Saturday, December 23, 2006

Egypt: Need to Apply the True Teachings of Islam

The Teachings of Islam: What is Right for Muslims Must Also be Right for Baha'is

In an "OPEN LETTER TO HIS HOLINESS POPE BENEDICT XVI" [Arabic version linked here] sent on 12 October 2006 in response to the Pope's statements in a lecture he has given at the University of Regensburg in Germany on 12 September 2006, thirty eight Islamic religious leaders, thinkers and scholars have presented their response to the Pope's injudicious comments about the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), and his references to Islam and to religious violence which had aroused a great uproar, violence and many demonstrations by outraged Muslims throughout the world.

The statements were in regards to the Pope's use of a debate between the Emperor Manuel II Paleologus and a “learned Persian” as the starting point for a discourse on the relationship between reason and faith. Among the thirty eight co-signatories of this open letter were, H.E. Shaykh Professor Dr. Ali Jumu‘ah Grand Mufti of the Republic of Egypt and Professor Dr. Abla Mohammed Kahlawi Dean of Islamic and Arabic Studies, Al-Azhar University (Women’s College), Egypt.

This letter pointed out to the Pope the true nature of Islam and very eloquently corrected misrepresentations of it and its Prophet. As will be quoted below, the letter emphasized the merciful, tolerant and compassionate essence of Islam.

Under the title, There is no Compulsion in Religion, the letter states the following: "...There is no compulsion in religion was not a command to Muslims to remain steadfast in the face of the desire of their oppressors to force them to renounce their faith, but was a reminder to Muslims themselves, once they had attained power, that they could not force another’s heart to believe. There is no compulsion in religion addresses those in a position of strength, not weakness...." It continues by stating, "...Moreover, Muslims are also guided by such verses as Say: The truth is from your Lord; so whosoever will, let him believe, and whosoever will, let him disbelieve. (al-Kahf 18:29); and Say: O disbelievers! I worship not that which ye worship; Nor worship ye that which I worship. And I shall not worship that which ye worship. Nor will ye worship that which I worship. Unto you your religion, and unto me my religion (al-Kafirun: 109:1-6)."

Under the title, What is "Holy War"? it states: "We would like to point out that “holy war” is a term that does not exist in Islamic languages. Jihad, it must be emphasized, means struggle, and specifically struggle in the way of God. This struggle may take many forms, including the use of force. Though a jihad may be sacred in the sense of being directed towards a sacred ideal, it is not necessarily a “war”...."

It continues: "...Moreover, the emperor’s statements about violent conversion show that he did not know what those instructions are and have always been. The authoritative and traditional Islamic rules of war can be summarized in the following principles:

1. Non-combatants are not permitted or legitimate targets. This was emphasized explicitly time and again by the Prophet, his Companions, and by the learned tradition since then.
2. Religious belief alone does not make anyone the object of attack. The original Muslim community was fighting against pagans who had also expelled them from their homes, persecuted, tortured, and murdered them. Thereafter, the Islamic conquests were political in nature.
3. Muslims can and should live peacefully with their neighbors. And if they incline to peace, do thou incline to it; and put thy trust in God (al-Anfal 8:61). However, this does not exclude legitimate self-defense and maintenance of sovereignty.

Muslims are just as bound to obey these rules as they are to refrain from theft and adultery.... God says in the Holy Qur’an:
Let not hatred of any people seduce you into being unjust. Be just, that is nearer to piety (al-Ma’idah 5:8)."

Under Forced Conversion it states: "...The command There is no compulsion in religion means now what it meant then. The mere fact of a person being non-Muslim has never been a legitimate casus belli in Islamic law or belief.... We emphatically agree that forcing others to believe—if such a thing be truly possible at all—is not pleasing to God and that God is not pleased by blood. Indeed, we believe, and Muslims have always believed, that Whoso slays a soul not to retaliate for a soul slain, nor for corruption done in the land, it shall be as if he had slain mankind altogether (al-Ma’idah 5:32)."

Under Something New it states: "...and, Say (Muhammad): I am no new thing among the messengers (of God), nor know I what will be done with me or with you. I do but follow that what is Revealed to me, and I am but a plain warner (al-Ahqaf, 46:9). Thus faith in the One God is not the property of any one religious community. According to Islamic belief, all the true prophets preached the same truth to different peoples at different times. The laws may be different, but the truth is unchanging."

And finally under Christianity an Islam it quotes the Bible: "...particularly ‘the two greatest commandments’ in Mark 12:29-31 (and, in varying form, in Matthew 22:37-40), that, the Lord our God is One Lord; / And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy understanding, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. / And the second commandment is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these."

Last week, shortly after this enlightened and eloquent letter to the Pope, Egypt's Supreme Administrative Court gave its final judgement against the Baha'is' basic rights, which denounced them as infidels and apostates of Islam, echoing the adamantly held attitude of al-Azhar towards the Baha'i Faith; there was no uproar or demonstration by Baha'is in Egypt or anywhere else, instead they continued their peaceful and rational appeals for their citizenship rights.

Furthermore, the Egyptian Baha'is are being told by the officials that in order to obtain ID Cards and recognition in Egypt they must either lie on official documents by denying their religion or convert to Islam!

These two events occurred within a few short months of each other. The Baha'is in Egypt, as a result of the recent Supreme Court verdict, are currently being treated as a non-entity in direct violation of the stated sacred teachings of Islam and the Holy Qur'an that has been clearly voiced by these respected Islamic leaders and scholars, including those from Egypt.

Would it not be deemed obedient to the Qur'an and the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), righteous, sincere and honest for these honorable Muslim leaders to put into action their pronouncements and elucidations, and similarly, advice the Supreme Court of Egypt as well as the Egyptian Government to apply these essential and basic teachings of Islam to their Baha'i religious minority which has been cruelly persecuted and deprived of its basic civil and human rights?


  1. You've put into words exactly what I was thinking. I hope this message right here reaches the highest levels in Egypt and all over the world. Way to call them out on their own emphatic statements.

  2. Kianoosh,
    It is time for these leaders to practice what they preach.

    Fortunately with the current ease of communication the world became a whole lot smaller, and these matters of human rights cannot remain hidden any longer. Humanity will not tolerate such violations, and oppressors will be held accountable for their actions.

  3. At the very least I find the attitude of the Egyptian Court Hypocritical. Any thinking person can see that this decision is an egregious miscarriage of justice. On the one hand they are embracing the theme of progressive revelation yet on the other hand They are calling the Bahá'í’s Apostates.... I remember growing up as a Catholic I viewed Mohammed as a False Prophet, however when I left the influence of my parents and struck out on my own I investigated other religions out of personal Curiosity... I investigated Buddhism Hinduism and Islam and it wasn't until I moved to the Southern United States I investigated the Bahá’í Faith... I was a woman who was attending the local university at the same time I was and she was able to articulate rather effectively the purpose of living and introduced me to the Bahá’í faith. Unfortunately at the same time her family suffered some persecution because there was the Iranian Hostage Crisis [1980] Therefore, all Iranians were viewed as agents of the Ayatollahs of Iran... Fortunately I was able to focus on the teachings of Bahá'u'lláh and Bahá'u'lláh showed me the truth. Too bad these mullahs choose to ignore completely the admonitions of the prophet Mohammed. I believe in psychiatry you call that having psychopathic tendencies.

  4. Anonymous,
    You raise very important points, in particular the issue of progressive revelation. The Islamic leaders admit that they believe in progressive revelation, but on the other hand, they insist that Islam is the end.

    By using simple logic, if they truly believe in progressive revelation, how possible is it then that this progress would stop all of a sudden! Indeed, it is impossible as long as humanity exists. Can anyone then deny the fact that humans will always continue to progress?

    The Qur'an states "…Muhammad (PBUH) is the Messenger of God and the Seal of the Prophets." It never said that He is the seal of the messengers! The Islamic leaders however continue to deceive the uninformed masses by lumping the two sentences together, in fact forging the Qur’an when they have repeatedly written, and claimed "Muhammad is the seal of the prophets and the messengers." This sentence has never been in the Holy Qur'an.

    To repeat, the Qur'an states: "...Muhammad (PBUH) is the Messenger of God and the Seal of the Prophets."

    Bahá’ís acknowledge the fact that Muhammad (PBUH) is indeed the seal of a prophetic cycle (Adamic cycle) which has ended with him as the new Baha'i cycle began. Bahá’ís believe that under this new cycle there will be a Manifestation of God every one thousand years or so.

  5. As a dose of humility, I am not and I have witnessed it too in our communities a touch of hypocirsy. We treat the seeker, the guest in a certain way, and treat the Children's teachers in the back room with something significantly less than the same respect we accord the seeker. Is the Children's teacher's soul any less than theirs? I could go on with other servants, and their positions as seeming to be subserviant to the guest guest speaker.

    So As we stand justly condemn the officials please look at the mote on our own eyes too, and with equal justice and efficasy seek to remove that spot on our own robes.

    Edo River rising

  6. Edo River,
    Humans are not perfect. It is important that we, as humans, continue to be introspective and be always on the alert to check ourselves. This does not justify however that flagrant injustice can be left unbridled and rampant without any checks or balances.

    Without this state of humility and acceptance of reality, the world cannot improve much....

  7. that was an interesting post. talk about double standards!


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