Newcomers to the Quran might be surprised to find that the Prophet Muhammad is only mentioned a handful of times in the Muslim holy book.
The prophet whose name is mentioned most? That would be Moses — indeed, the very same Moses from the Book of Exodus.
Jesus, the son of Mary, is mentioned numerous times in the Quran. And the Islamic version of the Jesus story, it turns out, tracks quite closely to the one that Christians know.
The Quran has a whole chapter about Mary, who is the only woman mentioned by name in the holy book.
In one scene after the birth of her child, Mary is confronted by holy men accusing her of being impure. That is when baby Jesus speaks up in his mother’s defense, performing one of a couple of miracles that never show up in the New Testament version of the Jesus story.
About 15 years ago, the Turkish writer Mustafa Akyol was handed a copy of the New Testament for the first time by a missionary on the street in Istanbul. Akyol says he went home and started reading it, and what struck him most was how much of the story of Jesus was already so familiar to him as a Muslim.
Such as the angel visiting the Virgin Mary to tell her that she would give birth to a son, and the description of Jesus as a messenger of God.
“It was so similar,” Akyol says.
The author took out a pen and started underlining the passages about Jesus in the Bible that he agreed with as a Muslim. Those sections turned out to be extensive. And they prompted Akyol to start working on his new book, “The Islamic Jesus: How the King of the Jews Became a Prophet of the Muslims.”
While both the Quran and mainstream Muslim teachings emphasize the importance of Jesus as a prophet, Akyol is going a bit further.