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The Church and Islam Print E-mail
By Hillaire Belloc   
Thursday, 27 September 2012
 
Islam presents a totally different problem from that attached to any other religious body opposed to Catholicism. To understand it we must appreciate its origins, character and recent fate. Only then can we further appreciate its possible or probable future relations with enemies of the Catholic effort throughout the world. . . . .It was not as our popular historical textbooks would have it, a “new religion.” It was a direct derivative from the Catholic Church. It was essentially, in its origin, a heresy: like Arianism or Albigensianism.
 
When the man who produced it (and it is more the creation of one man than any other false religion we know) was young, the whole of the world which he knew . . . was Catholic. It was still, though in the process of transformation, the Christian Roman Empire, stretching from the English Channel to the borders of his own desert.
 
Now what Mohamet did was this. He took over the principal doctrines of the Catholic Church – one personal God, Creator of all things; the immortality of the soul; an eternity of misery or blessedness – and no small part of Christian morals as well . . . But at the same time he attempted an extreme simplification.
 
Many another heresiarch has done this, throwing overboard such and such too profound doctrines, and appealing to the less intelligent by getting rid of mysteries through a crude denial of them.
 
With the energy of his personality behind that highly simplified, burning enthusiasm, he first inflamed his own few desert folk, and they in turn proceeded to impose their new enthusiasm very rapidly over vast areas of what had been until then a Catholic civilization; and their chief allies in this sweeping revolution were politically the doctrine of equality and spiritually the doctrine of simplicity. Everybody troubled by the mysteries of Catholicism tended to join them; so did every slave or debtor who was oppressed by the complexity of a higher civilization.

 

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