In absolute numbers, Islam is the second largest world religion, after Christianity. It is also the religion that is growing the fastest. Well-established in the Middle East, North Africa, Pakistan, and Indonesia, it was, until recently, relatively unknown in Western countries. The arrival of Muslim immigrants in our midst raises questions of neighbourliness and reasonable accommodations. Ignorance of this religion and the cultures of its adherents can sometimes result in misunderstandings, prejudice, or discriminatory practices.
For Catholics, relations with Islam are often tainted with old conflicts and misunderstood doctrines such as «Outside of the Church there is no salvation». With Vatican II (1962-1965), the official attitude of the Church towards Muslims slowly changed. Condemnation has been replaced by dialogue, on the international, national and local levels.
As we meet and get to know our Muslim neighbours, it is important that we learn more about this religion, so that we can engage ourselves personally in dialogue, the only way to achieve fraternity and peace.
The Church looks also with esteem upon the Muslims, who adore a God who is alive and subsistent, merciful and all-powerful, creator of Heaven and Earth, who has talked to Man. They seek to submit themselves, with all their soul, to God’s decrees, even if they hide from Him, as Abraham, (whom the Koran refers to in many places), submitted himself to God. Even though they don’t recognize Jesus as God, they venerate him as a prophet; they honour his mother, the Virgin Mary, and sometimes even invoke her in piety. In addition, they await the Judgment Day, when God will remunerate all risen Men. Hence, they value the moral life, and they worship God, especially through prayer, almsgiving, and fasting. If, over the centuries, many quarrels and hostilities have arisen between Christians and Muslims, the Council urges all to forget the past, and to work sincerely for mutual understanding, as well as together protect and promote, for all Men, social justice, moral values, peace and freedom. (Vatican II, Nostra Aetate, no 3)
- Download the CCCB document: A Church in Dialogue – Catholics and Muslims in Canada
- Visit the website of the Outaouais Islamic Center.
- Participate in an interfaith dialogue in Gatineau.