I'm an American Catholic currently living in India and teaching Communicative English to students of an Islamic school (ages 5 - 14). I am trying to live on the fence and keeping my faith promoted and subdued as necessary for my profession. I am already "leading by example" of a righteous, caring, loving Christian, but now some students are starting to ask me questions about Christianity. I'm thrilled and nervous at the same time.

When a seventh grade student asks me "What does the symbol of a cross mean?", I want to present it in a way that answers the question correctly, but also is stated in a way that bridges the two religions and doesn't cause a rift in administration.

What is an overview of methods recommended by published Roman Catholic missionaries and missiologists for explaining the cross to curious Muslims?

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    There are as many approaches to this as there are missionaries. And we aren't in a position to tell you which is best. Although I think it's a good question, I don't think it's a good fit for our site.
    – Flimzy
    Commented Nov 6, 2015 at 14:13
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    @Nathaniel: It's a question, in part, of teaching style. I doubt there's anything within Catholic doctrine which demands which teaching style is used by missionaries. There is doctrine about the cross, but that's not specific to missionaries. I suspect the closest you'll get to an official Catholic "rule" about how to teach the cross to Muslims is "teach the Catholic doctrine." But that's not what the OP wants to know... they want to know how to present this doctrine.
    – Flimzy
    Commented Nov 6, 2015 at 14:19
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    The edit to scope this to Catholic missals should be sufficient to make it on-topic and not too broad.
    – ThaddeusB
    Commented Nov 6, 2015 at 15:17
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    What methods do published Roman Catholic missionaries... now it's a list question. The scope change hasn't really fixed the underlying problem.
    – Flimzy
    Commented Nov 6, 2015 at 15:21
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    A place to start: Islam and the Crucifixion.
    – user13992
    Commented Nov 29, 2015 at 4:48

1 Answer 1


What the saints have said about Islam [cf. What Did the Saints Say about Islam? | 1P5] may assist you in this regard. For example St. John of Damascus’s Critique of Islam (sans references) has a paragraph on how to answer the accusation of idolatry when Christians venerate the cross:

They furthermore accuse us of being idolaters, because we venerate the cross, which they abominate. And we answer them: ‘How is it, then, that you rub yourselves against a stone in your Ka’ba and kiss and embrace it?’ Then some of them say that Abraham had relations with Agar upon it, but others say that he tied the camel to it, when he was going to sacrifice Isaac. And we answer them: ‘Since Scripture says that the mountain was wooded and had trees from which Abraham cut wood for the holocaust and laid it upon Isaac, and then he left the asses behind with the two young men, why talk nonsense? For in that place neither is it thick with trees nor is there passage for asses.’ And they are embarrassed, but they still assert that the stone is Abraham’s. Then we say: ‘Let it be Abraham’s, as you so foolishly say. Then, just because Abraham had relations with a woman on it or tied a camel to it, you are not ashamed to kiss it, yet you blame us for venerating the cross of Christ by which the power of the demons and the deceit of the Devil was destroyed.’ This stone that they talk about is a head of that Aphrodite whom they used to worship and whom they called Khabár. Even to the present day, traces of the carving are visible on it to careful observers.

As regards 'I want to present it in a way that answers the question correctly, but also is stated in a way that bridges the two religions and doesn't cause a rift in administration' the Church and Scipture teaches that we have to speak the truth, but with Charity. With the help of God and knowing your audience, you have to figure the how.

Perhaps a modern resource: Franciscan University Presents: Catholics and Islam | Franciscan University of Steubenville.

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