It is my hope that we will find commonality in the way we believe rather than the differences that makes us be at odds with each other, and with good reason.
Recently I befriended a young man that is Muslim. At our first meeting I felt a sense of fear as well as excitement. I questioned why I felt excited because both of those emotions are, or shall I say, totally contrary to each other as being a weird combination.
While in deep conversation with this young man, and we will name him Tom, I began to see that we had a lot in common. I had this inner stirring in me and the peace-maker in me was being challenged because if I claim to be a “Truth Seeker” I need to be open to wisdom and knowledge based on other religions.
Did you know that Muslims believe in Jesus and in the Quran Jesus is mentioned twenty-five times. The disconnect to many Christians is that Jesus never tasted death. They believe that the Father took Him up unto Himself.
The purpose of writing this piece is not meant to persuade anyone into conversion. It is however, a way to bridge the two different cultures with some understanding. I still have no clue to how and why Islam has become so tainted by extremism. It certainly is not like a Christian fanatic in any sense of the word.
Let us begin in part to examine what Wikipedia says about Islam.
Isa ( Arabic: عيسى, Transliteration: ʿĪsā ), known as Jesus in the New Testament, is considered to be a Messenger of God and the Masih (Messiah) in Islam who was sent to guide the Children of Israel (banī isrā’īl) with a new scripture, the Injīl or Gospel. The belief in Jesus (and all other messengers of God) is required in Islam, and a requirement of being a Muslim. The Quran mentions Jesus by name twenty-five times, while it only mentions Muhammad by name four times as Muhammad and once as Ahmad; making it a total of five times. It states that Jesus was born to Mary (Arabic: Maryam) as the result of virginal conception, a miraculous event which occurred by the decree of God (Arabic: Allah). To aid in his ministry to the Jewish people, Jesus was given the ability to perform miracles (such as healing the blind, bringing dead people back to life, etc.), all by the permission of God rather than of his own power. According to the Quran, Jesus, although appearing to have been crucified, was not killed by crucifixion or by any other means, instead, “God raised him unto Himself”. Like all prophets in Islam, Jesus is considered a Muslim (i.e., one who submits to the will of God), as he preached that his followers should adopt the “straight path” as commanded by God. Islam rejects the Trinitarian Christian view that Jesus was God incarnate or the son of God, that he was ever crucified or resurrected, or that he ever atoned for the sins of mankind. The Quran says that Jesus himself never claimed any of these things, and it furthermore indicates that Jesus will deny having ever claimed divinity at the Last Judgment, and God will vindicate him. The Quran emphasizes that Jesus was a mortal human being who, like all other prophets, had been divinely chosen to spread God’s message. Islamic texts forbid the association of partners with God (shirk), emphasizing a strict notion of monotheism (tawhīd).
Numerous titles are given to Jesus in the Quran and in Islamic literature, the most common being al-Masīḥ (“the messiah”). Jesus is also, at times, called “Seal of the Israelite Prophets”, because, in general Muslim belief, Jesus was the last prophet sent by God to guide the Children of Israel. Jesus is seen in Islam as a precursor to Muhammad, and is believed by Muslims to have foretold the latter’s coming.
So as you can see, there are some similarities between Islam and Christianity, but very stark differences too. What I find to be interesting is the difference between Muhammad and Jesus’ proselyting. One would ask, why is it that Muhammad did not have any apostles like Jesus did? Jesus needed to have apostles to spread the good news to the Jews so that they would be updated, if you will, about superseding the Law of Moses.
Personally I think it is dangerous for anyone to follow one particular person and treat them like they are the Messiah without a following of followers. Perhaps that is exactly why Jesus had His apostles so that His teachings would not become corrupt. What do you think about this point?
I may take some heat for bringing this topic up because on one hand it is safe for people to keep Muslims in a box without taking the time to understand their beliefs. On the other hand we need to distance ourselves from fanatical extreme thinking that would cause harm to anyone.
We do need to look at similarities rather than differences because of arrogance and self righteousness that comes with being narrow minded as well as being self preserved. We are in dire need to work through these cultural differences seeing that we have terrorism on the rise.
I am sure that many people want to have one of the most important question answered. WHY? Why the absence of Muslims denounce the behavior of their follow believers? Why do they take their beliefs to the next level and become so fanatical that they bring in death to Americans or anyone that does not believe in the way they do? Why Sharia Law?
I can say this, the media has not reported the truth about Muslims and have managed to instil fear into the hearts of many Americans. For instance, the word Imam verses Iman. Imam is a religious leader like a Minister. Iman is the Arabic word for faith. They sound alike but have totally different meaning. Even the media is uneducated about the Muslims or they are mis-using their power to influence for the good by using Muslims to cause contention and division among people.
Whatever the case, we need to educate ourselves and we need to know how to resolve social problems for our own well being and safety. We need to have a major paradigm shift in the way we communicate with Mormons, Jews, Muslims, and other religions and beliefs including Atheists if we want to live more peacefully with each other. If we do not do our part to have peaceful solutions for complex problems we could very well become uncivilized to the point of no return.
We need to look at commonality and not differences between each other. I do have to make this point. sometimes we have to use violent means to establish peace like how war can defuse aggressive dictators that abuse their people.
In closing I want to express a sense of hope for all inhabitants of the earth in that we can hope for a better tomorrow, even if it seems like there is not a solution to the indifferences we have over religion and our beliefs. Muslims around the world have to do their part to hold extremist accountable for their aggressive behaviors. Remember that “terrorism” means bringing terror to those that do not understand. When we understand we are not as intimidated and so we are able to keep our own personal peace.
With Warm Regards,
Terrance W. Norton,
Humanitarian Mentor/Orator/ Free Lance Writer