SHAFAQNA – “Among academics, literati and other educated people in the West, there is a positive perspective towards Prophet Muhammad (S),” Yuram Abdullah Weiler tells the Tehran Times on the occasion of the Islamic Unity Week.
Following is the text of the interview:
Q: Why do we see some people in the West who are enemies of Prophet Muhammad (S)?
A: In consideration of the West’s 1400-year-long crusade against Islam, perhaps the question should be why do we see some people in the West who have embraced Islam and the Prophet (S)? This continuous Christian “jihad” against Islam and Muslims is perhaps the singularly most important defining characteristic of Anglo-European identity. In fact, a Christian priest in Andalusia coined the term “European” to describe those Christians who emerged victorious in a battle against Muslims near Poiters, France in732 CE. University of New England professor Anouar Majid even claims that without Islam, there would be no European or American identity. In other words, by casting Muslims in the role of the “other,” white Anglo-Europeans define themselves. In particular, Prophet Muhammad (S), as the leader of the Muslims, is obviously identified as “other” and hence, an enemy of whatever is Anglo-European.
Such a characterization of Muslims as the “other” has laid the foundation for Islamophobia, which is well documented in the history of Europe and the United States. The late professor Norman Daniel in his comprehensive text, “Islam and the West,” demonstrated that by the 12th century CE, the Prophet Muhammad (S) was being characterized in Europe as a “pagan upstart” who spread Islam by violence. It should therefore be no surprise that, during the period of debate over the ratification of the U.S. constitution, William Lancaster, the delegate from North Carolina, expressed concern over the lack of a religious test to exclude “Mahometans” from attaining the presidency. More recently, former Pope Benedict XVI (Joseph Ratzinger) denounced the Prophet Muhammad (S) in an address at the University of Regensburg on September 12, 2006. Quoting the Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus, the Pope stated, “Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.” For his part the Pope insisted he was “in agreement with Manuel II, but without endorsing his polemic.”
Q: What is the main perspective towards Prophet Muhammad (S) in the West? Why do some people in the West try to distort Islam and Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)?
A: Of course among academics, literati and other educated people in the West, there is a positive perspective towards Prophet Muhammad (S). For example, the American historian and philosopher, Will Durant, said of the Prophet (S), “If we evaluate this great man’s effect on people, we have to say that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is one of the greatest men in the human history.” Numerous other Western figures including Washington Irving, George Bernard Shaw, Johan Wolfgang Goethe and Pierre Simon Laplace have made positive statements about the Prophet of Islam (S).
Ordinary Americans, on the other hand, according to the latest polls have a very negative view of Islam with only 17 percent responding that they have a favorable view of Islam. This is while only 13 percent claim to understand Islam well and only 36 percent would be interested in learning more about it. In other words, a majority of Americans have an unfavorable view of Islam, the Prophet (S) and Muslims, yet are not interested in learning whether or not their opinions have a basis in fact. This self-imposed ignorance of Islam and Muslims is perhaps one reason behind the stellar popularity of presidential hopeful Donald Trump, who has made outlandish statements about Muslims during his campaign, such as “Shariah authorizes such atrocities as murder against non-believers who won’t convert,” and is calling for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.”
Despite anemic public outcries from some enlightened quarters, if Donald Trump were to be elected, as president, he would indeed have a legal right to ban Muslims under existing U.S. law. Paragraph funder Section1182 of U.S. Code 2011, Title 8, Chapter 12, Subchapter II, Part II, clearly states:
“Whenever the President finds that the entry of any aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, he may by proclamation, and for such period as he shall deem necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or non-immigrants, or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate.”
As for the question of why some people in the West try to distort Islam and the Prophet Muhammad (S), such characterization is part of the U.S. strategy to advance towards its geopolitical goal of world domination. Specifically, defaming Islam and the Prophet (S) allows the U.S. and its Western accomplices to characterize Muslim-majority nations as “underdeveloped” and “backward,” making intervention, both economically and militarily, easier to justify. By maintaining the image of Muslims as the “other,” Western leaders can use fear to manipulate their citizenry into relinquishing their legal rights. Additionally, by casting Islam in negative terms, the West tries to perpetuate the illusion that the Western political and economic system is superior to all others.
Q: What does the Bible say about the Prophet Muhammad (S)?
A: The Bible as we know it today is composed of the so-called Old Testament and the New Testament, and there are a number of verses in each that suggest the coming of another prophet, but it is a matter of debate among scholars whether Muhammad (S) is intended. For example, Isaiah 28:11 predicts the coming of a prophet who “will speak to this people [the Israelites] in another language [Arabic],” and while Muhammad (S) was the only prophet to speak to the Israelites in Arabic, his name is not specifically mentioned. Isaiah 29:12 states that God will deliver His word to an unlettered prophet, who will be commanded to read that which he is given but will say, “I cannot.” This certainly is consistent with the Qur’an 29:48, 42:52 and 96:1.
John 1:19-21 of the New Testament, which is not canon in normative Judaism, records a strange questioning of John the Baptist by a delegation from the Temple priests and Levites, who asked John who he is. After acknowledging he is neither the awaited Messiah nor the prophet Elijah, the delegates ask him, “Are you the Prophet?” Again, Muhammad (S) is not mentioned explicitly by name but since the Gospel is written in Greek (Koine) and Christos (Messiah) is the word used in the first question, the Prophet must be someone other than Jesus (a.s.) or Elijah.
As is well known, the Bible in its present form has been corrupted in various ways. While the name Muhammad (S) is not specifically mentioned in the Bible, scholars claim to have located the name Ahmad in the Dead Sea Scrolls, apparently in the Isaiah Scroll. The Hebrew word in the Masoretic text of Isaiah 42:1 is etmakh (I will support), but this appears to be an altering of two letters, Dalet and ?et, in the word Ahmad. With the word Ahmad, the verse reads in part, “Behold my servant, Ahmad, in whom I choose … He shall bring forth judgement to the (non-Israelite) nations.” The Israelites also referred to the last prophet by the name Mahmad (praiseworthy), which is written explicitly in Song of Songs (or Song of Solomon) 5:16, but in plural form (Mahmadim).
The only remaining document that clearly mentions the name of Muhammad (S) is the Gospel of Barnabas, which has been widely accepted in the Muslim world but rejected by others as being a 14th century fabrication by a Spanish author. Others claim not only is it authentic, but also it was accepted as a canonical gospel by the Church of Alexandria until the Council of Nicea in 325 CE. In any event, the name “Mohammed” (S) appears in chapter 55 of the English translation of the Gospel of Barnabas presented in Kais Al-Kalby’sbook, Prophet Muhammad (S). In this passage, Muhammad (S) is presented as a close friend of God on the Day of Judgement who is interceding on behalf of the faithful. The name of the Prophet (S) also appears in chapter 112, where Jesus (a.s.) speaks of his fear of having been called “god” by some Christians. In one verse, Jesus (a.s.) expresses his hope in the coming of Muhammad (S) to Barnabas, “But when Mohammed shall come, the sacred messenger of God, that infamy shall be taken away.”
Others have deduced the following characteristics of the last prophet from Biblical sources:
• He is not from the Israelites but from progeny of Isma’il.
• He rides on a camel, will be God’s servant (Abduho) and God’s Elect (Mustafa).
• He will dwell in the villages of Prince Kedar, son of Isma’il.
• His religion will be known as Shiloh (meaning Peace-Islam).
• His ministry will emanate from Paran (or Baqqa – Mecca).
• The staff of (authority of) Judah will be passed on to him.
• God will put His words in his mouth.
• He will have similarities with Moses (a.s).
• He shall be known as Comforter (Paracletos), Ahmad (Mahmad), or Advocate.
Who else could this be but Muhammad (S)?