What is it to be a Moslem?

How do Moslems exist religiously? Here too, as in Moslem theology and ethics, there is a striking simplicity, summarized in the very title of the religion. “Islam” means both “peace” (etymologically connected with the Hebrew shalom) and “submission,” or “surrender”; it is the peace that comes from submission to Allah’s will. Moslems would applaud T.S. Eliot’s choice of Dante’s line: “In His will, our peace” as “the profoundest line in all of human literature.”

The famous Moslem “fatalism” (“it is the will of Allah”), like the Calvinistic doctrine of Predestination, makes them work harder, not less hard. Moslems, like Christians, believe in man’s free will as well as God’s sovereignty. Theirs is not the modern fatalism from below, a scientific determinism, but from above. It is energizing and liberating, not squashing. Islam, like Judaism and Christianity, has produced a rich crop of saints and mystics, especially in the Sufi tradition, which is similar in many ways to the Jewish Hasidic tradition.

Can Moslems be saved? They reject Christ as Savior; yet they seek and love God “Islam” means essentially the “fundamental option” of a whole-hearted “yes” to God. Most Moslems, like most Jews, see Christ only through broken lenses. If God-seeking and God-loving Jews, both before and after Christ’s Incarnation, can find God, then surely God-seeking Moslems can too, according to Christ’s own promise that “all who seek, find”—whether in this life or the next.

Yet Christ also insists that “no one can come to the Father but by me.” Whatever truth Mohammed taught Moslems about God is really present in Christ the Logos, the full revelation of God. If Moslems are saved, they are saved by Christ.

Christians should hope and pray that their separated Islamic brothers and sisters be reunited with our common Father by finding Christ the Way. We cannot stop “proselytizing,” for proselytizing means leading our brothers Home.