Islamic Culture

Pope’s Middle East Tour: How should we welcome those who insult the Prophet (Sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam)

Pope Benedict XVI began a tour of the Middle East last Friday. This trip that is taking the Catholic Pontiff to Jordan, Israel and the West Bank has been the subject of intense media coverage as well as criticism from many Muslims. The source of the controversy lies in a speech made by the Pope at the University of Regensburg, Germany in September 2006.

In this lecture, titled “Faith, Reason and the University”, the Pope started the discourse by quoting a lengthy passage involving the purported “erudite” scholar Manuel II Paleologus, who was one of the final Byzantine tyrants ousted from power by the Ottomans.

On the subject of Christianity and Islam he stated: “Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.”

This excerpt then goes on to claim that Islam, being a violent religion, is also irrational and nothing more than the very antithesis of reason. This speech delivered some months after the Danish Cartoons episode and in the midst of the ‘War of Terror’ caused immediate outrage amongst the Ummah. Demonstrations were held all over the Muslim world to defend the honour of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم.

By contrast, the reactions of the rulers in the Muslim world was muted and did not amount to more than a few hollow statements. Afterwards, the Pope expressed “regret” for offenses caused by the speech but still refused to present a full apology and retract the lecture he gave; regrets indeed similar to those offered by the Danish journalists of the Jyllands Posten a few months earlier. Despite having stated that this quote did not express his personal views, Stratfor concluded that these words were undoubtedly purposely chosen given the facts that they represented 15% of the full text and were used as the entry point to the full speech.

Despite the Pope’s insults against our Deen and our beloved Rasool صلى الله عليه وسلم, he has been welcomed in the Muslim lands by the ruler of Jordan, King Abdullah. To add insult to injury, the King accompanied by his wife went personally to the airport to roll out the red carpet for the Pope, a break with standard diplomatic protocols.

The Jordanian tyrant has already betrayed the Muslims by holding a peace treaty with Israel and helping the US in its war on Islam. The rationale advanced by the ruling elite for these treacheries are that the economic benefits obtained by such concessions outweigh the moral and political costs. Indeed, according to official data published by Israel’s statistical bureau, the trade volume between Jordan and Israel, as registered in 2007, was of $306.9 million. This figure amounted to a growth of 42.8 % compared with the trade volume in 2006 while trade between Jordan and other Arab countries has remained low for the past 15 years. Moreover, as of December 2008, 14.2% of the population lives under the line of poverty

However, such capitalist-minded rationale cannot be made in the case of the Pope since the trade volume between Jordan and the Vatican (which is nothing more than a few building blocks in the heart of Rome) stands at zero. This red carpet treatment marks a new level in the treachery displayed by the rulers of the Muslim world.

To rub salt in the wound, the “regretful” Pope delivered a speech on Saturday outside the Al-Hussein bin-Talal mosque in Amman in which he criticized “the ideological manipulation of religion, sometimes for political ends”; I will leave you to guess which religion is being referred.

The rapturous reception given to the Pope is to be contrasted with the manner the enemies of Allah سبحانه وتعالى were welcomed in Madinah at the time of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم.

Following the battle of Mu’tah, the Qu’raish encouraged and supplied weapons to the tribe of Banu Bakr in order to fight the tribe of Khuza’ah, which was a clear breach of the Hudaibiyah peace treaty signed between Qu’raish and the Islamic State. As a result, the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم decided that authority in Makkah would have to be finally wrested from the hands of the Qu’raish. Immediately the Qu’raish realised that they had undertaken a fatal mistake and decided to send Abu Sufyan as an envoy to Madinah in order to prevent the rupture of the treaty.

Before visiting the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم, Abu Sufyan chose to stop off at the home of his daughter Ummah Habibah (raa), the wife of Allah’s Messenger صلى الله عليه وسلم. As he began to sit down on the Messenger’s صلى الله عليه وسلم bed she folded it up so he could not sit on it. Abu Sufyan asked his daughter whether she moved it because he was too good for it or because it was too good for him. Her reply set him in his place, “It is the Messenger of Allah’s bed and you are a filthy polytheist so I do not want you to sit on it!”

He left in an angry mood and proceeded to see Allah’s Messenger صلى الله عليه وسلم in order to convince him of the need for an extension to the treaty of Hudaibiyah. He did not receive a reply as Rasool Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم ignored his pleas. He was losing hope in his mission, so he visited Abu Bakr as-Siddiq (ra). He pleaded with him to speak to the Messenger صلى الله عليه وسلم on his behalf. Abu Bakr (ra) refused which filled Abu Sufyan with even more dread. He was now a desperate man and that led him to mistakenly believe ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab (ra) would be more receptive than Rasool Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم or Abu Bakr. ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab (ra) rebuked him harshly saying, “Should I intercede for you with the Messenger of Allah? By Allah if I had only an ant I would fight you with it.”

His last hope was to convince ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib (ra) who was with Fatimah (raa) and he appealed to him to intercede with the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم. ‘Ali answered that if the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم had determined a thing then it was useless for anyone to try to talk him out of it. Turning to Fatimah he asked her to let her son Hasan (ra) be a protector between men. She said, “None could give protection against the Messenger of Allah.” Indeed, the sahabah (ra) did not roll out the red carpet for a known opponent of the Muslims and Islam.

This is the example a true leader of the Muslims, should follow. All Muslims should raise their voices high to say that anyone who insults our beloved Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم is not welcome in our lands.