The Pope and the KoranClick HERE to read the rest of the article.
by Daniel Pipes
New York Sun
January 17, 2006
[NY Sun title: "The Pope and the Interpretation of the Koran"]
Islam and Muslims are expected to be a priority for Pope Benedict XVI, but he has been publicly quite muted on these topics during his first nine months in office. One report, however, provides important clues to his current thinking.
Father Joseph D. Fessio, SJ, recounted on the Hugh Hewitt Show the details of a seminar he attended with the pope in September 2005 on Islam. Participants heard about the ideas of a Pakistani-born liberal theologian, Fazlur Rahman (1919-88), who held that if Muslims thoroughly reinterpret the Koran, Islam can modernize. He urged a focus on the principles behind Koranic legislation such as jihad, cutting off thieves' hands, or permitting polygyny, in order to modify these customs to fit today's needs. When Muslims do this, he concluded, they can prosper and live harmoniously with non-Muslims.
Pope Benedict reacted strongly to this argument. He has been leading such annual seminars since 1977 but always lets others speak first, waiting until the end to comment. But hearing about Fazlur Rahman's analysis, Father Fessio recalled with surprise, the pope could not contain himself:This is the first time I recall where he made an immediate statement. And I'm still struck by it, how powerful it was. … the Holy Father, in his beautiful calm but clear way, said well, there's a fundamental problem with that [analysis] because, he said, in the Islamic tradition, God has given His word to Muhammad, but it's an eternal word. It's not Muhammad's word. It's there for eternity the way it is. There's no possibility of adapting it or interpreting it.This basic difference, Pope Benedict continued, makes Islam unlike Christianity and Judaism. In the latter two religions, "God has worked through His creatures. And so, it is not just the word of God, it's the word of Isaiah, not just the word of God, but the word of Mark. He's used His human creatures, and inspired them to speak His word to the world." Jews and Christians "can take what's good" in their traditions and mold it. There is, in other words, "an inner logic to the Christian Bible, which permits it and requires it to be adapted and applied to new situations."
Whereas the Bible is, for Benedict, the "word of God that comes through a human community," he understands the Koran as "something dropped out of Heaven, which cannot be adapted or applied." This immutability has vast consequences: it means "Islam is stuck. It's stuck with a text that cannot be adapted."
Father Fessio's striking account prompts two reactions. First, these comments were made at a private seminar with former students, not in public. As "Spengler" of Asia Times points out, even the pope "must whisper" when discussing Islam. It's a sign of the times.
January 18, 2006
Even the pope must whisper when discussing Islam
This is a most interesting and revealing article from DanielPipes.org. The stance of the current Pope towards Islam will be of crucial importance and I don't think I am exaggerating if I say for the survival of the West. His predecessor aspired to be remembered as The Pope Whom Everybody Loved Even The Muslims, a fatal stance for the defender of the Catholic faith, one of the pillars of our Western culture, like it or not.