What Christianity and Islam have in common

islam-christianity

Profiles with Christian and Islamic symbols

There are many people today who argue Islam and Christianity are locked in a civilizational war, a view that has become a rationale for a number of the Trump administration’s policies.

This argument, however, is an inaccurate and simplistic assessment of the relationship between these two faiths. Quite distinct from the apocalyptic struggle many espouse, an examination of the foundations of the Islamic faith shows respect for Christianity.

Islam is part of the same Abrahamic tradition as Christianity. Key figures within the Bible — Abraham (Ibrahim), Moses (Musa), Mary (Maryam), and Jesus (Isa) among others — are all respected prophets and figures within Islam. There is a chapter in the Quran about Mary and, within the Quran, Jesus is the only person who can perform miracles.

Within Islam, Christians and Jewish people are therefore treated as “People of the Book” whose rights and religious traditions were to be fully protected as monotheistic faiths with revelations understood to be earlier versions of the same revelation to the Prophet of Islam.

The protection that Christian communities were meant to receive under Islam was enshrined in a letter of protection from Prophet Muhammad to the Christian monks at St. Catherine’s Monastery in Sinai in the early seventh century. This letter promised the monks that, under Islamic rule, the Christian community, as a “people of the book”, shall have the freedom to practice their religion and be protected from any unlawful interference or molestation, whether in their communities or while traveling. Distinct from a war with Christianity, Prophet Muhammad further stated, “No one shall bear arms against [Christians], but, on the contrary, the [Muslims] shall wage war for them.”

The respect that Muslims have for Jesus in particular is demonstrated by the verses of Hafez, the most famous and beloved of Muslim poets from the 14th century. In one stanza, he writes, “I am a hole in a flute that the breath of Christ moves through/Listen to this music.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE TENNESSEAN 

‘Allahu akbar’: We have a double standard when it comes to religion and violence

imrsThree people were killed in California in yet another mass shooting. The culprit? A man who had a history of violence and was known for yelling out religious slogans. Shortly before the slayings, he publicly praised his god and guns on Facebook.

The shooter was Cedric Anderson; he was 53 and a former Christian pastor. On April 10 in San Bernardino, Calif., he killed his estranged wife, an 8-year-old child and then himself. He also injured another child.

Anderson had a history of violence against women: As recently as 2013 he was arrested for assault and a weapons offense. Days before the shooting, he posted on Facebook complaining that people “are not free in Christ,” and concluded, “I just pray for the[m] and keep my guns close!”

Despite his history of violence and religious fanaticism, you probably didn’t know Anderson was a Christian or a criminal. In fact, you might have thought I was speaking of Kori Ali Muhammad (whose previous namewas Cory Taylor) who has been accused of killing three people in California; this time in Fresno.

But police say that when Muhammad was arrested, he yelled “Allahu akbar,” Arabic for “God is great.”

Unlike Anderson, who reportedly was deeply religious, Muhammad reportedly did not attend any mosque, and none of the Fresno Islamic centers had heard of him. Also unlike Anderson, Muhammad was homeless (the connection between poverty and violence is well documented). But, like Anderson, Muhammad had a history of criminal violence. In fact, he was already wanted for a previous slaying.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE WASHINGTON POST 

‘Our response to hate’: Muslim and Christians’ moving reaction after Britain First stormed bookshop accused of promoting jihad

uk shopDozens have spoken out in support of a bookshop invaded by members of far-right group Britain First, who accused the store of selling literature that promotes Islamic Jihad to children.

Footage published by Britain First showed leader Paul Golding and deputy leader Jayda Fransen alongside ex-EDL leader Tommy Robinson storming into the store.

They confront a volunteer working at the shop and accuse him of selling extremist literature, which he forcibly denies, Birmingham Mail reports.

The son of the owner of the store, who did not wish to be named, told the Mirror the ‘invasion’ by Britain First was due to an isolated incident where a book, Bringing Up Children in Islam – which was said to encourage parents to “keep alive in the children the spirit of jihad” – had been sent to the store as a sample and appeared for sale in error.

He said the book had been picked up and put on the shelves by accident,and was not meant to be put on sale. He insisted there were no other books like this in the store.

Christians and Muslims have spoken out in support of the store in Alum Rock, Birmingham, after seeing the footage posted online by Britain First when they confronted staff.

Britain First call themselves a Christian organisation – but their actions drew the ire of the community.

Posting on Twitter, councillor Mariam Khan wrote: “Amazing Easter Sunday spent visiting Islamic bookshops on Alum Rock Rd with Christian neighbours from local Church. Our response to hate.”

And social commentator Waheed Saleem said the West Midlands Police van was visible on the road after an “unwelcome visit” by Britain First.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE MIRROR (UK)

As a Christian, I Didn’t Realize My Muslim Classmates Needed a Prayer Space of Their Own

webrns-texas-prayer2-041317-632x474_1_1In all my years as a student, I have never had a prayer room in my school or on my campus. Not in grade school, high school, or in college. It wasn’t something that I noticed, because it wasn’t something I personally needed.

As a Christian in the United States, I had Sundays off from school. My winter and spring breaks usually freed me up for Christmas and Easter (plus Easter is on a Sunday, and at one point we even got Good Friday off too). And we pledged allegiance to “one nation under God” every morning. That seemed to give me free license to pray when and where I wanted.

The world around me was constructed to, more or less, accommodate my faith.

But many Muslim students cannot take for granted what I, as a Christian, was able to take for granted.

Recently, in a letter to the Frisco Independent School District, the Texas attorney general’s office raised concerns about the constitutionality of a Muslim prayer room at Frisco’s Liberty High School, based on the establishment clause of the First Amendment.

The AG’s office is overreaching with this formal letter and question to the district: Do students of other faiths have access to the prayer room? The answer is “yes.”

So it is hard to see the letter as anything more than political hot air. But it does raise more relevant questions about how neutral public schools actually are — or should be — toward religion.

I saw the situation from a non-Christian point of view when I decided to join students from my college’s Muslim Student Association for jumah — a prayer service held on Fridays just after noon.

FULL ARTICLE FROM SOJOURNERS MAGAZINE 

Forgiveness: Muslims Moved as Coptic Christians Do the Unimaginable

76535Twelve seconds of silence is an awkward eternity on television. Amr Adeeb, perhaps the most prominent talk show host in Egypt, leaned forward as he searched for a response.

“The Copts of Egypt … are made of … steel!” he finally uttered.

Moments earlier, Adeeb was watching a colleague in a simple home in Alexandria speak with the widow of Naseem Faheem, the guard at St. Mark’s Cathedral in the seaside Mediterranean city.

On Palm Sunday, the guard had redirected a suicide bomber through the perimeter metal detector, where the terrorist detonated. Likely the first to die in the blast, Faheem saved the lives of dozens inside the church.

“I’m not angry at the one who did this,” said his wife, children by her side. “I’m telling him, ‘May God forgive you, and we also forgive you. Believe me, we forgive you.’

“‘You put my husband in a place I couldn’t have dreamed of.’”

Stunned, Adeeb stammered about Copts bearing atrocities over hundreds of years, but couldn’t escape the central scandal.

“How great is this forgiveness you have!” his voice cracked. “If it were my father, I could never say this. But this is their faith and religious conviction.”

Millions marveled with him across the airwaves of Egypt.

So also did millions of Copts, recently rediscovering their ancient heritage, according to Ramez Atallah, president of the Bible Society of Egypt which subtitled and recirculated the satellite TV clip.

“In the history and culture of the Copts, there is much taught about martyrdom,” he told CT. “But until Libya, it was only in the textbooks—though deeply ingrained.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM CHRISTIANITY TODAY 

It’s Not Enough to Dismiss Islamophobia

lead_960A new book argues that conversations about Muslims in America and Europe are about more than rights and freedoms.

Controversies over Islam take somewhat different shapes in Europe and the United States. While France attempts to ban  burkinis, or full-body bathing suits worn by some Muslim women, U.S. state legislatures attempt to ban the use of sharia law in American courts.

And yet, argues Nadia Marzouki in her new book, Islam: An American Religion, anti-Islam arguments in the West have become “surprisingly standardized.” It’s “no longer possible to discuss Islam’s place in Western societies without systematically invoking a series of normative oppositions: good/bad, moderate/radical, faith/law, West/Muslim, modernity/tradition, and so on,” she writes. “For a majority of Americans and Europeans, Islam remains an opaque object that one is unable to think of in any way other than as a problem, threat, or retrograde legal code.”

 

It’s not enough to understand this simply as Islamophobia, argues Marzouki, who is a research fellow at Harvard University’s Belfer Center and the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique in Paris. She believes Islam has become a cipher in Western societies for the tough questions of secular, liberal democracies: how much to champion liberty over equality, for example, and whether legal rights should entitle Muslims to fully express their faith in public. As much as Europe and the U.S. have different histories and legal traditions, she claims, anti-Muslim groups in both places share their discomfort with these challenges.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE ATLANTIC