Great article from Thenews.com.pk (copied from khilafah.com),
Why would pope Benedict XVI, an ex-professor of theology, one of the best-known theologians of the Western world, a prolific writer, a staunch defender of traditional Catholic doctrine and values cite this medieval text in a lecture on faith and reason? Let us look a little more closely at the context of the speech.
The pope invoked the words of the emperor to serve as the “starting point” of his reflections on the issue. He resurrected the seventh conversation between the emperor and the almost-absent Persian from the text which is to be found in a version edited by Professor Khoury. In this conversation “the emperor touches on the theme of the holy war”, the pope told his audience, and then went on to state that “the emperor must have known that ayah 256 of surah 2 reads: ‘There is no compulsion in religion’.”
Then the learned pope said that the “according to the experts, this is one of the surahs of the early period, when Muhammad (PBUH) was still powerless and under threat. But naturally the emperor also knew the directives developed later and recorded in the Quran concerning holy war. Without descending to details, such as the difference in treatment accorded to those who have the ‘Book’ and the ‘infidels’, he addresses his interlocutor with a startling brusqueness on the central question about the relationship between religion and violence in general, saying: “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”. After having expressed himself so forcefully, the emperor goes on to explain in detail the reasons why spreading the faith through violence is something unreasonable. Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul. ‘God’, he says, ‘is not pleased by blood — and not acting reasonably is contrary to God’s nature. Faith is born of the soul, not the body. Whoever would lead someone to faith needs the ability to speak well and to reason properly, without violence and threats. To convince a reasonable soul, one does not need a strong arm, or weapons of any kind, or any other means of threatening a person with death'”.
This quotation from the pope’s speech leaves one struggling with the question of his understanding of Islam. To begin with, regardless of the pope’s experts, the second surah of the Quran (Suratul Baqarah) is not an early surah of the Quran; it was in fact revealed in Medina at a time when Muslims were in full control of the Arabian peninsula and not when “Muhammad was still powerless and under threat”. Second, to consider the Prophetic mission of the Prophet (PBUH) in terms of an individual’s struggle, even to treat him as a man who is once “powerless” and “under threat” and who then gains power and strength is totally contrary to Islamic understanding of a prophet’s mission. According to Islam, God has chosen certain men to act as his messengers to humanity and once a man has been chosen to perform this function, his individual power of strength have little meaning left; he is acting under Divine Commands.
But regardless of these obvious misunderstandings about Islam (which one would not expect from such a learned theologian), the point that the pope attempted to make in his speech was that there is a “profound harmony between what is Greek in the best sense of the word and the biblical understanding of faith in God”. He did not say that such a “profound harmony” does not exist between Islam and Greek thought, but his invocation of the ugly words written by a Byzantinian emperor leaves one wondering how much of that text has crept into the understanding of the Church.
To be sure, the current perceptions of Islam and Muslims in the West are not merely the result of CNN and Fox News; they are the handiwork of generations of churchmen and academics who have followed in the footsteps of people like Emperor Manuel II. One only has to read a work like Islam and the West: The making of an image by Norman Daniel to see the contributions of the Church in the cultivation of the deep hatred of Islam and Muslims in the contemporary West.
Again this shows us the man real view of Islam.