The question was asked, “According to Catholicism, is Islam a religion or a sect?” The answer is that Islam is a religion. It is by no means a sect – to claim this is to go directly against the mind of the Church. It is a slur that emanates from prejudice and hatred, not from true knowledge which is wisdom or from a genuine Christian spirit.
Islam is one of the three monotheistic religions in which the worship of the One, Indivisible God prevails, together with Christianity and Judaism. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob – the God of Jesus Christ (His only-begotten and divine Son), Mary and Joseph – is also the God of Abraham, Hagar and Ishmael. To claim otherwise is a lie, no matter from where that claim may originate. Yes, God the Creator is Allah and Allah is God the Creator. Nowhere can this be seen more clearly than in the culture of the Maltese people where the God of Christianity – the God of Catholicism, to be precise – is referred to as Alla in the Maltese language.
Muslims worship the same God as Christians and Jews do – even though some, in all three religions, may take intense issue with this fact. Profound misunderstandings and misconceptions abound these days about Islam, especially among more than a few American Catholics, ‘professional’ or otherwise. Thus, for the sake of the truth which must always prevail, let us see what the Church says about Islam.
The teachings of the Catholic Church about Islam
“The plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place among 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” – Lumen Gentium, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church (1964).
“Then [we refer] to the adorers of God according to the conception of monotheism, the Muslim religion especially, deserving of our admiration for all that is true and good in their worship of God” – Ecclesiam Suam (1964).
“The Catholic Church rejects nothing of what is true and holy in these religions. She has a high regard for the manner of life and conduct, the precepts and doctrines which, although differing in many ways from her own teaching, nevertheless often reflect a ray of that truth which enlightens all men. Yet she proclaims and is in duty bound to proclaim without fail, Christ who is ‘the way, the truth and the life’ (Jn 1:6). In Him, in whom God reconciled all things to Himself (cf. 2 Co 5:18-19), men find the fullness of their religious life. The Church, therefore, urges her sons to enter with prudence and charity into discussion and collaboration with members of other religions. Let Christians, while witnessing to their own faith and way of life, acknowledge, preserve and encourage the spiritual and moral truths found among non-Christians, also their social life and culture.
“The Church has also a high regard for the Muslims. They worship God, who is one, living and subsistent, merciful and almighty, the Creator of heaven and earth (Cf. St. Gregory VII, Letter III, 21 to Anazir [Al-Nasir], King of Mauretania PL, 148.451A.), who has spoken to men. They strive to submit themselves without reserve to the hidden decrees of God, just as Abraham submitted himself to God’s plan, to whose faith Muslims eagerly link their own. Although not acknowledging Him as God, they venerate Jesus as a prophet, His Virgin Mother they also honor, and even at times devoutly invoke. Further, they await the day of judgment and the reward of God following the resurrection of the dead. For this reason they highly esteem an upright life and worship God, especially by way of prayer, alms-deeds and fasting. (more…)