PARIS, France, Jan. 4 (UPI) — As the world is focused on the victims of the tsunami disaster in Southeast Asia, a debate is raging among Muslim scholars about an ancient topic: Who is your neighbor?
“Some insist it’s the fellow Muslim,” says the Rev. Hans Voecking, one of the Roman Catholic Church’s leading experts on Islam. “Others feel charity should be extended to any human being.”
One Muslim Internet blogger accused his coreligionists of “racism” because their aid is chiefly directed at Islamic nations.
Well, racism is clearly the wrong term, for racism is one evil Muslims cannot be accused of. More likely, many – though definitely not all – Muslim thinkers have a deficient view of man, meaning that only those who share their faith deserve maximum charity.
“The problem is that the Good Samaritan and Christ’s commandment to love your enemy are not concepts you will find in the Koran,” explains Christine Schirrmacher, president of the Bonn-based Islamic Affairs institute.
Hence, Muslim concern is reserved for the Umma, or Islamic community. Wander through Muslim Web sites, and you will find ample confirmation for this insight.
Of course some Muslims find this embarrassing. One blogger pillories the stinginess of the Saudi Arabian government, which offered only a $10 million contribution to tsunami relief operations. “Contrast this with $155 million raised a year ago in a Saudi telethon to support the families of Palestinian suicide bombers,” the blogger writes.