It is said that Peter, as well as Jesus’ other apostles, were married men. Traditionally, most Jewish men would have been married early on and it would have been odd at that time to be celibate. Historically, priests of the Eastern Churches were also mostly married men. They still are. In fact, up until the 15th. Century half of the Catholic priesthood was formed of married men and many of the Popes were married and had children. The question of marriage for Catholic priests is not dogma. It was only in 1917 that the rules about celibacy were codified into canon law. And the rumor is that Pope Francis is seriously thinking of changing that. However, if you ask most Catholics today, they will tell you that it has always been absolutely prohibited for Catholic Popes and priests to be married. What do they know!
It is the same for Muslims and for portrayals of the Prophet, which are today considered to be against Muslim teachings. However, there again, it wasn’t always so. In fact, there are Mogul, Persian and Turkish miniatures that depict the Prophet, though his face is hidden or veiled. The religious explanation for not showing the face is that worship is meant only for God, not statues, not icons, not paintings, otherwise it is considered irreligious idolatry. (Incidentally, Jews and Protestants also do not have statues, icons or paintings in their holy places. They, too, consider that to be idolatry.) As other examples, the Prophet is also clearly depicted in a mural that exists in Tehran, as well as in a few 13th. and 15th. Century paintings. In fact, there is a beautiful painting hanging in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY, The Night Journey of the Prophet Muhammad; the Mi’raj: it depicts the Prophet, with his bare face, riding on his horse, Burak, and ascending to heaven (from Jerusalem). Most Muslims do not know these facts, nor have they any idea about these works of art and, it is an actuality that illiterate Muslims who have lent their ears to manipulative fanatics and charlatans, do not even know or understand Islam anymore, let alone if they ever did! Ignorance is very dangerous!
However, we find that in religion especially, radical and fanatical zealots throughout time often seem to change and interpret the laws and rules as they see fit. This has nothing to do with the religion itself, only with the whims of Whoever is the Pope, the Imam, the Rabbi or the Ruler! And once these religious or political leaders decree something, it very soon comes to be believed by the masses and, moreover, is thought to have always been the case when it really wasn’t. All religions have done that. And thus, this whole hullaballoo about the cartoon images of the Prophet depicted in the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine that caused a massacre in Paris is so very tragic. Again, an expedient religious reason has been utilized to advance a radical and criminal political ideology. Historically, it is not the first or last time that this has happened. Israel, after all, has used a religious pretext to occupy Palestine and advance a political ideology, displace native inhabitants, attempt to ethnically cleanse them, and cause unbelievable carnage and agony while the World has stood silently by.
However, those three and a half million people who came out in solidarity for the massacred victims and to reaffirm the right of free speech weren’t thinking of all that. I looked at my television and saw all their earnest, sincere faces that were oblivious of the history and the context that had brought all this tragedy about. They were only reacting to the immediate massacre and to what they believed was now threatening them. In a surrealistic way, it seemed as if this was the perfect karmic moment for beautiful, chic, alluring France and its lovely people to be on the world stage. Irrespective, it still was a knee-jerk, though genuine, reaction to a very sad event.
Accompanying the march was, of course, the avaricious mainstream media ever looking to sensationalize any story in order to cover their 24/7 programming. Their excitement, their obvious glee at being at any scene of carnage or devastation is so nauseating! They are so full of themselves, so enamored with their positions and access to power that they have willingly ceded their honesty and their truth-telling mission. Like Faust, they have sold their souls to the Devil! Quite despicable! That aside, the whole spectacle of that march in Paris was a perfect made-for-television photo-op moment that the media and the Western Powers couldn’t help but jump on in order to have yet another justification for that insane and invented War On Terror that had been maliciously set into motion since 9/11. How utterly repugnant!
Many writers and bloggers commented on the leaders of the march. That’s good, because the more of us that voice our revulsion the better the chances of changing things. So as I continued looking at my television screen and at the marching world leaders, I asked myself: How do these duplicitous opportunistic politicians have the temerity to even speak about freedom of speech and criminality when their hands are so bloody? And will those same leaders persist in supporting the unjust policies that have been killing innocent civilians, men, women and little children in the Middle East while continuing to preach freedom and democracy? And will the Western Powers continue their use of excessive force, hype, lies, deceit and cover-ups thus inviting more calls for revenge, despair, and utter rage that will bring on more catastrophes and retaliations and that will continue this vicious cycle we are in? Are they that dumb; that irresponsible; that unconscionable; that criminal; that cowardly? Shouldn’t they be re-thinking their entire racist, colonialist-minded, discriminatory policies that have brought us to this point rather than simply reacting to events that they had set in motion to begin with? Will their passé “divide and rule” policies continue to fuel the War On Terror all the more?
At the end of the day, and just the way certain alterations to religions occur by the stroke of a zealot’s pen and, eventually, come to be believed as mandated by the religion itself, so this War On Terror has now come to be believed and accepted as uncontested Gospel! Come Election Day, the French people, as well as the citizens of the US and most Western Powers, will cast their votes for those same politicians, parties and political leaders whose very actions and policies caused the Paris massacres in the first place. And after all is said and done, the earnest and sincere Parisians who came out in those huge numbers went home sad, but convinced that they had done their part for freedom of speech and for democracy. Little do they know that they did nothing of the sort and that their – and the whole World’s – ignorance regarding what is being done in their name and how they are being played is very dangerous for all of us whether we are Jews, Christians or Muslims, and no matter what our ethnicity or nationality is. We are not witnessing a Clash of Civilizations, what we are witnessing is a Clash of spectacular Ignorance from all sides! Whereas the Charlie Hebdo massacre should have served as a wakeup call that invites introspection and reevaluation of all the defunct Western policies – especially those regarding the previous “colonies” in Africa and the Middle East – it has so far done nothing but perpetuate the very premise that brought us up to this tragic point! It is, indeed, a very disastrous and ugly chapter in our history that we are passing through! It will continue, unless we all open our willfully blind eyes and begin looking at the real stories rather than the propaganda of the bigoted opportunists!