Friday, 24 September 2010

What we can learn from Islam

In two other pieces today, I've highlighted reasons for concern about Islam.  But I don't want to be entirely negative, because I do think Islam can serve as a salutary reminder of some aspects of the Catholic patrimony that have been neglected in our time.

Many Islamic practices are very similar to traditional Christian ones.  That's not surprising - in its origins St John Damacene thought Islam was best thought of a Christian heresy rather than a totally new religion.

There will always be major theological differences: the Christian emphasis on the mysteries of the faith is at direct odds with the clear cut nature of much Islamic beliefs.

But there is at least some common ground that may be able to be found in the fight against the pernicious influence of secularism.

And at the level of practice, there are things we can learn from.  For example, the value of fasting at the appropriate season.  As Cardinal Pell has pointed out in relation to the recently ended Ramadan: "The discomfort of hunger and thirst helps develop self-control and conquer anger and reminds participants of the sufferings of the poor and the starving.  Worship and prayer accompany the fasting so encouraging both contemplation and community spirit."


Cardinal Pole said...

Another thing of which Islam reminds us is the social rights of God. If we take the following proposition as the basic principle of Islamism:

Men not just in societies but also as societies must profess Islam.

then that is false not because of the form of the syllogism by which it is argued or because its major premise is false, but because its minor premise is false:

Men not just in societies but also as societies must profess the true religion.
Islam is the true religion.
Therefore men not just in societies but also as societies must profess Islam.

Terra said...

Agreed Cardinal, one can learn from one's enemies and from error!

Though as pointed out in one of the other posts, not all Muslims would accept your summation - though I think a majority would.

Felix said...

And there's the Islamic approach to charging interest on loans (aka "usuary").

Traditional Catholic teaching condemned usary but this view has been de facto abandoned, presumably as being incompatible with modern commercial practice.

So it's exceptionally important if Muslims can show that non-usurious banks are financially possible.

(And let's avoid confusion. No, I'm not saying that Saudi oil squillions are a good thing in practice. Merely that the underlying ideas are worth exploring.)