As time progresses, we Catholics are going to rub shoulders more and more with Muslims, those who follow the Islam religion. After all, there are 1.2 billion Muslims, compared to about 1.5 billion Christians, one billion of whom are Catholic. The Muslims we hear most about in the news are fundamentalists who in no way represent the Muslims living in our communities.
Unless you happen to live next door to Mike Hawash.
Our challenge as Catholics is to get to know more about our Muslim brothers and sisters. As the bishops at Vatican II wrote, “Although in the course of the centuries many quarrels and hostilities have arisen between Christians and Muslims, this sacred Synod urges all to forget the past and to strive sincerely for mutual understanding.”
Did you hear that “mutual”? It’s funny how Christians are always called upon to understand — and good heavens, not to Misunderstand — Islam, but everyone seems to assume that Muslims have no trouble at all understanding Christianity, and Western society, for that matter. No one seems to notice that there is no mutuality in all these calls for understanding and dialogue.
Who was Mohammed?
Unlike Christians, who believe that Jesus was the Son of God and an indivisible part of God, Muslims believe that the Holy Prophet Mohammad (570-632) was a man and that he followed Adam, Abraham, Moses, David, Solomon and Jesus as the last of the great prophets to receive divine revelation. A Muslim believes in the revelation of God through the Quran that was given to Mohammad. For a Muslim, the Quran is God’s Word….
“A Muslim believes in the revelation of God through the Quran that was given to Mohammad.” That sounds as if this Catholic publication is endorsing the Qur’an as a revelation of God. Read on.
Mohammad was also acutely aware of the unjust distribution of wealth and the plight of the poor, the masses of people who had no access to the necessities of food, clothing and shelter in the harsh climate of the desert where everything was scarce.
Ah! Muhammad was just like Jesus, ministering to the poor and
healing the sick! Running soup kitchens and clothing dispensaries! Funny how this doesn’t seem to show up in his earliest biographies.
When Mohammad was 40 years old he experienced a profoundly life-changing mystical experience. Through the mediation of the angel Gabriel, Muslims believe, Mohammad received the first in a series of revelations, which came to him over a period of 23 years.
His wife and cousin encouraged him to speak more widely of what he saw and to recite the inspired vision to others. Mohammad tested the authenticity of his revelations with prayer and fasting. It was two years before he went public with his profound religious experience. Those who heard him were “caught up” in his enthusiasm and the truthfulness of the transmission that came in full poetic, graceful Arabic that was beyond his personal capacity to compose or contrive.
This is beginning to sound more than a little like an Islamic proselytization tract. The lack of “Muslims believe that…” qualifiers is a hallmark also of far too many American textbooks when they treat of Islam. Yet these qualifiers are there in spades when they speak of Christianity. This is because textbook manufacturers allow Islamic groups to vet their materials on Islam, and those groups turn them into Islamic come-ons — but no Christian groups are accorded the same privileges.
In the last years of Mohammad’s life and shortly after his death in 632, Islam spread with lightning speed throughout the Middle East. By the end of the eighth century, Islam had reached central Asia and India and had spread across Mediterranean Africa and into Spain and France.
Gee Teacher, how’d it spread so fast, do you think? Well, little Billy, the people must have flocked to it, because everyone got caught up in the enthusiasm and truthfulness of Muhammad. Yeah, sure, that’s it. What’s that, Billy? Jihad? “Paradise is under the shades of swords” (Sahih Bukhari, 4:52:73)? What are you, some kind of Islamophobe?
Mohammad’s death was sudden. The instability that resulted led to many years of struggle and dissension among his followers-particularly between those who followed Mohammad’s son-in-law Ali (known as Shiites) and those who wished another follower, Abu Bakr, to be leader (a branch of Islam that became known as Sunni)…
History is just a hop, skip and a jump. You don’t have to land on anything you don’t want to see.
The Quran, a revelation of God
The central place of the Quran in the life of the devout Muslim cannot be exaggerated. The Quran, as revealed to Mohammad and recited by him and then recited through the centuries to our present day, is received by Muslims as the Word of God. Since God is One and God speaks through this scripture there is no doubt about its authenticity, authority and place in the heart and on the lips of every Muslim. For Christians, there are obvious parallels in seeing Jesus Christ as the Word of the Father…
So then should Christians accept the Qur’an the way they accept Jesus Christ? This is just another in a long laundry list of articles by Christians that distort the truth about Islam. However, the fact that it comes from a mainstream American Catholic site makes it a cause for particular concern. Read it all.