Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Pope Benedict Baptises ex-Muslim Convert

Each year, the pope personally baptises a small number of converts to the faith during the Easter Vigil mass celebrated in St. Peter's Basilica. This year, one of the seven adult converts the Pope Benedict XVI baptised was Egyptian-born Magdi Allam. Allam's wife and children are Catholic, and he has for years been a figure in Italian media circles -- controversial for his criticism of extremism in the Muslim world and his support for Israel. In regards to his Islamic upbringing, Allam says that he was never a fully practicing Muslim (he didn't pray five times a day facing Mecca), although he did make the Hajj pilgrimage with his mother twenty years ago.CNN covers Allam's conversion here.

Abu Daoud of Islam and Christianity blogs about the pope's baptism of Allam and hopes it may have a positive impact on others thinking of becoming Christian in the Muslim world.

SherryW of Intentional Disciples is concerned that having a convert from Islam baptised on international TV by the pope presents an incendiary image and overly associates the Christian missionary message with Allam's at-times incendiary views about the Middle East.

Abu Daoud responds to her concerns with a second post here. Among his comments, this struck me has particularly interesting:
Christians in MENA [Middle East/North Africa] will indeed live with this for years. They will live with the image of the best know Christian in the world baptizing a Muslim. It will give them hope. It will encourage other Muslims to convert. It will, in a few Muslims' minds, occasion the question, "What if I left?" Most of them have never even considered the possibility. Many of them don't even know that people DO leave Islam.

This is great news for the Catholic Church as well as the mission to Muslims. Muslims respect the Catholic Church and the pope because he is powerful. That is a language that they can understand. They know that he holds more sway around the world Christians than does any single person in Islam. They know he has a country of his own. They know his office is very ancient. These things, to the Muslim mind, and specifically to the Muslim Arab mind are often attractive. Becoming a non-denominational Christian with no clear affinity or relation to anyone else is not always appealing to a Muslim considering conversion.
While I have a lot of respect for Sherry and the Sienna Institute, I'm more inclined to follow Abu Daoud's thinking on this than hers.