An important relationship between Catholicism and Shi'i Muslims (but not Sunnis) was started on March 11, 1999, when then Pope John Paul II held an audience in his private library with Muhammad Khatami, President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the leading Shi'i Islamic country in the world. Keep in mind that Islam is divided into two frequently warring and always hostile factions: Sunnis and Shi'i. The meeting between the Pope and President Khatami established Catholicism and the Shi'i faction as friends and partners in dialogue. The emotion of the moment was emphasized when one of the clerics accompanying Khatami, at the end of the meeting rushed to the Pope, embraced him and kissed him on both cheeks. The cordial contact was furthered when the Pope visited Damascus, Syria in May, 2001, a largely Shi'i city, and was warmly received. The division of Islam into Sunni and Shi'i occurred soon after Muhammad's death in 632, when the two factions became rigidly organized, down to the present day.
Their basic quarrel is over the leadership of Islam by a particular Imam (religious leader, or caliph), and the choice of whether Islam as a religion should adhere to philosophical and theological study or whether it should base itself strictly on law -- shari'a (meaning "the path" or divine will for Muslims). The Shi'i adherents of Islam are more "theological and philosophical" than the Sunnis. The latter depend for the guidance of divine law (shari'a) not on what they call the "weak human reason" of the Shi'i, but solely by reference to the Qur'an and to the traditional practice of Muhammad, "the Prophet" as found in the Hadith or writings.
The Sunnis might be thought of as analogous to Protestants in Christianity, while the Shi'i practice of Islam could be said to correspond to Catholicism. That is so because Christian Protestant evangelical fundamentalists, and the majority of Protestants generally tend toward mistrust of "vain philosophy" whereas the Shi'i have a well-developed philosophy, based not just on the Qur'an but also on the "Traditions", or "Hadith." Sunnis greatly outnumber the Shi'i in the Muslim world: out of 1.2 billion Muslims worldwide (the exact same population as that of Catholics), Shi'i number just 140 million, constituting 95 percent Shi'i in Iran, 70 percent Shi'i in Bahrain, 55 percent Shi'i in Iraq, and much lower percentages in other countries. Shi'i Islam overlaps frequently with Catholicism. One dramatic example was that of the life of the former chief justice of the Pakistani Supreme Court from 1951 to 1968, A.R. Cornelius a devout Catholic, who synthesized Islamic and Catholic values while playing a major role in the development of the Pakistani constitutional system.
When comparing Catholicism and Islam below (whether Sunni or Shi'i) in depth, we will juxtapose a Catholic doctrinal position against either the Qur'an (Islam's sacred scripture) or the Hadith (its traditional spiritual writings). By doing so we find that, even given similarities, there are significant and essential differences between Catholicism and Islam Let's turn to the writings of each faith and see what these material differences are. We will use the following system in comparing and contrasting Catholicism and Islam. "Sura" followed by a number refers to the chapter (one out of 114 total) in the Qur'an where the quotation is found, while "Hadith" followed by a number refers to the place in the collection of Traditions outside of the Qur'an regarding the life and sayings of the prophet Muhammad.
JESUS: (1a) God revealed his nature in Jesus in a way that could be seen and touched (Jn. 20:24-30; 1 Jn. 1-4); (1b) Qur'an Suras 4:157; 5:72-75 Jesus was only a prophet and he did not die on the cross.
(2a) Jesus is the exact representation of God's glory and God's being (Hebrews 1:3); (2b) Jesus Christ is not God and the Holy Spirit is not called God. Hadith: "The Meaning of the Holy Qur'an."
(3a) Jesus will return as king and lord to judge the living and the dead (Rev. 20:11-15); (3b) Jesus will return and judge people by the law of the Qur'an and establish Islam as the true religion (Hadith 4:658; 3:425).
(4a) Jesus died on the cross and took man's sin away (Jn, 1:29; 19:30; 19:40; Acts 13:28-30; (4b) "Peace on me the day I was born, and the day I shall be raised alive! Such was Jesus, son of Mary." (Sura 19:33-34)
(5a) Jesus intercedes for his followers. (Hebrews 7:24-25; (5b) "Let us request someone to intercede for us with our Lord...Jesus will say, I am not fit for this; go to Muhammad." Hadith 8:570.
(6a) Jesus will inflict punishment on those who do not acknowledge God. (2Th. 1:7-8) (6b) "[W]hen the son of Mary descends among you he will judge people by the law of the Qur'an not by the law of the Gospel (Hadith 4:658).
GOD: (1a) Christians believe in one God (Dt. 6:4); (1b) (Sura 5:116.) (Christians believe in God, Jesus, and Mary as three gods.)
(2a) Ananias lied to the Holy Spirit; he lied not to human beings but to God (Acts 5:3-4) (2b) The Holy Spirit is the angel of revelation, Gabriel (Sura 2:253).
(3a) All have sinned and are deprived of the glory of God (Rom 3:213) (3b) Each person is born weak but good and does not need salvation (Sura 4:28)
(4a) Our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ (1Jn1:3) (4b) Allah does not have fellowship with human beings
SIN: (1a) Cleanse me from my unknown faults (Ps.19:13) (1b) The Prophet said, If you do not feel ashamed, then do whatever you like (Hadith 4:690.
Post by Tony Gilles