Rorate Caeli

Islam's Ring of Fire is a consequence of a God beyond all reason

Copts pray inside the Church of St. Moses (Moussa),
destroyed by Muslim rioters in Minya, Egypt,
Aug. 14-15, 2013

A ring of fire seems to surround and cross right through the Islamic world, as if some violent power were inherent to the Islamic mind, and this once again is made clear - well, it is made clear week after week - by the current situation in Egypt, where the weakest links, Christians, are suffering the most.

Why is there such violence in the Muslim spirit that seems to inflame everything and everyone it touches? One hundred years ago, Fr. Gabriel Oussani (no stranger to Islam, as someone born and raised in Turkish Baghdad and Mosul in the late 19th century) penned this concluding paragraph to his Catholic Encyclopedia article on Mohammed and Mohammedanism that we have already posted here, and that should remain in the memory of Christians at all times:

In matters political Islam is a system of despotism at home and of aggression abroad. The Prophet commanded absolute submission to the imam. In no case was the sword to be raised against him. The rights of non-Moslem subjects are of the vaguest and most limited kind, and a religious war is a sacred duty whenever there is a chance of success against the "Infidel". Medieval and modern Mohammedan, especially Turkish, persecutions of both Jews and Christians are perhaps the best illustration of this fanatical religious and political spirit.

The central point and the origin of such despotism and agression is, of course, the understanding of God in Islam. That was the open wound that a great Pope dared to touch seven years ago. As Oussani was right a century ago, Benedict XVI was right in September 2006: a God that is beyond reason is a God that demands and sanctions unreasonableness, disorder, and violence. In Regensburg, Pope Ratzinger spoke truth.

The university [of Bonn] was also very proud of its two theological faculties. It was clear that, by inquiring about the reasonableness of faith, they too carried out a work which is necessarily part of the "whole" of the universitas scientiarum, even if not everyone could share the faith which theologians seek to correlate with reason as a whole. This profound sense of coherence within the universe of reason was not troubled, even when it was once reported that a colleague had said there was something odd about our university: it had two faculties devoted to something that did not exist: God. That even in the face of such radical scepticism it is still necessary and reasonable to raise the question of God through the use of reason, and to do so in the context of the tradition of the Christian faith: this, within the university as a whole, was accepted without question.

I was reminded of all this recently, when I read the edition by Professor Theodore Khoury (Münster) of part of the dialogue carried on - perhaps in 1391 in the winter barracks near Ankara - by the erudite Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus and an educated Persian on the subject of Christianity and Islam, and the truth of both. It was presumably the emperor himself who set down this dialogue, during the siege of Constantinople between 1394 and 1402; and this would explain why his arguments are given in greater detail than those of his Persian interlocutor. The dialogue ranges widely over the structures of faith contained in the Bible and in the Qur'an, and deals especially with the image of God and of man, while necessarily returning repeatedly to the relationship between - as they were called - three "Laws" or "rules of life": the Old Testament, the New Testament and the Qur'an. It is not my intention to discuss this question in the present lecture; here I would like to discuss only one point - itself rather marginal to the dialogue as a whole - which, in the context of the issue of "faith and reason", I found interesting and which can serve as the starting-point for my reflections on this issue.

In the seventh conversation (διάλεξις - controversy) edited by Professor Khoury, the emperor touches on the theme of the holy war. The emperor must have known that surah 2, 256 reads: "There is no compulsion in religion". According to some of the experts, this is probably one of the suras of the early period, when Mohammed was still powerless and under threat. But naturally the emperor also knew the instructions, developed later and recorded in the Qur'an, concerning holy war. Without descending to details, such as the difference in treatment accorded to those who have the "Book" and the "infidels", he addresses his interlocutor with a startling brusqueness, a brusqueness that we find unacceptable, on the central question about the relationship between religion and violence in general, saying: "Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.” The emperor, after having expressed himself so forcefully, goes on to explain in detail the reasons why spreading the faith through violence is something unreasonable. Violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul. "God", he says, "is not pleased by blood - and not acting reasonably (σὺν λόγω) is contrary to God's nature. Faith is born of the soul, not the body. Whoever would lead someone to faith needs the ability to speak well and to reason properly, without violence and threats... To convince a reasonable soul, one does not need a strong arm, or weapons of any kind, or any other means of threatening a person with death...".

The decisive statement in this argument against violent conversion is this: not to act in accordance with reason is contrary to God's nature. The editor, Theodore Khoury, observes: For the emperor, as a Byzantine shaped by Greek philosophy, this statement is self-evident. But for Muslim teaching, God is absolutely transcendent. His will is not bound up with any of our categories, even that of rationality.


  1. The Muslim Brotherhood is a terrorist organization. They have been portrayed as 'peacefully sitting in' while they have attacked and burned about 2 dozen and more churches in the last few days. Their 'peaceful' sit-ins in Cairo were the scene of torture, murders, rapes and more, a mini-terror state in the midst of Cairo. Egypt's only hope is to crush this truly evil and hate filled mob that destroys everything it touches.

  2. Anonymous4:20 PM

    And, unfortunately:

    "May Saint John Baptist protect Islam and all the people of Jordan."

    Blessed John Paul II
    March 21, 2000

  3. Muslims killing Muslims seems to be the rule in Egypt, Libya, Syria, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq and other places. Hopefully the communication revolution will help Muslims see themselves for what they are. This bloodletting will intensify if women demand a minimum of liberties. The Christians always pay with Muslim upheaval. Not a religion of Reason.

  4. I find the reasoning of Muslims very far off balance. They can destroy Christian Churches and slay Christians and think nothing of it. But if Christians done this to a Mosque and slayed Muslims then Muslims would start mass rioting, slaying Christians and destroying our Churches, all the while condemning those evil "Crusaders". Pope Benedict XVl, after the Regensburg speech, was harshly and publicly condemned by one Cardinal Bergoglio. I wonder if it is recorded in history what the opinion of St. Francis of Assisi was, concerning the Islamic extremists. Did St. Francis ignore and condemn faithful Catholics and go out to embrace Muslims.

  5. "Be Thou KIng of all those who are still involved in the darkness of idolatry or of Islamism, and refuse not to draw them all into the light and Kingdom of God..." (Consecration of Mankind To The Sacred Heart Of Jesus, by Pope Leo XIII).

  6. Anonymous9:01 PM

    "A ring of fire seems to surround and cross right through the Islamic world, as if some violent power were inherent to the Islamic mind, and this once again is made clear--well, it is made clear week after week - by the current situation in Egypt, where the weakest links, Christians, are suffering the most."

    Let's call it what it is have the guts to admit it . It's all demonic.


  7. For more than a millennium Islam has been at war with the world. There is a reason for the continuing violence: to the muslim mind the world is divided into muslims (Dar al-Islam, the House of Islam) and the House of War (Dar al-Harb, or Dar al-Garb/House of The West). Muslims are at war with the world. Christians, too, live in tension with the world - Be "in" the world not "of" it. However, unlike Islam which encounters resistance to its message and then seeks to convert through violence—a fact repeatedly demonstrated in the extreme each and every century since its inception—Christians propose the Gospel in speech and charitable deed, a fact made tangible in the many schools and hospitals that help non-Catholics throughout the world. Catholic relief agencies are often the only groups willing to help all peoples regardless of religion in countries torn apart by warring muslims.

    Muslim violence will cease only when muslims abandon their violent religion and embrace the Gospel which is the true religion that many peoples embraced before the muslim sturmabteilung descended on Arabia.

  8. "What Egypt needs now is a period of healing, to allow the resumption of dialoguing." – U.S. Bishop ___________
    (Just fill in almost any name here.)

  9. I'm so saddened for the Christians of Egypt. This will probably be us someday as we become more marginalized in this country. It is our country's meddling in their affairs that has completely destroyed the uneasy balance that allowed Egypt the ability to at least carry on day to day business, tourism and individual religious observations. Now, thanks to 'arab spring' it is as some have said here, a demonic mess, with the powers of satan unleashed. Pray for these poor people. Our Lady of Perpetual Help, pray for them. Thank you for this article. I love this website. It is such a comfort and an island of beauty and tranquility.

  10. Dr. Williams wrote:
    "What Egypt needs now is a period of healing, to allow the resumption of dialoguing." – U.S. Bishop ___________
    (Just fill in almost any name here.)

    What about the Bishop of Rome? Yesterday he said some paltry things like dialogue and reconciliation - and prayers of course. But to be fair, what could he say more amidst the violence that persists? I just wish Our Holy Father and all the other (pratically useless - with all due respect to their offices) Bishops would quit being nice and even praisng this barbaric, pagan, stone-age, religion despite what Vatican II documents waffle on about it. How can Mohammad and his invented religion be compared to the beautiful and loveliness of Our Lord Jesus and all the marvels He left us?

    The official Church seems to have taken leave of its senses when it praises this vile religion so. On the contrary, at the present time, the current hierarchy are bent on extirpating what is left of real Catholicism by their desire to "dialogue" with the world and at the same time deny Traditional Catholics the Mass that carried the Church through all the persecutions imaginable over the course of 2000 years...including demonic Islamic invasions.

    Islam is frightening...and is invading the villages and small towns of Italy under the benevolent (and foolish) eyes of both Church and government authorities...yes, they are behaving well for the time being ie. the Muslims, ...but what of the future knowing the true colours of Islam?

    Yes,as has been said recently here, only Our Lady can save us from all of this and so much more...

    So to the Rosary I go everyday...for all of this and all the rest..

  11. Anonymous5:34 PM

    Common sense, do you really not get why we cannot allow your comment? Think about it a bit. Not whether its truthful, but whether its prudent.

  12. According to JP II mahomatens are our brothers and sisters. This must be just a family squabble then: from the religion of peace.


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