Islam. To some, the word itself is frightening; to others,
mysterious. Whether Islam evokes fear or intrigue, it has
become increasingly clear that the modern Western world
cannot afford to ignore this enigmatic religion. The terrorist
attacks of September 11, 2001, the recent war with Iraq, and
the ongoing crisis plaguing the Holy Land have put Islam in
the news now more than ever. Nevertheless, most Catholics
know little about this formidable faith — an ignorance that
could have profound consequences for the future.
While the post-Christian West is afflicted with spiritual
apathy and religious indifferentism, Islam is flourishing.
Aside from high rates of immigration and rapid population
growth, Islam is growing in the West mainly because it
stands for something — it has clearly enunciated beliefs and
values. This can be very attractive to people living in a
secular, skeptical age. In addition, as long as non-Muslims
care little about understanding, explaining, or defending
their own religious beliefs, Islam will stand unchallenged
because the committed and practicing Muslim is always
ready to share what he believes.
Some Christians might say, ‘‘Islam is growing. So
what?’’ They might argue that Muslims believe in one God,
the same God of Abraham that Jews and Christians worship.
Catholics might add that the Catechism of the Catholic
Church speaks of Muslims as somehow involved with the
‘‘plan of salvation’’ (CCC841). In light of all this, does it
really matter whether or not they are introduced to