The Mufti of Syria
Far be it for me to show disrespect to a man of God, but hardly anything the Mufti of Syria tells a delegation of American visitors to Damascus stands up to scrutiny. My comments in italics follow the Mufti's statements as reported by Haaretz (with thanks: bh):
Syria's foremost Muslim leader declared on Tuesday that Islam commands its followers to protect Judaism, according to Army Radio.
Classical Muslim view of Jews as subjugated 'dhimmis'. Under sharia law, Jews surrender their rights to self-defence to Muslims, buying their safety through payment of the poll tax or jizya.
"If the Prophet Mohammed had asked me to deem Christians or Jews heretics, I would have deemed Mohammed himself a heretic," Sheikh Ahmed Hassoun, the Mufti of Syria, was quoted as telling a delegation of American academics visiting Damascus.
Hassoun, the leader of Syria's majority Sunni Muslim community, also told the delegates that Islam was a religion of peace, adding: "If Mohammed had commanded us to kill people, I would have told him he was not a prophet."
During his own lifetime Mohammed turned on three Jewish tribes in Arabia, massacring the men and selling the wives and children into slavery.
Asked if religious wars were the result of politics infiltrating systems of faith, he said, asking:
"Was Moses of Middle Eastern or European descent? Was Jesus a Protestant or a Catholic? Was Mohammed Shi'ite or Sunni?"
Well the Mufti may not know it, but two out of the three were Hebrews.
According to the Mufti, the conflict between Israel and its Arabs neighbors has nothing to do with an Islamic war against Judaism.
I doubt if Hamas, Hizbollah and al-Qaeda would agree.
"Before you got American citizenship, and I got Syrian citizenship, we were all brothers under the dome of God," he said.
It is not different citizenships which make enemies of people.
Jews had once lived in Syria peacefully and with fair treatment, he added, explaining that his own grandfather had a Jewish partner.
Laws placing restrictions on Jewish businesses were introduced in most Arab countries after 1948, forcing Jews into partnership with Muslims. Not a show of tolerance, but an attempt to 'arabise' the economy.
"Jews lived in Syria for years and they still have a role in Syrian society," he said.
Yes, the Jews lived in Syria for over 2,000 years, but the good Mufti neglects to point out that almost no Jews live there now. One wonders how 'significant' a role Jews may play in Syria when there are no more than 50.
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What the Mufti of Syria hopes you don't know (with thanks: Michelle)