This blog entry is to refute the claims and arguments of Father Zakaria Botros. However, there is one condition to keep on reading: To have an open heart and mind and to seek the truth in this discussion. I do not have time for pointless discussions. But I do have time for objective analysis with the aspiration of reaching the truth. Not necessarily agreeing on the same point, but at least reaching an understanding of each other’s view points.
My first knowledge of Zakaria Botros was when an acquaintance sent me his lecture in response to “The Pope’s Evil Legend” article which I had sent him earlier. I was upset by all the illogicality and un-objectivity in that lecture. The article which I sent does not attack the Christian faith or its book but it attacks the church’s history and its politics. The Catholic church has amended doctrine and apologized for the past atrocities done by the church itself and blessed by the popes of that time. Nothing is new here. The lecture that has been sent to me is a nonobjective unsupported direct attack on my religion which I do not accept and will not accept.
I will divide my response to Zakaria Botros into five points.
(a) point: the objectivity of Zakaria Botros’ lecture as well as the so called “Pope’s evil legend” article (also, I will be discussing the objectivity of the Pope’s speech)
(b) The issue of the Quran is God’s words as well as the Quran’s miraculousness.
(c) The accusations of falsification the Holy Bible and refuting them by using three important pieces of evidence and logic.
(d) Terrorism, Jihad and Islam
(e) Christianity, the bible and monotheism
First, let me analyze (a) point: the objectivity of Zakaria Botros’ lecture as well as the so called “Pope’s evil legend” article by Uri Avnery (also, I will be discussing the objectivity of the Pope’s speech)
I am tired of the defense of Zakaria Botros by saying that he’s ‘asking questions’ which is an incorrect statement. Statements are not questions. Questions (excluding rhetoric ones) mean that you are seeking an answer. A statement is an act of stating or declaring. Asking yourself a question and answering it is not asking questions. Asking a question with an answer already in mind is also not asking questions. Is he really asking questions when he is refusing to have a debate or a sitdown with any Muslim scholars? Is it really asking questions when he is refusing to let people respond to his statements live or via paltalk?
When we say that Zakaria Botros is ‘asking questions’; we imply his objectivity as if simply putting a question mark at the end of a sentence is sufficient to make it a question rather than a statement. Asking questions objectively means that you ask a question and seek an unbiased answer, ask the scholars who know and so on. Questions in the elm, the deen or in science in general have etiquette. So was the statement or the quotation used by the pope a question…. because, grammatically, it was a question or was it a statement?
Just for the record, I have read the pope’s full speech in English (on the BBC website) and parts in Arabic.
I did question the objectivity of Zakaria Botros and I believe he’s ignorant and misleading. However, I did answer what he said and I will continue to do that inshallah.
To start my analysis, let me introduce the reader to Zakaria Botros (Arabic link)
القمص زكريا بطرس هو قمص من الكنيسة القطبية ولد فى العام 1934م رسم في شبين الكوم ثم نقل إلى طنطا ثم عزل من الخدمة في أيام البابا كريلس السادس سنة 1968 ثم أرجع بعد عزله بسنة إلى كنيسة مارمرقص في القاهرة ثم عزل ثانية مدة ثماني سنوات ونصف من 1978 إلى 1987 بعد محاكمة كنسية ثم عمل كاهنا في استراليا سنة 1992 ثم عاد إلى مصر ثم عمل في برايتون إنجلترا. درس في كلية الآداب وحصل منها على ليسانس التاريخ . اشتهر القمص زكريا ببرامج يقدمها على قناة الحياة الفضائية يتحدث فيها باستخدام مصادر اسلامية (من ضمنها صحيح البخاري وصحيح مسلم) عما يسميه حقائق الإسلام، وينال بصورة دائمة في جميع برامجه من القرآن الكريم والرسول محمد (ص) والسيرة والأحاديث ورموز الإسلام ويُتهم بسب الرسول محمد (ص) والصحابة .
طبقا لأحد أكبر المواقع التي تمثل الكنيسة القبطية (1) فإن القمص زكريا “ليس حاليا في الكنيسة القبطية الأرثوذوكسية، وغير مسموح له بممارسة أي نشاطات كنسية، وحتى ليس مسموحا له بأخذ الاعترافات أو ممارسة أي من الأسرار المقدسة حسب قرارات قداسة البابا شنودة الثالث والمجمع المقدس “.
ويؤكد الأنبا بيشوي أن القمص قد تقاعد، وأن البابا شنودة قد أوقفه ولا يصرح له بالخدمة في برايتون أو أي إيبارشية أخرى إلا بإذن مسبق لأن الكنيسة غير مرتاحة لأسلوبه. ودعا المسيحيين إلى الامتناع عن مؤلفاته وشرائطه وكل ما يخصه ذاكرا أن هناك اتفاقا وديا في الكنيسة على عدم إعطاء القمص زكريا إذنا بالخدمة في أي كنيسة أو أيبارشية
And according to alarabiya.net (here ), Zakaria Butrus, unlike other religious authorities, has already been known for causing problems which lead for his expulsion from the Coptic church:
.القس المشلوح من الكنيسة القبطية المصرية زكريا بطرس المقيم في الغرب، وذلك من خلال البال توك، حول شبهات أثارها الأخير ضد الإسلام والقرآن الكريم وأثارت غضبا عارما في مصر والعالم الإسلامي، مما حدا بالبابا شنودة بطريرك الأقباط أن يصدرقرارا بشلحه من الكنيسة.
According to Al “Anba Beshwey” (taken from this St. Tekla ( link)) and I am quoting from the link:
الاب زكريا بطرس قدم إستقالته وتقاعد، ولا يصرح له بالخدمة في برايتون Brighton (جنوب لندن) في إنجلترا.. وهو ليس عضواً حالياً في الكنيسة القبطية الأرثوذكسية، وغير مسموح له بممارسة أي نشاطات كنسية، وحتى ليس مسموحاً له بأخذ الإعترافات أو ممارسة أي من الأسرار المقدسة حسب قرارات قداسة البابا شنوده الثالث والمجمع المقدس
إذا أردت التأكد إسأل الكاهن الموجود بكنيستك….
والأمر لا علاقة له بآية “لا تدينوا لكي لا تدانوا“.. (ستجد النص الكامل للكتاب المقدس هنا في موقع الأنبا تكلا) نحن لا نحكم على الاب ذكريا، ولكننا يجب أن نطيع بطريركنا. فقد قال بأننا لا يجب أن نستمع لشرائطه أو نقرأ كتبه وكل ما يتصل به.. فيجب أن نتحلى بالحكمة…
لدينا أيضاً لمن يريد صورة من خطاب الأب السابق يطلب فيه التنحي عن الخدمة في أواخر عام 2002 بعد أن رفض أمر قداسة البابا شنوده بالنقل.. ويوجد كذلك عشرات المقالات من مواقع مختلفة عربية وأجنبية ومواقع إخبارية عالمية كالـBBC وغيرها توضح العديد من المشاكل التي تسبب فيها الكاهن السابق في بريطانيا وغيره..! ثم بدأ يتنقل ما بين كاليفورنيا ونيوجيرسي ولوس انجلوس، والصورة الآتية بها بيان من الأنبا سيرابيون عن نفس الموضوع بعد ذهاب هذا الأب إلى أمريكا!
إن الاب زكريا بطرس حنين (72 عاماً) مشاكله ليس فقط بخصوص الهجوم على الاسلام! إنها تسبق ذلك بكثير.. فهناك العديد من الأخطاء العقيدية مثل موضوع “الخلاص في لحظة”، ومن هذه المشكلة وضع قداسة البابا شنوده الثالث كتابين: كتاب الخلاص في المفهوم الأرثوذكسي، وكتاب بدعة الخلاص في لحظة.
فكانت مشكلته في البداية -كما يقول قداسة البابا- أنه رسم كاهناً في شبين الكوم، ثم نقل إلى طنطا، ثم عزل في أيام البابا كيرلس السادس سنة 1968، ثم أرجعوه بعد سنة من عزله إلى كنيسة مارمرقس بمصر الجديدة.. وظهر موضوع الخلاص في لحظة بأسلوب عنيف في تلك الكنيسة، وعزل من الكنيسة ثمانية سنوات ونصف تقريباً (1978-1987) [وكان ذلك بعد محاكمته كنسياً عام 1978 – ثم أبدى رغبته في التصالح عام 1986 وأعلن تراجعه عن منهجه]، ثم رجع، ثم ذهب إلى أستراليا 1992، ثم عاد، ثم وصل إلى إنجلترا.. نفس المشكلة قائمة.. وأولاده بكنيسة مارجرجس في ملبورن Melbourne بأستراليا يثيرون جواً ضد العقيدة الكنائسية، يشكو منها نيافة الأنبا سوريال مر الشكوى
End of quotations. Original link is attached at the top
Once again, people say about the pope: “he just referred to an old book from the 12 th century and quoted a dialogue“. A dialogue!! a dialogue is a conversation between two people. So what did the other man say..uhmmm… Imagine us having a dialogue:
Person 1 says: Tell me something that the church did and I will show all that is evil such as spreading its faith by the sword
Person 2 says: This is not true for the following reasons….. (let’s imagine for the sake of argument that you fully refute my above statement)
Now, if xy goes out and says to a group of Muslims: and Person 1 said to Person 2: “Tell me something that the church did and I will show all that is evil such as spreading its faith by the sword”. Is that complete? Where is the context? Is that a fair academic approach to an objective conservation? Is this academic honesty? Pleeeeeaaaaaasssseeeee….. We are educated enough to know how to approach textual reference… I did hear Zakaria Botros argue with that, however, me, you and the readers know that this act of ‘quoting’ or half-quoting is lacking full academic honesty. The pope took that statement out of context. I do not know if the pope knew that he was talking to more than his live audience. Ofcourse, academic honesty and context become much more important when you are talking about 1+ billion people. The least you owe them is full quotation and a context.
I do not really care how much the pope knows of history or where he studied. Or whether he has the power to modify the Liturgy and issue liturgical laws, revise the Code of Canon Law, canonize and beatify individuals, approve and suppress religious orders , impose canonical sanctions in Christendom. To me, this is irrelevant. What matters to me is actions and words.
Since the pope refused knowingly to acknowledge what the other person said, then I must go to the context and this is what Uri did. Knowing the history of the church, I will take what Uri Avenry said in his article and until he is proven wrong as a true historical statement. This is what the pope implied. Do not even attempt to say that the pope was just half-quoting and that he did not agree with what he half-quoted. Since, Zakaria Botros and everyone else who heard it or read it understood as such. Even if this the case as the pope expresses in the later ‘modified‘ speech; I ask: Is it not an evidence to his ‘faith and reason’ theme? I believe it is.
The pope said in his speech:” I was reminded of all this recently, when I read the edition by Professor Theodore Khoury (Münster) of part of the dialogue carried on – perhaps in 1391 in the winter barracks near Ankara – by the erudite Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus and an educated Persian on the subject of Christianity and Islam, and the truth of both.” At first glance, you would think that this ‘ educated‘ Persian was speechless. Am I correct?
Later on, the pope says: “In the seventh conversation” between the two. So there was various conversations between the two which means that there was indeed a discussion.
Please notice that I am not accusing the Pope himself of being unfair or dishonest; I cannot see what is his heart and I do not know him. I am just saying that his statements at that instance are incomplete, out of context and lacked full academic honesty. He himself acknowledged my previous sentence by issuing a statement saying that his half-quotation was understood out of context when it was written out of context.
By the way, a large number of Muslim scholars have responded and corrected the pope here
People have also said that Zakaria Botros quotes from Islamic sources: first, much of what Zakaria Botros says is from The Encyclopedia of Islam which is in no way an Islamic reference. How can a group of non-Muslims and Christian missionaries write objectively about Islam?? And since my principal is not to discount a text based on the objectivity of the writers, here (in pdf (Arabic)) is a full book refuting and correcting the Encyclopedia of Islam in an objective manner (you know… taking a statement and then pointing out why it is incorrect). It has been refuted, corrected and responded to by many Muslim scholars including the Islamic Shoora Council is Saudi Arabia which is the largest council representing the Muslims. Plenty of Muslim scholars have rejected the encyclopedia of Islam as a reference; many of them responded and corrected the mistakes mentioned in it such as Sheikh Ahmad Shakir. (note: other quotations from true Islamic resources will be dealt with academically and comprehensively when I discuss your other points. My point here is that The Encyclopedia of Islam is not an Islamic reference).
A further study of the ‘shobohat’ in this encyclopedia is here (Arabic link (word)). Having a Sheikh (whomever he is) write an introduction to it does not make it a reference on Islam. I hope we understand a difference between a reference/source on Islam and just a book written about Islam which holds the opinions and analysis of its western writers. It’s not one of the Muslim books or references.
The whole point about using references is that both parties agree on them as a judge in a discussion. Using any of the other Islamic books which the Muslims have agreed on their authenticity, such as the Quran, Saheeh Al Bokharee and Muslim and all the Saheeh Sunnah, is an acceptable reference. So quoting from any of these references will be accepted as a reference and will be dealt with in an academic objective manner.
Not only that, Zakaria Botros has also misquoted the Islamic resources many many times. Zakaria Botros has used the odd opinion in an Islamic matter as if it was the ultimate truth. Zakaria Botros has altered quotations from Islamic resources intentionally many many times. Zakaria Botros takes words and verses out of context.
In Islam, there are many debatable matters in the branches of the deen as every human makes mistakes. But what we, as a community, take and adopt only what is parallel with the Quran and the Sunnah and the understanding of the first generations of Muslims narrated through a strong narration chain. The opinion of the majority of the scholars (Ijma’ or Jomhoor) is different than that of one scholar. Even in the books of Tafseer, there are some weak chains of narration for some incidents and some are stronger than others in narration. This needs verification; you cannot just quote without verification. You cannot quote out of context.
Ofcourse, I have accused Zakaria Botros of many ‘academic honesty’ crimes and you have the right to ask me: what is your proof?
Well, thankfully a Muslim brother has compiled some videos exposing the lies of Zakaria Botros. I have sent you these videos before but you chose not to view them. I will attach them again here for the benefit of all. Also, remember my very first assumption that we are seeking the truth here.
Please, please, please listen to at least one full video to see how Zakaria Botros does ‘tadlees’ and misquoting and altering text (I am supporting my claim with hours of proof). He does plenty of taking words and verses out of context. Listen to it with a pure academic impartial ear to discover that this man is indeed doing this intentionally. For the average listener (one who does not know enough about Islam or the Quran), he sounds like he’s actually referencing, when he’s cheating them. Add these proofs to the life story of Zakaria Botros mentioned above and I will rest my case on his objectivity, authenticity and authority. Again, keep in mind, that all verses in any topic should be understood and analyzed together.
I think by now, we should agree on the following:
– The original speech of the pope lacked full academic fairness to expose the response and the context to the question or statement the pope quoted; he quoted out of context; thus, forcing the readers to look into the context.
– Zakaria Botros does not ‘ask objective questions’ (as I defined above) but makes statements directly or indirectly
– Uri’s article will hold ground until proven otherwise
– Zakaria Botros has at countless occasions misquoted and altered Islamic resources
– Encyclopedia of Islam is not an Islamic reference or a source as it has been refuted and corrected by most Muslim denominations. It was not written by Muslim scholars.
– One opinion from one Muslim scholar does not make an idea or an action an Islamic law or belief until it’s supported by Quran, Sunnah and the understanding of the first generations of Muslims and the scholars through a strong narration chain.
Let us stick to the subject of the point. I want to know your opinion on the above points specifically so I can proceed with the discussion. Do you see any flow in my logic regarding the above conclusions? If so, tell me where. If we agree, then I can proceed to the rest of the points.