Mohammedanism was a heresy: that is the essential point to grasp before going any further. It began as a heresy, not as a new religion. It was not a pagan contrast with the Church; it was not an alien enemy. It was a perversion of Christian doctrine. Its vitality and endurance soon gave it the appearance of a new religion, but those who were contemporary with its rise saw it for what it was — not a denial, but an adaptation and a misuse, of the Christian thing. It differed from most (not from all) heresies in this, that it did not arise within the bounds of the Christian Church. The chief heresiarch, Mohammed himself, was not, like most heresiarchs, a man of Catholic birth and doctrine to begin with. He sprang from pagans. But that which he taught was in the main Catholic doctrine, oversimplified. It was the great Catholic world — on the frontiers of which he lived, whose influence was all around him and whose territories he had known by travel — which inspired his convictions. He came of, and mixed with, the degraded idolaters of the Arabian wilderness, the conquest of which had never been worth the Romans’ while.
Like all heresies, Mohammedanism lived by the Catholic truths which it had retained. Its insistence on personal immortality, on the Unity and Infinite Majesty of God, on His Justice and Mercy, its insistence on the equality of human souls in the sight of their Creator, these are its strength.
Father John A. Hardon, S.J. agreed that Islam is a Catholic heresy. He wrote, in in Mariology: Mary as Mother of God: “This is the perfect description of Mohammedanism: Mohammedanism is Nestorian Christianity. It is Christianity minus Mary as the Mother of God. She is only the Mother of Jesus, the man, as Nestorius claimed and as Mohammed after him preached.”
Holy Mother Church opposes Islam’s sinat khinam, hatred without cause, “Fight and slay the pagans wherever ye find them, and seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem of war” 9:5 (9:5), with Rabbi Yeshua’s radical transformation, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” Mt 5:44.
The Common Good
The Common Good is this: “The real purpose of civil law is to guarantee an ordered social coexistence in true justice, so that all may ‘lead a quiet and peaceable life, godly and respectful in every way’” 1 Tim 2:2. Good government, that follows the principle of subsidiarity, leaving plenty of room for God as the organizing principle of our lives and the source of all that we need, is a force for good.
But when a government tries to replace God as the organizing principle of our lives and the source of all that we need, it can become hell. Rabbi Yeshua’s Satan Detector tells us that when murder and lies are found together Satan is nearby. Sadly, we’ve all become accustomed to Administrative States lying to their own citizens. But murder? See Gun Control Works 2:16
When we fight against the fallen principalities and powers Eph 6:12 we can never anticipate that they will respect anything. They would be quite willing, for instance, to substitute a Manchurian Candidate 1:26 for one the voters intended. Some believe it has already occurred, with a man at the highest levels of government secretly working to institutionalize violence in the Quran and the Hadith and falsely suggesting that Judaism and Christianity are as violent as Islam. We respond by going to the most reliable source: What Did the Saints Say about Islam?
St. Thomas Aquinas
St. Thomas’ Summa Theologica ST I-II, 90 says that man’s law must be (1) reasonable, (2) for the common good, (3) by rightful authority, and (4) published. If it does not meet these four criteria, it is not law at all.
Sunni Muslims, who are most of the world’s Muslims, recognize in the Quran a mandate to set up Sharia law in every human government. Catholics bound by St. Thomas’ perspective on law cannot accept this as a matter of faith.
Catholics are taught that Rabbi Yeshua is the Son of God Mt 16:16–17; Jn 3:16. Muslims explicitly deny this and say that Muhammad is the last prophet of God. Catholics, therefore, may not agree to living under Sharia law.
The Three Perspectives
Rabbi Yeshua told us, “You will know them by their fruits” Mt 7:16. Islam today has two faces. In one, In one, Muslims offer a peaceful outreach to Christians and Jews pointing out much that we share in common. In the other, Islamic jihadists acting in the name of Islam and quoting from its texts, violently persecute Christians. Which is the “real Islam,” and which the artificial construct?
Robert Spencer, a Melkite Greek Catholic, is the director of Jihad Watch and the author of fourteen books on Islam. Spencer takes the view that Islam has been at war with Christianity from its earliest beginnings to our own time. In our own time, he writes, Egyptian Catholic spokesman Fr. Rafic Greische told Vatican Radio in December 2010 that, “Muslim fundamentalists … want the Christians to evacuate from the Middle East and leave. And this is what is happening every day.” Spencer adds, “When Pope Benedict XVI spoke out in January 2011 against the persecution of Christians in Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East, Al-Azhar University in Cairo, the world’s most prestigious Sunni Muslim institution, reacted angrily, breaking off dialogue with the Vatican and accusing the Pope of interference in internal Egyptian affairs. In a statement, Al-Azhar denounced the pontiff’s ‘repeated negative references to Islam and his claims that Muslims persecute those living among them in the Middle East.’”
Subsequently, Pope Francis sent a personal message to Ahmed Al Tayyeb, Al-Azhar’s Grand Imam, declaring his respect for Islam and his desire to achieve “mutual understanding between the world’s Christians and Muslims in order to build peace and justice.” To understand this we recall that Pope Francis is Rabbi Yeshua’s vicar § 882. Rabbi Yeshua prayed “that they may be one, even as we are one” Jn 17:11, 22. Moreover, Cardinal Raffaele Martino said in 2013, “The Holy Father instructs with his words, but effectively teaches through his actions. This is his uniqueness and his magnetism.”
Apostolicam Actuositatem § 2 observes, “In the Church there is a diversity of ministry but a oneness of mission. Christ conferred on the Apostles and their successors the duty of teaching, sanctifying, and ruling in His name and power. But the laity likewise share in the priestly, prophetic, and royal office of Christ and therefore have their own share in the mission of the whole people of God in the Church and in the world.” Catholic Social Teaching calls us to manage the affairs of “the world,” particularly as it relates to our religious freedom.
Peter Kreeft, a distinguished Catholic philosopher, in Ecumenical Jihad and Between Allah and Jesus, believes that we are seeing a “war of all religions against none.” From his perspective, the Catholic Church and Islam worship the same God and practice submission of man’s will to God’s will, and therefore should partner with Islam in a common war against secular humanism, materialism, and immorality. He believes that the people who commit violence in the name of Islam are twisting and hijacking it.
There is today a real battle for the soul of Islam. Apart from the great war between Sunni and Shia Islam, Zuhdi Jasser’s American Islamic Forum for Democracy advocates preservation of the founding principles of the United States Constitution, liberty and freedom, through the separation of mosque and state.
Dr. Jasser’s pluralist interpretation of Islamic principle is consistent with American constitutional principle. However, at this writing he has not been able to persuade the world’s major Islamic authorities that his Quran interpretation is correct. He has also not been able to provide Americans with a way to distinguish between Muslims who are genuinely peaceful and pro-American, and Muslims who masquerade as peaceful while quietly supporting the jihad.
Let us begin by isolating, as best we can, the major western faiths in their pure form, apart from their surrounding cultures.
Haredi Judaism is the most theologically conservative of all the Jewish bodies. While Modern Orthodox Jews live by the Torah but primary but accept limited cultural environment, Haredim try to limit their contact with the surrounding culture, even speaking Yiddish among one another as a way to shut out cultural influence. Has anyone, anywhere, at any time, seen Haredim kill innocent men and women in the name of the Torah under rabbinic authority? Never! An individual Haredi who killed while proclaiming Elohim cabir would be instantly prosecuted and condemned by every rabbinic authority worldwide.
How about the Catholic Church? The comparable case, a body of Catholics living apart from their surrounding culture, would be consecrated life in a cloistered monastery. Rabbi Yeshua “came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” Jn 10:10. Vita Consecrata § 59, the relevant Catholic authority on cloistered nuns, declares, “The cloister is … a superabundance of life, representing a joyful proclamation and prophetic anticipation of the possibility offered to every person and to the whole of humanity to live solely for God in Christ Jesus (cf. Rom 6:11).” We never hear much from cloistered nuns, but surely no one has ever heard of a monk or nun yelling Deus magnus vincens in a crowded theater.
Sola Scriptura believers also read the Christian Bible, particularly its centerpiece, the four Gospels of Rabbis Matityahu, Marcus, Lucas, and Yokhanan. Their Scripture scholars, like ours, read them in the original Greek manuscripts. Have we ever heard a sola Scriptura believer cry out, O Theos einai megalos before shooting up a school?
How many of us have ever heard these words Elohim cabir, Deus magnus vincens, or O Theos einai megalos at all in a school or college or theater or any other gathering place in any context? But in these places everyone, on hearing someone yell Allah hu Akbar, runs for cover.
Muslims often try to counter this by quoting The Quran, “We ordained for the Children of Israel that if any one slew a person — unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land — it would be as if he slew the whole people: and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people” 5:32 (5:32).
We all know that’s a well known Mishna Sanhedrin § 4 passage, “Therefore the man was created singly, to teach that he who destroys one soul of a human being, the Scripture considers him as if he should destroy a whole world, and him who saves one soul of Israel, the Scripture considers him as if he should save a whole world.”
However, when making a case for the “religion of peace” they don’t quote the rest of it: “Then although there came to them Our apostles with clear signs, yet, even after that, many of them continued to commit excesses in the land” 5:32 (5:32). And they certainly don’t quote the next verse, which completes it: “The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger, and strive with might and main for mischief through the land is: execution, or crucifixion, or the cutting off of hands and feet from opposite sides, or exile from the land: that is their disgrace in this world, and a heavy punishment is theirs in the Hereafter” 5:33 (5:33).
Islam has constantly grown by armed violence since its origin. Muhammad was much more a military general than a professor of religious studies. Both Islamic and secular military records record his battles and raids. An entire chapter of the Quran, chapter eight, is called al-Anfal, Spoils of War. Advocates for Dr. Kreeft’s view says that jihad is an interior spiritual struggle, but an interior struggle brings interior fruits of victory such as deeper immersion into the faith. In an interior spiritual struggle there are no spoils of war, slave girls captured for the warriors’ pleasure or booty to be claimed and sold. Interior spiritual struggle does not entail beheading or cutting off fingertips: “I will instill terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers: smite e above their necks and smite all their finger-tips off them” 8:12 (8:12). In fact, the Quran says of the prophet: “It is not fitting for an apostle that he should have prisoners of war until he hath thoroughly subdued the land. Ye look for the temporal goods of this world; but Allah looketh to the Hereafter: And Allah is Exalted in might, Wise” 8:67 (8:67). Pickthal: “until he hath made slaughter in the land” (8:67). The Crusades were a response to 450 years of Islamic aggression in which Muslims forcibly conquered about two-thirds of Christian lands worldwide.
The most often-cited Quran paragraph for jihad is the “Verse of the Sword,” “But when the forbidden months are past, then fight and slay the Pagans wherever ye find them, and seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war); but if they repent, and establish regular prayers and practice regular charity, then open the way for them: for Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful” 9:5 (9:5). Muslims understand “regular prayers and charity” as conversion to Islam.
Muslims often reply that the Old Testament also contains verses of violence. It does Deut 7:1–5; 1 Sam 15:3. But God isolated them in the past by binding them to specific historical events. No respected rabbi, priest or minister holds that these verses of violence apply today. No Jewish or Christian groups attack and kill claiming Biblical support. But Muslims attack and kill claiming Quranic support because its verses of violence are open-ended. They apply in all times and places. An article, Flying Hijacked Planes into Glass Houses provides the details. There is also more in Violence and in Islam on Beheading.
A Different God
Islam seeks to utterly destroy the Jewish and Christian witnesses. Islam treats Judaism and Christianity as perversions of the original teachings of Moses and Rabbi Yeshua, and “corrects” them to be identical to Islam’s teaching. To Islam, all Jews and Christians are apostate Muslims. For instance, the Quran says, “Abraham was not a Jew nor yet a Christian; but he was true in Faith, and bowed his will to Allah’s (Which is Islam), and he joined not gods with Allah” 3:67 (3:67). Shakir’s translation of the same verse describes “Ibrahim” specifically as “a Muslim” 3:67.
Whether Muslims Worship the God of Israel
The Quran says, “And dispute ye not with the People of the Book, except with means better (than mere disputation), unless it be with those of them who inflict wrong (and injury): but say, “We believe in the revelation which has come down to us and in that which came down to you; Our Allah and your Allah is one; and it is to Him we bow (in Islam)” 29:46 (29:46).
Many Catholics and other Christians accept this at first glance. After all, Arabic-speaking Christians, including Eastern Catholics such as Maronites and Melkites (but not Copts), use the Arabic word Allah for the God of Israel. However, it does not take long to discover the differences.
Lumen Gentium § 16’s idea that Muslims “along with us adore the one and merciful God, who on the last day will judge mankind” is true in the sense that there actually is only one God. However, Islam’s understanding of Allah is so different from the Catholic understanding that Allah could as well be a fictional deity who resembles the God of Israel in only a few respects.
Islam Sees No Holy Trinity
The Catholic Church is centered on the Holy Trinity, with its doctrine of homoousios, that the three divine persons are all the same spiritual substance Jn 10:30, one God! By contrast, the Quran’s view of Christianity is centered on the Arian heresy, homoiousios, similar substances. Muhammad has Allah ask Rabbi Yeshua, “O Jesus the son of Mary! Didst thou say unto men, worship me and my mother as gods in derogation of Allah?” 5:116 (5:116). The Quran understands the Christian idea of the Holy Trinity as three gods: Allah, Jesus, and Mary! The rest of this Quran verse has Rabbi Yeshua denying that he and Mary are divine persons.
It would seem simple enough to point out to a devout Muslim that Christians understand the Holy Trinity to be one God, not three separate gods. But remember that the Quran is their constant reference standard. Most Muslims point out that 5:116 doesn’t mention the Trinity and so does not refer to it. They usually continue by criticizing Christian worship of Rabbi Yeshua as deifying a man and therefore polytheism. They also point out Protestant critiques of the Church veneration of Mary as evidence that we also worship Mary as divine.
Islam Sees Rabbi Yeshua Very Differently
Muslims, in their outreach to Christians, try to persuade us that Islam and Christianity are very much alike, with both having great respect for Rabbi Yeshua. The difference is sharp and clear. Compare Rabbi Yeshua’s “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” Mt 5:44 with any of the Quran’s fighting verses, for instance, “But when the forbidden months are past, then fight and slay the Pagans wherever ye find them, and seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war) 9:5 (9:5).
We often hear that when Muslims mention Muhammad, they always add,”peace be upon him,” usually written “(pbuh).” Muslims also add the same phrase when they mention Rabbi Yeshua and tell us that any disrespect for him offends them. They also point out that Muslims and Arabic-speaking Christians call God by the same name, Allah.
Muslims call him Isa, which reminds us of the name Esau. Arabic-speaking Christians call him Yasua, which echoes the name of Yeshua. They often begin with a quotation intended to sound beautiful: “O Mary! Allah giveth thee glad tidings of a Word from Him: his name will be Christ Jesus, the son of Mary, held in honor in this world and the Hereafter and of (the company of) those nearest to Allah” 3:45 (3:45).
However, Muslims rarely remind us in this context that the Quran’s understanding of “Word of God” is very different from the Catholic view. The Catholic Church proclaims, “In the beginning was the Word [logos], and the Word [logos] was with God [theos], and the Word [logos] was God [theos]” Jn 1:1.
“The Word was God” is anathema in Islam. The Quran explains Rabbi Yeshua in terms that sound like the Catholic Church’s New Adam theology but are not at all like it. The Quran says: “The similitude of Jesus before Allah is as that of Adam; He created him from dust, then said to him: ‘Be’. And he was” 3:59 (3:59). Muslims understand this phrase as affirmation of Rabbi Yeshua’s virgin birth. Both Adam and Rabbi Yeshua had no earthly father, both were created directly by God. In fact, the Quran uses the same language to deny that Rabbi Yeshua is the Son of God. “It is not befitting to (the majesty of) Allah that He should beget a son. Glory be to Him! When He determines a matter, He only says to it, ‘Be’, and it is” 19:35 (19:35). Allah must not have a son because he can create by command and need not beget. Muslims believe that alternatively, Allah would have to beget through physical union as men and women do. Muslims quote, “Exalted is the Majesty of our Lord: He has taken neither a wife nor a son” 72:3 (72:3) to show that Allah could not have begotten a son. In fact, Islam emphasizes twelve times that Allah has no son.
St. Thomas on Islam
On the other hand those who introduced the errors of the sects proceeded in contrary fashion, as instanced by Mohammed, who enticed peoples with the promise of carnal pleasures, to the desire of which the concupiscence of the flesh instigates. He also delivered commandments in keeping with his promises, by giving the reins to carnal pleasure, wherein it is easy for carnal men to obey: and the lessons of truth which he inculcated were only such as can be easily known to any man of average wisdom by his natural powers: yea rather the truths which he taught were mingled by him with many fables and most false doctrines. Nor did he add any signs of supernatural agency, which alone are a fitting witness to divine inspiration, since a visible work that can be from God alone, proves the teacher of truth to be invisibly inspired: but he asserted that he was sent in the power of arms, a sign that is not lacking even to robbers and tyrants. Again, those who believed in him from the outset were not wise men practiced in things divine and human, but beastlike men who dwelt in the wilds, utterly ignorant of all divine teaching; and it was by a multitude of such men and the force of arms that he compelled others to submit to his law.
St. Thomas continued,
Lastly, no divine oracles of prophets in a previous age bore witness to him; rather did he corrupt almost all the teaching of the Old and New Testaments by a narrative replete with fables, as one may see by a perusal of his law. Hence by a cunning device, he did not commit the reading of the Old and New Testament Books to his followers, lest he should thereby be convicted of falsehood. Thus it is evident that those who believe his words believe lightly.
Vatican II on Islam
Lumen Gentium, the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, § 16, states: “But the plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator. In the first place amongst these there are the Muslims, who, professing to hold the faith of Abraham, along with us adore the one and merciful God, who on the last day will judge mankind.”
“Professing to hold the faith of Abraham” does not say that Muslims hold the faith of Abraham, only that they believe they do. Now look at this statement in context. § 16 tells us, “Finally, those who have not yet received the Gospel are related in various ways to the people of God … Those also can attain to salvation who through no fault of their own do not know the Gospel of Christ or His Church, yet sincerely seek God and moved by grace strive by their deeds to do His will as it is known to them through the dictates of conscience. Nor does Divine Providence deny the helps necessary for salvation to those who, without blame on their part, have not yet arrived at an explicit knowledge of God and with His grace strive to live a good life. Whatever good or truth is found amongst them is looked upon by the Church as a preparation for the Gospel … the command of the Lord, ‘Preach the Gospel to every creature.’”
In context we see that Muslims are not saved by Islamic observance, but through Rabbi Yeshua according to “the dictates of conscience.” § 1260 “Every man who is ignorant of the Gospel of Christ and of his Church, but seeks the truth and does the will of God in accordance with his understanding of it, can be saved. It may be supposed that such persons would have desired Baptism explicitly if they had known its necessity.”
However, the “dictates of conscience” standard requires conformity with the Ten Commandments, which God intended for all men. § 2072 “Since they express man’s fundamental duties towards God and towards his neighbor, the Ten Commandments reveal, in their primordial content, grave obligations. They are fundamentally immutable, and they oblige always and everywhere. No one can dispense from them. The Ten Commandments are engraved by God in the human heart.”
The Fifth Commandment is, “You shall not kill.” § 2268 “The fifth commandment forbids direct and intentional killing as gravely sinful. The murderer and those who cooperate voluntarily in murder commit a sin that cries out to heaven for vengeance.” Only four sins cry out to God for vengeance; the first and most grave is intentional murder. “And the LORD said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground” Gen 4:10. Yet a look at the Holy Books reveals several of the Quran’s fighting verses.
Each Papal Statement on Islam is Framed in its Own Time
Rabbi Yeshua told us to “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” Mt 5:44. Vatican II commentaries on Islam in Lumen Gentium and Nostra Aetate are deeply Catholic in that they reflect a mature spirit and abundant charity. But they are framed in the world as it was in 1965.
Pope Benedict XVI reminds us, “[Vatican II] did not formulate anything new in matters of faith, nor did it wish to replace what was ancient … Rather, it concerned itself with seeing that the same faith might continue to be lived in the present day, that it might remain a living faith in a world of change.” Benedict added that since 1965 a weakness has emerged in that, “[Vatican II] speaks of religion solely in a positive way and it disregards the sick and distorted forms of religion that have become all too apparent.”
The forces that support man as the organizing principle of our lives and the source of all that we need have recently been trying to insinuate into the public stream the idea that all religions are dangerous. Immediately the cry of the atheists arose, “The Christian Bible also has its violent parts. All religions are violent. ” Let’s ask Father Barron: Religion and Violence by Fr. Robert Barron 12:23
Satan’s attack on the Catholic Church has recently seen many liberals embrace relativism, which asserts that one religion is as good as another. Some even go on through multiculturalism with its “group-differentiated rights” to grant special preferences for Muslims in school textbooks and eventually Sharia law. Multicultural principles prevent liberals from accurately describing Islamic violence, so they say that the violence is not Islamic in particular but is part of all religions.
How Islam Has Changed During the Past Half Century
In the 1960s the Islamic world was marked by secularism and westernization. Democracy and pluralism were everywhere fashionable among Islamic elites. In that atmosphere Pope Paul VI signed Lumen Gentium on November 21, 1964, and Nostra Aetate on October 28, 1965, and closed Vatican II on December 8, 1965.
Before 1968 there was no airport security. We simply entered the airport, bought our tickets, and walked serenely to the departure gate. New York City’s original World Trade Center twin towers opened on April 4, 1973, as the world’s tallest buildings.
Since that time Islam’s war against the Church Militant has awakened with a vengeance, reasserting Islam’s traditional hostility toward the Catholic Church. By September 11, 2001, nineteen al-Qaeda affiliated hijackers flew a Boeing 767 jetliner into each of the towers. By 2010 the “Arab Spring” uprisings led to a re-awakening of Islam’s political force. During the twenty-first century we have seen Muslims all over Europe, Canada and the United States demand Sharia law and many other accommodations.
In the Muslim-majority countries we have been seeing unprecedented persecution of Catholics. Muslims who are peaceful and have a high regard for the Catholic Church no longer have the influence within the larger Muslim community that they did only a few decades ago. In Cairo during the 1960s it was unusual to see a woman wearing a hijab (Islamic modesty headscarf), while today nearly all women in Cairo do wear a hijab.
The Holy Books
Muslims say that only the Arabic versions of the Quran are perfect representations of its teaching. That much is fair, we Catholics also go back to the original Greek Gospel texts to understand subtle distinctions in the translated texts. But Rabbi Yeshua and Muhammad both intended their teaching not for ivory tower scholars but for flesh-and-blood men and women. For these we have well respected translations of both the Bible and the Quran. For the Quran, Second Exodus uses the Yusuf Ali translation. However, anyone who questions the meaning of a text can compare all three major Quran translations of each particular passage (immediately available in parenthesis).
Many of its advocates try to deflect the charge by calling it a religion of peace, claiming that the Quran’s violent verses apply only to self-defense. Therefore, we will stipulate that some Quran texts deal with self-defense and spiritual struggle, but observe that others are aggressive rather than defensive.
It’s also worth observing that every Muslim reveres the Quran and strives to live by its teachings. Certainly most Muslims aren’t violent, but the fighting verses and the anti-Semitic verses remain part of what they see as Allah’s teaching to Muhammad for all men, an inherent element of Islam which no major Islamic scholar has ever repudiated. If we estimate that there are 1.5 billion Muslims in the world today, and if only ten percent of them support violence, that would still add up 150 million Muslims who support violence, a vast number. Many of those do not themselves commit acts intended to spread terror among Jews and Christians, but their financial contributions, their votes, and their presence in the community provide covert support.
The Greatest Deceiver
Rabbi Yeshua tells us that Satan is the greatest deceiver. “You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies” Jn 8:44.
The Quran tells us that Allah is the greatest deceiver. 3:54 (3:54) “And (the unbelievers) plotted and planned, and Allah too planned, and the best of planners is Allah.” Here is an example of taqiyya, the Muslim teaching that deceit is appropriate against enemies. The Arabic word that Yusufali translates as “planner” is makr, spelled in Arabic miim-kaf-ra, a deceiver. Pickthal translates it “schemer.” See the literal Arabic meaning of makr.
We find the same word makr at 7:99 (7.99), at 8:30 (8:30), at 10:21 (10:21), at 13:42(13:42), and at 27:50 (27:50). In each case the enemy was deceptive and Allah did the same but more, “even while they perceived it not” 27:50 (27:50).
The Gospels and the Quran appear to agree that Satan and Allah are the same spiritual person.
Every word of the Torah for Jews, and of the Gospel for Christians, is to be absolutely believed. Our Father gave us his Eighth Commandment, “Neither shall you bear false witness against your neighbor” Deut 5:20. Rabbi Yeshua proclaimed, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” Mt 4:4. Holy Mother Church even publishes directions on how the Holy Spirit helps us interpret Scripture in the Catechism § 112-114.
By contrast, the Quran has a verse on abrogations, as if Allah changed his mind about something. “None of Our revelations do We abrogate or cause to be forgotten, but We substitute something better or similar” 2:106 (2:106). Why then do abrogated verses remain in the Quran, unless it be for taqiyya, to deceive others of a Shia Muslim’s intentions? Shia Islam sees a great deal of free will in the Quran; taqiyya is therefore a strategy to channel a man’s free will in the direction desired by the deceiver. Sunni Islam believes that everything is in Allah’s hands, so there is little room for man’s free will, hence less need for taqiyya.
The Fighting Verses
“And slay them wherever ye catch them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out; for tumult and oppression are worse than slaughter; but fight them not at the Sacred Mosque, unless they (first) fight you there; but if they fight you, slay them. Such is the reward of those who suppress faith” 2:191 (2:191).
“Fighting is prescribed for you, and ye dislike it. But it is possible that ye dislike a thing which is good for you, and that ye love a thing which is bad for you. But Allah knoweth, and ye know not” 2:216 (2:216).
“Soon shall We cast terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers, for that they joined companions with Allah, for which He had sent no authority: their abode will be the Fire: And evil is the home of the wrong-doers!” 3:151 (3:151).
“Let those fight in the cause of Allah Who sell the life of this world for the hereafter. To him who fighteth in the cause of Allah,- whether he is slain or gets victory – Soon shall We give him a reward of great (value) 4:74 (4:74).
“And why should ye not fight in the cause of Allah and of those who, being weak, are ill-treated (and oppressed)?- Men, women, and children, whose cry is: ‘Our Lord! Rescue us from this town, whose people are oppressors; and raise for us from thee one who will protect; and raise for us from thee one who will help!’” 4:75 (4:75).
“They but wish that ye should reject Faith, as they do, and thus be on the same footing (as they): But take not friends from their ranks until they flee in the way of Allah (From what is forbidden). But if they turn renegades, seize them and slay them wherever ye find them; and (in any case) take no friends or helpers from their ranks” 4:89 (4:89).
“Not equal are those believers who sit (at home) and receive no hurt, and those who strive and fight in the cause of Allah with their goods and their persons. Allah hath granted a grade higher to those who strive and fight with their goods and persons than to those who sit (at home). Unto all (in Faith) Hath Allah promised good: But those who strive and fight Hath He distinguished above those who sit (at home) by a special reward” 4:95 (4:95).
“And slacken not in following up the enemy: If ye are suffering hardships, they are suffering similar hardships; but ye have Hope from Allah, while they have none. And Allah is full of knowledge and wisdom” 4:104 (4:104).
“The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger, and strive with might and main for mischief through the land is: execution, or crucifixion, or the cutting off of hands and feet from opposite sides, or exile from the land: that is their disgrace in this world, and a heavy punishment is theirs in the Hereafter” 5:33 (5:33).
“Remember thy Lord inspired the angels (with the message): “I am with you: give firmness to the Believers: I will instill terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers: smite ye above their necks and smite all their finger-tips off them” 8:12 (8:12).
“And fight them on until there is no more tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice and faith in Allah altogether and everywhere; but if they cease, verily Allah doth see all that they do” 8:39 (8:39).
“It is not fitting for an apostle that he should have prisoners of war until he hath thoroughly subdued the land. Ye look for the temporal goods of this world; but Allah looketh to the Hereafter: And Allah is Exalted in might, Wise” 8:67 (8:67).
“But when the forbidden months are past, then fight and slay the Pagans wherever ye find them, and seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war); but if they repent, and establish regular prayers and practice regular charity, then open the way for them: for Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful” 9:5 (9:5).
“Those who believe, and suffer exile and strive with might and main, in Allah’s cause, with their goods and their persons, have the highest rank in the sight of Allah. they are the people who will achieve (salvation)” 9:20 (9:20).
“Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued” 9:29 (9:29).
“Allah hath purchased of the believers their persons and their goods; for theirs (in return) is the garden (of Paradise): They fight in His cause, and slay and are slain: a promise binding on Him in truth, through the Law, the Gospel, and the Qur’an: and who is more faithful to his covenant than Allah. then rejoice in the bargain which ye have concluded: that is the achievement supreme” 9:111 (9:111).
“When We decide to destroy a population, We (first) send a definite order to those among them who are given the good things of this life and yet transgress; so that the word is proved true against them: then (it is) We destroy them utterly” 17:16 (17:16).
“Therefore, when ye meet the Unbelievers (in fight), smite at their necks; At length, when ye have thoroughly subdued them, bind a bond firmly (on them): thereafter (is the time for) either generosity or ransom: Until the war lays down its burdens. Thus (are ye commanded): but if it had been Allah’s Will, He could certainly have exacted retribution from them (Himself); but (He lets you fight) in order to test you, some with others. But those who are slain in the Way of Allah,- He will never let their deeds be lost” 47:4 (47:4).
“Be not weary and faint-hearted, crying for peace, when ye should be uppermost: for Allah is with you, and will never put you in loss for your (good) deeds” 47:35. (Shakir: “And be not slack so as to cry for peace and you have the upper hand, and Allah is with you, and He will not bring your deeds to naught” (47:35).)
“No blame is there on the blind, nor is there blame on the lame, nor on one ill (if he joins not the war): But he that obeys Allah and his Messenger,- ((Allah)) will admit him to Gardens beneath which rivers flow; and he who turns back, ((Allah)) will punish him with a grievous Penalty” 48:17 (48:17).
Muslims offer several explanations as to why these verses do not mean what they appear to mean. Some they describe as only applying to self-defense. However, 2:191 is visibly not for self-defense. Muhammad and his Muslims had just relocated to Medina and were not under attack by their Meccan adversaries. 2:216 holds that violence can be virtuous, which is not a self-defense tenet. 4:74 promises a reward of great value for Muslims killed in battle as they inflict death and destruction for Allah. This verse is often cited by suicide bombers. 4:95 makes the same point by criticizing “peaceful” Muslims who do not participate in the violence. 4:104 commands pursuing an injured fleeing enemy, visibly not an act of self-defense. 9:39 tells us that those who refuse to fight will be punished with hell. Its “go forth” message is inconsistent with self-defense because it suggests fighting to conquer distant populations. Finally, 9:41 contradicts the “self-defense” myth because it suggests that some battles are better fought a long distance from home.
Muslims identify other verses as applying only to spiritual struggle. But 4:95 explicitly uses the Arabic word jihad, which means a holy war. Some Muslims say jihad is only spiritual struggle, but Muslims recognize an exception for physical disability, so they obviously understand jihad to be physical war 8:12; 48:17.
Smiting at necks and cutting off finger-tips cannot reasonably be interpreted as mere spiritual struggle. 25:52 “Strive against” is jihad. Usage of the same term elsewhere in the Quran shows that it is a physical war and not merely spiritual struggle.
Strict Muslims behead. Saudi Arabia, a kingdom that loudly proclaims its absolute fidelity to the Qur’an and Islamic law, regularly performs beheadings. Moderate Muslims do speak out against beheading and other terrorist tactics. The problem is that the moderates have no real influence. If it were true that Islam is overwhelmingly moderate with the strict Muslims a small vocal minority the moderates would have overcome the strict Muslims by now. But it has been the opposite. The strict Muslims act without any outward indication that they are being slowed down by moderates.
Rabbi Yeshua everywhere calls us to charity, and as always Second Exodus follows its Shepherd. Father Dwight Longenecker, in his Aleteia article, Does the Quran Justify Beheadings?, asserts that the Quran and Islamic law commend beheading, and that Robert Spencer differs by only a single letter by asserting that the Quran and Islamic law command beheading.
Robert Spencer, in his response, Catholic Priest Insists Qur’an Doesn’t Justify Beheadings, agrees that Quran 8:12 (8:12) commends, but does not command, beheading. “I am with you: give firmness to the Believers: I will instill terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers: smite ye above their necks and smite all their finger-tips off them” 8:12 (8:12). However, Spencer points out that Quran 47:4 (47:4) does command beheadings. “Therefore, when ye meet the Unbelievers (in fight), smite at their necks; At length, when ye have thoroughly subdued them, bind a bond firmly (on them): thereafter (is the time for) either generosity or ransom: Until the war lays down its burdens. Thus (are ye commanded): but if it had been Allah’s Will, He could certainly have exacted retribution from them (Himself); but (He lets you fight) in order to test you, some with others. But those who are slain in the Way of Allah,- He will never let their deeds be lost. “ 47:4 (47.4).
Spencer in an earlier article observes that “the practice of beheading is also sanctioned by the example of Muhammad himself, the supreme example for Muslim behavior (cf. Qur’an 33:21),” and quotes from Ibn Ishaq, 690.
Then they [the Jewish Qurayzah tribe] surrendered, and the apostle [Muhammad] confined them in Medina in the quarter of d. al-Harith, a woman of B. Al-Najjar. Then the apostle went out to the market of Medina (which is still its market today) and dug trenches in it. Then he sent for them and struck off their heads in those trenches as they were brought out to him in batches. Among them was the enemy of Allah Huyayy b. Akhtab and Ka’b b. Asad their chief. There were 600 or 700 in all, though some put the figure as high as 800 or 900.
The “religion of peace” argument is that the terrorists misunderstand Islam. But if the terrorists misunderstand Islam, it is remarkable that so many millions misunderstand it in exactly the same way.
The Two Territories
Many Islamists say that all Islam consists of two territories, the dar al-Islam, the territory of Islam, and dar al-harb, the territory of war. Some also add the dar al-sulh, the territory of treaty, and some add other possible states of being. The Quran’s vision embraces these two territories. However, the terms themselves are not found in the Quran. They are a later development, and there is some controversy about them in Muslim circles. Since most Catholics are unfamiliar with all the cross-currents of intra-Islamic argument on dar al-Islam and dar al-harb, we are on safer ground by quoting directly from the Quran, which all Muslims profess to follow as Allah’s word to Muhammad.
The Anti-Semitic Verses
Two of the Quran verses above de-humanize Christians and Jews. 9:29 requires that, “People of the Book” (Christians and Jews) are to be violently conquered because of their religious status. This passage was one of the final “revelations” from Allah. 9:73 tells Muslims that those who reject Islam are destined for hell. This de-humanizes Jews and Christians, making it easier to persuade Muslims to kill them. This is why Muslims today have little regard for Christians, Jews, and anyone else who is not Muslim.
Islam is visibly anti-Semitic. The Hadith, Bukhari 52:177 Allah’s Apostle said, “The Hour will not be established until you fight with the Jews, and the stone behind which a Jew will be hiding will say, ‘O Muslim! There is a Jew hiding behind me, so kill him.’” 52:177 makes it possible for Muslims to kill Jews with a sense of honor.
This is remarkable. The Jewish people were originally defined first by being descendants of Abram Gen 12:7, then by their religion Ex 24:8. Muslims trace their ancestry back to Ishmael Gen 17:20. However, no genealogies were kept of Ishmael’s progeny from his time to the seventh century when Islam was born. Moreover, most Muslims at that time gained their faith through military conquest so they certainly have no genealogies going back to Ishmael. It can only be a spiritual ancestry. God said, “I will establish my covenant with Isaac” Gen 17:21. God, speaking to Abraham, three times called Isaac “your only son” Gen 22:2, 12, 16.
The Christian Bible
Now let’s directly address the passage most often quoted as a violent passage in the Christian Bible.
The Old Testament
The prophet Samuel gave God’s command to Saul. “Thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘I will punish what Amalek did to Israel in opposing them on the way, when they came up out of Egypt. Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have; do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass” 1 Sam 15:2–3. “And Saul defeated the Amalekites, from Havilah as far as Shur, which is east of Egypt” 1 Sam 15:7.
“Then came Amalek and fought with Israel at Rephidim” Ex 17:8. Remember the great image of Moses as Rabbi Yeshua on the Cross. “Whenever Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed; and whenever he lowered his hand, Amalek prevailed” Ex 17:11. “But Moses’ hands grew weary; so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat upon it, and Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side; so his hands were steady until the going down of the sun” Ex 17:12. This was a clear representation of Rabbi Yeshua on the Cross. When we uphold him we win; when we don’t we lose. It is not the story of a single desert tribe but a representation of the entire spiritual war.
This becomes clear in the final verse, “The LORD will have war with Amalek from generation to generation” Ex 17:16. Israel is to wage constant total war against the forces of evil, to be holy from generation to generation. God declares, “I will utterly blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven” Ex 17:14. God told Moses, “Whoever has sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book” Ex 32:33. “The dead were judged by what was written in the books, by what they had done … and if any one’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire” Rev 20:12–15.
Too often we’re tempted to give most of ourselves to God but to withhold something for ourselves. Saul did most of what God commanded, but not all. “But Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep and of the oxen and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them; all that was despised and worthless they utterly destroyed” 1 Sam 15:9. Saul did not follow God’s command completely but instead decided for himself what would be good to keep. Worse, he did not accept responsibility but tried to pretend that the people did it 1 Sam 15:21. Agag, King of the Amalekites, tried to sound reasonable, “Surely the bitterness of death is past” 1 Sam 15:32. But Samuel told him of God’s justice, “As your sword has made women childless, so shall your mother be childless among women.” And Samuel hewed Agag in pieces before the LORD in Gilgal” 1 Sam 15:33. Israel could not withhold Agag, the successor of Amalek, from God’s will.
God certainly does wage war against evil. He brought the Ten Plagues against Pharaoh ending with the death of the first-born in Egypt, which he used to free the Jews from captivity and lead them to Mt. Sinai. “About midnight I will go forth in the midst of Egypt; and all the first-born in the land of Egypt shall die” Ex 11:4–5.
The New Testament
Rabbi Yeshua himself told his shlikhim, “Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword” Mt 10:34. Every Catholic knows that he meant, “The word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” Heb 4:12. The Son of God, who had already proclaimed in his Sermon on the Mount, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” Mt 5:44, was speaking from the larger spiritual war perspective: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets” Mt 22:37–40. Rabbi Yeshua told us, “You will know them by their fruits” Mt 7:16.
We see no Christians cite these passages as pretexts for taking up swords to behead their enemies. If one ever did, he would be thunderously denounced from every pulpit in the land. But many Muslims do in the name of Islam.
“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you salute only your brethren, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same. You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” Mt 5:44–48.
“Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To him who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from him who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to every one who begs from you; and of him who takes away your goods do not ask them again. And as you wish that men would do to you, do so to them” Lk 6:27–31.
“Love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the selfish. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful” Lk 6:35–36.
Even verses that appear to contradict these emphasize spiritual conflict. Rabbi Yeshua declared, “Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword” Mt 10:34. Only a few verses later he explains, “He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and he who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me” Mt 10:37–38.
He emphasizes this precisely because Christianity is a radical departure from our fallen human nature. We have already seen, “To him who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from him who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt” Lk 6:29. And there is more. In Gethsemane, after Rabbi Kefa impulsively cut off the slave Malchus” right ear, Rabbi Yeshua, told him, “Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword” Mt 26:52. Rabbi Yeshua also immediately healed Malchus’ ear Lk 22:51. He loved ears through which we hear his voice. “He who has ears to hear, let him hear” Mt 11:15; Mk 4:9.
Progressives and Islam
What then of the Crusades? This is a comparison of the sacred texts, the pure essence of the Catholic and Muslim faith traditions, not of the behavior of their followers. There is near unanimity about what the sacred texts say. The controversy within our fallen race over the actual history makes comparisons much more difficult. If we introduce the Crusades into the conversation, we also have to introduce the centuries of Islamic-Byzantine wars. Here we will look at the texts, and leave the ancient history to others.
But why do progressives so deeply support Islam? Islam’s history reminds us of Amalek. Islam fought against Christianity with military force from the beginning. A decade after Muhammad wrote the Quran three major cities in the Byzantine Christian Empire fell to Muslim invaders: Damascus in AD 635, Jerusalem in AD 638, and Alexandria in AD 641. Most of the territories that were Christian in the year AD 700 are now Muslim. Today Islam is firmly entrenched in a vast arc from the Atlantic Ocean in the West to Pakistan and Bangladesh in the East. Islam is a Sharia-based totalitarian political system so comprehensive that it enforces a body of religious law, with armies and police forces in its service, when it comes it stays. Sharia also prescribes dhimmitude for non-Muslims in Muslim countries, a very second-class citizenship with extra taxes. Their social programs could not be farther apart. Liberals favor radical autonomy, while Muslim life is centrally and forcefully controlled by both mosque and government. Liberals support homosexual rights while Islam provides the death penalty. Liberals support very wide definitions of women’s rights, while in Islamic states they hardly exist at all. The only common element is that both fight against Christianity.
That fight against Christianity has made life extremely bleak for Christians living in Muslim lands. Egypt and Lebanon still have numerous Christians, but in most Muslim countries constant violence and dhimmitude drive out all but the most hardy Christians. In Nigeria and other countries on the edge of the Islamic crescent Muslims try constantly to impose Sharia law on all citizens. All of Europe’s countries are still nominally Christian, but even there we find the infamous no-go zones where even the nation’s police dare not enter and where Sharia is imposed through the mosques.
Now we are starting to see the same no-go zones even in the United States, especially in neighborhoods of Dearborn, Michigan. Christianity, because it depends on voluntary persuasion, readily accommodates pluralism. Islam visibly does not.
Catholics recognize that free will is essential to our salvation. For love or even obedience to be true, it needs to be freely chosen. “God our Savior … desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” 1 Tim 2:3–4. Within the Protestant tradition, depending on the weight each denomination assigns to different Scripture passages, some are closer to free will and others closer to predestination. Calvinism alone asserts double predestination, in which God predestines some men for heaven and others for hell.
Some Muslims Are Predestined for Hell
The Quran emphasizes double predestination. The Quran tells Muslims, “Many are the Jinns and men we have made for Hell: They have hearts wherewith they understand not, eyes wherewith they see not, and ears wherewith they hear not. They are like cattle,- nay more misguided: for they are heedless (of warning)” 7:179 (7:179). This is radically different: Allah says here that he has actually created some persons for hell. Another verse supports this view. “If Allah so willed, He could make you all one people: But He leaves straying whom He pleases, and He guides whom He pleases: but ye shall certainly be called to account for all your actions” 16:93 (16:93). Both verses portray Allah as a puppet-master who leads his puppets toward obedience or disobedience; they have no power to resist.
Allah Could Have Created a World of Believers
Allah tells his prophet: “If it had been thy Lord’s will, they would all have believed,- all who are on earth!” 10:99 (10:99). Allah could have created the whole world believing in Islam. He willed all the wars, all the bloodshed, all the punishments.
Allah continues: “Wouldst thou then constrain the people, until they are believers? It is not for any soul to believe save by the leave of God; and He lays abomination upon those who have no understanding” 10:99–100 (10:99-100). Allah has decreed that they will be misguided, so warning them will not help them at all.
We can contrast this with Isaiah’s Prophecy “Go, and say to this people: ‘Hear and hear, but do not understand; see and see, but do not perceive.’ Make the heart of this people fat, and their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed” Is 6:9–10. God’s mitzvot. would have led them to their Messiah but Israel failed to follow. So many among God’s people Israel had forsaken him for so long, the grace he had sent them was for so long not refreshed, that when their Messiah would come “you did not know the time of your visitation” Lk 19:44.
Double Predestination Utterly Lacks Dignity
Rabbi Yeshua gives his followers dignity. We are God’s image Gen 1:27. God therefore gives us free will. Every man and woman can reach heaven if we are obedient to the Magisterium, pray constantly, and actively seek heaven. God personally loves us, cares for us, wants us to reach for heaven.
Islam offers none of this. Allah decides what will become of us, and we are destined for hell there is nothing we can do about it. It is a bleak life.
Islam’s Contributions to Society
There are many more Catholics than Muslims in the United States, so let’s look at Jewish Contributions to Society. Jews are one half of one percent of the world’s population, but Jewish contributions to religion, science, literature, music, medicine, finance, philosophy, and entertainment have been immense. Even though Jewish hospitals are becoming extinct, look at the list of Jewish Hospitals in the United States.
I looked around for signs of Muslim contributions to the United States as a whole. Mosques don’t count, we all build our places of worship. But when I looked more widely I simply didn’t see much. Even the CAIR site has very little. Most Americans have seen Catholic hospitals and Jewish hospitals. How many Americans have seen a Muslim hospital, university or charity that serves all Americans? In the eyes of many Americans, Islam’s greatest contribution to the United States has been in the area of explosives technology. Let us pray that Muslims catch up and contribute their share as the years pass.
Best I can tell, Islam’s greatest impact on the United States has been in New York City.
However, there are more Muslims in the United States and Europe than most of us realize.
Islam and Ecumenism
The Quran appears to have been written to strenuously resist accommodation with the Catholic Church. The Quran says, “The Jews call Uzair [Ezra] a son of Allah, and the Christians call Christ the son of Allah. That is a saying from their mouth; (in this) they but imitate what the unbelievers of old used to say. Allah’s curse be on them: how they are deluded away from the Truth!” 9:30 (9:30). The Mishna does not say that Ezra was the Son of God, but the Quran declares in twelve different places that Allah has no son: 2:116; 10:68; 17:111; 18:4; 19:35; 19:88; 19:91; 19:92; 21:26; 23:91; 39:04; 43:81. The Quran even warns Christians (“people of the Book”) not to deify Rabbi Yeshua: 4:171(4:171). When we look for Islam’s central core, its real attitudes toward Christianity as documented in the Quran, and compare them with the street-level experience of Christians in Muslim-majority countries, we can get a more accurate view.
Hope for Ecumenical Outreach
Rabbi Yeshua prayed “that they may be one,” Jn 17:11, 22. Holy Mother Church, following this imperative, seeks through ecumenical principles to unite all men under Rabbi Yeshua’s banner within his Church. The Catechism § 841 says, “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.” It comes from Lumen Gentium § 16. Nostra Aetate § 3 says: “The Church regards with esteem also the Moslems. They adore the one God … They also honor Mary, His virgin Mother.”
Nostra Aetate § 3 adds, “Since in the course of centuries not a few quarrels and hostilities have arisen between Christians and Moslems, this sacred synod urges all to forget the past and to work sincerely for mutual understanding and to preserve as well as to promote together for the benefit of all mankind social justice and moral welfare, as well as peace and freedom.” In this Nostra Aetate echoes Rabbi Kefa, “Always be prepared to make a defense to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence” 1 Pet 3:15. Islam is an extremely tenacious institution, but “With God all things are possible” Mt 19:26.
During the Blessed Virgin’s third Fatima apparition on July 13, 1917, she declared, “In the end my Immaculate Heart will triumph.″ She certainly conquered Portugal for her Son on October 13, 1917 during the Miracle of the Sun. Just as Catholics believe that the Jewish nation will embrace Rabbi Yeshua § 674 before the Second Coming, we may hope that the Blessed Virgin will fulfill Islam through her sura for her Son.
During the twenty-first century Muslim leaders have made two serious efforts to reach out to the Christian world. A month after Pope Benedict XVI’s 2006 Regensburg lecture, 38 Muslim scholars from all over the world sent an open letter to Benedict which was thoughtful and reasoned. Then, in 2007, a longer statement by Muslim scholars, A Common Word Between Us and You, made the point that love of one God is the first and greatest truth for both Christians and Muslims.
Two letters may sound small beside the insistent demands for Sharia law in Christian countries, the cordoning-off of about a quarter of the world’s population from Christian evangelization, and the constant worldwide violence, but they are important. Islam has for centuries been a fierce opponent of Christianity; it is unprecedented for significant groups of leaders from widely different Muslim traditions to make positive overtures to Christians.
The Quran says that Allah worked miracles through Rabbi Yeshua. “And (appoint him) an apostle to the Children of Israel, (with this message): “‘I have come to you, with a Sign from your Lord, in that I make for you out of clay, as it were, the figure of a bird, and breathe into it, and it becomes a bird by Allah’s leave: And I heal those born blind, and the lepers, and I quicken the dead, by Allah’s leave; and I declare to you what ye eat, and what ye store in your houses” 3:49 (3:49).
In this way we may hope that Islam will someday undergo radical transformation, and our witness to God will be as Rabbi Yeshua made it: “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” Jn 13:35.
Evangelizing Muslims is far beyond Second Exodus’ range. These are some questions we can raise with Muslims in a peaceful and charitable way. After that, we ask the Blessed Virgin Mary to help, perhaps starting with a Memorare.
The Quran commands Muslims to read and believe the Torah and the Gospels. “And before thee also the apostles We sent were but men, to whom We granted inspiration: if ye realize this not, ask of those who possess the Message 16:43 (16:43).
Muhammad saw them around AD 622, the first year of the Islamic calendar, so the Gospels he recommended to all Muslims are the same as the ones we have today. The Muslim doctrine of tahrif, corruption, says that Jews and Christians corrupted the Torah and the Gospels after the Quran was written, but that was impossible. In the Sacred Scripture, every Jew who could had to write a Torah scroll for himself. Since most people then were illiterate, Scribes took up this exacting work. Each Torah scroll contained more than 300,000 Hebrew characters. A single error in a letter or even a mark, invalidated the entire scroll so it had to be buried with the next person to die. Since most Jewish men knew the Torah by heart, it was easy for any of them to inspect a scroll.
The injil, Gospel, that Muhammad read was also the same as ours. We have the Chester Beatty Papyri, written at the latest in AD 250, which includes the four canonical Gospels of Rabbis Matityahu, Marcus, Lucas, and Yokhanan. The Codex Vaticanus, written AD 325-350, contains the entire New Testament, and 5,300 more manuscripts, written in Latin, Greek, Aramaic, and other languages. Since the codexes from centuries before Muhammad are identical with those Christians use today no corruption could have occurred after Muhammad. He saw the same four canonical Gospels we have today.
There is no possibility that the Torah or the Gospels could have been altered, but Muslims say the Quran was repeatedly altered by Allah himself. To begin, the Quran says that the words of Allah can never change. “For them are glad tidings, in the life of the present and in the Hereafter; no change can there be in the words of Allah. This is indeed the supreme felicity” 10:64 (10:64). But it also says, “None of Our revelations do We abrogate or cause to be forgotten, but We substitute something better or similar: Knowest thou not that Allah hath power over all things” 2:106 (2:106)? It adds, “When We substitute one revelation for another — and Allah knows best what He reveals (in stages)—they say, ‘Thou art but a forger’: but most of them understand not” 16:101 (16:101).
Since the abrogated verses remain in the Quran, Muslims have a record of what changes were made. 16:101 says the Quran was revealed in stages. The Father sent Rabbi Yeshua to fulfill his revelation after a thousand years. As the centuries passed, his people Israel had grown accustomed to the Torah and were prepared for the New and Eternal Covenant. But Islam understands that Allah’s abrogations and replacements were all made during Muhammad’s lifetime, during a decade or two. There was no maturing of the people that could reasonably have justified replacing one ayah with another.