Thursday, March 14, 2013

Introducing Islam to Pope Francis I

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Introducing Islam to Pope Francis I

Epigraph: "Say, 'O People of the Book! come to a word equal between us and you — that we worship none but Allah, and that we associate no partner with Him, and that some of us take not others for Lords beside Allah.'"  (Al Quran 3:65)

Pope Francis I 
We, at the Muslim Times, extend a hearty congratulations to Pope Francis I on his election.
Until some of the books and writings of Pope Francis I become available, we want to extend him an invitation to Islam that we wrote for Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, in the framework of his own writings to make it convenient for him.  Once Pope Francis' writings become available in English, we will extend him a more specific invitation.
Shareef Odeh, Amir of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Kababir, Israel, met with the Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI? and presented him a copy of the Holy Quran, in 2011:
Shareef Odeh also presented the Pope a letter of Khalifatul Masih V, the worldwide head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.


Khalifatul Masih V (Hudhur) had described the details of his letter, to the Pope Benedict XVI, in his Friday Sermon of December 9, 2011:
Recently the Amir of Kababir happened to go to Italy with a delegation. He informed Hudhur about the inter-religious nature of the delegation and the opportunity he would have to meet the Pope and asked Hudhur if Hudhur wished to send a message to the Pope. Hudhur sent a message which was given to the Pope as well as other high-ranking priests at the Vatican. A copy of the Qur'an was presented to the Pope and this was covered by the newspapers. The Kababir Amir, Shareef Odeh writes that he met the Pope on 10 November 2011 along with an inter-religious group. Letter from Hudhur was presented to the Pope who was told that the letter contained a most significant message. The letter was received personally by the Pope who was also given a copy of the Holy Qur'an with Italian translation. The photographs taken at the occasion received coverage in the newspapers. Odeh sahib also mentioned the letter at a press conference and gave its summary and distributed copies of the letters among the journalists.
Giving a summary of the letter, Hudhur said it began with prayerful greetings followed by the Quranic verse: 'Say, 'O People of the Book! come to a word equal between us and you — that we worship none but Allah, and that we associate no partner with Him, and that some of us take not others for Lords beside Allah.' (3:65) Hudhur said he wrote that Islam is in the spot light these days and its teaching is being targeted which is wrong, albeit this is because of the actions of some Muslims. Because of this even educated people do not miss attacking Islam and the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him). Islam's teaching is just like the teaching of other religions, that is, to connect man with God. Therefore, Islam should not be attacked due to the wrong acts of a few. Islam teaches us to respect all Prophets of God, including the Biblical Prophets. We are the humble servants of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) and are extremely hurt when his hon our is attacked. We respond to these attacks by presenting the beautiful teachings of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) to the world, by presenting the teaching of the Holy Qur'an, which is the teaching of love, affection and brotherhood. The fundamental teaching of Islam is to adopt righteousness and thus is the sound that resonates from our mosques five times a day when God's greatness is acknowledged and it is declared that Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) is His Messenger. Hudhur further wrote to the Pope that these days peace is diminished because under the guise of freedom of expression and conscience some play with the sentiments of others and religious offence is also caused. Many small wars are going on in the world today and there is a need to stop them otherwise these could lead to a world war which could bring untold destruction. Rather than lean towards material progress of the world, we should be inclined to save it from destruction, otherwise, there will be certain destruction. Religious leaders should make efforts to save the world from mutual conflicts and usurping each other's rights. Hudhur wrote to the Pope that he had a voice in the world and had a large following, therefore he should try that all world religions get together and work for peace and recognize the One Creator. Hudhur said this is the summary of the letter sent to the Pope, may God make him understand the message, hope he has read it. May they establish human values and may they respect religions and above all, may they recognize the One God.
Hudhur said as it is obvious from the report of Odeh sahib, other Muslims leaders and influential people were also present at the time but only a servant of the Imam of the age was enabled to send a message of Islam to the Pope. And then they say that Ahmadis are not Muslims. Thus far we have only witnessed renewed glory of Islam by connecting to the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace). In fact people outside the Community who do not hold any rancor, acknowledge that the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) certainly achieved his objective.

A Cordial Invitation to the Pope Benedict XVI to Islam

In 2010, Alislam-eGazette, a monthly electronic publication with subscription of more than 40,000, had published December Allislam-eGazette with the above title, A Cordial Invitation to the Pope Benedict XVI to Islam. Let me reproduce one of the thirteen articles in there, for the convenience of the Pope and all our Catholic brothers and sisters.
By Zia H Shah MD
As the Christian masses are leaving theist paradigm in droves, your Holiness, your love of them and God, makes it incumbent on you and all the theists to first strive for theism and then for any particular brand, be it Judaism, Unitarian Christianity, Trinitarian Christianity or Islam, like they say in America, I am an American first and a republican or a democrat second. Tear down the walls that separate the Abrahamic faiths and open to everyone the possibility of Islam. If Christian masses cannot find comfort, peace and theism in one particular tradition let them try another tradition before they choose the abyss of atheism that you equated with Nazism.

In the name of Allah, the Gracious, the Merciful. Say, 'He is Allah, the One; 'Allah, the Independent and Besought of all. 'He begets not, nor is He begotten; 'And there is none like unto Him.' (Al Quran 112:1-5)

First of all I want to thank His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, for his efforts to promote peace and pluralism in Middle East and especially in Jerusalem. In October of 2010, Catholic bishops in the Middle East urged the United Nations to end the Israeli occupation of Arab lands at the end of a meeting chaired by His Holiness.
In a final statement of their two-week synod, the bishops and patriarchs of the region's Catholic churches said the citizens of the Middle East "call upon the international community, particularly the United Nations, conscientiously to work to find a peaceful, just and definitive solution in the region, through the application of the Security Council's resolutions and taking the necessary legal steps to put an end to the occupation of the different Arab territories.
"The Palestinian people will thus have an independent and sovereign homeland where they can live with dignity and security. The State of Israel will be able to enjoy peace and security within their internationally recognized borders.
"The Holy City of Jerusalem will be able to acquire its proper status, which respects its particular character, its holiness and the religious patrimony of the three religions: Jewish, Christian and Muslim. We hope that the two-State-solution might become a reality and not a dream only."[i][ii]
Now let me introduce Islam to His Holiness. 
Human memory leads to the illusion-of-truth effect, meaning that we are more likely to rate those statements true that we are familiar with, regardless of their veracity. As such familiarity impairs judgment and prevents people from noticing let alone accepting the obvious limitations in their views. The Pope Benedict XVI and the Christian readers appear to be the victims of such familiarity. That is why they are unable to readily appreciate the excellence of Islam, over Christianity with respect to unadulterated concept of One God. In the preface to Edward Gibbon's History of Christianity, we read: "If Paganism was conquered by Christianity, it is equally true that Christianity was corrupted by Paganism. The pure Deism of the first Christians . . . was changed, by the Church of Rome, into the incomprehensible dogma of the trinity. Many of the pagan tenets, invented by the Egyptians and idealized by Plato, were retained as being worthy of belief."[iii] If what Gibbon says be true we have all the reasons to try to shed our illusions and biases and carefully examine Christianity and Islam side by side. So, let me suggest to His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI , at the very outset, to read on and in the words of Sir Francis Bacon, "Read not to contradict … but to weigh and consider."
Jesus did not become god until the last canonical gospel, the Gospel of John. Almost 60-70 years had passed since Jesus was put on the cross. The first two generations of the committed believers had died. More and more pagans were joining Christianity. The stage was set to elevate Jesus to divine status. However, the earlier gospels, Mathew, Mark and Luke, known as the synoptic gospels, as they are similar to each other, were written earlier and did not exaggerate Jesus' status. The very contrast between the synoptic and the non-synoptic Gospel of John should be an epiphany to any open minded Christian and especially to you sir, the leader of more than a billion strong, Catholic Christians. Several reasons can be outlined for reading the four Gospels separately and independently rather than conflating them. Here, let me present one simple reason before we move on with the rest of the discussion. When the Gospel of Mark was written, the author meant it to be an independent testimony, as for 15-30 years there was no Matthew, Luke or John. It was an independent book and not an addendum or appendix to anything else!
Any mention of Jesus' divinity even in the gospel of John is also only implicit and not explicit and there are many verses in John as well from which lack of his divinity can be argued. Nowhere in the Bible, has Jesus taught the disciples to worship him!

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