I’ve long viewed Islam as an heretical offshoot of Christianity, as I think most Christians have. Over at Mark Shea’s blog, he quotes one of his readers who argues that Islam is more properly understood as a heretical offshoot of Judaism:
Although some Christians over the centuries have called Islam a “Christian heresy”, it is much more logical to call it a “Jewish heresy”. There was massive Jewish proselytization in southern Arabia in the century before Muhammad. By the time of Muhammad, many of the Arabs in Yemen had converted to Judaism, and in Mecca and Medina there were ethnically-Jewish Jews and ethnically-Arab Jews. Muhammad accepted the Jewish prophets with very few revisions (whereas his story of Jesus’ life is significanlty different than ours). To this very day, Orthodox Jews are forbidden to pray in a Christian church, but they are permitted to pray in a mosque. Muhammad rejected some of the Jews’ historical claims (e.g., the roles of Isaac and Ishmael were partially reversed) but he accepted their theology. Therefore, Muslims today worship the same God as do the Jews.
That’s some history I hadn’t know and found quite interesting. (Read another interesting article on why Islam worships the same God as Christians.)
This takes place in the context of a larger debate over Catholic-Islam relations. Another interesting points from Shea:
Some people try to claim that we should never allow Muslims to pray on Church property. The corollary: Pius XII should never have allowed Jews to celebrated their rites when he was hiding them in the Vatican and in other church properties.
No hijab, no yarmulkes for Jewish kids at Catholic schools. No five minutes set aside for Muslims to say their prayers. No time off allowed for High Holy Days for Jewish kids.
One problem with that is he’s conflating an instance where we were trying to save Jews from extinction and the normal day-to-day operations of a Catholic institution. It’s one thing to allow Jews to pray in their hiding places on Church grounds when being seen in public could lead to their death, it’s another thing to allow what we perceive as heretical practices on Church property in ordinary circumstances.
I’m actually generally in favor of letting Islamic students pray Islamic prayer while attending a Catholic school. If it can be done at little inconvenience to the school and the burden is placed on the student to abide by their religious laws and make up any work missed, then I see little issue. When the burden is placed on the school and other students, then I have an issue. For example, if the school, and therefore other student’s tuition is responsible for the special equipment they need for washing, that would be wrong. But if Muslim parents and others in the community, including Christians so inclined, were to raise money for the installation of said equipment, who cares? When I was in high school, we had many non-Catholic students, but they took the same course load (including religion classes) and were treated the same, other than they weren’t required to attend Mass. Any burdens their faith imposed on them were burdens on them, not the school. That seems like a reasonable compromise.