31. Remarks on the words "Pope" and "Patriarch"

in the Christian religion and on the word

"Kohen" used by the Jews.



It 406 should be known that after the removal of its prophet, a religious group must have someone to take care of it. (Such a person) must cause the people to act according to the religious laws. In a way, he stands to them in the place (khalifah, caliph) of their prophet, in as much as (he urges) the obligations which (the prophet) had imposed upon them. Furthermore, in accordance with the aforementioned 407 need for political leadership in social organization, the human species must have a person who will cause them to act in accordance with what is good for them and who will prevent them by force from doing things harmful to them. Such a person is the one who is called ruler.

In the Muslim community, the holy war is a religious duty, because of the universalism of the (Muslim) mission and (the obligation to) convert everybody to Islam either by persuasion or by force. Therefore, caliphate and royal authority are united in (Islam), so that the person in charge can devote the available strength to both of them 408 at the same time.

The other religious groups did not have a universal mission, and the holy war was not a religious duty to them, save only for purposes of defense. It has thus come about that the person in charge of religious affairs in (other religious groups) is not concerned with power politics at all. (Among them,) royal authority comes to those who have it, by accident and in some way that has nothing to do with religion. It comes to them as the necessary result of group feeling, which by its very nature seeks to obtain royal authority, as we have mentioned before,409 and not because they are under obligation to gain power over other nations, as is the case with Islam. They are merely required to establish their religion among their own (people).

This is why the Israelites after Moses and Joshua remained unconcerned with royal authority for about four hun­dred years 410 Their only concern was to establish their religion. The person from among them who was in charge of their religion was called the Kohen. He was in a way the representative (caliph) of Moses. He regulated the prayers and sacrifices of the Israelites. They made it a condition for (the Kohen) to be a descendant of Aaron, as it had been destined for him and his children by divine revelation.411 For (supervision of the) political matters which naturally arise among human beings, the Israelites selected seventy elders who were entrusted with a general legal authority. The Kohen was higher in religious rank than they and more remote from the turbulent legal authority. This continued to be (the situation among the Israelites) until the nature of group feeling made itself fully felt and all power became political. The Israelites dispossessed the Canaanites of the land that God had given them as their heritage in Jerusalem and the surrounding region, as it had been explained to them through Moses. The nations of the Philistines, the Canaanites, the Armenians [!],412 the Edomites, the Ammonites, and the Moabites fought against them. During that (time), political leadership was entrusted to the elders among them. The Israelites remained in that condition for about four hundred years. They did not have any royal power and were annoyed by attacks from foreign nations. Therefore, they asked God through Samuel, one of their prophets, that He permit them to make someone king over them. Thus, Saul became their king. He defeated the foreign nations and killed 413 Goliath, the ruler of the Philistines. After Saul, David became king, and then Solomon. His kingdom flourished and extended to the borders of the Hijaz and further to the borders of the Yemen and to the borders of the land of the Romans (Byzantines). After Solomon, the tribes split into two dynasties. This was in accordance with the neces­sary consequence of group feeling in dynasties, as we have mentioned before. One of the dynasties was that of the ten tribes in the region of Nablus, the capital of which is Samaria (Sabastiyah),414 and the other that of the children of Judah and Benjamin in Jerusalem 415 Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, then deprived them of their royal authority. He first (dealt with) the ten tribes in Samaria (Sabastiyah),416 and then with the children of Judah in Jerusalem. Their royal authority had had an uninterrupted duration of a thousand years. Now he destroyed their temple, burnt their Torah, and killed their religion. He deported the people to Isfahan 417 and the 'Iraq. Eventually, one of the Persian Kayyanid (Achaemenid) rulers brought them back to Jerusalem, seventy years after they had left it. They rebuilt the temple and reestablished their religion in its original form with priests only. The royal authority belonged to the Persians.

Alexander and the Greeks then defeated the Persians, and the Jews came under Greek domination. The Greek rule then weakened, and, with the help of (their) natural group feeling, the Jews rose against the Greeks and made an end to their domination over them. (Jewish) royal authority was in charge of their Hasmonean priests. (The Hasmoneans) fought the Greeks. Eventually, their power was destroyed. The Romans defeated them, and (the Jews) came under Roman domination. (The Romans) advanced toward Jerusalem, the seat of the children of Herod, relatives by marriage of the Hasmoneans and the last remnant of the Hasmonean dynasty. They laid siege to them for a time, finally conquering (Jerusalem) by force in an orgy of murder, destruction, and arson. They laid Jerusalem in ruins and exiled (the Jews) to Rome and the regions beyond. This was the second destruction of the temple. The Jews call it "the Great Exile." After that, they had no royal authority, because they had lost their group feeling. They remained afterwards under the domination of the Romans and their successors. Their religious affairs were taken care of by their head, called the Kohen.

The Messiah (Jesus) brought (the Jews) his religion, as is known. He abolished some of the laws of the Torah. He performed marvelous wonders, such as healing the insane 418 and reviving the dead. Many people joined him and believed in him. The largest group among his following were his companions, the Apostles. There were twelve of them. He sent some of them as messengers (Apostles) to all parts of the world. They made propaganda for his religious group. That was in the days of Augustus, the first of the Roman emperors, and during the time of Herod, the king of the Jews, who had taken away royal authority from the Hasmoneans, his relatives by marriage. The Jews envied (Jesus) and declared him a liar. Their king, Herod, wrote to the Roman Emperor, Augustus, and incited him against (Jesus). The Roman Emperor gave (the Jews) permission to kill him, and the story of Jesus as recited in the Qur'an occurred 419

The Apostles divided into different groups. Most of them went to the country of the Romans and made propaganda for the Christian religion. Peter was the greatest of them. He settled in Rome, the seat of the Roman emperors. They 420 then wrote down the Gospel that had been revealed to Jesus, in four recensions according to their different traditions. Matthew wrote his Gospel in Jerusalem in Hebrew. It was translated into Latin by John, the son of Zebedee, one of (the Apostles). (The Apostle) Luke wrote his Gospel in Latin for a Roman dignitary. (The Apostle) John, the son of Zebedee, wrote his Gospel in Rome. Peter wrote his Gospel in Latin and ascribed it to his pupil Mark. These four recensions of the Gospel differ from each other. Not all of it is pure revelation, but (the Gospels) have an admixture of the words of Jesus and of the Apostles. Most 421 of (their contents) consists of sermons and stories. There are very few laws in them.

The Apostles came together at that time in Rome and laid down the rules of the Christian community. They entrusted them to Clement, a pupil of Peter, noting in them the list of books that are to be accepted and in accordance with which one must act.

(The books which) belong to the old religious law of the Jews are the following:

The Torah, which consists of five volumes.

The Book of Joshua.

The Book of Judges.

The Book of Ruth.

The Book of Judith.422

 The four Books of Kings.

The Book of Chronicles.423

The three Books of Maccabees, by Ibn Gorion.424

The Book of Ezra, the religious leader.

The Book of Esther 425 and the story of Haman.

The Book of Job the Righteous. The Psalms of David.

The five Books of David's son, Solomon.

The sixteen Prophecies of the major and minor prophets.

The Book of Jesus, the son of Sira, the minister of Solomon.

(The books of) the religious law of Jesus that was received by the Apostles are the following:

The four recensions of the Gospel.

The Book of Paul which consists of fourteen epistles.

The Katholika (General Epistles) which consist of seven epistles, the eighth being the Praxeis (Acts), stories of the Apostles.

The Book of Clement which contains the laws.

The Book of the Apocalypse (Revelation) which contains the vision of John, the son of Zebedee.

The attitude of the Roman emperors toward Christianity varied. At times, they adopted it and honored its adherents. At other times, they did not recognize it and persecuted its adherents and killed and exiled them. Finally, Constantine appeared and adopted Christianity. From then on, all (the Roman emperors) were Christians.426

The head of the Christian (community) and the person in charge of (Christian religious) institutions is called Patriarch. He is their religious head and the representative (caliph) of the Messiah among them. He sends his delegates and representatives to the remote Christian nations. They are called "bishop," that is, delegate of the Patriarch. The man who leads the prayers and makes decisions in religious matters is called "priest." The person who withdraws from society and  retires into solitude for worship is called "monk." The latter usually seek solitude in (monastic) cells.

The Apostle Peter, the chief Apostle and oldest of the disciples, was in Rome and established the Christian religion there. Nero, the fifth Roman emperor, killed him 427 Successor to Peter at the Roman see was Arius.

Mark the Evangelist spent seven years in Alexandria and Egypt and the Maghrib making propaganda. After him came Ananias, who was called Patriarch. He was the first Patriarch there. He appointed twelve priests to be with him, and it was arranged that when the Patriarch died, one of the twelve should take his place, and one of the faithful 428 be elected to take his place as the twelfth priest. Thus, the patriarchate fell to the priests.

Later on, dissension broke out among the Christians with regard to the basic principles and articles of their religion. They assembled in Nicea in the days of Constantine, in order to lay down (the doctrine of) true Christianity. Three hundred and eighteen bishops agreed upon one and the same doctrine of Christianity. They wrote it down and called it "the Creed." They made it the fundamental principle to which they would all have reference. Among the things they set down in writing was that with respect to the appointment of the Patriarch as the head of Christianity, no reference should be made to the independent judgment of the priests, as Ananias, the disciple of Mark, had prescribed. That point of view was abolished. The Patriarch was to come from a large group and to be elected by the leaders and chiefs of the believers. It has been so ever since. Later on, other dissensions arose concerning the basic principles of Christianity. Synods concerned with regulating (the religion), were assembled, but there was no dissension with regard to the basic principles (of the method of selecting the Patriarch). It has remained the same ever since.

The Patriarchs always appointed bishops as their delegates. The bishops used to call the Patriarch "Father," as a sign of respect. The priests similarly came to call the bishop "Father," when he was not together with the Patriarch, as a sign of respect. This caused confusion in the use of the title over a long period, ending, it is said, with the Patriarchate of Heraclius in Alexandria. It was considered desirable to distinguish the Patriarch from the bishop in the matter of respect (shown to him by style of address). There­fore, the Patriarch was called "Pope," that is, "Father of fathers." The name (of "Pope") first appeared in Egypt, according to the theory expressed by Jirjis b. al-'Amid 429 in his History. It was then transferred to the occupant of the most important see in (Christianity), the see of Rome, which was the see of the Apostle Peter, as we have mentioned before. The title of Pope has remained characteristic of the see of Rome down to this day.

Thereafter, there were dissensions among the Christians with regard to their religion and to Christology. They split into groups and sects, which secured the support of the various Christian rulers against each other. At different times there appeared different sects. Finally, these sects crystallized into three groups, which constitute the (Christian) sects. Others have no significance. These are the Melchites, the Jacobites, and the Nestorians. We do not think that we should blacken the pages of this book with discussion of their dogmas of unbelief. In general, they are well known. All of them are unbelief. This is clearly stated in the noble Qur'an. (To) discuss or argue those things with them is not up to us. It is (for them to choose between) conversion to Islam, payment of the poll tax, or death.

Later on, each sect had its own Patriarch. The Patriarch of Rome is today called "Pope." He is of the Melchite persuasion. Rome belongs to the European Christians. Their royal authority is established in that region.

The Patriarch of the (Christian) subjects 430 in Egypt is of the Jacobite persuasion. He resides among them. The Abyssinians follow the religion of (the Egyptian Christians). The Patriarch of Egypt delegates bishops to the Abyssinians, and these bishops arrange religious affairs in Abyssinia. The name of "Pope" is specially reserved for the patriarch of Rome at this time. The Jacobites do not call their patriarch "Pope." The word (Pope) is pronounced Pappa.

It is the custom of the Pope with respect to the European Christians to urge them to submit to one ruler and have recourse to him in their disagreements and agreements, in order to avoid the dissolution of the whole thing. His purpose is to have the group feeling that is the strongest among them (concentrated upon one ruler), so that (this ruler) has power over all of them. The ruler is called "Emperor" (Emperador), with the middle letter 431 (pronounced somehow) between dh and z. (The Pope) personally places the crown upon the head of (the emperor), in order to let him have the blessing implied (in that ceremony). The emperor, therefore, is called "the crowned one." Perhaps that is the meaning of the word "emperor."

This, briefly, is our comment on the two words Pope and Kohen.

"God leads astray whomever He wants to lead astray, and He guides whomever He wants to guide." 432