The Sword of Allah Part II
There is a mystifying Vatican and Islam connection as the Pope is seen in many occasions interacting with Muslim leaders. When considering this in an eschatological perspective, the Vatican has been playing a vital part in mending the tension between Islam and Christianity. Pope John Paul II addressed a Catholic community in Turkey with these words: "I wonder if it is now urgent, precisely today when Christians and Muslims have entered a new period of history, to recognize and develop the spiritual bonds that unite us." The Catholic 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, who has also 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.
The Islamic religion is very much rooted in the adoration of Mary, like Roman Catholicism. Most people are aware of the veneration and even worship of Mary found among Roman Catholics, but not many know that much the same deference exists among Muslims. A chapter in the Qur'an is named after Mary "Surah Maryam". From the outskirts of Cairo to Bombay to Medjugorje in Bosnia-Herzegovina, hundreds of thousands of the Islamic faith have congregated wherever processions carry her statues and where her apparitions are said to have appeared. She is esteemed above the most revered women of the Muslim faith, including Muhammad's two favorite wives, Khadija and Aisha, and his daughter Fatima. The hadith teaches that Muhammad selected Mary as his first wife upon entrance into Paradise. One of the most popular Catholic apparitions of Mary is referred to as Our Lady of Fatima.
Islam, acknowledges a Mary-like personality by the name of Fatima. This Fatima is also acknowledged in Romanism by “Our Lady of Fatima’s Shrine in Portugal”. According to the Roman Catholic testimony the link between adoration of Mary and Fatima may eventually serve as the basis for a “Peace Plan” between Roman Catholic Christianity and Islam.
As the Muslims swept through Spain in the 8th century, a great religious treasure was buried for safe-keeping in the earth, high in the Estremadura Mountains. It was a much venerated statue of Our Lady holding the Divine Child Jesus. After the overthrow of Moorish occupation this special statue was enshrined in a nearby Franciscan Monastery next to the "Wolf River." The Muslims, during their Spanish occupation, had actually named the river. The Islamic term for Wolf River is "Guadalupe"… Guada=River; Lupe=Wolf. Hence, the famous Catholic statue in Spain has been known, since the 14th century, by the Islamic name of "Our Lady of Guadalupe".
The village of Fatima was given the Islamic name of the well-loved Princess of the nearby Castle of Ourem. She died at an early age after marrying the Count of Ourem and converting to Catholicism. Baptized with the Christian name of Oureana, she was named at birth “Fatima,” like many other Moslem girls, in honor of the daughter of Mohammed. Of his daughter, Fatima, the founder of Islam, Mohammed, said: “She has the highest place in heaven after the Virgin Mary.” It is a fact that Moslems from various nations, especially from the Middle East, make so many pilgrimages to Our Lady of Fatima’s Shrine in Portugal that Portuguese officials have expressed concern. The combination of an Islamic name and Islamic devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary is a great attraction to Moslems. As we will see, Fatima is a part of Heaven’s Peace Plan; It is hope for the world.
Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world today; Catholicism is the largest religious body among those professing to be Christian. If the number of followers was a good measure for selecting a religion, then Islam and Catholicism would definitely be the way to go. Roman Catholicism recognizes Allah as the God of the Bible. In 1985, Pope John Paul II declared to an enraptured audience of thousands of Muslim youths, "Christians and Muslims, we have many things in common as believers and as human beings....We believe in the same God, the one and only God, the living God...."
Catholic and Islamic prayers have many similarities. For the Muslim, praying to Allah five times a day is altogether an act of obedience, and the prayers are always repetitive. As one former Muslim puts it, "It's hardly intimate communication with Allah; it's done more to escape the punishment due to those who neglect prayer." Most prayers prayed by Catholics are also rote and repetitive, saying the rosary being the best example. Repeating 16 "Our Father's" and 153 "Hail Mary's" is far from personal communication. Furthermore, when a Catholic goes to confession the priest assigns rosaries as severe punishment, or penance, for one's sins.
Prayer beads were a part of Islamic devotion to Allah long before an apparition of the Blessed Lady taught St. Dominic to pray the rosary beads in the thirteenth century. Prayer beads, by the way, are a stock item in ancient and modern paganism. Catholics and Muslims regard pilgrimages as a means of obtaining favor from God. The hadj, one of the five pillars of Islam, is a required (one-time) journey to Mecca. For Catholics, pilgrimages historically have been acts of religious purification, often induced by the promise of indulgences. Multi-millions of Catholics travel yearly to hundreds of shrines (nearly all dedicated to Mary) located throughout the world. The Crusades were indulgence-stimulated attempts to regain Jerusalem from the infidel Muslims in order to re-establish Catholic pilgrimages. Incidentally, the Church of Rome offered the crusaders full pardon from purgatory should they die trying to liberate the Holy Land. Similarly, Islam offers rewards in and assurance of Paradise to those who die in religious battles (jihad), including suicide bombings.
While there are both clear and critical differences between the biblical God and Allah, nevertheless, the Roman Catholic Church accepts them as one and the same God. The following quote is from Vatican II:
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, who has also 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 evoke. 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 (Nostra Aetate, Vatican II).
Consider carefully the above quote taken from what the Roman Catholic Church claims is an infallible council and you will realize what truly binds Catholicism and Islam together: They both have a Jesus who cannot save their souls. The Qur'an teaches that Jesus did not die on the cross: "And because of the Jews saying, We slew the Messiah Jesus son of Mary, Allah's messenger, They slew him not nor crucified, but it appeared so unto them; and lo! those who disagree concerning it are in doubt thereof; they have no knowledge thereof save pursuit of a conjecture; they slew him not for certain" (Sura 4:157). Vatican II may give Muslims credit for "venerating" Jesus, but in fact, it's a bogus Jesus. Sadly, Catholicism also has a false Christ. It teaches that His death on the cross was not sufficient for our salvation. Not only must His sacrifice (which, according to the Scriptures, was offered only once to take away our sins completely [Heb 9:28]) be "re-presented" as a daily sacrifice for sins on altars around the world, but Catholics must expiate their own sins through sufferings here on earth and in purgatory.
Finally, Vatican II spells out clearly what Islam and Catholicism regard as their hope for salvation: "...they highly esteem an upright life and worship God, especially by way of prayer, alms-deeds and fasting." This is salvation by works! In Islam, a person is accountable for every thought, word, and deed. His or her life is to be lived according to what is pleasing to Allah is found in the Qur'an and the hadith. In addition, there is shari'a, which is the body of rules that attempts to cover the totality of Islamic religious, political, social and domestic life. Breaking such laws involves various forms of temporal punishment. At the Last Judgment Allah will determine one's eternal destiny as He places one's good and evil works on the divine scale: "Then those whose scales are heavy [with good deeds], they are the successful. And those whose scales are light are those who lose their souls, in hell abiding" (Sura 23:102,103). The hadith vividly describes the tortures of hell.
Although the Catholic Church states that it is only by God's grace that one can enter heaven, it becomes very clear that what is meant is that grace is required to enable one to do the works which qualify one for heaven. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, they "obtain the joy of heaven, as God's eternal reward for the good works accomplished with the grace of Christ" (par 1821) and they "can merit for themselves and for others all the graces needed to attain eternal life" (par 2027). Pope John Paul II has often repeated these words: "It is now urgent that Christians and Muslims enter a new period of history, to recognize and develop the spiritual bonds that unite us." Truly, the God of Catholicism and of Islam are compatible, but neither one is the God of the Bible!
Over the horizon global change is coming that has been written by divine inspiration in God’s Word… what are Christians to do in view of these events? Jesus said, “So when all these things begin to happen, stand and look up, for your salvation is near!" Luke 21:28
How do we go about watching for the Lord? One very practical way is to say each morning as we get out of bed, "Maybe the Lord will return today!" You'd be surprised how this little saying may change your whole way of life! A better way, of course, is to fall more in love with our wonderful Lord. Two people in love do not have to be told how to eagerly watch for each other when they've been apart. Although there is no special day set aside in the Christian calendar to remind us of the Lord's return, this should make no difference to growing Christians. As we come to know and love our Savior more and more, we will be watching for Him daily and thus be ready for His return!