Mehru Jaffer My liberal friends avoid me. They are fed up of the “jihadis,” they say and want no more talk about Islam.They are sick and tired of all the burnings and killings by Muslims around the world.In the last discussion on the subject exasperated liberal friends explained that Pope Benedict XVI dug the views of Manuel II, a 14th century Byzantine emperor out of the cobwebs of antiquity, to plead with Germans and Europeans not to turn away from the church. The plan of this Pope is to snatch Europeans away from the sway of secularists and to remind them of their Christian responsibility. That many Muslims are angry with the Pope is something they don’t understand, especially when liberal Europeans mostly do not care about what the Pope says, or does.Why did His Holiness not say that instead of quoting emperor Manuel II who 600 years ago said, “Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.” What does Muhammad have to do with secular Europeans refusing today to pay tithe to the Pope? Besides, Manuel II’s opinion of Muhammad is not even true. If I have understood my history correctly Islam was born to unite querulous Semitic tribes living in the vicinity of the Hijaz as defence against the encroachment of Greek and Roman armies into Arab territory. Jesus, a Jew was first to protest the presence of Europeans in Nazreth. After having got rid of Jesus with the help of Jews who betrayed Jesus for tithe, European warriors invented Christianity and continued to grab more land in the name of Jesus. By the time Muhammad was born Greek and Roman soldiers had reached Syria and he grew up fearing that the Europeans might walk into Mecca next, considering the amount of wealth that was generated around the Kaaba. He coaxed Arab tribes to first make peace with each other if they wanted to protect their home. Once confident of their united strength the successors of Muhammad radiated out of the Hijaz into different directions to reclaim territory of the Semitic people from the Europeans. As is the fate of most success stories the Muslims at some point in time got so giddy with their countless victories that they too surrendered to greed, grabbing land over the years from Africans, Europeans and the Persians. In other words it was tithe that they began to chase instead of chastity. Somewhere on the way the way of life of Muhammad was largely forgotten but his memory continued to be evoked to win more wars. It is tithe then that everyone is after. It is over tithe that human beings kill each other. It is to conquer that same tithe that has brought American and European troops today into Afghanistan and Iraq. Since territory and its natural resources are another name for tithe Israel and Lebanon went to war once again.Today the problem with the community of Muslims is that it seems to be far more attached to Muhammad than to the religion that the Prophet practised.Wiser would be to find out for oneself what Muhammad taught and for that Muslims will have to go back to reading and writing in the spirit of what Muhmmad once said that seeking knowledge is an ordinance obligatory upon every Muslim and wisdom adds honour to the noble and exalts the slave until he attains the level of kings.Muhammad said that the passing away of a whole tribe is more tolerable than the death of one learned man and encouraged those around him to seek knowledge everywhere even as far away as China. Muhammad said that the ignorant should not hide his ignorance and the learned not his knowledge. Muhammad’s love of reasoning and knowledge was infectious. His closest companion Ali thought that knowledge was better than riches, for knowledge guards while riches have to be guarded. Knowledge governs while riches are governed. Riches diminish with spending but knowledge increases and that the learned is superior to the fasting, praying and self-mortifying person.Ali taught that learning is the glory of mankind and the wise are beacons on the road to truth.Man is worth his knowledge nothing more, and that the fool is his foe. Knowledge is man’s hope, for man dies but wisdom lives forever.But for Muslims to engage in dialogue and debates they need to have peace at home. They need the American and European armies to vacate their libraries, schools and universities in Afghanistan, Iraq and the European Jewish elite in Israel to do the same in Palestine. If it is anyone that the rational and intellectual western world must take on today and teach freedom and democracy to it is to all the dictators, monarchs and politicians, instead of befriending most, who have paralysed life for ordinary people and not those long dead and gone.