Jesus in Islam

When the angel said: O Marium, surely Allah gives you good news with a Word from Him whose name is the Messiah, Isa son of Marium, worthy of regard in this world and the hereafter and of those who are made near to Allah. The Quran – Surra 3:45

His name is Isa Ibn Marium.  He was born of a virgin – Marium – who gave birth to Isa by the miraculous will of God.  It is believed by devout Muslims that Isa – Jesus – is a Messenger of God who was sent to guide the Children of Israel with the Holy Gospel.  Jesus – aka “Isa” –  is referenced in the Quran as being al-Masih (“The Messiah”).  Most Muslims accept that Jesus will return on the Day of Judgment to restore justice and to defeat the Antichrist (al-Masih ad-Dajjal).  I have written about religion in earlier posts.  I’ve discussed my journey through the Old and New Testaments and the Quran.  And I have occasionally commented on Islam (see 1/30/12; 3/26/12; 8/23/12; and 9/6/13).  Islam, Christianity and Judaism would seem have more in common than they do difference.  

The story of Jesus has recurring reference in the Quran.  Mary – his mother – is the only woman mentioned by name in the Quran.  She even has her own surra (chapter).   All of the Old Testament prophets play a prominent role in the Quran.  Religion – to me – is a fascinating topic which is relevant today.  One of the concerns – among Muslims – is that a great many cannot read.  S0 they get their information from imams, madrassahs and politicians.  Who often have a political agenda.  And you know what happens then. . . .  Witness the fires that burn across the Middle East.  Then again, I find it easier to discuss religion with Pakistani cab drivers (see post of 8/19/12) than I do politics . . . . .

Islam, Judaism and Christianity

Islam, Judaism and Christianity all trace their lineage to a common ancestor  — Abraham.  And before that, Adam and Eve.  Abraham had two sons:  Isaac (by Sarah) and Ishmael (by Hagar).  Isaac begat the Line of David from which Jewish and Christian traditions derive.  Ishmael was the forefather of Muhammad — the Messenger of Islam.  God promises in Genesis 21:18 to make a “great nation” of Ishmael.   

Jesus (Isa) is revered in Islam as a Messiah and is mentioned nearly a hundred times in the Quran.  Mary (Maryam) is the only woman mentioned by name in the Quran.  She even has her own surra (19).  Islam accepts the Old Testament as “The Word of God.”  And most of the prophets are mentioned by name.   

Common heritage, common prophets, beliefs and commands.  Yet many in each religious tradition view the differences as irreconcilable.  Islam has 72 insular sects.  Christianity has its own islands of belief and Judaism has various divisions.  Despite common origin, there is distrust, misunderstanding and even violence — all in the name of religion.    While most Christian and Jewish traditions accept and tolerate competing denominations and other religions, the violence is presently confined to Islam.  Though on June 11, 2017, I reported that statistically between 85% and 97% of all violence by Islamic terrorist groups is directed at Muslims.   

In my post of August 25, 2016, I commented on the ecumenical role the Archangel Gabriel – the Divine messenger.  Gabriel has personally visited Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Mormonism, and Bahai.   Each faith urges “Shalom” [Peace]; “As-salamu Aleikum” [Peace]; “Peace be with you” [Peace].  You tell me — is God, Allah, Jehovah trying to give us mere mortals an ecumenical message?   

A Conversation on Islam

I had a 30 minute cab ride with a driver from Tunisia.  A Sunni Muslim.  As I mentioned on August 19, 2012, when I get into a cab “it’s never just a ride.”  We started talking about Islam – and the issues that are forefront in the media.   We chatted about the Quran, the Prophet  and the hadith (the conversations of Muhammed).  It’s then he opened up.

You want to know the real problem is in the Muslim world?” he asked.   “You didn’t hear it from me.  Two words.  Saudi Arabia.”  This chap said that Saudi Arabia — with its Wahhabi (or Salafi) demands and sharia law — is wholly responsible for the radicalization of Islam.  Much of the negativity seems to orbit around that Middle Eastern power.  Women are denied the most basic of freedoms and the disease of sharia law infects everything and everyone.  You are a kafir (infidel) or mushrak (denier like Sunnis) if you are not a Wahhabi Muslim.  Saudi Arabia sponsors terrorism across the Middle East.  And elsewhere.  The tentacles of fundamentalism (and extremism) reach far and wide.  And now the Saudis seem to be caught up in their own cult of extreme Wahhabism – the puritanical, ultra-orthodox branch of Sunni Islam.  The offspring of Wahhabism now wants a return to the 7th Century caliphate.  ISIS cells are creeping inexorably into Saudi Arabia (as they are around the Middle East).  It will be interesting to see how Saudi Arabia fares in the next five years.      

Rules of Engagement

The restrictions on our military to deal with ISIS are so limiting that the rare boots-on-the-ground soldier needs permission to load his rifle and a virtual nod from Obama to fire it.  The litany of approvals necessary for a drone strike on ISIS traverses several levels of command. And can take hours. Or days. Civilian casualties are verboten. A civilian casualty can make the front page of the New York Times.  An injured squirrel makes page 6. 

Let’s fast backward to World War II.  Germany carpet bombed Allied cities with impunity.  Japan decimated Asia.  So the Allies narrowed their eyes, pulled out the stops and smothered the Axis cities with ordnance.  75 million people died in 6 years. Most civilians.  But few American civilians.  The War ended and today, Germany and Japan are America’s BFF’s.

In my post of October 11, 2014, I referenced the swift, brutal and crushing efforts made by America against bad guys during that terrible conflict.  These were acts of our parents and grandparents.  And they won big time.  When I read that in the aftermath of the slaughter in Paris, French and Russian planes struck “ISIS headquarters and training facilities,” I wonder – what has America been doingWhy haven’t we hit these targets beforeWe gave France and Russia the intel!  The current threat is real and imminent.  Yet the President remains a deer frozen in the headlights on foreign policy.  He refuses to say the word “Muslim” with respect to the enemy.  Yet ISIS and Islamic jihadists have murdered tens of thousands of innocents.   With millions more on the list. . . . . 

I wonder what would our parents and grandparents have done given the current situation.  How would things go with Franklin Delano Roosevelt or Harry Truman sitting in the driver’s seat of America?  

The Quran

I just finished reading the Quran.  All 114 suras (chapters).  I previously described my journeys through the Old Testament (6/11/12) and New Testament (11/10/13).   Given our trip to the Middle East, I thought I’d read the Quran.  The Quran is intended to be read in Arabic (26:195) but my copy was in English. 

I consider myself to be a good Episcopalian (nee Lutheran).  But apart from an Old Testament attitude and repetition of theme, there was not much in the Quran to question.  The cast of characters, the prophets and the stories are the same.  The commands (believe, do good works, pray) are pretty much the same.  God’s (or Allah’s) warning to his people (re heaven/hell) is similar.  Jesus (Isa) plays a prominent role as a Messiah.  While I might be accused of oversimplification, I discerned three fundamental areas of disagreement between Islam and Christianity.  First, the Quran denies that God actually “came down” from heaven to father a son (Jesus).  He simply said “Be” and it was done (19:35).  God/Allah does not have children.  Second, there is the overarching theme that Mohammed received God’s message through the Archangel Gabriel (see 1/30/12 and 3/26/12) and wrote the Quran over 23 years.  Third, Muslims consider Islam to be a “perfection” of Judaism and Christianity.  It is the true religion . . . .   

Despite that “perfection,” Jews, Christians and Sabians are considered “People of the Book” — and cousins in the Faith.  Whether you call Him God, Jehovah or Allah; whether you worship on Friday, Saturday or Sunday; whether you say “Pax vobiscum”Peace be with you“Shalom” or “As-Salamu alaikum” the three Abrahamic religions have similar roots and much in common.  So why all the strife, violence and hatred?      

Forbidden Cities

All people – of all faiths – are welcomed into the Vatican — the Holy See of Catholicism. All may tour Jerusalem – the Divine City of Judaism.  All may visit Nazareth, the birthplace of Jesus.  Lumbini, Nepal, the birthplace of Siddhartha Gautama is open to visitors.  The red carpet is out in Tokyo (and Edo’s Shinto shrines), the Seven Holy Towns (of Hinduism), Salt Lake City (home to the Mormon faith) and a host of other countries, cities and locales which are relevant to a particular religion or faith.

But heaven help you (no pun intended) if you try to enter the cities of Medina or Mecca in Saudi Arabia. You are carded at the door. And if you are not a Muslim, you are not welcome. If you try to get in, you will be booted out. Physically.  Why?  Because the Koran dictates:  “O ye who believe!  The idolaters are unclean.  So let them not come near the Inviolable Place of Worship. . . . ” (Surra 9:28).   And so based on this centuries-old Scripture, Muslims deny entrance to “Scott” “Donna” “Abigail” or “Rex.”  Expressways have checkpoints – much like toll booths – where your credentials are examined.  If you are “unclean,” you’re shown the bypass that takes you well out of your way — and far away from Medina or Mecca. 

Christianity and Judaism take a major beating these days from our government and our (allegedly) mainstream media.  A crèche or menorah?  Puh-leaseAre you a radical?  But just try and object to highly controversial Islamic practices, suffocating prejudice against women or demands for Sharia law in increasing locales in America – and the pinheads will condemn your speech as “discriminatory.”  Or worse.  And I’m the one who is unclean. . . . .

Jesus in Islam

When the angel said: O Marium, surely Allah gives you good news with a Word from Him whose name is the Messiah, Isa son of Marium, worthy of regard in this world and the hereafter and of those who are made near to Allah. The Koran – Surra 3:45

His name is Isa Ibn Marium.  He was born of a virgin – Marium – who gave birth to Isa by the miraculous will of God.  It is believed by many Muslims that Isa – Jesus – is a Messenger of God who was sent to guide the Children of Israel with the Holy Gospel.  Jesus is referenced in the Koran as being al-Masih (“The Messiah”).  Most Muslims accept that Jesus will return on the Day of Judgment to restore justice and to defeat the Antichrist (al-Masih ad-Dajjal). 

I have written about religion in earlier posts.  I’ve discussed my journey through the Old and New Testaments.  And I have not been shy about discussing Islam (see 1/30/12; 3/26/12; 8/23/12; and 9/6/13).  Frankly, Islam, Christianity and Judaism have more in common than they do difference. But try telling that to the extremists.  Many it seems – especially Muslims at this juncture in history – seem to believe that they alone have the ear of God.   And among Muslims, the 72 (or 73) different sects vilify one other.  And they vilify Christians and Jews despite our Abrahamic origins – and being Ahl al-Kitab.  But I digress.

The story of Jesus has recurring reference in the Koran.  Mary – his mother – is the only woman mentioned in the Koran.  I’m a good Episcopalian but I read the Koran and other religious texts given that the topic is so fascinating (and historically relevant).  Frankly, religion is a topic more people ought study.  And understand.  Yet among Muslims, regrettably a majority cannot read.  S0 many get their information from imams, madrassahs and politicians.  Who often have a political agenda.  And you know what happens then. . . .   Witness the fires that burn across the Middle East.  Nevertheless, I find it easier to discuss religion with Pakistani cab drivers (see post of 8/19/12) than I do politics with those who are misguided on the subject.