Saturday, November 15, 2014

Swami Vivekananda & Criticism of Islam

Swami Vivekananda & Criticism of Islam-----A Response I

Swami Vivekananda & Criticism of Islam-----A Response I

Criticism No 1:

                                    Swami Vivekananda then speaks how these Tartars (now Mohammedans) had conquered other kingdoms:"The Tartars seized and occupied the throne of the Arabian Caliph, took possession of Jerusalem, the great Christian place of pilgrimage, and other places, would not allow pilgrims to visit the holy sepulcher, and killed many Christians. The heads of the Christian Churches grew mad with rage and roused their barbarian disciples throughout Europe who in turn inflamed the kings and their subjects alike. Hordes of European barbarians rushed towards Asia Minor to deliver Jerusalem from the hands of the infidels. 

                   A good portion of them cut one another's throats, others died or disease, while  the rest were killed by the Mohammedans. However, the blood was up of the wild barbarians, and no sooner had the Mohammedans killed them than they arrived in  fresh numbers - with that dogged obstinacy of a wild savage. They thought nothing even of plundering their own men, and making meals of Mohammedans when they found nothing better. It is well known that the English king Richard has a liking for Mohammedans flesh. (Works of Swami Vivekananda V:529-30)


                          My first & last question. Did Swami Vivekananda EXPERIENCE what he spoke, or he just copied it from the Western critics of Islam?  Without the knowledge of the background, it is inappropriate to make such statements.  (Espicially for a person who claims much).

The True History: 

Barbarians Who Trampled Their Own Religion

          No matter how much many people may believe that the Crusades were a product of Christian faith, they were basically wars undertaken for material gain. In a period when Europe was experiencing great poverty and misery, the comfort and wealth of the East, especially of the Muslim Middle East, attracted Europeans. This motivation took on a religious appearance decorated with the symbols of Christianity but actually the idea of the Crusades was born out of a desire for worldly gain. This was the reason for the sudden change among Christians from their former pacifist policies in earlier periods of their history to a tendency towards military aggression.

The initiator of the Crusades was Pope Urban II. He summoned the Council of Clermont in 1095 in which the former Christian doctrine of pacifism was changed. A holy war was announced that was to wrest the holy lands from the hands of the Muslims. Afterwards, a huge army of Crusaders was formed composed both of professional soldiers and tens of thousands of ordinary people.

Crusaders were European Christians who undertook the expeditions at the end of the 11th century to recover the Holy Land (the area around Palestine) from the Muslims. They set out with a so-called religious goal, yet they laid waste each acre of land they entered with fear and violence. They subjected civilians to mass executions and plundered many villages and towns.

The reasons that the Crusaders gave for their killings were not actually very reasonable at all. The pilgrimage routes to Jerusalem which had been under Muslim control, had always been open to free passage, and people from all different religions had been living together in peace and tolerance. But this fact did not stop the Crusaders from slaughtering Muslims, Jews and even local Christians alike.

"The French knights wanted more land. Italian merchants hoped to expand trade in Middle Eastern ports... Large numbers of poor people joined the expeditions simply to escape the hardships of their normal lives."1 Along the way, this greedy mass killed many Muslims and even Jews just hoping to find gold and jewels. The crusaders even cut open the stomachs of those they had killed to find gold and precious stones that the victims may have swallowed before they died. Their conquest of Jerusalem, where Muslims, Jews and Christians lived under Islamic rule in peace, became the scene of immense bloodshed. They violently killed all Muslims and Jews by striking their necks. The Crusaders' barbarism was so excessive that, during the Fourth Crusade, they plundered Istanbul, also a Christian city, and stole the golden objects from the churches.

So, this band called Crusaders reached Jerusalem in 1099 after burning and looting many places and putting many Muslims to the sword. After a long siege of five weeks, the city fell and the Crusaders entered. As one historian put it, "They killed all the Saracens and the Turks they found... whether male of female.2 

No doubt, all this barbarism was utterly against Christian political doctrine. That is because, Christianity, in the words of the Bible, is a "message of love". In the Gospel according to Matthew, it is said that Jesus said "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you" to his followers (Matthew, 5/44) In the Gospel according to Luke, it is said that Jesus said "If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also." (Luke, 6/29) No doubt, in no part of the Gospels, is there reference to the legitimacy of violence; murdering innocent people, on the other hand, is unimaginable. You can find the concept of "murdering the innocent" in the Bible; yet, only in the cruel Jewish King Herod's attempt to kill Jesus while he was a baby.    
                    One of the Crusaders, Raymund of Aguiles, wrote these words in praise of this savagery:
Wonderful sights were to be seen. Some of our men (and this was more merciful) cut off the heads of their enemies; others shot them with arrows, so that they fell from the towers; others tortured them longer by casting them into the flames. Piles of heads, hands and feet were to be seen in the streets of the city. It was necessary to pick one's way over the bodies of men and horses. But these were small matters compared to what happened at the Temple of Solomon, a place where religious services are normally chanted ... in the Temple and porch of Solomon, men rode in blood up to their knees and bridle reins.3 

According to the same historical source, the number of Muslims pitilessly slaughtered was 40,000.4 The crusaders made Jerusalem their capital and founded a Latin Kingdom stretching from the borders of Palestine to Antioch.

Both before and after the Crusaders' conquests, Orthodox Christians managed to live together with Muslims. According to Terry Johns, the BBC commentator, with the withdrawal of the Crusaders from Middle East, "civilized life started again and members of the three monotheistic faith returned to peaceful coexistence."1

The Templers were the ones mainly responsible for the crusaders' attacks against and murder of Muslims. For this reason, the great Islamic commander Saladin, who defeated the crusaders' army in 1187 in the Battle of Hattin and afterwards rescued Jerusalem, put the Templers to death for the murders they had committed even though he had pardoned a large number of Christians. Although they lost Jerusalem and suffered heavy losses, the Templers continued to exist. And despite the continual diminution of the Christian presence in Palestine, they increased their power in Europe and, first in France, and then on other countries, they became a state within a state.

           A Muslim must respect and protect the holy places where the People of the Book worship God, and protect them. For Muslims, these places are precious because in these places, people, whether Jews or Christians, remember God. In the Qur'an, the places of worship of the People of the Book, ie. Monasteries, churches and synagogues, are mentioned as places of worship protected by God. …if God had not driven some people back by means of others, monasteries, churches, synagogues and mosques, where God's name is mentioned much, would have been pulled down and destroyed. God will certainly help those who help Him—God is All-Strong, Almighty. (Qur'an, 22:40)

As a manifestation of his loyalty to God's commands, the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was most careful not to destroy the holy places of the People of the Book. Such destruction means, in the first place, opposing God's commands. This aside, it means preventing people who have faith in God worshipping Him. Indeed, the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) promised the Christians, who were the other party to a peace agreement he made, that their churches would not be destroyed and that they would never be harmed. The tax (Jizya) agreements he made with Christians also guaranteed the safety of churches.
Swami Vivekananda’s sweet & short story seems to portray both Islam & Christianity in poor light. There is a plan & purpose hidden behind such statements. The true message of a religion or another system of belief can be at times exposed to distortion by its pseudo-adherents. The Crusaders, who constitute a dark episode of Christian history, set a good example of this.

While Christianity is a religion based on love that accommodates no violence, how did Christian Crusaders carry out the most violent acts of history? The major reason for this is that, Crusaders were mainly made up of ignorant people who could better be defined as "rabble". These masses, whoknew almost nothing about their religion, who had never read or even seen the Bible once in their lifetime, and who were therefore completely unaware of the moral values of the Bible, were led into barbarism under the conditioning of Crusaders' slogans which presented this violence as "God'sWill". Just as ignorant people may take a violence-ridden opinion to the point of insanity, so they may confuse violence with an opinion against violence (or to religion). The Islamic world also experienced such cases.

The Fact that went Un-noticed by Swami Vivekananda.

It is clear that the roots of Masonry stretch back to the Order of Templers and the Masons have adopted the philosophy of this order, which was established by the Crusaders. While considering the impact of Crusaders to our day, we need to remember this point and the far-reaching influences of Masonry on the world. The aims of Masonry are explained by one of the most well-known Turkish Freemasons Selami Isindag in his bookMasonluktan Esinlenmeler (Masonic Inspirations):

        According to Freemasonry, it isnecessary to rid people of a character inspired by metaphysical divine sources, and instead establish a character based on the love of man, which is free from relativity. In its basic ethical principles, Masonry considers theinclinations of man, his needs, satisfactions, the laws and order of social life, consciousness (conscience), freedom of speech and thoughtand finally, the entire plan of nature, and therefore aims to establish and develop values centered around man in all societies.11This is the final purpose of Masonry: to eradicate religion and to establish a humanist and godless world where the concept of "man" will be held sacred; where people will deny God Who created them, and take themselves as "idols".

Doesn’t the Crusaders’ philosophy sound synonymous with Vedanta of Swami Vivekananda ? “Oh no! If  only he had known it earlier”.


World Book Encyclopedia, "Crusades", Contributor: Donald E. Queller, Ph.D., Prof. of History, Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, World Book Inc., 1998
Geste Francorum, or the Deeds of the Franks and the Other Pilgrims to Jerusalem, translated by Rosalind Hill, London, 1962, p. 91
3 August C. Krey, The First Crusade: The Accounts of Eye-Witnesses and Participants, Princeton & London, 1921, p. 261
Ibid., p. 262
11 Dr. Selami Isindag, Sezerman Kardes IV,Masonluktan Esinlenmeler (Masonic Inspirations), Istanbul 1977, p. 62


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