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How are we to evangelise Muslims?

We need to shake off the idea that conversion is cultural imperialism

By on Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Benedict XVI reads a speech at Regensburg University in Germany on September 12, 2006 (Photo: AP)

Benedict XVI reads a speech at Regensburg University in Germany on September 12, 2006 (Photo: AP)

The Church should be evangelising everybody. There is no need for me to argue this point: the words of the Lord are very clear. There can be no arguing with the closing lines of St Matthew’s gospel: “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”

The Christian message is universal of its very nature, and thus to be heard by all. Given this, how are we to evangelise Muslims? What, in practical terms, can we all do?
Firstly, we need to raise awareness of the Church’s mission to evangelise. Being Catholic is about mission, not maintenance of structures. It is about talking to people and spreading the Word, not keeping our parishes, schools and hospitals open for business. And the word is to be spread to lapsed Catholics and to members of other religions too. So we need to start looking at our Muslim neighbours not as the Other, but as brother and sisters, and potential brethren in the faith.

This means abandoning the all too implicitly accepted heresy of indifferentism – the idea that one faith is as good as another, and therefore those who are Muslim do not need to be evangelised. It also mean shaking off the political correctness that seems to believe that everything non-Christian commands automatic “respect”, and that therefore evangelisation is some sort of cultural imperialism. It is not.

What then? Then we need to encounter Islam. That is to say we need to understand it from within, and we need to engage in honest dialogue. Thanks to the Pope’s Regensbeug speech, honest dialogue is now possible. We need to speak in a friendly manner and speak in the light of truth. This means that we need to understand what it is that makes Muslims “tick” bearing in mind that what makes them tick will greatly differ from community to community, depending on geographical location and particular tradition.

Finally, and most importantly, we need to pray unremittingly to God and His Blessed Mother, asking that He calls Islamic people to Himself. Above all, we must pray to Our Lady, who, in her gentleness and sweetness, makes the best evangeliser of all. And we need to tell our fellow Catholics about this and encourage them to pray as well. October is the month of the Holy Rosary. What better way of bring people to an implicit knowledge of Jesus Christ, than through praying the Rosary for them?

  • Benedict Carter

    i.    Sort out our own house first. This is the crucial first step. Unless the Faith again becomes “serious”, without the infantility and false compassion we see in the Church today, why should I convert?

    That means 

    (a) get rid of the policy of ecumenism and 

    (b) the un-Catholic ecclesiology prevalent even in the highest reaches of the Church. 

    (c) If the Moslems are to be effectively evangelised, they must understand too that the Jews are also to be converted NOW (= traditional Catholic teaching), not at some “cosmic convergence point” in the future as JPII and B XVI have taught. 

    (For the completely unjustified and make-it-up-as-you-go-along nature of this teaching, see

    ii.    Restore the beauty of worship. That means the return globally to the Old Mass and Gregorian Chant. Why should I convert to a Faith characterized by ugliness and shallowness? Give me beauty and transcendence.

    iv.    Start taking serious action where possible against liberal “Catholicism without the Ten Commandments”. Excommunicate Catholic politicians who vote for abortion, euthanasia. Deny them the Sacraments. Campaign to make civil divorce harder. Clean out all the homosexual clergy and stop forthwith pandering to the homosexual mafia. 

    When that is done:

    iii.   Insist always and everywhere on spreading the truth about the nature of Mohammed and contrast his evident beastliness with the Divine Nature of Christ. THIS is the key. 

    iv.   Be prepared to lose a lot of men and women as martyrs. 

  • Herman U. Ticke
  • Josephmatte

    Our Lady appeared in Fatima. Strange name that. I wonder why? One of the problems with Islam is that a filial relationship with God is discouraged. We have so much to offer Muslims.

  • Benedict Carter

    Thanks Herman for correcting the link.

  • Cestius

    As I understand it, Fatima was the (Islamic) name of the daughter of last Islamic ruler of the area around the shrine at the end of the Islamic occupation. She converted to Christianity and the place is named after her.

  • Peter

    It is a sad fact that the Muslim masses have suffered for decades in war after war and oppression after oppression both from outside belligerents and their own regimes, and are continuing to do so.  

    Among them, of course are Christians, who continue to suffer disproportionately, but their suffering, bad as it is, does not reduce the suffering of the Muslim people which takes place on a much greater scale.

    ACN and other Christian charities valiantly address the sad plight of Christians in the Middle East, but who looks after the Muslim masses who have been oppressed and war ravaged for decades?

    The key to changing hearts and minds in the Muslim world is to extend the aid being offered to Christians to the Muslims themselves who are in many cases equally poor and desperate.

    This must be done in the understanding that Christians and Muslims are all cherished creatures of a merciful and compassionate God who does not want them to suffer, but who encourages them to help each other to alleviate their suffering.

    In the Middle East there is no Christian and Muslim; there are only the oppressed and the oppressors.

    Christians must lead the way to alleviate suffering for all the oppressed and, in doing so, bear witness that God loves his creatures as a father loves his children.

    It is the realisation of the fatherly love of God which will change Muslim hearts and minds.

  • Benedict Carter

    That’s all very well Peter, but charity needs to be exercised on the ground and how many Moslem countries are about to allow access to their populations from Catholic charities? You don’t find any Catholic monasteries or convents, the source of so much Catholic charity, in the Gulf nor in any other Moslem-majority countries. 

    You have a huge commitment to works of mercy, that’s evident, but it’s simply not practical in so many places.

  • scary goat

    How are we to evangelise muslims?  With difficulty?

    1.  We must clean our own house first.

    2.  Treat them kindly but firmly.

    3. Stop aggressive military interventions against them.

    4. Do not attempt to proselytize.  Teach by example (if we can muster a good example), engage with them in a friendly way as our neighbours, give a good example of ourselves, wait for them to question what WE are all about, or try to proselytize to us.

    5. Then we have an open door to explain ourselves.

    6. Do not insult their beliefs.  The walls will go straight up. Rather explain OUR beliefs and leave them to think. Only engage in discussion of their beliefs if they bring it up and question.  If you insult their beliefs you will lose “engagement”.

    7.   Dismantle their false understandings of our beliefs (related to giving a good impression)
    False beliefs include :
     confusion between westerners and Christians (ie Christians think casual sex is ok.)
      what we mean by “Son of God”
    Jesus died for our sins = do what you like and still get to Heaven

    (Got a visitor and no way to save this so I’ll post.  That was most of it.  Might add a few additional thoughts later)

    And….pretty much what mr. Carter says below with maybe a few slight adjustments.


  • Guest-007

    The definition of Islam is not peace but submission, we must get our heads around it first of all.

    Submission can take two different forms. If you want someone to submit to your will you can either physically force them into it, or you can over time gradually get them to slowly submit to you..even if it takes a long long as the goal is achived then it is fine.

    In terms of how Islam developed and spread over the centuries Muslims do
    have alot of answer for. Alot of people tend to hate them for 9/11 but
    that is nothing compared to how they spread over the centuries. I refuse
    to believe a so called loving and compassionate god would enourage his
    followers to wreck such havoc on the world. Christianity spread via
    missionaries and the word and the people freely converted, Islam was
    done by the sword and you were forced in many parts of the world to
    either convert or be killed…look at the Saudi flag…what do you

    In its early years Islam took the physically forceful way by the sword when getting various people to submit across the Middle East, North Africa, the Indian subcontinent and in Spain and Portugal. Churches were converted to Mosques during this period..the Eastern Orthodox Church stood in the face of it all which was why they spread to the balkans etcc after Constantinople fell in 1453 to the Ottoman Turks.

    If a Muslim tries to criticise the Crusades don’t ever ever back down, they were a necessary reaction against this form of aggression by the sword. The Middle East was Christian before the Muslim conquests in those areasso tell me how did it become Islamic then??

    The Church said to keep praying and didn’t react until the Muslims almost reached Rome….then it decided that enough was enough…if Pope Urban hadnt called for a Crusade then Europe would have become Islamic and Christianity would have been wiped out…it is also fair to say that the Enlightenment period wouldnt have occured am I correct?? Muslims don’t separate religion and politics which originated from the Enlightenment period. You can also say gay rights etccc wouldnt exist either…they still dont in those parts of the world, you can be stoned to death or receive lashes in certain countries.

    Have you ever wondered why India and Pakistan dont get along?? Why especially both Hindus and Sikhs dont get on with Muslims??. The Muslims came in as invaders to their lands, killed our people, took our women and pillaged our lands. Afghanistan used to be a Hindu/Buddhist country before Islamic conquests.

    They should ask themselves…did their ancestors all those years ago freely accept Islam?? We Catholic Christians can freely say yes very easily the word was preached to them and they freely accepted it.

    The strategy Islam now uses is its high birth rates, encouraging their men to marry non muslim women  and also via immigration. This is the long term strategy of submission of the West they are using now..they cannot use arms like they did in the early centuries.

    One of the things we must do is make sure we know the concepts of the trinity as Muslims believe in a unitarian type of god so when they attempt to proselytize christians they especially tend to target this concept. They also do believe in Jesus however they do not accept him as their lord and saviour although they do acknowledge the virgin birth.

    What they along with Protestants need to also realise is that our religion was not founded upon a book like theirs is..Christ did not write a bible…he gave us the authority which is his Church with Peter as its rock..the bible came later on. It was taught via sacred tradition through the lips before sacred scripture was compilled.

    We have the writings early church fathers also…….which they dont realise.

    They also tend to believe the bible was changed. If theyr referring to the reformation period then yes the Protestants were the ones who did but the Catholics created the bible and the scriptures have never been altered since they were cannonized at the council of nicea.

    Islam in truth copied alot of its beliefs from Christianity.

    When the Islamic religion was developing, their “prophet” did according to them travel around the Middle East and in areas like Jerusalem etc. He would have observed that the sabbath day for Jews is a Saturday, Christians its Sunday..therefore he wanted a sabbath day separate from them therefore Friday was chosen.

    They pray 5 times a day….copied from our Liturgy of the hours. In the West they pray eastwards…the Latin Mass is prayed east towards Jerusalem. They do it towards Mecca.

    The headscarf is not a requirement in their faith but Jewish and Christian women for centuries up till the 1960′s/70′s wore them. In Cannon Law a women couldnt enter a church without her head being covered, it is still like that in the Eastern Orthodox churches. However the revised Cannon Law doesnt mention it, but the law of it is that if theres no law that overrules it then you assume the old law……..Something that was not put across properly to the faithful at Vatican 2. Western society now as a result views the headscarf as exclusively Islamic when infact it is not and we should look to reclaim it.

    Ramadan……copied from Lent.

    Islam tends to discourage the use of contraception. One of the Cardinals highlighted this at the Synd recently and with good reason to. The media always criticises us on our stance towards it yet they do not know that the Islamic religion has the same stance on it. Thats why birth rates are high among muslims.

    In mixed faith marriages or where one partner is Catholic why do you think the Church teaches the non Catholic must agree to the children being raised Catholic??..To increase the number of believers in the next generation. Islam has also the same strategy we do and they encourage their men especially to marry christian and jewish women with the hidden intention of raising the children as muslims…one reason why we must always discourage our women from marrying a Muslim unless he agrees that the kids be Catholic because even though they may nt show it, that is one of their intentions. In Islam to marry a Muslim woman the man must convert, I often personally feel this should be implemented into our faith also as it would secure the souls of the next generation in that marriage being in Christ’s church because often the children adopt the fathers side of things and that he is often seen as the head of the family.

    There is also the scriptural stance we can use towards Muslims also. Their “Prophet is a descendant from Ishmael, the son of Abraham:

    Isaac was the son promised to Abraham by God; but Sarah was barren and
    he lacked faith, so he went off and had sex with his maid, and Ishmael
    was concieved instead of Isaac. Isaac is concieved by Sarah thereafter
    as a clear miracle to show God’s promises and faithfulness. One son was
    the promised one given as a gift to obedience – the other was born out
    of disobedience – both were loved, but only one was the rightful heir to
    the throne, and that lineage leads to Jesus, the chosen king.”

    According to Islamic scriptures, Abraham and Ishmael reunited and built the Kabba…in Judeo Christian scriptures they never ever see each other…when Abraham sent Ishmael into the desert god told him to “listen to his wife”..this is of the old testament which Muslims agree with largely…Im not saying it is true but if it were true and he had reunited with Ismael then logically he would have disobeyed god right??…..the Kabba is preislamic also which some people don’t know.

    Judaism and Christianity have a more coherant link with each other, one being the old convenant and the other being the new convenant.

    If Islam didn’t exist would there be an Israeli/Palestinian conflict??

    Dialogue and conversion can be done with Muslims….if we can press them on these areas.


  • Peter

    Muslims believe that God predetermines them to their fate, and thus they passively accept suffering as God’s will.  

    Christians believe that God encourages the fortunate to help the unfortunate to relieve their suffering, because God has compassion for his creatures as a father for his children.

    The role of Christians is to teach Muslims that God is not a distant Otherness but a close loving Father.

  • Benedict Carter

    Excellent post, thank you.

  • JabbaPapa

    Brilliant !!!

  • JabbaPapa


  • Benedict Carter

    Sure, but you have to be face-to-face with them to do it. Your pie-in-the-sky charity thing is not really possible in practical terms, not in most Islamic majority countries, that’s the point I was making.

    There’s another point too. 

    “Faith” as defined by the Church is a gift from God which at the individual level consists in the acceptance by the will of intellectual propositions, the “mysteries hidden in God, but which we have to believe and which can only be known to us by Divine Revelation”, as the First Vatican Council put it. 

    You are going to have to sit down with individuals, whether Moslem or not, at some point and actually explain the Faith to them and answer their questions.

    This is why I say in answer to your original post that charity is simply not enough.

  • Guest-007

     What they never teach in schools these days Jabba is that the Arabs were enslaving Africans wayyy before the Europeans did during the slave trade.

  • JabbaPapa

    Muslims believe that God predetermines them to their fate, and thus they passively accept suffering as God’s will. 

    It’s a bit more complex — they believe in an ideal non-physical order of reality whereby God’s “hatred” of physical/material “corruption” manifests as some kind of “destiny”.

    Complete b-word.

  • Fr. Gustave

    I 100% second your point Fr. Alex! 

  • scary goat

     8. We must be firm and confident in our own beliefs.  Muslims tend to have a “superiority complex” and will be inclined to speak as “owners of the final revelation” thinking that we are “misguided”. We have to be able to stand up to that and show them that actually, no.

    9. Do not let them get away with thinking that their religion is morally stricter than ours.  They take pride in strict morals.  Show them ours are even stricter. (ie marriage rules)

    10.  Particularly for women…..if you are a woman making friends with a muslim woman….polygamy is a big issue.  No woman really accepts polygamy.  Again, don’t impose your views.  Wait for her to complain about it woman to woman, then give our perspective on marriage.

    (9 and 10 are a bit dependent on being able to give a good example first)

    11.  As mr. C says below…..our religion needs to give a “serious” impression.  Muslims are inclined to think we tell “childish Bible stories” and sing silly infantile songs.

    12.  Do not be aggressive in arguing.  Let them “attack” our beliefs then make a REALLY good job of defending and explaining.  They need to slowly and gently understand that our beliefs are not inferior…..not even equal……superior!  But you won’t achieve that by arguing points.

    13.  Don’t worry about winning the argument in the short term.  More gentle “compare and contrast” tactics (always allowing them to make the first move).  Sow seeds.  When someone is assuming the high ground it is not easy to back down.  No one likes to feel humiliated or admit they might be wrong.  It doesn’t mean they won’t think behind the scenes.

    14.  Make sure they know the difference between Catholic and protestant and point out that Catholic is the mainstream and it’s big (in numbers).  eg. They may say Christians don’t kneel or bow to God.  Yes we do, Catholics do, and we are the “proper” Christians.

    15.  Wait for them to be “engaged” and comfortable and questioning before any attempt is made at direct religious “dialogue”.  Otherwise you will meet with automatic rejection.  They have to be open to thinking about it, otherwise you will get nowhere.


    All these other ways which may be helpful in understanding how to engage with them can only ever be semi-useful if we are not practicing what we preach.

  • scary goat

     Yes, excellent.

    Just thought of another point.  Actually the Islam brings nothing new.  Apart from juggling the Messiah who wasn’t crucified argument…’s pretty much all based on a hotch-potch of Judeo-Christian traditions, with a few “local” issues thrown in, and the claim that OT and NT Scriptures are corrupted.

    The Jewish position that Jesus wasn’t the Messiah is logical from a Jewish perspective.  The Christian position of believing Jesus was the fulfillment of OT prophecies also makes sense.  Think about the logic of the Messiah who wasn’t crucified. (nor achieved what was expected of Him by the Jews) It doesn’t work. 

    The Islam actually has nothing to offer that was not already available in either Jewish or Christian traditions.

  • Charles

     I would add that beautiful organ music is also appropriate and inspirational unlike the absurd hippie acoustic guitars which have no place at Mass. Also, priests need to wear their cassocks and nuns their habits again; how can anyone take clergy seriously if they don’t project seriousness themselves? We must ask how the apostles and later missionaries like St. Augustine of Canterbury convert hundreds upon hundreds of thousands? it was through their serious and strong commitment. Muslims only respect strength because they aren’t wishy washy like the typical Western 60′s liberal intellectual.

  • Benedict Carter

    Amen to all that, Charles.

  • Kaisar Marogi

    Lots of work has been done by Christians to understand Islam from within, especially by the Middle Eastern Christians. Try

  • JabbaPapa

    9 implies obeying Islam

    10 implies obeying Islam

    Your “most important point” implies Islam.

  • scary goat


  • scary goat

     Muslims believe that God predetermines them to their fate, and thus they passively accept suffering as God’s will. 

    Not true.

  • scary goat

     Are you sure??

  • Peter

    Which part is not true and why?

  • Peter

    Of course charity is not enough.  It is merely the start.  

  • scary goat

     This is nice thinking, but there are snags.  Beat your dog with a big stick then offer him food….what will happen?  He will take the food suspiciously and will not trust you.  I’m afraid the West has done a lot of damage in the Middle East and Aid has too often been used as a means of coercion.  First we need to stop aggressive interventions.  Yes, we should help them, but not for ulterior motives, then maybe after time we might be able to engage in talk with them.  At present, simply giving Aid will be viewed with suspicion.

  • Kevin

    In theory, it should be relatively easier to convert Mohammedans, not merely because they are theists but because they appear to understand that religion is about submission to God’s will.

    Unfortunately we have lost sight of that fact. In our efforts to turn back the tide of liberalism we have adopted an approach that says morality can be rationally derived from nature without reference to God. This is fundamentally not true because of the is-ought problem. We believe, for example, that murder is wrong because God had told us it is. We do not believe that “meat is murder” because God has not told us that it is.

    The solution is to evangelise both Mohammedans and liberals on the basis of Revelation.

  • scary goat

    I agree with the general contents of your post, except that while I agree with no. iv I would suggest doing so patiently and gracefully…..not aggressively. Telling them their “prophet” is “beastly” might be a bit counter-productive. 

  • paulpriest

    Make peace with God, then yourself..then your THAT order…

  • scary goat

    Muslims are not fatalists, not in the sense that Hindus, for example, are.  They do have some concept of fate, but they also have free will and alms-giving.  Their concept of fate is not dissimilar to our own actually.  Yes, there are things that just are the way they are and we accept God’s will, but they only have a limited range of pre-determination. Actually the people sometimes attribute more to fate than is actually required by their beliefs….a way of accepting things. There is a “hadith” (story of mohammad’s sayings and doings) I can’t remember the precise details, but someone sent some missionaries to teach the Islam somewhere, then on the way they heard that there was plague in that place so they turned back.  They were met with disapproval and told they had run away from God’s fate.  When mohammad heard about it, he said no, they were right to return.  They ran away from one of God’s fates to another.

  • mollysdad

    First, give them a copy of Robert Spencer’s “Did Muhammad Exist?” It’s going onto the Internet anyway as soon as it’s been translated into Arabic. Second, if they cut up rough and violent, let our big Israeli brothers deal with them.

  • scary goat

     Good luck with that approach.

  • Benedict Carter

    It’s one of the possible starts.

    Another is to get into Moslem’s minds that God acts, by His own choice, within the Reason that he has created, not in an arbitrary way just because He can.

  • Benedict Carter

    Oh, scary, I agree. Everything with charity.

    Luckily for us, however, I won’t be the one doing this work. I’ll be living amongst the Eastern Orthodox again (second long stint in Russia coming up) from this Saturday.

  • Peter

    If the Pope couldn’t do it without a violent reaction, who can?

  • Peter

    When Muslims suffer, do they believe it’s God’s will and therefore accept it passively, or do they believe that God doesn’t want them to suffer and that their neighbour has a duty to alleviate that suffering?

  • Peter

    By far the worse damage to the Muslim people has been done by their own kind.

  • AnthonyPatrick

     Absolutely right.

  • scary goat

     Really?  How long will you be gone for? Will you still be joining us here at CH?

  • scary goat

     That’s a debatable point.  I’m not saying that assertion has no basis, man’s inhumanity to man can be found everywhere, between themselves, from outside, but thinking that the west can ride in like a knight in shining armour to save the day is a bit well…..look at Iraq.

  • scary goat

    That’s actually quite a good question.  A bit of both really is probably the best answer.  People have free will and will be judged on what they did and didn’t do. Also life is viewed as a test.  So, for example, if you are suffering in poverty, you should be patient and accept your situation, but God will judge your rich neighbour who didn’t help you when he should have.  If people are behaving as God wishes people should not suffer in poverty. 

    You can find more info on this by checking Islamic websites.

  • cephas2

    Our Lady is the key to the conversion of Muslims – just as she was in Mexico with the Aztecs. Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us!

  • scary goat

     Anyway….here’s a little e-present for the journey. I don’t know if they will be at all to your taste.  I love these songs.  They have their own context, but you know how you can sometimes find your own meaning in songs.  The originals are about nature and life and people and how things are changing.  No reason why you can’t interpret them in your own eyes related to the Church though.

    Have a safe journey
    God bless.

  • Tom

    Anyone up for being a martyr?

  • Benedict Carter

    That’s the Catholic view.

  • Benedict Carter

    A little less I think as I’ll be working pretty hard, but I’ll be here for sure. Last stint in Russia was 12 years, this one – let’s see. 

  • Benedict Carter

    You are great! Thanks very much :-)