I think I could buy into that hashtag (#illridewithyou). My beef with Islam is not with the messenger, but with the message, or that which manufactures terrorists. I have Muslim friends, and if religion does not come into the picture, I never think of them as Muslims. But having said that, I must admit that there is this subconscious that tells me to keep an arm's lenght distance from them; for some reason, I could not bring myself to count them among my close friends. Maybe, it is their Taqiyya rule, which prompts them to lie through their teeth to an infidel if they ever find themselves in a disadvantageous position, and that is why I always have to be on guard when I'm with them. (Isn't it strange that whenever Muslims in Mindanao negotiate for peace with PHL govt, like the BBL now being discussed in Congress, there is always a separate faction ready to go war? Is this a preconceived set-up that comes natural to them because of Taqiyya?)
Maybe political correctness is best way to keep the peace. For us who are much influenced by Western (and Christian) culture, it may be the only way. People like Robert Spencer (jihadwatch.org), Pamela Geller (pamelageller.com), etc, think political correctness is the wrong way for they maintain that the only real Muslims are the terrorists like ISIS, Al Queda, Boko Haram, etc if one reads and understands the Koran. They claim moderate Muslims are fake Muslims. Fr. Zakaria (fatherzakaria.net) of Egypt, who is considered the number one enemy of Islam for having converted the most number of Muslims to Christianity via his TV show, thinks political correctness is the right way. However, it is only the organization of Zakaria who knows the exact number for unless one is prepared to die in the hands of one's family and friends, a Muslim can not openly declare his/her conversion to another belief.
All humans suffer from a presupposition ingrained in minds because I suppose all humans are fed with knowledge during youth, or those ages when we just digest everthing without question. With maturity, a few just throw away every presupposition as bad as Nietzche had proposed, or some take a closer look at it so that what is good could be retained. Majority in PHL are Catholics so the presupposition must be epistemologically a Catholic one, whether one is Catholic or not. In the sense that PHL could possibly allow a state within a state because of BBL, it might be worth looking at this not just from the political and economic angle, but also from our religious presuppositions, especially since Islam can not seem to separate that which is political from that which is religious. Just think of the Sharia Law, as that already in effect in Brunei. To say that this is the reason why religion should be totally discounted from any equation is somehow aspiring for a Marxist utopia. It ignores reality; majority of the seven billion inhabitants of earth have unquestioned presuppositions. On top of that, cultures with Christian background seem to yield more atheists than Islam does, and that should already hint on something — religions, organized or not, are not the same.
(By the way, I agree with the thinking that Basilan and Sulu should be made into Free Zones or Off Shore Banking Islands to compete with Labuan, Singapore, Hong Kong, or the likes of Cayman Islands, St John, etc in the Carribean. This should spur unprecedented economic activities in the area. The economic growth could accelerate the quest of Pinoy Muslims for an independent Bangsamoro nation, but also could make them forget BBL just to make sure there is peace that could pave the success of the Freeports. Managed well, the latter is possible and which would better than forcing a BBL which will always mean an unacceptable constitutional change.)
So, what does Catholicism think of Islam? Influenced by the inimitable philosopher and historian Hillaire Belloc and one of his books, The Great Heresies, the Catholic Church considers Islam as one of the five heresies (in historical order, Arianism, Muhammedism, Albigenianism, Protestanism, and for lack yet of a better label, Modernism, which is a combination of all the earlier four) which have had the greatest impact on Western culture, particular that of Europe. Islam has the distinction of being the only heresy that developed outside of the Church. Even if it was outside the Church, it was still classified as a heresy because the environment from which it arose was predominantly or solidly a Christian one. In fact, it was a time when it was politically expedient to be a Christian. It attracted the "high brows" and more than half of the intellectuals of the period. It was a time when Christianity had just one brand, Catholicism, in a vast region that used to be the Roman Empire. By the time, Islam appeared on the horizon in 635 CE, Catholicism was just experiencing a unification after it was split right in the middle by the Arian controversy. Bishop Arius preached that Jesus was just a man, and the Church took five councils to settle the issue –Nicaea I (325) Constantinople I (381) Ephesus (431) Chalcedon (451) Constantinople II (553) — in order to be able to formulate a doctrine understandable by the common man, not just by theologians, that Jesus was fully human and fully divine.
Belloc argues that if the Church took the route of Arius because of political pressure from the Empire's Army, which was still unified and were all Arians, then, that route would have taken that which Islam has taken — there may have been no need for, or no controversy with, Islam today. Muhammed breathed in what was becoming an ever compelling Chistian culture that was replacing the fading Graeco-Roman one. Although Islam has developed into a syncretism of Christianity polluted with gnostic philosophies and Arian thinking and adjusted to fit the Arab tribal religions, it was in short not a new religion attacking an old, it was a heresy. He proclaimed Jesus as the greatest prophet and Mary (Miriam in Arab) as the epitome of womanhood. He picked up the big truths believed by Catholicism: (1) the attributes of God, the personal nature, the all-goodness, the timelessness, the providence of God, His creative power as the origin of all things, and His sustenance of all things by His power alone (2) the world of good spirits and angels and of evil spirits with a chief evil spirit in rebellion against God, and (3) on the human side – the immortality of the soul and its responsibility for actions in this life, coupled with the consequent doctrine of punishment and reward after death.
Muhammed, however, rejected the greatest truths, the incarnation of Jesus and thus, the Trinity and the sacramental systems, or every high theology since said "mysteries" are not easily understood by simple men. He missed the point that Catholicism is not about a book, but about person, who proclaimed that He was the Alpha and Omega — if Jesus was just a man, He was an anti-Christ, the biggest scammer in history. In short, Islam is an oversimplified Catholicism.
In the history of Catholicism, many heresies come and go unless there is a geopolitical and social context that allows it to persist, and this is true for Islam. The geopolitical ambitions and thoughts of Muhammed may have just remained among a few Arab tribes, but he was married to a wealthy woman and thus had the logistics to start and expand his conquest. What made Islam attractive is that it started when there were major shifts. The Graeco-Roman world of the Mediterranean was fading, societies had fallen and confused — as societies have today — into a tangle wherein the bulk of men were disappointed and angry and seeking for a solution to the whole group of social strains. There was indebtedness everywhere; the power of money and consequent usury. There was slavery everywhere. Society reposed upon it, as ours reposes upon wage slavery today. There was weariness and discontent with theological debate, which, for all its intensity, had grown out of touch with the masses. There lay upon the freemen, already tortured with debt, a heavy burden of imperial taxation; and there was the irritant of existing central government interfering with men's lives; there was the tyranny of the lawyers and their charges. To all this Islam came as a vast relief and a solution of strain.
Here was a religion that did not need detailed theology and philosophy. It was materialistic in essence, but dignified as a religion. The slave who admitted Muhammed was the prophet of God and that the new teaching had, therefore, divine authority, ceased to be a slave. The slave who adopted Islam was henceforward free. The debtor who "accepted" was rid of his debts. Usury was forbidden. The small farmer was relieved not only of his debts but of his crushing taxation. Above all, justice could be had without buying it from lawyers… . All this in theory. The practice was not nearly so complete. Many a convert remained a debtor, many were still slaves. But wherever Islam conquered there was a new spirit of freedom and relaxation.
It was the combination of all these things, the attractive simplicity of the doctrine, the sweeping away of clerical and imperial discipline, the huge immediate practical advantage of freedom for the slave and riddance of anxiety for the debtor, the crowning advantage of free justice under few and simple new laws easily understood — that formed the driving force behind the astonishing Muhammedan social victory. The courts were everywhere accessible to all without payment and giving verdicts which all could understand. The Muhammedan movement was essentially the first "Reformation," and while no Protestant will admit this, we can discover numerous affinities between Islam and the Protestant Reformers, e.g., on Images, on the Mass, on celibacy, on attack of the priestly caste, on relaxation of marriage laws, on a religion based on a book, etc.
In the 18th and 19th century, Middle and Near East, as well as North Africa were colonies of European countries, and so it is very hard to imagine these days how Islam could have almost conquered Europe. In the west, it has reached almost half of France through Spain and North Africa. In the east, it was already in Austria and Poland through the Balkans. Its armies were still knocking at the door of Europe up to the 17th century. But, the struggle between Asia and Europe swings over a vast period like a tide ebbing and flowing for a thousand years. In some era, it is Europe asserting itself; in others, it is Asia. When Islam started, it was Asia re-asserting itself. What was remarkable than the flooding of all near Asia with Islam in one lifetime was the wealth and splendour and culture of the new Islamic Empire. Islam was in those early centuries (most of the 7th, all the 8th and 9th), the highest material civilization of the occidental world. The city of Constantinople, present day Istanbul, was very wealthy and enjoyed a very high civilization, which radiated over dependent provinces, Greece and the seaboard of the Aegean and the uplands of Asia Minor, but it was focussed in the imperial city; in the greater part of the country-sides culture was on the decline. In the West it was notoriously so. Gaul and Britain, and in some degree Italy, and the valley of the Danube, fell back towards barbarism. They never became completely barbaric, not even in Britain, which was the most remote; but they were harried and Constantinople, was the center of wealth. Once Islam established its Caliphate in Bagdad after coming out of the Arabian desert, it was unstoppable. Constantinople became an easy target.
Today, Islam is re-asserting itself as it did in the beginning. Is it because of an over-all decline in culture again? Islam is the religion of the oppressed alright, but unfortunately, its adherents are fanatical and intolerant, as well as bloodthirsty – the infidels are always second class citizens to them, subjects that have to be taxed more than their brothers and sisters in faith. When they are the "second class" in actuality, they become deceptive (Taqiyya), so how can we trust them? This is the clash of cultures.
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