“Rapid Growth of Islam, Uniqueness of Christianity”
The last of three excerpts from Bishop Braxton’s remarks.
“…The name Islam is derived from an Arabic word which means peace (shalom in Hebrew). Islam means abandoning oneself, surrendering oneself in peace to Allah. While there are passages in the Quran that can be used to incite violence, there is nothing intrinsically violent about Islam. The vast majority of the world’s Muslims live in peace with others. The primary meaning of the Islamic term jihad is not “holy war against infidels” as we sometimes hear. Jihad means to “exert oneself” or to struggle, for example, by working hard, fighting to do good, striving to spread Islam all over the world.
This can also include using political structures and military strength to spread
Islam. Jihad can be a call to war to defend Islam. Islam also teaches that suicide (e.g. terrorists in the four planes on Sept. 11) is a sin, punishable by damnation. Like Christians, Muslims become martyrs only when they are put to death for their
A number of Christian experts on Christian-Muslim relations believe that while we should reject stereotypes of Islam, we should not take lightly the “clash of
civilizations” that can exist between Islam and Christianity. They see major differences between Islamic countries and countries shaped by Western Europe. They have radically different forms of structuring society and the relationship of religion to the state, and this could lead to serious tension and conflict in the United
The rapid growth and spread of Islam in our world and in our country presents
complex challenges to anyone involved in Catholic education today charting the future for tomorrow. As Catholics we have an unshakable faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God and Savior of the world. We also believe firmly that Christ has mandated us to proclaim the good news, teach all nations and share with them the gift of baptism. As we have been reminded by the Vatican declaration “Dominus Jesus: On the Unicity and Salvific Universality of Jesus Christ and the Church,” our genuine openness to interfaith dialogue cannot lead us to embrace relativism.
Jesus, the Messiah and Lord, can never be presented as simply one of many prophets, one of many paths to salvation. Truly irenic interfaith dialogue must begin by being honest about the unchangeable foundations of our own faith. Most followers of Islam appreciate this because they feel obliged to be faithful to their fundamental
In our new world situation the new apologetic must acknowledge that it will not be sufficient to refer to Islam in a few paragraphs in a rapid survey of world religions. We are already seeing a small number of Catholic youths converting to Islam. We need serious and substantial Catholic reflections about Christianity and Islam online.
A key component of the new apologetic vis-à-vis Islam, I believe, is personal
contact. A first step in charting the course for the future in these challenging waters is to make every effort to establish contact with followers of Islam who live in or near your communities. Share your stories of faith. In this way, both groups – Christians and Muslims – have a human face.”