Muslims revere Jesus too, but this Turkish author sees the Islamic Jesus in a new light

RTX35KZENewcomers 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.

 

FULL ARTICLE (AND AUDIO CLIP) FROM PRI INTERNATIONAL 

Interfaith Healer: The Surprising Role of Jesus in Islam

51nMpVg+XhL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_How did a Jewish preacher who became the Christian Messiah also become one of the most admired figures in the Quran? Mustafa Akyol, a Turkish journalist and contributing opinion writer for The International New York Times, sets out to explore this apparent conundrum.

The result will come as something of a revelation to many non-Muslim readers, since Jesus is revered in Islam’s sacred text as a great teacher and prophet, while his mother, Mary, gets more ink — and praise — than in all four New Testament Gospels put together.

If the Quran’s portrayal of Jesus is familiar in outline, however, its details are sometimes not, especially to Western Christians used to a single canonical version. The Quran is more ecumenical, dipping into the rich mélange of Middle Eastern traditions contained in the apocryphal and “gnostic” gospels and still very much alive in the popular lore of Eastern Christianity. It shows Jesus making clay birds and then breathing life into them, for instance, or Mary giving birth not in a Bethlehem stable with Joseph in attendance but alone under a palm tree, deep in the desert.

Akyol makes good use of both canonical and noncanonical sources, tracing where and why the Islamic approach agrees with Christian tradition (yes to Jesus as the messenger, prophet, word and spirit of God), and where it disagrees (no to the Resurrection, and no to divinity). Along the way, he ups the ante by finding what he calls “astonishing” parallels between the Quran and early Christian texts, though such astonishment seems unnecessary to this reader. Given the fertile interchange of ideas and lore in the multiethnic Byzantine Middle East, such parallels were not only likely, but even inevitable.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES 

10 points Christians should know about Muslims and Jesus

  1. bible_001bMuslims love Jesus. We also love Abraham, Moses, and Noah, to name just a few other Prophets Muslims revere. May God’s peace be upon all of these great messengers of God.
  2. Muslims also love the mother of Jesus, the Virgin Mary. We believe she was a pious and noble woman chosen over all of the women of the world.
  3. Muslims believe that Jesus was born miraculously of a virgin mother and no father. His birth is miraculous like the birth of Adam, the first human being, who was created with neither mother nor father.
  4. Muslims do not believe that Jesus was the son of God. God is so powerful and self-sufficient that He does not need a son or any kind of partner.

FULL ARTICLE FROM SOUND VISION 

Centuries of dialogue How two global monotheisms view the same prophet

20130810_BKP001_0Christians, Muslims and Jesus. By Mona Siddiqui. Yale University Press; 285 pages; $32.50 and £20. Buy from Amazon.comAmazon.co.uk

RELIGION is a tricky subject for scholarship. Even the most professional academic is bound to have personal feelings about the faith under scrutiny. Some see this as cause for concern. Indeed Reza Aslan, one of America’s best-known writers on religion, recently came under fire for his new book about Jesus (“Zealot”, reviewed in the July 27th issue ofThe Economist). Because he is a Muslim who once embraced Christianity and then dropped it, Lauren Green of Fox News accused him of writing with a “clear bias”. No, Mr Aslan replied, he was writing as a scholar. His response was articulate and dignified, and the interview has helped sell quite a few books, but it will hardly sway those who believe Mr Aslan is writing with a Muslim agenda.

Mona Siddiqui, a professor at Edinburgh University’s school of divinity, makes no secret of the various strains of thought that inform her study of Christians, Muslims and Jesus. Parts of her book are rigorously academic and arcane, other parts are very personal. Unlike Mr Aslan, she does not confine her meditations on her own faith to an introduction. Rather, she ambitiously weaves her personal and scholarly views throughout.

She presents certain basic facts: Muslims revere Jesus as a uniquely inspired prophet who was born of the Virgin Mary, ascended to heaven and will come again. Yet Muslims cannot accept that Jesus was the son of God. This, they believe, reflects a flawed view of both Jesus and God. As Ms Siddiqui shows, Christians and Muslims sparred with one another intensely during the early centuries after Islam’s rise, with each side vying to be the ultimate revelation of God. But the two faiths did at least grudgingly acknowledge one another as monotheistic, despite Islam’s firm rejection of the Christian view of God as a trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE ECONOMIST 

Jesus and Jihad: Reclaiming the Prophetic Heart of Christianity and Islam

CASCADE_TemplateWhat if all our stereotypical images of jihad are wrong?

Few words inspire more fear in Americans these days than jihad.

Its mere utterance conjures up images of car bombs exploding in crowded markets; Boeing 737s crashing into tall buildings; and flag burning, gun-toting bearded Arab men shouting, “allahu akbar” and “Death to America!” But what if all our stereotypical images of jihad are wrong, and when rightly understood, jihad turns out to be the perfect lens through which to understand the life and mission of Jesus?

Jesus and Jihad argues that in early Muslim sources jihad stood for the struggle to transform a violent and unjust pre-Islamic society into one characterized by greater levels of justice and peace. When rescued from his Christian pietistic misinterpretations, Jesus emerges as a highly prophetic figure of resistance to the injustices authorized by Roman imperial power

FULL ARTICLE FROM RNS 

Easter in Islam: Christ is risen and will return

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Easter is celebrated to varying degrees in the Islamic world, ranging from outright illegal in Saudi Arabia to being openly celebrated in some of the Gulf States and the Far East. A natural question is, just where does Islam diverge from Christianity on the matter of Jesus’ AS1 crucifixion and resurrection? The Qur’an says,

[4:157] That they said (in boast), “We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah”;- but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety they killed him not

 [4:158] Nay, Allah raised him up unto Himself; and Allah is Exalted in Power, Wise

 [4:159] And there is none of the People of the Book but must believe in him before his death; and on the Day of Judgment he will be a witness against them

Here, the Qur’an states clearly that Jesus AS was not killed nor crucified, but was indeed raised to Heaven. Therefore, Easter has no direct analogue in Islam since it is the celebration of his resurrection. However, as the third verse above explains, Jesus will also play a role on Judgement Day.

There is of course some historical evidence that supports the crucifixion as a recorded event, including from some Roman sources. And the verse in the Qur’an itself says quite expplicitly that “so it was made to appear to them”. So it seems plausible that someone was crucified, unless it was all a divine illusion. One of the mainstream views among muslim theologians is that another was crucified in Jesus’ AS place; either as punishment (likely Judas) or as a willing martyr (often cited as Simon). There are also various minority views, in which Jesus AS did die or achieved separation of spirit from his body. The Wikipedia article “Islamic views of Jesus’ death” provides a comprehensive overview of the various interpretations.

FULL ARTICLE FROM BELIEF.NET

A Muslim, Jew And Christian On What Jesus Means To Them

symbolbildislamundjudentumpicture-alliance-dpaJesus plays a distinct role in each of the Abrahamic faiths. This time of year, when Christians celebrate Christ’s nativity, his significance in faith traditions across the world is particularly potent.

Rabbi Jason Miller, Imam Shamsi Ali and Fr. James Martin joined HuffPost Live host Caroline Modarressy-Tehrani to discuss what Jesus means to them.

“As a Muslim I do believe that Jesus Christ is one of the mighty prophets of God,” Ali said. “In the Quran, he reminded the Muslims that ‘Worship God and obey me’ means that if you want to worship God then follow me in worshiping the almighty one, the almighty God.”

Ali noted that the one place where Christians and Muslims disagree is over the divinity of Jesus, as Muslims believe Jesus to be among five mighty prophets from God.

In Judaism, Miller noted, devotees typically do not “believe in” Jesus as the messiah but rather see him as historical figure who offered certain wise teachings that resonate for Jews. Miller added that Jews do feel utmost respect for “our Christian brothers and sisters” to whom Jesus’ divinity is a central teaching.

Martin offered final words from the Catholic/Christian tradition: “Catholics believe all things that all Christians believe which is that Jesus is fully human, fully divine… For me, Jesus Christ is the center of my life.”

FULL ARTICLE IN THE HUFFINGTON POST