Over the past several weeks at our church, I have been teaching an adult class on the history and teachings of Islam. We have looked at the life and example of the Prophet, Muhammad. We have examined portions of the Quran. We have studied some of the historical interactions of the Islamic community with both the Christian and Jewish communities around them.
As we have looked at the beliefs of our Muslim sisters and brothers, my class and I have been amazed at how closely their spiritual goals, beliefs and practices match up with ours. Yet, this similarity should not be a surprise. Jews, Muslims and Christians all trace our roots back to Abraham. Likewise, along with Christians, Muslims accept the virgin birth of Jesus, and Mary (Jesus’ mother) is spoken of fondly in the Quran. Even more, within the Quran there is a recognition of the kinship of Islam with Judaism and Christianity.
Unfortunately, because of the human influence within each of our faiths, our shared history over the past centuries has fluctuated from moments of acceptance and cooperation to prejudice and persecution. Sadly, we Christians are just as guilty for the negative aspects of our historical relationship as are our Jewish and Islamic brethren. We are like siblings who, too often, refuse to get along with one another, even as we all work toward the same end: Living out our faith in our day to day lives, following the way of our God.