|Mourners light candles for the martyrs of Our Lady of Salvation|
Watching Fr Nizar Semaan, an Iraqi Catholic Priest in the United Kingdom, speaking of his hope that Iraqi imams might issue a fatwa on those who actively seek to kill Christians, it struck me that Islam suffers from a lack of hierarchy and spiritual leadership.
Islam, as we can see from the violence in Iraq between Sunni and Shia Muslims, appears to be as schismatic, if not more so, than Christianity and Judaism. Yet, from evidence in recent years, Islam also appears to be the most violent religion on Earth, or, at least, the religion which appears to tolerate violence the most, the religion which seems to foster the seeds of violence in disaffected, young men, be it in Iraq, or indeed, Wakefield.
What would be fantastic, of course, is if Islam had a figurehead and am equivalent of the Magisterium defending time-honoured, traditional Islamic teachings on the dignity of all human persons, that all Muslims respected enough to take seriously concerning how to live the Muslim faith. Then, like the Holy Father, who in his famous Regensberg lecture, on Faith and Reason, offended Muslims worldwide by quoting 14th century Byzantine emperor, Manuel II Palaiologos's statement concerning Islam's tendency towards bloodshed, Muslims worldwide would have a spiritual leader who could denounce violence against Christians and non-believers, categorically, and issue fatwas against those who commit it. Then, too, the World would be able to assess whether Islam was a religion of 'peace and brotherhood' or a vehicle for religious fanaticism, fratricide, suicide and blood-soaked 'jihad' since the leader would preach love, brotherhood and forgiveness and condemn all murderous acts of war as tantamount to war against 'Allah and his prophet, Mohammed'.
Unfortunately, for all of us, while the World's most famous practising Christian is a benign, benevolent, wise and loving Pastor going by the name of Pope Benedict XVI, the Vicar of Jesus Christ on Earth, the World's most famous practising Muslim is Osama Bin Laden, who, rather inconveniently, for all of us, stepped into both the limelight and the power vacuum created by the total absence of any global spiritual leadership in Islam and, unfortunately, for all of us, there are many more Osama Bin Ladens waiting to take his notorious place, should he ever be found and captured, either dead, or alive. There is no figure of authority, of spiritual leadership, who can speak in defence of Christians and 'infidels' that Muslims can look to for guidance on how to live the Muslim faith or who instructs Muslims in the 'religion of peace and brotherhood'. It really seems all to depend on the theological position of local imams, worldwide, on whether Islam is a force for peace, or a force for brutal and sadistic murder of the innocent in the name of God.
Pray for the Christians of Iraq.