Catholics on Islam

Only a few quotes at this point. Still under construction. Many more to come.

St. Francis of Assisi:

Here is John Vennari's retelling of an episode in Father Cuthbert's Life of St. Francis of Assisi:
Around the year 1220 Saint Francis of Assisi sailed to Egypt to join the Christian army that was besieging Damietta. He did not go to fight alongside Crusaders but to preach Christ to the Infidels. Saint Francis approached the Papal Legate who was with the army and “requested leave to cross over to the Muslim lines to preach to the Muslims.” This rattled the Papal Legate, who knew the Sultan had offered a golden ducat for the head of any Christian sent to him. In response, the Papal Legate simply asked Francis not to bring shame on the Christian name. That was all Francis needed. He and some companions struck out at once for the Sultan’s camp. They saw two lambs on the road while on their way. Francis took this as a good sign, saying to his comrades, “Behold I send you forth as sheep among wolves.” Muslim soldiers apprehended Francis, took him before the Sultan and Francis began to preach. He spoke with power and conviction, zeal and fire. The love of God flowed through him. He was like a blast furnace, infectious, captivating. The Sultan found himself drawn in by the power of Francis’ words, and ordered him to be treated with courtesy while at camp. It appears that Francis stayed for a few days, and the Sultan asked Francis to remain in his court. “Willingly,” answered Francis, “if you and your people will convert to Christ.” Francis continued, “If you hesitate as to the merits of the law of Muhammad and the faith of Christ, command that a great fire be lighted, and I together with your priests, will enter the fire that you may know which is the more worthy and true.” The Sultan replied that none of their Muftis would accept the challenge. “Then if you promise for yourself and your people, to come to the worship of Christ if I come out of the fire unhurt,” Francis responded, “I will enter the fire alone.” He added, “If I am burnt up, impute it to my sins, but if the Divine Power protects me, acknowledge Christ to be true God and the Savior of all.” The Sultan dared not accept the challenge from the holy mendicant, but was captivated by Francis nonetheless, and asked him to accept some precious gifts if not for himself, then at least for the poor. Francis responded this was not the purpose of his visit, and returned to Europe.
St. Thomas Aquinas:
On the other hand, those who founded sects committed to erroneous doctrines proceeded in a way that is opposite to this, the point is clear in the case of Muhammad. He seduced the people by promises of carnal pleasure to which the concupiscence of the flesh goads us. His teaching also contained precepts that were in conformity with his promises, and he gave free rein to carnal pleasure. In all this, as is not unexpected, he was obeyed by carnal men. As for proofs of the truth of his doctrine, he brought forward only such as could be grasped by the natural ability of anyone with a very modest wisdom. Indeed, the truths that he taught he mingled with many fables and with doctrines of the greatest falsity. He did not bring forth any signs produced in a supernatural way, which alone fittingly gives witness to divine inspiration; for a visible action that can be only divine reveals an invisibly inspired teacher of truth. On the contrary, Muhammad said that he was sent in the power of his arms—which are signs not lacking even to robbers and tyrants. (From De Rationibus Fidei Contra, Saracenos, Graecos, et Armenos, excerpted in Aquinas on Reasons for the Faith: Against the Muslims, Greeks, and Armenians. Fr. Damian Fehlner ed., Franciscans of the Immaculate: 2002.)

Blaise Pascal:

Mahomet established a religion by putting his enemies to death; Jesus Christ by commanding his followers to lay down their lives (Thoughts on Religion and Philosophy, Nkosi Ajanaku, trans. Glasgow: William Collins, 1838, p. 202).

Oscar Wilde:
On the Massacre of the Christians in Bulgaria (1881): 
This is a skeptical (though, in my view, very human) poem, asking why God allows violence against the innocent. It was written against the background of the "Batak Massacre" of perhaps 5,000 men, women and children by Muslim troops during the so-called April Uprising against the Ottoman Empire. Wilde became a Catholic on his deathbed.

CHRIST, dost thou live indeed? or are thy bones    
Still straightened in their rock-hewn sepulchre?       
And was thy Rising only dreamed by Her                
Whose love of thee for all her sin atones?              
For here the air is horrid with men’s groans,                
The priests who call upon thy name are slain,         
Dost thou not hear the bitter wail of pain                  
From those whose children lie upon the stones?    
Come down, O Son of God! incestuous gloom      
Curtains the land, and through the starless night   
Over thy Cross the Crescent moon I see!               
If thou in very truth didst burst the tomb                    
Come down, O Son of Man! and show thy might,   
Lest Mahomet be crowned instead of Thee!