The below mentioned article was written by "Francis Maier", in "Our Sunday Visitor" newspaper, a Catholic newspaper ...... I liked it and thought if sharing it..
People who forget their history are like a man with amnesia: They don't have a future because they can't understand the present. And they can't make sense of the present because they don't have the context of the past.
When Emperor Justinian walked into the completed HAGIA SOPHIA in 537 A.D., he stared in silence for a long time at the immense beauty of the basilica he had commissioned and then whispered: "Solomon, I surpassed you."
He was probably right. HAGIA SOPHIA was the artistic triumph of a millennium. For 916 years, it permeated the daily life of the imperical city of Constantinople. No church in Christendom matched its scale or grandeur. Over centuries, it became a symbol of Byzantine civilization. Orthodox christians ( Actually it would be the Eastern Orthodox) saw it as the center of their faith, a foretaste of heaven.
For this reason, the first act of the city's Muslims conquerors in A.D.1453 as they sacked the city was to convert this astonishing Christian church to a mosque.
Over the following centuries, Muslim rulers destroyed or commandeered nearly all the city's remaining Christian churches. Even today, in officially "secular" Turkey, the harassment of the christian minority continues. Barely 2000 Christians now remain in a city that once rivaled Rome for leadership of the Christian world.
We should reflect carefully on this history lesson. While European birthrates drop and a secularized Europe spurns its christian roots, Muslim immigration continues. As a result, the religious and cultural landscape of Europe is changing- a trend further accelerated by high Muslim birthrates. Some church leaders have began to express concern. They're right to do so.
Islam, despite its claim to a common ancestry with Judaism and Christianity stemming from Abraham and despite its formal respect for Jesus and Mary, has virtually nothing in common with Christian faith. Islam denies the Trinity, the Incarnation and the Redemption. It denies the accuracy of the Gospels. And it denies the origin and the purpose of the Church. In fact, Islam acknowledges Judaism and Christianity only to absorb them into its own syncretist story.
As a result, a Muslim-Christian coexistance has always been uncomfortable and often violent, usually at christian expense (I add: always on christian expense). Much of North Africa and the Middle East once had a flourishing Christian civilization. Muslim invasion submerged and erased them. The (Christian) Byzantine empire had been resisting the Muslim expansion. Spain expelled Muslim occupiers in the 15the century. Muslim armies were turned back from Vienna in 1689. Much of the tragic religious and ethnic fighting in the Balkan today can trace its roots to four centuries of Ottoman Turk (muslim) occupation and repression.
And these difficult relations are not something from the distant past. Today, Christians in Muslim-dominated states like Sudan, Egypt, Iran, Pakistan, Turkey, Bangladesh and Indonesia face everything from marginalization and harassment to outright violence. The reson is simple. Anti-Jewish and Anti-Christian prejudice has a long and unfortunate pedigree in Islam, depsite all claims to the contrary.
This does not license prejudice on our part. But it does demand that we bring realism, courage, firmness and an accurate memory to our modern encounter with Islam. In the light of the Gospel, Mohammed is not a true prophet,and the Quran is not the word of God. Muslims do not know Jesus Christ, and without our active witness to the Islamic world, they never will.
The prominent mosque completed a decade ago in Rome, the heart of the Catholic world, reminds us that history repeats itself with unhappy consequences for Christian believers. The mosque's young Imam was removed earlier this year for preaching violence against the "enemies of Islam", but his message was nothing unusual.
If Christians sleep, if we remain silent in the face of Islamic intolerance, the world our grandchildren will inherit will be a world increasingly without the cross and without the truth