In “Accentuate the positive: Dr Muqtedar Khan’s New Year Recipe for World Peace,” Dr. Mark Durie (January 1) demolishes a forgery that is often used by deceptive Islamic apologists today to cover up the depredations of dhimmitude:
Dr Muqtedar Khan has written a recent opinion piece, (‘Muhammad’s promise to Christians‘, December 30, 2009), calling upon Christians and Muslims to ‘tell and retell positive stories’ about each other, and ‘abstain from mutual demonization’. He follows his own advice by telling a nice story about a letter, which is thought to be sent from Muhammad to the monks of St Catherine’s Monastery at Mount Sinai in Egypt. [...]
The problem with Dr Khan’s advice is that when reconciliation is what is needed, sweet talk can be a smokescreen for continued abuse. Dr Khan’s advice is at worst a form of emotional blackmail, which attempts to shut down serious critical discourse, for his logic would paint all who attempt a serious critique of the legacy of each faith as inciters of hatred, and ‘demonizers’. This is itself a form of demonization, which will stigmatize the victims of interfaith hatred, simply for telling their far from ‘positive’ stories.
In the light of these considerations, Dr Khan’s example of St Catherine’s letter is misleading and unfortunate. Dr Khan must surely be aware that scholarly opinion does not regard this document as genuine. It is almost certainly a forgery, created to bolster the security of the Christian monks of the Mount Sinai Monastry. This is why the document no longer exists in its original form: there never was an original letter. In reality the very existence of this document is evidence of the fear under which the monks have lived, as are the impregnable walls of the monastery building itself.
Dr Khan must also be aware that this letter is in conflict at several points with classical Islamic sources, including the Koran.
Dr Khan asserts, on the basis of the Mt Sinai letter, that Christians ‘do not have to make any payments’ for living in peace with Muslims. However he does not mention that the Koran commands the imposition of a tax (known as jizya) upon conquered non-Muslims (Sura 9:29), and this was incorporated into Islamic law. Also, although the letter states that Christians were to be allowed to repair their churches, the orthodox Islamic position was that churches were not allowed to be repaired after conquest. This was based upon the Pact of Umar, which has been relied upon by many great Muslim commentators and jurists. Undoubtedly this phrase was included in the forged letter to counter the difficulties Egyptian Christians were having living under sharia conditions. The reference to Christian girls not being forced to marry Muslim men against their will does not reflect Muhammad’s intentions for 7th century monks at Mt Sinai, but the ever-present fear, which Egyptian Christians experience to this day, that Christian women could be forced into unwanted marriages with Muslim men.
In the end, despite Dr Khan’s evident good will and positive story, it is the authority of the Koran and accepted sources such as the Pact of Umar which have shaped Islamic law and affected the destiny of millions of conquered non-Muslims over centuries – and continue to do so today. Not letters held by Christians in monasteries. [...]
It is a form of abuse to attempt to silence the voices of those who suffer from the worst aspects of Islamic law. To characterize as ‘demonization’ attempts to speak about these sufferings or examine the reasons behind them, is intolerable. This contributes nothing to interfaith harmony, but only condemns the wounds of the past to fester on, unhealed. Sadly, Dr Khan’s counsel is no New Year recipe for peace and harmony in our broken world.