Papal stance on Islam

I would like to lay out the disclaimer right now that I am a faithful Catholic, and do not intend to act as an apologist for Islam. I do intend to dispel misconceptions, nuance generalizations, and address other such issues that come up that I feel lead to negative trends toward Islam. I also intend to demonstrate that the Holy Father and his recent predecessors have taken great steps to dialogue peacefully and charitably with the Muslim community.

I think the Holy Father agrees. In addressing Muslim communities in 2005 he said:

“I am profoundly convinced that we must not yield to the negative pressures in our midst, but must affirm the values of mutual respect, solidarity and peace.” -Source

It is clear what he is referring to when he speaks of “negative pressures:” a cycle of fear and hatred that exists between many Christians and Muslims that perpetuates violence, persecution, and the marginalization of religious minorities in both Christian Europe and the Muslim Middle East. Xenophobia is running rampant in Europe, and it isn’t much better in America. What we must realize is that the more one persecutes and marginalizes a religious minority, the more closed off from and ultimately hostile to society they will become.

There are countless Papal speeches and decrees along these lines, but in closing this post I would like to hearken back to one of my favorite anecdotes from one of my favorite Saints, Francis of Assisi. In the midst of the Fifth Crusade, Francis travelled to the Holy Land, and was disgusted by the violence inflicted by Christians on local Muslims and Jews… and then he travelled to meet the Muslim Sultan to risk his life evangelizing. Francis did what no Crusader would have been able to do… he entered the Sultan’s court, unarmed, spoke before the Sultan explaining his Christian beliefs, and walked out unharmed. He accomplished this because he treated the Sultan as a brother, showed respect to the Sultan’s religion, and explained his own faith in a charitable manner. This is an example I believe we should all follow. The story in question is related quite well in this column, and is attested to in contemporary medieval written sources.

I find the dangers of overlooking the truth about Islam to be politically correct or ecumenical to be more of a realistic threat. Think about the “useful idiots” when the USSR was in power.

I actually started as a blind politically correct individual but I studied both sides. The crusades were justified but some of the actions in them were not. Unless Muslims believe in watered down teachings, like most cultural christians do, Islam is a threat to peace.

Please do not mistake my charity for political correctness. I am perfectly conscious of the darker side of Islam in the form of its extremist sects and fundamentalist interpretations. There is nothing “politically correct” about posting this thread in a Christian forum.

It seems to be a dangerous generalization to presume to know “the truth” about a billion people.

Whether or not the Crusades were “justified” will lead to an extensive historical debate to which there can really be no conclusion. Historians will argue why Christendom went to war until the end of history. I would prefer to avoid that debate here, as it risks derailing the thread on the topic of modern Islamophobia.

Islam will become a greater threat to peace IF Muslim nations and minorities around the world feel more marginalized and shunned by Western society. The cause of peaceful coexistence is advanced when we do as the Holy Father instructed in my previous post.

A stance that Muslims are a constant historical threat to peace is to ignore a substantial chunk of history. Islam has a variety of interpretations and means of interpreting its scripture, as does Christianity. Can you imagine, for instance, what would have happened if St. Paul hadn’t argued that Jewish law was not applicable to Christians? We would still be taking orders out of the Book of Deuteronomy. Similarly, the course of Islamic history and theology was changed by a variety of ways of interpreting Muhammad’s revelation, as has our own been changed by different ways of interpreting Jesus’ revelation.

I therefore encourage Christians to approach Islam as the St. Francis did and the Holy See continues to: with the possession of a “high respect for the faith you [Muslims] profess, and Our hope that what we hold in common may serve to unite Christians and Moslems ever more closely, in true brotherhood.” -Source

Muslims that do not take the commands to subdue the world to Allah seriously can be peaceful. I do not agree that people who take Islam seriously are just fundamentalists. I would say they are the one who not only read or hear but act on the words of the Quran and Hadiths.

Have you actually listened to the reasons why people claim “Islam is not a religion of peace”? It is easy to block out what they are saying as bigotry, but they have pretty good evidence.

I believe what you may be doing is reading the Qur’an and the Hadith and coming up with your own interpretation of them. If someone were to do the same thing to Christianity, he might say the following:

“I can’t believe those Catholics buy into this nonsense in the Book of Genesis. It seems to imply that the earth is only 6000 years old, despite significant scientific and archaeological evidence to the contrary. It is clearly a false religion hostile to science.”

Said person would not be accurately representing our beliefs; the Holy See has confirmed the importance of science and encouraged a more metaphorical reading of Genesis for some time now. See how theology changes depending on circumstances. It is fair to say that this has happened in Islam as well.

Have you actually listened to the reasons why people claim “Islam is not a religion of peace”? It is easy to block out what they are saying as bigotry, but they have pretty good evidence.

As I have said before in other threads, I believe it is misleading to say that “Islam is a religion of peace.” One of the major reasons why I am Christian is because Christianity was founded by a man who was from the most humble of circumstances and never raised a weapon to anyone. Islam, on the other hand, was a political force from its very beginnings, and while the conquests were not overly violent in the sense that they did not destroy civil infrastructure or result in the deaths of civilians, Islamic political authority was doubtlessly spread by conquest. The religion then followed, as converting to Islam was a tax-incentive among other things.

However, it should not be immediately assumed that most or all Muslims view their religion in this light today. Many Muslims view the Qur’an as a revelation specific to the time and place of Muhammad. This is a theological line of thought that has allowed significant theological flexibility since the early Caliphate, as is evidenced by the vast amount of Muslim schools of thought.

Hadith scholarship, as I have said in other contexts, is an extremely imperfect science, and Muslim groups of different ideologies tend to accept or reject their authenticity based on their own agenda. Once again, it is harmful to generalize about Islam. While I do believe that calling Islam a “religion of peace” can be misleading, I think it is equally misleading to call it an inherently violent religion.

Again, to tie back to the title of this thread and the words of the Holy Fathers, I believe generalizing about Islam and Muslims leads to fear of them. This fear is harmful to peace and understanding between our religions.

An interesting thread. Please, can you tell me how early Islam was spread?

And, if you please, can you tell me how early Christianity was spread?

Refer to my post immediately above. If you would like it addressed more in full, please just ask. :slight_smile:

I do not concern myself with anything else,but what I am.Islam has been and always will be a fatalistic philosophy.

I think that the current papal stance on Islam cannot be discussed without reference to the Regensburg lecture, in which the current pope humbly suggested that the idea of violent Jihad does not belong in religion.

This statement was met with protests worldwide by Islamic adherents, the burning and shooting of bullets at many churches as well as the murder of a Roman Catholic nun.

Ah, a fair and valid point. See, brothers and sisters? This is what happens when you start to post at work, and have to wait to hit “submit”.

I have seen good, simple American muslims who simply want to live a quite, simple faith. My heart breaks for these men (I’ve only met muslim men in the States), as their religion does not permit them to have what they wish for. Islam has a violent foundation, it has a violent creed, and, as like follows like, it will have a violent end. Even if islam were to conquer the world, it would tear itself apart. Look at the sunni and the shia.

Here’s an anecdote for ya:

I work at a grocery store. One day while ringing up purchases I encountered a Muslim man dressed in traditional clothing. Without exaggeration, he was positively beaming a radiant light. I was in a rather frustrated state of mind at the time, but as I rang up his groceries I instantly became more peaceful at heart. After the man left, the thought crossed my mind that I might have encountered an angel. No joke.

What did I learn from this? I guess what God may have been trying to show me is that Muslims can be quite holy, even in a way that surpasses me as a Christian. And also that Muslims might even be able to provide something for me spiritually, which is a new thought to me.

When it comes down to it, I know very little about Islam…only what I’ve heard second hand. Some of my Protestant brothers would say that Muslims do not know God because they do not accept the divinity of Christ and have not been indwelt by the Holy Spirit. However, I think I can appreciate the Catholic stance which allows that Muslims are worshipping the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, even if they do not accept His full revelation in Jesus Christ. And I know that Muslims can be great spiritual men and women, as evidenced by my strange encounter at the grocery store…


Compare the bare minimum spiritual requirments of the religions.

to be a practicing Muslim they must prostrate themselves spirit, soul and body, in prayer turning their mind, heart and will over to God 5 times a day in prayer

to be a practicing Catholic they must attend a Mass once a week (Sat. Night or Sun.), Confess their sins once a year only if they are aware of a mortal sin and receive the Eucharist just once a year.

I find myself more attracted to Orthodox Christianity every moment :smiley: from her example Muslims adopted their practice of daily prostration and prayer, except Orthodox do it 7 times a day.

What is the minimum spiritual requirments to be a practicing Protestant?

Islam has a Creed? I never knew that! Please post a copy of it. :thumbsup:

I don’t think there are any, besides “placing your faith and trust in Jesus” and, for most, being a church member (membership requirements/expectations vary from denomination to denomination, church to church.) But you probably already know that, and are just asking the question rhetorically.

I think it raises an interesting point, though. Perhaps what makes Protestantism unique–especially the evangelical forms–is that it denies or minimizes the importance of religious requirements. It is stressed that Jesus has fulfilled the religious requirements for us, and that we must only be in a receptive stance of praise and thanks, having received God’s grace. It is our joy in having our sins forgiven that motivates and empowers us to fulfill true religious duties to God and neighbor.

This is starting out early to take the same turn that 99.99% of these threads take on Islam. They first start out talking about Islam the ideology and quickly shift to Muslims the believers. It might be “a dangerous generalization to presume to know ‘the truth’ about a billion people;” but what about knowing the truth about Islam? Why is that so hard?

Thanks for the polite response brother, but this post appears to ignore most of what I said about variety within interpretation of Islam and the Qur’an.

It’s also worth noting for the poster who asked about a Muslim “creed” that there is no single creed. There are many, and pretty much every school of thought has one.

The part about Sunni and Shia is a large oversimplification of the nature of division within Islam (there is certainly sectarian conflict, I do not deny that), but posting from an iPhone as I am I’m afraid I’ll have to continue this post this evening. I appreciate your patience until then.

One cannot separate the two. Different Muslims (people) interperet Islam (ideology) differently. A fundamentalist Christian (person) interperets Christianity (ideology) differently from Catholics.

Again, more on this when I get to a computer. In any event, I feel that the holy father recognizes this, which is why he and other popes have spoken to Muslim audiences about peace. Don’t you see how preaching about how inherently violent a religion MUST be according to your reading creates a self-fulfilling prophecy? It simply marginalizes and separates people from society, and separate marginalizes people are liable to brood on resentment and isolation until they turn to violence… Regardless of religion

So? Why can’t we take their foundational texts and interpret them for ourselves?

… I feel that the holy father recognizes this, which is why he and other popes have spoken to Muslim audiences about peace. …

I hope he has an Islam-to-Latin [or whatever language the pope uses] dictionary so that when he encounters an Islamic term like “peace” he can look up what is meant by it.

Thanks! In Protestant it’s no or minimal spiritual minimums to be a praticing Protestant. Even less than the minimums for Catholics? How would someone be able to know if they were or weren’t an active Protestant? Is there just really no way to know?

It’s hard to generalize because Protestantism is so diverse. But the strand of evangelicalism I am coming from emphasizes God’s faithfulness to us. We point to certain Scriptures to show that those who belong to Christ cannot be lost. God makes a saving offer in Christ; we receive it in faith. Then, in gratitude, we offer ourselves to Him in worship, fellowship, and service. For these evangelicals, it’s less important to know that we are “practicing Protestants” as that we belong to Christ. And we point to our enduring faith and the internal witness of the Spirit to verify that.

Concerning my situation, I have stepped out of fellowship with my church. I did this initially for personal reasons and because of some conflict with the church leadership. Because I have walked away, there may be some speculation as to whether or not I really belong to Christ. If I enter the Catholic Church, some may think that I have committed apostasy; others will think I have gotten confused; and still others will suspect that I never really “knew Christ” to begin with. So, to a certain extent, evangelicals do think of ongoing church membership and participation, including submission to authority and willingness to cooperate, as a way to know that we are “practicing Protestants.” Usually they are very open and forgiving, and I suspect that I would be welcome back there at any time I am willing to repent.

Did that make sense?

The most important thing to many Protestants is that someone has made an inward commitment to Christ. This inward commitment will show itself in a love for God and for the church.

They will also speak of being “born again.” In a lot of Protestant churches, this does not refer to baptism. It refers to a moment when one “dies to himself” and begins to live to God.

Protestant pastors will talk about the church being composed both of people who have been born again and of those who haven’t. Sometimes the preaching is directed towards those who haven’t been born again, so that they will be brought to repentance and faith in Christ. This is known as “getting saved.” It is the beginning of one’s life in Christ, and a great cause of celebration within the church. Sometimes it is followed by a baptism.

Of course, since the focus is always on an inward faith commitment, there is really no way to know whether one truly has been “born again”–other than the inward witness of the Holy Spirit and the fruit of the Spirit being manifest in one’s life. If there is no faith or no fruit in a person’s life, then there might be reason for concern as to whether one has really born again. Struggles with sin also can be a matter of controversy, as some will speak of the believer’s “victory over sin” while others will say that we will continue to struggle with sin as long as we possess the flesh.

All in all, the Protestant approach–especially those based in the theology of the Great Awakenings in England and America–is based on an inward faith commitment and a belief that God will remain faithful to us.

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