Interfaith Dialog with Muslims

I was really struck by the seriousness and beauty of the earlier post that Christopher Blosser wrote regarding Islam. Coincidentally or providentially it directly related to conversations on this topic that I have been having at the college where I teach.

Too often (here at this website and elsewhere too be sure) we reduce our conversations regarding Islam to that of promoting misunderstanding and fear against Muslims. To promote the standard conservative punditry rhetoric against Muslims is doing a great disservice to our fellow Catholics, to our fellow Americans, and to our fellow man. We can do better. We must do better. As well-formed Catholics we can lead this discussion here in America (and abroad) against those who preach hatred, violence, or misunderstandings against Muslims. The questions we need to ask are these two – How is the current Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, showing us the way that we should dialog with Muslims and why he is doing this?

The problem(s) of modernity is not a “clash of civilization” against Muslims. It the struggle against what Henri de Lubac referred to as “Atheistic Humanism”. It is a clash against though who deny the supernatural… Those who deny the existence of God. Muslims are not our enemy is this battle against relativism, secular materialism, consumerism, hedonism, sexual licentiousness, etc.

We do not live in Middle Ages, as much as I would love to be there with many of you. We live in 2011. We need to recognize reality now for what it is and where we find ourselves.

I would encourage folks to engage the thought of Miroslav Volf, Robert Louis Wilken and Peter Kreeft on our topic. Recently Miroslav Volf has been interviewed about his new book on Islam. These interviews are very much worth checking out. Refer to it below.

A Voice across the Great Chasm: An Interview with Miroslav Volf

Meet Miroslav Volf, whose ‘Allah’ is a path to peace

Also don’t miss out on Robert Louis Wilken’s award winning FT article if you haven’t read it yet.

FIRST THINGS – Christianity Face to Face with Islam by Robert Louis Wilken

In my previous post below (Alliance of Civilizations or Clash of Civilizations?) I linked to Peter Kreeft’s work on this topic.

Related Posts:

Fr. Richard J. Neuhaus on Islam and Reform

Alliance of Civilizations or Clash of Civilizations?

What is the meaning of existence?

The Ground Zero Mosque And Religious Freedom (4 Parts)

62 Responses to Interfaith Dialog with Muslims

  • I have nothing at all against Muslims. It’s Islam that I have a problem with. It isn’t “standard conservative punditry” for a Catholic to object to Islam.

    Further, there is a difference between a Muslim and in Islamist. Muslims themselves frequently speak on that reality.

  • Lisa,

    First, welcome to The American Catholic!

    Second, this post was a response to Blosser’s earlier post… It’s really an on-going conversation about Islam that we’ve held here at The American Catholic for quite a while now. Blosser and I on other websites have discussed this matter for several years as well. I don’t want you to think I being critical toward you. I for one enjoy your posts here and welcome your presence, your insights, etc.

    Third, I would ask you (when you have a free moment) to check out my earlier posts (of which there are many) and judge them. For example, you would enjoy reading the two posts below in particular and listening to my radio interview on this topic.

    Fourth, let’s focus on what our current Holy Father has did and is doing regarding interfaith dialog with Muslims (i.e. the lecture at Regensburg, etc.) and other initiatives which are moving in conjunction with him (i.e. Card. Scola’s Oasis, the recent Cairo Meeting, etc.)

  • For a time, my colleagues bought their coffee from one of them young, pacific muslim street vendors at Wall and William. They had to find another vendor. The young mass murder was arrested for planning to blow them up in the IRT.

    I was there in February 1993. I was there on 11 Sep 2001.

    Comprehensive ignorance, intellectual incompetence, and refusal to recognize the evidence that belies the fairy tale world on which you desire to live.

    You’re probably safe where you are.

    Why don’t you research that SOB behind the WTC victory mosque and how he justifies (not past tense: America has millions of muzzy’s blood on its hands) the 11 Sep massacres.

    I think even a liberal might get the gist of this. I do not appreciate anyone telling me it’s raining while he urinates on my low quarters.

    No! Wait! Doh!! We deserved it all!

  • Truthfully in the context of the question “Is Islam part of God’s Plan”? I can only respond…..
    Was Abortion, Homosexuality, Pedophilia, Gay Marriage, or Euthanasia part of God’s plan?
    Today all of these have been “accepted” by modern society as “Rights” and/or part of mankind’s natural progression toward a system of equality within what is intellectually now called Social Justice.
    Benedict XVI took heat some time ago for omitting political correctness in lecturing on Islam’s religious practice and the methods they used to increase their flock. He may wish today to be “open” to a dialog with this form of religious worship but there can not be a union of thought or liturgy with any group who holds the sword instead of the cross and will not set at the Lords table with him.
    As for God, none of us ever will know the creators mind much less his plans for us but you can be sure the forces of Evil opposed to His Word and wisdom have, as in the case of Judas, reached even into the Lord’s house in order to corrupt those plans. Charity also has bounds to maintain least it become capitulation.

  • Sound much like the “dialog” I have had with my wife, since during and after our divorce as both the government and the Catholic Church support her “passive” attempts to blot me and our valid marriage out of existence. If she could end my existance, by any means, she would, provided it did not land her in jail, so she opts for the slow torture that kills you before your time, so she can dance on my grave. So be it. just the facts. The Church agrees.

    Very sad, but true.

    Sounds like you blame republicans for the generally murderous pack of savage human beings that most muslims remain, when they listen to their “teachers” and others who keep them down, ignorant and filled with hate at their “oppressors”…which is really their own religion. It oppresses them…..and the rest of the world. Islam is a blight on all humanity.

    It is fine to talk….with someone OTHER than the guy/gal who cannot wait to kill you when he/she can sieze the opportunity, simply because you believe that God’s son is a man, that he remains God and that he loves each of His creations.

    You cannot talk with a bear whose teeth are already in your flesh. You need to incapacitate it, one way or the other…, or you are going to die.

  • “There is a difference between a Muslim and in Islamist. Muslims themselves frequently speak on that reality.”

    A distinction the folks at would tend to dismiss altogether — I’m so glad we at American Catholic are capable of making such distinctions. =)

    “I was there in February 1993. I was there on 11 Sep 2001.”

    Well, count me among the latter . . . and I believe that every Muslim is a closeted Bin Laden by virtue of their dedication to their faith about as much as I believe that my being a New Yorker on 11 Sep 2011 imbues me with some particular insight into the very essence of a religion that lays claim to 1 billion people.

  • “Do not be yoked with unbelievers,” which in my reading of Scripture means that both Jews and Muslims are, by rejecting the divinity of Christ, not our brethren and can never be unless they convert. So the notion of “interfaith dialogue” may have a nice ring to it, it is futile and nothing more than playing nice. Sure, talk is better than war, but Muslims, in particular, are single-minded in their Read The Grand Jihad by Andrew McCarthy, whose these is that the real threat to the United States is not terrorism. The real threat is Islamism, whose sophisticated forces have collaborated with the American Left not only to undermine U.S. national security but also to shred the fabric of American constitutional democracy—freedom and individual liberty.

  • I was mildly surprised you guys let my comment post.

    I personally know muslims, one of them turned out to be a terrorist. Another, who thinks I am some sort of liberal simp, told me Allah will burn all the Hindus in hell for worshipping animals.

    Before the idiot, pot-head, VC-sympathizers took over higher education, I studied the so-called religion. And I studied their history from 636 to 1560, wherein the muslims were in constant aggressive war against not only Christendom, but also against Hindus and the Chinese.

    Do you not understand that they deny the Holy Trinity; Christ’s Divinity; His life, death and Resurrection which purchased for us eternal life?

    I do not accept any idea of “interfaith dialog” due to attacks and massacres and, worst of all, their vicious blasphemies against our Holy Redeemer.

    The real threats to America are treasons of libs, mainly the dems, and the never-did-anything-productive, FNG in the Waffle House covered-up for by imbecilic idiolators among the so-called media.

  • Chris, et al,

    You may be interested in this debate between Peter Kreeft and Robert Spencer. I love Peter Kreeft perhaps more than anyone. I think he’s probably a modern day saint. But there’s a lot he, and others including myself, I think do not entirely grasp about Islam. Watching this, I learned a lot from Spencer, who is perhaps one of the most articulate debaters I have ever heard.

    Let me know if you get a chance to check it out.

  • T-Shaw – I don’t block comments unless somebody gets completely out of control using profanity, etc. I for one like everyone to have a chance to speak their minds. We don’t always have to agree, but hopefully we can learn from each other… As a former Muslim and combat veteran I understand your concerns.

    Zach – Thank you for the link! Like you I deeply appreciate the thought of Dr. Kreeft as well as Robert Spencer. I have many of both of their works. Thank you my friend!

  • You are more than welcome D.L. I was not familiar with Spencer before this debate, but i was very impressed with him afterwards.

  • Any attempt to lower the temperature between Islam and everyone else is, in the general sense, welcomed provided a clear eye is kept.

    While we in our depraved West applaud any attempt to maintain basic morality, there is also the fact that you aren’t being moral if you are forced in to a certain decision. I’m a moral man when, given a free choice, I choose to do the right thing. I’m a slave when I don’t even have the chance to decide. The way morality is done in the Moslem world is by simply forbidding it and then using ferocious punishments against those who transgress. There is not much we can learn from Islam on that matter.

    And if there isn’t that, what is there? What are we to learn from Islam? That Jesus is not the Christ? That Jews are to be exterminated? That Hindus are uniformly doomed? For the longest time, I didn’t want to see Islam, as a whole, as an enemy. But, my goodness, how long will we now allow our brothers and sisters in Christ to be butchered by Moslems before we take a stand? We’re supposed to dialogue with people who desecrate a Church and murder a priest? On what grounds?

  • Why is there a pressing need to enter into dialogue with Islam as opposed to say the Buddhists? Is the true reason to be found in the threat that the Islamists pose to isolated Christian communities from the Middle-East, to Pakistan to Indonesia? If so name the fear, and deal with it and not canter around the maypole of Abrahamic religions. Islam was until the Marxists and cultural liberals came along the worst curse ever to affict mankind.

  • Dear D. L. and Christopher,
    I appreciate your efforts to approach the issue of dialogue with Islam and the dangers of Islamism from a Catholic Christian perspective, and I agree that we cannot simply ignore or wish away Islam in the modern world. However, as I have read the Holy Father’s Regensburg address a number of times, as well as listened to debates like that mentioned above between Dr. Kreeft and Robert Spencer (and I, too, share your deep admiration for Dr. Kreeft, whom I have met and talked with a number of times), it seems abundantly clear the exact point that I hear Spencer trying to make in that debate: only a “bad Muslim” according to the tenets of that faith can be considered someone that a Christian could dialogue with.

    Please don;t get me wrong–in no way, shape or form am I arguing that Muslims are not fellow children of God worthy of human respect and all of the inherent rights given by God Himself, nor am I advocating hatred of individual Muslims at all, but rather, logic seems to dictate that one should only engage in rational discussions or debates with others who also respect those same tenets of logic and debate. By its very nature as 100% a revealed religion based on the Koran and Mohammed’s later Hadiths, Islam on its own terms is not open to logical debate or discussions based on reason. One simply must follow and obey all that Mohammed commands in the Koran and the Hadiths unquestioningly. Islam flatly and openly rejects debate or the use of reason as employed by the ancient Greeks, the Romans, and later Catholic thinkers like St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas. What can we do with that, if “good Muslims” are forbidden, on their own terms, from engaging in reasoned dialogue, the very conclusions and fruits of which will indubitably lead them away from the “revelation” proclaimed by Mohammed?

    I am not at all hopeful about interfaith dialogue between Islam and Catholic Christianity, at least on human terms. God is omnipotent and thus nothing is beyond His power, so He could work a miracle at any time, but I’m simply not convinced that any good can come from what might pass for reasoned dialogue with a faith that flatly rejects logic and bids its followers to believe all or be declared an apostate. Sure, I am more than happy to speak with an individual Muslim who is open to hearing and discussing the tenets of Christianity and/or even American views of republican democracy, but once again, I must keep in mind that, to the extent that he or she engages in that dialogue logically with me, then he or she is “not being a good Muslim” on the terms of his or her own religion.

  • Another issue with dialogue with Islam – who are we dialoguing with? Like just about every religion but our own, there is no real central authority that can claim to truly speak for all Muslims. To an extent this is even more problematic with Islam as I am not sure if there is more radical intramural dispute as there is within Islam.

    We also have to face the reality that the “radical” element (for lack of a better word) represents far more than just a handful of people who have supposedly hijacked the faith, and of course it also represents far less than all Muslims. As Andrew McCarthy outlined in the book that Joe Green referenced, even if only a minority approve of violence in the name of spreading Islam, many if not most are at least sympathetic to violent Jihad and the spread of sharia. This doesn’t mean we cut off all ties to Muslims, but I think we need to go into whatever kind of dialogue with eyes wide open.

  • I’m forced in conscience to add what must be said here within this dialog.

    The many posts here which seem to have a common thread pointing to the fact there’s no way for any devout Muslim to separate himself from the Koran making his “faith” dialog with Christianity little more than cementing practical partitioning between our beliefs.
    So we Catholics in particular need to turn our prayers and immediate attention to the real threat to our status which is eroding the image of our faith, the blatant tolerance of false teaching and societal modification by self anointed elitists within the Church and the many “prominent” political figures past and present who flaunt progressive social justice banners above their hollow spiritual facades in the cozy confines of liberal philosophy.

    You know their names the list is lengthy and their agenda is more than obvious. They represent as much of a threat to the Church and our nation as Islamic Jihad. Though the people in the pews are fed up with them and in time can vote some of them out of office at the cost of being identified as racist radicals or far right bigots it does little to reign in their agenda or shed light on the theological transgressions they continue to perpetuate.
    Into this fray is where our Church leadership must implant their public voices and authority to strike patriarchal penalties in order to protect their flocks. Otherwise we will be and are to be looked upon the same as devout Muslims who idly watch as their brethren terrorists fly planes into buildings, ignite car bombs, or use women and children as explosives.

    By our tepid response to evil in all its hideous or fashionable forms we Christians simply are constructing a level playing field for every brand of terrorism.

  • Wow, thanks for all the comments on this post!

    Kevin & Paul – I share you concerns…

    The problem of authority in the Muslim world is a real one. Every Muslim is his own Pope. I talked about that either in first or second post on Islam linked upon in the comments.

    I have not had the opportunity to watch the talk between Kreeft and Spencer yet that Zach linked to above in his comment. I do look forward to watching it though. Based upon what you say Spencer says that seems correct to me as well. To be a radical/militant Muslim is to be an authentic Muslim. The Deen of Islam is a complete and final way of life to mankind. Why is reform necessary if everything to live life now and forever in the afterlife has already been given? Throw into this equation the lack of authority in the Muslim world that Paul brings up and we haven’t even addressed the acceptance of violence in the promotion of the Muslim faith. You now see the complexity of this problem.

    The Holy Father does believe (as I do as well) that Muslims can reason. They’re human therefore they have an intellect, a will, a conscience, etc. To be sure the Holy Father recognizes the complexity of this situation – the use violence in the promotion of the faith is not acceptable and the Muslim world must allow religious freedom. He challenges the Muslim world to recognize once again what it means to be human. Their desires (as ours as well) to find truth, beauty and the good is rooted in all of humanity. Let us begin there and discover once again our humanity. If you haven’t heard about the recent Cairo Meeting then read about it.

    If you are not familiar with the Cardinal Scola’s initiative to the Muslim world then become familiar with it – Oasis.

    Are de Lubac, Balthasar, Pope B16, Dr. Robert George, and Dr. Peter Kreeft correct when they claim that the problem of modern man, of modernity, is the rejection of the supernatural and the embrace of relativism? If they are correct, and I believe they are, than Muslims are not our enemy.

    Christ is victorious. We can have great hope in these days amidst all the chaos, confusion and despair of modern man…

  • [Zach] “But there’s a lot he, and others including myself, I think do not entirely grasp about Islam.”

    I read Kreeft’s Ecumenical Jihad back in college. It was provocative (as Kreeft characteristially tries to be, hence the title) — but I wouldn’t consider him to be an expert or particularly knowledgeable on Islam, and I’ll grant that Spencer probably knows more about Islam than Dr. Kreeft.

    At the same time, when your first book on Islam (published shortly after 9/11) is titled “Islam Unveiled” and features Mohamed Atta on the cover, I’m compelled to question its ability to present an adequate understanding of Islam. If your entire commercial enterprise — talk after talk, book after book, documentaries, etc. — is wholly occupied with an examination of what aspects within Islamic tradition fuel the actions and ideologies of jihadists, as well as posting from the headlines the worst manifestations of behavior from a tradition, you’re bound to miss out on something.

    If you want to condense Robert Spencer’s position, it is as follows (in his own words):

    [A]ll the schools of Islamic jurisprudence and all the sects of Islam that Muslims generally accept as orthodox teach that warfare against and subjugation of unbelievers is part of the religious duty of the Islamic community. That claim is open to objective verification or debunking, as is my further rather commonplace observation that significant numbers of Muslims are not on board with this agenda. This is not because they do not understand their religion, as Sonneman claims is my entire explanation for the fact, but because they have not been taught that this is an important religious obligation for them to fulfill, or because they are simply not that fervent, or any number of other reasons, including but not limited to the very real possibility that some who identify themselves as believers may not be well instructed in the tenets of their faith — particularly because prayers and Qur’an recitation must be in 7th-century classical Arabic, and most Muslims today are not Arabs, and most Arabs themselves are not fluent in 7th-century classical Arabic.

    In short, “the only good Muslims are bad Muslims.” And the vast majority of Muslims, some 1 billion, are probably “bad” Muslims; those “not on board” with Al Qaeda are: ignorant, non-practicing, or simply unaware to the binding teachings of thei tradition — for which we Westerners have to be thankful. Because if they were “good Muslims”, they’d all turn out like Bin Laden.

    If you want to engage Muslims, this probably isn’t the best approach. It would also be, in my opinion, conceding victory to those who are doing the bombing that theirs is the only valid interpetation of the Qu’ran. Is it?

    Daniel A Madigan SJ, of the Vatican’s Commission for Religious Relations with Muslims, responds to precisely this kind of approach and I couldn’t echo it better:

    We seem to be looking for Muslims who “don’t take it all too seriously” and who are ready to tell us what we want to hear. It is against “moderates” of this kind in the Catholic Church that bishops fulminate at election time. “Cafeteria Catholics”-take the bits you like and leave the rest-are roundly condemned, but similarly picky Muslims are celebrated. The presumption seems to be that a commitment that takes seriously the whole Islamic tradition is incapable of dealing with the modern world. In fact the opposite would seem to be the case: the reactionary and intransigent ideologies that drive terrorism and puritanical repression are not drawing on the whole of the Islamic tradition, but rather a truncated and impoverished reading of it.

    [Mark Noonan]: “We’re supposed to dialogue with people who desecrate a Church and murder a priest? On what grounds?”

    Mark, in my opinion, the only dialogue those who desecrate a church and murder a priest should have would be the receiving end of a firearm.

    Q: Seriously, do you think we should lump together all Muslims in the world with those armed militants who committed such desecration and murders? — What about those Muslims who are also victimized by Al Qaeda and other Islamist groups?

    [Paul Zummo]: “This doesn’t mean we cut off all ties to Muslims, but I think we need to go into whatever kind of dialogue with eyes wide open.”

    Well, yes. I don’t think the Pope is naive in proposing dialogue or formally launching a permanent Muslim-Catholic dialogue group sanctioned by the Vatican. To whom the church is dialoguing with is a pertinent question, as there is no ‘magisterium’ within Islam that has the final say. But at the same time, I think projects like “A Common Word Between Us and You” with Muslim leaders and scholars open to such dialogue ar worth supporting, as well as Muslim projects like The Amman Message which seeks to present “a historical, universal and unanimous religious and political consensus (ijma’) of the Ummah (nation) of Islam in our day” against “the illegitimate opinions of radical fundamentalists and terrorists.”

    [David Jones]: “To be a radical/militant Muslim is to be an authentic Muslim.” — You believe it, Robert Spencer believes it, but I’m not necessarily convinced that Pope Benedict and those who typically advocate Muslim-Christian dialogue share in that convinction. IMHO, if Mr. Spencer is indeed correct, then dialogue wish Muslims is a sham and hardly worth pursuing.

    I would also say that it’s quite an intellectual balancing act to indicate your agreement with Spencer in one paragraph, and to simultaneously indicate your agreement with Kreeft, Benedict, etc. in the other and the conviction: “Muslims are not our enemy.” They are or they aren’t.

    From Traces account that DJ cited:

    So, this is precisely the question that comes from Cairo, where, a short time ago, another Meeting, child of the Rimini Meeting, was held. For two days, there were assemblies and exhibitions, a demonstration of earthly beauty as the basis for a dialogue, in an Islamic country. It was organized by Muslims, people who live their tradition deeply, but who were struck by a friendship with those who live Christianity deeply, making it flesh and blood–that is, culture. Merely thinking of it a few weeks ago you would have said it was impossible. Instead, it happened, and it was impressive–so impressive that it actually did seem inexplicable, even with all the goodwill and capacities of those who took part. It was so impressive as to make many people–or rather, everyone–ask: “What happened? Who made it possible?”

    What? — Orthodox Muslims meeting orthodox Christians in friendship.

    Is that even possible?

  • Christopher – You have failed to make a critical and important distinction regarding my comment, “To be a radical/militant Muslim is to be an authentic Muslim.” I am not saying, and I have never said, all orthodox Muslims are radical/militant Muslims or Islamists. I have never said all orthodox Muslims are violent. What I have said and stand by it is that there is a “Dark Side” of Islam, this radical/militant ideology (Islamism) within Islam, which is inherent in the very teaching of the Koran and the life of Muhammad (Hadith & Sirah). I would ask you (& others) to read (or re-read) my original two-part series on Islam.

    I think we need to recognize this is an enormously complex issue. Many folks like to reduce the reality of Islam and not consider all the factors effecting it.

    Muslims are humans though. Many Muslims desire and seek the truth, beauty and the good. We must recognize this and dialog with those that are willing and free to do so. Nobody (including our current Holy Father) is saying this is or will be easy…

  • I want to highlight some recent comments of Pope B16 on this exact topic. Refer to Light of the World (Peter Seewald’s interview), chapter 9 – Ecumenism and the Dialogue with Islam, pages 97-101. Please read this entire section! Here are just a few important excerpts, but only excerpts. Read the entire interview on this topic.

    He said this regarding his Regensburg Lecture. “Islam needs to clarify two questions in regard to public dialogue, that is, the questions concerning its relation to violence and its relations to reason. It was an important first step that now there was within Islam itself a realization of the duty and the need to clarify these questions, which has since led to an internal reflection among Muslim scholars, a reflection that has in turn become a theme of dialogue with the Church.” pg. 98.

    “At issue are questions such as: What is tolerance? How are truth and tolerance related? In this context, the question of whether tolerance includes the right to change religions also emerges.” pg. 99.

    Pope B16 discussed the history – Muslims at the gates of Vienna, Lepanto, etc. “Today we are living in a completely different world, in which the battle lines are drawn differently. In this world, radical secularization stands on one side, and the question of God, in its various forms, stands on the other.” He refers to Sub-Saharan Africa as an example of tolerance and coexistence. pg. 100.

    In the last question he specifically deals with the problem of radical/militant Islam. “Islam has a, let’s say, monocultural dominance, where its traditions and its cultural and political identity are uncontested, it easily sees itself in the role of a counterweight to the Western world, as the defender, you might say, of religion against atheism and secularism. The sense of truth then can narrow down to the point of becoming intolerance, thus making a coexistence with Christians very difficult. The important thing here is to remain in close contact with all the currents within Islam that are open to, and capable of, dialogue, so as to give a change of mentality a chance to happen even where Islamism still couples a claim to truth with violence.” pg. 101.

  • Here’s an excerpt from George Weigel’s Foreword to the Light of the World, pg. xi.
    “Faith devoid of reason risks becoming superstition and blind prejudice. Reason inattentive to faith risks solipsism, self-absorption, detachment from reality. The effects of faith detached from reason are all around us: thus Benedict’s urgent challenge to Islam. So are the effects of reason inattentive to faith; thus Benedict’s challenge, to a West in cultural disarray, to rediscover the biblical roots of the Western civilizational project. Like John Paul II, Benedict XVI sees both facets of this dual crisis of world civilization clearly; and, again like the predecessor to who he pays touching tribute in this book, he has put these issues on the table of the world’s conversation as no one lese has or can.”

  • I am not saying, and I have never said, all orthodox Muslims are radical/militant Muslims or Islamists. I have never said all orthodox Muslims are violent.

    Obviously not. That would be preposterous, given the amount of Muslims there are in the world, only a smidgen of them are actually violent.

    What I have said and stand by it is that there is a “Dark Side” of Islam, this radical/militant ideology (Islamism) within Islam, which is inherent in the very teaching of the Koran and the life of Muhammad (Hadith & Sirah).

    Let’s go back to your original posts, and I’ll quote you directly:

    Some like to make the claim that there is Islamism and then there is Islam. They go on to say Islam is the authentic faith and Islamism is a perversion of it. The facts clearly show though that Islamism is authentic and rooted from within the core teachings of the Koran and the Hadith. As a Muslim you either accept the teachings of the Koran and the Hadith or you don’t. A radical, militant or fundamentalist Muslim takes his/her Koran seriously. He/she believes and accepts the foundational truths of their faith and tradition. A radical, militant or fundamentalist Muslim is neither an aberration or a nominal Muslim but a classical orthodox Muslim.

    Let me put it this way — there are two extremes that I dislike. The first would be that which portrays Islam as a “religion of peace and love”, in ambivalence to the history of Islam’s wars of conquest. This is an untenable position.

    Now I think it’s correct to say that it is possible to extract from the content of Islamic tradition — the Qu’ran, the Hadiths, and various teachings — justification for terrorism, along the lines of Bin Laden’s own fatwa asserting the individual duty of every Muslim “to kill Americans and their allies — civilian and military.” Certainly Bin Laden, al-Zawahiri, and company believe themselves to be operating within the bounds of orthodox Islamic tradition.

    On the other hand, you can take this perspective to the extreme. If you say that the suicide-bomber of Israeli buses or the Twin Towers; the Iraqi insurgent who kidnaps, tortures and beheads innocents; who has no qualms about the killing of women and children — be they Christian, Jews, or even fellow Muslims — that this particular element of human filth represents “neither an aberration or a nominal Muslim but a classical orthodox Muslim”, then I’m going to disagree with your assertion, and I think there are many other “classical, orthodox” Muslims who would also disagree with you.

    Of course your not saying that “all Muslims are violent”, or “all Muslims aren’t suicide bombers.” I get that. Nonetheless, the logical conclusion of this line of argumentation is that, all Muslims who take the teachings of their tradition seriously should embrace the fatwa of Bin Laden, (who is an “orthodox Muslim”), see the light and understand that they are divinely obligated to engage precisely in this manner of violence in service to the global jihad.

    There is a finality to your language (even in your original post) which brooks no disagreement as to the inherent violent nature of Islam. It doesn’t allow for those Muslims who are non-violent, who disagree with Bin Laden and his ilk, who find the ideology of Al Qaeda abhorrent and counter to what they believe Islam is. Your understanding of “what Islam is” doesn’t seem to me to leave any room for the kind of Islam which isn’t what you say it is; which chooses rather to engage in dialogue with Christianity and the West (rather than the sword), to embark on projects like “A Common Word”, to denounce the actions of Bin Laden as illegitimate.

    With a view that holds Bin Laden as practicing “an authentic, classical, orthodox” Islam, it is then all to easy to dismiss those who do not as uneducated and ignorant — “not that fervent” in their faith, “not well instructed” (to quote Robert Spencer).

    Q: Are all the Muslim signatories to “A Common Word” simply ignorant, not fervent enough, not schooled enough, to understand what Islam really is?

  • “A distinction the folks at would tend to dismiss altogether — I’m so glad we at American Catholic are capable of making such distinctions.”

    In defense of my compatriot, Mr. Robert Spencer at Jihad Watch, he quite fully understands the difference between an Islamist….a devout Muslim who actually understands his faith….and a Muslim who does not understand his faith and promotes non-violence. He doesn’t use the term “Islamist” but he knows the difference. He is fond of using the term “misunderstanders of Islam” in quotes, as sarcasm, to describe those who are violent. Those who both understand and practice their own religion are violent. This is why it is difficult for any lover of objective truth, like myself, to promote people like Dr. Zuhdi Jasser as a reformer. It’s like having to ride a bicycle backwards, something I am very unfamiliar with. Robert Spencer doesn’t promote Jasser, and I respect his reasoning for that, but to suggest that he doesn’t know the difference between a Muslim who is ignorant of his faith and one who understands and practices his faith as written in the Qur’an, is off base.

  • “there is a difference between a Muslim and in Islamist. Muslims themselves frequently speak on that reality” — I took that to mean that yes, there are 1.5 (or thereabouts) billion Muslims in the world, and many do not appear to be on board with Al Qaeda’s war against the West (even to the point of butchering other Muslims).

    See also the thought of Fr. Samir Khalil Samir who makes such a distinction.

    Jihadwatch, on the other hand, conflates Islam with Islamism and poo-poohs any separation beween them as an artificial distinction imposed by non-Muslims. “Islamism” = “authentic Islam”; Muslims who do not follow the Islamist agenda of global jihad? — Baffling.

  • Christopher, man is not made to kill, but the Qur’an calls people to kill non-Muslims when they have the strength to do so. Muslims in countries where they live in the minority are not called to kill. Only those who live in countries where they have a large number are called to kill….so a Muslim in a country where Muslims are in the minority can truthfully claim that his religion calls him to live in peace with those who are of a different religion….but this is not so in Muslim majority countries. Sometimes, even in Muslim majority countries, a man’s moral reasoning is still intact enough to reject what Islam calls him to do…and he rejects Islam and refuses to kill…but that is because his moral reasoning has won, not because Islam has won. One must reject the clear teachings of Islam to refuse to condone the killing of non-Muslims who refuse to live in dhimmitude…dhimmitude being submission to Muslims.

    I just wrote a post at my own blog mentioning dhimmitude and martyrdom in the context of the vocation of St. Paul of the Cross.

  • Christopher, Lisa and others,

    This is not an abstract intellectual conversation for me. It’s something I lived. As a Muslim I had a choice to make – either become a radical/militant Muslim or not. I believed then and believe today that’s a decision all Muslims have to decide. There are a variety of factors (theological, historical, cultural, social, etc.) to determine what that decision will be for them. For me this was the primary reason why I left Islam.

    I think the question that you need to ask is this one – why does Islam permit the use of violence? They can permit and promote it b/c of the later revelations of Koran (which take priority over the earlier revelations) and the latter period in the life of Muhammad, especially his time in Medina forward. For Muslims to reject violence means rejecting the most important period in the life of Muhammad. How likely is this rejection? That’s why violence is such a sticky issue for Muslims to deal with.

    I have found the YouTube videos and all the works (books & audios) of Sam Solomon to be helpful. He is a former Muslim, Islamic jurist and professor of Sharia Law.

    If anyone is interested in reading, listening or watching more about Islam I would refer them to the following folks:

    Sam Solomon
    Abdul Saleeb
    Samir Khalid Samir
    Ibn Warraq
    Daniel Ali
    Bat Yeor
    J.L. Menezes
    Hilaire Belloc
    G.K. Chesterton
    Jacques Jomier
    Peter Kreeft
    George Weigel
    John Esposito
    Bernard Lewis
    Benjamin R. Barber
    Robert Dreyfuss
    Robert Spencer
    Daniel Pipes
    Steven Emerson
    Alvin Schmidt
    Serge Trifkovic
    Efraim Karsh
    Gregory M. Davis

  • Is the Holy Father correct when he claims “that today we are living in a completely different world, in which the battle lines are drawn differently. In this world, radical secularization stands on one side, and the question of God, in its various forms, stands on the other”? Dr. Robert George and Dr. Peter Kreeft have built powerful arguments in support of this thesis in their works and thought as well. If they are correct, shouldn’t this change our approach and perspective about Islam and Muslims?

  • In defense of my compatriot, Mr. Robert Spencer at Jihad Watch, he quite fully understands the difference between an Islamist….a devout Muslim who actually understands his faith….and a Muslim who does not understand his faith and promotes non-violence.

    Well, here’s the thing, though: Islam is not a true religion. Yes, it contains elements of truth (it was, after all, in part cobbled together from spare parts of Judaism and Christianity which Mohammad liked) but it is not in fact an authentic and accurate revelation of God to humanity with a magisterium which is preserved from error.

    So in a sense, can we really say who understands Islam and is devout versus who fails to understand his faith — Islam has a history, and it has sacred texts and traditions, and it has over a billion followers, but there is no one definitive Islam that one must follow if one is to be a true Muslim, because the religion itself is not true.

    It’s certainly accurate to say that there is a long and deep history of holy war within the history of Islam, which goes all the way back to Muhammad and the Koran. But I don’t see that we can say that majority of modern Muslims who see no place for holy war (or at least no place for indiscriminate terrorism) in their religion are wrong or not true Muslims, and more than we can say that the more recent three movies are “wrong” and not true Star Wars.

    If most Muslims believe that their religion does not require holy war, I’d say, “Great!” Certainly, it would be better if they were to embrace the true Church instead, but I don’t see that we have any place saying, “That’s not true Islam. True Islam endorses holy war.” After all, why tempt them?

  • Holy War does not necessarily equate to the use of violence. All practicing Muslims though must promote Islam and that can be through either lethal or non-lethal means. They must work to make the entire world the “House of Islam.” Those means can be through non-lethal means like having many children, building a Mosque in a town where one didn’t exist before, etc. Jihad means both the external transformation of society around you and the transformation of your own heart and mind following the will of Allah.

    Some argue (i.e. Ron and Rand Paul) that our foreign policy causes “blowback” and “tempts” the radical/militant Muslims to recruit and act against the West. It’s much more complicated than that, but that does play into the equation. Politics, foreign affairs and international relations definitely factor into our dialog with Muslims. It’s not solely a religious or philosophical problem. That’s what makes dialog with Muslims so complex.

  • I would be curious to hear what folks think about the below questions. As Catholics we should be docile on what the Holy Father is teaching and showing us…

    Is the Holy Father correct when he claims “that today we are living in a completely different world, in which the battle lines are drawn differently. In this world, radical secularization stands on one side, and the question of God, in its various forms, stands on the other”? Dr. Robert George and Dr. Peter Kreeft have built powerful arguments in support of this thesis in their works and thought as well. If they are correct, shouldn’t this change our approach and perspective about Islam and Muslims?

  • D.L., your last could be rephrased as, “Is any god better than no god?” I submit there can be only one true God and our task is to decide Who is that one. All the rest is polemics. The pope merely restates an old question, it seems to me. Sheep and goats divided since Christ separated them. At best, Muslims are best described as wolves in sheep’s clothing.

  • I don’t think the Holy Father is under any illusions about the problems regarding dialog with Islam. In very real way he hangs on the Cross everytime a Catholic is martyrd. Saying that I will say this… I don’t think he considers Muslims as “wolves” or the enemies of Catholics. He considers them allies in the defense of traditional families, hedonism, materialism, consumerism, etc. Obviously they have their own culture of death which they must confront and he challenges them to do so. Because Muslims are human though, they can be rational. They can discover and know truth, beauty and the good. Let us discover our humanity once again together against those who desire to destroy it. The real evil in the world are those who deny the existence of God for they are the ones who take man down the paths of relativism and secularization.

  • Watch this video on demographics. It is one of the most shocking and amazing videos I have seen. How do you say Eurabia?

    Is it possible to view the growing population of Muslims in Europe as its salvation (this term being used very loosely here) against the radical secularization there in Europe or at least be our allies there against those who deny the existence of God and everything that means as a result? Does the Holy Father know this? I think he does and he’s fighting the deep battle now. Remember the Church thinks in centuries…

    Does the growing immigration of Latinos into the U.S. represent the same phenomenon for us here?

  • Scylla and Charybdis.

    Much of the secular West at least has the advantage of being “Christ haunted.” There is always hope of renewal, something else the Holy Father has been known to mention. Although I’d welcome just about any ally in the culture wars, I’m not sure Islam is all that helpful (unilateral, verbal divorce, anyone?).

    The real divide is always going to be between those earnestly seeking the will of God (through whatever religious lens that might be) and those following false idols. Catholics should be able to make common cause with anyone seeking the truth.

  • This ongoing and evermore contentious dialog is continually branding about what has been reduced to a “term’ the word GOD.
    I thought as a Catholic the Church believed the “GOD” of the universe who is ONE in nature through his eternal Spirit actually came to earth in the form of man in the person of JESUS CHRIST in order to “reveal” himself to mankind and teach us the truth of that nature.
    That same Spirit gave us HIS TRUE IDENTITY to be know by, “God”….with us.
    This being TRUE, no longer do any of us have the religious right to wonder or compromise our belief as to who is GOD or who are his chosen People or who gave us the Word of truth and its Law to follow.
    Mankind or any part of it any where on earth which religiously rejects any portion of this is at the Mercy of the creator and can certainly not be a contender in His court plain and simple.
    We must….
    Believe it. Deal with it

  • Do Muslims believe in and worship the same God as Catholics? The Church teaches us that they do (but they lack in the full understanding of who God is). That is no small point.

    “The plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims; these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind’s judge on the last day” (CCC 841).

    Jimmy Akin of Catholic Answers does a good job unpacking exactly what this paragraph means and doesn’t mean in the below article.

  • Related to my comment directly above… What are anybodies thoughts regarding Miroslav Volf’s or Robert Louis Wilken’s interviews/article in the original post? Volf deals directly with the Muslim conception of God and Wilken looks at the long historical relationship of Islam with the West.

  • There is much terrorism in the world today and not all of it comes in the form of the violence characteristic of the 9-11 Jihadist. The more devastating and wide spread evidence of its presence is seen in the choking tentacles produced by proponents of multiculturalism both within civil government and our clerical hierarchy which has unwittingly placed great value in embracing precepts of personal conduct and family life counter to those normally seen in western civilization by those invested in establishing a Utopian one world government. Anyone with half a handle on salvation history and that of mankind in general knows God alone on the return of Christ Jesus can or will be able to accomplish that feat.

    Having to deal with our own economy teetering on bankruptcy and a world coming apart at the seams, the Utopians, Jihadist with WMD’s and/or sheepishly yearning to blend Shiria law into our tattered Constitution and society, and an America weaken in leadership and divided in conscience hopefully, we pray, are the labor pains prior to the return of the Son of God, Jesus our one true Lord and Savior who will end our insane attempts to be our own gods or judges.
    Then all peoples and nations will in unison see his power and bow down to worship Him alone.

  • To repeat some questions which are worth considering…

    Is the Holy Father correct when he claims “that today we are living in a completely different world, in which the battle lines are drawn differently. In this world, radical secularization stands on one side, and the question of God, in its various forms, stands on the other”?

    Does the Church, and the Holy Father, know of the pending demographic problems of Europe due to Muslim immigration? I think they do and they’re fighting the deep or long battle now. Remember the Church thinks in centuries…

  • I would like to tell you about some experiences that I have had with Muslims over the years. When I was studying Islam and a practicing Muslim all the folks that I met where very good to me. They were kind and very sincere in sharing their faith and experiences with me. I never had a bad experience in the mosque where I attended prayers, talks or studied. It was only at an ISNA convention that I first met radical/militant Muslims promoting their thought and works. They were openly recruiting at this event. This was in the early 90s. I studied their materials and listened to their audios. I became convinced that what they were saying was correct. That conclusion (and some others) forced me to leave Islam. Personally I could not come to terms with being an American and a Muslim. Since that time I have worked for/under a Muslim who I consider to be a professional mentor today. I have met many other practicing Muslims in Iraq who were either Iraqi or from other nationalities. I consider them to be heroes. (The same can be said about the Chaldeans who trained us in the States and supported us in Iraq.) I know as a matter of fact and personal experience that Muslims can reason… They can know and love truth, beauty and goodness.

  • Please tell the christian killed in Eqypt that muslims are not our enemy.

    Please tell the christians killed and fleeing Iraq that muslims are not our enemy.

    Please tell the Jewish family including the baby that were killed by muslims that muslims are not our enemy.

    Please tell Shahbaz Bhatti that muslims are not our enemy.

    Please tell Daniel Pearl that muslims are not our enemy.

    Please tell the teacher that had his face slashed in Britian that muslims are not our enemy.

    Please tell the Albainians that muslims are not our enemy.

    Please tell the families in Russia that had their children murdered in school that muslims are not our enemy.

    Please tell the christian Indonesian that are being persecuted and killed that muslims are not our enemy.

    Please tell my fellow dead soldiers that muslims are not our enemy.

    After you have had your testacies cut off and shoved down your throat then your head cut off and your guts filled with explosives so the team retrieving your body is injured/killed then tell me that “[m]uslims are not our enemy.”

  • At every Mass I pray for all the friends that I have lost and I think often about the horrible things I have experienced. Evil does exist in the world. You have a right to be angry. You have a choice though. You have the choice to allow it to consume you, but know that there is another way. It doesn’t mean white-washing the facts, but going deeper into the reality that Christ asks all of us to enter. We must love God and our neighbor even while we are hanging on the Cross. This is the way He shows us…

  • “Catholic Lawyer”,

    What about the Iraqi Muslim neighbors who helped their Christian neighbors restore a Chaldean church after the fall of Saddam Hussein, and attended opening services


    Reunion of Iraqi Christians and Muslims Saturday, December 15, 2007:

    . . . when al Qaeda came to Dora, they began harassing Christians first, charging them “rent.” It was the local Muslims, according to LTC Michael, who first came to him for help to protect the Christians in his area. . . . the Muslims reached out to him to protect the Christians from al Qaeda. Real Muslims here are quick to say that al Qaeda members are not true Muslims. From charging “rent,” al Qaeda’s harassment escalated to killing Christians, and also Muslims. Untold thousands of Christians and Muslims fled Baghdad in the wake of the darkness of civil war.

    Thanks and Praise November 2007:

    “I photographed men and women, both Christians and Muslims, placing a cross atop the St. John’s Church in Baghdad. They had taken the cross from storage and a man washed it before carrying it up to the dome. A Muslim man had invited the American soldiers from ‘Chosen’ Company 2-12 Cavalry to the church, where I videotaped as Muslims and Christians worked and rejoiced at the reopening of St John’s, an occasion all viewed as a sign of hope.

    Are these Muslims the enemy?

    How about the Darfuri Muslims working with Christians to build a church in Southern Sudan as a symbol of reconciliation and gratitude to a U.S. athlete speaking on behalf of the oppressed in Darfur?

    Are these Muslims the enemy?

    What about the New York Muslim — the only bystandar who rescued a Jew on a New York subway — on Hannukah 2007, as group of about 14 men and women then allegedly began taunting Adler and his pals as “dirty Jews” and “Jew bitches” who “killed Jesus”?

    I suppose this Muslim is the enemy?

    What about the Muslims who serve in the United States Military? — an estimated 4,000 (but probably more), who fight with their brothers in arms in service to our country.

    Are these Muslims the enemy?

    How about the Muslims killed on 9/11?

    Are these Muslims the enemy?

    How about the nun who was killed as Hindu hardlners torched an orphanage in Khuntapali

    I suppose Hindus are the enemy now?

    How about the Yelwa Massacre in 2004, where some 600+ Muslims were killed in reprisal for the murder of some 78 Christians a few months before?:

    According to Human Rights Watch, 660 Muslims were massacred over the course of the next two days, including the patients in the Al-Amin clinic. Twelve mosques and 300 houses went up in flames. Young girls were marched to a nearby Christian town and forced to eat pork and drink alcohol. Many were raped, and 50 were killed.

    Are Muslims and Christians the enemy?

    You know, we both could go on in this futile endeavor. We could reproduce a list of every Christian or Jew who has been killed by a Muslim. Or Hindus killed by Muslims. Or Muslims killed by Christians. Or Muslims killed by Jews. We could catalogue ever incident of a mosque-burning, a synagogue-burning, a church-burning. We could cite these incidents in order to brand every Muslim a suspect (and vice versa). We could append to that Muslim-on-Muslim violence or the years of Christian (Protestant-vs-Catholic) violence that has stained the history of our own faith . . . or we could probably produce equivalent lists (though underreported and not exactly considered “headlne news”) of Muslims, Christians, Jews motivated by their faith to help each other.

    Not every Muslim is the enemy (although, granted, if your loved ones have been killed by Muslims you might feel differently). Not every Jew is the enemy (although, granted, if you’re a Palestinian you might feel differently). Not every Christian is the enemy (although, granted, as a Jew on the receiving end of anti-semitic remarks, “Christ-killer” and all that, you might feel differently; I’d wager most Muslims here in the United States, even those residing here for years, don’t feel particularly welcome at the moment).

    Don’t you see how ridiculous this is?

  • I am sorry, that my point was not made . . .

    Please tell the British killed by muslims that muslims are not their enemy.

    Please tell the Spanish killed by muslims that muslims are not their enemy.

    Please tell the Sudanese killed by Janjaweed that muslims are not their enemy.

    Please tell the French attacked by muslims that muslims are not their enemy.

    Please tell Van Gogh that muslims are not his enemy.

    Please tell the little Dutch girls stoned by muslims that muslims are not their enemy.

    Must I go on . . . I feel I must . . .

    Please tell those killed in the Philippines by muslims that muslims are not their enemy.

    Please tell the Chinese killed by muslims that muslims are not their enemy.

    Please tell those from India killed by muslims that muslims are not their enemy.

    Please tell those killed in Thailand by muslims that muslims are not their enemy.

    Please tell those in Australia injured by muslims that muslims are not their enemy.

    I find it interesting the juxtoposition of the blog re Van Galan Contra the Swastika with this post. Bishop Van Galan in the face of evil and the possiblity of death stood firm and called evil what it was. Whereas here the blogger cannot call evil what it is and wishes to become a useful dupe for those of evil intent.

    Sun Tsu stated “If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat.”

    There is only one light, one truth, and one way as shown by our mother the Catholic Church. I pray for your misguided souls that think you can dialog (make deals) with evil (devil) and hope you and others do not face the violent consequences of your naïveté. May God’s peace shine upon you all.

  • Catholic Lawyer,

    Refer to the above comment, as I see you have failed to answer my question.

    Thank you.

  • Last night I stayed up late to watch the Robert Spencer and Peter Kreeft debate.

    Here’s my judgment. The wit, humor and brilliance of Kreeft was clearly shown to all. Spencer’s expertise on Islam of was clearly showed to all as well. What struck me most was the friendship between the two. Spencer had studied under Kreeft at BC. For Kreeft this was more a dialog among friends than a debate. Both are Catholics. This debate/dialog is very much worth watching. In fact I plan on watching it a second and maybe third time.

  • Christopher;

    Your questions are rhetorical and it does not matter what I answer since it will not persuade you that you are on the wrong path.

    I do see that some wish to stick their heads in the sand and not view evil as evil and I view that as “ridiculous”.

    Though I have my reservations about what Anon posted, his comment “You cannot talk with a bear whose teeth are already in your flesh. You need to incapacitate it, one way or the other…, or you are going to die” rings true.


  • One last item : Just because Nazi Oskar Schindler saved Jews does not mean the Nazi’s were not our enemy.

  • “One last item : Just because Nazi Oskar Schindler saved Jews does not mean the Nazi’s were not our enemy.”

    If that’s how you wish to label a religion of 1.5 billion, I’m better off sticking with the judgement of our Holy Father. Thanks.

  • Can someone help me with this question? I’d really like to know.

    Since I haven’t read any books or periodicals written by leading Muslim authors or organization I wonder…..
    At this time or over the last 10 years, say since 9-11, how widespread within the Muslim community has any collective effort by whoever their leader is to reach out to devout people of other religions and in particular Christians, Hindu’s, and Buddhist, (the most attacked and slaughtered of the infidels) in order to explain their great love for peace among mankind and make Islam more attractive to potential converts?

  • Bill – I’ve asked Christopher to answer your question. I think he’s tracking the answer(s) to your specific question much closer than I am. For example, The Common Word Between Us and You (linked above) is positive movement of different Muslim thinkers engaging the thought of Pope B16 and the West… More to follow though.

  • As a Catholic convert I am continually seeing evidence of the need for Apostolic authority in Christ’s Church- left to our own devices Christians come up with all kinds of reactions to things and if their prudential judgments became Catholicism it would be the end of the Church- cue the Second Coming. I am thankful for the guidance of the Holy See and the witness of the one and only Pope- liberal and conservative ideologue Christians/Catholics are a dime a dozen and given power do all manner of damage- I would urge those who haven’t given their allegiences over to political ideologies to simply keep their focus on the lead from our Holy Father- we can and should display courtesy and respect for Islam and Muslim believers, we should also be fighting for the reciprocity of religious liberty around the globe- so that everyone is free to bring their views into the marketplace of ideas, and Christian disciples will be free from persecution when they preach and live out the Gospel commands.

    The Pope seems to be indicating this two-fold approach of encouraging mutual respect and finding common moral ground with Islam/Muslims, while simultaneously mandating that every nation respect the rights of religious liberty- that is a huge deal and very challenging with much of Islam not so fond of that type of freedom- it should be a cornerstone of American interests- but it has been given low or no real priority in our nation’s diplomatic and economic relationships. I think that when rogue Catholics run off in public with their private views that run pretty much completely astray from the guidance of the Hierarchy- they are probably doing great damage to the Church and her witness- leading the little ones and the unconverted to wonder at the chaotic mess of Catholic voices- surely God couldn’t be at the helm of such a disorganized body of so-called believers- which is why I try to just point to the Pope on these huge issues and try to frame my own thoughts according to the witness of our Hierarachy- which is why I appreciate DL’s extensive treatment here- thank you- recall it was Pope Benedict who urged us to free ourselves from ideologies -so we could more easily follow the Way-

  • Tim,

    Thank you!

    What you couldn’t know is that I wrote this below to a friend earlier about this post.

    “I find it rather sad how folks refuse to respond to the Pope’s thought even if they’re practicing Catholics. They don’t want to engage him. They stick to their pre-conceived notions and partial view of reality. Where’s the docility? The openness to reality? It’s frustrating. I’m not saying I have it all figured out, but I’m trying to ask questions and get folks to think more deeply about these matters and recognize the complexity of the situation, etc.”

    My friend responded with this comment below.

    “I am reminded of these words which have remained with me since I first read them. ‘Openness to dialogue, therefore, means the ability to take as the starting point those problems to which the other’s ideology or our Christianity proposes solutions, because what is common to different ideologies is the humanity of the men and women who carry those ideologies as banners of hope or as an answer’ (Luigi Giussani, Journey to Truth is an Experience, 132).”

  • Christopher;

    Do you mean that you will follow Pope Benedict XVI judgment which was offered in his statement “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.”

    If one believes in things that are only evil and inhuman would they then not be evil and inhuman. To paraphrase that great philosopher Forest Gumph “Evil is as evil does.” I think the Bible even states that you will know them by the fruits of their work.

    I will pray for your soul Christopher. Please pray for mine.

  • Bill,

    Allow me to tell you about some personal experiences which attempt to answer your question above. When I studying Islam at a mosque near my home I never heard anything taught or preached there that was evil. They were Muslims trying to live out their faith to the best of their abilities in their adopted homeland. In fact the Syrian who instructed me in the Islamic faith was a political refugee to our country because of persecution in his homeland. He deeply appreciated the freedoms we have here in America. When I was in Iraq I had an opportunity to work with a number of terps (interpreters). One was a naturalized American and a Muslim. Both he and his wife were medical doctors with the specialty of eye surgery. They were very wealthy by American standards. He put his personal life and business on hold to serve in Iraq. He did so to give the Iraqi people a chance of freedom like he was living. He was literally putting his life on the line everyday. There are so many other examples I could give you…

  • Bill Sr. asks:

    At this time or over the last 10 years, say since 9-11, how widespread within the Muslim community has any collective effort by whoever their leader is to reach out to devout people of other religions and in particular Christians, Hindu’s, and Buddhist, (the most attacked and slaughtered of the infidels) in order to explain their great love for peace among mankind and make Islam more attractive to potential converts?

    “whoever their leader is” — The difficulty here, as was noted previously, is that Muslims have no ‘magisterium’ in the way the Pope and/or the CDF can issue a proclamation conveying the Catholic position, authoritatively, on behalf of the Catholic Church. The history of Islam is a history of a great deal of infighting.

    But you can point to responses on an individual scale — this is one such roundup of responses from Muslims around the world. A product of the bus bombings in England was The State We Are In: Identity, Terror, and the Law of Jihad countering an Islamist understanding of jihad.

    You can also google numerous Muslim fatwas against terrorism and the killing of civilians, for instance:

    and a roundup of various rulings:

    Here again, with fatwas, you have the problem of authority in Islam. Fatwas aren’t universally binding and don’t carry the same weight as common law opinions. See: — during the first Gulf War, Saudi Arabia had to obtain a fatwa authorizing the residency of a foreign military within the Kingdom. But such action was only a cited as a provocation by Bin Laden for his war against the United States, and in fact Bin Laden would issue several fatwas of his own fatwa calling for the death of Americans military and civilian. (Even the Taliban reportedly expressed puzzlement over this, since he was not a legitimate “cleric” per se).

    The Amman message — — is a collective effort on the part of Muslims to actually address the issue of defining who a Muslim is; excommunication from Islam (takfir), and; principles related to delivering religious edicts (fat?wa):

    The Amman Message was delivered in Amman as a Ramadan sermon by Chief Justice Sheikh Iz-al-Din al-Tamimi in the presence of King Abdullah II and a number of Muslim scholars. According to a report issued by the International Crisis Group, “The sermon stressed the need to re-emphasise Islam’s core values of compassion, mutual respect, tolerance, acceptance and freedom of religion.” The next year, in July 2005, an Islamic convention brought together 200 Muslim scholars from over 50 countries who issued a three-point declaration (later known as ‘Three Points of the Amman Message’). … Explaining why the message was issued, King Abdullah stated: “[W]e felt that the Islamic message of tolerance was being subjected to a fierce and unjust attack from some in the West who do not understand Islam’s essence, and others who claim to be associated with Islam and hide behind Islam to commit irresponsible deeds.

    * * *

    As I mentioned previously and which David also linked to, the most prominent “interfaith engagement” on the part of Muslims has been the ‘Common Word’ project, which was in part an outgrowth of the dialogue provoked by the Pope’s Regensburg address: [see website for signatories — Muslim and Catholic]

    A Common Word between Us and You is an open letter, dated 13 October 2007, from leaders of the Muslim faith to leaders of the Christian faith. It calls for peace between Muslims and Christians and tries to work for common ground and understanding among both faiths, in line with the Qur’anic commandment to “Say: “O People of the Scripture! come to a common word as between us and you: that we worship none but God” and the Biblical commandment to love God, and one’s neighbour. In the short time since its release, “A Common Word” has become the world’s leading interfaith dialogue initiative between Christians and Muslims. It is unprecedented in its scope and success in both the Christian and the Muslim world. The success of the initiative was acknowledged in its being awarded the “Eugen Biser Award” in 2008. That year saw “A Common Word” also receive the “Building Bridges Award” from the UK’s Association of Muslim Social Scientists.

    As to Muslim engagements with Buddhists and Hindu communities, I’m not really aware of efforts although I’m sure they must exist.

  • [Catholic Lawyer]:

    Do you mean that you will follow Pope Benedict XVI judgment which was offered in his statement “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.”

    Actually, that was not a statement of the Pope himself but a citation of Byzantine emperor Manuel II Palaiologos. See: — about which the Pope had stated: “[this was] in fact a quotation from a medieval text, which do not in any way express my personal thought.”

    The Frankfurter Allgemeine interviewed Theodore Khoury, from whose book the Pope obtain the infamous quote — he remarks:

    Did you ever expect that your book would cause such an uproar?

    An edition of Byzantine sources in French that appeared in 1966? Please.

    Can you tell us something about the context of the quotation?

    The Emperor and the Persion scholar met in a Muslim military camp outside Constantinople. There in an open atmosphere and highly polemically, they discussed each other’s religion. Both sides presented critical formulations to the other side, neither spared the other. The Pope did not use this quotation, however, to say something about Islam. That was not his theme at all. He used it only as a bridge to his next thoughts. The crucial sentence appears somewhat later: not to act reasonably is against God’s nature. He was concerned about the question of God’s will. That is moreover also a significant topic of discussion in Islamic theology.

    You are a scholar of Islam. Do you believe that this quotation correctly characterized Islam?

    Once again: that was not what the Pope was talking about in this lecture. Otherwise, one would have to add a few more remarks, because the quotation does not present the thought of the Koran precisely. It is not about conversion by the sword, but rather about the conquest and rule by the sword with simultaneous religious tolerance, at least for religions of the Book. If the Pope had been concerned about Islam, he would have had to point out entirely different streams of thought, which also demonstrate the reasonableness of God’s actions. Furthermore, you can find passages in the Koran where conversion by argument and just action is valued.

    If you read the Regensburg address, you’d probably understand that it was chiefly a criticism of “de-hellenizazation” [self-limitation of human reason] within Christianity and Western academia in modern times, in which the subject of Islam played but a minor footnote taken entirely out of context. Here’s some analysis of the address itself:

    If you want the Pope’s extended thoughts on Islam and how the Pope would approach Muslims, you may want to read Benedict’s addresses to the Muslim community of Cologne, Germany:

    his speech to Muslim leaders in Jordan:

    and the Pope’s judgement in his latest book-length interview with Peter Seewald, in response to the question of whether modern Popes should envision themselves as defenders of the West against Islamization, that “today we are living in a completely different world, in which the battle lines are drawn differently. In this world, radical secularization stands on one side, and the question of God, in its various forms, stands on the other”.

    (As David mentioned, a statement of the Pope’s he has attempted to turn readers’ attention to time and again).

  • I can appreciate your in depth knowledge of the Islamic faith and the many good friendly people who you know living faithfully by it. That is quite admirable and we applaud you for your charitable interfaith understanding. And I am sure those friends do not approve of those within their ranks who have joined with the Jihadist wanting to forcibly and violently bring about Shari Law around the globe through insightful and frightening terrorist activities as well as covert infiltration into governmental positions of western societies and at present America in particular. That would and only indicates they are god fearing and respect all humanity as you and I.

    These good people are no different than say us Catholics who condemn racism and bigotry within our ranks. Doug Kmeic and no small amount of our clergy spent much energy admonishing the laity to rid their hearts of these in 2008 to the extent that we were told to overlook Obama’s views and votes in favor of all forms of abortion even the hideous denial of medical assistance to born alive infants of botched abortions and seize the opportunity to elect a black former Muslim proving as a nation we were over all our prejudices. It worked Obama won and so did Doug….Ambassador to Malta.

    And as defenders of our faith we won’t stand for pedophiles among our clergy, at least once we know about it. At great cost to reputation and church coffers we, the laity, effectively declared war on such behavior and those who provided cover for the offenders. The scars of that battle are to be worn proudly by the laity today.

    So I think it is safe to say we Catholic Christians do rise to the occasion when our values are questioned or put to the test even by our own. Why, because we know our hierarchy all the way to the Pope himself is not a threat to reasonable request from the membership.
    Can the same be said of our Muslim religious peers? No, because they are without leadership to address, they have only their ideology to go before or petition. The poor souls are adrift free prey for pirates of their own faith like Al Qaida and others who with sworn vengeance and the desire to exterminate Israel go about unopposed even celebrated by many among them.

    There are enough differences between Catholicism and Islam to keep us dialoging for days but unfortunately until the truly faithful peace loving Muslims can assimilate and establish a leadership universally recognized able to actually come forth in good faith with the authority to “dialog” for all its 1.5 billion members acknowledging the radical jihadist within who have high jacked their banner there’s little chance for real progress or to take seriously offers of reconciliation and holding hands in prayer.

  • I don’t remember if Christopher has pointed out these thinkers yet therefore I will mention them. Here are a couple books that recently came to my attention regarding our topic:

    The Search for Beauty in Islam by Khaled M. Abou El Fadl

    The Great Theft: Wrestling Islam from the Extremists by Khaled M. Abou El Fadl

    The Holy War Idea in Western and Islamic Traditions by James Turner Johnson

  • This has not been noted yet: when Pope Benedict criticized egypt’s human rights record in the wake of the coptic church bombing in January, the imams at al-anzar (spelling?) university in Cairo suspended all dialogue with Rome because Benedict had disrespected islam by interfering in their internal affairs. according to spencer, this university is the official voice of sunni orthodoxy.

    I’m not sure of the pope is right or not about the contemporary state of affairs. secularization is to be sure extreme, and extremely opposed to christianity, but the notion at the heart of it today is multiculturalism. “islamists” if we want to call them this, have proved quite adept at manipulating this for their own ends. they have largely appropriated victim status for themselves in the US and Europe, and have allied themselves with the radical left (see for example, jamie Glazov’s new book). The left also hates ‘western civilization’ at least as far as the ideas are concerned (ie. not technological advancement). Evidence of this seems to be everywhere, especially in the mainstream media, as Spencer never tires of pointing out.

  • Here’s a judgment from a friend.


    I’ve read a good chunk of your blog discussion and several of the articles you linked to. Your basic position seems to be that we should use bullets for Islamic radicals, who represent authentic Islam, and dialogue with moderates, following the example of BXVI. It seems reasonable. Given this position, however, I’m not sure why you say that secular humanism, not Islam, is our real enemy; there are many forms of antichrist abroad in the world (1 Jn 4:1-3).

    We have lost Christendom, and I have no desire to resuscitate it or any other form of Christian triumphalism. Ours, I believe, should be a theology of the Cross, not of Glory and Exaltation, to use Luther and Kierkegaard’s terms. Consequently, it seems to me, some kind of secularism, if and insofar as it includes a principled defense of religious pluralism (not just the naive relativism of political correctness), would be the church’s best ally against the political religious monism of Islam. Perhaps the Arab revolutions we are seeing now will develop in that direction. I hope so.

    As far as the inter-religious dialogue goes, I’m not clear yet on its aims. If the aim is fostering a mutual knowledge in the hope of articulating a shared foundation for mutual toleration, I accept it as a perhaps necessary application of Jesus’ example of the prudence of a king before setting out for war (Luke 14:31-32). But in the gospel such prudence is an ambiguous virtue set as it is within the context of Jesus’ call to radical discipleship. If our goal is to gain Muslim tolerance than we probably need to think of a way to cast ourselves as a kind of Islamic sect, like the Sufis maybe, because a return to the millet system is just a prolonged martyrdom. The Three-Peoples-One-Covenant approach might allow for such a development, especially if it were combined with the esotericism of Traditionalists like Guenon, Schuon, and Burckhardt. Unfortunately, I find such an Islamicized Christianity deeply repugnant. For me, the value of dialogue-toward-toleration lies only in keeping Christians from repeating the unchristian acts and attitudes that litter our past, not in securing a place of freedom and safety within the Muslim world.

    When I consider the inner logic of historical Islam, I always come up against the question, How does one dialogue or negotiate with Antichrist? Any appeal to a common Abrahamic covenant, or a philosophical One based on reason, makes our differences with Jews and Muslims more irreconcilable not less. I am convinced we can come more easily to terms, for example, with the Chinese humanism of Confucius and Lao Tzu with its impersonal Tao, or even with Buddhism (but not with Hinduism), than with Muslim monotheism. If the Book of Revelation is to be believed, the church is humanly powerless before the dragon-beast-prophet in any of its avatars. Only the parousia of Christ will save her at the end.

    To be honest, the whole problem of Islam frightens and depresses me when I consider it a problem to which I ought to propose a politico-theological solution. When I step back and ask what is actually required of me now, however, I find that that to which the measure of my faith is proportioned now is to hear and teach the Word of Christ faithfully so as to prepare myself and my children and perhaps my children’s children to live as Christians and, if need be, to die as martyrs of a truly Christian type. I hope it doesn’t come to martyrdom, though; so, I also gratefully support those civil authorities and their soldiers who are willing, for as long as they are able, to secure for me and my children the conditions necessary to lead a quiet, peaceable life (1 Tim 2:2) in discipleship to Christ. The evil of the day is sufficient thereto. If more is required of me in the future, I trust I will be given the grace to give more than I now can. Hence, I offer these thoughts to you personally because you asked for them; I don’t see that I have anything very constructive to add to the public discussion.

    Your friend

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