Beliefs Culture

Targeted Islamic outreach to Hispanics achieving results

Imam Daniel Abdullah Hernandez teaching at the masjid. RNS photo by Ken Chitwood

PEARLAND, Texas (RNS) Carlos Lopez works in the United States to earn money and send it back home to his family in Mexico. But he sends back something else, too: pamphlets and personal testimonies about his new faith.

On Dec. 22, 2013, Lopez took the “shahada” — the profession of the Islamic faith — and joined the ranks of what the American Muslim Council estimates is a 200,000 strong Hispanic Muslim community across the U.S.

Imam Daniel Abdullah Hernandez teaching at the masjid. RNS photo by Ken Chitwood

Imam Daniel Abdullah Hernandez teaching at the masjid. RNS photo by Ken Chitwood

Unlike previous generations of Hispanic Muslims who were attracted to the faith by their own spiritual explorations, Lopez and many others like him are converting as a result of targeted Islamic outreach efforts.

This new form of Islamic “da’wah,” or outreach, aims to translate being Muslim into the Spanish cultural and linguistic vernacular.

“To reach Hispanics, we have to be practical,” said Imam Daniel Abdullah Hernandez who teaches an Islam in Spanish course in Pearland, Texas, where Lopez converted. “Islam is practical, it’s social, it’s very easy to translate it into Hispanic culture, and it’s even easier to communicate it in the Spanish language.”

Hernandez teaches interested Hispanics about the basics of Islam in addition to specific elements he and others believe are important for Hispanic seekers. These topics include links between Hispanic culture and Islam, social issues such as taking care of the poor, family dynamics and differences and similarities with the Roman Catholic faith.

“Many Latinos do not know about Andalusian Spain when Islam gave birth to much of what we know as Hispanic culture today, including over 3,000 Spanish words,” said Hernandez. “We are opening their eyes to how being Latino and Muslim makes perfect sense.”

Islam in Spanish reports an increasing number of Hispanics convert as a direct result of their targeted outreach.

Still, according to the Pew Research Center, just 4 percent of Muslim Americans are of Hispanic ancestry, though one of 10 native-born U.S. Muslims are Hispanic. “The American Mosque 2011” report said the number of Latino converts has been steadily increasing since 2000, more so than any other racial or ethnic group.

As they convert, many face ostracism from their families who are predominantly Christian, often Catholic, and feel the converts are abandoning their Hispanic identity. Likewise, many Hispanic Muslims do not find a ready welcome in masjids that are largely made up of Middle Eastern, North African, South East Asian and African-American Muslims.

“My conversion was a shock for my family; they thought I rejected Jesus, Mary, my culture,” said Imam Isa Parada, one of the leaders of Islam In Spanish. “My dad thought I was going to be a terrorist.”

Likewise, Parada found the Islamic faith community did not know how to deal with Hispanics and lacked resources for Spanish-speaking converts.

Islam In Spanish is not the first organization to focus its efforts on reaching Hispanics. Another group, the Latino American Dawah Organization, existed before it and paved the way.

Shafiq Alvarado helped found LADO, which offers help and support to new Hispanic Muslims. Born into a Catholic family and of Dominican ancestry, Alvarado converted when he was 25 through the efforts of Allianza Islamica (Islamic Alliance) in New York City.

Commenting on the importance of Latino-specific outreach and organizations, Alvarado said, “We have to know who our audience is in order to explain Islam to them, and Latinos are a diverse group.”

To reach Hispanics, LADO is translating Islamic materials into Spanish and disseminating that information in new ways.

LADO spends time on university campuses among Hispanic students, provides open houses, YouTube videos and puts on events such as the North Hudson Islamic Education Center’s Hispanic Muslim Day, which features a blend of Hispanic culture and Islamic teaching.

Lopez and two other men converted in the Houston area at such an event. Now, all three are learning Arabic, taking part in daily prayers and looking forward to sharing their religion with family back in Mexico, Puerto Rico and elsewhere.

“People who become Muslims inevitably become ambassadors for Islam,” said Alvarado. “Hispanic Muslims are not sitting on the sidelines; they learn Arabic, the Quran, Islamic jurisprudence, and many other things to take that knowledge and give it back to their communities, their families,” he said.

Lopez is no different. Although he has been Muslim for just two months, he said he plans on helping his family with the newfound spiritual and social insight he found in Islam.

“As soon as I converted to Islam,” he said, “I wanted to share with my family in Mexico, so they could do the same.”


About the author

Ken Chitwood


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  • Great story on conversion to Islam and their organizing to gain converts.
    I wonder how many Moslems are in fear for their lives in Christian America for doing that. I wonder in how many Moslem countries are Christians constantly living in fear for their lives.(Almost every day brings a new pile of Christian corpses. Today Copts, yesterday Nigerians).
    And what happens to anyone who converts away from Islam in Islamic countries???

  • Thanks for the article!

    One death cult for another.

    Complete surrender to authority is always deeply appealing to many people. That is why dictators are so common in some cultures. No need to vote or make any choices. Just hand off your responsibilities and problems to a sky god. No problem, until one day when you’d like to taste some freedom.

    It is hard to know which religion is more irresponsible.
    The religious apparently don’t care who they surrender to, as long as they don’t have to think too much. Sad.

  • I am amazed by ignorant comments made about Islam. South America was terrorized by Christians and whoever didn’t covert lost their head, truth that followers of religion of love ignore intentionally or because they uneducated. Now that Hispanics choosing the religion they like better, everybody so “concerned’. May God guide all people to his true religion, and away from man-modified religions.

  • Its not that Fundamentalist Christians don’t want to set up similar theocratic regimes as the Islamicists, its that they face much more resistance to do it. Damn democracy getting in the way.

    If Muslims in American don’t fear for their lives from Christians, its not because you haven’t been trying. Its just you face more obstacles.

  • “The stories here are all about religion”–of course editors choose what stories to print and which to feature. That is one reason why all the atheist led slaughter and butchery of the 20th Century has been relegated to George Orwell’s “Memory Hole” as in the book “1984.” I wonder how many atheists have taken time to read “The Gulag Archipelago” by Alexander Solzenytzin or a history of Stalin’s starvation to death of millions of Ukrainians or the millions of victims of Mao’s “Great Leap Forward.”
    Sadly, human beings have a penchant for violence and killing if the circumstances are ripe for it.

  • @Deacon,
    I’ll take credit for Stalin, the atheist.
    If you’ll take credit for Hitler, the Catholic.

    Or are we done slandering by association?

    Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson, Sigmund Freud and Einstein never burned witches. That is my kind of Atheism.

    On the other hand, the Christian has a warrant from God Himself to hate almost every sinner: Jews, Gays, Unbelievers, Idolators, Unruly children, etc.

    “Bring to me those my enemies of mine, And execute them in front of me.” – Jesus (Luke 19:27)[from the parable of the 12 Minas, perhaps the most horrible words sentence in the bible, and Hitler’s favorite]

    “It is better to cut off your hand and throw it away if it causes you to stumble..” – Jesus (Mark 5:30)

  • And yet the atheists are not the ones using government power to prevent the creation of privately constructed houses of worship or attacking the free exercise of religion of minority faiths. That is a purely Christian enterprise in this country. Go figure. The people who do not have any religious beliefs have more respect for the beliefs of others than Christians.

  • To compare Islamic theology with Christian Theology shows a lack of understanding of both. Islam believes in an irrational God, that God is Will, not Reason. Therefore Islam is not about rational understanding of God, but about submission to Allah’s will. There is no morality as Westerners understand it. Something is either obligatory, permitted (halal), discouraged or forbidden (haram). Nothing is intrinsically right or wrong, things are either right or wrong solely because Allah deems them so. He could declare murder obligatory and stealing permitted and that would mean that it was moral. There is not natural law. Only the Will. Christianity is the marriage of Reason and Faith, as the 1st chapter of the Gospel of John relates, that God is the Word, Logos, reason. Christianity was greatly hellenized with Aristotle and Plato (Aquinas and Augustine respectfully) while Islam rejected reason and philosophy of the 9th-11th Century Mu’Tazalites in favor of an irrational, faith ideology based on occasionalism and voluntarism through the triumph of the Ash’arites and Al-Ghazali who put the nails in the coffin of reason and philosophy for the Dar al-Islam (abode of Islam). For a great work on this, see Robert Reilly’s book, The Closing of the Muslim Mind: How intellectual Suicide Created the Modern Islamist Crisis. You can listen for free to 2 lectures he gave from the book at Institute of Catholic Culture .org’s website. Highly recommended

  • Actually, let us look at the fruits of Christianity, which so many Western secularists and atheists take for granted. The fact is, the concept of human rights, the scientific method, the University system, the hospitals, freedom of conscience…all this and so much more is the spiritual, political, intellectual and cultural capital inherited from Christian, specifically Catholic contributions that the West continues to cash in on. The problem we see today is that the capital is drying up as ignorance increases and people lose understanding and knowledge of their common heritage. If we want to see Secularist Atheism at work, we will see a system that has dehumanized and killed more people in one century than all the religious wars ever recorded through history combined. Nazi Germany, Soviet, specifically Stalinist Russia, Communist China, specifically Mao, Communist Khmer Rouge Cambodia (Pol Pot), and the over 53 million unborn babies in America alone sacrificed on the altar of an atheist ideology that devalues human life because it, like Islam, does not believe that mankind is created in the image of God.

  • @Nathan,

    There are too many flaws in your argument to expand beyond the Hitler part.

    For the record:
    The Nazis were religious as much as National Socialist. Most of the SS guard were confessing Catholics. “Reign of the Aryan Race” is a godly matter and Hitler was a Catholic who put “Gott Mit Uns” (God with Us) on every Nazi belt buckle.

    Hitler saw himself as a ‘soldier for Christ’, “The shape of evil, of the enemy of our Savior – is in the shape of the Jew.” (Hitler/ Mein Kampf)

    Hitler’s favorite parable:
    “..Bring those enemies of mine, EXECUTE THEM in front of me.” – Jesus (Luke 19:27)
    From the ‘Parable of the 12 Minas’, perhaps the most dangerous story in the Bible.

    Head out of sand, please.

  • @Nathan,
    You said, “Christianity is the marriage of Reason and Faith”

    Then why is it so incoherent?
    All-knowing God makes Mankind knowing most of His favorite creatures are doomed to Hell – so He MUST later become man Himself to sacrifice Himself to death to ‘save’ mankind from the Hell He built for them!

    Why didn’t he just ‘save’ us? Why all this unbelievable nonsense?
    It is Unreasonable to believe this and OUTRAGEOUS to insist on it.

  • Yes. Atheism IS better.
    This story should open some people’s eyes
    about the futility of chasing God philosophies around.
    They are interchangeable because they are the same untruth.

  • Great question Max. When discussing these issues, as we should, it is important not to attack a straw man or a caricature, but what the faith actually teaches. As there are 30K+ protestant denominations, if you would oblige me and limit our discussion to Catholicism and apostolic Christianity (Churches that can date continuously and uninterruptedly back to Jesus and the Apostles, such as the various Eastern Orthodox, and the 22 Catholic Churches, Roman, Maronite, Melkite, Byzantine, Armenian etc that recognize the authority of the Bishop of Rome). Can you show me where they teach definitively that most are doomed to hell?

    The second comment I would make is that, unlike Islam, primarily Sunni but wide spread throughout Shia Islam as well, the occasionalism and voluntarism embedded within it prevents the idea of man having free will. In Islam, everything is the result of first cause and secondary causes are not permitted. To insist that man has free will is to deny the omnipotence of God. If God is omnipotent, than I cannot be so much as potent, otherwise it diminishes the power of God. To insist otherwise is to commit shirk, blasphemy. In Christianity, man is made in the image of God, meaning he has free will and a conscience. Both of those essences would be impossible if God were to force us to be good, to choose the good and reject the evil. To force love is not love. And despite the insistence by our hippie feel good brethren, love is not free but love freely binds itself to the other. It obligates itself to another. Islam teaches God is Will, Power. Jesus taught that God is Love. Love does not override the human will, but builds upon it.

    It is no so much that God sends anyone to hell, but rather that people who end up there chose to be there. What is meant by Heaven is the beatific vision, a union with God (also rejected by post Ash’arite Sunni Islam, but finds support among certain Sufi traditions). God is not going to override the human will, so if a person chose in their mortal life to reject God, he is not going to force that person to spend eternity with him. Hell is the negation of heaven, the eternal separation from God. A person spends their entire earthly life rejecting God, he will respect their decision. In fact, many Catholic theologians and some protestant (in this example, Anglo-Catholic) ones like C.S. Lewis believe that people will naturally gravitate to that which they had trained their own soul to be attracted to in this life, and to shun what they shunned in this life. C.S. Lewis illustrated it this way: “I willingly believe that the damned are, in one sense, successful, rebels to the end; that the doors of hell are locked on the inside.”

  • Yes, there was definitely a pagan element in the the NS Kulture. But if you read the Nazi “theologian” Alfred Rosenberg’s reasoning for it (See his book Myth of the 20th Century) you will quickly realize from their own words that it was purely utilitarian, that the concept was myth as power, not as truth. Very few were actually occultists like Himmler. NS was officially and systematically anti-Catholic. The fact that many of its members drew upon a citizenry that happened to be Lutheran and Catholic, does not mean that its tenets were favorable to either. The Catholic Church was systematically oppressed in the Third Reich, many sent to death camps (read the brave story of St. Maximillian Kolbe). It was Catholic Bavaria that resisted the nazis rise among the Reichstag the longest, and many Catholic theologians had to flee (Like Dietrich Von Hildebrand). By 1933 all Catholic newspapers in Germany were band, including the still in-print German-American Catholic newspaper, The Wanderer. The Catholic Center party ws banned, many shipped off to camps, When Pope Pius Xi issued his anti-Nazi encyclical Mit brennender Sorge (‘With Burning Anxiety’) in March 1937, it was met with a Nazi purge, and denunciations of the pope as the “Chief Rabbi of Christians,” the “Judah of Rome.” No serious scholar would ever say that The Nazi’s were sympathetic to Catholicism, the examples to the contrary are overwhelming and horrific.

    As far as your reference to Christ’s PARABLE, it is a story about stewardship of God’s gifts, about the consequences of a life lived well, and a life lived wickedly. About eternal reward and punishment, but also as a prophecy of the fall Jerusalem in 70 AD. I point you to the parable’s parallel text in Matthew 25:14-30. To take a scripture out of context, to read it divorced from the teaching of the whole, and to insist upon one’s interpretation (especially if one isn’t a believer) is simply cheap tactic, poor form, and intellectually dishonest. Try reading actual Catholic commentaries on the verse. Again, if you want to attack a religion, attack what it teaches, not what you interpret their scriptures to mean, otherwise you will be fighting a figment of your own imagination, a straw man of your own making.

  • Hi again Max,
    Reading through my post I could see where my excitement led to some unfair polemic, “cheap tactic, etc.” You don’t deserve that, your questions and challenges are obviously shared after some reflection on your part, and I think they air prevailing views and attitudes that need to be discussed. Please accept my apologies, and know that my polemic was most certainly against the ideas being posited, and not at against your person. I will do better in not blurring the two when responding to your objections.

    Another comment on NS Ideology, Rosenberg’s book, which is quite an interesting read if for no other reason than it gives a privileged view from inside Nazi thinking, is regarding their cultic experiment with paganism. Never were they actually promulgating an actual religion as recognizeable by any person of any faith tradition, but an ideology that would serve to promote their racial health program. It was fabricated, a myth, but not in their view the same as a lie, as in their view a myth is true inasmuch as it serves their ends. In no way were they trying to draw anyone into holiness or relationship with/surrender to (Christianity) or submission (Islam) to God. They were simply trying to manufacture a belief (ideology) that would serve an earthly purpose, not a divine one. Even if that meant divinizing a race of people, and demonizing others, it remained purely humanistic–race centered, and not theistic–God centered. In this sense, even their paganism was atheistic.

  • @NATHAN,

    First, Paganism is belief in gods. Atheists do not believe in ANY gods. We Atheists have nothing to do with Paganism.
    Second, You will miss the message of Jesus if you miss the lesson of Hitler!

    Christians have been trying to discredit Hitler’s faith for decades, turning their eyes away from countless history books. From the earliest formation of the Nazi party he expressed his Christian support to the German citizenry and soldiers. He was baptized as Roman Catholic in Austria, attended a monastery school and was a communicant and an altar boy in the Catholic Church.

    Hitler was confirmed as a “SOLDIER of CHRIST” and his goal was to become a priest. He was never excommunicated or condemned and the church had stated that he was “Avenging for God” in attacking the Jews for they deemed the Semites the killers of Jesus.

    Hitler was given veto power over whom the Pope could appoint as a bishop in Germany and forged a treaty whereas the National Socialist state was officially recognized by the Catholic Church. In a letter to the Nazi party, he wrote “…this treaty shows the whole world clearly and unequivocally that the assertion that National Socialism is hostile to religion is a lie.”

    He allied with Pope Pius in converting German society and made a deal with the church whereas the church absorbed Nazi ideals and preached them as part of their sermons, and in turn, Hitler placed Catholic teachings in public education. This lead to Hitler enacting doctrines of the Church as law. He outlawed all abortion, raged a death war on all homosexuals, and demanded corporal punishment in schools and home.

    Hitler was quoted, “The National Socialist State professes its allegiance to positive Christianity. It will be its honest endeavor to protect both the great Christian Confessions in their rights, to secure them from interference with their doctrines (Lehren), and in their duties to constitute a harmony with the views and the exigencies of the State of today…Providence has caused me to be Catholic, and I know therefore how to handle this Church.”

    In fact, the Holocaust grew out of Hitler’s Christian education due mainly to Jews having an inferior status in Christian Austria and Germany. The Christians there blamed the Jews for the killing of Jesus and the hatred that Hitler fostered against Jewish people began from the preaching of Catholic priests and Protestant ministers throughout Germany. It is well known that Martin Luther held a livid hatred for Jews and their religion. Luther wrote a book titled “On the Jews and their Lies” which set the standard for Jewish hatred all the way up to World War 2.
    Hitler, of course was an admirer of Martin Luther.

    The Nazis began to control schools insisting that Christianity was taught. They included anti-Semitic Christian writings in textbooks and were not removed from Christian doctrines until 1961. Nazi soldiers wore religious symbols and placed religious sayings on military gear. The official army belt buckle read “God With Us”. They got sprinkled with holy water and listened to Catholic sermons before going out on maneuvers. The Nazis had a secret service called the “SS Reich” that would act as spies on the dealings of other citizens and if anyone was suspected of heresy they would be prosecuted.

    Here is Hitler’s commitment to Christianity:
    “We were convinced that the people needs and requires this faith. We have therefore undertaken the fight against the atheistic movement, and that not merely with a few theoretical declarations: we have stamped it out.” -Adolf Hitler, in a speech in Berlin on 24 Oct. 1933

    “My feelings as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them and who, God’s truth! In boundless love as a Christian and as a man I read through the passage which tells us how the Lord at last rose in His might and seized the scourge to drive out of the Temple the brood of vipers and adders. How terrific was His fight for the world against the Jewish poison. To-day, after two thousand years, with deepest emotion I recognize more profoundly than ever before the fact that it was for this that He had to shed His blood upon the Cross. As a Christian I have no duty to allow my self to be cheated, but I have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice… And if there is anything which could demonstrate that we are acting rightly it is the distress that daily grows . For as a Christian I have also a duty to my own people.” -Adolf Hitler, in a speech on 12 April 1922

    “Christianity could not content itself with building up its own altar; it was absolutely forced to undertake the destruction of the heathen altars. Only from this fanatical intolerance could its apodictic faith take form; this intolerance is, in fact, its absolute presupposition.” -Adolf Hitler Mein Kampf

    “Hence today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord.” -Adolf Hitler (Mein Kampf)

    Yes – Hitler is gone.
    But the Bible unfortunately is still with us…
    To be used again and again to spread its lies about Jews and to inflame the same hatreds whenever history feels the time is right!

  • @NATHAN,
    There is no good use for this line in the Bible:

    “..Bring those enemies of mine, EXECUTE THEM in front of me.” – Jesus (Luke 19:27)

    Contemplate for one moment the horrors visited upon supposed witches, Gays, Jews, Autistic people, the wife who has an affair, the man who has an affair, masturbators, over-eaters…

    There are NO guidelines, no checks and balances! No ‘miss-reading’ should be possible from a ‘perfect god!’

    Rather, we need to wake up that it is absolute nonsense.

  • @Nathan,

    You said, “C.S. Lewis believed that people will naturally gravitate to that which they had trained their own soul to be attracted to in this life…”

    C.S. was a lazy thinker. Naturally most of us seek fairness, justice, love and kinship.

    But Walk through a Children’s Hospital and you will know there is no God.
    All the ‘training’ of your ‘soul’ to love everything beautiful works AGAINST the claims of religion:

    “I prayed for Jesus and he saved the Atheist’s daughter”
    “I prayed to Jesus but my daughter died anyway.”

    The cruelty, the toll of self-abjection, the self-hatred of one’s own intuition and critical thought required to square those two sentences to force a real Jesus into existence – should awaken the Atheist in anyone.

    The inhuman cruelty in saying “God works in mysterious ways” to apologize for the absence of this God is a deep self-abnegation.
    Heaven is silent – for a reason.

  • The two are a lot more alike than members of either faith are willing to admit to themselves and each other. Your attempt to elevate Christianity at Islam’s expense show that neither religion is really worthy of respect. Six of one, half a dozen of the other.

    Both claim to have an egalitarian streak (Slave and Monarch alike are the same before God/Allah) yet both are are essentially autocratic. Neither Christianity nor Islam have a real morality to them. The major difference being Islam puts in text what is subtext to Christians. That any bad acts are OK if done on behalf of God.

    Your definition of morality is non-existent, yet very Christian-centric. To you, something is only immoral if God tells you so. You attack Islam for not using such definitions. But yours is actually rather arbitrary, capricious and lacks any kind of moral reflection.

    As for reason, if Christianity was so devoted to reason, we would not have Creationists. We would not have Christians arguing to attack civil rights of others.

    If you really want to know when Islam went from being far in advance of Christendom to falling behind, don’t look for prejudicial pat, self-satisfying excuses in culture. Robert Reilly is not an objective historian.

    Look at the objective history here. The Mongols destroyed the Caliphate and much of the urban development of Central Asia. Imagine the Pope being dragged out of the Vatican and killed on the spot with Rome, Paris, The only reason it didn’t happen to the Christian world was Genghis Khan had a heart attack right before his forces reached. Eastern Europe. Western Civilization got lucky.

  • The fact that atheism does not have an outreach program is by itself a clear admission by atheists that they themselves do not have a firm conviction that there is no Creator.

    Muslims do not suffer from this lack of conviction in their faith regarding this fundamental belief.

  • Religion’s worst problem has always been bigotry. Too many sects act as if they are the only true one, and all others wrong and evil. I don’t think religion can ever overcome that problem. It is an awful contradiction because bigotry always comes from ignorance. Bigotry is always evil. And religion claims to be a search for what is good. If the creating God is infinite perfection, how can finite creatures ever know the creator and practice the evil of bigotry in the name of that infinite perfection?

  • Almost everywhere Christians evangelized, that evangelization was accompanied by evil. But Christianity, by no means, monopolizes that tactic. History discloses that force and evil have been part and parcel of most evangelization. Even the Old Testament of the Jewish-Christian bible includes stories of evil force. The New Testament moderated that somewhat, but unfortunately those who have evangelized the New Testament have too frequently accompanied that evangelization with evil. Consider Junipero Sera and his missionaries in our Southwest. Consider the fatahs of Islam. Consider the snake in Eden!

  • Deacon John, you can rave on about all the evils of humankind while ignoring the evils of followers of the bible. What about the stories of wretched inhumanity in the Old Testaments? What about the Crusades and the Inquisitions? What about Pope Pius IX abducting a young Jewish boy and forcing him to live as a Christian, playing hide-and-seek with him under his big cape, brain-washing him and eventually ordaining him a priest?

    What about the “good” nuns who used to scare and beat us into submission, what they considered obedience? What about the ugly attitudes of Ted Cruz, Jerry Falwell, and Pat Robertson. Oh yeah, and Ralph Reed from Georgia who led the Moral Majority and then went for bigger bucks by getting involved in sacred, crooked tactics with Jack Abraham, the King of K St. by cheating the Indians out of their casino earnings on their reservations.

    Evil is human. Every group shares in evil practices, even religious groups. The moral evolution of all people has not kept pace with their physical evolution.

  • Hello Larry,

    there was no attempt to elevate Christianity at the expense of Islam in my words, only contrast and comparison. And as you admit that you respect neither religion, you reveal your anti-Muslim and anti-Christian bigotry. Bigotry blinds people, which can explain how you were able to completely mix up what I wrote. I never defined morality as being something imposed by God, but rather argued for Natural Law, and that God helps reveal to man, not dictate to man, how to discern between good and evil. Islam believes that something is either good or evil only because God deems it so, not because of what is inherent in the act itself. You were right on to believe such a concept of morality is “rather arbitrary, capricious and lacks and kind of moral reflection,” which was my point entirely, and the point of many muslim reformers and observers.

    You mixed that one up, so it didn’t come as a surprise when I found you getting your chronology messed up too, by blaming the fall of reason and philosophy in the Muslim world on the Mongols. The fact is, after enjoying only a brief golden age under the Mu’Tazalite (MTz) friendly al-Mamun (ruled 813-833) caliphate and the Abbasyids, the MTz school was officially opposed my Caliph Jaa’far al Mutawakkil (reigned 847-861). In fact, there were Caliph Qadir’s credal proclamations against the Mtz in 1017, Hanbalite demonstrations in the 1060s, and great favor shown by the Seljuq sultans and their wazir Nizam al-Mulk. By the 12th Century there was no more influential MtZ precence and by the 13th Century, the Abbasid Age, MtZ was no longer a force. Al-Ghazai is the second most important teacher in Islam, second only to Muhammed himself. His was the influence that promoted the Ash’Arite schoold of thought, that denied the primacy of reason among many other problems, that continue to plague the muslim world today. Even 100 years after al-Ghazali, brave souls were trying to reason within Islam, from the use of Aristotelian ethics. However, that was short lived, and the Caliphate’s burning of the books (but many rescued by Jewish and Catholic scholars) of Averroes (and any lingering Avicenna among them) in Cordoba of 1195, preceeded by some 60 years before the Mongols even began their invasion.

    The history, present and future of Islam and the Middle East cannot be understood without dealing with the theology behind the history, present and future of Islam. Robert Reilly’s “subjectivity” is of one who has worked, lived and studied among muslims. He builds upon muslim scholars ranging from late antiquity, the middle ages and modern times. It takes a monotheist to understand a monotheist, and the main subjective bias that would diqualify someone from such a scholarly study is not one’s adherence to a monotheistic faith, but really one’s rejection of any theism whatsoever. Just as the best translation of Dante’s Divine Comedy has never been from one outside of faith itself, nor did the best translation come from linguists and etymologists,. No, the best translation of the Divine Comedy comes from Longfellow, a man not even Catholic, though a man of faith. His has proven time and again the English translation most sought after, because, afterall, it takes a poet to understand a poet. An atheist will always be looking in from the outside in such matters, and always offering little to the solution of such problems, because they simply discount the obvious.

    For an atheist’s view of Islam that really reinforces not only what Reilly continues to teach, but what Muslim reformers themselves say about the path that Islam has taken, I suggest reading former Somali Muslim, then Dutch MP, now American atheist, Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s book, Infidel.

    You show your ignorance of the contributions of Christianity, when you divorce the concept of civil rights from its origins and promulgation by people of faith, precisely because they believe that man is made in the image of God. The entire Western idea of human and civil rights was born from the bosom of Christianity, and every honest atheistic scholar recognizes this. The history of ideas can be laborious, but it is worth the effort, if for no other reason than to know the why and not just the how.

    Unfortunately, I don’t have any more time to devote to this, I will read and ponder whatever response you give, but this will have to be my last contribution to this matter, as a new work week begins (something everyone of every stripe can relate to). I do recommend exploring institute of catholic culture .org website and listening to the many lectures by serious scholars on a wide range of topics. You seem to be a history buff, so you would be able to appreciate the very long view and pivotal role played by the Catholic Church. It may prove valuable to you.

  • Hello Max,

    I chuckled a bit when I read your comment about C.S. Lewis being a lazy thinker. I don’t know that any such accusation was ever foisted upon him before. One thing he wrote that really gives great insight and unpackages nicely the Christian response to evil and pain in the world, is his short work appropriately called, The Problem of Pain. I am encouraged by your objections though, because by them you reveal a sense that cruelty, hatred, evil, pain, suffering, that all of these seem to deny the existence of God. But in th=aking that route, you reveal that if there is a God, then he must be Good, Loving, Compassionate etc…you seem to instinctively know that, otherwise the existence of the opposite in the world wouldn’t provide you with such a paradox and be such a stumbling block for you. But you are not alone, and yes there are answers, if you wish to seek them. But there will never be answers for everything, no matter what measuring stick you use atheism or Catholicism or whatever. Catholicism doesn’t claim to know everything about God, but nor does it make the mistake that many Muslims make, that nothing about God can be known except for that which he directly revealed in the Qu’Ran. Catholicism teaches that God is a mystery, but a mystery is not something about which nothing can be know, but only something about which not everything can be known. I think if you dig a little deeper, you find something far more beautiful and true than the picture you paint about Christianity, and religion in general. You say walk through Children’s hospital you will know there is no God. I say walk through Children’s hospital and you will know there is a God. There were no hospitals before the Catholic Church, compelled by its love of God and neighbor and sound Christian doctrine, created them. I really do wish you would read C.S. Lewis’s Problem of Pain, it can help you at least resolve this issue for you. But we always will ask why, and Jesus understands this, and even united our sufferings with his own when he cried the same from the cross “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”

    We willing subject ourselves to pain, hunger, deprivation and sacrifice for a brief earthly reward of physical health, that will pass away even before we die. And yet when it comes to enduring the same, even consecrating our pain and sacrifice for rewards that will not pass away but pass into eternity, so many seem to find this unacceptable. Seems a bit bit foolish doesn’t it, to accept pain and sacrifice for momentary rewards, but reject it for everlasting ones?

    In any event, as I informed Larry, I am not going to be able to spend any more time on this issue, I have a new work week and must move on. I will read your reply but unfortunately will not be able to respond. Best wishes.

  • Also, God was not compelled to become incarnate and to suffer, die and rise again. You are right, He could have chosen to do so in some other way. But He didn’t. He chose the Cross. He did so to show us, to prove to us in the midst of our struggles, and pain and hardships, how much He loves us. That nothing can separate us from His love. He wanted to give us His greatest possible gift…Himself. But He did have to do it in a way that respects free will, the image of God stamped into every human being. He doesn’t impose Himself upon us. He invites. And part of that invitation is risk, love is always a risky business. And He risked that some would see His sacrifice, and turn away. And this saddens Him deeply. He loves you Max with an everlasting love, a love that is willing to pour itself out, to be brutally tortured and crucified for you, a love that will not let any failing or shortcoming or sin bar you from access to His great and abundant gifts. You only have to come to Him.

  • Hi Max,

    I read through your accusations about Hitler, Pius XII etc. It is a production of modern historical revisionism, conspiracy theory, that has been disproven time and again. It sounds like you have drank the kool-aid (actually it was Flavor-Aid) of John Cornwell. I suggest reading Rabbi David Dalen’s refutation of Cornwell in his book The Myth of Hitler’s Pope: Pope Pius XII And His Secret War Against Nazi Germany. I can tell that you believe the facts speak for themselves, and there is much of what you wrote that isn’t fact, but some that are, but the truth is a much more intriguing and compelling story. Diplomacy is not a sign of weakness or capitualation, though those two accusations will always be the unwelcome companions of such endeavors as they always have been and always will be. The Church save hundreds of thousands of Jews, by hiding them in monastaries, issuing fake baptismal records, and a vast smuggling network. All this would have been impossible without diplomatic recourse.

    The religious affiliation of some of the members does not equate the religious teaching of their communities. Most of the Bolshevik leadership were Jews, the “father” of Communism was a Jew, but it would be absurd to assert that Communism is Jewish and favorable to Jews. The same is true for other communities.

  • @NATHAN,

    Hitler was Catholic. To say that he was a bad Catholic or a good Catholic is not my problem, but yours.

    Hezbollah and Hamas do many good things for the poor people in Palestinian lands. Medicine, food, etc. Does that make Islam true?
    Mormons do good works elsewhere – does that prove Mormonism? Absolutely not.

    Good works do not make Catholicism TRUE.
    I care about what is true. God doesn’t appear to be true – at all.

  • For all atheist none believers, learn your history than gossip… more than likely you will have nothing left two

  • Martha if it so… keep it to yourself no need to voice your close mind… learn history laterally… if if this ridiculousness was false there would not be a billion plus…

  • Rick, first and foremost, LATINOS are ANGLOS from ITALY… learn history stop the MONKEY SEE MONKEY DO… if you believe in JESUSCRHIST learn his original message, in the hebrew language -salama-english- submission-espanol-submission…. i implore you for the sake of your soul..

  • Martha, revisa la historia real! Islam es la religion natal! If it so rediculous why bother voiceing your close mind! If you dont know squat about islam dont say nada!!! Explain your atheism believe n ill show you all the theories you all have!!!

  • Look at the muslims by the Qur’an! Dont look at islam by the muslims!!! The media has done an outstanding job to assasinate the charecter of muslims! If you hear of muslims killing innocent people, they are more than likely hollywood missionary who put on the colture clothing grab a gun and say its in the name of god… all along they are in the payroll of real TERRORIST like the UNITEDSTATES!!! Salam-peace

  • Wow. Converting to a religion, where drinking alcohol is a bigger offense than killing an unbeliever or apostate.
    I guess, those converts will leave islam once they realize they were only told half the story, just like the other 75% of muslim converts according to studies.

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