Archbishop of Athens Alleges Islam is Not a Religion but a Political Party

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22nd January 2021

Ataul Naseer, Greece

In a recent interview on Open TV, Archbishop Ieronymos has stated that ‘…as we know Islam is not a religion, it is a political party, a political movement. They are people of war – the people of expansion. This is a characteristic of Islam and Prophet Muhammad has said it.’

The Archbishop’s statement gave an entirely erroneous and false impression about Islam and Muhammad (sa) the Founder of Islam. When the Muslims of Greece and Turkey condemned these comments, a statement was issued by the Archdiocese of Athens saying that the quote was misinterpreted.

Archbishop Ieronymos was ‘referring to the group of extreme fundamentalists, who sow terror and death throughout the Universe…These are exactly the people the Archbishop was referring to, people who are instrumentalizing Islam and turning it into a deadly weapon against all those who have a different view.’

The statement underlined that the Archbishop and all the metropolitans of the Church of Greece ‘respect all the known religions and treat all their faithful with Christian love and solidarity’.

While listening to the interview, it was noticeably clear that the Archbishop did not speak about the group of extreme fundamentalists. He clearly used the words ‘Islam’ and attacked it by saying that it is not a religion, but a political party and the attacks continued as stated above.

Such is the stature of the Archbishop, that no matter with what reference he spoke, it was not appropriate for him to have made these unfounded observations in the current climate when, in many non-Muslim countries, Islamophobia is on the rise. If he wished to warn about extremism and terrorism, he ought to have said that though some militant, so-called Islamic organisations have adopted an erroneous method, the teaching of Islam is contrary to this and in order to establish peace in the world we should work together so that innocent humanity may be saved from destruction. Rather than this, he has tried to lead his followers to believe that this is what the teaching of Islam is.

The Archbishop showed his total lack of understanding about Islam through these remarks. In light of the teachings of Jesus Christ (as), he should have tried to create peace in the world. Indeed Jesus (as) gave the teaching of even treating one’s enemy with decency. It is stated in the Gospel of Matthew 5:44:

‘But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;’

By condemning Islam as ‘not a religion’ and attributing these wrong matters to the Holy Prophet (sa), he not only trifled with the feelings of Muslims but also fueled hatred for Muslims in the hearts of his followers and those people who consider Islam to be an extremist religion.

The Archbishop claimed that ‘Islam is not a religion but a political party’. All the political parties in the world have a leader. The Archbishop should also inform us who is the current leader of this alleged political party? The Holy Qur’an clearly states that the purpose of man’s creation is the ‘Worship of God’. This is the fundamental characteristic of Islam. If the Archbishop had studied it honourably and without bias, he would have seen that there are around 700 commandments addressing all the necessary aspects of life and especially demanding a believer to be in love with God. He would have also seen that the purpose of religion as explained by the Holy Qur’an is to bring human beings closer to their Creator and to make them understand their responsibilities towards their fellow human beings.

Another important fact that needs to be highlighted in this regard is that the advent of the Holy Prophet (sa) of Islam was prophesied by not only the Old Testament but also by Jesus (as) himself, in the same way, the Old Testament prophesied the advent of Jesus (as). In the Old Testament, Deuteronomy, Moses (as) prophesied the advent of the Holy Prophet (sa) of Islam in the following words:

‘And the Lord said unto me. They have well-spoken that which they have spoken, I will raise them up a prophet from among their brethren like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him.’ [1]

In the New Testament, Gospel of John, Jesus (as) also prophesied the Holy Prophet’s (sa) is the following words:

‘Nevertheless, I tell you the truth; it is expedient for you that I go away, for if I go not away the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.’ [2]

‘I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth; for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak; and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me.’ [3]

The Holy Prophet (sa) of Islam and the religion of Islam is the fulfilment of these prophecies.

The Archbishop also claimed that Muslims are people of war, but before making such a statement, he should also tell us in whose account does he put the internal wars in the history of Christianity? Does he not take note of those? In whose account does he credit the Spanish Inquisition or the crusades? Did he not see the predominantly Christian nations killing millions in the recent world wars. Was the atomic bomb used by the Muslims as well? Greece has a history of several hundreds of wars. Would the Archbishop enlighten us if these were also fought by Muslims?

Islam is a complete code of conduct. If Islam sanctions war it is only at the time when the enemy is waging war or is creating oppressive circumstances. As soon as the circumstances return to normal and the persecution comes to an end, the commandment is that there is no justification for war. Allah, the Exalted, states in the Holy Qur’an:

‘And fight them until there is no persecution, and religion is freely professed for Allah. But if they desist, then remember that no hostility is allowed except against the aggressors.’ [4]

Muslims were permitted to fight to defend the religious freedom of not only Muslims but Jews, Christians and people of other religions. Allah, the Exalted, states in the Holy Qur’an:

‘Permission to fight is given to those against whom war is made, because they have been wronged – and Allah indeed has the power to help them – those who have been driven out from their homes unjustly only because they said, ‘Our Lord is Allah’; and if Allah did not repel some men by means of others, there would surely have been pulled down cloisters and churches, and synagogues and mosques, wherein the name of Allah is oft commemorated. And Allah will surely help one who helps Him. Allah is indeed Powerful, Mighty.’ [5]

History is witness to the fact that all the wars fought by the Holy Prophet of Islam were defensive under these principles of the Holy Qur’an. If during the course of history, followers of Islam or other religions have acted against the teachings of their respective religions, then the responsibility lies with such people. The religion of Islam or any other religion cannot be blamed for the actions of such people.

Once again, I would like to reiterate my belief that the stature of the Archbishop is such that he should have been more thoughtful of the outcome of his remarks. In the current atmosphere of misunderstandings, he should have been a torchbearer of peace and harmony irrespective of the differences in religious beliefs. I would humbly suggest that he should at least follow his own religious teachings as stated in the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus (as) said that:

‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.’ [6]

May we all become true sons of God as taught by Jesus (as). Ameen!

About the Author: Ataul Naseer is an Imam of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. He graduated from the Ahmadiyya Institute of Languages and Theology UK and currently serves as the National President of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Greece.

ENDNOTES

[1] Deuteronomy 18:17-19

[2] John 16:7

[3] John 16:12-14

[4] The Holy Qur’an Ch.2:V.194

[5] The Holy Qur’an Ch.22:Vs.40-41

[6] Matthew 5:9

Related Posts:
Who are We to Judge?
Is God ‘Just’?
Gender Equality in Islam
Paradise in Islam

SOURCE THE REVIEW OF RELIGIONS

Archbishop of Athens Alleges Islam is Not a Religion but a Political Party

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