Cardinal Pell's Koran Comments


Is Islam a religion of peace? Nope. Just ask Cardinal Pells of Australia. And the Koran.

"In my own reading of the Koran, I began to note down invocations to violence," he said. "There are so many of them, however, that I abandoned this exercise after 50 or 60 or 70 pages."

He discussed the perceived differences between parts of the Koran written during Mohammed's years in Mecca - when his position was weak and he was still hoping to win converts, including Christians and Jews - and those written during his subsequent years in Medina, when "the spread of Islam through conquest and coercion began."

[The differences in the text from those two periods hold apparent contradictions between, for example, the concept of "jihad," meaning striving or waging war. Some verses counsel a patient response to mockery from unbelievers; others incite warfare against them. The question of whether the Medina chapters (suras) replaced and revoked the Mecca ones have long exercised scholars.]

"The predominant grammatical form in which jihad is used in the Koran carries the sense of fighting or waging war," Pell said.

It was legitimate to ask "our Islamic partners in dialogue" for their views on these matters.

"Do they believe that the peaceful suras of the Koran are abrogated by the verses of the sword?" he asked. ...more.

A very valuable question to ask.

He did make some comments about environmentalism that probably needed more explanation. Think about this coming from the USCCB - would that make you laugh, or cry?

In a section of the speech dealing with what he called the "emptiness" of secularism, he said "some of the hysteric and extreme claims about global warming are also a symptom of pagan emptiness, of Western fear when confronted by the immense and basically uncontrollable forces of nature."
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Dang, you beat me to posting on this, John. I beg everyone to read the Cardinal's paper. After reading it, I remarked to my wife that if things get unliveable in the U.S., we're moving to Australia.

I've spoken with many Muslims, all friends; from what they tell me the Koran has been carefully, very carefully, preserved from it's time of writing. Everything, including the methods of judgement, is therefore from the end of the first millenium. We should remember that. Many Muslims have modern interpretations of these texts.

By the way, that's also what they're told about the Bible, that it's been changed over the last two millenia, although the Koran hasn't.

Yeah it,s a favourite retort of Moslem apologists. Excpt that they'll soon run into problems. If the Koran is the untouched word of God how do you explain the aborgation of the 10 commandments and their replacement with taquyyia, polygamy, etc?
Second, how can Arabic be the original language of heaven if it didn't become a written language some 3 centuries after Mohammed's death and so on.
To answer JohMn's rhetorical question: the sura of teh sword (aka Sura 9) can't be abrogated without destroying totally obliterating islam.
Without the sword, the gun, and the bomb, islam has noth. It's foundations are built on sand, it,s apologetics unreasonable.


I get the sense that there are a significant number of modern Muslims who'll argue that - not only did the Medina stuff not abrogate the Mecca stuff - but, nearly the opposite of that: the Medina stuff is only applicable to that particular historical setting, when Mohammed was being chased around by enemies, whereas the Mecca stuff is more universally applicable.

I've seen LOTS of spokespersons for Islam say this in the media in the time since 9/11, and it's hard to imagine that Pell hasn't seen this too.

Now, is that a reasonable reading of the Koran? I have no idea. But in fact, it seems to be a lot of Muslims' reading, unless they're simply lying.

Hence, I have to say that when I read something like this -

It was legitimate to ask "our Islamic partners in dialogue" for their views on these matters.

"Do they believe that the peaceful suras of the Koran are abrogated by the verses of the sword?" he asked.

- the response that comes to mind is, "Asked and answered." And I think it's legitimate for our Islamic partners in dialogue to offer that response and ask us to take it seriously and move along. Unless we really have solid reason to think they're simply lying, in which case the dialogue is probably totally pointless.

As long as the militant interpretation of the Koran is held by a large faction and is not considered heresy, it sets a limit to the good that can be accomplished through dialogue.

A 1999 article from The Atlantic reviews the state of Koran scholarship.

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This page contains a single entry by John Schultz published on May 10, 2006 6:34 PM.

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