The Pope is visiting Turkey. Protests are taking place against the pontiff. This is from a BBC report(here):
The Pope’s words which sparked this and so many other demos came in a lecture back in September to his old university at Regensburg in Germany. He quoted the remarks of the 14th Century Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus: “Show me just what Muhammad 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.”
In the noise of protests and etc. the actual debate got buried. We are not discussing whether Muhammad really preached by the sword, or whether he asked others to do it. There was a very nice opportunity to debate faith, history, and the relevant issues of the present time. Take for example, how ‘christian’ is the European culture and the inclusion of ‘Islamic’ Turkey into ‘Christian’ EU.
Not many of us are perhaps aware that the values of peaceful coexistence (or in other words, religious tolerance), freedom of speech and a zeal of knowledge were all introduced to the unruly Europe of the fourteenth to fifteenth century by the Muslims (Arabs and Turks in the East and African Moors in Spain). Even the use of soap, shampoo and beverage come from Muslims.
Apparently, before the Renaissance, non-Christians did not enjoy living in Christian-ruled country much. Shakespeare’s famous plays carry stamps of this mentality. Prejudices about the Jews are not very difficult to find in his plays. All European countries that were ruled by the Christians before the Renaissance are overwhelmingly Christian dominated. The reason is not hard to guess (or to look up). Evidences are just staring at us.
Ironically, the same Muslims do not have very good record of tolerance in many/most countries of present time. And even more ironically, the non-Muslims ascribe this to Islam, but not to the Muslims’ degraded society.
Pope has time and again tried to prove that European liberal values (which hardly goes well with the Church’s blood-ridden history) are alien to Islam, and therefore (as in a more specific case) Turks should be kept out of EU. One just have to remember the Church’s role during the Crusades to have a good smile at this.
But, but, but… for one reason the Church must be thanked. It was because of the Crusades that was started by the Church that the Europeans came in close contact with the Islamic/Muslim/Arab civilization and the rich philosophical and scientific traditions continued from the Greeks.
One side-note may be helpful here. It is often thought that Arabs translated and preserved the Greek science and philosophy. It is not the whole truth. The Arabs built upon it too. Algebra, Chemistry, Astronomy, Surgery and Medicine owe a lot to the Islamic civilization, so to say. But that is not the most important contribution of the Arabs to science. The biggest contribution was the introduction of inductive science. One that is based on observation, conclusion and experimentation. As against the Greek science that is deductive. The Euclidean Geometry and the Aristotle’s Science are examples of such. Archimedes, however, practiced inductive science. But his kind were minority at his time.