Kurdish inspiration of Jews, Christians, Muslims, and Renaissance and Enlightenment thinkers in tolerance and coexistence: The Sultan Saladin, or Sallah–Din Ayyubi (1137 – 1193)

SaladinMainSaladin, a Kurd originally from the northeast of Kurdistan, established an empire extending from Egypt to the northwest of the Kurdistan Diyarbech/Dirabekir region, to North Africa and Yemen. Thomas Asbridge writes: “Saladin came to this volatile, lethal environment as an isolated outsider – a Sunni Kurd in a Shia world – backed by limited military and financial resources. Few can have expected him to prevail.”[i]

The above map available from Center for Middle Eastern Studies, University of Chicago, retrieved Sept. 23, 2018.

A Jewish intellectual and philosopher, contemporary to Saladin, Maimonides (Moses ben Maimon or Rabbi Moses ben Maimon) was the Saladin court physician. Also, the archbishop of Tyre, known as the historian William of Tyr, knew Saladin as an adversary from the theater of war. Both men admired Saladin for his intellect, leadership, generosity, and tolerance. Saladin’s own court historian, Baha’ al-Din Ibn Shaddad, after Saladin’s death, said: “Never since the time of first khalifs had Islam suffered such a blow.”[ii] Later generations of admiring philosophers, literary artists and historians, just to name a few, included: 13th century (1200 +) Viennese chronicler and poet, Jans der Enikel, author of world history; Dante Alighieri (1265 – 1321); Giovanni Boccaccio (1313–1375); the leading French Enlightenment writer and philosopher Voltaire (1694 –1778); German writer Gotthold Ephraim Lessing (1729 – 1781); the English romantic era writer, Sir Walter Scott (1771–1832); Charles J.  Rosebault, whose 1930 book, entitled “Saladin, prince of chivalry,” perfectly summarized the qualities of character distinguishing Saladin. The English historian, essayist Alfred Duggan, brought another perspective to the understanding of Saladin in his explorations of his relation and confrontations with legendary English King, Richard Lionheart (2016). Karen Armstrong, a former Catholic nun and Professor of religion, brings a very sober interpretation of Jewish, Christian, and Muslim relations during Saladin’s reign in her book “Jerusalem: One City, Three Faiths” (2011). The author of a 2015 biography of Saladin, John Man, described him thus: “It was Saladin’s virtues – his generosity, his magnanimity – that captured the European imagination more than his fighting skills.”[iii]

FULL ARTICLE FROM KURDISTAN24

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Christians are hospitable because Jesus is Lord

0802874584An evangelical case for pluralism

If you were looking for an argument for welcoming strangers of another language, religion, and race, you probably wouldn’t seek it from an American evangelical Christian. But that is precisely what Matthew Kaemingk gives us in his startling new book. Given the political harm American evangelicals have recently wrought in the world, it is thrilling to find this counternarrative.

The background of the book is familiar: while political correctness demands that people speak no ill of cultural newcomers, frustration and resistance to this stance erupts in xenophobic vitriol. But Kaemingk isn’t writing about Latino immigration to the United States. His topic is Muslim immigration to the Netherlands, rooted in his doctoral research in Amsterdam. The Dutch, proud of their reputation for being liberal and inclusive, run face-first into the conservative Islam adhered to by immigrants in ways that are both nationally traumatic (as in the 2004 assassination of filmmaker and critic of Islam Theo van Gogh) and quotidian (hijabs on the streets of Amsterdam).

Religious Pluralism and Civic Rights in a “Muslim Nation”: An Analysis of Prophet Muhammad’s Covenants with Christians

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When assessing current trends in Muslim-Christian relations, there is a tendency to view this complex relationship through the prism of contemporary events alone. Any account of Muslim-Christian relations, however, must consider historical processes and events in order to position current developments in their appropriate context. Before embarking on contemporary issues affecting Muslim and Christian communities, a few historical issues are in order. In the modern era (1500–1945 CE), the major part of the “Muslim world” was ruled by “Christian civilization”. During this period, the Islamic world, as noted by Armstrong, was “convulsed by the modernization process.Instead of being one of the leaders of world civilization, Islamdom was quickly and permanently
reduced to a dependent bloc by the European powers” [1]. Europeans assumed that European culture had always been progressive and that Muslim societies were backward, inefficient, and corrupt [1].

European colonialists in the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia also wreaked havoc by plundering Islamic economies and supplanting Islamic educational systems with secular or Christianity-based systems [2]. These kind of colonial interactions had a decisive influence on the religious and political relations between Muslims and Christians, and shaped not least the mutual theological images and assessments of the other [3]. Towards the end of European colonial rule, the Ottoman Empire crumbled,which created a vacuum in the Middle East that contributed to tensions between local inhabitants
and external powers of interests. As World War I ended, “Westerners”—primarily the British—“saw an opportunity to bring modern coherence to [Arabia] by imposing new kingdoms of their owndevising, as long as the kings would be compliant with the strategic interests of the British Empire” [4].

When the British and other European powers (such as the French) drew up state borders in the MiddleEast, they paid little attention to the ethnic and religious division within Arabian societies. Muslims today see these historic events as influencing the development of Islamic societies as well as shaping perceptions of Christians living within their own borders and around the “Western world”.

FULL ARTICLE HERE (PDF) from academia.edu 

An American and an Arab journalist walk into a Saudi Consulate

2c74b9fb97514389aa956e7c9d5f9d02_18An American and an Arab journalist walk into a Saudi consulate, Thomas Friedman in New York and Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul. One comes out smiling ear to ear like Lawrence of Arabia packing for a royal palace near Riyadh and the other disappears into the thin air and widely feared to have been rushed to meet his creator in more than one piece.

Why do the Saudis love the New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman and invite him to Mohammed bin Salman’s palace in Riyadh to tickle his Orientalist fantasies, but, if persistent reports by Turkish authorities turn out to be true, they sent a hit team of 15 assassins to beat, torture, murder, and cut to pieces the Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi? No, this cannot be part of the rivalries between our two papers of record. Let us search for a more plausible reason.

FULL ARTICLE FROM AL JAZEERA 

The compassionate face of Islam

1281136-326978879MUSLIMS should welcome the announcement by Datuk Dr Mujahid Yusof Rawa, the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of religious affairs, that it will be the government’s policy to promote compassionate Islam.

Actually, I believe there is only an “Islam” whose teachings are primarily compassionate, a blessing and merciful. Anyone who reads the Quran will know that it describes itself as a “healing and a mercy to those who believe” (Al Isra (17) verse 82).

In fact, the Holy Prophet Muhammad himself is described in the Quran as rahmatan lil Alamiin for the whole world and the creations (Al Anbiya (21): verse 107).

Essentially, rahmah means love or affection and is often understood to mean the love of God for mankind and His creations where He has provided everything they need to develop and live on this earth. In other words, the Quran guides mankind to understand and appreciate this rahmah through its guidance.

One who reads the Quran will also appreciate that it beseeches mankind to ponder and think about life and the laws of nature to further appreciate the rahmah of God.

Dr Mujahid also pointed out the use of state resources to confront “public sins” and “private sins” to show, I believe, that any use of religious enforcement powers must be tampered with common sense and compassion.

I believe real scholars of Islam know that there is an abundance of literature that discourages the deliberate attempt to expose private sins.

For reasons which I cannot understand, Dr Mujahid has been exposed to irrelevant criticisms by some Muslim religious experts implicit within which is the assumption that he is ignorant of the discourse in these matters.

I would have thought that this would have been an opportunity for religious experts to exercise husnuzan (benefit of the doubt) and to embrace the idea of promoting the compassionate face of Islam.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE STAR (MALAYSIA)

 

‘We’re all children of Abraham’: The patriarch that unites Jews, Christians and Muslims

588e7b72a77c8.imageIn preparation for Sunday’s sermon, the Rev. Cress Darwin reviews the biblical book of Genesis.

He finds the story where God orders Abraham to leave his home and promises him numerous descendants comparable to the sand on the seashore and stars in the sky.

Darwin, who leads Second Presbyterian Church in Charleston, admires Abraham for his obedience and faithfulness.

“The hope that I take is that if God can use some of these characters, he can certainly use us,” Darwin said.

Abraham isn’t only revered by Christians. He’s a central figure in Judaism and Islam as well.

While the faiths are unique in their religious beliefs, customs and practices, Abraham is the common forefather that shows the religions have a lot more in common than what some may think.

Abraham is considered the patriarch of monotheism. According to the story recorded in Jewish, Christian and Islamic texts, he was instructed by God to leave his native land where his family worshipped pagan gods.

Texts say that Abraham had two sons, Ishmael and Isaac. The former founded the Arab people from which the Prophet Muhammad came and founded the Islamic faith. From the latter, Judaism manifested and Jesus Christ is eventually born thousands of years later to initiate Christianity.

The faiths draw spiritual lessons from their elder who endured tests that challenged his commitment to God, including his willingness to sacrifice his son.

For Jews, he’s revered for his obedience. Christians say he was faithful like Jesus Christ. Muslims honor him for his submissiveness.

FULL ARTICLE FROM POST AND COURIER 

Muslims defied the Islamic State to save two ancient Christian manuscripts in Mosul

IRAQ_-_don_paolo_e_manoscrittiMosul (AsiaNews) – A Muslim family hid for three years two ancient Syriac Orthodox books in Mosul during the city’s occupation by the Islamic State (IS) group to prevent their destruction at the latter’s hands. They did so, putting their own lives at risk. Their courage and action show that Mosul and Iraq can be rebuilt and reborn on the basis of unity and coexistence of its various groups, above all Christians and Muslims.

Upon the city’s liberation, the manuscripts’ protectors handed them over to a representative of the Chaldean community in Erbil but asked that their identity be protected because “sleeper cells” still exist in the city, ready to exact vengeance.

Fr Paulos Thabit Mekko spoke to AsiaNews about this story. He is now the repository of the two precious manuscripts (pictured) until they can be returned to their rightful owners.

“Recently a Chaldean from Mosul contacted me saying that he had a Muslim neighbour from the time he lived in the city 20 years ago,” said the priest. The family of the Muslim man, who can trace his ancestry back to ancient Mesopotamia, and his “have been friends for a long time” despite the distance and the violence by IS.

In 2015, when the city was under the latter’s control, the Muslim man, who is the head of the family, went with a relative to an area near the Chaldean monastery of St Michael.

“One day the man saw a lorry dump some rubbish. He was in the area looking for some wood to cook and heat his home. Among the refuse, he found a couple of manuscripts in ancient Syriac script and thought they might be of some value.”

Despite the danger, he took them and hid them in his home. “He was scared because he knew he could be killed if he were found out,” said the Chaldean priest.

After the liberation of Mosul, he decided to visit his friend and former Christian neighbor in Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan, where the latter had sought refuge to escape IS.

“He told him that he had some ancient Christian manuscripts at his home and if he knew a priest or a trusted man to whom he could hand them over. Someone who would not try to make money from them.”

“I went to Mosul a few days ago where I met the two former neighbours, the Christian and the Muslim. The latter entrusted me with the two tomes. They contain the offices of the morning and evening prayers in Syriac Antiochene Orthodox rite.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM ASIANEWS.IT