Jesus Christ and Muslims:
*disclaimer: i am not an Islamic scholar, so these are the opinions of a lay Muslim*
Jesus Christ is an important figure in Islam. In fact, no Muslim can claim to be one if he/she does not believe in Jesus Christ. Islam is perhaps unique for being a non-Christian faith that requires belief in the Christ in order to be an adherent to the faith.
This is not to say that Muslims and Christians believe exactly the same things about Jesus. This is an attempt to highlight some similarities and differences on Jesus Christ in the two great Abrahamaic faiths.
Like Christians, Muslims believe Jesus was born of a virgin. Both Mary and Jesus are accorded important positions in Islam. Three of 114 chapters of the Quran are named after Jesus/his family/occurrences in his life: Jesus is mentioned 25 times by name in the Quran.
Jesus is a righteous Messenger and Prophet. And, Muslims actually believe he is the Messiah promised by the God of Abraham to the Jewish people.
Muslims also believe that Jesus will be reappearing near the end of days, for the second coming. His reappearance, will be one of the major signs of the last hour.
Muslims however, depart from Christians on an important point: we do not believe that Jesus was divine, God, the son of God, or a second person of the trinity.
Muslims also believe that Jesus was not crucified, or according to some scholars, he did not die by crucifixion. Details aside, the Quranic narrative is that Jesus did not die on the cross.
Furthermore, Muslim theology is similar to Jewish theology in the sense that each person is accountable for his or her own sins, or as stated in the book of Ezekiel, ‘the father shall not bear the iniquity of the son; the son shall not bear the iniquity of the father. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him; the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.’ Thus, Muslims do not believe that Jesus, or anyone else, could die for the sins of mankind.
Obviously, there will be other similarities and differences; these are perhaps the main ones.
If we are serious about inter-faith dialogue and understanding, we must be honest about what we agree on, and where we disagree. ‘Feel-good’ dialogues that talk about similarities are as unproductive as rants focusing exclusively on differences.
True harmony can only be achieved, i think, when people understand where they disagree, and agree to accept those disagreements as part and parcel of life. Pretending that we share same theologies is not just dishonest, but can be counter-productive.
And, we must also get over the idea that just because we disagree (not just in religion, but in politics and everything else!), we must hate each other. And just because we like each other, we must not talk about differences. Both these notions will end up achieving very little for a multi-cultural, multi-religious society.
Merry Christmas to my Christian friends!
Source: Walid J. Abdullah