Muslims Don't Proselytize West: Scholars

Muslim scholars across Europe rebuffed the "Islamization of Europe" warning by Pope Benedict VXI's private secretary.

Muslims Don't Proselytize West: Scholars

Muslim scholars across Europe rebuffed Saturday, July 28, the "Islamization of Europe" warning by Pope Benedict VXI's private secretary, saying Muslims are not proselytizing the West but are clearing misconceptions about their much-stereotyped faith and showing a true face other than the one portrayed by right-wing media.

"Muslim organizations don't proselytize the West unlike Christian missionaries who pay people in Africa and Asia to convert to Christianity," Ibrahim Al-Zayat, a spokesman for the Federation of Islamic Organizations in Europe, told IslamOnline.net.

Al-Zayat said Muslim groups are introducing Islam in the West, which knows little, if not nothing, about the Muslim faith.

"We are on a mission to rectify the tainted image of Islam and Muslim groups in the West's eyes," he said.

On Friday, Benedict XVI's private secretary Georg Gaenswein warned of the "Islamization of Europe" and called for defending Europe's "Christian roots".

Gaenswein told the German weekly Sueddeutsche that Europe should not ignore attempts to introduce Islamic values in the West which could even threaten the European identity.

He also defended last year's speech by Pope Benedict XVI, which associated Islam with violence, saying that Islam was a "religion of extremes" and have extremists who "invoke the Qur'an in their actions and use arms."

London-based Muslim activist Kamal El-Helbawi said Muslim organizations in the West do not "penetrate" non-Muslims.

"Muslim organizations in Europe are not proselytizing the other," he stressed.

"The main task of Muslim organizations in the West is to help the younger generations stick close to their Islamic identity, educate them about the tenets of their faith and provide a shining image of Islam," he added.

Know-Islam Events

El-Helbawi said Islamic centers in Europe are used to organizing activities that draw non-Muslims, who want to know more about this religion.

"Most centers organize open days and exhibitions displaying Islamic artifacts," he noted.

Al-Zayat said Muslim forums and exhibitions are all about culture, which attract both Muslims and non-Muslims.

"We want non-Muslims to know the true essence of this tarnished religion," he said. "There is nothing wrong for any community to correct misinformation about their religion."

Al-Zayat said Muslim organizations would not mind Christians anywhere to hold similar seminars to introduce their religion to the other.

Mudr Khugah, the personal envoy of the Islamic Religious Authority in Austria, said Muslims in Europe do not invite the other to convert.

"As far as Austrian Muslims are concerned, we never paid money for Europeans to convert them," he stressed. "Non-Muslims come to us and not vice versa."

Popular Islam

Hakkar Mohammad, a senior expert at Muslim-Vatican ties, said Gaenswein's warning was triggered by the Vatican's fears of the increasing popularity of Islam in the West and how it attracts lay people and the elite alike.

"More European notables, who enjoy great prestige among the European intelligentsia, are embracing Islam," he told IOL.

"More and more, the number of lay people who accepted the Muslim faith has tripled in many European countries like France," Mohammad said.

Mohammad said that nearly 114,000 Europeans reverted to Islam this year.

"The Europeans have been willing to know more about Islam, particularly after the 9/11 attacks," he said.

Many European publishing houses have also rushed to translate many books about Islam following the attacks, added Mohammad.

"The Europeans are good readers by intuition," he said. "They found out that the teachings of Islam are totally different from Western media reports."

Mohammad said the Internet also played a key role in spreading untwisted facts about Islam.

"European youths found on Islamic websites a totally different religion than the one reported in the media," he said.

Mohammad said what really alarmed the Vatican is that the number of people who reverted to Islam far exceeds those who converted to Christianity despite massive proselytizing Church campaigns particularly in Africa.

"The Vatican was astonished that Christian missionaries converted between eight to 10 people in Africa from 1993 to 1997, while some 21 million (Africans) embraced Islam during the same period without direct contacts with Islamic organizations," he said.

IOL

Güncelleme Tarihi: 29 Temmuz 2007, 19:14
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