Any ideas? It certainly isn’t a sartorial convergence – those Musselmen like wearing frocks, of course. Nope, I think we will find the answer in the latest round of outraged denunciations from leading Muslims around the World, and all those tedious demonstrations which are starting up here and there. ‘Ooh we’re so persecuted everybody hates us it’s not fair what a nasty horrid old Mr Pope etc etc.’ These words could so easily be transplanted into the mouth of one of those butch american nuns who appear in The Tablet it’s quite uncanny. ‘Islam’, of course, is all sweetness and light (just like feminism), and is above criticism because it wouldn’t dream of doing anything nasty to anyone.
It was a moment of revelation for me shortly after 7/7 when I saw an article on a leading Arabian news website basically claiming that the entire Mohammedan population of Britain was now living in constant fear of physical attack, that mosques were being vandalised and even torched as a matter of course, and that British society in general saw the entire ‘Muslim community’ as corporately responsible. What was the purpose of this fantastic article? Presumably the journalists were merely doing what all good journalists do, and giving the public the news they wanted to hear. The Mohammedams, by no means having any responsibility for the atrocities, had actually become the primary victims of them.
Then take a look at the hysteria created whenever somebody gets arrested on suspicion of terrorist offences. Mohammedans around the country immediately assert the innocence of people they’ve never met and know nothing about. Why? Because they are, of course, victims of ‘prejudice’ and police brutality. No wonder young muslims are being radicalised! You need to show more respect!
And now they’re laying into the Pope. As previously reported on this website, the pope made reference to the (very) late Byzantine emperor Manuel Paleologus II’s views on the legacy of Mohammed. It may be important to remember that the Pope’s intention was not to attempt to prove that the Koran gives the green light to forcibly convert people; this is a matter of fact and one might as well attempt to prove that Jade Goody is a little bit common. He merely used this teaching, utterly irrational as it is, as an example of the fundamental difference between the Christian and the Mohammedan concept of God.
For Mohammed, the Pope says, God is ‘absolutely transcendent’, that is, any understanding of rational and irrational, of goodness or badness that we might arrive at, is of no particular relevance to our understanding of God or what he might command.
Thus if God feels like it one morning, he can send the Angel Gabriel to accost this fellow Mohammed and tell him to “slay the idolaters wherever ye find them, and take them, and besiege them, and prepare for them each ambush. But if they repent and establish worship and pay the poor-due, then leave their way free” (The Koran, Surah 9, verse 5). The fact that reason tells us that it is totally irrational to attempt to force somebody to believe something is neither here nor there. That sort of thing doesn’t matter to God, you see. He transcends it all.
Now, the point is to compare this with the Christian understanding, which is that Christ is himself the Logos, which is both ‘word’ and ‘reason’, and therefore it is not a question of God being bound by or transcending the rational order which we perceive, but of this order being something ‘of’ Him, through which we can glimpse something of who He is and what He wants from us.
Perhaps it would be nice if some of these ‘Muslim scholars’ who get in the papers so much with their bloodcurdling rants could actually address this rather scholarly point and enter into a dialogue. The Pakistani parliament, I understand, has stated that the Holy Father has got it all wrong about ‘the philosophy of jihad’. To which I say ‘Ok, let’s hear your version of the philosophy of jihad, then we can discuss it like reasonable grown ups, rather than leaping about the place burning embassies and demanding beheadings.’
Speaking, however as a sportsman, the one thing that really interests me in all this is to see how long it will take some brainy little chap in Taiwan to start exporting cut-price Vatican City flags to Islamabad. Perhaps the RCC should open a book?