Card. Burke on Islam and our choices for the future

Just days after a 17-year-old Afghan refugee who aligned himself with Islamic State wounded four people with an axe and knives on a train near Würzberg, as I assemble this post I’m watching an active shooter situation at a shopping mall in Munich.  The Munich transit system is shut down.  Munich police are sending on Twitter, that people should avoid public areas.  We don’t yet know who the perp is… er… perps are.  I’ll bet it isn’t a Catholic named Max Mustermann.  [UPDATE: There is still incomplete information about the perp.  One Muslim witness said she heard the murderer shout “Allahu akbar”.  Other reporting suggests that the killer was shouting epithets against foreigners, meaning, Turks, etc., who haven’t integrated well into German society. But I just read that he has Iranian dual citizenship.]

Meanwhile, the lame-duck Pres. Obama and his horde of head-in-the-sand libs think that Donald Trump’s speech at the closing of the RNC last night was “doom and gloom”.  HERE and HERE

No, no, folks.  Nothing’s wrong.  No problems here.  Nope.

Meanwhile, the reliably liberal David Gibson of the skewed RNS wrote about Card. Burke.

U.S. cardinal says ‘Christian nations’ in West must counter Islamic influx

Amid heightened tensions over Islamic State-fueled terror attacks and anti-Muslim rhetoric, a prominent American cardinal says Islam “wants to govern the world” and Americans must decide if they are going to reassert “the Christian origin of our own nation” in order to avoid that fate.
Cardinal Raymond Burke, a Rome-based prelate known as an outspoken conservative and critic of Pope Francis’ reformist approach, said that Islam is “fundamentally a form of government.”
While Catholic teaching recognizes that all Abrahamic faiths worship the same God, Burke criticized Catholic leaders who, in an effort to be tolerant, have a tendency “to simply think that Islam is a religion like the Catholic faith or the Jewish faith.”
“That simply is not objectively the case,” he said.


Speaking to RNS, Burke said that individual Muslims “are lovely people” and can speak “in a very peaceful manner about questions of religion.”
“But my point is this: [NB] When they become a majority in any country then they have the religious obligation to govern that country. If that’s what the citizens of a nation want, well, then, they should just allow this to go on. But if that’s not what they want, then they have to find a way to deal with it.” [Before you ask, that is not what I want.]
He said that in some cities in France and Belgium with large Muslim populations “there are little Muslim states” that are effectively “no-go zones” for government authorities — an assertion that is widely disputed.
But Burke claimed “these things aren’t anomalies for Islam. This is the way things are to go … And if you do understand that and you are not at peace with the idea of being forcibly under an Islamic government, then you have reason to be afraid.”


When asked how the West should respond, the cardinal did not cite or endorse specific proposals, like those championed by the Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and other conservatives, to ban or limit Muslims coming into the United States.
“I think the appropriate response,” he said, “is to be firm about the Christian origin of our own nation, and certainly in Europe, and the Christian foundations of the government, and to fortify those.”


Read the rest there.

As Sebastian Gorka wrote in Defeating Jihad: The Winnable War: (UK HERE):

The rectitude or devoutness of a Muslim believer is measured by how fully he submits himself to the will of Allah. And how does one know the will of God? Well, naturally from the words of his best and final revelation to mankind, communicated to Mohammed and eventually collected in the Koran. In the nature of the relationship between the revealed and the believer and what reality that establishes here on earth, Islam is very different from the Christian faith. The followers of Christ are also measured by their ability to follow the requirements laid down in Holy Scripture, with Jesus Christ and the New Testament being the fulfillment of the earlier laws and commandments of the Old Testament, yet the origins of Christianity and Islam and the political legacies of the two faiths are completely different. The Christian Church was born after Jesus’s followers, having seen him executed by crucifixion and resurrected, saw him ascend into heaven. Islam, on the other hand, was forged in battle, its founder defeating his enemies in war and becoming the head of a new theocratic state, reigning over his followers here on earth. [NB] Islam cannot be fully understood unless one recognizes that its founder was at the same time a political leader, a military commander, and a self-proclaimed prophet. Islam, then, is by its nature and its origins a theocracy. [NB] There can be no “separation of mosque and state” if one stays true to the religion practiced by Mohammed and his first followers.  There was no distinction between the political and religious in the original caliphate. In fact, there was no distinction between the religious, political, legal, or economic. Islam and the word of Allah regulated all of these spheres in a unitary whole. The political head of the community was also its religious leader. By contrast, theocracy was never a fundamental element of the Christian faith. Jesus Christ himself articulated the “separation of church and state” when, asked if the Jews should pay taxes to the occupying Romans, he responded, “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s.” These words, with St. Paul’s elaboration in the thirteenth chapter of his epistle to the Romans, have shaped the relationship between the spiritual and temporal authorities in the Christian world. This seminal Christian idea finds no counterpart in foundational Islam. The Koran is deemed the source of all law, and sovereignty, rather than being a function of the people’s will, is a quality of God to be realized in submission to his will. This idea of Allah’s sovereignty expressed here on earth is the key to understanding why the control of territory has shaped not only the evolution of modern Islamic thought in general but the ideology of jihadists like Al Qaeda and ISIS in particular.

For Islam, the Koran is the “constitution”.

Many thanks to the reader who sent me the Kindle version from my wishlist.   Get a Kindle!  US HERE – UK HERE

Moderation queue is ON,

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Semper Paratus, Si vis pacem para bellum!, The Coming Storm, The future and our choices, The Olympian Middle and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. SaintJude6 says:

    Gibson’s choice of the phrase “anti-Muslim rhetoric” shows his bias from the outset. Like the rest of the left, he has to tell himself that his eyes and ears must be lying. Surely islam is a peaceful religion and Burke is nothing but a hatey hatin’ hater for daring to suggest otherwise.
    Christians should buy more ammo and teach their children how to use firearms correctly.

  2. Imrahil says:

    Well… the bad news is that I sat around so long at my table that I would have been late for the Mass I wanted to attend for the feast of St. Mary Magdalene. (It isn’t, after all, of obligation.)

    The good news is that this Mass would have been at a place where yet another shooting was rumoured to be, and by staying home I was able to do some charitable driving-around for people who had calculated on the public transit system. You bet there were about twenty potential customers for each empty taxi seen on the streets.

    [charitable driving…. ÜBER! … in more than one sense of the word. Well done.]

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  3. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Crone and Cook in the curious and and interesting book, Hagarism: The Making of the Islamic World (Cambridge University Press, 1977), have a chapter about how much harder it was for its proponents to impose ‘international Calvinism’ back when a lot of folk in Christendom had different ideas about ‘theocracy’ than it was for the Muslims to impose Islam in their first century or so of conquest.

  4. iamlucky13 says:

    Tread carefully. The message here is that we have to challenge the ideology of Islam, and call out the teachings that run against the principles our country was founded on, including principles accepted by the secular world but unacceptable to Islam, lest we give the secular side more grounds to think Islam respects them and their beliefs more than Christianity does.

    What others tend to hear if we’re even remotely imprecise with our wording is an argument to deny Muslims their civil rights, which then leads to accusations like “anti-Muslim rhetoric” and dismissal of your entire argument.

    The fact that it is disingenuous to dismiss an entire argument on such shallow grounds does not change the fact that we fail to make a convincing argument when this happens.

  5. Ivan Tomas says:

    I quote: “While Catholic teaching recognizes that all Abrahamic faiths worship the same God,…”
    Well, I am Catholic and I am sure that islam is NOT even close to any of “Abrahamic faiths”. In fact, there is just one true faith, a Catholic Faith, but that’s another topic…
    Instead saying “faith”, man should say the way it really is,- islam is a pathological religion of death. And those religion of death have totaly nothing to do with our only truly One and Triune God Father+Son+Holy Spirit.

    Instead to read my bad english here, please read here a very good written article about those religion of death:
    This may be interesting for reading too:
    Dante, “Inferno”, Canto XXVIII, 25-42
    This link is for a better vission of Dante’s vision:

    And don’t forget another very saint (yes, indeed) Catholic, fr. Daniel Fasanella, who went with his 6 Franciscan brothers in 1227. for a mission to an arab land Morocco. He has told to the mohammedans Maori’s very same truth,- that all mohammedans shall end in the very bottom of Hell, where theirs mohammed already is, if they not convert to Christianity and accept One and Triune God.

  6. Thomas Sweeney says:

    Charles Martel. Jan Sobieski and Donald Trump, two names that saved Western Civilization and the other, we are hoping that the future history books might mention him. [favorably, that is!]

  7. SKAY says:

    “Burke criticized Catholic leaders who, in an effort to be tolerant, have a tendency “to simply think that Islam is a religion like the Catholic faith or the Jewish faith.”
    “That simply is not objectively the case,” he said.”
    “When they become a majority in any country then they have the religious obligation to govern that country.”

    THAT is what most people in this country do not understand. It is part of Islam and is not a choice
    no matter how nice they are.
    I do think that President Obama understands it very well.

  8. Gail F says:

    I highly recommend Gorka’s book. It’s short, very easy to understand, and non-polemical. If you want an introduction to Islam as it is today (a BROAD introduction) and its history, start with this. One of the biggest things I got out of it is that Islam has been reformed numerous times. Each time, the religion got away from the rigorous, statist, Koran-centered version, and was taken back there by force. There ARE other kinds of Islam possible, iuncluding the kind practiced in teh “golden age” of Islam (but then repudiated) but each havs repudiated and they are being repudiated now. To encourage moderate Islam, then, will be far harder (for us and for Muslims) than our leaders assume. Another excellent book is Robert Reilly’s “The Closing of the Muslim Mind,” which is much more in-depth but very clearly written. Did you know that there are four schools of Islamic law, and no more are permitted? Four great imams each wrote one, and when they were done the imams decided that no other schools were ever needed. The period of figuring out how to interpret the Koran had ended, and from then on they were simply to be applied. And “law” applies to all human behavior. There are five types of behavior, from the encouraged to the forbidden. No more, no less. Every possible behavior is encouraged, permitted, not particularly good or bad, discouraged, or forbidden. It is a very, very different way from regarding behavior and learning than we have.

    Gorka says every American should buy a Koran and read it for himself. I went out and bought a used copy, and it’s an eye-opener. You read a verse here or there and it doesn’t make much of an impression. Reading page after page of how people who do not yield to you and the one great God are all going to burn in Hell comes as a surprise. Not “God told the Someoneites to smite the Someoneelsites in the fifth year of the reign of King Someone,” but “all who do not listen to your word and give you their lands are infidels and theirfaithless deeds will land them in hell, so go ahead and fight them because even if it looks as if you will lose, God will bring you to victory and they will be tormented forever.” It is nothing at all like the Bible.

  9. Kerry says:

    Lucky, you have described the outline of the argument. Can you lay it out for us to read; I’d be interested in it. Thanks.

  10. TNCath says:

    Cardinal Burke is a prophet in our midst, a lone voice crying out in the desert. May God grant him “length of days.”

  11. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Further to Gail F’s comment, in addition to reading a Koran translation (or comparing more than one) yourself, it is good to see how Muslim commentators have interpreted it. Handy for this is, for example, Robert Spenser’s series ‘Blogging the Qur’an’ at Jihad Watch (and, to some extent, at pjmedia: search using the series title at either blog).

    With respect to “The period of figuring out how to interpret the Koran had ended”, one of the practical problems in the 20th-21st centuries is that various Muslims dispute this and reopen the interpretation – an apparent ‘liberalism’ that in practice often results in fiercer interpretations exclusively dogmatically asserted (or so I have read).

  12. Filipino Catholic says:

    You can actually procure a copy of the Koran? I always thought there was a prohibition on translating the Koran.

    [In Defeating Jihad: The Winnable War (UK HERE), expert Sebastian Gorka suggests a translation of the Koran by Abdullah Yusef Ali HERE (UK HERE).]

  13. un-ionized says:

    FC, I have a Koran in English and Arabic published by the official publisher, the King Fahd Complex for the Printing of the Holy Qur’an, in Medina. It was sent to me from a Moslem in Australia after I inquired on a Moslem message board about which English translation is best. While it is true that only the Koran in Arabic is official there are of course translations, think of all the Moslems worldwide who are not native speakers of Arabic.

  14. un-ionized says:

    The above Koran I mention is translated by two fellows from Islamic University in Al-Madinah Al-Munawwarah. I have been told that this is considered to be the only acceptable translation. It is a translation of meaning and not literal,

  15. Rosary Rose says:

    God bless Cardinal Burke!

    Fr. Z, if we click the link in your post (or in your response to Filipino Catholic) to get Gorka’s book, will you get credit, or do we need to go through your Amazon link on the side for you to get credit?

  16. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Thanks Fr. Z and un-ionized for the translation recommendations and links!

    As the latter said, “While it is true that only the Koran in Arabic is official there are of course translations, think of all the Moslems worldwide who are not native speakers of Arabic.” I’ve talked with various English-speaking university-level Muslims from around the world who were not Arabic speakers and who relied on translations in their first (and/or other) languages while longing to learn Arabic.

    I have the impression (while welcoming correction and more info!) that many ‘Koran schools’ may teach the memorization of up to the entire Koran in Arabic without teaching a thorough working knowledge of Arabic as a spoken or written language as well.

    un-ionized observes of one that “It is a translation of meaning and not literal”. I wonder if even the most literal rendering might be spoken of by some Muslims in terms of ‘meaning’ rather than ‘translation’ in keeping with ideas of the ‘untranslatability’ in the strict sense of the Koran. (For instance, Muhammad Marmaduke Pickthall calls his – the first by a native English speaker – The Meaning of the Glorious Koran. His Wikipedia article says (without footnote) “The translation was authorized by the Al-Azhar University” and has a lot of interesting looking Koran-translation-related External Links – which I have not tried and the safety of which I have not (yet) attempted to discover!)

  17. Imrahil says:

    Thanks by the way. It was nothing big, I just heard that some people I know intended to take a walk of at least one and a half hour to where their car was parked, and thought that I might lend a car from someone else I know and drive them. Didn’t even think about any possible danger, nor was their any.

    Re the update: if the reports are true, we seem to have the strange but, if you think more closely of it, not altogether unexpected case of an anti-foreigner foreigner (well, German-with-immigration-background, but you get my drift), and an anti-Muslim Muslim (his first name is reported to be “Ali”, so, at least his parents intended to raise him a Shiite Muslim whether or not he practiced his faith).

    The chief of police was asked whether he “lived in Munich for a long time”. The answer was “we can’t say that exactly, but for a somewhat long time.” “More than two years?” “Yes, if that’s a long time for you: he did live here for more than two years”, i. e. was not one of the recent refugee immigrants.

    There may even be some connection to the attacks in Norway which, I heard, were on the same date. Even the fact that Persians happen to be Indoeuropeans by language-family and were consequently classified “Aryans” in the old racial theories of unhappy memory may play some role here. What we apparently can rule out is an ISIS connection, as ISIS is Sunnite and vividly anti-Shiite.

    (Is this compatible with shouting “Allahu akbar”? I wonder. It doesn’t seem to be at first glance; also, it is just one witness report that says so. But then if the perpetrator was Muslim, this may have been just his choice of words for such an occasion…)

  18. Gilbert Fritz says:


    In other words, a complicated situation; Muslims tend to dislike one another just as they dislike outsiders, or even more so. And there are still lots of racial undertones in this; the Kurds, and other groups, while Muslim, come in for a lot of discrimination and persecution.

  19. un-ionized says:

    VSL, you are correct about the Koran schools. Totally different than Hebrew schools. The difference may be that the Koran has a cache of magic about it because it was directly dictated from Allah to Mohammed. I see a tiny bit of this in the Mormons I know. I work with both Moslems and Mormons and some of both are friends. You would encounter no problems lending your lawnmower to a Mormon, they would return it with the blade sharpened.

  20. Venerator Sti Lot says:


    Arabic is the authoritative language (so to put it), being the language of the Koran, so I expect shouting “Allahu akbar” would be compatible with being a Persian Shiite. (I read reports of Erdogan supporters shouting it (with a distinctive local pronunciation) during the recent ‘coup’.) Bernard Lewis’s The Arabs in History gives an interesting picture of tensions between Islam’s universal claims and frequent ‘Arabist’ pretensions of superiority.

    Interrelations between different (for want of a wiser word) ‘sorts’ of self-describing Muslims can be bewildering to us outsiders (at least). For example, I just encountered this article, “U.S. Levies Terror Sanctions Against Iran-Based al-Qaeda Leaders” (in a less familiar Tablet!):

    It makes me wonder if Hubertus Andrae’s reportedly (according to AFP) saying “There is absolutely no link to the Islamic State” is a bit of finely-tuned equivocation which omits to add ‘but there may be with al-Qaeda’, for instance. He’s also reported as saying “The link is evident” with Breivik – upon what does he base that, beyond coinciding of dates?

    Do you happen to have an informed sense of Hubertus Andrae and the Munich police and the Bavarian State police and the Federal police regionally headquartered in Munich (and so on), which you would be willing to share with readers here?

    To quote AFP again, “Munich prosecutor Thomas Steinkraus-Koch said the 18-year-old German-Iranian […] had suffered depression and reportedly undergone psychiatric treatment.” I had just been wondering if there was not at least a de facto current widespread encouragement by multifarious Islamic supremacists (via social media, etc.) of what might be called ‘Muslim Marinus van der Lubbes’.

  21. Semper Gumby says:

    Venerator et al: You might be interested in an article from Middle East Quarterly Fall 2007 titled “Peace or Jihad? Abrogation in Islam” by David Bukay, where he highlights the differences between the Koran’s Mecca and Medina chapters and verses.

    In Mecca Mohammed’s group was small and the tone more diplomatic. These chapters tend to be short and found in the second half of the Koran. After arriving in Medina the chapters are more belligerent, Mohammed is granted special rewards by Allah, and these longer chapters tend to be in the first half of the Koran.

  22. Imrahil says:

    Dear Venerator Sti Lot,

    I don’t have any sense particularly more informed than what everyone else knows. What I do know is that if there is any institution practicing a no-nonsense policy in Germany, it is – after, perhaps, the Armed Forces (by which I do not mean Ministry of Defence) – the Bavarian State Police.

    As for Al-Qaeda, I somewhat doubt it. This doesn’t look like an Al-Qaeda sort of thing.

    As for Breivik, there is the coincidence of dates, which a spokesman of the police called an “obvious” allusion – an estimate to which I, privately, have to agree. Also, Wikipedia now seems to be reporting that he had some manifesto written down. Remains to be seen.

  23. jhayes says:

    Un-ionized wrote the Koran has a cache of magic about it because it was directly dictated from Allah to Mohammed

    Muslims believe that it was communicated orally to Mohammed by the angel Gabriel. Mohammed then repeated it orally to his Companions. They then wrote down the individual suras that were later organized into the Koran.

  24. Venerator Sti Lot says:


    Thank you!

    The latest I’ve seen is via the BBC, with one article including “Robert Heimberger, head of Bavaria’s criminal police, said the gunman had been planning the attack since he paid a visit last year to the town of Winnenden – the scene of a previous school shooting in 2009 – and took photographs.

    “He said it was likely the Glock pistol – which had been reactivated – was bought on the ‘dark net’ market, an area accessible only with the use of special software. It had been a theatre prop. […] He also said police had not found the manifesto of Norwegian mass killer Anders Behring Breivik when they searched the gunman’s room at his parents’ flat.”

    (How do teenagers in Germany get access to “the ‘dark net’ market” – or am I just hopelessly ‘out of touch’?)

    Another says, “Police in Munich say they have arrested a 16-year-old Afghan friend […]. They say the teenager is under investigation for failing to report the attacker’s plans, and that he could have been an accomplice.”

    Meanwhile, there are lots more people to pray for specifically in connection with the Reutlingen murders and the Ansbach bomb murder.

  25. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Semper Gumby,

    Thank you – ‘abrogation’ is one of the things I have been wanting to learn more about! I have gotten the impression that some Muslim scholars have minutely analyzed the suras (chapters) and assigned various verses within (each of?) them to different dates and occasions – how, I do not know (but also hope to learn): my impression from translations is, that little of this would be obvious to the ‘ordinary reader’ without annotation (and often not then)!

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