Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Date: Tue, 23 Dec 2008 11:09:10 -0500
Subject: Jesus as understood by Muslims and Christians

I thought this message might hearten many of us. I received it from a
Muslim friend.

Greetings of Peace and Joy to all my Christian friends on these very
joyous days for the Christiandom worldwide. I did think of getting
each of you a more personal and tangible gift; but after a look at the
list, the numbers and my wallet I realized that a bailout would have
been necessary. However, since I don't think I'll qualify for it, then
the next best thing I can give you is this essay from one of members at
ADAMS. Ibrahim is my best friend's husband, and I have known him for
over a decade. So I can tell you, with direct knowledge, that these
words are very heartfelt. With his words he gives a voice to the
feelings of millions and millions of Muslims in this country. So,
without further ado, here's the essay:

Love for Jesus Can Bring Christians, Muslims TogetherBy Ibrahim Hooper

"Behold! The angels said: 'O Mary! God giveth thee glad tidings of a
Word from Him. His name will be Jesus Christ, the son of Mary, held in
honor in this world and the Hereafter and in (the company of) those
nearest to God.'"

Before searching for this quote in the New Testament, you might first
ask your Muslim co-worker, friend or neighbor for a copy of the Qur'an,
Islam's revealed text. The quote is from verse 45 of chapter 3 in the
Qur'an. It is well known, particularly in this holiday season, that
Christians follow the teachings of Jesus. What is less well understood
is that Muslims also love and revere Jesus as one of God's greatest
messengers to mankind.

Other verses in the Qur'an, regarded by Muslims as the direct Word of
God, state that Jesus was strengthened with the "Holy Spirit" (2:87)
and is a "sign for the whole world." (21:91) His virgin birth was
confirmed when Mary is quoted as asking: "How can I have a son when no
man has ever touched me?" (3:47)
The Qur'an shows Jesus speaking from the cradle and, with God's
permission, curing lepers and the blind. (5:110) God also states in the
Qur'an: "We gave (Jesus) the Gospel (Injeel) and put compassion and
mercy into the hearts of his followers." (57:27) As forces of hate in
this country and worldwide try to pull Muslims and Christians apart, we
are in desperate need of a unifying force that can bridge the widening
gap of interfaith misunderstanding and mistrust. That force could be
the message of love, peace and forgiveness taught by Jesus and accepted
by followers of both faiths.

Christians and Muslims would do well to consider another verse in the
Qur'an reaffirming God's eternal message of spiritual unity: "Say ye:
'We believe in God and the revelation given to us and to Abraham,
Ismail, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes, and that given to Moses and
Jesus, and that given to (all) Prophets from their Lord. We make no
distinction between any of them, and it is unto Him that we surrender
ourselves.'" (2:136)

The Prophet Muhammad himself sought to erase any distinctions between
the message he taught and that taught by Jesus, who he called God's
"Spirit and Word." Prophet Muhammad said: "Both in this world and in
the Hereafter, I am the nearest of all people to Jesus, the son of
Mary. The prophets are paternal brothers; their mothers are different,
but their religion is one."

When Muslims mention the Prophet Muhammad, they always add the phrase
"peace be upon him." Christians may be surprised to learn that the same
phrase always follows a Muslim's mention of Jesus, or that we believe
Jesus will return to earth in the last days before the final judgment.
Disrespect toward Jesus, as we have seen all too often in our society,
is very offensive to Muslims. Unfortunately, violent events and
hate-filled rhetoric around the world provide ample opportunity for
promoting religious hostility. And yes, Muslims and Christians do have
some differing perspectives on Jesus' life and teachings. But his
spiritual legacy offers an alternative opportunity for people of faith
to recognize their shared religious heritage.

America's Muslim community stands ready to honor that legacy by
building bridges of interfaith understanding and challenging those who
would divide our nation along religious or ethnic lines. We have more
in common than we think.

[Ibrahim Hooper is National Communications Director for the
Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the
nation's largest Muslim civil liberties group. He may be contacted at:
mailto: ihooper@cair. com ]

With my best and purest love,



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