What Christianity and Islam have in common

Inter-religious meeting in a church

24 May 2012, Paris, France — Inter-religious meeting in a church — Image by © Pascal Deloche/Godong/Corbis

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.

Pope: Respect, dialogue key for peace between Christians, Muslims

10776016-3x2-700x467VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis said his recent visit to the United Arab Emirates, while brief, was a new page in relations between Christians and Muslims at a time when conflict and violence threaten the goal of lasting peace.

Recalling his Feb. 3-5 visit to Abu Dhabi, the pope said during his weekly general audience Feb. 6 that the joint document signed by him and Egyptian Sheik Ahmad el-Tayeb, the grand imam of al-Azhar and chair of the Muslim Council of Elders, was a step forward in promoting dialogue and brotherhood.

“In an age like ours, in which there is a strong temptation to see a clash between Christian and Islamic civilizations taking place, and also to consider religions as sources of conflict, we wanted to give another clear and decisive sign that, on the contrary, it is possible to meet, respect and dialogue with each other, and that, despite the diversity of cultures and traditions, the Christian and Islamic worlds appreciate and protect common values: life, the family, religious belief, honor for the elderly, the education of young people and much more,” the pope said.

FULL ARTICLE FROM CATHOLIC NEWS 

 

Best Friends Separated by War: A Heartbreaking Letter From A Muslim to His Catholic Friend

brckoThis a true story from 1992. It took place in the beginning of the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, part of former Yugoslavia, in a town called Prijedor. Bosnian Muslims were the victims of an ethnic cleansing, committed by the Bosnian Serb Army of Republika Srpska.

I’ve read this story a dozen times before. The main character in the story is a close relative of mine and went through some hard times during and after the war. All the people in this story are part of my family and it tears me up writing this. I’ve chosen to respect their privacy so I have altered their names to keep them anonymous.

It’s about Ahmed, a young man born in Prijedor, Bosnia and Herzegovina. In 1992 the war in former Yugoslavia erupted. Over the course of 3 years (1992-1995) an ethnic cleansing of Bosnian Muslims, also known as Bosniaks, took place in the whole region of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Ahmed was 28 years old when it all began. He is a Muslim and has fallen victim to the Bosnian Serb Army of Republika Srpska.

Slobodan, also born in Prijedor, is one of Ahmed’s best friends and was a Bosnian Serb. He lived across town but the war separated them because they had different beliefs. Ahmed was hiding after his village got attacked by the army. To cope with the fear that he had to endure, he decided to write a letter to his friend, not knowing if he would ever receive it.

Dear Slobodan,

I have buried my father yesterday. He hung himself in the early morning. He couldn’t bear the insecurity and fear that was amongst us these past few days. On the 20th July, they invaded our houses and my father and I were waiting at home for them to pick us up. The army has passed our village and took all the men with them. Luckily, they have skipped our house. We sat there waiting, we weren’t allowed to go outside without permission. They sent us back inside and told us to stay put, that we would be safe there. The night fell and we were all sleeping in the same room; mom, dad, my sister Medina, aunt, little Vedo and me.

FULL ARTICLE FROM MVSLIM

New Documentary on Wheaton College’s ‘Same God’ Controversy to Be Shown at LA Film Festival

same-god-movie-posterA new documentary focusing on the departure of professor Larycia Hawkins from Wheaton College after she declared on Facebook that Christians and Muslims worship the same God will be screened at the Los Angeles Film Festival later this month.

The film, “Same God,” will be shown as part of the festival’s competition lineup on Sept. 24, and will focus on the political science professor’s experience with the Illinois-based evangelical higher education institution after she took to Facebook in December 2015 to declare that she was going to wear a hijab during advent.

But it wasn’t Hawkins’ vow to wear a hijab that drew the ire of Wheaton administrators. Her assertion in her Facebook post that Christians and Muslims worship the same God that led administrators to question if she had violated the school’s statement of faith.

FULL ARTICLE FROM CHRISTIAN POST 

5 things Christians and Muslims can agree on

20170921T1318-11715-CNS-POPE-MUSLIM_800-690x450At Acton University, Turkish Islamic scholar, Mustafa Akyol, gave multiple lectures on Islam, discussing topics ranging from its history to its controversial practices. Akyol has been speaking at Acton University for many years now and is a respected scholar in fields of Islam, politics, and Turkish affairs. He is a critic of Islamic extremism and the author of the influential book Islam Without Extremes: A Muslim Case for Liberty.

After attending both of Akyol’s lectures, a few points stood out to me. He mentioned a few concepts in Islam also emphasized in Christianity, which often go unnoticed.

While there are undeniably a great number of fundamental differences between Islam and Christianity, there are a handful of concepts the two popular religions share.

1. Almsgiving

To both Muslims and Christians, caring for the poor is a duty bestowed upon believers. Both faiths stress the importance of donating to, praying for and protecting the needy. Furthermore, in both Islam and Christianity, it is made clear that giving alms in private is favorable in the eyes of God, as opposed to donations made in an attempt to receive praise and acknowledgement. Islam emphasizes the importance of zakatZakat is one of the five pillars of Islam, and refers to the requirement of believers to give offerings to the needy. The amount is not clear, but in general practice, one gives 2.5 percent of one’s wealth, according to Akyol. Similarly, in the Christian tradition, God commands each Christian to donate 10 percent of his or her earnings to the church, called tithes, which are used to provide for the poor.

[Al-Baqarah, 2:215] “Whatever of your wealth you spend, shall (first) be for your parents, and for the near of kin, and the orphans, and the needy, and the wayfarer; and whatever good you do, verily, God has full knowledge thereof”

[Proverbs 19:17] “Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM ACTION INSTITUTE POWERBLOG

Senior Hamas Official: ‘I Think We Can All Live Here in This Land – Muslims, Christians and Jews’

ahmed_yousef-400-x-267

Yes, hello.

Hello to senior Hamas official Dr. Ahmed Yousef, former diplomatic adviser to former Hamas Prime Minister in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh. This is Nir Gontarz from Haaretz.

Hi, how are you?

I’m good…

Nir, your name is Nir?

N-i-r?

Yes. Gontarz.

Gon Gon?

Gontarz. Can you tell me a little bit about Hamas’ plans for this holiday season in Israel?

What do you mean, holiday season in Israel?

To the best of my knowledge, there’s supposed to be a march to the fence [on the Gaza-Israel border] during the Passover holiday in Israel, and after that on Independence Day, your Nakba Day.

Aha.

Is Hamas moving from military action to civil action?

Actually, Mr. Nir, it is not Hamas who made the decision, but the youth. The main idea was thought up by the youth. There are people who think there is no hope, no future, and that we have to do something – ya’ani, to remind the whole world that we as Palestinians are still suffering, we are still living in the diaspora or in refugee camps, and there’s a certain decision by the United Nations, [Resolution] UN 194, that we are trying to implement, ya’ani, and to send a message to the world community that our problem is not solved and we’re still suffering, and continue to see our land being abused by the occupation, or Israelis trying to squeeze us to the corner, punishing the Palestinians, and this is something that this generation of Palestinians is not going to accept. And so they’re doing their own civil march, they don’t intend to do anything belligerent, and I think this is the message they would like to carry to the whole world, about the situation and the suffering in Gaza.

FULL ARTICLE FROM HAARETZ 

Muslims like me don’t have theological beef with evangelicals. It’s the prejudice against us that’s the problem.

1728056Last month, my wife and I joined a small group of Muslims and thousands of Christians at the annual March for Life in Washington to call for an end to what we believe is the unjust murder of unborn children in America. My wife’s hijab attracted interest, but we didn’t feel out of place among marchers, many of whom were white evangelicals.

Despite our deep theological differences on other issues, we were at home in the company of fellow believers.

Yet, the Muslim presence at the March is perennially small, even insignificant. In fact, Muslims also decline to join forces with conservative Christians on other traditional social causes such as opposing same-sex marriage.

While research suggests that American Muslims overall are significantly more liberal than white evangelical Protestants, there remains a significant pool of conservative Muslims who in a parallel universe would consider evangelicals their natural allies.

That parallel universe could have existed if the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, hadn’t unleashed a wave of anti-Muslim sentiment. Without that, many Muslims would make common cause with evangelicals, something I hope is beginning to happen in America.

The absence of American Muslims from the social conservative space is a result in large part not of theology but of mistrust and even animosity between them and evangelical Christians. When I told a Muslim friend I was meeting with evangelical leaders to get ideas for greater Muslim participation in the March for Life, he asked incredulously, “Why would you talk to Islamophobes?”

His reaction was understandable. There is a widespread sense in the American Muslim community that American foreign policy is influenced by evangelical antipathy toward Islam, as in the decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. A 2017 poll from the Pew Research Center found that two-thirds of white Evangelicals believe that Islam is not part of mainstream American society. Such views manifest in diverse ways, as in opposition to mosque-building in local communities, anti-Muslim screeds on social media and bans on travel from Muslim countries.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE WASHINGTON POST