For the celebration of the month of Ramadan, a recent meeting of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference suggested the following prayer be included in the Prayers of the Faithful. "For our Muslim brothers and sisters, that by the bodily discipline of fasting and the spiritual devotion of their hearts, they find grace and favour in God's eyes" ( Catholic Weekly, 16 December 2012).
As to the concept of brotherhood, both the Church and the Koran agree that the basis of brotherhood is shared faith. In the Koran, Sura 9:10, it is said of unbelievers: "If they repent and take to prayer and render their alms levy, they shall become your brothers in the faith."
According to Pope Benedict the Christian is the brother of his fellow Christian but not of the non-Christian (Joseph Ratzinger, The Meaning of Christian Brotherhood 1993: p. 65). That means there is no brotherhood across the border of either religion.
Part of the proposed prayer, that "they find grace and favour in God's eyes", directed my attention to Europe, where there are over 10,000 mosques and de-christianisation is in progress. It also reminded me of the persecution and martyrdom of fellow Christians in many Muslim countries, and of the fact that there are irreconcilable doctrinal differences between the Church and Islam.
The suggested prayer gives a mighty boost to the already high self-confidence of Islam, which claims to be the only true religion and aims at world domination (Sura 2:193). Moreover, it is a sad reflection on our own faith crisis.
In the spirit of Matthew 28:18-20, we should rather be praying for the conversion of Muslims.
JOHN FREY (DR)