The dead end of interreligious dialogue with Islam
The Figaro of January 22, 2016, published an interview with Islamologist Fr. François Jourdan on the occasion of the release of his book Islam et christianisme, comprendre les differences de fond [Islam and Christianity: understanding their fundamental differences], published by éditions Toucan. Interviewed by Eléonore de Vulpillières, Fr. Jourdan, a member of the Eudist congregation, does not enter the field of theological criticism of interreligious dialogue; he simply shows the dead end that this dialogue has reached today, and he explains his reasoning. Here are a few particularly enlightening excerpts from this interview:
Do you think (…) that often, through intellectual laziness, Christians assume a Christian mode of thought on the part of Islam, which leads them to understand it as a sort of exotic Christianity?
A disguised ignorance (…) causes persons to allow themselves to be taken in by the ever-deceptive appearances of Islam, which is a syncretism of elements of paganism (Djinns, the Kaaba), Manichaeism (gnostic prophetism reimagined outside of true history, with Mani as the “seal of the prophets”), Judaism (Noe, Abraham, Moses, David, Jesus… all Moslem before Mohammed, and acting completely differently: Solomon is a prophet and talks to the ants…), and Christianity (Jesus is renamed Isa, and neither died nor rose again, but spoke in the cradle and brought clay birds to life…) The phonetics of the names make us believe that it is the same thing. This is without addressing the fundamental axes of the Koranic vision of God and the world: a heavy-handed God who oversees and controls everything, without leaving any real or autonomous place to anything other than Himself (a fundamental problem of absence of alterity due to divine hyper-transcendence without the Biblical covenant). So if we have ‘the same God,’ each one is seeing Him in his own way and, to reassure himself, believes that the other sees Him the same way… It is a situation of total incomprehension and permanent distortion in mutual relations (without daring to say so, of course; one would have to have the courage to decode what is going on).
If occasionally a few differences are admitted, in order to appear lucid, most of the time (and without admitting it) we are planets apart, but we mutually reassure each other that we are ‘dialoguing’ and hence can sleep in peace.
Once the Second Vatican Council had “opened the doors of alterity and dialogue,” you write, “superficial dialogue, dialogue ‘of the salon’, falsely consensual, has become the norm.” How does this consensus with Islam manifest itself?
Through ignorance, or through knowledge viewed from afar and lightly, in a facile manner. In this way Islam is declared to be “Abrahamic,” “we have the same faith,” “we are religions ‘of the Book’,” we have the “same” God, we can pray with the “same” words; the Christian too must recognize that Mohammed is a “prophet,” in the same sense “as the Biblical prophets,” and that the Koran is “revealed” for him in the same sense “as the Bible,” even though it contradicts four fifths of Catholic doctrine… And thanks to this dishonest pressure, we discover that “we have many points in common!” It is indefensible.
To maintain “co-existence” and preserve calm between Islam and Christianity, or between Islam and the Republic, are people contenting themselves with approximations?
These approximations are major errors. They feed the confusion that suits everyone, Moslems and non-Moslems alike. It is pacifism: we disguise the reality of our differences, which are much more significant than anyone dares to say, through fear of these very differences. We happily believe that we are close to each other and therefore we can live in peace, whereas in fact there is no need to have anything in common to be in dialogue. This pressure is the unstated expression of a fear of the unknown of the other (and of the unadmitted insufficiency of knowledge of the other and his path). For instance, religious liberty, a fundamental human right, should call into question the validity of Sharia (the Islamic organization of life, especially life in society). One day the matter will have to be discussed. We are afraid of it: it is not “politically correct.” The risk is that it will be resolved by the relationship between demographic numbers… and future violence in French society. Of course, we are no longer in ancient times, but Sharia is Koranic, and Islam must eliminate all other religions (Koran 48, 28; 3, 19.85; and 2, 286, recited in the Vatican Gardens before Pope Francis and Shimon Peres in June 2014 1). Moreover Boumediene, Gaddafi, and Erdogan have stated it in no uncertain terms.
You quote the words of Tariq Ramadan, who said, “Islam is not a religion like Judaism or Christianity. Islam invests in the social sector. It adds to what is specifically religious the elements of the way of life, civilization and culture. This global characteristic is essential to Islam.” Is Islam compatible with secularism?
This definition is the definition of Sharia, that is that Islam, like God, must be victorious and control the world in its every aspect. Islam is globalizing. The Moslems of China and of the southern Philippines want to build their Islamic State. This is not just a tendency, it is part of the fundamental coherence of the Koran. It is incompatible with real religious liberty. This can be seen clearly when Moslems consider leaving Islam for another religion or no religion: in their own Islamic country, it is daunting. In the same sense, three verses of the Koran (60, 10; 2, 221; 5, 5) oblige non-Moslem men to convert to Islam to marry a Moslem woman, and this applies even in France, so that their children will be Moslem. Of course, not everyone practices this, and so it is a question of negotiating the pressures, even in France where no one says anything. People are afraid. But today, we must clearly state that we cannot build a society composed of one religion alone, Christian, Jewish, Islamic, Buddhist… or atheist. This phase of human history has been brought to its conclusion by religious liberty and the rights of man. Secularism requires not the forbidding of religions but rather their discretion in the public domain, since other citizens have a right to pursue a different lifestyle. This is not the line of the Koran. Islam does not consider itself to be like other religions and must dominate (2, 193; 3, 10.110.116; 9, 29.33).
Commentary: Fr. Jourdan considers religious liberty and secularism to be assets of modernity, incompatible with the Sharia that Islam wishes to spread everywhere. But he does not see that Islamists do not seek to circumvent the incompatibility of Sharia with religious liberty and the secularism of Western countries; on the contrary, they make use of this religious liberty and secularism, temporarily, as the means that will allow them one day to establish Koranic law. Journalist Frederic Pons, editor of Valeurs actuelles [Current values] shows this in his responses to Sylvain Dorient on Catholic website Aleteia on February 4th. “Islamists openly say that they are using democratic laws,” he tells us, founding his opinion on the statements of Libyan religious leaders.” We would add that Islamists are making use of the ideological principles on which these democratic laws are founded: religious liberty and secularism.—Ed. More concretely, Frederic Pons concludes, “They say they will make use of the refugee movement to bring their soldiers into the heart of Europe, but are we listening?”
Let us add that eyes must certainly be opened regarding this massive influx of migrants, but also with regard to the ideological principles in whose name this mass migration was authorized. A takeover can only happen in a country once it has happened beforehand, surreptitiously, in the hearts and minds of its inhabitants. The debate on interreligious dialogue and religious liberty, promoted by the Second Vatican Council, is no longer an apparently Byzantine discussion amongst experts. Ideologies do not stay for long at a reassuring stratospheric altitude; they always end up coming to earth, with very concrete practical consequences. This is the return to reality.
(Sources: Figaro – Aleteia – Underlined segments from the Editor – DICI no. 330, 12/02/16)
 An allusion to the prayer for peace organized by Pope Francis on June 8, 2014, with Israeli Shimon Peres and Palestinian Mahmoud Abbas. See DICI no. 295, 04/07/14: “But what caused quite a stir in Catholic circles was the discovery on the evening of June 8 that the prayer pronounced in Arabic by the Muslim participant at that meeting did not correspond entirely to the one that appeared in the official booklet. Added orally to the printed prayer were the last words of the second Surah, known as ‘The Cow’ (verses 284-286): ‘You are our Master, grant us victory over the infidels.’”
Read also :
When ideologies come in for a landing...Syria: "A fatal disappearance of Christians"?Iraq: Are the Christians going to be forced to convert to Islam?