23rd September, 2006: Dr. Abdul Haq Ansari, Amir Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, discussed in detail the contents of Pope Benedict XVI’s recent anti-Islam remarks and his apology. He was addressing the weekly meeting on Islam and Christianity at Jamaat headquarters.
The Pope had referred to a discussion between Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologos and an educated Persian on the subject of Christianity and Islam. Although the Pope used the word “brusque,” which means curt and rough, for the comments of the emperor quoted by him yet he did not distance himself from the remarks even in his apology. Further the lecture in question deliberates on the rationality of Christian faith as against the so-called irrationality of Islamic faith. The manner in which Pope quoted Ibne Hazm, a Muslim Spanish scholar, meant to imply that Islamic faith has no rationale. Pope had no need to quote what any particular scholar said on the subject. He could refer to the Qur’?n to find the Islamic position.
Dr. Ansari dwelt upon the question of rationality in Islam and Christianity. He stated that the Qur’?n is a book that addresses and appeals to rationality and mental faculties. It invites human beings to apply their mind on the faith it enjoins. The Qur’?n gives arguments in support of all articles of faith, including Unity of God, Prophethood and life hereafter. No other sacred religious text including the Bible can be at par with the Qur’?n when it comes to appealing to human mind and intellect. The Qur’?n contains rationality par excellence. The New Testaments, on the other hand, are full of irrationality. Even on the prime article of Christian faith about the divinity of Christ (peace be upon him) the texts contain contradictions and irrationality. The present articles of faith of Christianity cannot be proved through the first three testaments. The fourth testament, the gospel of John, written 90 years after Christ implanted the concept of ‘logos’. On the contrary the first three gospels dispel such contentions. Earlier gospels refer to Christ as son of man and son of David. As regards son of God for Christ other persons have also been referred to as sons of God. The Qur’?n presents Maryam as a virgin; so the reference to son of David, implying her marriage is out of place. In fact, it is the benevolence of the Qur’?n on Christianity that it has cleared all the irrational faiths regarding Christ and his mother.
As regards the opinion of the Spanish Muslim scholar quoted by the Pope, Dr. Ansari said he tried to search the writings of Ibn Hazm to understand what he had actually said and in what context but he could not find anything of the sort quoted in the lecture. However there may be some justification for the first part of the quote but the second part, if it has been quoted correctly, is horrible. The issue of rationality vis-à-vis revelation has been debated by Muslim scholars. The question probed by them is how to know what is good or bad and the basis on which the desirability or otherwise of anything can be judged. One reply was that we can do it by mere rationality itself. The other opinion was that Shari’ah, i.e. revelation provides this basis. Ibn Taimiah, the great Muslim scholar has provided the final and balanced answer that many things can be judged on the basis of rationality itself but there are many other things that are beyond the realm of human mind. There are many other things that can be known through the application of human mind but their details can only be known through Shari’ah. Man is not capable of knowing everything in every possible detail. It is here that Revelation comes to play its role.
The learned speaker said that when we say that something is beyond human mind and metaphysical we do not mean that such things are in clash with rationality. Being above and beyond the reach of human mind not necessarily mean being in clash with reasoning and rationality. Dr. Ansari asserted that the Islamic articles of faith do not clash with reasoning and rationality rather they go along together.
As for apology of the Pope, the Jamaat chief said that it is incomplete as the Pope has not retracted his statements.