Friday, December 01, 2006

In An Effort To Pacify Muslims, Pope Prays Towards Mecca; We'll Consider Dropping the First Yekum Purkan

In An Effort To Pacify Muslims, Pope Prays Towards Mecca; We'll Consider Dropping the First Yekum Purkan
If this Reuters report can be believed, the Pope prayed towards Mecca in a mosque, as a conciliatory gesture! Bleh!

"The Pope's dreaded visit was concluded with a wonderful surprise," wrote daily Aksam on its front page.

"In Sultan Ahmet Mosque, he turned towards Mecca and prayed like Muslims," popular daily Hurriyet said, using the building's official name.

Reminds me of this joke:

In mighty ecumenical conclave, the religions of the world decide to iron out their differences for the good of humanity, eliminating once and for all the petty doctrinal disputes that have blinded their followers to their common ethical teachings. In quick succession, the Sunnis announce that they have deemphasized the Haj, the Shiites issue a renunciation of jihad, the Patriarch and the Pope, in a joint statement, give up the Trinity and the virginity of Mary, the Hindus give up on idolatry, the Shintoists animism, the Zoroastrians dualism, and so on. The Dalai Lama renounces the doctrine of reincarnation a couple of days later, and the world waits, with bated breath, as the Rabbi Lau, Rav Schach, and Rishon LeTzion Ovadiah Yosef remain locked in closed session eighteen hours a day. Week after week goes by, as wild rumors fly up the alleys of Jerusalem and across the world's airwaves. Finally, the sages step out in front of the flashbulbs, sweaty and pale. In a quavering voice, one of them reads from a prepared statement, and simultaneous translators relay his words to a billion living rooms around the globe:

After deep consideration of the momentous nature of this occasion, and with abiding faith in heaven, we have undertaken an unprecedented step, and have decided, in the greater cause of peace between the children of Adam, to eliminate the second Yekum Purkan from the Shabbat Musaf service.

I'm sure he thought of it as nothing - who cares what direction one prays, after all? But it is a big mistake, policy-wise and I think theologically as well. Especially as some Muslims were calling on the Pope to renounce Christianity and convert to Islam -- demanding it. Policy-wise, this is

Praying towards Mecca is to an extent acknowledging Mohammed's role as a prophet - as Mohammed grew up in Mecca and instituted (in the Koran) to pray in that direction, changing the direction from Jerusalem, when he parted ways with Jews. And theologically, Mohammed's message is, e.g. that Jesus was a prophet but not a son of God, etc.. Christians, and the Pope especially, I would think, cannot acknowledge Mohammed's message.

Policy-wise, this act of dhimmitude is quite dumb. If he wants to make nice, and show that religions can get along and respect one another, that is one thing. But this act is quite another thing -- the leader of another religion subjecting himself to sharia, and if the Pope doesn't think so, he can be sure that hundreds of thousands of Muslims worldwide will see it this way.

At least, that's my take on it. Discuss.

Update: Alright, no discussion. My bad for posting relatively just before Shabbat. Reconsidering the above, it is quite possible that the mosque was oriented towards Mecca, so it was the natural way to be facing. The quote of "he turned towards Mecca" might suggest otherwise, but perhaps not.

And it stands to be seen how the Muslim world will take this, and whether it matters.

No comments:


Blog Widget by LinkWithin