We cannot afford to maintain these ancient prejudices against Islam


In the 12th century, Peter the Venerable, Abbot of Cluny, initiated a dialogue with the Islamic world. "I approach you not with arms, but with words," he wrote to the Muslims whom he imagined reading his book, "not with force, but with reason, not with hatred, but with love." Yet his treatise was entitled Summary of the Whole Heresy of the Diabolical Sect of the Saracens and segued repeatedly into spluttering intransigence. Words failed Peter when he contemplated the "bestial cruelty" of Islam, which, he claimed, had established itself by the sword. Was Muhammad a true prophet? "I shall be worse than a donkey if I agree," he expostulated, "worse than cattle if I assent!"

Peter was writing at the time of the Crusades. Even when Christians were trying to be fair, their entrenched loathing of Islam made it impossible for them to approach it objectively. For Peter, Islam was so self-evidently evil that it did not seem to occur to him that the Muslims he approached with such "love" might be offended by his remarks. This medieval cast of mind is still alive and well.

Last week, Pope Benedict XVI quoted, without qualification and with apparent approval, the words of the 14th-century Byzantine emperor Manuel II: "Show me just what Muhammad 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." The Vatican seemed bemused by the Muslim outrage occasioned by the Pope's words, claiming that the Holy Father had simply intended "to cultivate an attitude of respect and dialogue toward the other religions and cultures, and obviously also towards Islam".

But the Pope's good intentions seem far from obvious. Hatred of Islam is so ubiquitous and so deeply rooted in western culture that it brings together people who are usually at daggers drawn. Neither the Danish cartoonists, who published the offensive caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad last February, nor the Christian fundamentalists who have called him a paedophile and a terrorist, would ordinarily make common cause with the Pope; yet on the subject of Islam they are in full agreement.

Our Islamophobia dates back to the time of the Crusades, and is entwined with our chronic anti-semitism. Some of the first Crusaders began their journey to the Holy Land by massacring the Jewish communities along the Rhine valley; the Crusaders ended their campaign in 1099 by slaughtering some 30,000 Muslims and Jews in Jerusalem. It is always difficult to forgive people we know we have wronged. Thenceforth Jews and Muslims became the shadow-self of Christendom, the mirror image of everything that we hoped we were not - or feared that we were.

The fearful fantasies created by Europeans at this time endured for centuries and reveal a buried anxiety about Christian identity and behaviour. When the popes called for a Crusade to the Holy Land, Christians often persecuted the local Jewish communities: why march 3,000 miles to Palestine to liberate the tomb of Christ, and leave unscathed the people who had - or so the Crusaders mistakenly assumed - actually killed Jesus. Jews were believed to kill little children and mix their blood with the leavened bread of Passover: this "blood libel" regularly inspired pogroms in Europe, and the image of the Jew as the child slayer laid bare an almost Oedipal terror of the parent faith.

Jesus had told his followers to love their enemies, not to exterminate them. It was when the Christians of Europe were fighting brutal holy wars against Muslims in the Middle East that Islam first became known in the west as the religion of the sword. At this time, when the popes were trying to impose celibacy on the reluctant clergy, Muhammad was portrayed by the scholar monks of Europe as a lecher, and Islam condemned - with ill-concealed envy - as a faith that encouraged Muslims to indulge their basest sexual instincts. At a time when European social order was deeply hierarchical, despite the egalitarian message of the gospel, Islam was condemned for giving too much respect to women and other menials.

In a state of unhealthy denial, Christians were projecting subterranean disquiet about their activities on to the victims of the Crusades, creating fantastic enemies in their own image and likeness. This habit has persisted. The Muslims who have objected so vociferously to the Pope's denigration of Islam have accused him of "hypocrisy", pointing out that the Catholic church is ill-placed to condemn violent jihad when it has itself been guilty of unholy violence in crusades, persecutions and inquisitions and, under Pope Pius XII, tacitly condoned the Nazi Holocaust.

Pope Benedict delivered his controversial speech in Germany the day after the fifth anniversary of September 11. It is difficult to believe that his reference to an inherently violent strain in Islam was entirely accidental. He has, most unfortunately, withdrawn from the interfaith initiatives inaugurated by his predecessor, John Paul II, at a time when they are more desperately needed than ever. Coming on the heels of the Danish cartoon crisis, his remarks were extremely dangerous. They will convince more Muslims that the west is incurably Islamophobic and engaged in a new crusade.

We simply cannot afford this type of bigotry. The trouble is that too many people in the western world unconsciously share this prejudice, convinced that Islam and the Qur'an are addicted to violence. The 9/11 terrorists, who in fact violated essential Islamic principles, have confirmed this deep-rooted western perception and are seen as typical Muslims instead of the deviants they really were.

With disturbing regularity, this medieval conviction surfaces every time there is trouble in the Middle East. Yet until the 20th century, Islam was a far more tolerant and peaceful faith than Christianity. The Qur'an strictly forbids any coercion in religion and regards all rightly guided religion as coming from God; and despite the western belief to the contrary, Muslims did not impose their faith by the sword.

The early conquests in Persia and Byzantium after the Prophet's death were inspired by political rather than religious aspirations. Until the middle of the eighth century, Jews and Christians in the Muslim empire were actively discouraged from conversion to Islam, as, according to Qur'anic teaching, they had received authentic revelations of their own. The extremism and intolerance that have surfaced in the Muslim world in our own day are a response to intractable political problems - oil, Palestine, the occupation of Muslim lands, the prevelance of authoritarian regimes in the Middle East, and the west's perceived "double standards" - and not to an ingrained religious imperative.

But the old myth of Islam as a chronically violent faith persists, and surfaces at the most inappropriate moments. As one of the received ideas of the west, it seems well-nigh impossible to eradicate. Indeed, we may even be strengthening it by falling back into our old habits of projection. As we see the violence - in Iraq, Palestine, Lebanon - for which we bear a measure of responsibility, there is a temptation, perhaps, to blame it all on "Islam". But if we are feeding our prejudice in this way, we do so at our peril.

Karen Armstrong is the author of Islam: A Short History

Source: Guardian


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  32 Comments   Comment

  1. allat from usa

    Actually, we can afford to have severe aversion towards islam. I'm a polytheist - like to dance joyously, bare-footed and bare headed in the woodlands.

    I do NOT need saving - leave us non-islamics alone and mind your own business.

    I stand firm in my KNOWING that there are MANY Gods, and I do NOT need a prophet - I get direct comunication within my Soul from the Ultimate God.

    Allat

  2. tapha from usa

    ms amsrong is 100%right. todays violent in muslim world is due occupation.palestine,iraq,kasmiya,checniya,afghanistan,and others being occupied. when the jews were under threata lot of them moved to islamic countries to live in peace and harmony.the amount of people killed in gun violent a lone in western countries is far more than terrosim.secondly islam is not terrorist.groups are terroroist letS call them by their groups names.what religion are the nazis? they killed more human being than any group,WE dont hear anybody calling them by their religion.what religion the I R A? NOBODY CALL THEM BY THEIR RELIGION. LETS CALL THE GROUPS BY THEIR NAMES AND AVOID LABELLING THE ENTIRE RELIGION AS TERRORIST.PEOLPE WILL SAY EVIL THINGS ABOUT MUHAMMED(PBUH)AND YOU WILL NEVER HEAR MUSLIMS SAYING EVIL ABOUT ANY PROPHETS BECAUSE WE BELIEVE IN ALL OF THEM.ISLAM TEACHES US TO RESPECT OUR NEIGHBOURS.ALLAH SAID TO MUHAMMADU(PBUH) YOUR JOB IS PLAIN AND CONVEY THE MESSAGES,WHOM EVER ALLAH GUIDES NO ONE CAN LEAD HIM/HER ASTRAY.WHOM EVER ALLAH MISGUIDE NO ONE CAN GUIDE HIM/HER.MUSLIMS ONCED RULED GREECE,SPAIN THEY NEVER BEING FORCED TO ACCEPT ISLAM.THEY WERE PRACTISING THEIR REGLION AS THE WISHED.I CANT SAID THE SAME THING FOR THE CRUSADERS, THEY SAID YOU DIE OR JOIN OUR RELIGION. ALLAH SAID TO MUHAMMADU(PBUH) THERE IS NO COMPULSION(COERCION) IN A RELEGION.ALLAH SAID WHO EVER KILL ONE INNOCENT LIFE IS LIKE KILLING ALL HUMANITY AND WHOEVER SAVES ONE LIFE IS LIKE SAVING ALL HUMANITY. PLEASE LET EVERY BODY READ AND UNDERSTAND QUR'AN BEFORE JUMPING TO CONCLUSION.DO NOT LEARN ISLAM THROUGH THE MEDIA BUT READ!READ!READ!READ THE QURAN.

  3. Jane

    I think that it is important to view all religions today based not on mis-interpretations of God's Word in the past (ie the Crusades and the conquest of Persia and Byzantium), but based on how they are acting now. And Islam is often misunderstood and mis-interpreted by the Western world. But, when a seeming majority of the world's terrorists seem to be Muslim(Al-Qaida, Chechnya, Taliban, Hamas, Janjaweed, the Indonesian bombers etc), it is easy to see how this mis-interpretation could have occured.

  4. JC Schmidt from Canada

    I'm afraid Ms. Armstrong has a problem with her own Christian heritage. What are Westerners left to think when religious minorities are treated as second class in predominantly Muslim countries, and when violence in the name of Islam is so common that it can hardly be considered anomalous to the faith? What are Westerners left to think when Muslims in western countries behave superiorly to their non-Muslim neighbours and assert their rights by threats as they often do on university campuses in Canada? What am I to think of their prophet when all I see is injustice in Islamic states after 1400 years of Islam, and violence preached and perpetrated the world over by clerics and those willing to kill others for their faith?

  5. Kris from Malaysia

    Assalamualaikum wrbt and greetings to friends.

    Thank you Rob from USA for your objectivity on topics and discussion of this nature. Yes, all forms of violence are condemned and Islam is a religion that value lives and honour the dignity of individuals.

    Don't be perturbed by what you saw on the media Rob, for there are billions more Muslims out there that upholds to the true teachings of Islam.

    And I respect Christians as well, in fact I had my elementary education in a Roman Catholic school before I pursued further studies abroad. I take off my hats for the Catholics brothers, who were the administrators of the school, they were tolerant in the management of the institution. Perhaps a reflection of their faith too.

    Regards,

  6. Rob from USA

    This article struck as extremely balanced and a fair presentation of the issues. I am a Christian seeking to understand more about the roots of Islam and it's stance regarding violence.

    Personally I am deeply ashamed of the the atrocities committed by those of the Christian faith over the years and know that Jesus will condemn their actions and reject them as true followers. Similarly, I'm sure that many devout Muslims are ashamed of some behaviors of their "followers" and certainly the extremists' violent campaigns today.

    I believe there are rather few people of any major religion that truly understand and humbly seek the self-sacrifice and spirituality offered by their faith.

    Unfortunately, religion often becomes a vehicle for uniting the masses. I simply don't believe that Islam is inherently violent. And Christians have no basis for categorically accusing them as such.

    The current conflicts are typical of all races and generations of "spiritually shallow" or outright wicked people who claim to belong to any religion. They violate the deepest foundations of their religion while proclaiming they uphold it.

  7. Mazinger Z from uk

    Matthew please dont insult our intelligence by claiming you believe in free speech. Try and question the holocaust and you'll find yourself in jail, thats your freedom of speech in action.

    You people are hypocrites of the highest order stinking of blind prejudice. You speak of opposing tyranny when in fact you are its greatest supporters, just ask any Iraqi, Palestinian or Lebanese.

  8. aak from US

    It is a fair article. It takes courage to speak the truth with so much hate and lies going on in the media.

    What I dont understand is why there is so much hate when we are all living on the earth and are children of Adam? Priests and popes and imams should not generate hate for people and communities. God says, "I have created you into nations and tribes that you may love one another and not hate each other. The best among you is the one who is most righteous."Quran

    Christians in the world know so little about the prophet and the Quran. The prophet respected all people. When a christian delegation came to him in Medina, he invited them in the mosque. When it was time for christians to pray, he let them pray there. When muslims were persecuted in Mecca, he send them to a christian king in Abbysinia where he knew they would not be harmed. When a funeral of Jew would pass by he would show respect. There are hundereds of other examples about his behaviour towards nonmuslims.

    If people think Islam spread by a sword, then why are christians and Jews converting to Islam in America? No one is forcing them here. Infact the muslims are scared here as so many innocents have been jailed after 9/11 for the action of a few bad guys from Saudi Arabia. But Iraq got bombed. Why? Type up 9/11 controversy on the internet search and you will find so many wierd theories. Are they true?

    Poor people are being bombed everywhere and their natural resources taken for Global control and expanding empire. They have no food , their children no school. They have been put back to stone age. Is this what a good christian government does to the entire population for the crime of few. Justice will bring peace and love. Christians , Jews and muslims should want the same thing for others what they want for themselves.

    i had a lot of respect for the catholic church and Pope. The Pope should invite people to dialogue with love not with hate or hurt. (audience of 5 billion m

  9. Adam from Nigeria

    To Brian Vallotton

    You've not been listening to your role model (George Bush Jr) of recent 'm sure? Paraphrasing his (GB jr) statement on Pres. Ahmadinejad; you gotta believe everybody's words for what they are, in this world of today.

    You got that?

    So if the pope said anything I've got to believe him wether he was quoting or ortherwise. Afterall President Ahmadenijad may be quoting as it were, when he called for the elimination of the state of Israel. Words speak louder than action or, is it?

    THE WORLD HAS CHANGED HIS 9 11 are we forgetting that? So mind what you say!

  10. Kris from Malaysia

    Assalamualaikum wbrt and greetings to all,

    I am not clear on what Richard and Robert McCall wrote, but I assume that their comments were not too flattering or kind either. Never mind, I can try to understand their reasons for so doing.

    In defense of Karen Armstrong, the author of this article, I say this, it doesn't matter at all, ( in as far as academic exercise and factual matters are concerned ), what her faith is, because the learned author faith is something personal and private to her. Her choice is something that deserves respect.

    Robert McCall e-mail response is hardly objective, at a point which he said to the following ".... the author should think what here ( his own spelling mistake, he actually meant her ) social position would be in Islam...."

    While I would not be provoke by such prejudices, at the same time Robert's ignorance on Islam and what he actually saw in some of today's Muslim countries are understandable. I'll delve with it at later time. But let me just say here that the real and true Islam respects the dignity of women, allows her to work as long as her husband consented and as long as it does not affect her other primary responsibilities, encourages women to gain as much education and knowledge as men, ( remember that Sayyiditina Aishah ( r.a ) was a very knowledgable individual ).

    There are no tenets in the Quran and hadith that denies women any of those in life, and in fact men have heavier and greater burden than women.

    And if time permits, I shall write again on other points raised by the two e-mail writers in their responses to this article.

    Regards,

  11. Matthew from USA

    I have a question regarding the Danish Cartoon... Listen--if you are against having the RIGHT to make fun of Mohammed and Allah and Jesus and Satan, then you (by default) support a fundamentalist state. Free speech is a necessary right to preserve humanity against tyranny.

    I have seen many Muslim cartoons and claymations from tv channels in the middle east that portray jews and christians horribly, and no jews and christians are burning flags of middle eastern countries and killing people over it.

    If the Catholics rioted and killed everytime their faith was ridiculed in Hollywood, the west would be a bad place.

    I am not of any particular faith but a supporter of free speach, acceptance and tolerance. Deal.

  12. Huma from New Zealand

    Peace to all.

    I have read a number of Karen Armstrong's books and I have found them extremely valuable to my education. Many thanks to the author.

    All history is part of our present and thus cannot be ignored in our search for understanding. The truth will be revealed and the consequences felt soon enough. Praise God.

  13. Richard from Canada

    What was and is now is as different as night and day. The article is a sign of weakness which gives them strength. Hate is hate. Their isn't and never will be LOVE. They don't want it. We are not them. They want us dead.

  14. Kris from Malaysia

    Assalamualaikum wrbt and greetings to all friends,

    Dear R. Baines, Firstly thank you for your perception that Muslims are generally peaceful people. I also understand your skepticisms on some events notably the recent one being the kidnapping of the two journalists and what they claimed as their forced conversion to Islam.

    I answer it this way, firstly I leave it to ALMIGHTY GOD, for HE is the ALL KNOWER, HIM being the OMNIPRESENCE, HE knows the truth. Secondly even if it is true, I believe that those who kidnapped the reporters were over zealous, and their zeal had brought them to faults and errors, with no sense of wisdom.

    Thirdly, this group was a small or break away faction of the other main stream group, which in return this group had no capable leaders which can guide them in their course and struggle. Until now we do not know who the leader of this splinter group is and what their objectives are and similarly I do not know what their motives were.

    Then I wish to make comparisons to other militants group world wide, particularly the former IRA, did they killed thousands in retaliation or in what they perceive as patriotic struggle to free their country from the British rule ? And yet, nobody or even myself for that matter would jump the opportunity to brand Catholicism with violence, because I know that these are not so the case.

    And I had mentioned many times on the hey days of the past British empire, they came to the far East with their guns and canons, they introduced Anglican Christianity to those regions but yet history does not jump to the conclusion that the faith was spread by guns and canons.

    And so did the Spanish conquistadors who went to Latin America, they brought along Catholicism there but again no one perceived that their faith was spread by the might of their sword and shield.

    Hence let us be objective and fair in our judgments of history and I trust that you have those fairness and objectivity.

  15. Robert McCall from United States

    It is apparent that the author has not correctly analyzed current

    events. Specifically, the comments that were made by some parties

    in the Islamic world. This prejudice has arisen because of the

    destructive acts & attitudes by Islamic extremists coupled with the

    unwillingness of the moderate factions of Islam to criticize these

    violet views.

  16. TJ from USA

    In response to Mr. Vallotton, "The proof of real Islam is how they responded to Pope..."

    First of all Islam is NOT an animate being. It cannot respond to the Pope. But if you were to say correctly: Some Muslims response to the Pope... then your words might actually have a faint weight amount of weight to it.

    In any case let me point to where you lead to a faulty conclusion based on your assumptions and understanding of Islam/Muslims.

    Instead of looking for "proofs" of Islam in its authoritative sources, such as etiquette of Prophet Muhammad (s), his rightly guided companions, and the holy Qur'an; we are victims of the newsmedia who choose to highlight only the loudest, violent, and extreme Muslim protestors.

    What about the millions of Muslims who also felt deeply hurt by the Pope's flagrantly anti-Islamic comment but protested by writing a letter of voicing their astonishment? Or even those who overlook one of his misstatements (though I hardly doubt he mis-spoke).

    To Judge a religion by the acts of some of its followers is a false paux and will lead to continuation of stereotypes and prejudices (pre-judgment).

    If Islam says, "Thous shall not kill." "And there is no compulsion in religion" and we see a Muslim man or a group kill; then he is in clear violation of his own Scripture and religion no matter what justification he uses to justify his murder.

    Instead of holding him accountable for that, we see people passing sweeping judgments (right-wing neocons on FoxNews, MSNBC, CNN Headline News, and radio) and accepting the poison.

    As Ms. Armstrong says, the very poison that led to Christian belief of Jews killing their own children and sucking their blood. Instead, this time in a less flattering way its "Muslims are terrorists so lets profile them. Lets do the un-American thing and wire their mosques intimidating the practice of freedom to worship."

    So lets talk to someone who is actually a Muslim about Islam and not just TV.

  17. R. Baines from US

    Although I agree that in general terms that true Muslims are peaceful people, I have a hard time totally agreeing with your article. Your agruement that Islam is not spread by the sword is dealt a blow by the recent kidnapping of reorter Steve Centanni and cameraman Olaf Wiig. These gentlemen where only freed after their forced conversion, not by sword, but at gunpoint. If the islamic community wants to erase years of prejudices from false accusations, that community should have stood up firm and denounced this action. I have still yet to hear this outcry. Peaceful Muslims need to reassert themselves at the forfront of their religion, because the image that is prevailing is that the radicals have taken over the house, and those that are peaceful either are afraid to say anything against this radicalism, or they agree with it.

  18. Kris from Malaysia

    Assalamualaikum wrbt and greetings to all friends,

    Dear Brian, I understand your confusion, and let me assure you that there is nothing in Islam that compel you to be a Muslim. As it is mentioned in the Holy Quran " There is no compulsion in religion......"

    As a Muslim, one can only invite others to Islam otherwise there is no coercion or compulsion, in fact it is wrong to compel anyone to accept the Islamic faith. GOD ALMIGHTY confers discretion or freedom of choice on individuals.

    You are putting a point on the reaction of Muslims, you said that there was violent reactions. Yes, there were few aggressive reactions here and there but these were small in numbers. The rest were just demonstrations, is it wrong to demonstrate as an expression of anguish and frustration ? Demonstrations happens everywhere worldwide on a daily basis, not just by Muslims, but also by workers unions against capitalist exploitations, political activists, the anti war movements, green peace and these list goes on and on.

    I am not saying that such demonstrations are proper because I believe that to some extent the pope could be misjudged by what he quoted from the Byzantine Emperor, but then again these are sensitive subjects that prickled the emotions of others.

    In my e-mail response on the article " Pope's speech on faith and reason " I have voiced strong opposition on violence and again I repeat these violence, ( yes they are wrong ) are few in numbers compared to the normal daily demonstrations.

    Regards,

  19. Brian Vallotton from USA

    The proof of the real Islam is in the way they have responded to a mere quote from the Pope. Has anyone even investigated the speech the Pope was giving or does anyone even know the title of his speech? The Pope says a quote from a historical person, and Islam responds with threats, violence, and denial that they are violent. It does not make any sense to me. Why would I want to be a Muslim?

  20. Faisal from USA

    Chuck Smith, our previous poster, is emblematic of exactly what this entire article is about: The pervasiveness and self-destrive loathing of Islam and Muslims in Western culture where extremist secularist and fundamentalist Christian wield heavy political clout.

    Thanks Islamicity for this most enlightening of article by a rare non-Muslim expert.

    Or in another words, she is an "expert" who didn't find enlightenment overnight after 9/11 on Islam, but rather someone who had a comprehensive understanding of Islamic culture, its history, and its pepole. She is a well-established non-Muslim scholar whose literary credentials are firmly rooted and well-recognized by both Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

    Again kudos with all sincerity.

  21. Nizam from US

    Dear Michael E. Binder,

    I had an opportunity to become very friendly with one of the catholic guy from Columbia. He was a PhD scholar in one of the reputed university in europe. One day we started chatting about religion and to my utter surprise I heard from him that he was taught not to interact with any protestant or muslims, as the later will tend to convert him to their belief! It was no less than a shock for me as I did not expect someone so educated guy can beleive in such things! That is a kind of superstition, and all of us should avoid that. Keep reading the way of others people belief, may be we can save at least someone, which will be equivalent to saving the whole humanity...May God bless you.

  22. Jeff Cody from United States of America

    Jesus taught that if you live by the sword, you die by the sword. That applies to everyone without exception.

  23. Nizam from USA

    First of all I should agree that I do not have much knowledge about history,but thanks to Islamicity articles I can read so many interesting articles regarding islam as well as views of our non-muslim friends, either against or in favour. Being a born muslim I was introduced to islamic belief in my childhood. As can be expected in that age I had little understanding but used to follow some of teachings, not necessarily from real faith but as a tradition. This is because what most of the muslims beleive is just what they hear from our Moulana, sometimes regarded as true representative of islam. Unfortunately, most of them themsleves beleive in something they are told, most of them even dont understand the meaning of the sura he is reciting during namaz. It was not exception for me as well, and therefore, I also lost my way to islam, it was almost impossible to continue to do something blindly. But by Allahs grace, one day I just became curious if Quran and islamic teachings are available on internet, and I found the Islamicity and many other sites with Translation of Quran, I started reading it. Though I still do not understand some of the historical background it refered to but what I understood that, it is absolutely necessary for every muslim to read Quran by himself/herself to understand what they believe in and thereby can avoid the manipulation by little learned Moulana. I would humbly request my non-muslims friends as well that please read the Quran urself before you hate islam and its adherent, as you and us worship the same God, if you make deragatory comment against his Messenger and his followers, there is good possibility that you are actually insulting God and inviting his wrath in this world and hereafter. So is true for muslim brothers. We should restrain our anger and have patience the way God wait for the unbelievers to turn towards Him so that he/she gets an opportunity to repent, otherwise we all would end up in hell. May Allah show us the Path.

  24. Michael E. Binder from USA

    I'm glad I found this website and hopefully it will lead to on going discussion regarding Islam it's history, tradition, and meaning to it's belivers and the world. I agree with the articals author, most non Muslims do not understand the religion or know enough history to form an accurate opinion about it. I can't say that I do either but I want to. I am a history buff and believe I know something about this early confrontation between Islam and Christianity. I wouls appreciate hearing from anyone who would be willing to discuss these issues on an ongoing basis. Thank you in advance for your correspondence.

    M.E.Binder

    Carter Lake, Iowa

  25. abdifatah suleiman musse (imam mahdi) from USA

    in 21 century, they destroyed their cities to justfy attacking muslims, then attacked af-qanistan, we were careless, then they attacked iraq, they already finish-up palisten, no more people to kill there, and they attacked lebanan, now they are thinking about attacking iran, offending your faith clearlly, you are fighging islamic terror, we were careless, now were fighing all of them the islamic fascist, they draw cartoons of mohamed aleyhi salam as terror, now their leader is telling us that our messenger is what they draw on the cartoon and what the crusader said in 14th century, are we awake yet? do we really want to wake up? don't blame me, asked you for help, and islamicity, said we can not help you, I will work with my brothers and sisters in the islamic world, they are waiting for me, and I can not wait to work with them, we must wake up and defend our religion and our people, we will shine over them insha allah

  26. Regina from USA

    I agree with the authro that this Pope can't hold a candle to Pope

    John Paul II. I think it's tragic what this pope has said. I am a

    revert to Islam from Catholicism and still hold my former faith in

    the highest regard so I feel this pope is hurting nott only

    Muslims, but also his followers and is destroying the efforts of

    interfaith tolerance Pope John Paul II strived to build.

  27. Abdullatif Mutebi from Uganda

    I first of all thanx the writer for such good article with nice views,may ALLAH reward you accordingly.My view is that it should have better if we could all understand some thing before we criticise it for example for muslim to criticise other religions he should first understand them and vice versa.I think if such people werenot ignorant about Islam we wouldnot here such statements. If that is checked in addition to respect of others such ancient prejudices against Islam will be avoided.Thanks keep updating us in such ways.

  28. Doin Phine

    Dear Karen, your viewpoint among Western intellectuals and writers on the subject is in the minority. The facts prove you wrong. Good try!

  29. Jan from usa

    Ms.Karen Armstrong is indeed one of the FEW outstanding women of goodwill and mature understanding. Thanks to that, we observe a silver lining on the horizon from time to time. May Allah bless and reward her for speaking out for truth and justice.

    There is no coercion in Islam - but some may get the good hidaayah (guidance), insha'Allah.

    "Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out Clear from Error: whoever Rejects Evil and believes In Allah hath grasped the most trustworthy handhold, that never breaks. And Allah heareth and knoweth all things."Quran 2:256)

  30. Babandi A. Gumel from U.K

    The problem with the most Westerners they know the truth but due to intellectual dishonesty they don't want accept,they prefer rather to cling to their own desires of drinking(alcohol) womanising, gambling eating pork taking interest which all true religions including Islam have forbidden which in Arabic is called Sharia revealed in Torah and Gospel.Allah says "Lo We did reveal the Torah wherein is guidance and a light by which the prophets who surrendered judged... up to the end Life for life eye for eye nose for nose ear for ear and tooth for tooth.And We caused Jesus son of Mary to follow in their footsteps confirming which was revealed before him and We bestowed on him the Gospel wherein is guidance and light confirming that which was revealed before it in Torah-a guidance and admonishing unto those who ward off evil.So unfortunately instead of following the real teachings of the Torah and the Gospel they prefer to quote what will suit them for their own vain desire such as the qutation of the King instead of quoting from the Torah or the Bible or the final scripture the Quran, so therefore they end up following desires.

  31. Mohammad Syed from usa

    Very comforting article based on facts by a well recognized author and scholar.

    Mohammad Syed