chapter  7
Muhammad and the Muslims in St. Thomas Aquinas*
ByJames Waltz
Pages 15

This chapter seeks to follow Marie-Dominique Chenu's suggestion by examining St. Thomas’ attitudes toward, sources of his knowledge of, and the significance of his works concerning Islam and Muslims. Although Chenu proposed, twenty-five years ago, research on "Islam and Christendom" based on the Summa contra Gentiles, the vast literature devoted to St. Thomas Aquinas contains very few works concerning him and Muslims and most of these consider the impact of Islamic philosophy upon his thought. It is apparent that Thomas did not seek to give an objective or sympathetic account of Muhammad and his teaching; indeed, he said nothing about its content but focused instead upon its hearers, its forms and its proofs, all of which served to discredit it. In discussing the form of Muhammad's teaching, Thomas allowed that Muhammad taught some truths, apparently very simple ones accessible to the natural reason.