Is Dealing with Islam the Next Pope's Great Challenge?





Mr. Furnish is Assistant Professor, History, Georgia Perimeter College; M.A., Church History; Ph.D, Islamic History.

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With the passing of John Paul II, a number of Church and geopolitical analysts are hoping that the conclave will elect as the next leader of Catholicism a man conversant with the world’s second-largest religion: Islam. Christianity is the world’s largest religion, with over 2 billion adherents and the Roman Catholic Church accounts for about 1.1 billion of those, while there are 1.3 billion Muslims. (And contrary to popular belief Christianity, not Islam, is the world’s fastest-growing religion1 with its explosive growth in places like Africa and China.) In that regard, it would be fruitful to ascertain what the Catholic Church’s official view of Islam is here in the early 21st century.

That might depend, in the famous formulation of a former U.S. president, “on what your definition of ‘official,’ is.” The Vatican’s modern stance toward Islam—like its stance on many issues—underwent a sea chance with the Second Vatican Council (Vatican II) in the early 1960s. From the Middle Ages until then the doctrine articulated by Pope Boniface VIII (d. 1303) of extra ecclesiam nulla salus (“outside the [Catholic] church, no salvation”) was operative, and although it was aimed at erring Christians (mainly the Eastern Orthodox), it also held doubly for non-Christian heretics like Muslims. In the 20 th century Pope Benedict XV (d. 1922) saw non-Christians as pitiable creatures living under a cloud of eternal damnation, and Pius XII (d. 1958) reiterated that only conversion to Christianity could save. 2 But the Church does not consist of the Curia alone, and since the Renaissance another train of thought had been gathering steam in Catholic intellectual circles, more expansive and philosophically-minded, which post-Enlightenment included scholars of comparative religion, Arabic and quite a few “Orientalists,” led by the great French scholar of Islam, Louis Massignon.3 By the 1960s their views of Islam would help shape the relevant sections of the Vatican II documents Lumen Gentium and Nostra Aetate.

Nostra Aetate was originally intended only to deal with the Catholic theological stance towards Judaism, but Arab Catholic, Maronite and Coptic bishops argued that a statement that did that and ignored Muslims was not politically viable.4 Thus Nostra Aetate would ultimately state that,

The Church has also a high regard for the Muslims. They worship God, who is one…the Creator of heaven and earth….They strive to submit themselves…just as Abraham submitted himself to God’s plan….Although not acknowleding him as God, they venerate Jesus as a prophet, his virgin Mother they also honor….Further, they await the day of Judgment and the reward of God following the resurrection of the dead. For this reason they highly esteem an upright life and worship God, especially by way of prayer, alms-deeds and fasting.5

In the same expansive, tolerant vein the Council, in Lumen Gentium, had this to say:

[T]he plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, In the first place amongst whom are the Moslems [sic]: these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind’s judge on the last day.6

Yet the Council also stressed that while “the Catholic Church rejects nothing of what is true and holy” in other religions such as Islam, “she proclaims and is in duty bound to proclaim without fail, Christ who is the way, the truth and the life.”7

Some Catholic theologians think that even these statements do not go far enough in admitting the inherent truths of Islam. The maverick theologian Hans Küng, despite his lack of Islamic Studies credentials, has weighed in on this, arguing that the New Testament allows for post-Messiah prophets and that Muhammad should be viewed as such.8 Even in more mainstream Catholic circles the validity of Muhammad’s prophethood is accepted by some, such as the Franciscan Islamicist Giulio Basetti-Sani9 and a past president of the Catholic Theological Society of America, Michael Scanlon, who categorically states that Muhammad disclosed the God of the Old Testament to the Arabs.10

Ultimately, however widespread this promotion of theological tolerance may be among some Catholic academics, they pale in importance next to papal pronouncements and actions. And based on many of his actions, John Paul II was influenced by broadmindedness toward Islam. He was the first pope to enter a Muslim house of worship, when he spoke at the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus in 2001. There he invoked the importance of John the Baptist to both Christians and Muslims (to whom he is known as Yahya) and of Mary the mother of Jesus, as well as reiterated the call for “respectful dialogue.”11 At a general audience in early 1999, the pope stated that “we Christians joyfully recognize the religious values we have in common with Islam,”12 a belief he had first stressed when speaking to Muslim youth in Morocco in 1985.13 But perhaps John Paul II’s most systematic treatment of Islam is found in his chapter on “Muhammad” in his 1994 book, Crossing the Threshold of Hope.14 There his holiness’ openness to Islam was tempered by a more traditional Christian view. For example, he said that “whoever knows the Old and New Testaments, and then reads the Koran [sic], clearly sees the process by which it completely reduces Divine Revelation….In Islam all the richness of God’s self-revelation, which constitutes the heritage of the Old and New Testaments, has definitely been set aside.”15 And this: “Islam is not a religion of redemption. There is no room for the Cross and the Resurrection. Jesus is mentioned, but only as a prophet who prepares for the last prophet, Muhammad.”16 He also mentioned that “fundamentalist attitudes…make reciprocal contacts very difficult,” because for Islamic fundamentalists “religious freedom comes to mean freedom to impose on all citizens ‘true religion.’”17 However, the pope did conclude that chapter by reiterating “all the same, the Church remains always open to dialogue and cooperation.”18

So, the official stance of the Roman Catholic Church toward Islam can perhaps best be described as “tolerant disagreement.” Such a position is of course anathema to newspaper editors and the American intelligentsia, for whom nothing short of open, uncritical acceptance of every belief system (well, except for Christianity) is pilloried as tantamount to theocratism. Thank God that the cardinals who choose the next pope will not take their cues from such secular unitarians. Most Christians (even we non-Catholics) know that disagreeing with another’s religion does not grease the slippery slope to the Inquisition. The conclave might do well to elect a man such as Joseph Arinze of Nigeria (50 percent Muslim, 40 percent Christian) or Ivan Dias of India (majority Hindu, but ruled by Muslims for centuries). Either man as pope would constitute a “twofer,” as he would (presumably) not only know something about Islam but give the Church a non-white, non-First World leader.

But ultimately, can even the pope change the hearts and minds of the al-Qa`idah members of the world and their sympathizers? Recall that the open-mindedness toward another religion in Christian-Muslim dialogue comes almost entirely from the former. On the other side, only some Sufis (the minority of Muslims who are mystics) and modernist Muslims (an even smaller subset than Sufis) are willing to grant Christianity the same level of legitimacy that the Catholic Church has for four decades granted Islam. Note that the rector of al-Azhar in Cairo, the most prestigious religious institution in Sunni Islam, recently asked the Vatican to apologize for the Crusades.19 The next pope should only agree, on one condition: that al-Azhar apologize for the Muslim conquests and occupation of Syria, Egypt, Turkey, North Africa and Spain. When that happens, we’ll know that true religious dialogue is underway.

1 See Philip Jenkins, The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity ( Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002).

2 William R. Burrows, “Tensions in the Catholic Magisterium about Mission and Other Religions,” International Bulletin of Missionary Research, vol. 9., nos 2-4 (Jan. 1985), pp. 2-4.

3 Georges Anawati, O.P., “An Assessment of the Christian-Islamic Dialogue,” in Kail Ellis, O.S.A., ed., the Vatican, Islam and the Middle East (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1987), p. 53.

4 Kail Ellis, O.S.A., “ Vatican II and Contemporary Islam,” New Catholic World, vol. 231, no. 1386 (Nov./Dec. 1988), pp. 269ff.

5 Austin Flannery, O.P., gen. ed., Vatican Council II, vol. I, Nostra Aetate ( Northport, NY: Costello Publishing Company, Inc., 1987), pp. 739-740.

6Ibid., Lumen Gentium, p. 367.

7 John 1:6.

8 Hans K üng, Christianity and the World Religions, trans. Peter Heinegg ( Garden City, NY: Doubleday and Company, Inc., 1986), pp. 27ff.

9 Giulio Basetti-Sani, O.F.M, The Koran [sic] in the Light of Christ (Chicago: Francisan Herald Press, 1977), p. 203

10 Michael Scanlon, O.S.A., “Fidelity to Monotheism: Christianity and Islam,” in Ellis, The Vatican, Islam and the Middle East, pp. 43ff.

11 “Pope John Paul II-Address at Omayyad [sic] Mosque of Damascus-6 May 2001, www.catholic-forum.com/saints/pope0264qr.htm

12 “Muslims and Christians Adore the One God,” www.ewtn.com/library/PAPALDOC/JP2MUSLM.HTM

13 “Interfaith Relations with Muslims,” www.columban.org.au/Christian-Muslim/Bridges_Oct00_4.htm

14Crossing the Threshold of Hope, Vittorio Messori, ed. ( New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1994), pp. 91-94.

15Ibid., p. 92.

16Ibid., pp. 92-93.

17Ibid., p. 94.

18Ibid.

19 Robert Spencer, “A Vatican Apology for the Crusades?”, FrontPageMagazine.com, March 22, 2005.



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omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007


Mr Friedman
In an earlier post, of April 16, you stated that:
"With due respect, Zionism is not an extreme ideology and is not a racist ideology, as you suggest. It is a rather humane ideology that is slandered by people who wish to make war. "
Your idyllic depiction of Zionism, as "a rather humane ideology" is contradicted by a much more established "Zionist"; Professor Zanus, who being much more objective in his diagnosis of Zionism,had other things to say about its genesis and , indirectly, its nature .
In his long discourse on the subject (Defending Zionism in a Time of Occupation and Oppression;Tikkun Mar/Apr 2004) Professor Stephen Zunes , presumably speaking for modern, "progressive" Zionism, has this to say about Zionism:
" A more accurate way to define Zionism is that of Jewish nationalism. Like any nationalist movement, there are elements ranging from the reactionary to the progressive, and while the former have tended to dominate the Zionist movement, this does not mean that Zionism is in itself illegitimate. Few nations have been created without displacing and subjugating large numbers of indigenous inhabitants, including Britain, France, Japan, and most of today's "Arab" states. Most of the English-speaking world—the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand—was far more brutal and thorough than the Israelis in coming to dominance over the territories they now occupy."

This full-mouthed statement inevitably means and condones the following
-That Zionism is intrinsically AGGRESSIVE:" Few nations have been created without DISPLACING and subjugating large numbers of indigenous inhabitants,".
-That Zionism is intrinsically RACIST:"...and SUBJUGATING large numbers of indigenous inhabitants"
-That Zionism is necessarily ALIEN:"...large numbers of INDIGENOUS inhabitants".
That far Professor Zunes has correctly identified Zionism : Zionism is an aggressive, racist movement alien to Palestine; about which I am in full agreement.

However several questions remain to be answered:
1-How does Professor Zunes and "progressive" Zionism reconcile such a movement and ideology with the principle of Self Determination of the "indigenous inhabitants"?
2-Is such a movement and ideology consistent with the political and moral standards of the 20th century or is it more of 7-15 th century (AD) movement ?
3-What reaction is to be expected from the "indigenous inhabitants" when faced with displacement and subjugation?
4-Will the state begotten by such an ideology ever be an integral part in the region in which it uprooted and supplanted another people?
5-If yes ,will that be achieved through assimilation or further conquest (displacement and subjugation).?
6-If through assimilation would that be in the overwhelming surrounding Arab/Moslem environment or in a neo JUDEO/JUDEO culture that the conqueror will impose on the region?

Discarding the outdated and morally and politically bankrupt "divine promise" argument Professor Zunes, always speaking for "progressive" Zionists, comes up with a novel , and hopefully American pleasing , justification of the Uproot, Subjugate and Supplant model of nation building.
He had the following to say:
"Few nations have been created without displacing and subjugating large numbers of indigenous inhabitants, including Britain and most of today's "Arab" states. Most of the English-speaking world the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand—was far more brutal and thorough than the Israelis in coming to dominance over the territories they now occupy. "

That is said in a clear attempt to:
-Mitigate the crime committed by the Zionist movement in Palestine by implying that it was based on the American, Australian and New Zealand precedents and
-Depict the Arab states as the product of earlier imperialistic conquests.
On the first point, he is intentionally misleading his reader while on the second point he is plainly incorrect

THE AMERICAN, AUSTRALIAN AND NEW ZEALAND PRECEDENTS.
The conscious attempt by Professor Zanus to mislead is revealed in that he avoided any and all mention or reference as to WHEN, at what period in HISTORY and at what stage of HUMAN PROGRESS these precedents occurred.

The establishment of the Zionist state of Israel in Palestine took place, after occupying 78 % of Palestine, DISPLACING, and SUBJUGATING a large proportion of the INDEGENOUS INHABITANTS in 1948.
These were the Moslem and Christian Palestinian Arabs who formed at least 80 % (eighty per cent) of the total population prior to the forced entry of Jewish immigrants ,allowed into Palestine against the express will of 90 % of the pre mandate total population, by the perfidious custodian, the British Mandate, in the 1920s.
The, British enabled and assisted colonial conquest of Palestine, by the Zionist movement started in the early 1920s and was culminated with the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948 ; that is it occurred in the first half of the Twentieth Century. The United States of America was substantially colonized and settled from the early 17th century onwards while both Australia and New Zealand were in the 18 th century .
So the precedents set by the United States of America, Australia and New Zealand in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Century ,and adopted by Professor Zanus as a model ,was replicated by Zionist Israel some three hundred years later in the Twentieth Century.
However Professor Zanus discards and negates this time lapse: three centuries of Human progress which witnessed several major and pertinent developments in human relations, namely:
- The predominant transition of humankind from the stage of roaming tribes to that of settled communities with vested, inalienable, rights over their domains.
-The abandonment and rejection of the practice of the stronger tribe/community supplanting (displacing) and subjugating the weaker tribe/community.
-The transformation of settled communities into nations/states based on national, not religious/confessional and/or racist /ethnic grounds, with sovereign rights over them lodged solely with their inhabitants .
- The adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the global application of the principle of SELF DETERMINATION, consistently denied the Palestinian people by the British Mandate the former of which, ironically enough, coincided with the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948.
That Professor Zanus chose to ignore this anomaly in the history of human progress, the WHEN Israel was established, is not only a conscious attempt on his part to mislead but is also indicative of two important points

-That the establishment of Israel in 1948 is literally a regression in human conduct and thus a reactionary development; a throw back to the practices, ethics and norms of the Seventeenth Century.
-That Zionism , the driving doctrine behind Israel ,being based on religious and racial/ethnic hypothesis, is intrinsically an anti egalitarian/racist movement more at home in the Seventeenth Century than the Twentieth Century.
What Professor Zanus failed to add is whether his model of nation building , based on the Displacement and Subjugation of Indigenous Inhabitants, is of timeless and universal applicability or is to be restricted to the Zionist cause.
Another point Professor Zanus fails to address is whether Zionism has achieved all of its objectives or stage one only?!!
However he does not fail to make a curious point in that
:
"… the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand—was far more brutal and thorough than the Israelis in coming to dominance over the territories they now occupy".
no doubt implying that the Palestinians are not sufficiently grateful to the Zionists for the reduced brutality they suffered at their hands.

ARAB STATES and the DISPLACEMENT and SUBJUGATION OF INDIGENOUS INHABITANTS.

The second argument used by Professor Zanus in defense of Zionism was to contend that: " Few nations have been created without ..etc,etc... , including Britain and most of today's "Arab" states." That is an incorrect statement, a historical falsehood, and a misconception mainly prevalent in the Western World.
The "Arab" tribes emerging from the Arabian Peninsula in the Seventh Century were the carriers of, what to them was, a Divine Message: Islam. Their mission was to spread Islam and convert, mainly, the worshippers of idols with strict instructions not to coerce the peoples of the Book, the Jews and the Christians, to convert. It was never to DISPLACE and SUBJUGATE nor were they apt to. None of the communities/peoples and states thus overrun were DISPLACED or SUBJUGATED. Great numbers, the majority in some cases, of the INDIGINEOUS INHABITANTS willingly accepted the message and adopted the language of its BOOK, the KORAN, and the ARABIC language. A process of cultural and native intermixing took place , a Seventh Century melting pot, that led to the complete ARABIZATION and major ISLAMIZATION of the inhabitants of Greater Syria, of which Palestine is a part, Iraq, Egypt and North Africa through , more than any other single factor, their adoption of the Arabic language and the resulting "new" Arabic culture.
This new culture bred a new "national identity" that gradually emerged then solidified into what is presently the predominant national identity of "Arab States". It was and still is an amalgam of native and historical "Arab" cultures all fused into one common cultural heritage, the output from the melting pot, and one common national identity. It came to be known as "Arab" because of the predominance of Arabic Language and of the "Arabs" at the early, formative, stages of inter- intermixing and cultural reciprocal assimilation of the peoples and cultures of the said countries.
As such ARABISM, Arab nationalism, is primarily the product of a historical process of reciprocated cultural assimilation that, in due course, bred a common national identity. It has absolutely no pretensions to a common racial/ethnic or confessional/religious basis. This is best seen by noting the following:
-The fact that none of the indigenous populations of the said counties was displaced or supplanted by the "Arabs"; all were Arabized a majority of which voluntarily converted/accepted Islam.
The Egyptians still live in Egypt, the Palestinians in Palestine, the Iraqis in Iraq etc and all of them identify themselves, and are identified, as Arabs.
-Although the majority converted to Islam considerable numbers , in the millions, chose to retain their Christian faith, still do and identify themselves, and are identified, as Arabs.
-That some major communities/nations converted to Islam but were not culturally assimilated/Arabized (Persia and Asia minor presently known as Iran and Turkey, Indonesia, etc) but do not identify themselves , nor are identified, as Arabs.
-That other major communities/nations were neither Arabized nor converted to Islam but kept both their faith and cultural/national identities.(Spain and Portugal).
Hence only those communities that were Arabized came to be known as Arab and to form "Arab States"; none of them displaced nor supplanted another people.
This may be hard to believe, and harder to accept, by Professor Zanus, and Zionists at large , because of the racial/ethnic and confessional/religious foundations of the Zionist dogma.
But that is the true nature of Zionism and of the history of the Arab states.
Zionist Zanus contentions are false , historically incorrect and are meant to find in the imperialistic Zionist conquest of Palestine, in the Twentieth Century, an earlier Arab precedent..



omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

"....but no one of those ever mention Muslim/Islamic empire.
Anyone who professes even the possibility of that kind of obvious absurd is a raving lunatic."
An uncontestably correct statement...the question is:where does it belong in the current discussion?


omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

Mr. Friedman
You note:
"By the way, I did a Google search on this concept you call ghoim. There are 59 listings and 29 (if I counted correctly) were reprints of one post by you. None were listed as being a Jewish concept. And the word does not appear in the dictionary."

"Ghoim", possibly not the standard spelling of the term or misspelled , is the same as "GOY" and "GOYIM".
"Goy", according to the Encyclopedia Britannica Dictionary is defined as:

"Main Entry: goy

Pronunciation: ‚g•i
Function: noun
Inflected Form: pluralgoy£im \‚g•i-„m\ ; alsogoys
Etymology: Yiddish, from Hebrew g‹y people, nation
Date: 1841
sometimes disparaging : gentile 1"

That is, in plain English, "ghoim","goy" and "goyim" all mean one and the same thing:"non Jew".
The meaning of the term and its usage is best defined from the following quotation:
" The most interesting thing about those Jewish pogroms was that no rabbi of importance condemned any of them. In this case, no Orthodox rabbi found a word to say about that "13-year-old Palestinian girl", who was murdered by Halacha-keeping Jews. "At the trial of the yeshiva boy charged with the killing, Rabbi Ginsburgh said bluntly, "The people of Israel must rise and declare in public that a Jew and a goy are not, God forbid, the same. Any trial that assumes that Jews and goyim are equivalent is a travesty of justice".

The above was extracted from a long article by :
Israel Shahak, Tel. and Fax 02-5633-99
2 Bartenura St. Jerusalem 92184, Israel
His article also included other practices sanctioned by the Halacha re the "goys". viz:
"Out of many such instances which sometimes but not always, I am sorry to say caused a scandal among secular Israeli Jews and the media, but never among the rabbis in the USA, let me quote just three cases. Quite recently, rabbi Ginsburgh (about whom more below) was interviewed by the Hebrew paper "Maariv", one of the three major Israeli papers. When asked how Israel should behave in the current war, Ginsburgh first proposed destroying of Arab property and then: "Secondly, I propose to liquidate all saboteurs. Any who has blood on his hands should be liquidated at once, and let us not to wait for him to sit in prison and be freed afterwards. Nests of saboteurs can be liquidated within one hour. Yamit (a settlement in Sinai, evacuated by orders of Begin in 1982. I. Shahak) which was a worthy Jewish town, was evacuated in one hour. It is possible to do the same to Beit Jallah. Places where are shootings or confrontations should be blown up immediately" Question: "Even if innocent people live in such places?" Answer: "According to Halacha, during the war one makes no distinction. One gives an opportunity to those who want to escape to do so; afterwards one fights against everyone, including children, women and old folks. The entire village should be destroyed. We are speaking about what was done to Sodom and Gomorrah. But under Arafat we speak about murderous leadership hating us, and doing everything until it gets the entire State of Israel. Thus, just as it happened in Sodom and Gomorrah, had there been there a few innocents we, perhaps, could consider further. . But under Arafat most people are totally wicked. Therefore we should say to the few righteous ones: 'go out' and then blow up the entire city" Maariv Friday Supplement, 12 January, 2001).
No Orthodox or Conservative rabbi said a word against this view about what Halacha says Jews should do to Arabs, presumably because they all know that it is the correct view. I also presume that whatever Bialoguski, the ADL and similar Jewish organizations say against me for having translated the learned ruling of rabbi Ginsburgh, none of them will dare to say in public that he misrepresents the Halacha and enter into learned discussion with him about the question whether the Jewish religion in its Orthodox form really enjoins the killing of "children, women and old folks" during war, or whether Palestinians should be compared to the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah and the Israeli army to angels of the Lord who had destroyed them."



omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

Timothy R. Furnish concludes his well balanced and moderate "tour d'horizon" on Moslem/Catholic relations with a surprising conclusion:
"But ultimately, can even the pope change the hearts and minds of the al-Qa`idah members of the world and their sympathizers?"Implying, for reasons known only to him, that Al -Qaedah is the main body of, or at least the speaker for, Moslems; an Islamic Vatican!
It is not only that such an assertion is groundless but , more importantly, it assigns to al Qaedah a religious role that even al Qaedah never claimed!
Unlike Catholicism's Vatican Islam does not allow for, nor tolerates, a SOLE OFFICIAL representative or interpreter of faith; and unlike Catholicism's Pope and clerical hierarchy, Islam has no official clergy what so ever.
Any Moslem, preferably but not exclusively learned, has the right to interpret Islam, and the dictates of Islam, the way he understands it; his influence and the size of his following depends solely on the number of people who accept his interpretation of Islam.
"Fatwas" or articles of faith emanating from Al Azhar, or from where ever, reflect the opinion of that body only and are not binding nor are those who chose to believe otherwise are subject to excommunication!
In short there is no Moslem Vatican or Pope to speak for Islam.

So what are we left with?

Plenty: the basic Islamic act of faith that Jesus Christ was the carrier of a Divine message and that He was born from a truly virgin Mary, that Christianity is a monotheistic religion and that Christians are a people of the Book.
This disproves both contentions made by the author that:

"(a) Recall that the open-mindedness toward another religion in Christian-Muslim dialogue comes almost entirely from the former" and:

"(b) On the other side, only some Sufis (the minority of Muslims who are mystics) and modernist Muslims (an even smaller subset than Sufis) are willing to grant Christianity the same level of legitimacy that the Catholic Church has for four decades granted Islam."
The "legitimacy" of Christianity, Catholic and otherwise, called for in( b), though far from being a question of a "quid pro quo"; is a basic dogma of Islam that has been granted thirteen centuries ago .
And if "open mindedness ", in (a) above, is to be allocated to both faiths it would be thirteen centuries versus a belated and very recent "four decades".







.
"


omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

Mr Friedman
You write:

"Not to be too critical but the word "goy" in Hebrew actually means "nation." "Goyim," which I guess is what you meant when you wrote "Ghoim" - a spelling I have never seen -, is the plural of the word "goy" and means "nations."
However the Encyclopedia Britannica also includes in its defintion of "goy" the following:
"sometimes disparaging : gentile 1"; which, "gentile", indisputably means "who is not Jewish".
The quotation from Rabbi Ginsburgh, that I refix hereunder where both "goy" and "goyim" are used interchangeably, plainly means "who is not Jewish" and not "nation"!

"The people of Israel must rise and declare in public that a Jew and a goy are not, God forbid, the same. Any trial that assumes that Jews and goyim are equivalent is a travesty."
Also according to the EB the term, and concept,is Jewish as seen from the following:"Etymology: Yiddish, from Hebrew g‹y people, nation"

As to your other claim:

"I do not see your point with respect to the Israel Shahak's comment since the conversation posted relates to Christian/Muslim relations. What you have done is what logicians call tu quoque. Which is to say, your argument is logically flawed."
Do I have to remind you that my reference to the concept of "goyim" in Judaism, as totally distinct from "dhimmi" in Islam, was in reply to your querry in an earlier post:
" None were listed as being a Jewish concept. And the word does not appear in the dictionary."
To answer a point raised in a previous discussion, though admitedly a side point, is not really "tu quoque" as you claim in your effort to bypass the issue!
The sad fact is that in occupied Palestine the concept of "goy" and "goyim", as the "religious" foundation for discrimination against "non Jews" i.e. Moslem and Christian Arabs, is very much alive and is manifested daily in many forms by both the state of Israel and a good number of Israelis.


omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

Mr Friedman
I have read with great interest the article you reffered me to @;http://www.jlaw.com/Articles/war1.html.
Note worthy in this scholarly study is the following extract :
"According to the Talmud,18 Obligatory wars are those wars started in direct fulfillment of a specific biblical commandment, such as the obligation to destroy the tribe of Amalek in biblical times. Authorized wars are wars undertaken to increase territory or "to diminish the heathens so that they shall not march" which is, as explained below, a category of military action given different parameters by different authorities.19 Maimonides, in his codification of the law, writes that:

The king must first wage only obligatory wars. What is an obligatory war? It is a war against the seven nations, the war against Amalek, and a war to deliver Israel from an enemy who has attacked them. Then he may wage authorized wars, which is a war against others in order to enlarge the borders of Israel and to increase his greatness and prestige.20"

In this extract I noted with particular interest the following sentences:

***"Authorized wars are wars undertaken to increase territory or "to diminish the heathens so that they shall not march" which is, as explained below, a category of military action given different parameters by different authorities.19 "

and

***"Then he may wage authorized wars, which is a war against others in order to enlarge the borders of Israel and to increase his greatness and prestige.20"
Present Israeli policy seems to be the sincere application of Talmudic exhortions!


omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

Mr. Friedman
You state:
"As I said before: I am not religious." to which I will readily and truthfully respond" neither am I".
However, the inescapable fact is that you and I are the product of our respective cultures.Yours is obviously the Jewish culture and mine, as obviously, is the Arab-Islamic culture both of which has molded us whether we are religious or not. This has been plainly reflected in everything we wrote whether about Zionism orCatholic/Moslem relations
The "lunatic (Islamic)preachers ..." you refer to in anearlier post are the reflection of the no less rabid but much more established and politically influential Jewish and Christian preachers waging daily war against Islam; Ovadia Yusuf, the grand Safardi rabbi in Israel and Graham /Robertson in the USA; to name only a few..
In both cultures religion played a cardinal formative role and is playing an increasingly influential, but far from constructive, political role particularly in the USA and Israel!
In the Arab-Moslem world it is threatening to, but has not yet played, a similar major political role...Ibn Laden notwithstanding!
Retrogressive and reactionary political dogmas, mainly pernicious Zionism and fanatic Neo-conservatism (Judeo/Christian Fundamentalism), are the output from their respective religions.
Fundamental Islamism is the inevitable reaction to both; roused mainly by the former and intensified by the latter.
The basic difference is that it is still out of power whereas both Zionism and Neo-conservatism are in power in their respective domains; Israel and the USA. Both are piously implementing their Zionist and Neo-conservative political designs ( the establishment of a racist Israel in Palestine the Arab/Moslem heartland and the conquest of Iraq, inter alia) while Islamic Fundamentalism is preparing to retaliate when it accedes to power!
A cultural/religious and/or political dialogue between Zionism/Neo-conservatism and liberal, progressive Islamic/Arabism, a category to which I, hopefully, with a majority of Arab Christians belong, is as meaningless and futile as it would be between American/Israeli progressive liberals and Islamic Fundamentalism.
In both cases, the interlocutors would be speaking in a language totally unintelligible to the other party…if at all.
Zionism have driven a very sharp wedge between our respective cultures and nations ,that Neo-conservatism is driving deeper and deeper , to the ultimate grave loss of both.
Islamic Fundamentalism will only be preempted by a DeZionized Israel and a liberal progressive USA.


omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

Mr Friedman
Zionism is a quintessentially religious movement; without the concept of "Eretz Israel" (land of Israel) and the concept of (God's) " promise" to his "chosen people" , all deeply enshrined in Judaism there would be no Zionism.
It would have been Khazarisisim if, as you contend, it was a "nationalist", and not a religious, movement rallying the Khazaris to return to Khazaristan from where the bulk of "Jews" came rather than to the "promised land"!
That many of its earlier adherents and proponents of Zionism were secularly motivated or "atheists" does not change the fact that its huge mass appeal to the majority of Jews, and some Fundamental Christians, was, is, religion based and derived!
We all know of the "Marxist" Catholic clergy in South America or the Moslem Sheiks in the erstwhile Sudanese Communist Party.

Zionism is equally "racist", in the sense that, it contends that "Jews", all over the world, are the descendants of the "original", i.e. "pure blooded" ,Jews dispersed by the Diaspora and form an "ethnic(racially distinct) entity" and as such are entitled to extra rights and privileges, irrespective of its effect on the "goyim".

More about Zionism in a latter post, and the groundless accusations and fabrications, you have made.

You thoughtfully inquire " for whatever reason, you (that is I) want to change the topic from Islam to Israel."
I believe that the answer lies in my "thoughtful post".
Islamic Fundamentalism, the most vigorous of Islamist movements and the one with the greatest mass appeal and devotional following, owes its resurgence and increasing strength, more than any other single factor, to the crushing political and military defeats inflicted on the "umma" (the nation of Islam)in Palestine, Afghanistan and Iraq by the equally religious Zionist and Neo-Conservative (Judeo/Christian Fundamentalis )movements.
More than any other single factor the question of Palestine/Israel, which is widely perceived as an alien force uprooting indigenous fellow "Moslems" and supplanting them with alien "Jews", in the land of Al AQSA and the platform of the Mohammedan Ascension to heaven (Palestine), transformed Islamic Fundamentalism from a fringe movement to a mainstream movement!
Hence, the inextricable bond between the two.



omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

C'est la vie!


omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007



Mr Friedman
To attribute a certain "effect" to a particular "cause" in no way means or implies to condone, approve or justify the "cause". It is simply, stating what resulted from what!
Other readers of this Forum would know the difference.
That the war on Afghanistan was, and is being, used, by Islamist Fundamentalists, to further deepen the enmity towards the USA and Israel, is an objective fact; however, that does not mean that I condone 9/11 as you, in a cheap public relations ploy, imply!
I am not surprised that you use a " secondary school" mode of discussion by your frequent use of the "omission and inclusion " tactic in a manner to suit your "logic" as is plainly demonstrated in the following:
You state:

"….Islamic fundamentalism owes its "resurgence" to defeats in "Afghanistan and Iraq"? Really? You mean that the 9/11 attack came after the defeats in Afghanistan? Omar, no one will take you seriously when you write such things."

You chose to high light Afghanistan and Iraq after omitting the reference to Palestine which immediately precede them in the same sentence which, Palestine, definitely preceded both Afghanistan, Iraq and 9/11.
Another cheap PR gimmick!
Your reference to the Moslem Brothers in an attempt to refute a statement I made:
" The Muslim Brotherhood, you will recall, existed long before Israel and had as its original –"

either denotes a queer method of "selective reading" on your part, commission and omission once more, or an attempt to misinform the general reader of whom detailed knowledge of the issue is not expected!
Moslem Brothers did exist before the establishment of the state of Israel in Palestine but was THEN a "fringe" movement, as susequently noted, with little influence and following; its "resurgence", as any semi knowledgeable observer of the issue would know, followed the 1967 war with Israel and the consequent collapse of Nasserism!
Further more you fail to note, or more likely you attempt to derail the general reader, by ignoring a key sentence in my post:

" More than any other single factor the question of Palestine/Israel, which is widely perceived as an alien force uprooting indigenous fellow "Moslems" and supplanting them with alien "Jews", in the land of Al AQSA and the platform of the Mohammedan Ascension to heaven (Palestine), transformed Islamic Fundamentalism from a fringe movement to a mainstream movement!"

which includes the following conclusion:

" transformed Islamic Fundamentalism from a fringe movement to a mainstream movement!"

in which the key words are "fringe" and "mainstream"!
There is an honest, honorable way of discussion, even between antagonists....


omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

Mr. Friedman
Your post is replete with misconceptions and conscious, intentional distortions of Islam for reasons not hard to fathom.
Your contention that Islam does not consider Christianity as a monotheistic religion, probably alluding to the Islamic rejection of the concept of Holy Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Ghost), disregards the cardinal distinction made in Islam between "al muwahiddin", i.e. those who accept the ONENESS of God, which also includes both Christians and Jews ,as distinct from "al mushrikin",i.e. those who accept the participation of others in the concept of divinity!
The Islamic stand re the Holy Trinity can not be interpreted as an Islamic negation of the monotheistic nature of Christianity since several Christian
denominations hold diverse views on this very same concept..!!

That could have been stated in ignorance.

However when it comes to a totally groundless allegation as in your equally inane, but much less innocent, statement that:
" The Muslim Jesus was merely a prophet who, at the end of days, will return to destroy those Christians who do not convert."
the inescapable conclusion is of a conscious attempt at distortion and baseless fabrication (..will return to destroy those Christians who do not convert) also made for reasons not hard to guess..

Still I realize that all that you have said was only said as a preamble to your concluding statement viz:
"If Muslims are to come to the table for dialogue, then notions such as "people of the Book," dhimmi and Jihad will have to be modified just like has been occurring on the margins among Christians. Which is to say, the dialogue will have to be among equals, not among Muslims talking with "people of the Book"."

which raises three issues; namely the undistorted meaning of:
a-"People of the Book" is said in reverence to their divinely inspired scriptures and is in no way a derogatory or discriminatory term or qualification!

b-to become "dhimmi" was the choice Archbishop Safronius of Jerusalem for the Christians;it simply means that in return for not participating in the army of the nascent Islamic state "dhimmis" will pay a special tax ; an arrangement not unknown in many nations until recently, and having chosen not to be part of the machinery of state are disqualified from a very limited number of military posts including the equivalent of the present day Commander in Chief which is the head of state.
Certain latter Caliphs chose to widen the exclusions but modern Islamic thinkers, see Fahmi Houidi, have demonstrated the groundlessness of those new exclusions.
What should be emphasized here is that "dhimmi" in Islam is in no way the equivalent of the "ghoim" in Judaism.
Whereas the killing, raping or stealing of or from a "ghoim" by a Jew is subject to a REDUCED punishment Islam makes no allowance for the religious affiliation of the murderer, rapist or thief and the religious affiliation of his victim!
Discriminatory practices has admittedly occurred, particularly in periods of Islamic decline , but .do not belong to Islam.

c-As to "jihad", obviously you are referring to one and only one facet of this extremely rich and multifaceted concept. These range from self discipline to spreading the word of God to the undertaking of that "that you hate, but have, to do" in repelling aggressors, upholding justice and retrieving your rights..
This last meaning of "jihad" is the same universal principle which legalizes the use of force in self defense, repulsion of aggression and upholding of justice.
The recent media campaign to demonize the concept of "jihad" by Judeo/neoChristian circles does not only chose to stress this aspect of the term, to the exclusion of all other aspects, but consciously misinterpret it in its overall campaign to demonize Islam hoping to preempt any sincere dealienation between Islam and the Christian West.
None of your preconditions for a genuine dialogue between Islam and Christianity will hold when the undistorted meaning of "People of the Book", "dhimmi" and "jihad" are correctly interpreted, as is intrinsically meant in Islam, and accepted in an atmosphere of good will…which is the only precondition for mutual understanding!


bernie planck - 1/6/2007

There will be no challenge if the Next Pope will be Muslim.

And who will prevent that? The leftist appeasers and dhimwits of Europe?


N. Friedman - 4/18/2005

Omar,

Nothing you have written makes Zionism a worse form of nationalism than any other. Nothing you have written makes Zionism into a form of racism. Basically, what you assert is that you do not like the fact that Arabs are affected by Zionism. That is a reason for an Arab, at least one directly affected, to oppose the Zionists, at least back in 1948.

However, what has occurred since 1948 from the Arab side is mostly lunatic assertions made about Zionists in order to fuel a dispute which might be settled by compromise. Clearly, you do not believe in compromise and that is your right. However, do not expect others to view such a position as reasonable. It is not.


N. Friedman - 4/18/2005

Omar,

Nothing you have written makes Zionism a worse form of nationalism than any other. Nothing you have written makes Zionism into a form of racism. Basically, what you assert is that you do not like the fact that Arabs are affected by Zionism. That is a reason for an Arab, at least one directly affected, to oppose the Zionists, at least back in 1948.

However, what has occurred since 1948 from the Arab side is mostly lunatic assertions made about Zionists in order to fuel a dispute which might be settled by compromise. Clearly, you do not believe in compromise and that is your right. However, do not expect others to view such a position as reasonable. It is not.


N. Friedman - 4/17/2005

Omar,

I never suggested that you favored 9/11. That is in your head. How would I know what you favor?

You say that the US invasion of Afghanistan is used to promote anti-Israel and anti-US sentiment. What of it? If we had not invaded, that would have been used to promote anti-US and anti-American sentiment. Somehow, there was sufficient anti-all sorts of things sentiment to kill nearly 3,000 Americans and for such event to be celebrated - not by all but by some, probably a good many people in the Muslim regions -. My view is that we are not in a popularity contest so that a few more people hating us is not going to change much.

As for the rest of your comment, you did not read carefully what I said.


N. Friedman - 4/17/2005

Professor,

I have made none. Se la vie.


Tim R. Furnish - 4/17/2005

Mr. Friedman,
You have already exhibited the patience of Job in dealing with Mr. Baker. I commend you--although you don't seem to be making much headway!


N. Friedman - 4/16/2005

Omar,

You write: Islamic Fundamentalism, the most vigorous of Islamist movements and the one with the greatest mass appeal and devotional following, owes its resurgence and increasing strength, more than any other single factor, to the crushing political and military defeats inflicted on the "umma" (the nation of Islam)in Palestine, Afghanistan and Iraq by the equally religious Zionist and Neo-Conservative (Judeo/Christian Fundamentalis )movements.

Did you read your post before you posted it? Islamic fundamentalism owes its "resurgence" to defeats in "Afghanistan and Iraq"? Really? You mean that the 9/11 attack came after the the defeats in Afghanistan? Omar, no one will take you seriously when you write such things.

Your argument is that Islamic fundamentalism developed from Israel, among other recent events, such as the Iraq invasion and the Afghanistan war (that occurred post 9/11). I say that is historically untrue.

The Muslim Brotherhood, you will recall, existed long before Israel and had as its original - but not its only - target Britain, and not because Britain supported Jewish emancipation - something the Muslim groups at the time believed to be highly improbable - but because the Britain supported secular rule (in which Christians and Jews would be treated as equals to Muslims) and because Britain, an infidel power, occupied a region which Muslims deemed part of the dar al-Islam.

The Brotherhood only later moved on to hate Zionists because Jews, in the view of the Brotherhood, are only acceptable under the Dhimma pact. Which is to say, the issue was never Israel's "occupation" or that Jews returned to their ancestral homes but the fact that the land was not to be ruled by Islamic principles. And, I remind you, the objection to Israel among fundamentalist Muslims existed when Israel did not control Jerusalem, so the "al Aqsa" argument you assert is an after the fact argument. In fact, your "al Aqsa" argument is religious, not secular, in nature.

More than likely, the rise of Islamic fundamentalism - that is, those who seek to revive classical Islamic society - has its true origins in the Tanzimat reforms of the 19th Century which treated generally, as a matter of law, dhimmis equal to Muslims.

Such reforms, while implimented rather poorly in most Ottoman controlled lands, found a home in Egypt but were deeply resented throughout the Muslim regions, whether or not fully implimented. This is because the reforms were forced on the Ottoman Empire by the Europe powers and because, in the Islamic viewpoint of a just society, Jews and Christians are to be tolerated, not to be treated as equals. A further reason for the rise of resentment (as such, among other things, caused the hated Tanzimat reforms) was the defeat and gradual decline of Muslim political and military power. Such, you will note, occurred a long time before Israel's return.

I realize, from reading your posts, you disagree about what it means to be equal. Such is how you thought that the dhimma - that is the concessionary pact extended to the defeated nations or granted to such nations on allowing Muslim conquest without a fight - was voluntary. Such is also how you could think that Israel should dismantle itself as a precondition to dialogue. Or, in simple terms, dialogue by Muslims with Jews (or any other dhimmi nation) is only possible when Muslim rule controls and Jews are in the position of those forced, like in days of yore, to accept the dhimma.


In any event, the Israelis are not going to commit suicide as a prerequisite to dialogue. On your type of logic, I think we could just as well as advocate that the Arabs all return to Arabia as a prerquisite for dialogue. They, after all, all came as conquerers and celebrated their conquests. That conquest was no more just than any other conquest.

You write: Zionism is equally "racist", in the sense that, it contends that "Jews", all over the world, are the descendants of the "original", i.e. "pure blooded" ,Jews dispersed by the Diaspora and form an "ethnic(racially distinct) entity" and as such are entitled to extra rights and privileges, irrespective of its effect on the "goyim".

How does that make one "racist"? That is your imagination. French law, you will note, claims French heritage for a person, no matter where that person lives, results from that person's "French blood." Does that make French nationalism racist? Nonsense. Every group has to have some means of self-identification.

In any event, the fact is that Jews are largely, not all, but largely the descendants of those expelled by the Roman/Byzantine Empire and the Muslim empire. And, most assuredly, the million Jews expelled from Arab lands were all descendants of Jews expelled from their ancestral lands.


N. Friedman - 4/16/2005

Omar,

You have written a thoughtful response even though, for whatever reason, you want to change the topic from Islam to Israel.

In reply, Zionism is not a religious movement. There are religious Zionists and atheist Zionists and people in between. The real founding fathers of Israel were pretty much all atheist and near atheist and were opposed by many, if not most, religious Jews on the ground that the almighty, not man, would rescue Jews from their precariously, awful, racist treatment by Christians and Muslims. Later, particularly after the Six Day War of 1967, religious Jews generally changed their minds and became Zionist.

With due respect, Zionism is not an extreme ideology and is not a racist ideology, as you suggest. It is a rather humane ideology that is slandered by people who wish to make war. If Zionism were extreme, they would act like Saudi Arabia, the most racist country on Earth where only Islam can be practiced and where women are treated like dirt and where people still have slaves. Or, they would have a law like the more liberal Jordan has, that anyone can be a citizen of Jordan "except a Jew." Nationalism, which is what Zionism is a form of, is not racist, it is nationalist. Big difference. It is, by any stretch of the imagination, far more humane than any Arab country and any Muslim country, all of which discriminate, on principle, against non-Muslims.

Contrary to what your comment suggests: Muslims living in Israel proper are well represented in the Knesset (i.e. parliament). That cannot be said for Muslims living in France or Germany. Muslims have also served as cabinet ministers in Israel. That has not occurred in France, Germany and, I believe, also in the UK. Muslims have served on Israel's highest court - even now, during what amounts to a war -. That cannot be said for France, Germany or the UK. If you want to claim that Israel descriminates, I am not going to deny it. I am merely going to note that the discrimination is less than in France, Germany or any European country and far less than any Muslim country.

Regarding religiousity, most Muslims, at this point, are religious. Most Jews, the vast majority, are not, whether in Israel or in the US.

You are correct that a dialogue needs to be between the religious, not between those who do not care about religion. On the other hand, the notion that Israel's dismantlement is necessary prerequisite for dialogue is nonsense. The Arab side lost wars they started. What the Arab side needs to do is grow up and treat the Palestinian situation the way they treated all the other wars they lost which led to tens of millions of Muslim refugees.

As for what causes people like bin Laden, it is the rabidly racist culture of places like Saudi Arabia. The various war aims - and bin Laden's aims are manifold - are all the result of a racist culture which teaches that only Muslims have the right to rule - anywhere on Earth -. Or, in simple terms, it is the Jihad culture of the Muslim regions.


N. Friedman - 4/16/2005

Omar,

You have written a thoughtful response even though, for whatever reason, you want to change the topic from Islam to Israel.

In reply, Zionism is not a religious movement. There are religious Zionists and atheist Zionists and people in between. The real founding fathers of Israel were pretty much all atheist and near atheist and were opposed by many, if not most, religious Jews on the ground that the almighty, not man, would rescue Jews from their precariously, awful, racist treatment by Christians and Muslims. Later, particularly after the Six Day War of 1967, religious Jews generally changed their minds and became Zionist.

With due respect, Zionism is not an extreme ideology and is not a racist ideology, as you suggest. It is a rather humane ideology that is slandered by people who wish to make war. If Zionism were extreme, they would act like Saudi Arabia, the most racist country on Earth where only Islam can be practiced and where women are treated like dirt and where people still have slaves. Or, they would have a law like the more liberal Jordan has, that anyone can be a citizen of Jordan "except a Jew." Nationalism, which is what Zionism is a form of, is not racist, it is nationalist. Big difference. It is, by any stretch of the imagination, far more humane than any Arab country and any Muslim country, all of which discriminate, on principle, against non-Muslims.

Contrary to what your comment suggests: Muslims living in Israel proper are well represented in the Knesset (i.e. parliament). That cannot be said for Muslims living in France or Germany. Muslims have also served as cabinet ministers in Israel. That has not occurred in France, Germany and, I believe, also in the UK. Muslims have served on Israel's highest court - even now, during what amounts to a war -. That cannot be said for France, Germany or the UK. If you want to claim that Israel descriminates, I am not going to deny it. I am merely going to note that the discrimination is less than in France, Germany or any European country and far less than any Muslim country.

Regarding religiousity, most Muslims, at this point, are religious. Most Jews, the vast majority, are not, whether in Israel or in the US.

You are correct that a dialogue needs to be between the religious, not between those who do not care about religion. On the other hand, the notion that Israel's dismantlement is necessary prerequisite for dialogue is nonsense. The Arab side lost wars they started. What the Arab side needs to do is grow up and treat the Palestinian situation the way they treated all the other wars they lost which led to tens of millions of Muslim refugees.

As for what causes people like bin Laden, it is the rabidly racist culture of places like Saudi Arabia. The various war aims - and bin Laden's aims are manifold - are all the result of a racist culture which teaches that only Muslims have the right to rule - anywhere on Earth -. Or, in simple terms, it is the Jihad culture of the Muslim regions.


N. Friedman - 4/15/2005

Omar,

The article relates to Christian Islamic relations. You want, presumably to change the topic, to pine about the word "goy." I note: the word has one meaning in Hebrew and a different meaning in English and Yiddish. Enough said. End of topic as far as I am concerned.


N. Friedman - 4/15/2005

Omar,

I think you do not quite represent what was said in the noted commentary. Below is the summary from the portion of the article you quote http://www.jlaw.com/Articles/war2.html :

Jewish law regarding wars by secular governments thus can be divided into three categories:

1) War to save the nation which is now, or soon to be, under attack. This is not technically war but is permitted because of the law of "pursuer" and is subject to all of the restrictions related to the law of pursuer and the rules of self-defense.

2) War to aid an innocent third party who is under attack. This too, is not technically war, but most commentators mandate this, also under the "pursuer" rationale, but some rule this is merely permitted. In either case, it is subject to all of the restrictions related to the "pursuer" rationale.

3) Wars (of self defense or perhaps territorial expansion). A number of commentators permit "war" as an institution even in situations where non-combatants might be killed; most commentaries limit this license to defensive wars.

So too, Jewish law regarding wars by the Jewish government can be divided into three (different) categories:

1) Defending the people of Israel from attack by an aggressive neighbor. This is an obligatory war.

2) Fighting offensive wars against belligerent neighbors (See pages 5 to 6 for the various opinions on what is belligerent).

3) The protecting of individuals through the use of the laws of "pursuer" and self defense from aggressive neighbors. This is not a "war" according to the Jewish tradition.28

Finally it is crucial to realize that there are situations where war is -- in the Jewish tradition -- simply illigal. The killings that take place in that war, if not directly based on immediated self-defense needs,29 is murder and participation is thoses wars is prohibited according to Jewish law.30


As I said before: I am not religious. What Judaism or Islam or Christianity says about war is interesting but, frankly, only important (other than as historical interest) to the extent that war policy today, not 2,000 years ago, is determined by it. Unlike in Judaism, extremely large numbers - many, many millions, in fact - of Muslims still care about the religion's views about war.

Please note: I do not claim Judaism to be a religion of peace. That would not be an accurate claim even though, unlike most religions, religious Jews pray, at most services, for peace and to end all wars.

I would add this further point: I do not believe that any monotheistic religion could be entirely peaceful as all divide between believers and non-believers. Where, pertinent to this discussion, Judaism differs from Islam and Christianity is that Judaism does not claim to be a universal religion. Hence, there is no particular benefit in converting others or, as in Islam, in bringing others under the rule of Jewish law. If Judaism has any great virtue over the other two major forms of monotheism it is that Jews are rather unlikely to engage in a worldwide struggle regarding religion or religious rule. Rather, the battles are almost necessarily limited to being local in nature.



N. Friedman - 4/15/2005

Omar,

Israel is a tiny country founded by - if we go by the belief of its first prime minister - an atheist. It has done basically the opposite of what you assert. If it really meant to conquer land for "greatness and prestige," Israel would have kept the Sinai which - perhaps you recall - had lots of oil.

I remind you that our topic is Islam and Catholicism, not Israel. The Muslims, unlike today's Christians, have large numbers of lunatic preachers who are preaching war for the almighty. How do these preachers help dialogue between the religions in order to bring peace to the world? Do they really think that they can conquer the West?




N. Friedman - 4/14/2005

Professor,

I do think, by the way, that the dhimmi and Jihad concepts go to the very heart of the difficulty of a dialogue with the Muslim community. I note that the Catholic community has gone quite far.

On the other hand, the Catholic community has, of late, noted the very difficulties I mention. With that in mind, I note my post at http://hnn.us/comments/58530.html (#58530: See this extract from an article in “La Civiltà Cattolica” that, evidently, had the blessing of the Church with reference to Islam. The article is entitled: "Christians in Islamic Countries," by Giuseppe De Rosa S.I., and is preceded by a short explanation by Sandro Magister.

http://www.osv.com/civilta/index.htm




N. Friedman - 4/14/2005

Professor,

Have you ever played the game of telephone? If you know the game, that is how.


Tim R. Furnish - 4/14/2005

The whole issue of whether salvation is possible for Muslims qua Muslims I avoided. In fact the Roman Catholic Church is rather elusive on this issue.


Tim R. Furnish - 4/14/2005

Dr. Moran-Midlarsky is obviously a very insightful person


Tim R. Furnish - 4/14/2005

Gentlemen,
As the modest author of this piece, might I inquire as to how you go SO far afield from the topic?!?!?


N. Friedman - 4/14/2005

Omar,

One clarification: the religious lunatic group in Israel has, in my view, too much say regarding policy. That, as you may know, is due to Israel's proportional representation system, a system which was created to protect minority interests more fairly.

What I was referring to was the policy of the IDF which, as is well known, operates under secular rules. And, since the comments you referenced concerned what the IDF ought to do in combat, quoting a rabbi is a question of indifference.

For what it is worth, I think the rabbi mistates Jewish law.


N. Friedman - 4/14/2005

Oscar,

I forgot to thank you for the compliment. Thank you. I also enjoy your many comments, whether or not I agree with them.


N. Friedman - 4/14/2005

Omar,

If you actually wish to understand the Jewish argument regarding the fighting of wars, read the followingm multipart article which appears to be fairly authoritative:

http://www.jlaw.com/Articles/war1.html


N. Friedman - 4/14/2005

omar,

Not to be too critical but the word "goy" in Hebrew actually means "nation." "Goyim," which I guess is what you meant when you wrote "Ghoim" - a spelling I have never seen -, is the plural of the word "goy" and means "nations."


By contrast, the meaning for "goy" you refer to is actually Yiddish, not Hebrew. As is the meaning you cite for "goyim." So, I do not think that the issue is what Judaism, the religion, holds. In other words, you are incorrect.

I do not see your point with respect to the Israel Shahak's comment since the conversation posted relates to Christian/Muslim relations. What you have done is what logicians call tu quoque. Which is to say, your argument is logically flawed.

I am going to ignore your logic error and answer you.

I am not sure I would cite Israel Shahak as a great or even a scholar. But, let us assume he knows what he is talking about.

What occured consists of some rabbi saying something stupid (and perhaps, he cites scripture correctly and perhaps he is wrong - the quoted material does not say and I doubt Shahak knows, in any event -). Shahak laments that other rabbis - most of whom probably did not even hear the comment - said nothing about it.

What are we to make of that event? Not much since Israel does not base its war actions on religious law. The IDF employs secular principles.

The problem with your analogy is that, except for a very tiny group, Jews live by secular law and treat religion as a private matter. So, if there is a rabbi who advocates who knows what awful thing or wonderful thing, it is not really important. That is why the statement is not condemned. It does not need to be; it is inconsequential.

Let me say this - and you can call it my effort at tu quoque - Where are the Muslims who condemn Hamas, which killed a large number of innocent people on purpose, and condemned, when he was alive, Sheik Yassin's innumerable statements permitting the murder of innocents? From what I have seen, rather than condemn these things, people celebrate them.









N. Friedman - 4/14/2005

Oscar,

You certainly make a good point, to which I should (and shall attempt) attend more carefully, when you write: But I do wonder if you have become so concerned with the rigidity and radicalism among Muslims--which assuredly exists and should be of concern--that you miss the diversity...

On the other hand, I do really think that the political programma - political Islam or, in my view, really a revival of traditional Islam - sweeping the Muslim regions has, to the extent important for non-Muslims, a single character to it and that the commonality, not the differences, are what should concern those of us who live in the West.

The common features (and not all the features are bad, when considered separately) are (and I may leave something out but I shall do my best):

1. the desire to restore and unify the ummah - a religious nation or people (basically akin to the Jewish concept of the "Jewish people") [And note: Islam and Judaism are, to some extent, rather similar structurally.];

2. the desire to restore Islam as a political force of consequence if not the world's predominant political force so that, in the end, Muslims control the entire world;

3. the desire to bring the rule of Shari'a (i.e. Islamic law) to regions governed by Muslims which, in due course, means to the entire world;

There are, I think, pragmatic questions for Muslims - at least those who desire the above goals - to argue about. But I also think that the above noted goals are shared, at least in principle, by the vast, vast, vast majority of the world's Muslims and not, as your comment suggests, by a tiny minority.

On the other hand, only a tiny minority would use violence - Jihad - to achieve any of the broad goals while a fairly sizeable minority is, at least in principle, somewhat supportive of the violence and an even larger group, likely the majority, is not terribly disturbed by it.

I do note one other point which, to a non-Muslim, needs to be considered and understood very clearly. In regions of the world that are ruled by Shari'a or where Shari'a is the moral source which funds national laws, non-Muslims tend to be treated very, very poorly and, in fact, very, very oppressively. That is true in places like Egypt and Pakistan and Sudan and Iran and Nigeria and Indonesia, etc.

I note that the same intolerance - which, at one time, may perhaps be accurately described, at least compared to Medieval Christiandom, as comparative tolerance - existed in the Muslim regions prior to the Colonial age. Except during the Colonial age, Shari'a was the law of the land in the Muslim regions so that the same issues existed for non-Muslims, then and now. By contrast, during the Colonial age (and no, I do not wish for that age to return), non-Muslims were treated better because the Christian European forces did not respect Muslim law as being applicable to governance.

The point is that Muslim rule - at present - is a civil rights/human rights nightmare. It, frankly, is one of the most serious human rights issues (if not the most serious human rights issue) in today's world. Yet, the issue is all but ignored. More or less 100 million people are being oppressed and a goodly percentage rather severely. So, frankly, there is no legitimate excuse for the world's failure to take the issue very, very seriously.

There are, at least I think, some rather good reasons why all this injustice and oppression is ignored: for those in power and with moneyed interests, there is the issue of not offending the oil supplying nations. For people on the left, there is the assumption that, as former colonial states, the Muslim regions should be left alone by the ignoble former colonialists and the imperialist US. I say, to the left: maybe so but there is a very real price, in terrible human oppression, for that silence. The moneyed interests won't listen so I say nothing to them.

And, I note: because the religious revival is spreading, the oppression is deepening and broadening, all with silence by both the political left and the moneyed political interests.

To Omar: Please note that the intention is not to single out Islam. Were Christianity to seek to reinstate it Medieval character, that would be a nightmare for the world. The same for Judaism, if there were a revival of the religion as practiced as it existed prior to the destruction of the original Jewish states of ancient times.


Oscar Chamberlain - 4/14/2005

"N"

You say, "today, there is no Muslim empire - no Khalifa. Such is an issue that appears to be of great consequence to many Muslims."

Your statement is literally true, but that's only because "many" is undefined. I don't think a large majority are concerned with it at all. Leaving violent radicals aside, the majority of disputes that I have read about focus more on issues of respect and not dominance.

Moreover, many of your generalizations assume a homogeneity among Muslims that I don't think exists. In fact, to the extent they do I think they break down pretty thoroughly as one moves east toward Singapore and Indonesia, a region that contains a significant percentage of the Islamic world.

I recognize that you have studied Islam with some care, and I have learned much from your comments. But I do wonder if you have become so concerned with the rigidity and radicalism among Muslims--which assuredly exists and should be of concern--that you miss the diversity; that you are so intent in finding what divides Muslims from the secular West that you miss the many acres of common ground.


N. Friedman - 4/14/2005

Arnold,

The question raised by the article is the basis upon which dialogue between Islam and other religions is possible.

Regarding your comment: you are correct that, today, there is no Muslim empire - no Khalifa -. Such is an issue that appears to be of great consequence to many Muslims who would seek a restoration of their empire.


Arnold Shcherban - 4/14/2005

As far as today, and, as every serious strategist projects
on the nearest future, only one real, factual Empire exists - the US. Someone may not like that term applied to the US, but whatever term to use the fact remains undeniable. Maybe, they say, China and United Europe
will emerge as the second sort Empires, but no one of those ever mention Muslim/Islamic empire.
Anyone who professes even the possibility of that kind of obvious absurd is a raving lunatic.
Muslims who do believe in such wonder are as real, as the Jews who believe in the coming of Messiah, and certainly
cannot be taken seriously by neither historians nor politicans.



N. Friedman - 4/14/2005

Omar,

By the way, I did a Google search on this concept you call ghoim. There are 59 listings and 29 (if I counted correctly) were reprints of one post by you. None were listed as being a Jewish concept. And the word does not appear in the dictionary.

I have actually studied Judaism (as well as Christianity and Islam). The concept you allege does not actually exist, so far as I know.

You will recall that, prior to 1948, Jews - other than perhaps in Khazaria, if it was actually a Jewish country, and in certain areas of Arabia before Mohammed's time - have not ruled other people for about 2,000 years. And, the religion that is, today, Judaism was the religion of people who were stateless and was molded by rabbis who had no expectation that Jews would ever rule anyone other than Jews, if Jews would even rule themselves again. Which is to say, whatever concept you have latched onto has nothing to do with the Jewish religion that has existed for the last 2,000 years.

The dhimmi and Jihad concepts, by contrast, are alive and well in Islam.

You are quite correct to suggest that the dhimmi was not, at one time, all that unusual - although giving such an arrangement a religious meaning necessarily means that the same events will have one meaning for those who believe and a rather different, and not favorable, meaning for everyone else. Such, after all, is the power of religion.

I am not a believer in any religion (although I find religion to be a fascinating topic) so I say, rather directly, that your perception of the reality of the relationship is colored by your faith, not by the reality of how the dhimmi actually lived.

In Mohammed's time, the model he offerred, of not merely killing off those conquered - the concession he offered to Jews, if I recall -, was a vast improvement over what the pagans of Arabia did after their conquests. So, I think it can be said that Mohammed was a great reformer on this issue.

Today, however, the effort to employ this anachronism is, in fact, a major human rights issue. And the fact that such concept has religious justification makes dialogue difficult as it suggests that the relationship between Islam and either Christianity or Judaism is not offered on the basis of equality but rather on the basis of arrogance. At least that is my view. In any event, the dhimmi concept is something that Islam, if it really wants to dialogue with others, must address seriously and reject as outdated. You will note that if Judaism ever had the ghoim concept you cite, Jews have walked away from it. Surely, the Muslims can rid themselves of intolerant anachronisms.


N. Friedman - 4/14/2005

Omar,

I certainly would not intentionally mistate any concept about any religion including Islam.

I do, nonetheless, take serious issue with pretty much everything you have written. I shall, in an effort of brevity, focus on one point.

You write: to become "dhimmi" was the choice Archbishop Safronius of Jerusalem for the Christians...

Well, there are choices and there are choices. The actual choice was to die or become a dhimmi. Which is to say, the dhimmi arrangement was a concessionary agreement extended to a party defeated in war, in this case, a war that had alleged divine authority backing it.

Which is to say, what you have written is a serious distortion. Further, since there are literally dozens and dozens of these agreements, what the Archbiship of Jerusalem did is sort of irrelevant.

I note that the issue regarding the relation between Muslims and others is of current, not just historical, significance. Read this article that appears in Muslimreviewer. For what it is worth, he appears to reject your interpretation of the dhimmi - at least in its classical interpretation.

http://www.muslimreviewer.com/dhimmitude.htm

I think your problem is that you accept your religion on its own terms. I find Islam a fascinating religion so I can understand your devotion. But note: the view that people accepted a tax to pay for other people's welfare but not for their own people's welfare ought to tell you that what you think is, histosrically, just not so. No one does such things voluntarily.

The same is true for your concept of Jihad. Jihad is, as you say, multifaceted. However, it is also the concept that allowed Islam to build a great empire. And that is because it was used as a justification, really an excuse, for wars of conquest.




Belinda Moran-Midlarsky - 4/12/2005

A brilliant opinion regarding the paradox facing Islam and Christianity. Nigeria's Joseph Arinze is an important contender for the reasons you state as well as being the first african considered for the position. Nostra Aetate is "tolerable disagreement" indeed! Thank you for a very interesting and provocative read.


N. Friedman - 4/12/2005

See this extract from an article in “La Civiltà Cattolica” that, evidently, had the blessing of the Church with reference to Islam. The article is entitled: "Christians in Islamic Countries," by Giuseppe De Rosa S.I., and is preceded by a short explanation by Sandro Magister.

http://www.osv.com/civilta/index.htm


N. Friedman - 4/12/2005

Mubde' ABSI,

You write: It would have been truly a positive article if you have kept the course. But, your negative mind insisted on making the final statement negative. Refering to that last statement, I ask you to read the history of Muslim conquests and the history of the crusaders with nutral mind.

What does it mean to read history with a neutral mind?

Are you asserting that conquests by Muslims are superior to conquests by Christians? Would not a neutral mind say that the Muslim invasions, which supplanted the existing primarily Christian culture and replaced it with a primarily Muslim culture, were conquests? Were the Muslim conquests somehow better than the Christian conquests? If so, how?

Were not the Muslim conquests conducted in the name of Islam? And, if the Muslim conquests were conducted in the name of Islam, how are such conquests in any way better than the Christian conquests, conducted in the name of Christianity?

Were the Muslim conquests better for those who died on the Christian side (or the Muslim side)? Were Christians better off paying the Jizyah and other taxes? Were Christians better off not being able to testify against a Muslim in court?

To be clear about my view - the one I would defend in a debate -: a conquest is conquest is a conquest. The Muslims conquests are no better than any other group's conquests. They have no special standing. So far as I know - and please make an argument showing me I am wrong as I have studied this matter for years and wish to hear all sides of the debate - the Muslim conquests were merely war for plunder hypocritically conducted in the name of spreading the word and rule of the almighty while, in fact, such conquests resulted in death or misery and oppression for most of those conquered and a servile existence for generations of their offspring over the course of a millennia - the very opposite of what your comment suggests you believe -.

If you think I am wrong and/or that Muslim conquests are better than those by others, then defend the position to your audience which is overwhelmingly not Muslim and which overwhelmingly does not consider anything about Islam to be superior to any other religion. Which is to say, present an argument that does not already assume that Islam is the way. We need to be convinced.

[Please Note: I am definitely not asserting and do not believe that Islam is worse than other religions or anything of the sort. I am merely saying that Islam is another religion that, like Christianity, claims superiority over other religions and Islam's claims, like any and all claims of Christianity and Judaism and Hinduism and Buddhism, are and should be subject to the same skepticism and methodology that would be applied to the ancient Greek myths. And I am claiming that any other attitude is divorced from neutrality. But I am not claiming that belief in a religion makes one divorced from neutrality but only that if you plan to justify your position by religious authority, you need to prove the claims of the religin to a neutral audience which does not believe in Islam.]

Frankly, I think you confuse your love of Islam with the requirements of a neutral mind but, in the spirit of debate, I look forward to reading a reasoned argument.


Mubde' ABSI - 4/12/2005

I read your article with much enthusiasm and interest and I was joyful to know the information you have presented and made reference to.
Until, you injected your own thoughts at the end of the article "al-Azhar in Cairo, the most prestigious religious institution in Sunni Islam, recently asked the Vatican to apologize for the Crusades.19 The next pope should only agree, on one condition: that al-Azhar apologize for the Muslim conquests and occupation of Syria, Egypt, Turkey, North Africa and Spain. When that happens, we’ll know that true religious dialogue is underway."

It would have been truly a positive article if you have kept the course. But, your negative mind insisted on making the final statement negative. Refering to that last statement, I ask you to read the history of Muslim conquests and the history of the crusaders with nutral mind.

The dialog between Islam, Christianity and Judaism, in my opinion, should concentrate on the many common facts and truth that these religions share and thus communicate to the people of the world the message that ALLAH (GOD) wanted to pass to people on earth stresses love in every way.

Again, in my opinion, scholars should not use this dialog to fight (in words) over their differences (as far as ALLAH is concerned the Message has been always the same), because this will be projected into fights (in fire arms) on the general public and common peole (not scholars).

Faith in ALLAH, remains the only and the best solution for all illnesses of mankind.


Ben W. Brumfield - 4/11/2005

Oscar writes: The implication in "Nostra Aetate" is that salvation is possible for Muslims, but, unless there's another section, that question is evaded.

There's a bit of clarification in the 2000 Dominus Iesus, though it may still dodge the question:

21. With respect to the way in which the salvific grace of God — which is always given by means of Christ in the Spirit and has a mysterious relationship to the Church — comes to individual non-Christians, the Second Vatican Council limited itself to the statement that God bestows it “in ways known to himself”.83 Theologians are seeking to understand this question more fully. Their work is to be encouraged, since it is certainly useful for understanding better God's salvific plan and the ways in which it is accomplished. However, from what has been stated above . . . it is clear that it would be contrary to the faith to consider the Church as one way of salvation alongside those constituted by the other religions, seen as complementary to the Church or substantially equivalent to her....

. . .

22. With the coming of the Saviour Jesus Christ, God has willed that the Church founded by him be the instrument for the salvation of all humanity (cf. Acts 17:30-31).90 This truth of faith does not lessen the sincere respect which the Church has for the religions of the world, but at the same time, it rules out, in a radical way, that mentality of indifferentism “characterized by a religious relativism which leads to the belief that ‘one religion is as good as another'”.91 If it is true that the followers of other religions can receive divine grace, it is also certain that objectively speaking they are in a gravely deficient situation in comparison with those who, in the Church, have the fullness of the means of salvation.92 . . .


N. Friedman - 4/11/2005

Omar,

Your very explanation undermines your argument. If there is no reasonably consistent view of Islam among Muslims such that everyone is their own religion - which, as you know full well, is nonsense -, then there is nothing to have a dialogue about. Instead, what would be left is a private conversation which any Muslim is free to ignore in a fit of solipsism.

In fact, however, Islam, like every other religion on Earth, has a specific character. That character has held rather well over the years. The cement which has likely held the religion together is the notion of consensus. That notion has worked well in both Islam and Judaism although, evidently, better in Islam because, since at least the 1ate 18th Century, the concensus among Jews began to break down in earnest.

That Islam has a specific character is inherent in your referring to Christianity as a "people of the Book" - a term that has specific meaning in the Muslim tradition -. That, after all, is the condition that makes Christians different from pagans who must, if they want to survive, convert to Islam.

It might also be noted that in Islam, Christianity is not really considered monotheistic - as you claim -. Which is to say, Islam does not view as monotheistic a religion which divides the deity into different aspects. (Neither does Judaism.) And in the Muslim version of things, there is no room for the Christian notion of a Jesus, an aspectg of God, who died for everyone's sins. The Muslim Jesus was merely a prophet who, at the end of days, will return to destroy those Christians who do not convert.

Presumably, if al-Alzar is consistent with the concensus, their fatwas will, in fact, be followed even if, as you note, such is not technically required.

If Muslims are to come to the table for dialogue, then notions such as "people of the Book," dhimmi and Jihad will have to be modified just like has been occurring on the margins among Christians. Which is to say, the dialogue will have to be among equals, not among Muslims talking with "people of the Book."




M. E. Hayes - 4/11/2005

Can't quite agree with everything Omar says. Regarding open-mindedness, my experience is that numerous Christian churches invite leaders from mosques to speak about their faith. Never have I seen a mosque invite a Christian to come speak about his faith.

As far as the so-called "legitimacy" of Christianity" being a basic dogma of Islam that has been granted thirteen centuries ago, if only that were true in practice. But the historical record shows otherwise, across a great many countries. Christians and Jews were sometimes allowed, to varying degrees, to practice their religion in Muslim-conquered lands. However, their status was as a "dhimmi," and they were subjected to a number of oppressive restrictions, including wearing clothing to set them apart, not able to ride horses or camels, couldn't display their faith openly, couldn't build new churches or repair existing ones, couldn't build their houses taller than any Muslim house, were restricted to lowly jobs, had to pay a special tax that Muslims were not subject to, had their children taken away and rasied as Muslims and to serve as slaves (to name a few retrictions). And these were the "protected" dhimmis, not the Jews or Christians who were slaughtered or expelled from their lands by the Muslim conquerers. There is abundant historical documentation of this from Muslims, their non-Muslim subjects, and from foreign travelers across these lands. To state that Islam has a 13 centuries of "open-mindedness" borders on fantasy. Christians, Jews, Hindus and others continue to face blatant discrimination, harrassment and death in Muslim countries today.


N. Friedman - 4/11/2005

I note that the articles do not relate necessarily to Catholicism although, indirectly, they do.


N. Friedman - 4/11/2005

It would seem to me that dialogue has to be two ways.

The Islamic vision of Jesus is of a prophet who, in fact, was not crucified but who, at the end of days, come back, end the world-wide Jihad by destroying Christianity. If there is to be a dialogue, the Muslim side has to come to the table.

Instead, what we see revealed above is the Christian side altering its theology to embrace Islam. Is that a good thing? I have no idea and, as a non-Christian, I do not care all that much other than as a question of scholarship and to the extent that such re-thinking of Christianity affects me as a non-Christian of Jewish background. In this regard, it is worth contemplating these two articles:

http://pws.prserv.net/mpjr/mp/sp160202.htm

http://www.orthovox.org/orthovox/03-08bostom.htm

These articles suggest that the Christian side is not merely making changes but that such changes are far from benign.





N. Friedman - 4/11/2005

Oscar,

You write:However, the article omits the question of competition for souls. The Catholic Church in Africa want to limit conversions to Islam and, when possible, convert Muslims to Catholicism. Muslim leaders in Africa wish the reverse, of course. The Church is also in competition with protestant evangelicals in Latin America; so the question of maintaining and epanding the percentage of the faithful has got to be high in the minds the Cardinals as they move to select a new Pope.

While I basically agree with this point, I note that where Muslim leaders have their say, they do not merely seek to limit conversions to Christianity, Islamic leaders call such acts apostasy and, to the extent they can, they execute the apostate.


Oscar Chamberlain - 4/11/2005

Interesting article. I learned much concerning the move toward "tolerant disagreement."

However, the article omits the question of competition for souls. The Catholic Church in Africa want to limit conversions to Islam and, when possible, convert Muslims to Catholicism. Muslim leaders in Africa wish the reverse, of course. The Church is also in competition with protestant evangelicals in Latin America; so the question of maintaining and epanding the percentage of the faithful has got to be high in the minds the Cardinals as they move to select a new Pope.

Inherent in such competition is the underscoring of differences, and it is hard to imagine missionaries on either side not occasionally raising the question of the fate of the soul. The implication in "Nostra Aetate" is that salvation is possible for Muslims, but, unless there's another section, that question is evaded.

It won't be evaded by missionaries. Whether the sort of "friendly competition" ethic that has evolved in the United States will be seen in parts of Africa and Latin America is a key question. That is because it minimizes the social consequences of one group thinking that another is going to hell.

I hope that the Church's tolerant disagreement continues, but it is going to be tested by people within the Church as well as by competitors.

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