Catholic Culture Podcasts
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And what is Islam, anyway?

By Dr. Jeff Mirus ( bio - articles - email ) | Jun 11, 2013

Phil Lawler rightly says Islam should become a religion of peace before Islamic scholars ask Pope Francis to declare it one. But there is a deeper problem as well. How can anyone tell what the religion of Islam really is?

Is Islam the religion professed by many of the intellectuals, including many university professors? Or is it the religion professed by theocratic politicians? Is it whatever the local mullahs say it is? Is it contained in new judgments, or fatwas, issued by a particular mufti?

Or put the question another way: How can anyone tell what any religion is? Is Christianity whatever anyone who reads the Bible thinks it is? Is it the religion of the Methodists, or the Baptists, or the Brethren of the Converted Spirit in the First Church of Downtown Whoville? Is it defined by ill-educated good old boys or degreed liberals? Does it profess the Resurrection as an historical event or as a symbol? Does it change with the culture? If so, how?

Religion without an authority principle can be real and sincere, but it is pretty hard to define, and it is apt to change. Because it is a moving target, discussing it has only limited utility. It is also very easy to abuse.

Fortunately, the papacy embodies the authority principle intrinsic to Christianity, and the Pope really can say what authentic Christianity is. But there is no more an authority principle in Islam than there is in Anglicanism. Not even the Pope can say what Islam is.

Jeffrey Mirus holds a Ph.D. in intellectual history from Princeton University. A co-founder of Christendom College, he also pioneered Catholic Internet services. He is the founder of Trinity Communications and See full bio.

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  • Posted by: - Jun. 12, 2013 9:49 PM ET USA

    Islam is a Christian heresy.

  • Posted by: kwonbbl1 - Jun. 11, 2013 8:48 PM ET USA

    Truly. "What on earth is a thing, any thing?" A question put in a generic form. Yes, what is Islam? Likewise, what is Christianity? Before we can speak and we can hear, this is the first logical step we have to go through.

  • Posted by: jg23753479 - Jun. 11, 2013 8:43 PM ET USA

    Islam is a way of life totally controlled by a book, the Koran. This is not an inspired book like the Bible, but the exact thoughts of God given supposedly to Mohammed. That is what makes its reading by Westerners so imperative. The Koran commands killing, perverted sexual practices, and other immoral actions. Anyone, even a pope, who lends Islam credibility in any way, does mankind a disservice. Far from being a great religion, it is a lie, a great historical scam. And it is a threat to us all.

  • Posted by: hartwood01 - Jun. 11, 2013 8:24 PM ET USA

    A Muslim friend once asked me why I was going to a Bible study,as they just read the Koran for themselves and rely on their individual interpretation. Therein lies the problem. The ignorant can and are easily be manipulated by mullahs of evil intent.