"You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you odd." ~Flannery O'Connor

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Muslim scholars being ecumenical?

I see in circulation a open letter (PDF) to Christian leaders from an impressive roster of Muslim intellectuals. It says, among other things:

As Muslims, we say to Christians that we are not against them and that Islam is not against them - so long as they do not wage war against Muslims on account of their religion, oppress them and drive them out of their homes.

I suppose that's the best we can hope for. But really, there's less there than meets the eye. The majority of Muslims seem to believe that hostility to Christianity from Muslims is currently justified precisely because Christians and, especially, Jews "oppress" Muslims and "drive them from their homes." Israel's displacement of Palestinians, and the West's de facto support for that, has been the longest-standing issue; but now we may throw Iraq and Afghanistan into the equation. Never mind that Western military force helped free Bosnian Muslims from Serbian oppression; never mind that the West pays staggering sums to Muslim countries for their oil; never mind that Egypt is the single biggest recipient of U.S. aid after Israel; never mind that the West supports a two-state solution for Palestine. Never mind that the Saudis see nothing wrong with building huge mosques in Western capitals while forbidding any churches in their country. Never mind, in other words, that the picture is mixed and can in no way be attributed to any desire to oppress Muslims for religious reasons. As long as we support the existence of the State of Israel, and as long as we have troops fighting Muslims in predominantly Muslim countries, the majority of Muslims will be hostile to us. To avoid such hostility, all we have to do is abandon Israel, withdraw our soldiers to their proper sphere outside the Umma, and tolerate Muslims in our midst much more than Muslims generally tolerate Christians and Jews in their midst. In other words, all we have to do is surrender.

I'm not buying it. To echo the Curt Jester's words: "you first."
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