Vatican has joined the ranks of intellectual warriors who are battling Islam with renewed zeal since the fall of Soviet Union. The world has not seen such an unremitting assiduity and unflinching determination shown by such a larger number of people. The Vatican’s joining their ranks has put a stamp of approval on the misconceptions spread by the persons such as Daniel Pipes and opened a new front in the war on Islam.
A Jesuit magazine, La Civilta Cattolica, thought of as the semi-official voice of the Vatican, published an article, apparently to highlight the “desperate plight” of Christians in Muslim countries, but in reality its objective is to criticize the main concepts of Islam in which Jihad clearly stands out.
The article notes, “for almost a thousand years, Europe was under constant threat from Islam, which twice put its survival in serious danger.” The article reduces the concept of jihad in Islam to a “precept of Jihad” as if it entails nothing other than a blind order to fight all non-Muslims and conquer their lands irrespective of any circumstances.
The article continues: “Obedience to the precepts of ‘holy war’ explains why the history of Islam is one of unending warfare for the conquest of infidel lands.” It must go without saying that articles in this magazine are published after approval of the secretary of state of the Vatican.
Intellectual warriors against Islam have taken heart from the Vatican’s direct attack on the concepts of Islam. It is an opportunity for them to give air to their agenda and promote their objectives of demonizing Islam.
A subsequent column by Diana West, Christians and Muslims, in Washington Times (Nov 07, 2003) is a classic example of anti-Islam write-ups in the intellectual war that Bush and company are transforming into practical reality. This article endorses what has been put forward by La Civilta Cattolica, promotes the war on Islam by presenting it a threat to Christianity and interestingly concedes many facts which could be eye-openers for those who still prefer to live in denial.
Vatican-watcher, Sandro Magister, a source close to the heart of the Catholic Church considers it a “strikingly severe” article in almost 30 years. Instead of considering it “severe” from the point of view of the alleged Christian condition, or severe attack on the fundamentals of Islam, analysts such as Diana West lose no time to consider it a sever attack on “Islamic rule” and “Islamic societies,” knowing nothing at all there that is no Islamic rule and true Islamic society in existence in the present world. Muslims, however, they are, but none is functioning strictly in accordance with the Islamic principles.
The article in La Civita Cattolica considers it a “seeming, rather curious fact” that “Christianity…practically disappeared.” Ignoring what the US is imposing in Iraq and Afghanistan by conquest, analysts in Washington are quick to add that Christianity practically disappeared “where Islam imposed itself by conquest.”
According to anti-Islam analysts in Washington, as a result of Muslims’ “obedience” to the “precept” of Jihad, “between roughly one-quarter and one-third of the estimated Christian population of the Middle East has emigrated over the past decade to the free word.” Is there anyone to count the number of Muslims that emigrated from the US alone in the past two years and the number of Muslims who have been systematically incarcerated or subjected to secret trials and deportations back to the US? Perhaps no one.
Any word from Muslims to expose hypocrisy of the Bush administration and the forces behind it as “hate speech.” However, the Vatican approved anti-article article is praised by Richard Neuhaus, a Catholic priest and editor of First Things magazine as “the greatest straightforwardness.” The concept of Jihad, said Neuhaus, is one of the “difficulties of Islam.” This is the truth and “dialogue” with interfaith and “moderate” interlocutors of Islam “cannot be purchase at the price of telling the truth.”
It is interesting to note that persons such as Michael Novak of the American Enterprise Institute explains it for the spineless Muslims that Vatican has been encouraged to speak out by the failure of the “Arab street” to stand in revolt against the US-led wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. “My own hypothesis,” he said, “is that change in the Arab world has allowed the Vatican to be more candid.”
Nina Shea, whose organization, Freedom House, can assess freedoms elsewhere but in the US, takes advantage of the opening of new front by Vatican by attempting to present Islam as the ever growing threat to the Western world. “Before 1990s,” Ms. Shea said, “the biggest persecutors of Christians were communists countries.” With the fall of communism, majority of the Western analysts targeted Islam and the results are before our eyes today. No satisfied with the US progress against Islam on both the intellectual and practice fronts, Nina Shea concludes, “we are still very naÃ¯ve…we need to educate people.”
Now that Vatican has joined the forces of educating people about Islam in this manner, one wonders how to wake up those who still prefer to live in denial and believe that it is not a war on Islam and is basic concepts and principles.
We must keep in mind that any of the following amounts to a war on Islam whether carried out by Muslims or non-Muslims:
1. Attempts at different levels for relegating Islam to a few rituals, in specific places, at certain times alone. (Islam’s requirement of worshipping Allah is not limited to 5 prayers, fasting, Hajj, etc. A Muslim doing business, leading family or representing community is as much in worship of Allah as much he is in prayers and the principles of Islam governs all aspects of a Muslim life as much as the principles for the few rituals.)
2. Continuously working to divide Muslims into extremist, radical, fundamentalist, moderate and liberal Muslims. The absurdity is obvious from page 13 of the Times (November 10), where it classifies even some of the Taliban as “moderate.” So by simply definition, anyone who could be purchased, persuaded, cajoled or forced into joining the ranks with the US and its allies is a moderate and the rest are fundamentalists.
3. Any attempt at proving that Islam has nothing to do with the government or the governing principles in a Muslim country has nothing to do with Islam. Just as Collin Powell instructed Muslims at a recent Iftar party to “keep government out of religion.” Doesn’t matter if Bush and his generals do not do so.
4. Invasion and occupation of any Muslim country (with or without using religious terms) in the name of imposing the most exploited and convoluted form of secular democracy. The worries expressed by the White House and Pentagon at the news that an Islamic government might take power in Iraq is a clear.
5. Presenting Islam as an evil by taking its concepts out of context and presenting with the objective to demonize a people and their religion, like Boykin statement, Vatican recent article, and Daniel Pipes and Thomas Friedman’s never ending diatribe.
6. Directing all kinds of deweaponisation attempts at Muslims states alone.
7. Associating everything wrong in a Muslim country (such as “oppression” of the Taliban) with Islam, but dissociating religion and democracy from the systematic dehumanization carried out by countries such as Israel and the United States.
8. Appointing and celebrating extremists such as Daniel Pipes and Boykin at top policy formulation and execution levels.
9. Denying only Muslims the right to self-determination, self-defense, self-governance, non-interference in their affairs, true independence and real democracy of establishing governing mechanism of their own choice. Killing thousands upon thousands in Iraq and elsewhere “for democracy” is justified. But Musharraf, Mubarak, King Hassan, Kind Abdullah, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, Islam Karimov and others’ undemocratic rules must be sponsored and protected because they are as good at undermining Islam as the rest, united in a war on Islam.
Vatican’s recent move will further inflame the ongoing war on Islam. Those who are silent would soon open their mouths like Boykin. Vatican’s waited till the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan. Other would open up a few invasions later.
We hope that is soon, for it would give a chance to those Muslims and non-Muslims who still believe the ever increasing bloody campaigns for “combating terrorism” in every corner of the Muslim world and the violent adventures for “liberation and democracy” are not actually parts of the wider war on Islam.