Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Dante didn't go far enough

The following article (notes in the original) discusses Dante and his perspective on Islam as expressed in his most famous work Inferno, from The Divine Comedy.

Dante Alighieri was a conservative, devout Christian, as well as a strong representative of the attitude of his time Such a perspective is displayed in his book, the Inferno, in which he responds to one of the influences of his time period. the Arabic worlds The influence of Islam was not found in all aspects of medieval society yet its impact, found especially on Christianity and medieval intellectual life, was strongly felt [sic]
All human beings are by nature sinful, so one does not need an outside influence to blame for one's own evil actions. However, considering that nowhere in the doctrines of Christ can one find even the hint of commands for torture and murder, I do not doubt that much of the Church's violence toward heretics and non-Christians was learned at the knee of Medieval Europe's harsh tutor, the false prophet Mohammed.

In canto VIII of the Inferno, where Dante describes the existence of mosques in the city of Dis, and in canto XXVIII, where one encounters Mohammed and Eli in Hell, Dante conveys his attitude towards Islam His placement of these aspects of Arabic culture amongst the sinners of Hell corroborates the notion that Dante held a contemptuous and negative view towards the Muslim world [sic]
Was Dante's "contemptuous and negative view" directed toward Arabic culture? No, it was directed toward Islam. Why? Because Dante was a backward, unenlightened, prejudiced, ethnocentric white, Christian, male Islamophobe? (How chronocentric to argue thus!) No, Dante was well-acquainted with the doctrines of Mahomet and the practices that follow logically from them. Consider, for example, what Allah requires of his people toward non-Muslims who refuse to submit:
"...fight and slay the Pagans wherever ye find them, and seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war); but if they repent, and establish regular prayers and practise regular charity, then open the way for them: for Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful" (Qur’an 9:5).
And if an "unbeliever" decides to exercise their (true) God-given right to self-defense, what next? Islam's history overflows with the tolerance and peace preached by Mohammed here in Sura 5:
"The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger, and strive with might and main for mischief through the land is: execution, or crucifixion, or the cutting off of hands and feet from opposite sides, or exile from the land: that is their disgrace in this world, and a heavy punishment is theirs in the Hereafter..." (Qur'an 5:33).
The article continues:
His antipathy for such a culture is based not simply on a prejudiced view that he heldn [sic] but rather on his disgust towards its effects on the Christian Church as well as on medieval intellectual lifeW [sic] Based on his inclusion of Muslim mosques and leaders in Hell, one can see that the impact on medieval life obviously perturbed Dante, for he would have preferred to have his culture completely devoid of any Islamic influences.
Why is that? Could it be that Dante viewed Islam's false doctrine as leading to the eternal condemnation of people's souls? Could it be that he viewed as distasteful Mahomet's blasphemies? Could it be that Dante knew well that Allah's commands to fight against, subdue and humiliate, and kill non-Muslims were continuously and zealously being carried out upon innocent men, women, and children?

What Infidel wouldn't want their own culture devoid of such influences?
The medieval view of Islam was a hostile one primarily based on fear and prejudice.
Fear of an ideology founded upon and spread by violence and death is called "good judgment."

And as for prejudice? By definition, prejudice means reaching a conclusion before examining the evidence. What proof does this article's author have that Dante was unfamiliar with Islam? Isn't this author's mischaracterization of what led Dante to oppose the Religion of Peace an example of his or her own prejudice (and ignorance of Islam)?
The basis for this fear evolved from the belief that the Muslim religion posed a serious threat to Christianity's existences for it gave Christianity some unwelcomed competition.
When one enterprise oppresses, enslaves, and kills the competition, such a belief would seem justified. Such behavior should be unwelcomed.
In other parts of the world, namely in the East, Islam had a strong foothold, and such a foothold proved to be menacing to Christianity since it showed the world that Christianity was not the absolutes most powerful religion.
And how did Islam obtain that "strong foothold"? Was it through the sheer persuasive power of Mohammed's message of Allah's love sinful mankind? Perhaps it was the false prophet's example of love in action as he healed the sick, comforted the brokenhearted and raised the dead that changed people's hearts? Did Mahomet change people's hearts by sacrificing his life for all Humanity? The Religion from Hell must have gained so many adherents because its founder led such a holy life, setting an example to be emulated for all men!

No. Mohammed lied, stole, waged offensive warfare, raped, enslaved, tortured, mutiliated and murdered those who opposed him and his false doctrine. All of these evils (including consummating his marriage to his favorite wife Aisha when she was nine years old) were excused or commanded by his false god Allah!

Islam spread by the sword as soon as it was strong enough to do so, and it continues to war around the world to this very day.
While the Muslims jeopardized the reputation and stability of the religion of the West, other Christian lands were falling under Arabic ruled One of these countries included Spain, where Muslim occupation, which began in 711 A D , resulted in the religious conversion of the Spanish people and culture. This conquering of Christian soil proved to be another reason why the West felt threatened by the Arabic presence in the world [sic]
Whether through ignorance or dishonesty, the author doesn't acknowledge here that those Christian lands fell under the sword of Islam. This Spanish religious "conversion" was achieved through the natural desire to avoid one's own oppression, enslavement and murder.
In addition, disdainful views of Mohammed were held by Westerners, for he was regarded as being a false prophet, as a result, Islam was regarded as a heresy, for it appeared to be so radically different from Christianity...
"Appeared? Nay, it is: I know not appeared:
'Tis not alone my Inky Cloake (good Author);
Nor Customary suites of solemne Blacke,
Nor windy suspiration of forc'd breath,
No, nor the fruitfull Riuer in the Eye,
Nor the deiected hauiour of the Visage,
Together with all Formes, Moods, shewes of Griefe,
That can denote me truly.
These indeed Seeme, For they are actions that a man might play:
But I haue that Within, which passeth show;
These, but the Trappings, and the Suites of woe." (courtesy W. Shakespeare)

No, the differences between Christianity and Islam are not superficial, they are fundamental.

As indicated above, on the one hand is the Son of God Who committed no sin, performed many great and miraculous works, and rose from the dead. He commanded His people to love even their enemies. On the other hand is the founder of Islam whose legacy is torment, blood, and suffering. If Jesus said He was God's own Son, and Mohammed said that those who say Allah has a son is an unbeliever, then it should be obvious to even a simple child that the two religions are forever opposed to each other.
...and did not involve the worship of the Christian god. In addition, Mohammed was also thought of as being the Devil's tool to end Christianity's spread and success to being instead:

a sexual, self indulgent murderer whose book...Koran was a collection of pretended revelations and whose religion spread by deceit, violence and the lure of lascivious practices.

To the modern, Western, politically-correct, "Can't We All Get Along, You Intolerant Racist!" ear, such a description of Mahomet and his "sacred" text seem outrageous. According to Islam's authoritative texts, Qur'an and Hadith, Mohammed is guilty of all those crimes and more.

The troubling part (for non-Muslims) is that this life is held up as one to be imitated by the faithful.
Most people in the West during the Middle Ages harbored these antipathetic feelings for IslamS in which the religion and its progenitor were looked upon with such disdain.
Rightly so.

In the Inferno, Dante proves that he was not exempt from this scornful attitude towards the Arabic culture.

Again, it was scorn for the evil brought upon the heads of mankind by Islam, not scorn for "Arabic culture."

The first time one encounters any aspects of Muslim culture throughout the Inferno is in canto VIII, when Dante and Virgil are coming upon the city of Dis. As Dante explains to Virgil, "I can already see distinctly a- / master -- the mosques that gleam within the valley, / as crimson as if they had just been drawn out of the fire." In these lines, Dante's contempt for Islam is made quite evident, for he places mosques, the sanctuaries of Muslim worship, in the city of Dis.

Hell is an appropriate environ for the factories that turn out people who believe it is their duty to fight against, subdue and humiliate, and kill non-Muslims solely for their unwillingness to convert to an obviously perverse and false religion.

Perhaps this author is confusing "contempt" with "accurate and reasonable representation."

Had Dante respected the Arabic culture, he would have placed these mosques either in Purgatory or in Heaven, not in Hell amongst all of the other infidels and sinners.

Respect for any culture should include truth-telling, but this author is either unable or unwilling to admit the evil of Mahomet's doctrine and practice.

How can one respect a religion that commands the enslavement, rape, mutilation, and murder of innocent men, women and children in the name of its god?

Furthermore, he states that the mosques are "as crimson as if they had just been drawn X out of the fire"; thus, Dante suggests that the mosques are ablaze. By indicating that they are in flames, Dante is punishing the followers of Islam, for the fire will bring about the destruction of their mosques. Such a description of these mosques reveals Dante's contempt for Arabic culture.

What is the proper response to the monster who declared, "...I have been ordered (by Allah) to fight against the people until they testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and that Muhammad is Allah's Apostle..." (Bukhari Volume 1, Book 2, Number 24) if not contempt?

In canto XXVIII, where one encounters Mohammed and Eli, Dante's lack of respect for Muslim culture is again Portrayed. In this canto, one of the sinners tells the two travelers of Hell: "See how maimed Mohammed is! And he / who walks and weeps before me is Ali, / whose face is opened wide from chin to forelock" (canto XXVIII, 31-33). Since they caused schism in life, Dante has eternally punished them in a gruesome manner by having their wounds sealed and then reopened by a devil. Had he not felt so contemptuous of Islam, he would have not placed Mohammed and Ali, the religion's two most influential men, in Hell.
Had this author been less ignorant of Islam's brutal history, he would not have criticized Dante's decision-making.

Furthermore, Dante would not have depicted them as being maimed in such a graphic manner if he was not so perturbed by the culture. One can imagine that such a punishment would bring an extremely excruciating amount of pain upon the individual who is being punished; thus, by giving these two progenitors of the Muslim religion an extremely tormenting, agonizing punishment for eternity, Dante shows how strong his aversion to the Arabic world is. Had he not been so contemptuous of Islam, then he would have given Mohammed and Ali a milder punishment.

If this author knew anything of the cruelty inflicted upon non-Muslims by Mahomet and his followers over the past fourteen centuries, he would appreciate the high degree of irony here.
The placement of the two most influential men in Islam among the schismatics introduces one of the main factors that fuels Dante's contempt for Arabic culture. In addition to a prejudice against the culture, Dante's dislike is also derived from its effects on Christianity In contrast to the view of his time, Dante does not punish Mohammed and Ali for heresy, but rather for schism, indicating that they brought about schism in the Christian Church. Mohammed and Eli are not only responsible for heresy, as Dante believed, because in addition to forming a religion that went against the ideals and established views of Christianity, they also caused dissent and schism within the Christian community. During the Middle Ages, there was a prevalent belief that Mohammed was an apostate Christian, possibly even a cardinal. Furthermore, Mohammed possessed a deep reverence for Christ, for he regarded him as being the greatest of prophets, and considered his birth to be a wonderful event.
It is true that Islam has traditionally (falsely) asserted that Mohammed's revelation replaced/corrected corrupted Christianity, but apostate cardinal? Claiming that Mohammed was some kind of Christian is almost as preposterous as claiming Christ and Allah are the same deity. Raping, enslaving and slaughtering Christ's people for their unwillingness to convert to the false prophet's religion and calling Christ Himself a liar can not be characterized as "respect."

Here is Mohammed's blasphemy in his own words:
"In blasphemy indeed are those that say that Allah is Christ the son of Mary. Say: "Who then hath the least power against Allah, if His will were to destroy Christ the son of Mary, his mother, and all every - one that is on the earth? For to Allah belongeth the dominion of the heavens and the earth, and all that is between. He createth what He pleaseth. For Allah hath power over all things" (Qur'an 5:17).

"They do blaspheme who say: Allah is one of three in a Trinity: for there is no god except One Allah. If they desist not from their word (of blasphemy), verily a grievous penalty will befall the blasphemers among them" (Qur'an 5:73).

"The Jews call 'Uzair a son of Allah, and the Christians call Christ the son of Allah. That is a saying from their mouth; (in this) they but imitate what the unbelievers of old used to say. Allah's curse be on them: how they are deluded away from the Truth" (Qur'an 9:30)!
Here's more misinformation:
Even though Mohammed might have been an apostate, he was still a member of the Christian community, thus, when he decided to break sway from Christianity to form Islam, he took with him many followers of the Christian god. Since the Muslim religion began to attract many individuals, eventually consuming almost all of the East...
Yes, if being subdued and humiliated can be considered attractive.
...Dante must have felt that these individuals were "stolen" from Christianity, and would have been part of his religious community if it were not for Mohammed. For this reason, Dante feels that Mohammed caused dissent, or schism, in the Christian community, and was not responsible simply for heresy...Dante most likely believed that Mohammed was responsible for heresy as well, however, his main problem with Mohammed is predicated on the turmoil that he caused in the Christian community by founding Islam. Dante punishes Mohammed not just for establishing the Muslim religion...he also thinks that the Christian clergy was also at fault. If there had been no problem with the Christian Church, then there would have been no need to break away from it...the problems that existed within the Christian Church were a primary cause for the establishment of the Muslim religion; therefore, the way to ameliorate such a problem of schism would be to reform Christianity.
The primary cause for the establishment of Islam was Mohammed's desire to justify his lusts for violence and pleasure. That he claimed to represent YHWH (going so far as to fabricate narratives for several Biblical characters) to lend an air legitimacy to his evil is just one more reason Dante didn't go far enough.
...Simony is one of the problems with the clergy that Dante tries to redress, for he felt that it was one of the many faults of Christianity that helped to bring about the establishment of the Muslim religion.
Slaughtering those who refused to submit had a greater impact on Islam's "success" than did Christian failings, though undoubtedly corruption aided Jihad.

While the effects of Arabic culture on Christianity formed the basis for Dante's hatred of Islam, its effects on mediswal society were also responsible for fueling his anger. One of the areas in which medieval society was affected by the Arabic world was in the tradition of courtly love poetry (Provencal poetry sung by the troubadours) that praised women. The theory suggesting that courtly love poetry was influenced by Islamy called the "Arabist theory," was initially pursued by a marl named Giammaria Barbieri in his book Dell'origine delta Poesie rimata, published in 1790. Some of this influence could have also come from a type of Arabic poetry called Mozarabic, which not only preceded the poetry of the troubadours, but also resembled it in "some fundamental structural features and thematic characteristics." In this form of Arabic poetry, as in the poetry sung by troubadours, the existence of themes that praise women is evident. In addition to poetry, other forms of Arabic literature could have impacted the Provencal poetry, such as the Muslim tales that followed the format of the following one by Ahmed ibn Abu-l-Hawari, who lived during the ninth century:

In a dream I saw a maiden of the most perfect beauty, whose countenance shone with celestial splendour. To my asking, "Whence comes the brilliance on thy faces" she replied... "I took those tears of thine and with them anointed my face, since when it has shone in brilliance."

Obviously, it was poetry that Dante detested. Of course, Islam's "exaltation" of women has no effect on how this author views that faith. If he had done his own research on Mohammed's faith and its bloody history (not difficult to do for an Infidel with a modem), he would have found the following in Islam's "sacred" texts:
  • Allah gave a nine year-old girl to his false prophet for his sexual gratification
  • When a wife doesn't obey his husband, he is to beat her
  • A woman's testimony is not of equal value to a man's
  • For those who die fighting against non-Muslims for Allah, one of their rewards are dozens of perpetual virgins whose sole purpose is their gratification
Continuing with the article:

This tale shows how Arabic literature placed women, based on their physical attributes, on a high pedestal, for the woman ill the following tale is "of the most perfect beauty" and "shone with celestial splendour." In comparison, one can look at an example of an Italian troubadour poem from the thirteenth century and notice that there is a similar emphasis on the physical beauty of women:

In her face I have see [sic] the moon,
smiling with her radiant look. Did she
appear to me, I ask my eyes, while I was
awake or in a dream?

That look is a true mystery! It makes my
body sick, but it also cures it.[16]
The praise of women in this excerpt is quite clear, for the beauty of the girl is so tremendous that the author puts forth the possibility that she appeared to him while he was in the midst of a dream. Furthermore, since she smiles "with her radiant look," there is the suggestion that her appearance is not only radiant, but also intriguing. By comparing the troubadour poem with the Arabic tale, one can clearly see the possible influence of the Arabic world on medieval literature.
Is it possible to see in medieval literature the influence of Islam's beheadings, crucifixions, dismemberments, kidnappings of Christian children to suit its purposes, flaying of fathers in front of their wives and children and violating women in front of their husbands?

Arabic influence on courtly love poetry would have greatly perturbed Dante due to the fact that he was so anti-Arabic and would not have favored having his culture tied to the culture of which he was so contemptuous. Rather, he would have most likely preferred to have his culture completely devoid of any Islamic aspects, and instead consisting purely of Christian characteristics.
It is common today to claim that a healthy revulsion toward Islam is instead a racist or ethnic bias. Too bad it is false and therefore misleading.
Ironically, this courtly love poetry was also exercised by Dante himself. His treatment of courtly love in the Inferno is shown when he writes about a lady for whom he used to have an attraction, Beatrice. In courtly love language, Virgil describes her as being "so blessed, so lovely... Her eyes surpassed the splendor of the star's" (canto II, 53-55). In these lines, Dante praises Beatrice by describing her as being "blessed," and "lovely," with eyes full of "splendor." Such an emphasis is placed by Dante on the physical characteristics of Beatrice that one can notice parallels between his poetry and the two excerpts from above of the Arabic tale and the troubadour poem. Dante, like the authors of the two works cited above, centers his description of Beatrice on her beauty and physical attraction. Therefore, one can assume that Dante was subject to the same Islamic influence to which the author of the troubadour poem above was susceptible.
Ironic only if you are believing the lie of Islam as the Religion of Peace. And of course, no one but Arabs have ever admired a woman's physical beauty in poetic form.

While the Arabic world had a severe impact on medieval literature, it had an even greater impact on medieval intellectual life. At the time, Europe was craving for more information on science and philosophy, for the people of Europe were depleting their supplies of "intellectual capital." Furthermore, the demand for more scientific and philosophical information was going stronger by the day, and European sources were not offering any new material to satisfy the desires of people. Thus, Western scholars were prepared to search out Arabic texts and translate them because they strongly desired to have new knowledge. From the works and texts of Arabic peoples Europeans expanded their knowledge on diseases arithmetic, algebra, trigonometry, and incorporated astronomical tables from the Arabs that became the standard ones of the Middle Ages.

Which is nothing to Islam's credit, since it crushes intellectual inquiry and critical thinking. Most advances that came under Islam were due to non-Muslims under its oppressive yoke. One needs to look no further than the "progress" of the lands under Allah's rule over the centuries to see that if not for a fantastically unfortunate accident of history and geology (and the West's need for it), the ummah would have nothing but rocks and sticks to wage jihad.
Before this decision to translate works from Arabic into either Latin or the vernacular, Europeans had little knowledge of Greek philosophy and science, for most of the Greek works concerning these fields had been translated into Arabic.
Because Islam was so inquisitive and tolerant, or because they conquered Greeks also?

Thus, when Europeans were able to translate Arabic texts, they gained the knowledge, for the first time, of Aristotlea Euclid« Ptcjismyy [sic] and Archimedes, amongst others. Such knowledge was readily accessible to Western Europe due to Muslim Spain, for Spain became:

...for the greater portion of the Middle Ages a part of the Mohammedan East, heir to its learning and its sciences, to its magic and astrology, and the principal means of their introduction into Western Furope [sic].
Islam and its apologists love euphemisms (what better way to deceive gullible and unwary Infidels while still being able to claim you're telling the truth?)! Apparently for this author, "principal means of their introduction into Western Europe" is code for "staging grounds for Islam's violent expansion into Western Europe."

As a result of this impact on medieval Europe, the intellectual life was significantly expanded...Thus, in light of his character, one can assume that Dante did not want his own Christian culture to be tainted by the Arabic world.

Good for Dante! For who would want their culture to consider the Ideal Man a murderous, thieving, warring, deceitful, pedophilic serial rapist?

Dante himself shows that he may have been influenced by Islam in writing the Divine ComedyN Miguel Asin Palacios put forth the controversial idea in 1919 that Dante got the idea for writing about a journey through Hell, then eventually up to Heaven, from two famous Islamic works of literature: the Isra and the Mirage The former is about Mohammed's journey through Hell, while the latter is about his Ascension from Jerusalem to the Throne of Gods These two Arabic works of literature struck Palacios as prototypes for Dante's Divine Comedy, in which Dante goes on a very similar journey
Which just goes to show Islam's lie that "Similar = Same" will likely work on more than just Western political elites.
In addition, Palacios found that the links between the Muslim legend and Dante's poem also included picturesque, descriptive, and even episodic similarities. For example, Palacios drew a comparison between the city of Dis and the city in the Moslem Hell, for both were described by the authors as being a city of fire. Furthermore, the tombs of the heretics are described by Dante as being a bed of fire, each harboring coffins of red hot iron; similarly, Mohammed saw an ocean of fire, on whose shore were cities in flames with thousands of red hot coffins.
Mohammed knows what that hellfire looks like now, I'll warrant.
Thus, Palacios concluded that Dante used the Isra and the Mirai as outlines in critics his journey through Hell, and eventually up to Heavenly While this assumption may be true, one can argue that Dante used these Arabic works as references in order to write a better, more complete Christian story. Thus, he possibly wanted there to exist a similar story to the Muslim legend, only one which was written by a Christian and that was superior to the Muslim story. If this intention was Dante's plan, then his attitude towards Islam is only corroborated, for he attempted to prove how any piece of Christian literature could emulate and surpass any Arabic literature, even if the works involved were coveted Muslim legends.

Of course, everything wonderful and praiseworthy comes from Islam, and Christians should be grateful to bask in its glow.

Or perhaps these similarities are due to the fact that Mohammed plagiarized, then perverted, numerous Biblical accounts and concepts!

Although Dante looked upon the Arabic world with nothing but contempt and disdain, one must keep in mind that he was reflective of the general attitude of his time, in which his culture was skeptical towards Islam as a whole. However, it is ironic that such antipathy for Muslim culture did not stop any Westerners from absorbing the extensive knowledge that the Arabic world offered the West. It is also ironic that such hatred was not mutual; rather, the West simply did not exist to those of the East, for the Muslims believed that "Their own religion was far superior their language, the language of the angels, was matchless and their way of life left nothing to be desired." Thus, the Muslims basically chose not to involve themselves with the affairs of the West since they considered themselves to be culturally superior. At the same time, the Arabic world "went its own way unmindful of the West," suggesting that the Muslims did not regard the Europeans in a hostile manner. Such are assertion makes the harsh treatment of Islam by Dante, and other Westerners, seem more unjustified.

Only to the ignorant, since Islam's "sacred" texts command the fighting against, subduing and humiliating, and killing of non-Muslims.

The only things made clear by this author are his contempt for Western Civilization and his ignorance of Islam. He does Dante--and his readers--a great disservice.