Should the Pope Apologize?
(Bringing Islam to the World One Concept at a Time!
Taking the Qur’an to Every Home and Heart that Needs It —
And which One Does Not?)
The Pope Needs to Apologize to No One
There is an entirely different side to the debate surrounding the Pope’s derogatory comments about the Prophet, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam. And it is barely recognized by anyone.
And that aspect of the debate has to do with the position of Islam on the role and rights of the Pope as the religious leader of Christians – Catholics.
The question is to what degree is that role to be determined, directed, limited, controlled, dictated or scripted by Islam and its followers. I mean the role of the Pope as the leader of a “religion” other than Islam – a “rival” system of belief and behavior as it were.
The simple answer is: No, not at all!
Islam and Muslims do not and cannot control or dictate the Pope’s – or any other religious leader’s – thought or speech.
A Concept Called “The People”
Others can investigate where, when and how this concept of “The People” originated.
Or what precisely it meant. And in what specific ways it was used by different people, in different cultures, and at different periods of history.
They can document what kind of people it included – such as mostly free men or citizens – and what kind of people it excluded: such as women; slaves; foreigners; others.
Ancient China and Greece may all be candidates for this distinction.
All I know is that God Almighty talks about this concept, Annaas or “The People,” in his book, the Qur’an, more times than probably any other book of its kind in the world: about 242 times by my quick count.
It seems impossible not to conclude that this book, The Qur’an, came into this world to champion the cause and rights of “The People” – all people.
And everything the Qur’an has accomplished in this world is testimony to that fact.
Rights and Freedoms for Ordinary People – Annaas
That means Islam came into this world to give people – the ordinary people of the world everywhere, who were neither royalty, nor nobility nor members of the clergy – the same rights of freedom of speech and thought that the kings, nobles, the rich, the powerful and the priests and the clergy of the world enjoyed.
The Qur’an refers to these people – the human family as a whole – as Annaas. This most amazing Qur’anic concept simply means people – The People. And that means all people of all kinds, regardless of their religion, age, gender, status, wealth, education, birth, nationality or any other consideration of that kind.
It is for directly connecting “The People” to their creator that Islam came into this world.
And Islam came to give “The People” – all people: all human beings that is – equal rights of freedom of thought and expression.
And it came to give them the right to freely choose their own belief or “religion,” as it is called.
And all this at a time when much of the world had no idea that people were people; or that they could all possibly have the same rights as the rich and the powerful; or they could or should all be treated equally.
Free, Equal and Direct Access to God:
The Most Basic of All Human Rights
That is what Islam came into this world to do.
And that is precisely the kind of revolution of thought, belief and behavior that Islam let loose upon this world. Freedom was the culture that Islam foisted upon a world smarting in bondage, tyranny and chains of all kinds everywhere.
But it is obvious that this could not be done without first connecting people to God – their maker and master. Nor could it be done without making this connection of human beings with their creator, with God Almighty, a most direct one. That is, without first removing the intermediacy of other human beings like themselves – such as priests, pundits, shamans, religious leaders and holy men of various kinds – from the lives of the people.
As a result, the first basic human right that Islam conferred upon human beings was the right of equal, direct and unfettered access to God Almighty, their maker and master. And this right the Qur’an conferred upon the people – all people of the world – by directly addressing them as “O, People!”
Those are the words the Qur’an uses to make this epochal proclamation of equal human access to God. Every other human right flows from that most basic and fundamental of all human rights.
The Qur’an cemented this basic human right for the people when God Almighty told them in the Qur’an: Call me and I shall respond!
Ud’oonee astajib lakum.
Rights of Religious Leaders in Islam
If these are the basic human rights that Islam confers upon “The People” – which means just about any human being – then what about those who happen to be the leaders of their various religious flocks, such as the Pope? In Islam, this right is even clearer and stronger in the case of religious leaders like the Pope.
As a result, from a purely Islamic point of view, the Pope is free to speak his mind as the leader of the Christian people – the Catholics in particular and all Christians by extension – without any interference from any one, least of all the Muslims.
That is the position of Islam on this issue. And the job of Islam and Muslims is to guarantee the Pope – and the leaders of other divine religions – that right, and to protect it.
And in my view, it is one of the most revolutionary doctrines ever to be propounded in the world: religious freedom. Especially for leaders of various faiths and religions, outside your own, to be able to express themselves freely, and without constraint or inhibition, on any and all matters they thought were important from their own religious point of view.