Islam's paradox and the insult

Islam's paradox and the insult

In the Western world, many scholars are grateful to Islam for having saved the knowledge of ancient Greek and Roman civilization, supplying information and ideas to Europe during the High Middle Ages. The Islamic Golden Age was a period of cultural, economic, and scientific flourishing. During this period of the 8th to 14th century, researchers began to examine Greek and Roman science and philosophy. Avicenna or Ibn Sina, a Persian a polymath who is regarded as one of the most influential philosophers of the time, and Averroes or Ibn Rushd an Andalusian also polymath who was one of the great figures of philosophy within the Muslim contexts, both worked extensively on the works of Aristotle. As a result, Aristotelism became an important part of Islamic philosophy.

In Baghdad, the “House of Wisdom” functioned as one of the most important intellectual centers which encouraged ambitious young men to take part in the translation and study of ancient manuscripts. The work accomplished helped the Islamic world to realize the most important scientific and philosophical work of the time. Without the work of these muslim scholars, the world today would know very little of ancient science and philosophy. It was on the basis of these translations that the foundations of European science and philosophy emerged after first millennium. It is interesting to mention that Aristotle in Europe was admired and regarded in the beginning as a part of Islamic philosophy.

But it was not Aristotle only who was studied but also Euclid, Galenus and other scholars of Ancient Greece. As a consequence, mutual admiration existed between the West and Islam of the time due to the close relationship between Muslim scholars and Greek Science and Philosophy.

Excellent affair but not without consequences and explanation. Prophet’s Muhammad covenant or Ashtiname makes its appearance. Let’s remember that the word Āshtīnāmeh is Persian meaning “Book of Peace”, a term for a treaty and covenant. This testament or covenant of Muhammad, is a document which is a charter or writ written by Ali. It was given to the Christian monks of Saint Catherine’s Monastery. What is remarkable with it is that it was sealed with an imprint representing prophet Muhammad’s hand. It is written that this testament is “sent to all the people as a trust on the part of God to all His creatures, that they may have no plea against God hereafter. Verily God is Omnipotent, the Wise”. The reasons for writing this will – an order for the everlasting protection of Greeks and Christians- have some possible historical and social explanations also.

Many at that time believed that those who knew the Bible were also conscious of the prophetic mission of a coming personality or figure. When Muhammad turned twelve years old, he accompanied his uncle to Syria, where he was hosted by a Greek monk. It is said that the moment the monk saw the Child, he said: “He is the great prophet!”. And fascinated he examined the shoulder blade or scapula of the young Muhammad, where he found the stamp or sign of prophecy. It is therefore speculated that this is one of the reasons the son of the Desert expressed later his sympathy to the Orthodox Christians. He probably had estimated and appreciated the Greeks who were the first to realize and appreciate the merit or value of his prophetic future.

But the Prophet Mohammed’s fruitful interaction with the Greeks did not end in this incident, but continued later. The positive feelings for the Greeks are perhaps linked to the aftermath of the discovery of a plan to assassinate Muhammad in Mecca. It was said that his wife’s relatives or some enemies for some reasons wanted to slaughter Muhammad something that caused a Greek intervention for the rescue of the prophet. More specifically it caused the intervention of a wealthy Greek who gave all his property, his entire vast fortune in order to make possible for Muhammad to escape, to carry His exodus. The prophet called the Greek who saved his life the “First Fruit of Greece”. It was observed that next to prophet Muhammed and always near him as long as he lived was a Greek very rich man.

The case with the unknown Greek benefactor and savior of Muhammad had huge implications. The incident prompted Mohammed to thank the Greeks for their action by creating a series of orders for all Muslims worldwide. He issued commandments for the protection of Greeks and Christians till the end of the world as he wrote!

More specifically prophet Muhammad pleased and flattered by the Greek recognition of the truth of his words not only issued a decree, but declared to his followers to take care of the race of the Greeks (Yunan) as much as they could. Prophet Muhammad left a Covenant or Will in which he gave orders to Muslims not to do harm or even tease (nor even a hair) from any Greek ever. Also ordered that in case Greece or the Greeks ever needed help then every Muslim must offer it wholeheartedly. He commanded those responsible in Muslim leadership from demanding money or gifts from Greeks or Christians and forbids to them exerting violence against them. They also ordered them to look after the Greeks as much as they could by keeping and letting them live in peace.

He said that those who wanted to live in the mountains, or caves, or villages, or in a monastery, or a church and any inhabited place must be free to do it. He considered himself as a guardian and protector of them and all their possessions since be considered part of his honor. Also ordered the Muslims not to change their “judges and their abbots” with nobody preventing them from renovating their churches. He ordered his followers for the Greeks not to pay tribute, and also not to be offended. He ordered also his followers to ensure that none of the property of their churches is spent on building a mosque or any other Muslim place. In times of peace and happiness, they should not only help them, but offer them part of the surplus. Prophet Mohammed also took care of the wandering monks. Generally speaking, he said that those who wanted to live in the mountains, or caves, or villages or a beach or any inhabited place, or in a monastery, or a church must have a safe living.

Prophet Mohamed gives even practical details as for example in cases a Christian woman marries a Muslim man. He said that the Muslim should obey this woman’s will and not prevent her from going to church, her prayer and exercise the habits of her faith. Concerning the taxes the Christians must pay, if of course they are obliged to do so, should pay no more than twelve drachmas.

In cases of a foreign war (Muslim oriented), he said that the Greeks should not be forced to bless that particular war, nor should they be asked for a related tribute. Also avoid forcing them in special duties “e.g. turn something against them”, in fact, he said that the Muslims should fight in order to protect them.

What seems important is prophet Muhammad’s statement or order to Muslims not to disturb those who respect the books sent by God. He said the best way for Muslims is to support them to do so, and wherever someone (disciple) tempts them (whoever they are) he has to stop it. This may partly explain the love of Muslim scholars in the Islamic Golden Age to Greek knowledge resulting from the famous work performed in the “House of Wisdom” in Baghdad.

But prophet Mohamed also warned that whoever break the promise and the oath in the agreement and subsequently wears out the promise of God and denies his oath, and fights against his command-ment, resists his faith he becomes worthy of the curse, being either King or even poor, whoever he is. He also said that whoever does different or believes the opposite, certainly becomes an apostate of God, and of the Divine Apostle. And for this reason, he says no one to dare to do anything ever against this promise, until the World disappears.

What also seems odd is that the prophet Muhammad placed his own hand on the letter something he never did for any other letter. Originally, Muhammad’s efforts did not focus on the conversion of Greek Christians, but on the realization of not criticizing and combating his prophecies and religion of under-formation Islam. Under these circumstances at the time, it is possible the Sinai “abbot”, to have realized the increase in the power of the then inconspicuous Muhammad. Knowing that the monastery of Sinai as well as the remarkable “Greek merchant community of Petraea Arabia would be exposed to the various declarations of the Arabs, he asked for a letter of appreciation. Consequently, he received from Muham-mad on behalf of the pro-Greek community and Orthodox Christian monasteries a beneficial decree.

However, there are some issues at this point. We are talking about the great prophet Muhammad a distinguished and charismatic “personality” of tremendous importance and influence all over the world. In the west there are many unanswered social type mainly issues related to his actions. That means they respect him greatly and even a few admire him, but they just don’t fully understand his work and his amazing offer. Especially in Greece (Yunan) for which the prophet has shown so much care and interest, close admiration is more powerful.

But not everybody even among his followers has shown respect for Him. There have been cases with negative behavior against His Testament (Muhammad). He ordered the Muslims to be in favor of the Greeks and Christians, revealing that some intentionally or not ignore for some reason His com-mandments. The destruction of Christian churches in the former Byzantine region shows that some Mus-lims ignore His commandments, specifically the Astiname of the Prophet Muhammad. Turning their be-havior against the Will of the Prophet may be accused for being transgressors of the Law of Mohammed worth excommunicated.

In the Islamic world, they say that they have specific duties in order to protect and respect the Mes-senger of Allah. That a good thing since the prophet must be supported in case of conflict between fake and actual Islam and finally protect it from being insulted. They say that they have to fight those who abuse the Messenger of Allah and they will not keep silent about this impoliteness, even if souls are to be sacrificed for this cause. They say that there is not on earth a single Muslim who will not protect his good name so the question is what is their reaction against those insulting him. But the case of turn or conversion of one of the most important Christian Churches of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople into a mosque raises some questions. For this city, Constantinople as the prophet called it, people in the West are concerned with this type of interventions made against his expressed desire to protect the Greeks.

Does such an action prove that there are unpunished Muslims despite insulting the prophet? And al-so, how Muslims around the world react when they observe insulting their Prophet’s Ashtiname? What are their organizations doing to protect His Great name and punish those who insulted the Messenger of Allah?

We are waiting for an answer. But…

In honor and respect to the Great Prophet and Messenger.



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