Saturday, January 30, 2016

Laudato Si - How do we dialogue with Muslims?

In "Laudato Si" Pope Francis invites all Catholics, Christians, and indeed all of humanity to consider that much of our distress in the world today is caused by human beings valuing many things more than the human person, family, and the common good. Pope Francis calls us to hear anew Jesus' teaching and example in the Gospel and to embrace the Holy Spirit who wants to realign our beliefs, thoughts, priorities, decisions, and behavior in such a way as to be in accord with the will of God for all of humanity and for the common good of all human beings.

Due to the unceasing acts of terrorism in our world today, especially those acts of violence claimed by people who identify themselves as Muslims acting for the glory of Allah and Islam, people not only in the western nations but also people in Muslim nations are increasingly subject to fear. It is not only Christians who are targeted for violence and murder but people of other religions and no religion and even Muslims of other Islamic sects and views.

Against these fears the quintessential Catholic and Christian response is what Saint Francis said and did, that is, a literal and complete trust in God expressed in prayer and loving outreach to even those violent extremists. We believe as Jesus taught that the Good News of abundant life offered by God is for everyone who will listen, hear, and accept it. This is manifestly the attitude and approach of Pope Francis as spelled out in his "Laudato Si", and so it is a very Christian way of looking at the world, at life, at religion and society.

For Muslims the views are radically different and not unlike what our views were in the Middle Ages. During those centuries all of society at all levels was permeated by religion. In that context, as people saw things, the Spanish Inquisition seemed to make perfect sense. It made sense to them not to spare the physical body in the process of trying to convince people to repent of their errors and in this way return to true faith in God and allow Him to save their immortal soul.

The most deadly danger was understood to be those beliefs that were erroneously in contradiction with the divine revelation of God as expressed in Christian faith and morals. They understood that errors in belief gave rise to thoughts, words, and behaviors inconsistent with the Sacred Scriptures or with the teachings of the Church and put one at risk of walking away from God.

In such world views that we could call "medieval" there are no distinctions between religion and government, between the church and society, because it is all one reality. Until today westerners look at Islamic states and expect their leaders to be like those in our own societies where religious and civic leaders are independent of one another. Under Islam religious leaders are in sync with the government which operates according to religious principles to the point that there are no longer any distinctions between "church" and "state". An Islamic state is under Sharia Law and all laws and civil judgements and punishments are in accord with the Qur'an and other Muslim writings and traditions.

Since the 1928 foundation of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt a wave of renewal or revivalism, to use a Christian term, has been sweeping the Muslim world in a very deliberate and unrelenting effort to bring successive generations of Muslims to return to their roots in Islam and the Islamic impulse to bring the whole world into the subjection of Islam, that is, into "submission" to Allah and his prophet Mohammad and to make the whole world governed by Islam.

What Christians point to as the "peaceful" verses in the Qur'an are considered by Islam to be "early" verses before Mohammad was called to become a militant warrior. The "violent" or "later" verses are seen as the final call of Allah to subjugate the world under Islam for Allah. In this widespread view Jews and Christians are the first who must be subjected because they are considered to have lost the original truths revealed by Allah and to have corrupted the "Book" of Scripture. Tim Staples is a Catholic evangelist who made an exhaustive examination of Islam through the lens of the Christian faith in talks available on CD entitled "Islam Exposed - The Crescent in Light of the Cross".

The Muslim societies that aspire to conquer the world for Allah under Islam are not interested in dialogue with the Christian faith which they consider inferior and surpassed and perfected by Islam. The conviction of being superior generally held by Muslims makes authentic dialogue with Christians very unlikely. Nevertheless, dialogue and the willingness to dialogue is intrinsic to the Christian faith as shown in the Gospels witnessing to Jesus' eagerness to dialogue with everyone.

Christians aspire to a world united in peace and love under Christ and in the Holy Trinity; whereas Muslims aspire to a world united in submission to Allah and the principles of Islam. These are fundamentally irreconcilable views. Muslims who show true and authentic understanding, sympathy, and agreement with our Christian view are at times called "moderate" Muslims but in the eyes of the fervent Muslim world they are heretics or traitors and hence considered irrelevant.

This is why our world is in God's hands and all we can do is continue to walk with our Lord Jesus Christ, remain faithful to Him, live our faith and bond of charity with others and the world, proclaim the Good News, accept to endure persecution for the glory of God, and pray for our enemies or those who make themselves our enemies.

I welcome your views, either to agree or disagree, and only ask that you substantiate your claims. 

No comments:

Post a Comment