I am with you always, even to the end of the age

Catholicism and Islam have much in common, despite the differences in their beliefs and practices throughout history. Some of the things they have in common include believing that both paradise and hell are real places, and that there is an enemy who seeks to tempt people away from God.

Both religions understand that the human body is to be treated with special dignity, and that the family is the foundation of society, and that obedience to God's will creates peace and brings blessings in the life after death. They both believe that Jesus was born to the virgin Mary, and that he will some day return.

Both Catholic and Muslims believe in a day of judgment where we will have to answer for the decisions we made on earth. This will determine the eternal fate of our souls.

So it can be seen that Catholicism and Islam share many things. This is a strong foundation upon which we can build a dialogue and learn from one another, where hands can reach out across the divide.

Another similarity is the shared respect we hold for Mariam, or Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and perhaps it is by her inspiration that bridges can be built. Mary is the subject of an entire sura and is the only woman mentioned by name in the Qur’an.

At her birth, her father, Imran, dedicates her to God and she is eventually sent to assist her relative, Zacharias, who is the keeper of a shrine. There, God chooses her to be the mother of Jesus, and casts his “spirit” into her. At Jesus’ birth, Mary flees to the desert where God cares for her, sending food and drink to sustain her and the child.

When Catholics pray the rosary, whose beads are similar to the Misbaha, they pray for the intervention of Mariam many times, and her life is an example to us all.

But what of the differences, you might ask? Besides the differences in religious belief, are not Catholics more liberal than Muslims in many ways? Some are, it is true, but many prefer traditional and conservative ways, and if you look for those with a similar perspective, you will find them.

Just as Derya Little, a former Muslim who converted to Catholicism found:

To this day, I remember the solemnity with which we prepared to enter the mosque or the pray the salat, the five daily prayers of Islam. One needs to perform physical ablution that requires washing of hands, feet, face and arms while uttering specific prayers. As a girl, I had to cover my whole body with clothing except my face. Everyone took off their shoes as they entered the mosque, because the house of Allah was holy. One good point about Muslims is that they appreciate reverence. However, as a child, every reverent action of mine was accompanied by a crippling servile fear that was instilled in me, and in every Muslim, from an early age. Allah is the capricious, unpredictable deity who was not bound by the rules of consistency and goodness. Our reason is useless and our love is meaningless. All we owe Him is our absolute, unquestioning and undoubting obedience where a relationship of master and slave is paramount.

From such a view of God, I plunged into the cynical, sarcastic world of atheism. The sin of pride that had poisoned almost every human heart was alive and strong within mine. We mocked every religion and deity indiscriminately, but with a special attention to insulting Allah who was supposed to instill such fear in our hearts that we would tremble and do everything he commanded. Even our cynical hearts were aware that a creator without love was not worthy of obedience. It was no surprise that my head remained perfectly erect above my shoulders even after my conversion when my Protestant friends bowed their heads in prayer. My body refused to yield.

Protestant worship services were no help either. I am eternally grateful to the missionaries who shared the gospel with me, prayed for me and stayed faithful. yet, when we gathered together on Sunday mornings, worship did not seem any different from Bible study time or the time we sat around the fire to sing songs. While I appreciated the notion that one can always reach out to the Lord wherever one may be, the stark contrast to the worship that God desired in the Old Testament was noticeable. Try as I might, given my proud heart and cynical nature, these times of worship failed to rouse my emotion and reorient my stance towards the Word that created the cosmos.

My experience with Mass brought me closer to true worship, as I noted in my conversion story, From Islam to Christ:

"The Mass was reverent and beautiful. One of the things I could not get used to in the Evangelical churches I attended was the style of worship. Neither in non-denominational nor charismatic congregations did I feel as though we were standing in the presence of God or kneeling in adoration before Him. I felt rather as though we were hanging out with our pal Jesus. If we actually believed that we were the sons and daughters of the Almighty God, who created the endless cosmos and the tiniest cell in our bodies, I thought we should fall on our knees often or at least once a week on Sundays. I loved that during the Eucharistic prayer, every man and woman knelt down in silent reverence. It was clear that there was something significant and awe-inspiring taking place. This was a Lord I would not hesitate to follow, because he had humbled himself to be my friend, even though He had created the heavens and the earth."

When I attended my first traditional Latin Mass years later in an old English church with dark walnut pews, that reverence I had experienced during my very first Mass reached a new height where the reason for those tedious [Old Testament] details about worship became clear. This was a God before whom I could kneel; a God who held our existence in his hands, yet chose to humble Himself to become one of us and suffer humiliation and death in love to save us from our own sinfulness.

As the priest and the faithful faced the Lord together, Mass was no longer oriented towards the priest, but to God. It did not matter who the priest was as long as he said the black and did the red. His personality was inconsequential. The prescribed rubrics and prayers made sure that the priest would not be the center of the worship, but stood in persona Christi with and for the people as the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass was offered, surpassing the limits of time and space.

Walking a different path

With so much in common, are our ways so very different? Take a look at this video and decide for yourself...

With the greatest respect for those truly who seek God, you do not need to be afraid to ask questions or learn more in Ireland. Have no fear. Look through this site and learn more if you want to, in the name of the Blessed Mary Ever-Virgin.

Sahih Muslim Book 001, Hadith Number 0271.

Chapter: Islam was initiated as something strange, and it would revert to its (old position) of being strange, and it would concentrate between the two mosques.

It is narrated on the authority of Ibn 'Umar ('Abdullah b. 'Umar) that the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) observed: Verily Islam started as something strange and it would again revert (to its old position) of being strange just as it started, and it would recede between the two mosques just as the serpent crawls back into its hole.

[And mention] when the angels said, “O Mary, indeed Allah gives you good tidings of a word from Him, whose name will be the Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary – distinguished in this world and the Hereafter and among those brought near [to Allah]. He will speak to the people in the cradle and in maturity and will be of the righteous.” She said, “My Lord, how will I have a child when no man has touched me?”

[The angel] said, “Such is Allah; He creates what He wills. When He decrees a matter, He only says to it, ‘Be,’ and it is. And He will teach him writing and wisdom and the Torah and the Gospel. And [make him] a messenger to the Children of Israel, [who will say], ‘Indeed I have come to you with a sign from your Lord in that I design for you from clay [that which is] like the form of a bird, then I breathe into it and it becomes a bird by permission of Allah.

And I cure the blind and the leper, and I give life to the dead – by permission of Allah. And I inform you of what you eat and what you store in your houses. Indeed in that is a sign for you, if you are believers. And [I have come] confirming what was before me of the Torah and to make lawful for you some of what was forbidden to you. And I have come to you with a sign from your Lord, so fear Allah and obey me. Indeed, Allah is my Lord and your Lord, so worship Him. That is the straight path.”

(Quran 3:45-51)

Hail Mary, full of grace.
The Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou amongst women,
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death,


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Finally, those who have not yet received the Gospel are related in various ways to the people of God.

In the first place we must recall the people to whom the testament and the promises were given and from whom Christ was born according to the flesh. On account of their fathers this people remains most dear to God, for God does not repent of the gifts He makes nor of the calls He issues. But the plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator.

In the first place amongst these there are the Muslims, who, professing to hold the faith of Abraham, along with us adore the one and merciful God, who on the last day will judge mankind. Nor is God far distant from those who in shadows and images seek the unknown God, for it is He who gives to all men life and breath and all things, and as Saviour wills that all men be saved.

Those also can attain to salvation who through no fault of their own do not know the Gospel of Christ or His Church, yet sincerely seek God and moved by grace strive by their deeds to do His will as it is known to them through the dictates of conscience. Nor does Divine Providence deny the helps necessary for salvation to those who, without blame on their part, have not yet arrived at an explicit knowledge of God and with His grace strive to live a good life.

Whatever good or truth is found amongst them is looked upon by the Church as a preparation for the Gospel. She knows that it is given by Him who enlightens all men so that they may finally have life. But often men, deceived by the Evil One, have become vain in their reasonings and have exchanged the truth of God for a lie, serving the creature rather than the Creator.

Or some there are who, living and dying in this world without God, are exposed to final despair. Wherefore to promote the glory of God and procure the salvation of all of these, and mindful of the command of the Lord, "Preach the Gospel to every creature", the Church fosters the missions with care and attention.

- Lumen Gentium


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