Atta-ul-Naseer, Missionary and National President, Jamaat Greece
In a recent interview on Open TV, Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens said:
“… as we know, Islam is not a religion; it is a political party, a political movement. They are people of war – the people of expansion. This is a characteristic of Islam and Prophet Muhammad has said it.”
The archbishop’s statement gave an entirely false impression about Islam and the founder of Islam, Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him.
When the Muslims of Greece and Turkey condemned these comments, a statement was issued by the Archdiocese of Athens saying that the quote was misinterpreted.
Archbishop Ieronymos was “referring to the group of extreme fundamentalists, who sow terror and death throughout the Universe … These are exactly the people the Archbishop was referring to; people who are instrumentalising Islam and turning it into a deadly weapon against all those who have a different view.”
The statement underlined that the archbishop and all the metropolitans of the Church of Greece “respect all the known religions and treat all their faithful with Christian love and solidarity.”
While listening to the interview, it was noticeably clear the archbishop did not talk about the group of extreme fundamentalists. He clearly used the words “Islam” and attacked it by saying that it is not a religion, but a political party and the attacks continued as stated above.
Such is the stature of the archbishop that no matter what reference he spoke with, it was not appropriate for him to have made these unfounded comments in the current climate when, in many non-Muslim countries, Islamophobia is on the rise.
If he wished to warn about extremism and terrorism, he ought to have said that though some militant, so-called Islamic organisations have adopted an erroneous method, the teaching of Islam is contrary to this and to establish peace in the world, we should work together so that the innocent may be saved from destruction.
Rather than this, the archbishop has tried to lead his followers to believe a false narrative of Islam and has aided in dividing society. He also showed his total lack of understanding about Islam through these remarks.
Considering the teachings of Jesusas, he should have tried to create peace in the world; indeed, Jesusas gave the teaching of even treating one’s enemy with decency. By condemning Islam as “not a religion” and attributing vile narratives to the Holy Prophetsa of Islam, the archbishop not only their responsibilities towards their fellow human beings.
Another important fact that needs to be highlighted in this regard is that the advent of the Holy Prophetsa of Islam was prophesied by not only the Old Testament but also by Jesusas himself in the same way the Old Testament prophesied the advent of Jesusas. The religion of Islam is the fulfilment of those prophecies.
The archbishop claimed that Muslims are people of war, but before making such a statement, he should also tell us in whose account does he put the endless internal wars that plague the history of Christianity?
In whose account does he credit the Spanish Inquisition or the Crusades? Is he unaware of the Christian nations who gave us the greatest and most horrific wars the world has ever seen? Was the atomic bomb used by the Muslims? Greece’s history is riddled with several hundred wars; would the archbishop enlighten us if these were also fought by Muslims?
Islam is a complete code of conduct. If Islam sanctions war, it is only at the time when the enemy is waging war or is creating oppressive circumstances – no fair-minded person would contest to these teachings.
As soon as the circumstances turn normal and the persecution comes to an end, the commandment is that there is no justification for war. Allah the Almighty states in the Holy Quran:
“And fight them until there is no persecution, and religion is freely professed for Allah. But if they desist, then remember that no hostility is allowed except against the aggressors.” (Surah al-Baqarah, Ch.2: V.194)
Muslims were permitted to fight to defend the religious freedom of not only Muslims, but Jews, Christians and people of other religions. Allah declares:
“Permission to fight is given to those against whom war is made, because they have been wronged – and Allah indeed has the power to help them – those who have been driven out from their homes unjustly only because they said, ‘Our Lord is Allah’; and if Allah did not repel some men by means of others, there would surely have been pulled down cloisters and churches, and synagogues and mosques, wherein the name of Allah is oft commemorated. And Allah will surely help one who helps Him. Allah is indeed Powerful, Mighty.” (Surah al-Hajj, Ch.22: V.40-41)
History is witness that all the wars fought by the Holy Prophetsa of Islam were defensive under these principles of the Holy Quran. If followers of Islam or other religions have acted against the teachings of their respective religions, then the onus of acting contrary to its beliefs lies with those people, not the religion. The religion of Islam or any other religion cannot be blamed for the actions of such people.
Once again, I would like to reiterate my belief that the status of the archbishop is such that he should have been more thoughtful of the outcomes of his remarks. In the current atmosphere of misunderstandings and disunity, he should have been a torchbearer of peace and harmony irrespective of differences in religious beliefs.