It is expected that left of center news media such as CNN put a positive spin on any story they publish about Muslims, which is exactly what they do. There will be no deep theological discussions on such networks; rather, we will be given at best commentators and pundits who present Islam as benign. This is a given.
CNN seems intent on taking this crap to new heights, probably in light of the latest Islamic mass murder in Belgium.
Oren Liebermann whipped up a whopper in “Two Muslim families entrusted with care of holy Christian site for centuries.”
He carefully combined truth, half-truth, and outright myth to create a certain impression of history which was clearly intended to have an impact in today’s world.
Even if that meant twisting Christian history and taking a dump on the faith on a sacred holiday to get it done, who really gives a shit?
CNN: Your reliable source for activist journalism.
Liebermann presented Muslim invaders as kindly guardians of Christian property who have possessed since the 600s the keys to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (believed crucifixion, burial, and resurrection site of Christ) without returning them for over 1,000 years, in spite of that no legitimate sources actually claim what this article says which is that “Christian infighting” over the church is why the kindly Muslims stepped in and took the keys of the church to ease tensions among Christians. Christians just can’t share and be nice and needed a Muslim babysitter. This claim is the gist of Liebermann’s article.
CNN used a flowery explanation from one of the Muslims that controls entry to the church,
“For me, the source of coexistence for Islamic and Christian religions is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, and that was when Umar ibn Khattab took the keys of Jerusalem from Patriarch Sophronius and gave security and safety to Christians in the region. We coexist and pass peace and love, which is the real Islamic religion.”
The obvious motivation of the selective use of sources here is that this article is intended to be a means of scolding Christians for their behavior and presenting Muslims in a positive light – truth be damned. The Sepulchre sits in Old City, Jerusalem which has been under Israeli control since 1967. The Israeli government has not challenged the arrangement the church has been under, and why would it as its not in Israel’s interests to do so. Liebermann is an Israeli citizen. Any potential bias, motive, or conflict of interest in his part here?
Liebermann’s idea of “quarreling” may have come from a poorly-written, unsourced article in Catholic Online, which made the claim of quarreling being the cause for Muslims possessing the church’s keys. It cited 18th century disagreements about Christians bickering over the placement of a ladder in the church as evidence as opposed to presenting a single historical source which says that quarreling is why the Muslims took control of the church’s keys centuries before the ladder bickering incident.
So we can conclude that either Liebermann, although college-educated, somehow oddly never learned how to weigh his source materials in his writings, or that he’s playing loosely with history with some type of intent.
While there may have been Christian bickering over the church as it is believed to have been built on the crucifixion and burial site of Jesus, histories have a common thread of why Muslims possessed the key to the property to begin with: The Islamic invasion of the Holy Land.
There is no legitimate source that contradicts the events surrounding the handing over of those church keys: The Christians capitulated to their new rulers.
And what families were given the responsibilities with the keys and opening of the church doors? Those descended from the Egyptian Sultan Malek Abel who sought various privileges for his family among which were the keys of the Church of the Sepulchre and its guardianship. The families involved settled the Jerusalem area during the Arab Muslim invasion from Arabia in the 7th century AD. The Nusaybah clan was the first Arab Muslim family to have settled the area after the Siege of Jerusalem in 637 which resulted in Caliph Umar’s victory and were given and retain the keys. They were so kindhearted that they charged an entrance fee to the church until 1831.
It’s quite obvious that Christian quarreling had nothing to do with the keys being given to the Muslims by Patriarch Sophronius; not just by historical sources but that the keys were given by the one man who possessed them (not given by a group of flustered, quarreling men) to a Muslim leader precisely when that Muslim took control of the city, as part of a traditional Islamic pact between Muslims and non-believers that they conquer in which the conquered become dhimmi and must live by specific Islamic regulations or risk death. This is the nice “ensuring safety” that CNN quoted one of the Muslim key keepers as referring to. When defeated in battle by Muslims according to the Islamic sources themselves (Quran and Hadiths), those conquered by the Muslim armies were to agree and adhere to a specific set of Islamic Laws and live under Islamic rule as dhimmi in full submission. Violation of the pact by the conquered parties could mean death. In other words, Christians gave the keys to the church away in part to show their submissiveness and to ensure their own safety from the sword.
One of the last chapters in the Quran says,
“Fight against those who (1) believe not in Allah, (2) nor in the Last Day, (3) nor forbid that which has been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger (4) and those who acknowledge not the religion of truth (i.e. Islam) among the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians), until they pay the Jizyah with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.” – Quran 9:29
Umar’s Edict on the dhimma (protected communities)
Umar also set out conditions or regulations relating to the treatment of those people who entered into protective pacts with the Muslims, the alh-adh-dhimma, which allowed ‘peoples of the book’ (ahl-al-kitab) to retain their non-Muslim faith under certain conditions, six of which were necessary, six desirable. The necessary conditions were: the dhimmi should not revile the Qur’an, nor Muhammad, nor Islam; they should not marry a Muslim woman; they should not attempt to convert a Muslim or injure him in life or goods; they should not assist the enemy nor harbor spies. For the dhimmi committing any of these offences the protection of the Muslims was withdrawn; that is, he became an outlaw and his life forfeited. The six “desirable” conditions were that they should wear distinctive clothing, the ghiyar, a yellow patch on their dress, and the girdle (zannar); that they should not build houses higher than those of the Muslims; nor ring their wooden bells (nalcus), nor read their scriptures in a loud voice; nor drink wine in public, nor let their crosses or swine be seen, that their dead should be wept and buried in silence; and that they should not mount a horse, only mules and asses. The breach of these regulations was visited with penalties although several of these, such as the wearing of distinctive dress, were often not enforced. (Muir 1924:137)
Did you see what that just said? Wearing a yellow patch on their clothing? Did that click yet?
And ancient manuals of Islamic Law such as Reliance of the Traveler make it known what would happen to the dhimmi if they break the above rules:
When a subject’s agreement with the state has been violated, the caliph chooses between the four alternatives mentioned above in connection with prisoners of war.
When an adult male is taken captive, the caliph (def: 025) considers the interests (O: of Islam and the Muslims) and decides between the prisoner’s death, slavery, release without paying anything, or ransoming himself in exchange for money or for a Muslim held captive held by the enemy.
If the prisoner becomes a Muslim (O: before the caliph chooses any of the four alternatives) then he may not be killed, and one of the other three alternatives is chosen.”
Now we know why Christians were so eager to submit to the Muslims: They wanted to live and not be slaves. And as they knew what they faced, it’s clear that the glorious and humane reputation of the Muslims preceded their arrival to the Holy Land. This Christian Patriarch was so terrified he gave them the keys of the most holy Christian church in existence.
That’s what you call good will and safety, at least if you’re a Muslim. Had Christians subjected Muslims to that, we’d never hear the end of it.
We can be assured that Patriarch Sophronius donned his little yellow patch with pride.
Christians got along adequately with the church’s keys until the Muslims came, regardless of any claimed bickering. CNN doesn’t answer some key questions: Why did the Patriarch hand the keys over to the Muslim military leader and not some random people if it was an issue of bickering? Better yet, why not share them with the other Christians in alleged case of bickering?? Further, why hasn’t it been revisited that the Muslims aren’t returning these keys? Are the Christians still off bickering somewhere over this Church? Uh, no they aren’t.
The reason is obvious, and Liebermann is couching social activism as an Easter human interest story.
Don’t you feel warm and fuzzy inside?
This was not interfaith good will. This was – and is – Muslim dominance. This is the tragic state affairs which has been going on there since the 600s. The Muslim families clearly hang on to the keys out of a sense of novelty and ego, and Christians are still in fear of the Muslim settler majority which formed in the area after the Islamic invasion and won’t defy it. There is a fragile peace in the area that the Christians wish to keep. The Muslim settlers aren’t leaving, the Crusades failed, and the Church is next door to a territory controlled by the terrorist group PLO.
Christians there are still in a sense living as dhimmi to these Islamic invaders, and CNN isn’t going to shine a light on it.
And if these Muslim families had any sense of interfaith good will, they’d have returned the keys long ago, but actions speak louder than words. Those keys are a symbol of Muslim power.
We don’t need to ask the Muslim reaction to a Christian invasion and mass settlement of a predominantly Muslim region which resulted in Muslims wearing yellow patches, behaving subserviently, paying a tribute, and giving Christians the keys to the most sacred mosque in Islam – say Masjid al-Haram which surrounds the Qibla in the holy city of Mecca – who then refuse to give them back over 1,000 years later.
If Christians did it, it would be called supremacist, racist, bigoted, and Hitler-like.
When Muslims do it, it’s a sign of good will, safety, and interfaith tolerance because Islam is love.
Jerusalem is no longer under an Islamic state and as such, the keys need to be returned to the rightful owner: The Greek Orthodox Church which handed them over to begin with, against their will.
Happy Easter from CNN.