Protestantism & Islam: Historic Mutual Cooperation vs. Modern Right Wing Conflict


The Sultan of the Ottoman Empire was known for his tolerance of the Christian and Jewish faiths within his dominions, whereas the King of Spain did not tolerate the Protestant faith. The Ottoman Empire was indeed known at that time for its religious tolerance. Various religious refugees, such as the Huguenots, some Anglicans, Quakers, Anabaptists or even Jesuits or Capuchins were able to find refuge at Istanbul and in the Ottoman Empire, where they were given right of residence and worship. Further, the Ottomans supported the Calvinists inTransylvania and Hungary but also in France. The contemporary French thinker Jean Bodin wrote:

"The great emperor of the Turks (Muslims) does with as great devotion as any prince in the world honour and observe the religion by him received from his ancestors, and yet detests he not the strange religions of others; but on the contrary permits every man to live according to his conscience: yes, and that more is, near unto his palace at Pera, suffers four diverse religions viz. that of the Jews, that of the Christians, that of the Grecians, and that of the Mahometans"

—Jean Bodin.

Martin Luther himself in his 1528 pamphlet On War against the Turk in effects calls for the Germans to resist the Ottoman invasion of Europe, as the catastrophic Siege of Vienna was lurking, but expressed views of Islam which, compared with his virulent anti-Semitism, are relatively mild. On the one hand Luther extensively criticized the principles of Islam, but on the other hand he also expressed tolerance towards the practice of the Islamic faith:

"Let the Turk (Muslim) believe and live as he will, just as one lets the papacy and other false Christians live."

—Excerpt from On war against the Turk, 1529.

Martin Luther's ambivalence also appears in one of his other comments, in which he said that "A smart Turk (Muslim) makes a better ruler than a dumb Christian".

The ironic part about this is that in the current atmosphere of Islamophobia, it is the extremist Protestants that have the most anti-Muslim sentiment in the media from the likes of Sean Hannity, Ann Coultier, Glenn Beck, Mitt Romney, and others.  These same extremist Protestants were responsible for the local Ohio girl who converted from Islam to Extremist Christianity (Rifqa Bary fiasco in Florida).  Coincidentally, some of the most eagerly tolerant and/or accepting Christians I have worked with happen to also be Protestant, but not extremists.  Extremism of any sort triggers something primal in humans, which is that of resistance.  At one time the Catholic Church had become extreme in it's method (ie. Crusades, Inquisition, etc.), that resulted in Protestantism, however it appears the tables have turned and the Catholics may actually be more moderate these days in comparison to their Extremist Protestant counter parts.  

The biggest issue with extremism is the lack of education, understanding, tolerance and especially acceptance.  Hopefully one day people will spend more time on their iPhones and iPads and actually learn something to help them have better relationships with others regardless of race and faith.  All the 124,000 prophets from Adam to Muhammad (pbuh them all) brought one message...that of One God & Unity.  

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