Iraqi News Agency, Baghdad, Sept. 28, 1999:
On June 29, 1999, the Church addressed a letter to those who make preparations to celebrate the Grand Jubilee. The letter confirmed the Pope's wish to visit locations connected with the Salvation History. The Vatican City expressed the Pope's wish to visit Ur (of the Chaldeans), present-day Tel-al-Mugaiyar in southern Iraq.
We, the undersigned, are a group of representative Iraqi intellectuals who have read the Church letter. We have noted that the letter was written from a one-sided viewpoint, which looks at things from a particular comer. This viewpoint has grown and developed far away from the history of Abraham Al-Khalil (peace be upon him), in both dimensions of space (location) and time. It has been brought to ripeness through human efforts exerted by men of religion, men of politics and men of power who have persecuted true believers. Its foundations were laid in synods so that it acquired the stabilization we know of at present.
We have decided to set forth the basic concept of the Salvation History connected with Abraham a-Al-Khalil (peace be upon him). Abraham was the first of the true believers, the first of the Muslims who believed in Allah, the One and only God1 and the ancestor of the Arabs. He was born in the land of the Arabs and lived in Iraq, specially, in (Ur), the Sumerian town. He grew up and matured through his travels between Ur and Babylon and Cuthah, contemplating the universe and its secrets, heaven and its phenomena. He got acquainted with the conditions in the heart of Sumer, in the lap of the first civilization and the first culture in the world. That culture was founded on a religious doctrine that believed in polytheism, albeit it created a distinguished culture and developed excellent traditions, beliefs, literature and arts. He thus recognized the essence of the great contradiction in human life. After Allah had given him the Scripture and wisdom he discovered monotheism as the true path that leads man to Allah, the One and only God: (So also did We show Abraham the power and the laws of the heavens and the earth, that he might have certitude.) Al-An'am (Cattle). verse 75. When he was at his wit's end, and when he lost the support of his people and those who were nearest to him, he started his journey of jihad (battle for right) in the Arab homeland from Ur to Haran to Palestine to Egypt, then to Mecca, to carry out the order of AIlah, the One and only God: (Abraham and Isma'il raised the foundations of the house (with this prayer): "Our Lord! Accept (this service) from us: for Thou art the All-Hearing, the All-Knowing. Our Lord! Make of us Muslims, bowing to Thy Will and of our progeny a Muslim people, bowing to Thy Will and show us our places for the celebration of due rites, and turn unto us in Mercy for Thou art the Oft-Returning, Most Merciful.) AI-Baqara (the Heifer), verses 127-128.
He rallied the monotheists around him to form a Muslim cult: ( He has chosen you, and has imposed no difficulties on you in religion; it is the cult of your father Abraham. It is He Who has named you Muslims, both before and in this (Revelation), that the Apostle may be a witness for you, and ye be witnesses for mankind!) Al-Hajj (The Pilgrimage), verse 78.
Thus he became the ancestor of the Arabs and, at the same time, the father of the Prophets: Ismail, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, David, Solomon, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad. He took on his shoulders the responsibility of saving mankind from their contradictions and spreading the Message of Faith and Monotheism.
This journey of jihad was associated with Abraham AI-Khalil (peace be upon him), the Amorite, the true son of his tribe and town and people; the land of the Arabs was its natural arena with its prominent towns: Ur, Babylon, Haran, Jerusalem, Sinai and Egypt. Abraham's message filled the whole historic time of the Arabs. Prophets and Apostles of the Abraham 5 progeny, mentioned in the Revealed Books: the Torah, the Gospel and the Quran, took succession in carrying out the Message of Monotheism. Therefore, it is a unified whole whose components cannot be broken up or altered. This journey across time uncovered the dangerous contradiction which overtook Abraham's people later on and made them dispute about Abraham: (Ye People of the Book! Why dispute ye about Abraham, when the Torah and the Gospel were not revealed till after him? Have ye no understanding?) Al-I-Imran (The Family of Imran). verse 65. They started to distort the sense of the messages of the Prophets for self-satisfaction or the satisfaction of world oppressors. They started to drive mankind into the rancor of wars, subjecting humanity to destruction and death and making it psalms recited to people. They killed prophets unjustly and in hostility, disregarding the fact that they carry the message of Love and Peace to mankind.
This journey and the messages of the apostles following the path of the Father of all Prophets have revealed how great the suffering of humanity is, especially when it is united with wounds of the martyred apostles to give those who keep following the same path and idea of the role required of them. The continuing message of Faith is a continuation of the message of martyrdom, a continuation of the message of suffering and sacrifice and a continuation of the battle of Faith against evil and oppression so that people will know that Love and Peace are divine and that they create Hope in the hearts of true believers. The place which witnessed the journey of Abraham is the same place which witnessed the patience of Moses, the martyrdom of Jesus and the jihad of Muhammad (peace be upon them all). Abraham's time is the same time, the time of pains and hopes, the true believers are the same true believers who responded to the call of the Father of all Prophets. He who walks along the path of the prophets must see at the same time the footprints of those prophets and the traces of their blood which was shed on the face of the land of faith, on its earth and rocks. He must see the blood of the true believers which is being shed now in Ur, in AI-Quds, in Sinai and wherever a true believer lives. He must see the mill erected by the followers of the tyrant in the beginning of this century, grinding children, women and old people in Ur, Babylon, Al-Quds, Hebron, and Bethlehem. Otherwise, what is the value of knowing the impact of the life of the Saviour if it does not arouse in us the enthusiasm of faith to defend His cause against the tyrant killer? The tyrant’s sword had cut the tent pole a long time ago and the looters' harrows had demolished the foundations of God's House in the hearts of His followers. The true believers, gathering amidst the roar of bullets, do not hear each other, and the partnership between the lamp and the wolf is a death which contradicts with faith.
Since the Land of Faith has been suffering from the beginning of the twentieth century, the pains of desecration and pillage when the Jews of the world were gathered and given the right to establish a homeland in Palestine at the expense of its Arab inhabitants of various religious denominations. At the end of the century, it is suffering from the pains of destruction, embargo and killing, practised and is still being practised through all means by the U.S and its alliance against Iraq since 1991. This century of pain has proved that Abraham1s people is one and the same people and that its killers are one and the same killers, and though they may differ in name or shape, they are the same in nature, feeling and aim. The classification of this people away from the foundation of its formation on the doctrine of monotheism means condoning the act of the killer in killing the people, dispersing them and dealing with them in isolation. The nomenclatures of the past no longer carry their ordinary signification since perversion and tyranny relish the killing of true believers. Allah, the One and only God, chose to remind mankind of the essence of the doctrine of faith, He, therefore, sent them prophets and apostles. That was enough to test the true believer and to see whether his faith has weakened and retreated or he is still firm on the mark and loyal to the objectives for which he existed: (The Apostle believeth in what bath been revealed to him from his Lord, as to the men of faith. Each one of them believeth in God, His angels, His books, and His apostles. "We make no distinction (they say) between one and another of His apostles." And they say: We bear, and we obey: (We seek) Thy forgiveness our Lord, and to Thee is the end of all journeys.) Al-Bagara (The Heifer), verse 285.
The successive prophethood came to complement the message of faith and monotheism, and to affirm the wholeness of faith and those who have it. How can, then, the identity of the Land of Faith be neglected, and how can the message of faith be fragmented? Does not this lead to accepting the pains of true believers and winking at the wrongs committed by the haughty tyrants and killer? Is not this a process of giving legality to the force of oppression when it regards its presence in the Land of Faith as a continuation of the people of Abraham, Moses and Jesus (peace be upon them all). Faith does not allow any settlement with polytheism and distortion: (To you he your Way, and to me mine.) AI-Kafirun (Those who reject Faith), verse 6, unless they come to common terms, worship the One God and associate no partners with Him: ( Say: "0 People of the Book! Come to common terms as between us and you: that we worship none but God, that we associate no partners with Him.) Al-i-Imran (The Family of Imran), verse 64, and refrain from transgression: (Do not transgress limits for God loveth not transgressors.) Al-Baqara (The Heifer). verse 190. One wonders: Does the Land of Faith live under the requirement of faith?
Using such terms as "The Temple", "The Israelites", "the People of Israel", "God's Tent", "Complete Partnership" and, setting afloat such terms as "Space-Place" and "Time", and relating all of this to Salvation and glorification-- all of these arouse doubts and call for caution. We have the right to ask: Of what Salvation are you talking? And whose glorification? A salvation from polytheism and injustice and a glorification of sacrifice for the One and only God or a glorification for Israel of oppression and looting and its alliance with the U.S for looting? A salvation from besieging man and humanity in Ur, Babylon, Bethlehem and Al-Quds or a salvation from the weight of faith which burdens the shoulders of those who have no faith? The Jews gave the lie to Jesus (peace be upon him) twenty centuries ago and killed him (though God saved him by having no of his followers look like him, so, in fact, they killed his double) and after Jesus, they gave the lie to Muhammad (God bless him and grant him peace).
The time between Abraham (peace be upon him) and his now-persecuted, dispersed and besieged people tells the story of a land which witnessed the sacrifice and steadfastness of a people, and the endeavour of apostles whose laws all forms of oppression, occupation and aggression could not change. This has been so throughout the centuries: from the time Europe started the wars of the Franks to occupy Jerusalem, through Napoleon's invasion, to the Balfour Declaration of 1917, up to the Zionist wars of 1948, 1956, 1967, 1973 and the war of 1991 under the leadership of the U.S (the World Tyrant).
The Whole West, or parts of it, formed alliance with the Church through the consent of the allied or by the will of its princes, feudal lords and kings to carry out the crusade, then it allied wholly or partly with Zionism and then it entered in alliance under the leadership of the U.S (the World Tyrant) to pillage Palestine, wage an aggression on Iraq and impose an embargo on its people. The Church has chosen, in the final stages of the aggression, to stand aside, apparently at least. Out of calculations of its own or, perhaps, because of its awareness of the nature of the development that has taken place in the philosophy and capability of the Imperialist, it no longer needs to perform its announced role, even in the form of spearhead to bless aggression as it used to do. But very often where silence is not coupled with a clarification of what is positive, it definitely implies an acceptance of what is negative. While we were living the details of the continuous aggression and embargo imposed on us and hearing about the stands taken by others, we kept wondering (although, of course we have our own ideas) and watching the moves of the Pope and hearing his statements and speeches without finding in them anything that might change our ideas. On the contrary, that which was reaching us consolidated our caution. When we read the letter and learned of the Pope's viewpoint we remembered what Jesus (peace be upon him) said to the Rabbis: "Verily I say unto you that the publicans and the harlots go into the Kingdom of God before you." We found that you have returned to the starting point as if the message of Christ (peace he upon him) had never been. You endeavour to establish a fruitful dialogue with the Jews and form a complete partnership with them, forgetting their shouts in Jerusalem.. "Crucify him! Crucify him! His blood be upon us, and upon our children." This, of course4 arouses our resentment for we are the owners of the land on which Abraham (peace be upon him) was raised and on which were also raised his grandsons and offspring and all those concerned with his message and the messages of the prophets after him, the last of whom being Muhammad bin Abdullah (peace be upon them all). We believe that such behaviour does not lead us to the Tent of God, nor does it lead us to Christ (peace be upon him) and his sayings; for once he said: (0 Children of Israel! I am the apostle of God (sent) to you, confirming what the Torah (which came) before me, and giving glad Tidings of an Apostle to come after me, whose name shall be Ahmad. But when he came to them with Clear Signs, they said, "This is evident sorcery.) As-Saff(The Battle Array), verse 6. Accepting what happened to Jesus (peace be upon him) and what happens to the people of his fathers and grandfathers will get nowhere because it is concurrence with the will of evil.
You have failed to realize the character of the Arabs and Muslims and the relationship with the sons of their people, regardless of their religion. When the Arabs spread Islam and reached Palestine, the leaders of the Christians there asked not to hand the key of Jerusalem but to the Just Caliph Omar bin Al-Khattab. And contrary to the manners of the generals and leaders of the West, the Prince of the Faithful Omar bin Al-Khattab never became arrogant and never refused this request or made light of it. He rode on his animal from Medina to Jerusalem. After he received the keys, he entered the city amongst his Arab kin both Christians and Muslims. When prayer time was due while he was inside the church, he left it and prayed outside. When asked about the reason for doing so, he (may God bless his soul) said, "lest this church become a mosque for Muslims."
From this example and plenty other examples, the difference between two attitudes is to be understood: how a small church was erected in the middle of Cordova Mosque so that Christians could perform their religious rites. From this is also understood how and why Saladin agreed to sign a document with Richard to stop fighting despite the fact that he was victorious, as God granted him victory over the crusaders. He never became arrogant and he accepted reconciliation, granting the desire of Richard, who had lost everything and was fatally isolated as he found himself in a position where he could never face the army of the Arab believers. As soon as Richard expressed his desire for reconciliation, Saladin agreed to it because he believed that reconciliation was good and, like his people, he was intent on sparing the blood of all people regardless of their religion, race and nationality.
Your problems in the West as a whole is that you have never experienced peaceful coexistence among religions and faiths, that prophethood was always sent outside your lands and that religion is an outsider to you. You, therefore, never accepted the doctrine Ijtihad (independent judgment in theological question) among revealed religions and in Christianity in particular. That led to the religious massacres known in the West, especially in Europe. As for the massacres committed against the Arab Muslims in Spain, their atrocities are so well known. The relationship among our people has always been different. Our religion has also been different. From the start, we have believed that all revealed religions and all apostles and prophets are right.
In our faith and in our applications of our faith, we owe nothing to anyone, consequently, we do not have to pay for what other owe. The Jews persecuted the Christians of Palestine and helped the Romans to persecute them. Europe persecuted the Jews. The European Christians persecuted each other, whereas the Arab Muslims freed the Jews and Christians alike from the persecution of the Romans and others. If the West, and you with it, feel that you are required to be acquitted of the filth of the past, the seas of the Arabs, their gulfs and their land and their sky are not the place to wash your clothes which are stained with the blood of persecuted victims. This should not be done at the expense of the Arabs and their sacred things because these sacred things are the outcome of all divine sacrosanct things accumulated throughout the history of the area.
The ideas with which you introduce the Pope's wish to visit the area falls into this category. Your embracement of the generalization, the obscuring and the endorsement so common in the Torah and Jewish literature seems to serve this purpose and no other one.
This consolidates our caution of your previous tendencies, starting with acquitting the Jews of Christ’s blood, passing through all stands previously taken, up to this letter of yours. Even your miserable reference to the believers in Islam which portrays them as if they do not count, consolidates doubts and calls for caution and misgivings regarding the future when account of the background of your viewpoint on the situation is taken into consideration. You will not find the Muslim believers lining up on the route of the Pope's passage, applauding him while you conclude partnership with the killers of Dair Yaseen and the killers of the children of Iraq. The true believers fill the Land of Faith and are ready to sacrifice themselves for it now and in the future as they did in the past. For them, it is the second of the two Kiblahs and the third of the highest sacred centres. They are the only ones who have remained true to their Covenant with God and with the Father of Prophets, Abraham Al-Khalil (peace be upon hina): (Without doubt, among men, the nearest or kin to Abraham are those who follow him and also this Apostle and those who believe, and God is the protector of those who have faith.) Al-i-Imran (The Family of Im ran), verse 68.
The Pope wishes to visit Iraq and to go to Ur. He very well knows the extent of the continuous destruction inflicted by the American-Zionist aggression on Iraq. He knows the number of children, old men and women killed by the embargo. How is he going to behave concerning their suffering, hunger and disease? Or is that not important as the visit is a religious one? If religion does not undertake to improve the lives of people, who then will do it? The image brought about by the aggression on Iraq is like that of the children of Palestine of all places where there is aggression. We, as well as they, have the right to ask: what will humanity gain by walking along the path singled out by God if pain is not wiped away and if Faith and Goodness do not reject aggression.
Our Arab and Muslim people, with all the true believers amongst them, are of the opinion that if the Pope's visit fails to understand this, then it will contradict the facts of history and will contradict the faithful stand which derives from the true faith of all true believers.
Dr. Abdul Razzaq As-Sa’di Dr. Abdul Latif Himayim Dr. Nizar Al-Hadithi
Dr. Behnam Abus-Soof Dr. Muhammad Al-Mashhadani Dr. Muayad Said
Dr. Abdul-Malik As-Sa’di
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