On Respect and Disrespect

Many times I have heard the argument that because Muslims respect Jesus while Christians do not respect Muhammad as a prophet, ...


Muslim men can safely marry Christian women but not the other way around [since a Christian man might harrass the Muslim wife with ridiculing her faith]

Muslims should have the control over Jerusalem, since of the three faiths of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, Muslims are those who respect the prophets of the others as well, while this does not hold the other way around.

But is this actually true? Let us look at this question of respect in some more detail.

There is no question that Muslims believe that many tenets of the orthodox Christian faith are "false beliefs" as well as that a Christian who accepts that the Bible is true word of God cannot but come to the conclusion that Islam is a belief which has at least a substantial amount of falsehood mixed in. [Let us not overlook that we do have a good deal in common too, but that isn't issue of this discussion here].

I don't mind if Muslims say so. I don't even mind if Muslims call me kufr, idolator or pagan. My reaction was directed against the CLAIM that Muslims are respectful of the Christian faith and that they derive some special privileges from that [like they can marry christian women, while christians can't marry muslim women in this case. Another one of this sort would be that Muslims should be in control of Jerusalem because from among Jews, Christians and Muslims, only the latter do respect the prophets of all the three religions. And there are more such arguments].

I am very much for respecting everybody no matter what they believe. I can also respect "Islam" as a belief system / religion / world view which is definitely fascinating. But Buddhism also has its fascinating aspects. I can respect both of these systems even for much that they have achieved and still be convinced that they have gone astray and are not from God.

I do respect Islam "as an established religion", but not as the "absolute truth". Yes there is many a reason for me to be a Christian and not a Muslim. And I am not hiding it. And I would be much more comfortable if Muslims wouldn't speak of this great respect for the Christians, for Jesus, for the holy scriptures, etc and claiming that they are so much better because they respect our faith, (our?) Jesus, and our books, while we do not respect their prophet or book.... and at the same time accuse us of the worst sin there is [shirk and idolatery] and of about the worst thing you can do to a holy book, namely corrupt it, ...

I have no problem with the accusations themselves [I am prepared to discuss them], I do have a problem with the combination of these accusations and the claim of being better because Muslims are so very much respectful towards our faith while Christians are not...

It is this _combination_ which is aggrevating and comes over as pretty hypocritical. (Many) Muslims are not respectful of the true Christian faith - they only are respectful of what they claim SHOULD BE the true Christian faith, scriptures, Jesus, ... ACCORDING TO ISLAM - and as such again, really only respectful of what THEY believe to be true.

Maybe one more illustration:

I can without hesitation affirm that Muhammad was a great political leader, a charismatic and inspriring personality, and many more good things. But you would not see this as much of a respectful attitude. You feel that as long as I do not respect him for what he was according to your view, namely a prophet from God, then I am not paying the respect that is due ... and in essence am really very disrespectful. Respect for some minor issues is relatively irrelevant as long as the acceptance of the major claim is denied.

The impression of "how much respect" is really given is not only in what is positively affirmed but very much defined by that which is denied.

In the same way, if an atheist tells me that he thinks that Jesus was a great moral teacher, we say thank you very much, but that is a non-issue. And even though the Muslim does give much higher a status to Jesus and calls him a prophet of God, that is still denying the central respect that is due to him according to Christianity. It is denying the essential. And this is as much disrespectful (of Jesus) in the eye of the Christian as the denial of prophethood (of Muhammad) is disrespectful in the eye of the Muslim.

That is why I asked:

Without intending to be disrespectful, none of us can give the "respect" that the other side wants/expects without compromising their own faith. Neither I nor you can accept Muhammad as a true prophet AND believe that Jesus is God incarnate.

None of us does this in order to be disrespectful, but in order to be faithful to what each of us understands to be the absolute truth as it is revealed to us from God.

Both sides are tempted to look at what we positively affirm of the other faith and think that is already quite a lot of respect, ... especially when we compare it with what the other side denies in acceptance towards our core beliefs. Try to also understand the other side in what you do deny about their central contents of faith. Maybe that helps not to go about claiming "I am so much more respectful...".

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