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Out Of Context – Part 10

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Omar Suleiman

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Is there Persecution of Arab Christians? – Omar Suleiman

In Part 10 of the interview, Shaykh Omar takes questions from the audience. Throughout history there has been a lot of friction between Muslims and Christians, says Sheikh Omar Suleiman, with Muslims also on the receiving end during the Crusades and the Spanish Inquisition.

Episode Transcript

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Hi, my name is Mike Bachman. And I mean, I'm a Methodist pastor, and I'm excited that we're able to share a little question and answer time with Imam Omar Suleiman. He's here to answer questions from some folks who have been part of our audiences. We've been having an extended conversation together. So I'll introduce them each and looking forward to hearing their questions. And their response to that. Imam Omar has now we've got a question from Sally Paige. She's a local here in Dallas, and has a question for Imam Omar

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assalamu aleikum.

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It was great. Thank you. I, I know a lot of Arabic Christians. Okay. And, and I fall off the thing, the things that are going on in the Arab world and the history. And there have been some incidences and that I'd like to ask you about. I know there was the bombing of a lot of churches in Egypt, about 30 churches, in little Syria was formed in New York mode, mainly by Christian immigrants who felt pushed out by the Ottoman Empire. And then there's talk of of

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Christians being taxed in largely Muslim countries.

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How would you respond to that? Is that cultural, is that political? Is that in the tenets of Islam? How would you respond to that? So

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just as I mentioned, there are, you know, very, there are a lot of instances where you do have Christian persecution, but you also have some parts of the world where you have Christians, persecuting Muslims and throughout history, you know, we've had different run ins unfortunately, and we've, you know, we've had some pretty ugly chapters in history, particularly between Muslims and Christians, right with the Crusaders, and, and with the Spanish Inquisition, and then also, obviously, what you're mentioning, some of the horrible things that ISIS does, for example, to some of the Christians that live in Iraq and Syria, the parts that they control.

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In Islam, Christians are to be

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respected, they're allowed to worship, they're allowed to even judge themselves by their law if they live under Islamic rule.

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The tax that you're mentioning, so there's something that existed in the time of the Prophet Muhammad peace be upon them. And in that legitimate Islamic authority, which is called jizya. Muslims pay a mandatory 2.5%, which is called Zakat, it's a pillar of faith, that 2.5% goes to the state, which then distributes it amongst the poor. And Muslims, you know, are at times obliged to fight and so on, so forth. If there's a again, as if there's a statesman, and there's an army that's attacking the state, then Muslim men would be obliged to fight and so on and so forth. So what happened at the time of the Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him this disease system, what it meant

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was that non Muslims in instead of having to fight in the Muslim army, they would pay this tax, they wouldn't pay this account, they would pay a tax, which was equivalent to the Zika. And as a result, they wouldn't have to fight those wars. So for example, an elderly person, elderly Christians, and Jews, for example, were exempt from even paying wages. Yeah, because they wouldn't be paying, they would not be fighting anyway, women and children were exempt from it. And the tax was not supposed to be burdensome, it was meant to be similar to the Zika. It's a payment basically, in exchange for security, and exchange for this army also protecting you. One of the early things that happened in

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Islamic history was when one of those Christian villages that lived under Islamic rule, which was paying that jizya to the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him or to the to the, to the halifa, after our mobile vacuum, and that town was attacked, the government actually returned the jizya to them because they failed to protect them.

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So that does exist, there's a concept of that this tax or payment that exists, right but again, you have to take it comprehensively. There are Muslims paying Zakat, as well. And so they're paying something other than zakat. And it's all for the sake of protection and so on so forth. Now, what happens in some parts of the Arab world?

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Again, it's a political of it's a product of political chaos.

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in Palestine, for example, Muslims and Christians actually live very well with one another, they actually do get along with one another, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the keys of it or are held by a Muslim family. So Palestinian Christians and Muslims actually do get along very well. Egypt has recently undergone some pretty serious changes, haven't they? So Iraq and Syria and so on, so forth. So obviously, when there's political turmoil groups tend to turn against each other everyone so interfaith, Sunnis and Shias turn against each other, okay, Christians, that they get turned on turned on as well by some of the Muslim populations, Catholics and Protestant

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turn against each other. So when that happens, we tend to resort to very, very tribalistic way of thinking. So it's not about your beliefs. It's more about, are you part of my group or we're part of that group. So it's along ethnic lines, it's along religious lines. People tend to, to dive into that. But there are many situations in history where Muslims and Christians lived in peace with one another, and even till today, Muslims and Christians living in peace with one another in the Arab world. I have one more question from I want you to I posted on Facebook. And so does anybody have a question for them on and one one's no good Arabic grocery store? I will skip that one.

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Somebody else asked. What about multiple marriages? Is that common? Is that part of the Islamic faith? Is that in your faith? Or is that a cultural situation? So polygamy, and more more precisely polygyny, right where you have a man marrying more than one woman, obviously, this is something that's found in biblical scriptures as well, right? Every prophets between Adam and Jesus peace be upon them pretty much was a polygamous, starting from Abraham, all the way to David, to Solomon, to Moses, and so on, so forth. So polygamy is not something that was new to Islam,

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not theologically nor culturally. So in the Arab world, in the seventh century, there was unrestricted polygamy, meaning people would marry some there are people that had 2030 wives, and so on, so forth.

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The Prophet Muhammad peace be upon them himself. For the majority of his life, up until the age of 53 years old, he only had one wife.

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So he was sort of the outcast in that sense, because there are very few people that were actually married to only one woman at the time.

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And realize that this is a pretty modern phenomenon that polygamy is looked at, in the way that it's looked at. So it did exist at the time in seventh century, Islam was the first religion to actually restrict it or not in the Arab world, in particular, Christianity obviously did restrict it. But Islam restricted it to for two men marrying for women. However, the reasons for that if you look at the, again, taking the world as a whole,

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with the situation of war, there were lots of widows and things of that sort. So it was left to four, it was restricted to four so that a man could take care of the families that were being leftover as a result of war and so on, so forth. So So to solve a societal problem, right, it was legislated for that purpose, even in the the chronological order in that chapter in the quarter, and it comes after a section of widows and divorcees and things of that sort, so as to solve that problem of widows and orphans and so on, so forth.

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Now, what does that translate into? Now? There's not a single verse in the Quran, or a tradition of the Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him that praises polygamy. meaning there's, there's no virtue to marrying more than one woman there never has really isn't, I can tell you that.

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Yeah, so there, I mean, that that's never it's never been mentioned as a praiseworthy attribute, there was praise towards people that would take in families. So there was a, it was considered praiseworthy to marry and to marry another woman if you are marrying a widow or so on so forth, and taking her in instance. And that was, again culturally acceptable for many centuries. In fact, it was.

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And it was it was a part of the faith, however, it says, hold on, if you can't do justice between, if you can't do justice with more than one, then you have to stick to one. So it was actually the first religious scripture that was, you know, no one to the Arabs in particular, that said, you have to marry one if you're afraid of not being able to do justice. So there are a lot of laws governing it. It did exist, it's a part of the faith. In some cultures, even today, Muslims and Christians, I mean, especially in many parts of Africa,

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are polygamists. I mean, that it's not looked down upon in, in their culture. And so I think that it's obviously, when it comes to that entire realm of how we view marriage, how we view sexuality as a whole, these things are ever evolving. And they are more so than probably anything else dictated by our cultural lenses. And so we are biased no matter what, whether we like it or not, the way we view things today.

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20 years ago, for example, in America, it was very, it was a very different America. So we can't expect any other part of the world to view these things, the way that we view it.

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That's in present times, and we especially can't expect, you know, religions and peoples that existed over 1000 years ago to view marriage in the same way that we did. So that would just be unjust, historically, and, and disingenuous. So

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thank you so much. Thank you so much. Appreciate you coming. Thank you.