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The Catholic Thing

  • Summary: 

    Could it be true that Islam is not a religion? St. Thomas Aquinas, in defining religion, utilizes Cicero’s broad characterization according to which religion  “consists in offering service and ceremonial rites or worship” to “some superior nature that men call divine.” Aquinas adds that this definition applies to religion in general, but that further specifications may be derived from revelation:

    It belongs to the dictate of natural reason that man should do something through reverence for God. But that he should do this or that determinate thing does not belong to the dictate of natural reason, but is established by Divine or human law.

  • Summary: 

    The Golden Rule, in its negative or positive formulations, is incorporated not only in Christianity (Matt. 7:12), where Jesus declares it is a summary of “the law and the prophets,” but also in other major religions. For example, in Judaism, “What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor”; in Hinduism, “Let no man do to another that which would be repugnant to himself”’; in Buddhism, “Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful”; in Confucianism, “What you do not want done to yourself, do not do unto others.”

    I took this as evidence of the relative universality of rational ethical principles in the world. But in Islam, I could find nothing of the sort, rather just the opposite – a reverse Golden Rule, so to speak: “Muhammad is the messenger of Allah. Be merciful to one another, but ruthless to the unbelievers” (Qur’an 48:29); “Never take unbelievers for friends” (3:28). Furthermore, the commands in the Qur’an to slay the unbelievers wherever they find them (2:191), not befriend them (3:28), fight them and show them harshness (9:123), and smite their heads (47:4) – accentuate distance from the Golden Rule.

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