The Catholic News Agency on February 27th reported on the talk given by Professor Saeed Khan, an expert in Islam, at the Cor Unum conference a few days ago and CNA's interview with him. The report speaks of "true Islam" but I would put the question: who can authoritatively state and demonstrate what is true Islam and what is false Islam?
I find it difficult to understand and accept such interpretations of
Islam and to reconcile these statements with the reality. I also believe
it is long overdue for us to make necessary distinctions whenever we
make such public statements. Otherwise we mislead the faithful and the
general population because we all risk feeling guilty about what we
think and feel about the condition of Islam in the world, not only
today, but throughout history.
As Pope Francis and his predecessors have done, so I also try to do and
so engage in dialogue with Muslims. That is something we as Christians
and Catholics must do.
It is one thing to dialogue with people who are Muslims in name only, or
who practice their faith as they understand it, with emphasis entirely
on a spiritual reading of Islam, and quite another to try to dialogue
with a Muslim who fervently adheres to the overall movement of the
Qur'an and the history of Islam.
For us Christians, it has ever only been splinter groups that were found
to be heretics, with the exception of the Arian period when almost all
the bishops adhered to Arius. It has been relatively easy in Christendom
to make a distinction between the faith and society. St Augustine wrote
of it in terms of the "City of God" and the "City of man". None of the
abuses and atrocities committed by Christians and their civil and
ecclesial institutions in the past two millennia could ever be traced
back to or founded on or claimed to be derived or inspired by the New
Testament, or even the Old Testament for that matter.
Abuses of power by kings and princes as well as by ecclesiastics could
not be founded on even erroneous interpretations of the Sacred
Scriptures because in the Bible there are no statements attributed to
God anywhere telling the faithful to go out and kill unbelievers.
The contrary however is true of Islam. History clearly demonstrates that
its many periods of militaristic conquest and expansion were driven by
tenets of the Qur'an and, at the outset, by commands issued by Mohammad
himself, which he attributed to Allah.
While the Qur'an does contain some "mild" verses directed toward fervent
faith, mercy, and peace, the general movement of the Qur'an, Muslim
traditional teachings and documents, and public statements made by
Muslim leaders all clearly go in a single direction: the conquest of the
world for Allah. We have yet to hear Muslim leaders competently and authoritatively refute the militaristic claims made the those who consider themselves and are generally accepted to be fervent Muslims. We are unlikely ever to witness such refutations because such arguments cannot be convincingly based on the Qur'an nor on Islamic tradition.
As I understand all that I have read, the conferences I've heard, and
the most objective reports I've seen, the only authentic dialogue we
Christians can have is with Muslims that the world of Islam considers
heretics or traitors to Islam.
Muslims sincerely open to Christians, or to Christ and his life and
message, may be more than we think, but they live under the domination
of those who correctly state the true nature of Islam, which is militant
and bent on the conversion of all of humanity and considers the "people
of the book" to be following falsified versions of the Scriptures.
Those we consider "moderate" Muslims are incapable of refuting the
claims of "fervent" Muslims, such as those following the revival
initiated by the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, because the overwhelming
intent of the Qur'an and all the Islamic documentation and tradition
coherently goes in the militant direction.
Moreover, while Christianity left its world of theocracy behind in the
Middle Ages, Islam has ever always been a theocratic society, in which
there can be no distinction between religion and life, between mosque
and city hall, between Islam and society. It is all one and as fervent adherents to the letter and spirit of the Qur'an and Muslim tradition, they are
bent on imposing Sharia Law on the whole planet.
If I am in error in any point of my understanding of the situation I
hope that someone would be so kind as to point it out to me.