SAN FRANCISCO – The Dalai Lama urged religious leaders over the weekend to reach out to Muslims, saying Islam is a compassionate faith that has been unfairly maligned because of a few extremists.
“Nowadays to some people the Muslim tradition appears more militant,” the 70-year-old exiled monk said at a conference aimed at bringing Muslims and Buddhists together.
“I feel that’s totally wrong. Muslims, like any other traditions — same message, same practice. That is a practice of compassion,” he said.
I wonder how the Dalai Lama would square that statement with the many elements of core Islamic tradition that recommend compassion toward believers, but harshness toward unbelievers. E.g. Qur’an 48:29: “Muhammad is the messenger of Allah; and those who are with him are strong against unbelievers, (but) compassionate amongst each other.”
Event organizers say the Dalai Lama interrupted his schedule to fly to San Francisco and meet Islamic scholars and leaders from other faiths to discuss reducing violence and extremism.
Security was tight at the invitation-only conference, which drew about 500 religious leaders and scholars. The conference included speakers and presenters from numerous faiths and roughly 30 countries.
Why on earth was security tight?
The Dalai Lama told the audience that many people see and hear news of suicide bombings in predominantly Muslim countries but don’t hear about how Muslims often work with the poor.
I’m glad to hear about Muslims working with the poor. But the fact that they do does not negate the justification for suicide bombing that is found in the Qur’an itself (9:111), which guarantees Paradise to those who “slay and are slain” for Allah.
He said all human beings are prone to violence if they lose control of their emotions and not to judge an entire faith based on a few people. “A few mischievous people are always there,” he said.
Of course all human beings are prone to violence. But the Dalai Lama is not acknowledging the fact that Islamic tradition — beginning with the Qur’an and Sunnah — contain an ongoing mandate for warfare against unbelievers. No other religious tradition contains such a thing. Islamic tradition calls for a cessation of the jihad only when there is no chance of winning. This makes it exceedingly difficult for Muslims in the aggregate to remain at peace with non-Muslims for extended periods.