Wednesday, January 02, 2008

creepy quotes from quadrant

A long but fascinating essay from Australia's Quadrant Magazine turned up today. Written by Fr Paul Stenhouse, it is titled Islam's Trojan Horse? Turkish Nationalism and the Nakshibendi Sufi Order. It piqued my interest especially since it relates to the local (Melbourne) scene, to interfaith efforts within the Roman Catholic Church, as well as to the issue of whether Sufism can serve as a counterpoint to Islamism.

As the title suggests, Stenhouse provides background information on the Nakshibendi Sufi Order and its influence within Turkish politics. He profiles leading lights of the Order such as Said Nursi and Fethullah Gülen and it is from sermons of the latter that the "creepy quotes" occur.

"You must move in the arteries of the system, without anyone noticing your existence, until you reach all the power centers …"

"The philosophy of our service is that we open a house somewhere and, with the patience of a spider, we lay our web, to wait for people to get caught in the web; and we teach those who do. We don’t lay the web to eat or consume them, but to show them the way to their resurrection, to blow life into their dead bodies and souls, to give them a life."

from sermons by Fethullah Gülen quoted in Paul Stenhouse: Islam's Trojan Horse? Turkish Nationalism and the Nakshibendi Sufi Order


photo from flickr/wikimedia commons

Stenhouse is clearly warning the naive interfaith dialogue enthusiast about the dangers of Islamist propaganda efforts, known as da'wa and quite likely to be clothed precisely in "dialogue" terms.

Dialogue has always been of paramount concern to Catholics. Nevertheless, goodwill alone, unsupported by accurate and comprehensive knowledge of Islam, is demonstrably not enough. In fact it can fatally distort the process for all participants in the “dialogue”, non-Muslims and Muslims alike. The latter immediately sense when good-hearted but ignorant and incautious non-Muslims are utterly unaware of, or are not in agreement about, what is at stake, or what the rules of the game are.

However we may wish it to be otherwise, it is a kind of mind game that we are playing. The stakes are high—and none of the clichés and double-talk of coffee-table ecumenism will serve us well in this struggle of wits.

My attention was also drawn to Stenhouse's bringing in Salim Mansur as a fellow repudiator of "the appeasement mentality" of elements in the liberal-left (which clearly can include the "softer" side of the Church itself).

A similar criticism of Western naivety and “suicidal” complacence was articulated recently by Salim Mansur, a columnist in the Toronto Sun. Mansur is a Muslim and the relevance of his insight is not confined to Canada. He describes what he calls “the appeasement mentality” of the mainstream liberal-left media, and of “politicians trolling for ethnic votes” and of “bureaucrats running public institutions” in the West. He quotes Theodore Dalrymple, a retired physician and prolific writer, who reported in New York’s City Journal:

“In an effort to ensure that no Muslim doctors ever again try to bomb Glasgow Airport, bureaucrats at Glasgow’s public hospitals have decreed that henceforth no staff may eat lunch at their desks or in their offices during the holy month of Ramadan, so that fasting Muslims shall not be offended by the sight or smell of their food. Vending machines will also disappear from the premises during that period.”

“Imagine the uproar,” comments Mansur, that would greet “any suggestion that the mainstream liberal-left media, in appearance at least, is treasonously on side with the newest enemies of freedom and democracy.”

For me, a central message of Stenhouse's long essay comes from a quote he gives from a fellow priest [my emphasis added]:

[T]he Director of the Centre for Arab–Christian Documentation and Research in Beirut, Father Samir Khalil Samir, SJ, ... noted that Christians often suffer from:

“a false understanding of the concept of tolerance. All this is an error and leads to the loss of one’s own identity. Never attack in word or deed, but seek the truth and always point out error. To say only half of what one is thinking is a lie; a complicit silence. Truth cannot co-exist with lies, intolerance and injustice.”

There is far, far too much of this kind of lying coming from the Christian but especially from the Catholic and Anglican Churches. Sadly, even though Salim Mansur might be the last Muslim the West can trust, he may also be guilty of this kind of lying.

For various different reasons, we are all too afraid to tell it frankly as it is and as we truly feel it.

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