The OASI – pages 40-41 – 12-2001
West and Islam
It would be wrong to set the West, which is a geographical-political entity, against Islam, which is a religion. It is more appropriate to speak of the differences between the laws (leaving aside the customs and habits) of the West and those of the Islamic states. It would be useful for everyone to illustrate the substantial differences that exist between Italian law and that of the countries of Islam. And it is well known that the Sharia applied in interpersonal relations discriminates against non-Muslims. The ambassadors of the countries of the Arab League represent countries, with the exception of Lebanon, which all have Islamic religious law, Sharia, as the source of their constitution.
Islamic law: Today in 2002, all Arab states, except Lebanon, have sharia as the only source of their legal system. This ISLAMIC RELIGIOUS LAW conditions the life of the country, of the families, of the people, and therefore permeates the Islamic countries, the Arab Muslim immigrant and the Islamic centres in Italy where they aggregate. It should be noted that, according to the Koran, men are divided into three categories:
Muslims, the people in the book, that is, Jews and Christians, and in the third group there are the others. In some respects, the legal situation of non-Muslims is not the same as that of their Muslim fellow citizens.
In fact, the laws concerning personal status in Arab countries, laws that regulate social life among individuals, are different from the rules in force in Europe and Italy.
I will mention some critical knots of these differences, as they could make us understand the differences in reaction and attitude of the newcomer Arab Muslim immigrant: the most striking points of contrast with Western culture concern: the divine source of Koranic law, freedom of religious choice, equality among citizens, and women’s rights. Of Sharia law, Arab countries apply only the part concerning family, woman and succession. Saudi Arabia and Sudan are exceptions as they apply it in full in all areas. Afghanistan and Iran are Muslim countries but are not considered Arab countries.
That said, the Madrasses or mada’ress, places of Koranic teaching next to Mosques, often continue to teach a traditionalist Islam that conceives the Western way of life (aka Christian) as contrary to Islam and therefore proposes a West to Islamise. The consequences on the behaviour of millions of people are foreseeable.
The Moslem Brotherhood, very ramified in the mada’ress, aim at the establishment of a state founded on the Koran and the Sharia, while in Europe, they try to obtain the recognition of a legal status on a confessional basis to be applied to the Islamic community and which is as close as possible to the Sharia.
The anti-Western mentality is very widespread among Muslims and continues to be cultivated by blaming the anointed states (West, Christian world) for their economic and technological backwardness and the support given to the constitution of the state of Israel.
Can Muslims live together in Europe?
It is necessary to ask the imams, especially those not native to Italy, those who lead the prayer in the mosques, to show clearly their willingness to integrate and their loyalty to the society in which they live, otherwise they remain in a dangerous ambiguity.
It is up to our institutions to prepare an integration project that respects the fundamental rights of religious practice for the individual in respect of the constitutional order of our country.
On this point we must develop a serious and constructive dialogue in order to become aware of the problems that Muslim immigration poses with regard to the integration of Muslims into the fabric of European societies, which are so radically different from Islam in terms of mentality, customs and values, hence the possibility of peaceful civil coexistence between Italians and Muslims.
Even more so, since behind Islamic immigration, there have often been Muslims who intend to use it for political-religious interests.
What is the position of the dialogue proposed by the Pope? According to the opinion of a responsible Caritas, an Arab Jesuit in the forefront of inter-religious dialogue in Islamic countries is that one must start from social action and witness, the promotion of human values is the only basis for creating a multi-ethnic and multi-religious society to radiate the love of Christ through the witness of life, solidarity and acceptance. In this itinerary, “women take a leading role together with human formation to reflect together, Muslims and Christians, on a common charter to change mutual prejudices. The challenge of the future for the Church and Islam will be, above all, cultural.
“We must ensure that Muslims are able to clarify and grasp the meaning and value of the distinction between religion and society, faith and civilization, political Islam and Muslim faith, showing that the demands of personal and community religiosity can be lived in a democratic and secular society where religious pluralism is respected and a climate of mutual respect, acceptance and dialogue is established”. (Card. Martini- Us and Islam”).
“Evil must be rejected with a greater good. Repel evil with a greater good, and those who were your enemies will become close friends. (41, v.34).
Christians are the most cordial friends of believers, the closest to Muslims”.
This is also Islam
There is no doubt that Islam is a way to spiritualize man as each of us can see from the Muslim’s attendance. For us Christians, Islam has a greatness of its own that deserves to be known for itself, without the comparison with Christianity with which, we must admit, there are also critical knots, not overcome (which have been highlighted). Beyond misunderstandings and prejudices, every believer is called to cultivate the essential values of the other and to venture on the path of mutual enrichment, with mutual respect.
Giuseppe Samir Eid
Free web translation from the original in Italian
The published articles intend to provide the tools for a social inclusion of the migratory flow, shed light on human rights and the condition of life of Christians in the Islamic world from which the author come from. Knowledge of the other, of cultural and religious differences are primary ingredients to create peace in the hearts of men everywhere, a prerequisite for a peaceful coexistence and convinced citizenship in the territory.