Inherent in the confusion surrounding this question is a misunderstanding that Muslims view Jesus as anything less than a great prophet and messiah. This Christmas season, let’s set the record straight.
Muslims revere Jesus and believe in the miracle of his virgin birth, just like Adam was created by God without a father or mother. Islam’s holy book, the Qur’an, describes Jesus’ conception and birth as well his many other miracles like speaking from the cradle and healing the sick and blind.
So profound and important was his message that Jesus is mentioned more times — in 25 different verses — in the Qur’an than Muhammad, the founder of Islam.
The departure in our belief from Christianity is that we believe Jesus was like all of God’s other messengers like Moses and Muhammad, and, in the end, a human being. His mother Mary also is viewed by many Muslim scholars as a saintly prophet. An entire chapter in the Qur’an is devoted to her.
The fact is that we have more in common than you might think.
As a Muslim, I have come to appreciate Jesus in my mind, heart and spiritual consciousness, even though I do not worship him as God or part of the Godhood or Trinity, like I had before accepting Islam many decades ago.
So the question I ask during this Christmas season of heightened devotion and friendship is: Does Islam’s version of Christ serve as a source of tension or as a means to bridge gaps between the world’s two largest faiths?
I am certain of the latter.
Though we do not observe Christmas as the coming of God to the world in human form, we do commemorate this brotherly season as a time to remember Jesus’ legacy as part of our shared religious heritage with Christians.
Sermons this month at mosques like ours around the country have used this holiday to remind the congregation about the special place in Islam for Jesus, a man who spoke to common people in universal terms, and who Muslims have cherished and venerated for over 14 centuries.
We are also reminded to say “peace be upon him” after Jesus and the names of other prophets as a form of respect towards the thousands of prophets God sent to earth, each reaffirming the message of the former and finally sealed by Muhammad.
In this season of heightened sharing and friendship, we hope our neighbors will visit our mosque, observe our services, and see that we are not that different. To arrange a visit and a tour, please visit stjoemuslims.org.
Ramadhan Washington is president of the Islamic Center of St. Joseph.
Source: The St. Joseph News-Press
December 27, 2013