Yesterday’s blog contained humour from the New Yorker in an article called Netflix Documentaries Watched During Quarantine, written by the entire staff of The New Yorker. Here are some more to cheer.
“Outrageous Sexual Fetishists in Their Messy Bedrooms”
“Scientology Takes Another Beating”
“A Turd in the Hot Tub: Horror Stories from DoubleTree Cleaning Staff”
“I Filmed Myself Pulling Apart This Old Cuckoo Clock”
“Charles Manson: The Hamburg Years”
“The Secret Life of People Who Pretend to Be Chimps”
“ESPN 30 for 30: That Night Tommy Lasorda Ate Twenty-four Hotdogs”
“Michael Moore Accomplishes Nothing”
“The Plant-Based Food Revolution That Will Transform the Way You Eat for Nearly Two Weeks”
But now onto something extremely serious. Faithful readers will know that I have been studying the precepts of the Islamic faith. But a serious question came onto me: Is Allah the same God as the Old and New Testament God? Goggled the question and got an answer that makes me absolutely joyous!
Allah” is indeed the same God worshipped by Catholics and other Christians. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states: “The plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims; these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one merciful God, mankind’s judge on the last day.” (CCC, 841)
This identification of “Allah” with the God of Jesus Christ is not new. In 1076, Pope St. Gregory VII wrote a very beautiful letter to King Azir, the Islamic ruler of Mauritania. After thanking King Azir for his gifts, the Holy Father recalled God’s desire that “all men be saved and none to perish.” He then noted, “We and you must show in a special way to the other nations an example of this charity, for we believe and confess one God, although in different ways, and praise and worship Him daily as the creator of all ages and the ruler of this world.”
We find Pope St. Gregory’s position echoed in the sixth and seventh solemn prayers used on Good Friday.
In regard to the Jewish people, the sixth prayer refers to them as the people “to whom the Lord our God spoke first.” We then pray that they “may attain the fullness of redemption.” Regarding other people, including Muslims, who believe in the one true God, we pray: “Almighty and ever-living God, grant to those who do no. The Catholic Church has always upheld essential monotheistic kinship with Jewish and Muslim people.”
Catholic insistence on the equivalence of “Allah” and God has also entered the legal realm. In 2009, the Catholic bishops of Malaysia powerfully defended the position of Pope St. Gregory VII. After the Islamic government prohibited a Catholic newspaper from using the word “Allah” for God, the bishops went to court, arguing that this state-imposed restriction of “Allah” to Islam actually violated the religious freedom of Catholics whose liturgical texts used “Allah” for God.
But how can Christians and Muslims use the same name for God when Christianity and Islam are so different? To escape this apparent quandary, we need to distinguish between the generic “name” God and the many personal names attached to the divine.
Contrary to widespread belief, “Allah” is not Islam’s personal name for God. Rather, “Allah” is a contraction of two Arabic words – al-ilah – which mean “the deity.” As such, “Allah” is not a “name” but an impersonal generic “term.” To put it another way, “Allah” is simply the Arabic equivalent of Theos inGreek, Deus in Latin, El in Hebrew, and God in English. These are all nouns, not names.
When believing monotheists – whether Christian, Muslim or Jewish – pray to God in whatever language they use, the prayers all terminate at the same point: the one true God.
True prayer can arise from worshippers who have wild misunderstandings of God. Indeed, both testaments of sacred scripture contain many examples of “unorthodox” people voicing prayers to the true God. This happens because all prayer somehow emerges from and through the influence of the Holy Spirit, “who blows where he wills.” The Holy Spirit operates within religious communities whose members misunderstand or fail to grasp the fullness of divine revelation.
God does not apply a preliminary theological test before listening to a person’s sincere prayer. If someone truly believes in God, even in a fuzzy way, and utters a simple prayer, the prayer necessarily moves toward the one true God. Where else would it go? Would the Father of Jesus refuse the plea of a destitute Somalian woman concerned for the life of her child because she called upon “Allah” and did not understand how Jesus could be human and divine?
Though all monotheists – Christians, Jews and Muslims– pray to the same God, this does not mean that we share the same religion. Not at all. Believers in Judaism and Islam regard Christians as profoundly mistaken about the nature and identity of Jesus Christ. Both of these religions, precisely in defending strict monotheism, reject the Christian doctrines of the Trinity and the Incarnation, the teaching that Christis a divine person with a human and divine nature. Indeed, some monotheists even regard Christians as polytheists who supposedly believe in and worship three separate “gods” – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Of course, we aren’t polytheists, but we appear to be so, especially some Muslims.
Despite wars, violence and mutual persecutions throughout the centuries, the Catholic Church has always upheld essential monotheistic kinship with Jewish and Muslim people. The fact that we worship a common God provides a crucial foundation for eventual unity in the midst of much fear, suspicion and misunderstanding. In the end, all monotheists turn their gaze to the same One. And by looking together toward “Allah” or God, perhaps we will gradually
rediscover our common status as children of the God of Abraham, our father in faith.”
Now is not that rational, beautiful and perfect but, alas , I am not. I copied and pasted it from Google and cannot find, for the life of me, where it came from and I cannot even remember what the search was to find it. It was a Catholic Priest, obviously. I do apologize, but I am not perfect, just a poor old lady sentenced to solitary confinement.
What is most fascinating is the stand the Catholic Bishops of Malaysia took in 2009. Faithful readers will know of my connection to Malaysia – through Joo Kim Tiah, a Christian man born in Malaysia, met at the Trump International Hotel and Tower, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada on June 1, 2017. It does seem rather prophetic. The word means: accurately predicting what will happen in the future. Its synonyms are: prescient, predictive, prophetical, far-seeing, prognostic, divinatory, oracular, sibylline, apocalyptic, fateful, revelatory, inspired; rare vatic, mantic, vaticinal, vaticinatory, prognosticative, augural, adumbrative. A strange conversation with a Malaysian man, the end of August 2017. It is frighteningly prescient, prophetical and divinatory, and perhaps fateful, perhaps inspired. I must be brave.
Oh well, I am determined to spread good cheer even in the midst of this. One must have faith that we will get through it all, We must just do what we are supposed to do and I am doing it! More encouraging words tomorrow. With Love To You All, Alexis