An Exposition on the Power of the Islamic Religion
The religious power of modern Islam.
1. Opening Remarks
Firstly Islam is a religion of the heart. Mohammed came six hundred years after Christ but he was influenced by Christ’s thinking in the New Testament. Mohammed taught above all in the importance of the heart to a believer: If you do not accept Allah in your heart you are no believer. Christ taught us that it is what is within your heart that matters most to a man or woman i.e. – is there avarice and evil in your heart? If so you are no Christian. Clearly they were both expostulating on the same theme with largely the same conclusion.
2. History of the Crusades
Both the Islamists and the Christians called their enemies infidels or heathens. Thus we Christians condemned the Saracens and likewise Saladin judged the Christian crusader Knights as beyond the pale. The Pope Urban foolishly instigated the Crusades with significant and unnecessary loss of life for Western Christianity not to mention on the Islamic side and all for the sake of the Holy Land. This being the land trod by Christ himself who condemned killing in the Commandments of the Old Law and the New Testament (My Kingdom is not of this world or my armies would fight for me – paraphrased). Certainly to harbour the thought of killing your brother was clearly judged wrong by Christ. It was a matter of “turn the other cheek” to be struck again like the first cheek. He did not believe in waging war – that is for certain. He took his physical punishment (scourging at the pillar) manfully. The Holy Land is where Christ won redemption for the whole of humanity living and dead: I find Pope Urban’s decision to start the Crusades remarkably unchristian and out of tune with Christ for whom he was the Vicar and Bishop of Rome. Like it or not the Arabs and Saracens occupied and owned the Holy Land and were going to defend that land. Urban was asking for trouble and his brave Crusaders got it. My final view on the Crusades is they were an unfortunate chapter in the history of Catholicism. Did the Saracens represent a threat? Quite probably yes. Their beliefs were not ours but the stand would come in Europe proper not the far flung Holy Land. There could be no doubt of the call to face up to militant Islam at that time. But Islamists had occupied the Holy Land for centuries and to launch Christian Crusaders against Saladin and his Saracens in the Holy Land was militarily and politically unwise and religiously misjudged. Fight your enemy when you have to not on some pretext or false premise. That approach weakens your resolve. Ultimately the Crusades failed abysmally.
3. Modern Islam
Islam has no bishops or hierarchy or Sacraments but it does have believers, mosques, Mullahs, Ayatollahs and King Feisal of Saudi Arabia, the King of Morocco and above all sincerity. The key place of pilgrimage is Medina in Saudi Arabia and pilgrims go there in their thousands. It has been argued on the basis of the group El Qaeda and certain terrorist attacks alleged to have been carried out by Islamists in the past fifteen years and more against Western targets at home and abroad, that Islam is an aggressive religion prone to gratuitous violence against its enemies in the West. I will not dispute the evidence of these atrocities and those responsible. However I argue it would be wrong to judge Islam generally by the conduct of these misguided terrorists. In effect we would be “tarring” the whole of Islam with the same brush: I say that would be a wrongful and unjust attitude of our hearts. Without doubt practising Islamists are devout and in the modern world that degree of zeal is mistrusted. We hear talk of “radicalising” Islamic young men another misnomer. Similarly the Mullahs are criticised for their conduct and language in the press and by the politicians and in the Courts. These Mullahs are “demonised” and expelled from the UK. A little robustness is called for I say. We have always been a sanctuary for those seeking protection – now we shun them. When I was young we spoke of politicians and Catholic Priests with “fire in their belly”. No more I fear as politics and Catholicism has been reduced to speaking of homosexual marriage – a terribly dreary and uninspiring topic. I do not defend the ill-judged words of the Mullahs but I do say give them a little latitude in the interests of the breadth and complexion of our society.
If we are not careful we will have no religious life left in our country and make no mistake the Islamic religion carries the banner for the practising believer currently in the UK and worldwide. I do believe the Prince of Wales and the Anglican Bishops partly recognise this in their contacts with the Islamic religion. There is very little “power” coming off the Roman Catholic cylinders presently and the lack of sprightliness and invention in Catholicism is lamentable. Truly we Catholics can learn from the zeal of Islam and its believers what we have lost in the past 50 years. The whole point of the Second Vatican Council of the 1960’s in the Catholic Church was to “open the doors” of the Vatican to all religions. Clearly Islam as the strongest driving modern religion knocks firmly on that Vatican door. Islam desires Catholicism and the Second Vatican Council pronounced Catholicism should bond with Islam, not in ecclesiastical terms but in the deepest sense as our brothers in Allah through Christ to Mohammed. We share the same God and the same prophet in Christ – May we respect Mohammed the champion of Islam and descendant of our Father in faith Abraham like Christ himself. Here is another son of Abraham as Christ said. Christianity is nothing without brotherhood and fraternity. Let us learn what brotherliness the Islamic religion renders unto us of the Roman Catholic Church and respond as brothers should to Islam.