How are we to evangelise Muslims?

Benedict XVI reads a speech at Regensburg University in Germany on September 12, 2006 (Photo: AP)

The Church should be evangelising everybody. There is no need for me to argue this point: the words of the Lord are very clear. There can be no arguing with the closing lines of St Matthew’s gospel: “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”

The Christian message is universal of its very nature, and thus to be heard by all. Given this, how are we to evangelise Muslims? What, in practical terms, can we all do?
Firstly, we need to raise awareness of the Church’s mission to evangelise. Being Catholic is about mission, not maintenance of structures. It is about talking to people and spreading the Word, not keeping our parishes, schools and hospitals open for business. And the word is to be spread to lapsed Catholics and to members of other religions too. So we need to start looking at our Muslim neighbours not as the Other, but as brother and sisters, and potential brethren in the faith.

This means abandoning the all too implicitly accepted heresy of indifferentism – the idea that one faith is as good as another, and therefore those who are Muslim do not need to be evangelised. It also mean shaking off the political correctness that seems to believe that everything non-Christian commands automatic “respect”, and that therefore evangelisation is some sort of cultural imperialism. It is not.

What then? Then we need to encounter Islam. That is to say we need to understand it from within, and we need to engage in honest dialogue. Thanks to the Pope’s Regensbeug speech, honest dialogue is now possible. We need to speak in a friendly manner and speak in the light of truth. This means that we need to understand what it is that makes Muslims “tick” bearing in mind that what makes them tick will greatly differ from community to community, depending on geographical location and particular tradition.

Finally, and most importantly, we need to pray unremittingly to God and His Blessed Mother, asking that He calls Islamic people to Himself. Above all, we must pray to Our Lady, who, in her gentleness and sweetness, makes the best evangeliser of all. And we need to tell our fellow Catholics about this and encourage them to pray as well. October is the month of the Holy Rosary. What better way of bring people to an implicit knowledge of Jesus Christ, than through praying the Rosary for them?