Thus, it is through eyes informed by faith in Jesus Christ that we now turn to Islam. THE ORIGINS OF ISLAM AND ITS ENVIRONMENT. The sixth and seventh

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What Catholics Should Know About Islam by Sandra Toenies Keating The Knights of Columbus presents The Veritas Series fiProclaiming the Faith in the Third Millenniumfl General Editor Father Juan-Diego Brunetta, O.P. Catholic Information Service Knights of Columbus Supreme Council

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Copyright © 2008-2021 by Knights of Columbus Supreme Council. All rights reserved. Cover: Designed by Gail E. Williams © Knights of Columbus Supreme Office 2008. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. Write: Knights of Columbus Supreme Council Catholic Information Service PO Box 1971 New Haven, CT 06521 www.kofc.org/cis cis@kofc.org 203-752-4267 800-735-4605 Fax Printed in the United States of America

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CONTENTS ABBREVIATIONS .4 INTRODUCTION..5 THE ORIGINS OF ISLAM AND ITS ENVIRONMENT.8 THE LIFE OF MUHAMMAD.9 CHRISTIANITY AND THE BASIC TEACHINGS OF ISLAM..14 MAJOR THEMES OF THE QUR™AN..17 THE RISE OF THE ISLAMIC EMPIRE..27 ISLAM IN THE MODERN WORLD..34 ISLAMIC LAW AND SOCIETY.37 OTHER PRACTICES.42 COOPERATION BETWEEN CATHOLICS AND MUSLIMS TODAY .44 CONCLUSION.47 FOR FURTHER READING..48 GLOSSARY ..49 ABOUT THE AUTHOR50

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– 4 -ABBREVIATIONS AGAd Gentes. Decree on the Missionary Activity of the Church. Vatican II, 1965. CCCCatechism of the Catholic Church. USCC, 1997. DIDominus Iesus. Declaration on the Unicity and Salvific Universality of Jesus Christ and the Church. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 2000. DVDei Verbum . Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation. Vatican II, 1965. NANostra Aetate. Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions. Vatican II, 1965.

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Р6 -The Second Vatican Council The relationship between Muslims and Christians has a long and complex history. Whereas Christians in many areas in the East have lived under Muslim rule since the seventh century, those in the West had very little contact with Muslims apart from the Crusades (beginning in 1095) and later through European colonization. The modern period, however, has brought the world closer together and given rise to a new awareness of the relationships among members of other religions. It was for this reason that the Fathers at the Second Vatican Council chose to devote a separate document to non-Christian religions, entitled Nostra Aetate (In our times). After a general introduction emphasizing the common origins of all peoples and our quest for truth, Nostra Aetate addresses several of the major world religions individually. Each section singles out beliefs held by the followers of the religion that can be identified as fiseeds of the Wordfl Πthose partial truths found everywhere that are signs of the working of the Holy Spirit. Since Islam is a monotheistic religion with high regard for Jewish prophets, the Council Fathers recognized it as having a particular relationship with Christianity. The following passages taken from Nostra Aetate address Islam specifically: Upon the Moslems, too, the Church looks with esteem. They adore one God, living and enduring, merciful and all-powerful, Maker of heaven and earth and Speaker to men. They strive to submit wholeheartedly even to His inscrutable decrees, just as did Abraham, with whom the Islamic faith is pleased to associate itself. Though they do not acknowledge Jesus as God, they revere Him as a prophet. They also honor Mary, His virgin mother; at times they call on her, too, with devotion. In addition they await the day of judgment when God will give each man his due after raising him up. Consequently, they prize the moral life, and give worship to God especially through prayer, almsgiving, and fasting. Although in the course of the centuries many quarrels and hostilities have arisen between Christians and Moslems, this most sacred Synod urges all to forget the past and to strive sincerely for

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– 7 -mutual understanding. On behalf of all mankind, let them make common cause of safeguarding and fostering social justice, moral values, peace, and freedom (NA 3). 2 With this statement, the Fathers of the Council intended to establish the foundation for building better relations with Muslims through many forms of dialogue. Nostra Aetate does not, however, in any way draw attention away from the Church™s evangelizing mission. Ad Gentes, the Council™s document on the mission of the Church emphasizes that, while the Catholic Church continues to hold the absolute uniqueness and salvific role of Jesus Christ, God works in fiways known only to himselffl in the lives of non-Christians (AG 7). The central truth of Catholic faith remains fithat Christ out of infinite love freely underwent suffering and death because of the sins of all men so that all might attain salvation. It is the duty of the Church, therefore, in her preaching to proclaim the cross of Christ as the sign of God™s universal love and the source of all gracefl ( NA 16). Indeed, God calls all peoples to himself and desires to communicate to them the fullness of salvation. Therefore, God continually makes himself fipresent in many ways, not only to individuals, but also to entire peoples through their spiritual riches, of which their religions are the main and essential expression even when they contain ‚gaps, insufficiencies and errors.™fl3 Through the many ways of dialogue, we discover how God has worked in the lives of those who do not profess faith in Jesus Christ and we seek to discover those firays of truth that enlighten all menfl (NA 2). Evangelization and dialogue can appear to be in tension. Yet, the Church constantly appeals to all Catholics to continue to hold both commands at the forefront in their encounters with non-Christians. In 2000, the declaration Dominus Iesus reaffirmed the Second Vatican Council™s commitment both to proclaim the Gospel and to establish open and respectful dialogues with peoples of other religions. 2 All quotations of conciliar documents are taken from The Documents of Vatican II , Walter M. Abbott, ed. Joseph Gallagher, trans. ed. (New Jersey: America Press, 1966). 3 Evangelii Nuntiandi, 53 and Redemptoris Missio 55, 56. In: Interreligious Dialogue, pp. 82, 102-103.

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– 8 -fiInterreligious dialogue, which is part of the church™s evangelizing mission, requires an attitude of understanding and a relationship of mutual knowledge and reciprocal enrichment in obedience to the truth and with respect for freedomfl (DI 2). 4 In this way, we are each called to be witnesses to the Gospel while at the same time to grow in understanding of our own faith and the beliefs of others. The first step in this journey toward mutual understanding is to deepen our knowledge of similarities and differences between the teachings of the Catholic Church and those of other religions. Thus, it is through eyes informed by faith in Jesus Christ that we now turn to Islam. THE ORIGINS OF ISLAM AND ITS ENVIRONMENT The sixth and seventh centuries saw the beginning of tremendous changes in the Mediterranean world. The great Roman Empire was in decline following invasions of tribes from the north. To the east, the Byzantine Empire had been engaged in a long and exhausting war with the Sassanian (Persian) Empire, leaving both armies in a weakened state. Much of the infrastructure that provided food and goods was in very bad condition, trade had slowed, and in many places cultural decay had set in. By this time, Christianity had spread throughout all of these areas, replacing native polytheistic religions. However, controversies over the appropriate way to define the union between the human and divine in the Person of Jesus Christ had led to significant divisions within the Church. For the most part, those in the Western church accepted the conclusions of the Council of Chalcedon in 451. For different reasons, the Nestorians and Monophysites rejected Chalcedon™s definition, as well as some of the earlier ecumenical councils. These churches dominated in the eastern Byzantine Empire, North Africa, and Persia. 4 fiDominus Iesus: On the Unicity and Salvific Universality of Jesus Christ and the Churchfl (August 6, 2000); also Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Origins (September 2000): 209-219.

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– 9 -All of these Christian groups were well-represented in the Arabian Peninsula. They shared the peninsula with flourishing Jewish communities and sizeable populations of polytheistic nomads. But much of this political, cultural, and religious landscape changed unexpectedly with the coming of Arab domination in the seventh century. THE LIFE OF MUHAMMAD Childhood and Marriage Sometime around the year A.D. 570 Muhammad was born to Abd Allah and Amina, well-connected members of the powerful nomadic Arabian tribe known as the Quraysh. By age six, both of Muhammad™s parents had died, leaving him an orphan under the guardianship first of his relatives. By all accounts he was well-cared for, but his experiences as an orphan were to have a profound effect on the social reforms he instigated later in his life. Muhammad™s uncle, Abu Talib, was a successful caravan trader, moving goods from the East coming to Mecca through Yemen and on to Damascus by camel. As a young adult, Muhammad joined his uncle on regular expeditions through these Christian lands. He eventually married a wealthy widow named Khadijah. Together they had six children, two sons who died in infancy and four daughters. After Khadijah™s death, Muhammad contracted eleven other marriages, mostly as political alliances or to widows of his followers killed in battle. His favorite wife was cA™isha. She was the youngest and remained by his bedside at his death. Later, she would play an important role in the early Muslim community. The First Religious Experiences During Muhammad™s lifetime, Mecca was a thriving urban center. It was a meeting place for people of every religion and culture, but it was also very difficult for those who had lost their livelihoods. The destitute sold their families into slavery, and widows and orphans were often forced into prostitution or servitude when their inheritance was stolen.

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