On occasions, I feel Muslims ‘lose’ something when it comes to religion. I am speaking about the second last prophet Jesus or Isa (E-sa) peace be upon him.
Muslims believe that Christianity, as we know it today, and its history, has suffered a corruption of Jesus’ (pbuh) message. They believe this is one reason why the had the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) whose recitation of Divine revelation is encoded in the Qur’an, whose message today is the same as what it was almost 1400 years ago, and is protected so by God.
Why ‘bother’ with what is said of Jesus (pbuh) then when a particular issue may contain distortiortions and errors?
Indeed, I was never able to really understand why what I’ve always thought were Christians discussing the New Testament, identified the books of the apostles as having been written some 50,60,70,80,90 or so years after the ‘death’ of Jesus (pbuh) yet they never seemed concerned with that to me seemed like that very time sequence suggesting that in there weren’t actually written by the apostles. I can’t understand how an apostle who was x+50, x+60, x+70… years old (where x=their age while at the last day of of Jesus) could himself have written it, or even if he did write it, how could such writings be accurate. I know this issue isn’t ‘new’ and OK, the Grace of God could have made these things happen, but I don’t think there is any evidence or indeed, any claim that that is indeed the case. For some time now, I’ve held the assumption that the books of the apostles were ‘ghost’ written on behalf of the words/techings of the apostles, but again, I’ve never seen any claim of this by the Church.
In addition to the above oddities, that the Church – a still generally beneficial force in society, despite various corruptions – then allowed usury,causing Christians to thereafter adopt, is something unless I am mistaken, which Jesus (pbuh) abhored [Note: Some Muslims also practice usury, is a part of which is in something they call Riba, a sin of such seriousness that it invites Gods War against you]. The acceptance/normalisation of usury struck a severe blow to Christianity from which it argueably has never recovered, and doubtless, has aided the huge fall from grace as a faith in the eyes of some Muslims.
And in recent times we the Judeo-Christian allaince when for millenia, generally Christians viewed Jews in similiar, yet milder way, from how Jews viewed Christains.
All of which have contributed to Muslims distancing themselves from the Christian faith.
In recent years, I have come across people who call themselves Christians but don’t seem to cede to the Church, instead, believing in Christianity according to their own analysis and understanding, and of the significance of Jesus. [These people could always have existed, perhaps it's just my age, exposure and social cirles that is makeing them more visible to me]. Personally, what they are doing appeals to me [As it is increasingly doing so in the disorganised 'organised religion stricture' of Islam. I think these Christians are able to 'see' some fictions propagates by the Church. However, they still seem likely to adopt other distortions about Jesus - like some indulging the usurers [Muslims too remember!] and not following Jewish custom e.g. Sabbath, circumcision, eating Kosher and so on. But I don’t think in this say any age that anyone is pure – that goes for Muslims too.
My general opinion of Muslims is that they tend to take on a facile view of Christianity and don’t see those ‘independent’ Christians mentioned just above, and from my experience of these people, they are very amicable and have significant overlap with Muslim perspectives and teachings [Not really surprisin]. Thin thoughts of Muslims about their Christian counterparts – most significantly in Muslim dominated populations – unnecessarily widens the gap between them, and that’s a shame.
A similar thing – primarily form distortions embedded in their religions – exists with (real) Jewish-Christian and Jewish-Muslim relations, but I’d say the philosophical gap between Jews and Christians as well as Jews and Muslims is greater than that of Christians and Muslims.
Jesus (pbuh) does appear in the Qur’an and in the saying of the last Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Despite the possible explanations as to why above, it’s a pity and wonder why Muslims gove so little attention to Jesus’ story (pbuh), but other Prophets like Ismail (so called ‘Father of the Arabs’) and Moses and Abraham are given more (IMO) significance.
I get the feeling that this may be because: If an increase in discussions by Muslims of Jesus (pbuh) were to take place, it would be percieved as “being Christian”. To me, that’s a real shame, especially when one thinks about Jesus (pbuh) and his influence on the world today [I can't here reference Paul / Saul of Tarsus, regarded as being the one to 'establish/grow' the religion of Christianity, being beyond the scope of this post]. After (possibly) Muhammad, the next most Influential man influencing the world today is Jesus (peace and blessings be to both of them), yet Muslims largely ‘whitewash’ him.
Frankly, it’s hard to accept the Church’s distortions and corruptions are a good enough reason for any ‘whitewashing’ of Jesus, and actually I don’t think Muslims have ever spent much thought at all as to how to weigh-up/assess Jesus’s role in their lives. That the religion of Islam was deemed to be completed very shortly before the death of Muhammad (saw) seems to make some think that Islam is all the need at the cost of looking for overlap with their Christian brothers.
To me, the influence of Jesus across the world (even when one factors in a corrupt Church) is testament that what this man did and said is of the most extraordinary power and significance. It’s amazing that the corruptions and distortions piled upon Jesus are incapable of destroying the way he is revered, and I don’t think he is revered because of those distortions.
Jesus performed miracles. As far as I know, Muhammad (saw) didn’t – although he did go on a miraculous journey – Al-Isra and Al-Miraj. I think Jesus was able to perform miracles so that people had no excuse not to fast-track themselves to belief in God, perhaps a sign that Jesus’ task was much more of a challenge than what Muhammad (saw) faced [It must be noted that Muhammad (saw) did have a very rough time himself in his duty as a Prophet; It wasn't easy by any means]. The miracle worker was clearly special and should be listened to.
Why is it said that Allah(SWT) commands that the Muslims do not make judgements as to the fate of the people of the book? Some, in an attempt to shy away from this, many ask ‘which book?’ to which I propose, the bible at the time of Muhammads Divine revelations had not changed significantly from that time onwards. It makes more sense to think God was referring to the Divine scriptures, the ‘books’, at the time of revelation onwards which I’d say, works its way down to the Christians and Indeed Jews of today. It also seems straightforward to think it’s the uncorrupted elements of those scriptures which still maintain a tie of Christians and Jews to God. Yet, some Muslims seem ‘quite edgy’ about all this.
When Muslims were being persecuted, the Prophet Muhammad (saw) sent some Muslims into Christian lands (Abyssinia) for refuge. They were protected. Isn’t this simple aspect of the history of Islam in itself a strong indication of the natural affinity of Christians and Muslims [And that Jews were given refuge in Muslim Arab lands also indicative of something?]
As I begin to end this post, hopefully my Muslim readers will not succumb to such instant dismissal from what’s said above and will consider these questions:-
1) Why is it Jesus/Isa (peace be upon him) that will return to ultimately re-establish mans solid relationship to God in the hearts of ALL mankind?
2) Why is it said that Muhammad (saw) is calimed to have said that of all the prophets, Jesus had a special place in the Prophets heart ? (I’m paraphrasing)
3) Aren’t many Muslims themselves already following distortions/corrutions in disorganised Islam? – Remember about the ‘sects’ within Isla, yet on the whole, we don’ really reject other Muslims, so why (when it happens) do we reject Christians?
4) Even some atheists brought up in Christian environments, and hence take some ‘Christian stuff’ on board, can be a fine example of a free and moral upstanding people. For some reason, Rodney Shakespeare comes to mind.
5) When Jesus (pbuh) dies, who will be be buried next to?
To some Muslims, they will instigate a mind-block about what is written here. They will dismiss it, believing it may ‘rock their Islamic’ faith, when actually I am trying to show them on the contrary, their faith can be strengthened. They may think it’s an attempt to ‘convert them the Christianity’. It most certainly isn’t, and if you thought as much, I suspect you ave a significant flaw in your understanding of Islam [I don't pretend amateur 'Muslim me' is immune].
I believe that what I have written here is important and should be thought about and if what I say is wrong, then only by undertaking honest and thoughtful analysis of what I say will show that to be wrong.