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Muslims and Christians Condemn Baghdad Church Massacre

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Local Muslims and Christians condemn bloody Baghdad church massacre

According to media reports 58 were killed and 75 more injured after Al-Qaeda extremists in suicide vests raided Our Lady of Salvation Syriac Church in Baghdad, Iraq during evening mass on Sunday.

The deaths and injuries occurred after Iraqi Special Forces backed by U.S. troops entered the church while Al-Qaeda extremists held clerics and worshipers hostage in the central Karada neighborhood of Baghdad. Witnesses say the insurgents began killing guards outside a stock exchange in Baghdad before going to the church.  Two young priests and a deacon were killed during the raid.

“I cry for my country that was the best country in the world. They killed these people and for what? Just because they were praying at church. Who killed them? I think who killed them, doesn’t believe in God. If they believed in God they would have never killed these people,” said Pastor Hanna Sullaka of Lutheran Church in Warren and Dearborn during an interfaith gathering at the Islamic House of Wisdom (IHW) in Dearborn Heights on Monday.

According to various sources, the Christian population in Iraq was at 800,000 before the United States invaded in 2003 .  As a result of the continuous terrorist attacks against Christians from the resulting destablization of the country, that number has decreased to 550,000. Sullaka says it’s a fact that Christians are on the verge of extinction in Iraq and several have fled to Iraq’s bordering countries to avoid religious attacks.

More than half Iraq’s Christans left the country particularly after the U.S. invasion in 2003. Those who remain are less than three percent of the population which was more than seven percent in the 1980s according to various news sources.

Some Iraqis criticized their government for not having better security at the church, and believe the incident may have been prevented if there was better security available. In response to the series of attacks on Christians, the Iraqi federal police and army have guarded the fronts of churches during mass for two years.  But no security was outside the church that Sunday.

To raise awareness of the plight of Iraq’s shrinking Christian population, the St. Toma Syrian Catholic Church of Farmington Hills is holding a demonstration outside the United States Eastern District Court of Michigan,  231 Lafayette Blvd, Detroit Michigan  48226 from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. on Nov. 8.  According to St. Toma priest Father Toma, more than 1, 000 are expected to attend the demonstration.

Father Toma said the future of Iraqi Christians is uncertain and 55 churches have been bombed and more than nine priests killed since the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003.  “Christians are terrified of going to church to pray,” he said.

Syriac church official Monsignor Pius Kasha told McClatchy Newspapers the attack is the deadliest in Baghdad since before the March elections.

Other religious leaders at the interfaith event Monday which was held to honor the victims of the barbaric attack, spoke out against terrorism in Iraq.  Imam Mohammad Ali Elahi, the spiritual leader of the IHW, called the church raiders people without faith, dignity or spirit.

“The innocent victims of this tragedy that happened in the church of Our Lady of Salvation in Baghdad was an attack by a terrorist. This aggression is for people who have lost their faith, their dignity, their spirit and they choose to act as anyone but human beings.  Obviously we condemn what they did. We condemn terrorism in general. We hate terrorism,” he said. Elahi says those who practice acts of terrorism in the name of Islam in reality are the worst enemies of Islam and add fuel to the fires of Islamophobia.

Sullaka says the Christian Iraqi community in the United States has been effective in helping Iraqi Christians but can become more powerful if they join forces to create effective strategies for peace. Sullaka says to do that American Christian Iraqis must first put their differences aside.  “We can’t say he’s orthodox, he’s Syrian, he’s Chaldean. We have to be one heart. We can become strong, we can get hold of Congress and all parts of the world,” Sullaka said.

During the interfaith event Sullaka also encouraged different faiths to come together.

“We will all pray together, please, raise your right hand all together and pray and say Lord Jesus or the Prophet Moses, Muhammad, together, come on, together, and pray to make peace,” he said.

Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)-Michigan Executive Director,  Dawud Walid encourages Iraqi Americans to continue praying for their families in Iraq.  “CAIR-Michigan strongly condemns the terrorist attack in the Baghdad church. No faith supports such violence against civilians and we pray for the day that Iraqis can worship in peace and no church can be attacked in that historic land,” Walid, also a speaker at the interfaith event said.

Meanwhile, the Muslim Public Affair Council (MPAC) of Washington D.C., a public service agency working for the civil rights of Muslim Americans, released a statement immediately after the massacre strongly condemning the killing of hostages on Sunday.

“The Quran calls for the protection of human life, all houses of worship and religious minorities and yesterday’s attack is an affront to the teachings of Islam and the rich religious diversity if Iraq,” the statement read.

“This violence is not acceptable,” said MPAC President Salam Al-Marayati. “Violence is continuing to drain valuable resources from Iraq, and it is forcing its people to live in fear and with constant strife and devastation. This is one of two incidences of extremists groups attacking other houses of worship. The Qur’an clearly states that the attack on human life and houses of worship is not acceptable.”

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  • Cynic

    Hmmm…interesting what happened to Bob after it was made clear to him that he would need to actually back up his assertions.

  • NassirH

    Oh, and nice tu quoque Bob.

  • NassirH

    LOL Dawood

    If I’m not mistaken, isn’t Bob attempting to reject Ibn Rushd’s statement about the perceived “state of war” on the pretext that it is from only one scholar? Well, while I taking another look at the Jackson article, I found some interesting info. One should read the context of Sherman Jackson’s citing of Ibn Rushd.

    To take one example, the juridical writings of the Spanish jurist, Ibn Rushd the Elder (d. 520/1122), a major legal authority and grandfather of the celebrated Averroes of Western fame, clearly reflect the influence of the perceived “state of war.” Because Ibn Rushd perceived it to be impossible for Muslims to live as Muslims outside of Muslim lands…

    The fact that Sherman Jackson says “one example” means that there are obviously more examples of medieval scholars reflecting a belief in a perceived “state of war”. Unless…of course…taqiyya!

    Anyways, I also found this interesting quote (though, it’s not from the Jackson article):

    The second prominent position was that of the Hanafis as represented by Abu Hanifa’s student, Muhammad ibn al-Hasan al-Shaybani’s remarkable work on international relations, al-Siyar, in which a “state of hostility” is assumed although not expressly mentioned, but aggression is identified specifically as the trigger for war, and toleration, peace and mutual cooperation are emphasised. Majid Khadduri, an American scholar on jihad quoted extremely selectively by Spencer, wrote in the introduction to his translation of al-Siyar “We have seen how Abu Hanifa and his disciples, especially Shaybani, laid down general rules and principles governing Islam’s external relations, based on the assumption that a normal state of war existed between Islamic and non-Islamic territories; but they made no explicit statements that the jihad was a war to be waged against unbelievers solely on account of their disbelief (kufr). On the contrary, the early Hanafi jurists seem to have stressed that tolerance should be shown unbelievers, especially scriptuaries, and advised the Imam to prosecute war only when the inhabitants of the dar al-harb came into conflict with Islam” [10]. In other words, this position does not explicitly profess that there should be a total warfare against unbelievers in order to subjugate or convert them, but assumes that such a warfare already exists and seeks to amend relations beginning from this premise. It is perhaps for this reason, that Abu Hanifa and the Hanafis explicitly said that a peace treaty between Muslim nations and non-Muslim nations may be permanent and unlimited, making peaceful coexistence a legal possibility.

  • Dawood

    I doubt Sherman Jackson is misleading anyone. It would be hypocritical of you to say so…I mean…you have been constantly fumbling around and contradicting yourself; you have claimed that Al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups are waging both “offensive” and defensive Jihad.

    Oh but NassirH, he’s a Moozlim so is committing taqiyya so misleads and misdirects by default! Peer review obviously doesn’t work against this ultimate Moozlim weapon.

  • Dawood

    Hi JihadBob, I’m still waiting on your sources regarding consensus, and also for your sources regarding defensive jihad including invading and terrorising non-Muslim nations.

    I checked Montgomery Watt’s text Muhammad at Medina that you cited, and noticed that he gives little citation for the events, and definitely nothing to state where he got the term “carte blanche” from. Once again he relies on Ibn Ishaq for a number of parts, whose unreliability in dating and the exact nature of events we have discussed before.

    I did find a relevant passage in the History of al-Tabari though:

    “Surad b. ‘Abdallah al-Azdi came to the Messenger of God with the deputation from al-Azd, embraced Islam, and became a good Muslim. The Messenger of God invested him with authority over those of his people who had embraced Islam and ordered him to fight the polytheists from the tribes of the Yemen with them. Surad b. ‘Abdallah then left with an army by the Messenger of God’s command and alighted at Jurash, which at that time was a closed city inhabited by Yemeni tribes. Khath’am had sought refuge with them, and when they heard that the Muslims were marching they shut themselves in it. The Muslims besieged them for about a month but the tribes refrained from coming out of the city. Surad withdrew from them, appearing to return. While he was near a mountain called Kashar, the inhabitants of Jurash, thinking that he had fled from them, came out in pursuit of him. When they overtook him he turned on them and inflicted a heavy loss on them.” (9:88)

    In other words, it was definitely a tribal war situation, as when we look up more information from places such as the Encyclopaedia of Islam, we find that the al-Azd and the al-Kath’am tribes, amongst others, were major rivals; this strengthens Jackson’s initial position on the nature of tribal feuds, associations and warfare in the Arabian Peninsula. It was not simply about religion either. The reason I say the latter, is because when we look at al-Baladhuri’s Futuh al-Baldan, which is the source you cited from previously regarding the “massacares” in Khurasan, amongst other places (which I then checked in Arabic for us), we find the following statements only regarding the incident:

    “Tabalah and Jurash: I heard from Bakr ibn Haytham, …. from al-Zuhri, who said: ‘The people of al-Tabalah and Jurash converted to Islam without conflict.

    The Prophet (God’s blessings and peace be upon him) endorsed their conversion, and took from every adult male from the People of the Book one dinar, stipulating the condition on them that they provide hospitality to Muslims. The governon of Jurash was Abu Sufyan ibn Harb. ”

    [تبالة وجرش حدثني بكر بن الهيثم عن عبد الرزاق عن معمر عن الزهري قال‏:‏ أسلم أهل تبالة وجرش عن غير قتال‏.‏

    فأقرهم رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم على ما أسلموا عليه وجعل على كل حالم ممن بهما من أهل الكتاب دينارًا واشترط عليهم ضيافة المسلمين وولى أبا سفيان بن حرب جرش‏.‏]

    Now, that is interesting, besides the fact that the early historical sources conflict regarding key details. It’s also interesting because it strengthens the case that the fighting was only in regards to Arabian polytheists, and not simply a “carte blanche” statement over all non-Muslims as Watt suggested. When we do some digging on the al-Azd and al-Kath’am tribes, we find out that they worshipped the various Arabian dieties, and were important shrine-keepers etc. in many cases. The Encyclopaedia of Islam also notes that “Their first relations with Muhammad were certainly hostile, but they ultimately sent him an embassy and recognised him, and accepted a letter from him which declared all the blood-feuds previous to Islam abolished.”

    This ties in with another major part of Jackson’s article, where he said:

    “In sum, even before the Prophet Muhammad, Arabia was characterized by an overall “state of war.” The advent of the Prophet’s mission only altered this by altering the categories with which the various groups and individuals identified. From this point on, in the absence of a peace-treaty (which the Qur’an both sanctioned and sanctified) there would exist only the blurriest of distinctions between “non-Muslims” and “hostile forces.” This is the back-drop and raison d’etre against which all the Qur’anic material on jihad must be read.”

    We can see this if we look to other sources, such as Berkey’s The Formation of Islam: “A particularly rich and suggestive example is that of Dhu Nuwas, a king of Himyar in South Arabia who converted to Judaism in the early sixth century and then led an attack on and persecution of Christians, particularly at Najran, reportedly in retaliation for the burning of a synagogue there.”(47) Thus, the Peninsula was a volatile place to be living in, regardless of which religion one followed.

    The thing that I find most interesting, however, is when one page later than your quote, Watt discusses the consolidation of “Pax Islamica” essentially as a way of ending tribal wars and inter-tribal blood feuds; simply put, the combined might of the Muslim state would be enough of a deterrant for any one tribe to dare attack those under its protection. (Watt, 121). Jackson likens it to the ‘Cold War’. Donner in some sense concurs with this, if you have actually read his book chapter in Just War and Jihad: Perspectives on War and Peace in Western and Islamic Traditions, when he describes the perilous state of Arabian tribes pre-Islam. It definitely brought stability to the region, I don’t think anyone can doubt that. I simply don’t understand how the Muslim Empire is viewed so differently than, say, the Romans, who conquered vast tracts of land, brought stability to the inhabitants of their empire [not without much shed blood on all sides, of course], and also religion for that matter. Or even today, those attempting to bring “stability” to regions seen as troubled. What is the difference?

  • So bob, you’ve now dropped all the other points and are having to rely on a single occurrence that is pretty much non related to the debate to progress? This happens a lot doesn’t it? Eid Murbark BTW.

  • JihadBob

    Nope. I can also cite Bernard Lewis and many other scholars—both Muslim and non-Muslim. It was Christian governments, not Muslims governments who had a penchant for enforcing forced conversions—perhaps most notably in “post-Islamic” Spain.


    I misread the post but that’s besides the point, why not mention the rule of the Muslim Almohad regime where Jews and Christians were no longer ‘protected’ and required to convert to Islam or leave Muslim occupied Spain?

  • NassirH

    Offensive jihad is for the purpose of spreading Islam, gaining converts through forceful conversion.

    Nope. I can also cite Bernard Lewis and many other scholars—both Muslim and non-Muslim. It was Christian governments, not Muslims governments who had a penchant for enforcing forced conversions—perhaps most notably in “post-Islamic” Spain.

    that those scholars who deny offensive jihad warfare are in the minority.

    Modern scholars (those that are relevant) limit Jihad only for self-defense. I’ll quote a few (if only just to anger Bob).

    Rashid Rida (d. 1935), the author of the most renowned work of Qur’anic exegesis in the twentieth century, wrote “everything that is mentioned in the Koran with regard to the rules of fighting, is intended as defence against enemies that fight the Moslems because of their religion” [37]. Mahmud Shaltut (d. 1963), who was the grand shaykh of al-Azhar in Egypt, showed in his tract al-Qur’an wa l-Qital (The Qur’an and Fighting) [38] that by taking an inter-textual and contextual approach to the Qur’an as opposed the classical “evolution theory”, jihad becomes primarily defensive, and the fundamental relationship between Muslim and non-Muslim nations is established as one of peace.

    In his extensive thesis on Jihad, the modern academic Muhammad Khayr Haykal quotes many modern authorities (ulama) on the subject of jihad and he discovers most of them believe it to be primarily defensive and one that envisages peaceful coexistence [39]. I will quote a few examples here (all references are taken from Haykal’s work).

    Abd al-Wahhab Khallaf (d. 1956), who was a teacher at Azhar and supervisor of Shari’ah courts in Egypt, wrote: “Islam establishes relations between Muslims and others as peace and security, not as war and fighting, except when they are targeted with harmful (intentions) to reek havoc in their religion, or quell their call (to Islam), for then jihad would be made obligatory in order to deter the harm and protect the call…and if non-Muslims withhold from their persecution and leave them free to call (to Islam), Muslims should not display a sword or initiate war” [40]

    Abd al-Hafiz Abd Rabbih wrote, quoting and approving another authority, Dr. Muhammad Abd Allah al-Darraz: “We agree expressly that the war legislated in Islam is a defensive war only, and none besides, and it behooves us to point out that defence includes within it two types, both of which the Qur’an alludes to: 1. defending lives and 2. the necessary aid for the Muslim subjects…we see from this, war in Islam is an evil, and there is no recourse to it except in (cases of) necessity” [41] In his foreword to this work Dr Muhammad Muhammad al-Fahham (d. 1975?), the grand shaykh of Azhar from 1969-1973, commends the author and approves of the book.

    Dr Mustafa al-Siba‘i (d. 1964), who was Professor of Law at the University of Damascus and established the Faculty of Shariah there in 1955, wrote: “Jihad in Islam is legislated for two purposes: 1. repelling the enemy to free the (Muslim) community in its land and its religion, and 2. rescuing oppressed people from tyrant rulers” [42]

    Sayyid Sabiq (d. 2000), a jurist from the Muslim Brotherhood, a teacher at Azhar as well as Umm al-Qura in Mecca and author of the renowned work Fiqh al-Sunna (Understanding Tradition), wrote: “Since the fundamental principle is peace and war is the exception, there is nothing permitting war in Islam whatever the situation except in two instances: 1. when defending life, honour and property, and land when it is occupied; 2. when defending the call to God if one is hampered along his path, by torturing the one who believes it or by preventing one who intends to engage in it or by stopping the caller from his call” [43]

    The Egyptian judge Ali Ali Mansur wrote: “Islam does not approve of offensive warfare with the intention of conquest (fath) or expansion (tawassu)…the war that is legislated in Islam is defensive war, to repel the hostility which an enemy initiated, or to defend an established clause in a treaty or an agreement broken by the opposition, or to protect the call (to Islam)” [44]

    Wahba al-Zuhayli (b. 1933), Professor of Islamic jurisprudence at Damascus University, wrote “The jurists of both Sunni and Shiite orientation believed, in the age of juristic innovation of the second century, that the fundamental relationship between Muslims and others is war … on the premise of what they understood from the verses of the Qur’an upon its apparent (meaning) and absolute (rendering), without efforts to reconcile and combine between them…perhaps their pretext for this ruling is their condition of being affected by the state of the Muslims at that time of the necessity of firmness before the enemies who surrounded them from every side” [45]. Based on Qur’anic verse 8:61 and others and the Prophet’s biography, Zuhayli goes on to argue the fundamental relationship between Muslim and non-Muslim nations according to the Muslim scriptures is in fact one of peace. The opinions described here have been adopted by ulama throughout the world e.g. the world renowned Indian scholar Abu l-Hasan Ali Nadwi (d. 1999) and Wahiduddin Khan (b. 1925) of Delhi; and from the West, such scholars as Mustafa Ceric, Zaid Shakir and Abd al-Hakim Murad

    In his book, al-Jihad fi l-Islam, Ramadan al-Buti (b. 1933) conclusively proves that military jihad has been legislated for the purpose of averting aggression (hiraba) not disbelief (kufr) based on the opinions of the majority of the ulama and texts of the Qur’an and hadiths. He writes “The majority, that is the Hanafis, Malikis and Hanbalis, have adopted (the view) that the ratio legis for military jihad is averting aggression, and al-Shafi‘i adopted (the view) in the most prominent of his two pronouncements that the ratio legis is disbelief, and this is also the madhhab of Ibn Hazm” [46] [references he cites: Bidayat al-Mujtahid 1:369-372, al-Mughni 9:301, Fath al-Qadir 5:452, al-Sharh al-Saghir ‘ala Aqrab al-Masalik 2:275, Mughni al-Muhtaj 4:234, al-Tuhfa 9:231]. He elaborates on this point in terms of evidence from the Qur’an and hadith and finds the minority Shafiite view is based on a weak interpretation of the evidence [47].

    Rudolph Peters suggests the idea of the “exclusively defensive character of jihad” may have been a popular understanding even before the modern period: “Although the exclusively defensive character of jihad was only recently put forward by the modernists, there are indications that this concept is much older…The collection of Thousand and One Nights contains the didactic story of Tawaddud, a slave girl that astonishes the ulama by her extensive knowledge of Islam. With regard to jihad, we read: ‘He said: “What is the jihad and what are its essential elements (arkan)?” She answered: “As for its essential elements, they are: an attack on us by the unbelievers, the presence of an Imam, preparedness and constance when one meets the enemy”’(Alf layla wa layla Vol. 2, p. 309)” [48].

    The jury is still out on Sherman Jackson. He seems to mislead a bit, but Shakir acknowledges that there was a consensus amongst Muslim scholars regarding offensive Jihad.

    I doubt Sherman Jackson is misleading anyone. It would be hypocritical of you to say so…I mean…you have been constantly fumbling around and contradicting yourself; you have claimed that Al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups are waging both “offensive” and defensive Jihad.

    So the attacker’s state of mind needs to be analyzed to determine if an attack is ‘Islamophobic’ or not?

    *roll eyes* We’ve already been through this. It’s especially ironic considering that you, Bob, are a bigoted Islamophobe yourself.

    The Koran legitimizes the killing of apostates. I’m undecided on whether hypocrites are to be ‘punished’ and if so, for what reasons? Perhaps not all hypocrites are equal?

    Been through this. (Writing your own Tafsir again?)

    In that particular passage it certainly does. See Narnian’s thread about taking passages from the Koran out of context.

    Wow. You’re delusional. We’ve already been through. Didn’t you read the debate on the thread? She was undoubtedly crushed (just like you). And I quote a Loonwatchers…

    Ah Narnian! Did you know that after I joined the site and started engaging Narnian, she stopped posting?

    JB: Actually, the person who wrote the excellent post was a former Muslim

    You mean former nominal Muslim. She said so herself that she only became a Muslim to please her ex-husband who was an Algerian

    LOL. Someone needs to tell her to get over it.

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