Monday, December 30, 2013

"He comes not as a fierce man of war..."

The Nativity of Christ reveals the true nature of Muhammad and Islam

He comes not as a fierce man of war threatening all things living with death, but as a newly born babe, bringing the hope of rebirth and life into the entire realm of death; He comes — but the land of destruction does not meet, does not embrace, does not praise, does not even see the Saviour, and does not hear the Word of God keeping silence in the manger. Virtually in vain does the glory which Jesus Christ had with God the Father before the world was (John 17:5) on the lips of angels, follow Him descending into the world and pursuing Him, attain even unto the earth.
— St Philaret of Moscow (†1867)

St Philaret of Moscow may very well have had Muhammad in mind when he wrote this passage contrasting the meek and vulnerable "Word of God keeping silence in the manger" with the "fierce man of war" who dwells in the "land of destruction."

He would not be the first to draw this comparison. St Gregory Palamas is recorded saying this to his Muslim captors circa 1354:

It is true that Muhammad started from the east and came to the west, as the sun travels from east to west. Nevertheless he came with war, knives, pillaging, forced enslavement, murders, and acts that are not from the good God but instigated by the chief manslayer, the devil.  (Patriarch Philotheos Kokkinos, The Life of Gregory Palamas, Thessalonika, Greece, 1984, p 371. Translated from the Greek and published in English in The Lives of the Pillars of Orthodoxy, Holy Apostles Convent, Buena Vista CO, 1990.)

In his famous Regensburg address in 2006, Pope Benedict XVI quoted the fourteenth century Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus, who, in his dialogue [ca. 1391] with a Persian Muslim offered this blunt polemic:

Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.

Muslims around the world affirmed that they are followers of Muhammad by rioting and raging against Pope Benedict after his remarks. What is illustrative of the nature of Islam and its followers is that they completely missed the subtlety of his point, namely, that it is not reasonable for God to will His followers to advance the knowledge and worship of Him by violence:

The emperor, after having expressed himself so forcefully, goes on to explain in detail the reasons why spreading the faith through violence is something unreasonable. Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul. "God", he says, "is not pleased by blood - and not acting reasonably (σὺν λόγω — "with logos") is contrary to God's nature. Faith is born of the soul, not the body. Whoever would lead someone to faith needs the ability to speak well and to reason properly, without violence and threats... To convince a reasonable soul, one does not need a strong arm, or weapons of any kind, or any other means of threatening a person with death...". [4]
The decisive statement in this argument against violent conversion is this: not to act in accordance with reason is contrary to God's nature.[5] ... Theodore Khoury observes: For the emperor, as a Byzantine shaped by Greek philosophy, this statement is self-evident. But for Muslim teaching, God is absolutely transcendent. His will is not bound up with any of our categories, even that of rationality.[6] Here Khoury quotes a work of the noted French Islamist R. Arnaldez, who points out that Ibn Hazm went so far as to state that God is not bound even by his own word, and that nothing would oblige him to reveal the truth to us. Were it God's will, we would even have to practise idolatry.[7]  ...
Modifying the first verse of the Book of Genesis, the first verse of the whole Bible, John began the prologue of his Gospel with the words: "In the beginning was the λόγος". This is the very word used by the emperor: God acts, σὺν λόγω, "with logos." Logos means both reason and word - a reason which is creative and capable of self-communication, precisely as reason. John thus spoke the final word on the biblical concept of God...  (See Source for full text and copious footnotes.)

These brief excerpts from Pope Benedict's Regensburg address are extremely revealing, and help crystallize for us the fundamentally aberrant theology and anthropology inherent in Islam. In the Quran, Allah commands Muslims to fight against and terrorize the unbelievers till they embrace Islam or “feel themselves subdued” as is seen in these verses:

Fight against those who believe not in Allah, nor in the Last Day, nor forbid that which has been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger and those who acknowledge not the religion of truth [i.e. Islam] among the people of the Book [Jews and Christians], until they pay the jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued. (Sura 9:29)

Kill the mushrikun [unbelievers] wherever you find them, and capture them and besiege them, and prepare for them each and every ambush. (Sura 9:5)

I will cast terror into the hearts of those who have disbelieved, so strike them over the necks, and smite over all their fingers and toes. (Sura 8:12)

Against them make ready your strength to the utmost of your power, including steeds of war, to strike terror into the enemies of Allah and your enemies. (Sura 8:60)
So, when you meet those who disbelieve, smite at their necks till when you have killed and wounded many of them, then bind a bond firmly on them... Thus you are ordered by Allah to continue in carrying out jihad against the disbelievers till they embrace Islam. (Sura 47:4)

Other Quranic injunctions, hadiths and Islamic teachings establish or endorse practices wholly at odds with conscience and natural law, let alone with Christ’s teachings and those of the New Testament. 

The Church has always taught that the conscience is an internal moral code embedded by God in the human soul (see Mt 5:24-26, , Rom 2:15, 2 Cor 1:12, 2 Cor 4:2, 1 Tim 1:5, and many other passages). Christ's teachings in the Sermon on the Mount and throughout the Gospels expand far beyond the Law of the Old Testament, exalting the human conscience to a divine destiny: "Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect." Christ comes "not to abolish, but to fulfill" the Law. That is, to make it living, through His incarnation, and then to enable us to incarnate His divine life in ourselves, through acquiring the Holy Spirit.

Without relating an exhaustive survey of Christian theology, anthropology and moral teaching, we can see at a glance how abhorrent are the following Islamic doctrines and practices:

Polygamy and the keeping of concubines from among conquered peoples: “And if ye fear that ye will not deal fairly by the orphans, marry of the women, who seem good to you, two or three or four; and if ye fear that ye cannot do justice (to so many) then one (only) or (the captives) that your right hands possess. Thus it is more likely that ye will not do injustice (Sura 4:3).

Wife-beating: “Men are in charge of women, because Allah hath made the one of them to excel the other, and because they spend of their property (for the support of women). So good women are the obedient, guarding in secret that which Allah hath guarded. As for those from whom ye fear rebellion, admonish them and banish them to beds apart, and scourge [beat] them” (Sura 4:34).

The virtue of using deceit against unbelievers: “Let believers [Muslims] not take for friends and allies infidels [non-Muslims] instead of believers. Whoever does this shall have no relationship left with Allah — unless you but guard yourselves against them, taking precautions” (Sura 3:28; other verses referenced by the ulema in support of deception include 2:173, 2:185, 4:29, 16:106, 22:78, 40:28). Allah himself is described as the "best of deceivers" (Sura 3:54, 8:30, and others).

Death penalty for apostates from Islam: "If they turn back from Islam, becoming renegades, seize them and kill them wherever you find them" (Sura 4:89).  “[In the words of] Allah’s Apostle, ‘If anyone changes his religion from Islam, kill him’” (Sahih Bukhari 9.84.57.)

Murder and assassinations of enemies: 
Narrated Jabir: The Prophet said, "Who is ready to kill Ka`b ibn Ashraf?". Muhammad bin Maslama replied, "Do you like me to kill him?" The Prophet replied in the affirmative. Muhammad bin Maslama said, "Then allow me to say what I like". The Prophet replied, "I do". (Sahih al-Bukhari, Vol.4, p.168)
It is clear from this narrative that Muhammad not only sanctioned the murder of his opponent but also permitted his followers to use whatever deception they considered necessary to achieve their purpose. In another tradition Muhammad ibn Maslama's statement "allow me to say what I like" is interpreted to mean that he should be allowed to say a "false" thing to deceive Ka`b (Sahih al-Bukhari, Vol.5, p.248)...  An early biographer is quite emphatic in his record of this commission:
The apostle said, "All that is incumbent upon you is that you should try". He answered, "O apostle of God, we shall have to tell lies". He answered "Say what you like, for you are free in the matter". (Ibn Ishaq, Sirat Rasulullah, p.367)
It cannot be denied that this was a direct order to one of his followers to murder one of his opponents and to use any manner of lies to achieve his purpose. (Source)

One of the most shocking such examples is the practice of Muslim men marrying girls as young as six years old, which happens surprisingly often in Islamic societies, as in a recent news story of an eighty-year-old Saudi man who married an eleven-year-old girl. Why is this so, and how have so many morally murky or clearly evil practices become codified in Islamic law? Because in Islam, there is no appeal to conscience, no natural understanding of morality, ethics, right and wrong. Islam has a completely different standard.

In Islam, Muhammad is held up as the example of the ideal man (al-insan al-kamil), and therefore wholly worthy of emulation; anything he sanctioned by word or practice became incorporated into sharia. For instance, regarding child brides, the Quran is rather understated on the practice, yet clearly assumes it in its provisions for divorce:

“For such of your women as despair of menstruation, if ye doubt, their period (of waiting) shall be three months, along with those who have it not” (Sura 65:4, thus providing instructions for divorcing those who are not menstruating, i.e., post-menopausal women, and pre-pubescent girls).

It is rather the example of Muhammad as passed down in the hadiths and the Sira, taken together with the Quran, which Muslim jurists have used throughout the ages to define and establish Islamic legal precepts. Thus the marrying of girls as young as six years of age is seen to be both allowable, and even admirable, per the sound hadiths regarding Muhammad and his marriage to his favorite wife, the child-bride Aisha:

The Prophet wrote the (marriage contract) with Aisha while she was six years old and consummated his marriage with her while she was nine years old and she remained with him for nine years (i.e. till his death). (Sahih Al Bukhari 7.62.88)

Islam's most respected sources proudly describe him as a fierce man of war, as in this passage from the Sirat Rasul Allah (usually referred to simply as the Sira), the earliest life of Muhammad by the revered Islamic scholar Ibn Ishaq (9th century):

Then they [the Jewish tribe of Qurayza] surrendered, and the apostle confined them in Medina in the quarter of d. al-Harith, a woman of Bani al-Najjar. Then the apostle went out to the market of Medina and dug trenches in it. Then he sent for them and struck off their heads in those trenches as they were brought out to him in batches. Among them was the enemy of Allah Huyayy bin Akhtab and Ka’b bin Asad their chief. There were 600 or 700 in all, though some put the figure as high as 800 or 900. As they were being taken out in batches to the Apostle they asked Ka’b what he thought would be done with them. He replied, ‘Will you never understand? Don’t you see that the summoner never stops and those who are taken away do not return? By Allah it is death!’ This went on until the Apostle made an end of them. (Ibn Ishaq, The Life of Muhammad, trans. by A. Guillaume, New York, 1980, pp 463-464.)

Now the Nativity passage from St Philaret of Moscow is imbued with specific relevance, as we see it contrasting the birth of Jesus Christ to the rise of Muhammad as the "fierce man of war" from "the land of destruction:"

He [Jesus Christ] comes not as a fierce man of war, threatening all things living with death, but as a newly born babe, bringing the hope of rebirth and life into the entire realm of death; He comes — but the land of destruction does not meet, does not embrace, does not praise, does not even see the Saviour, and does not hear the Word of God keeping silence in the manger...

The extreme dichotomy between Christ and Muhammad is born out in every manner one may consider, such as how each responded to those who rejected their message. Muhammad became a pirate raider and warlord, demanding submission, targeting caravans, cities and tribes, meting out punishment against non-Muslims with the sword, raping and looting as a matter of course, ultimately setting in motion Islam's endless jihad, which has wrought destruction and misery for fourteen centuries. 

Yet Jesus rebukes even any hint of such a destroying spirit in His disciples, as seen in this passage:

Now when it came to pass, when the time had come for Him to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem, and sent messengers before His face. And as they went, they entered a village of the Samaritans, to prepare for Him. But they did not receive Him, because His face was set for the journey to Jerusalem. And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven to consume them, just as Elijah did?” But He turned and rebuked them, and said, “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.” And they went to another village (Lk 9:51-56, emphasis added).

Ultimately, Muhammad, the "fierce man of war," is revealed to be of the spirit of the Destroyer, “in Hebrew Abaddon, in Greek Apollyon,” who is “the angel of the bottomless pit” referenced in the Apocalypse of John (Rev 9:11). It is this spirit which reveals Islam as the “forerunner of the Antichrist.”