the critique of Islamic theology produced by such Catholic writers as Alain Besancon (see Has Islam become the issue? Asia Times Online, May 4, 2004). Rather, he holds accountable Islam as well as the West for the perversion of moral purposes in the service of the will.

No one should mistake for sentimentality Benedict’s demand that the West hold itself accountable for its own flaws, however. The present pope sees the world with brutal clarity and makes no excuses for an Islamist ideology that recalls the ideology of the Germany of his youth.

Im Deutschen luegt man, wenn man hoeflich ist,” said J W Goethe - if you are polite in German, you are lying. In his mother tongue, the pope writes with Teutonic candor; it might be a good thing that few Muslims read German.


#4

[quote=MugenOne]President George W Bush and his advisors, by contrast, aver that Christians and Muslims worship the same God.
[/quote]

A view also held by the Catholic Church.

Although Benedict XVI has expressed sympathy for Islam, he states quite plainly that the “martyr ideology” of Islamist terrorists amounts to an odious form of idol worship.

Whose ideology? That of Islamist terrorists. Benedict did not say that this was the position of most of Islam.

Most Muslims, and emphatically the Muslim clergy, support this “martyr ideology”.

The writer provides no support for this supposition.

As a practical matter, Benedict XVI stands closer to Robertson than to Bush.

Nonsense. Where’s the evidence?

He did not say that Muslims worshipped idols,

Of course not. He knows they do not.

but he denounced the “martyr ideology of terrorists”, which “turns God into an idol by which man worships his own will”.

A proper assessment of the views of those extremists.

Given that the great majority of Muslims, and particularly Muslim clerics, support suicide bombing,

Saying it twice in the same article doesn’t make it true. No evidence provided for this notion.

the pope in effect averred that idol-worshippers comprise the Islamic mainstream.

No, he did not so aver. He did not change the Church’s position that Moslems worship the One God, he did not say that mainstream Moslems worship idols, and he spoke of the “martyr ideology” of the terrorists.

A pathetic attempt to put words into the Pope’s mouth and to twist what the Pope actually said.

But, hey! This wouldn’t be the first time that someone or other would quote the Pope to his own ends.


#5

[quote=Richardols]Saying it twice in the same article doesn’t make it true. No evidence provided for this notion…
[/quote]

according to the AFP:
On January 9th (2002) , top representatives of Hamas and the Islamic Jihad, joined a religious convention headed by the General Secretary of the Hizballah, Hassan Nasser Alla in Beirut. The conference was attended by Muslim clerics from Lebanon, the Palestinian Authority, Sudan, The Arab Emirates, Morocco, Algeria and Jordan. The next day, the participants issued an official declaration in support of suicide bombings against Israel, stating that “the suicide attacks against Israel are legitimate according to the Koran.” Suicide attacks, they stated, are “a strategic weapon which enable us to regain the strategic balance with the Zionist enemy”
ict.org.il/articles/articledet.cfm?articleid=424


#6

[quote=gilliam]according to the AFP:
On January 9th (2002) , top representatives of Hamas and the Islamic Jihad, joined a religious convention headed by the General Secretary of the Hizballah, Hassan Nasser Alla in Beirut. The conference was attended by Muslim clerics from Lebanon, the Palestinian Authority, Sudan, The Arab Emirates, Morocco, Algeria and Jordan. The next day, the participants issued an official declaration in support of suicide bombings against Israel, stating that “the suicide attacks against Israel are legitimate according to the Koran.” Suicide attacks, they stated, are “a strategic weapon which enable us to regain the strategic balance with the Zionist enemy”
ict.org.il/articles/articledet.cfm?articleid=424
[/quote]

One can’t consider Hamas and Hezbollah as representative of the Muslim clergy. That’s like saying in the U.S. that the Fundamentalist Independent Baptist Association’s position on Catholicism is representative of Protestant attitudes towards Catholics.

To be sure, there are such people, but they hardly represent the majority of clerics, let alone the majority of the faithful.


#7

[quote=Richardols]One can’t consider Hamas and Hezbollah as representative of the Muslim clergy. That’s like saying in the U.S. that the Fundamentalist Independent Baptist Association’s position on Catholicism is representative of Protestant attitudes towards Catholics.

To be sure, there are such people, but they hardly represent the majority of clerics, let alone the majority of the faithful.
[/quote]

OK, understood, got a poll of the majority of Muslem clerics that say they don’t support suicide bombing? That those who participate in such acts are not shahid?


#8

[quote=gilliam]OK, understood, got a poll of the majority of Muslem clerics that say they don’t support terrorism?
[/quote]

I don’t have a list of the majority of Muslim clerics or Catholic priests, for that matter, who say they don’t support the terrorists in Iraq. Sorry.

And, I can’t provide a list of the names of the majority of Moslems in Iraq who say they don’t support the Insurgency, either. Again, sorry.


#9

[quote=Richardols]I don’t have a list of the majority of Muslim clerics or Catholic priests, for that matter, who say they don’t support the terrorists in Iraq. Sorry.

And, I can’t provide a list of the names of the majority of Moslems in Iraq who say they don’t support the Insurgency, either. Again, sorry.
[/quote]

An Iraqi poll conducted in April:

Do you support the pull out of foreign troops?
At once = 12.56%
According to a future timetable= 81.80%
Do not know = 5.64%

powerlineblog.com/archives/010202.php


#10

[quote=gilliam]An Iraqi poll conducted in April:

[/quote]

So, something is not established unless a poll has been conducted? I don’t think so.


#11

[quote=Richardols]So, something is not established unless a poll has been conducted? I don’t think so.
[/quote]

Why so negative? You didn’t have a poll, I gave you one. Knowlege is usually good thing.


#12

I am not sure about the statistical support of all Muslims for terrorism. I know that many of them do not support it, but unfortunately, Islam seems to becoming more radical and Muslims who speak out do so in fear of their lives.

I don’t think that just because Islam is going through some tough times means that Muslims worship idols. I would say that they do not, and they believe in one, true God. In fact, they can have no representations in their mosques. The only decoration is calligraphy.

I get ticked-off when other religions accuse Catholics of worshipping idols. I grew up in a Lutheran-Catholic family and certainly heard the Lutheran side accuse the Catholic side of idol worship because of the statues in their churches and the whole Mary thing. I don’t think the Lutherans were being fair, and I don’t think Pat Robertson is being fair now. In fact, I wonder what Pat Robertson says about Catholics.


#13

[quote=bapcathluth]I am not sure about the statistical support of all Muslims for terrorism. I know that many of them do not support it, but unfortunately, Islam seems to becoming more radical and Muslims who speak out do so in fear of their lives. .
[/quote]

If you speak out for peace you are killed by people of your own faith? Something is very wrong with a religion if this is the case.


#14

Here’s the poll. Judge for yourself.

[left]Response to Pew Global Attitudes Survey question: “Are suicide bombings justifiable?”
[/left]
Country

“No”

“Yes”

By Palestinians against IsraelisTurkey6724Pakistan3647Morocco2274Jordan1286Against Americans and Westerners in IraqTurkey5931Pakistan3646Morocco2766Jordan2470

Looks like secular Turkey is the only bright spot in the Muslim world.


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