For centuries Catholics have been in a state of confusion on how the conversion of Muslims must take place. Crusades, trade, dialgue and education have not worked. Two points must be addressed for this conversion of hearts to take place. Firstly, an emphasis on Yoldath Aloho (Birth-Giver of God), Maryam; Secondly, a Semitic approach to Christianity that can only be found in the Syriac Churches.
Maryam and Islam
The Quran has many references to Our Lady. It describes her as being:
- The Ever-Virgin
- The greatest woman (even in heaven)
Just like any Christian who is working on their relationship with Jesus, we do this through Our Lady. That is, to Jesus through Mary. Muslims have a great devolution to the Mother of God. In many Middle Eastern countries Christians together with Muslims honour Mary together.
According to Archbishop Fulton Sheen. It is not a coincidence that Our Lady is now titled with of Fatima; it is also not coincidence that there is a town in Portugal with this Arabic name.
The story is: that the Catholic prince of Portugal fell in love with a Muslim Chief's daughter (called Fatima) when Portugal was occupied by Islamic forces. After the expulsion of the Islamic forces from Portugal, young Fatima decided to stay with the Catholic Prince. Who loved Fatima so much that he decided to name the city after her name.
We must show Muslims that the 41st Chapter of the Quran, which says Mary is the greatest woman, is taken directly from the Gospel of Luke. Niether Mohammed's wife nor his mother is greater than Mary (according to the Quran). So how is it that Mary is in-fact not the Mother of the greatest? God himself.
Before Christ is born in the hearts of Muslims we must bring them Mary!
The Role of the Syriac Churches
Unlike Christianity which has been inculturated heavily in all parts of the World (Rome, Jerusalem, Antioch and Alexandria), Islam has not. It has maintained its Semitic culture wherever it spread (possibly because it was spread by the sword). Scull caps, repetative prayers and poetry are all aspects of the Islamic religion which are very Semitic.
Islam uses the scales (musical style and beats) of the Syriac Church (which have their roots in Judaism) for their various chants and especially the Call to Prayer. For example: here is a sheikh chanting the Quran with the Ajam Scale and here is the Rust Scale being Chanted by a Muslim Sheikh.
Syriac churches will be able to highlight the similarities between the two faiths, which will allow Muslims to realise that many of the practices and doctrines that Islam has adopted (like the Immaculate Conception) are in-fact Christian. Muslims must not feel that Christianity is Greek or Latin. They must feel that Christianity is universal and that there is a home for Semites in the Syriac Church.
The Syriac Churches, being based in the Middle East, must always be a witness to the risen Lord. It is only the Syriac Churches which are dispersed and populated enough in the Middle East. There are very few Greek Christians, undispersed Copts and the Latin Christians will simply be seen as colonisers. This is not to say that the previously listed Churches have no role to play, but rather that there is a greater responsibility for the Syriac Churches.
Please pray for the conversions of the Muslims.
note: this blog post is heavily based on the works of the late Archbishop Fulton J Sheen
Through the Birth-Giver of God Maryam and Mor Ephrem. God bless you all.