Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Dialogue With Muslims

Q - How do we engage in authentic Christian dialogue with Muslims about faith? It seems very difficult to relate because our Sacred Scripture is different.

A - Thanks for the question. Yes, dialogue with Muslims can be very difficult. They have a different understanding of the nature of God, human nature, salvation, the afterlife, how God reveals Himself to us, the dignity of the human person, etc.

Many of the basic truths we take for granted will be foreign to many Muslims. But, this isn't to say that evangelizing them is impossible.

The first thing you need to do is educate yourself in what the Catholic Church teaches. Otherwise your evangelization will be limited, due to an ignorance about how to explain your own faith.

Next, you need to educate yourself in what Islam teaches - from a Catholic view. There are several good books out currently that talk about Islam from a Catholic perspective. Here are a few:
**Inside Islam: A Guide for Catholics by Daniel Ali
**111 Questions on Islam: Samir Khalil Samir on Islam and the West by Giorgio Paolucci and Camille Eid

I would start a dialogue with a Muslim by asking questions about their beliefs - even if you know the answers. The point is to get them to think about what they believe and why. You can ask pointed questions, but don't do so in order to win a discussion.

You might also focus on the appreciation for the Virgin Mary. Muslims do not see her as the Mother of God (since they believe Jesus is just a prophet), but they do think she is a great woman. Try to find some common ground with Mary.

Next, I would talk about the Bible and the Koran. How God has revealed Himself to us is a big difference and a path to conversion.

Other topics might include:
-The Trinity - but be careful in this discussion, many Muslims will be offended by the thought of three persons and one God. Many of them see Christians as polytheists, because of their ignorance of the Trinity.
-The Scriptures - Try to focus on the reasons why the Bible is inspired Scripture and why it is reliable. Many Muslims believe the Bible as we have it today, is corrupted from the original manuscripts.

Whatever you do, remember to pray before, during, and after these discussions. Most Muslims idea of Christianity is way off-base. So, if you can continue to educate them about what the Catholic Church is really all about, you are doing a good job evangelizing them.

Other tips:
-Be welcoming and hospitable. This is very important to Middle Eastern Muslims especially.
-Allow them the proper time to explain what they believe. Give them adequate time to talk.
-Be a friend.
-Stick to the basics of Christianity. The details can come later.
-Highlight commonalities.
-Don't ignore differences.

God bless.

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