‘On Faith’ Writer: ‘What Catholics Can Learn from the Quran’

The Washington Post's "On Faith" blog network has joined the chorus of media outlets extolling the virtues of Islam. Kathleen Duff of the Religion News Service, in an August 17 post, expressed her newfound admiration for the holy book of Islam. In a glowing piece titled “What Catholics Can Learn from the Quran,” Duff wrote: “This year during Ramadan – the ninth month of the Islamic calendar when Muslims believe the Quran was first revealed to the Prophet Muhammad – I was in solidarity with my Muslim sisters and brothers throughout the world by reading the Quran. But here’s the thing: I am a Roman Catholic.”

Duff waxed eloquently in her praise of the Quran, writing: “The Quran encouraged me to continuously be aware of a gracious and merciful God who cherishes humanity and cherishes all of creation. I came to believe more firmly during my humble Ramadan experience that being cherished by God is an example of divine love beyond the limitations of any one language, symbol and imagination.”

Such an attitude of respect for God’s mercy is to be welcomed, although the Christian Bible, read with an understanding of the love and wisdom of Christ, should engender such an attitude. Duff continued, writing: “This insight into sacred polarity is a perfect teaching paradigm for respectful interreligious dialogue, which is never about win/lose, right/wrong profiling and divisiveness.”

Interreligious dialogue is wonderful, provided that those dialoguing do not paper over important differences between different faiths. And there are major differences between the God of Christianity and the God of Islam. To take only one example, Christians accept the doctrine of the Trinity, while Islam specifically rejects the Trinity as polytheistic.

It is one thing to say that the holy book of Islam possesses beauty and even elements of truth within its pages. However, it is quite another thing to suggest that “right/wrong profiling” is problematic, considering that Christianity and Islam are exclusivist religions.

In the Bible, Jesus states: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) Islam, too, is equally non-pluralistic. Surah 109, one of the last chapters in the Quran, reads:

Say, O unbelievers:

I do not worship those that you worship,

Neither do you worship Him whom I worship,

Nor will I worship those whom you have worshipped,

Nor are you going to worship Him Whom I worship.

To you is your religion, and to me, my religion.

The differences between the faiths are insuperable. But Duff ignored this, closing her article with this argument: “After reading the Quran during Ramadan, I am again convinced that there are more commonalities between and among religions than there are differences that isolate and divide.”

When “On Faith” publishes a piece titled “What Muslims Can Learn from the Bible,” this line of thought might be more plausible. But such inter-faith dialogue would not be politically correct at the Post.