Connect with us

News and Views

NCR: Pondering Islam and its discontents

Published

While Americans were preoccupied with midterm elections, the besieged Christians of Iraq faced yet another threat to their survival — survival of the literal sort, not merely political. The blow came with an attack on a Syrian Catholic church in Baghdad, Our Lady of Salvation, which was seized by Al-Qaeda terrorists during Sunday Mass. A police raid left an estimated 57 dead and more than 60 wounded.

A radical Islamist web site linked to Al-Qaeda said the church had been targeted as a “dirty den of idolatry,” apparently in reprisal for the refusal of the Coptic church in Egypt to hand over two wives of Coptic priests believed by radicals to have converted to Islam. The web site proclaimed that “all the churches and Christian organizations and their leaders are a legitimate target for the mujahedeen.”

As fate would have it, I was in Cleveland last night speaking at Notre Dame College’s Abrahamic Center on “Vatican Interfaith Relations with Islam and Judaism.” I’ll summarize here what I said — not because it offers any magic wand for preventing the kind of bloodshed we saw in Baghdad, but because the tragedy illustrates anew the urgency of deep and creative thinking about Christian/Muslim tensions.

Keep supporting MuslimMatters for the sake of Allah

Alhamdulillah, we're at over 850 supporters. Help us get to 900 supporters this month. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

My thesis was the following: The last decade has witnessed a historic shift from Judaism to Islam as the paradigmatic interfaith relationship of the Catholic Church.

That’s not to say Judaism has become unimportant, or that Catholics won’t continue to work on the relationship. Islam, however, has become the primary interfaith concern. Not only is Islam where the bulk of the church’s time and treasure is being invested, it’s the new template for all of Catholicism’s relationships with other religions.

The Shift to Islam

Four factors have driven that shift.

First is simple arithmetic. There are 1.6 billion Muslims and 2.3 billion Christians in the world, which adds up to 55 percent of the human population. For good or ill, the relationship is destined to be a driver of global history. Second, the terrorist attacks of 9/11, and subsequent outbreaks of Muslim radicalism such as the assault on Our Lady of Salvation, have made Islam a burning preoccupation for the entire world.

Third, Pope Benedict XVI’s speech at Regensburg, Germany, in September 2006 unleashed massive new energies in Catholic/Muslim relations. The speech triggered a firestorm in the Islamic world, because Benedict began by citing a 14th century Byzantine emperor to the effect that “Muhammad brought things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.” Yet it also galvanized thoughtful voices on both sides of the relationship — most notably, it produced “A Common Word,” an initiative of 138 Muslim scholars, representing all the schools of Islam, acting together for the first time to outline common ground between Christians and Muslims.

Fourth, the demographic transition in Catholicism from the West to the Southern hemisphere is producing a new generation of leaders from Africa, Asia and Latin America, where Judaism generally does not have a large sociological footprint. This Southern cohort didn’t live through the Holocaust, and they generally don’t feel historical responsibility for it — seeing it as a Western, not a Christian, atrocity. Relations with Islam, however, are a front-burner priority, since many of these southern Catholics live cheek by jowl with large Muslim communities.

Continue Reading Here

Keep supporting MuslimMatters for the sake of Allah

Alhamdulillah, we're at over 850 supporters. Help us get to 900 supporters this month. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

Muslim American born in Brooklyn, NY with Guyanese parents currently living in Virginia working full-time as a web developer.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention NCR: Pondering Islam and its discontents | MuslimMatters.org -- Topsy.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

..
..
..

Ramadan Video Series

MuslimMatters NewsLetter in Your Inbox

Sign up below to get started

Trending