City of Brass

City of Brass


Jesus AS and the Qur’an

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

The first excerpt from the book, Between Allah and Jesus, is now posted at Beliefnet by the author (Peter Kreeft) and is a conversation between the muslim character ‘Isa and his evangelical Christian colleague Evan about whether and where Islam and Christianity overlap. Rather than excerpt it, I urge readers to read it in full for themselves, and will assume so from here.

The initial contention that ‘Isa makes is a little puzzling to me. It’s an element of Islamic faith that Jesus AS is a prophet of God preceding Mohammed SAW. So why would I expect Christians to accept the Qur’an and remain Christian? The muslim character is making an unreasonable (and somewhat naive) demand of his Christian colleague. Part of Christian identity in the post-Islam world is to reject the notion that Christianity was incomplete; there’s no intellectually honest way for a Christian to allow for Mohammed SAW to be a genuine prophet of God without abandoning Christianity outright, in much the same way that no muslim can accept that Jesus AS is one aspect of God in a literal sense without ceasing to be muslim (and straying into shirk).

I found the excerpt to be somewhat ham-handed, in essence, in that initial exchange because the nature of Prophethood is indeed a “chronological snobbery” as Evan accuses ‘Isa. Inexplicably, ‘Isa backs down from that charge – quite unusual, given how direct and forthright ‘Isa is about his belief in Islam regardless of potential insult or offense. Chronology matters here. Calling it snobbery is just petulance on Evan’s part.

The second part of the conversation is more convincing – ‘Isa does a superb job of demolishing the argument by Evan that the God of the Qur’an and the God of the Bible are different. The analogy to the Eastern Orthodox is brilliant. In fact, this ties back to the first issue. The entire reason that the issue of whether Allah = God comes up is to deny the chronological snobbery of Prophetic revelation. If Allah is not God, then Muhammad SAW may be safely ignored. That Evan accepts Allah is God, is remarkable, but also somewhat unconvincing. I suppose from Evan’s point of view, muslims are praying to Jesus when then pray to Allah, so it’s all okay.

Ultimately the key point of contention here is indeed as ‘Isa notes that the primary object of faith in Islam is the book, and in Christianity it is the man. In fact, by virtue of that object of faith being the target of our reverence, it must be made divine. Hence, for muslims the Qur’an is the Word of God – which is the same title afforded to Jesus AS by Christians. This is how I rationalize my understanding of the Nicene Creed as genuinely not polytheistic but a sympathetic attempt by Christians to find a route towards the One True God. It is tawhid via a twisted path.

I prefer the straight path, myself :) But if we stay true to these paths and arrive at the same destination, then Allah knows best.

Remember, bookmark Robert Gelinas’ blog during this series, as he will be providing a Christian perspective (not the Christian perspective, any more than my opinions are the Muslim one) and we will be discussing these issues with each other via inter-blog dialogue.



  • John

    I would just like to start out by telling people of both faiths that you are both right…AND that you are both wrong. God or Allah is too big to be confined into one religion. Yehushua (Jesus) Said no one comes to the father but through me.. He spoke in parable… meaning walk as I walk, Talk as I talk, Do as I do and act as I act.. this is how you get to the “father”. Muslim accept the earlier doctrine of Jewish scripture then they would accept that God/Allah says I AM That I AM (YHWH)That and the book of genesis. In the beginning god created “everything” He created the heavens and the earth he created you me and the tree..He created evil, darkness,light, thought..”everything” If you as Muslims AND Christians believe this than it is logical to say that you ARE God/Allah. Anything created out of nothing has to come from something. I interpret this as coming from “within” if it came from within god then it must still be “within” Muslims believe “we are all one” Jesus says “we are all sons and daughters of God” I agree with both. I believe we are all “a part” of God/Allah. I believe that religious differences are and will continue to devide the nations until we can all agree that we come from the same thing. If you reduce anything to its minutest form your going to have what I call energy. that energy IS. I Am That I Am We are all one. God is not going to care whether you call him YHWH, Allah, Buddha (not a religion “a way”), Krishna, Joe, Sue, or any other name for that matter. God IS..

  • Hitch

    Aziz, I appreciate that you are trying to have a nuanced discussion on this. So far most comments don’t meet your level of nuance on the topic (even filtering the obvious trolls/grievers).
    I don’t have a stake in this race, I just wanted to express my sympathy for what you are trying to do.

  • Aziz Poonawalla

    thank you, Hitch.
    We will be moderating these threads more aggressively than usual. Its already begun.

  • Naima

    @ Hitch. You and the author have my sympathies, as well. I have no dog in this race either. However, as a Muslim, I am consoled by this:
    ‘My work to me, and yours to you!
    You are free from responsibility for what I do,
    and I for what you do.”
    Believers of any and every faith and disbelievers alike , must ‘submit’ to the truthfulness of what is and what may yet be. All phenomena can neither be conciliated or reconciliated, neither in the mind nor in the body. To live with honor, one must accept that there will be paradox after paradox, message inside message, lesson after lesson — now and forever and a day, until the last day when all is revealed … and so it is. In the meantime we must find a way to liberate ourselves from as much human suffering and folly as humanly possible. In the realm of human affairs: “When things are not going well, I am consoled by the thought that they could be worse, but also that they could improve.” – Ernesto Che Guevara, the Diaries

  • Peter

    I believe that Jesus and Muhammad are one, though having different personalities. They are one because God gave the holy revelation to them and they, in turn, conveyed it to the people. God gave them more than words. He poured upon their souls the infallible truth which they, alone, could comprehend in its fullness.
    The only thing that differed was the communities of people to whom the message was explained. They differed in language, culture and in the historical milieu which set the stage for how the Faith would be understood. They asked different questions and received answers in symbols to which they could relate.
    Notice how Jesus and Muhammad were so patient with their disciples, who were sometimes slow to understand. They encouraged the listener to grasp the inner meaning of the words, not just their literal sense.
    Imagine a married man, a Christian, meeting Jesus and hearing reference to father and son. Remembering his own honeymoon, would he not feel bewildered by the suggestion that God had fathered Jesus in the same way as he had fathered a child with his wife?
    Surely such a Christian would not be so literal-minded as to miss the symbolism in what Jesus was saying.
    Jesus carried the authority of God and spoke for Him in much the same way a son might represent his father in speaking to workers in the vineyard. The symbol ‘father and son’ was not meant to mean the same thing as when two human-beings get married and have a baby together.
    This is but one example to think about.
    Ideally, each person would read the Gospels and the Quran and ponder each of these questions. Ideally, he would regard every true Christian and every true Muslim as adherents of one Faith, progressively unfolding over the centuries and the millennia.
    -Peter

  • Filiagape

    “That Evan accepts Allah is God, is remarkable, but also somewhat unconvincing. I suppose from Evan’s point of view, muslims are praying to Jesus when then pray to Allah, so it’s all okay.” This assumes that Christians pray to Jesus. I am sure there are some who do just as some Catholics pray to Mary and the Saints. As a protestant I believe in Jesus as my savior and as more than just a prophet, but my prayers are said directly to God, as Jesus taught us that we should do.
    I think most problems between adherents of religions, whether Christian and Islam, Western and Eastern Orthodox, Protestant and Catholic, stem from what I find a mind boggling assumption that any one of us ABSOLUTELY KNOW what the definite truth is. God is just not possible to be completely understood by our great, but ultimately limited ability to understand and imagine. We can and should study and learn and make a pursuit of understanding God and nurturing Faith a life-long one, but what I absolutely do know is that there are many things I can never know or understand and perhaps am not intended to know or understand–after all if all can be absolutely known, what is the need for faith. And in accepting that I cannot, will not, and am not meant to understand and know all, allows me room to accept that there is truth is other faiths. They are not mutually exclusive just as faith and science do not have to be mutually exclusive. We all–well Judaism, Christianity and Islam–to a common prophet in Abraham. We share the same ten commandments. And, face it, we argue and debate points of doctrine and scripture within our own faiths. There are absolute truths, but God is the only one who knows what they are. We just have to do the best we can with what we understand to be truth, caring for God’s creations–Jews, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Agnostics, Atheists, etc–as best we can, and pray for guidance and forgiveness for our sins and mistakes, known and unknown.

  • abdul kadir varusai ibrahim

    There are more faiths in christianity than islam… so in this case majority wins ? I am a born muslim myself and have never ever look down at other religions as I strongly believe all religions belongs to the one and only ALMIGHTY GOD who’s referred to in different names depending on the language used. Why not talk about similiarities rather than differences and promote religious harmony so the world can further enjoy peace. Taking a look at the various religion population, there were many more established even after ALLAH send the last messenger…
    # Christianity: 2.1 billion
    # Islam: 1.5 billion
    # Secular/Nonreligious/Agnostic/Atheist: 1.1 billion
    # Hinduism: 900 million
    # Chinese traditional religion: 394 million
    # Buddhism: 376 million
    # primal-indigenous: 300 million
    # African Traditional & Diasporic: 100 million
    # Sikhism: 23 million
    # Juche: 19 million
    # Spiritism: 15 million
    # Judaism: 14 million
    # Baha’i: 7 million
    # Jainism: 4.2 million
    # Shinto: 4 million
    # Cao Dai: 4 million
    # Zoroastrianism: 2.6 million
    # Tenrikyo: 2 million
    # Neo-Paganism: 1 million
    # Unitarian-Universalism: 800 thousand
    # Rastafarianism: 600 thousand
    # Scientology: 500 thousand

  • Leah

    I am a Christian who has become interested in Islam in the last few years, and have read many things about it. It seems that Muslims believe that Jesus was a prophet, but that it was Mohamed who “fulfilled” God’s prophecies, so to speak. It also seems clear that Islam shares many beliefs with Judaism and Christianity, but that the three religions disagree on where each other fits in the hierarchy.
    Regardless of what someone might believe about the metaphysics of Jesus as the Son of God, comparing the teachings of Jesus to the teachings of Islam results in two areas that have convinced me, at least at this point, that Islam is not the fulfillment of the three religions. I am not saying this to be critical, it is just what seems to be true to me.
    One thing that most Christians believe is that while Judaism focused on legalism – many rules that you must follow in order to hopefully get to heaven – Christianity teaches that you cannot earn your way to heaven through legalism. It is through God’s grace that you are forgiven. Christians belief that Christianity is the fulfillment of the promises and prophecies of Judaism found in the Old Testament – the next step in God’s plan so to speak. To me Islam seems to represent a return to legalism – which seems to be a step backward rather than forward, from my point of view.
    Also, when I compare some of Jesus’ teachings – such as “let he who has not sinned cast the first stone” or “love your enemies” – with what many Islamic leaders teach, I think Jesus’ teachings reflect a God of love and peace more clearly than what I hear coming out of Islam. While I am sure that there are many teachings in Islam that emphasize love and peace, I have not heard any teachings from Islam that seem to reflect a higher, or more God-like teaching than those of Jesus.
    So those are just my observations – i am sure many will disagree!
    Leah

  • Timb

    The author misses, I think, three very important issues. I hope that he will address those in future blogs.
    First, Jesus believed that He Himself was God. It wasn’t something the Church dreamed up later. It is expressed by eye witnesses throughout the New Testament, and supported by numerous miracles. If He is, in fact, God, then that is why there’s no need for further revelation. What need is there for further revelation if God has spoken directly?
    On the other hand, if one denies Jesus is God, then one must admit that He is insane… and why would Islam revere a crazy person?
    Second, while it is true that chronology is important, it is only important insofar as each suceeding revelation is more valid than the previous one. To argue that Mohammed’s revelation must be of more importance, or is more valid, than Jesus’s simply because it came later leads one to conclude that Joseph Smith’s revelation is more valid than Mohammed’s, and we should all be Mormons.
    Third, I agree that we are all worshipping the same God, but it is clear that one of us doesn’t “know” God. The Christian God says “love your enemies” and “turn the other cheek”. The Muslim God says “fight and slay the pagans wherever you find them” and “when you meet the unbelievers smite at their necks”. One has to conclude that Christians and Muslims are talking about two different gods.

  • Aziz Poonawalla

    Timb,
    first, Christians may believe that Jesus believed he was God. That is akin to muslims believing that Muhammad SAW was the Seal of the Prophets. We must agree to disagree on these points.
    second, you engage in selective misquoting of the Quran. Those verses are taken out of context. I have read the Bible; have you read the Qur’an for yourself? I encourage you to d some research using muslim sources to understand the nature of God from our perspective as revealed in our holy scriptures.

  • John

    I am going to start this response out with saying I am neither Christian nor Muslim, I am a Deist, I believe in the One True God, just like you. The difference is I do not get caught up in one religion, I study all religions that try to further the knowledge of existance. Science to me has only done more to prove the existance of God than it has to show the lack there of. if you were to study all religions you would find that they ALL say the same thing..but like a commentor above said the words and phrases used would be due to location and culture. The story of the Tower of Babel where god divides the nations and scrambles the tounges of people so that they may not understand each other. I again believe this is a metaphore/allegory. We as a earthly people need to concentrate on our likeness rather than our differences. “We” are ALL ONE..
    http://www.everystudent.com/wires/whodoyousay.html
    Posted is a link of every instance that Jesus “says he is the son God”
    and in the next link I post it shows In several different places where it says “we” are children of God.
    http://scriptures.lds.org/en/gs/s/79
    Near as I can tell is that Yahushua (Jesus) Was the first modern day metaphysisist..
    Definition atonement-from phrase at one in harmony + -ment, as trans. of ML ad?n?mentum; cf. ME onement unity

  • Your Name

    Muslims need to lighten up and chill out. When they threaten to kill people for making images of Mohammand it only makes us more likely to make such images to challenge them. My image of Mohammand

  • Timb

    Aziz,
    Jesus said He was God, and He backed it up with MANY miracles, including rising from the dead. Muhammed claims to be a prophet of God. Where’s his proof? You have to explain why God sends a prophet after He Himself has come.
    Either Jesus is God, or he’s nuts. The Qur’an respects Jesus as a great prophet, but is careful to refute that He is God (there are numerous quotes saying that God does not have a son, etc.). So the Qur’an thinks that a crazy person is a great prophet. You have to explain that to me. And why does God send a prophet to contradict a previous, respected “prophet”.
    I’ve read the Qur’an, cover to cover, and it says, over and over again, that believers can, and even should, kill non-believers… at least those who won’t convert. I certainly didn’t misquote those two verses, and I’m not taking them “out of context”. Their context is with regard to how to deal with non-believers. It couldn’t be clearer. [It's clear enough to suicide bombers that they are willing to die to kill innocent "non-believers".]
    And I have to note that you won’t find ANYTHING like those verses in the New Testament. In fact, I’m not aware of anything in the entire Bible where God gives “believers” a blanket and perpetual command to kill “non-believers”.

  • kendra`

    How come you are talking prettified philosophy rather than actual doctrine? While at least one of you who have left comments believe that Jesus and Mohammad are one, Muslims do not believe this at all. Muslims believe that all the prophets known to Christians and Jews were actually Muslim. They believe that the Jews and Christians distorted and changed the bible, however, and changed the Word of God. Therefore, Allah sent down Mohammad to make everything right.
    Islam also teaches that Jesus will murder all the non-Muslims after the Mahdi comes. According to Islam, Jesus will return from Heaven (where he was, alive, I guess, because they don’t believe in the resurrection), and the Mahdi will invite him to lead the prayers. He will decline, and show his subordination to the Mahdi and Islam and he will pray behind him. Then, he will announce that Islam is the one true religion and all the people who did not convert will be killed– mostly by beheadings. He will rip the crosses off the churches. All Jews and Christians will be killed and there will be no more dhimmis, since dhimmitude isn’t allowable after this time. He will also kill the Islamic anti-Christ, the Dajjal.
    So, in this incarnation, Jesus is a murderer, according to Islamic doctrine (the Hadith by Muslim has a lot to say about this).
    That’s the difference between Jesus and Mohammad. Jesus said to love, be kind to and pray for your enemies. Mohammad said to kill them. I don’t understand the appeal of Islam, except that I consider it a grand deception.
    I have studied the Koran (in chronological order) for years, I’ve read the entire Bukhari hadiths and I’ve read quite a bit of other hadiths. I own all these books and I know Reliance of the Traveller. I learn about Islam from the doctrine and from Mohammad. I don’t learn about Islam from Aziz, who I believe often practices taqqiya. Leah, I suggest you do the same.
    Morality in Islam is spreading Islam. It is considered an “Enormity (of sin)” to love this life more than death– to be content in this life. Islam is so very different from Judeo-Christian theology and culture. The goal of Islam is a worldwide umma, is dar al Islam. There can be no peace in Islam until this happens (until Jesus returns and kills all the remaining non-Muslims).

  • kendra`

    I should have added that many Muslims will pretend that the Mahdi is just a shiite belief, but that’s not true. Believing in the Mahdi is required and part of Islam, not just shiite.
    Shiites believe that the Mahdi will be the 12th Imam, but the Sunnis aren’t sure who it will be. However, they all believe in the end times (required tenet of faith) and once the Mahdi comes, they will all submit to the Mahdi the same way they’ve submitted to Mohammad and Allah.
    The end-times of Islam is an inverted form of the end-times in Revelations. Although, they believe kind of the opposite of what Christians believe. It’s a truly fascinating study. Everything Christians deem good and right, is absent in Islam. Everything Islam considers correct according to the doctrine, is reprehensible in Islam. Remember, Mohammad beheaded and killed, raped, child raped, stole, enslaved, and lied. Jesus did the opposite.
    And, Mohammad is considered the one perfect person in Islam– one not to be mocked, but emulated. So, when one follows in Mohammad’s footsteps, he becomes a jihadist, a rapist, a murderer, a liar (taqqiya to further Islam) a child-molester/rapist, a thief, a conquerer. This is the SUNNA. Anything Mohammad did is allowable in Islam.
    When one follows the footsteps of Jesus, for example, they are peaceful, forgiving, honest, loving, etc.
    Any violence done in the name of Christianity is a misapplication of theology, of doctrine. Any violence done in the name of Islam, is justified by doctrine and by sunna.

  • http://www.GODHEADPRODUCTIONS.com R.C. Beckom

    it is so strange to me to see and hear from a people that heard the word from Paul and wanted to learn about it from him now have a monopoly on what the Creator is up to and about, while No one seems to remember that the story was about the true Yisraelites, who were the ones receiving the word from Yah on the sabbath, not Gentiles, not Arabs, not Jews who call themselves Israelies,
    It is very unusual to learn about a story that spoke of a people that seem in this type of world have no beginning in it ,has no future in it,but no ending either, and they still somehow exist among all the other cultures of the world, but,are unspoken for and not recognized as even being a part of a story that is exactually about them.
    It is also well known that when someone changes names in the Bible that were of essences, and beared meaning because they linked to the Creator, in divinty,instead were changed to names that related to things such as wood and stone,while the people love yearned for gold and silver, therefore you see the understanding will never ever be understood by these type people,for there is no message to be given to the “Folks” who believe that they have a monopoly on the meaning of Yah, the Creator of all,and then go about their way of doing things,looking big in their own eye.
    But, at the end they all will have to be grafted in the House of true “Yisrealites,” be they christens,muslim,jews,gentiles,atheist,buddism,hindu,won’t matter they will all have fall in line as they see the truth unfold itself while they try to figure out what’s coming next!

  • melinda

    id like to say something and hope give enlightenment. this is just my opinion on this topic.
    i to have read the quran but up to only the so called book 3 i cant remember exactly the name of that book as the title is something wierd for me to remeber as i really dontknow islamic or arabic lang. so ijust say it as book3. but i did browse on all the book of quran and found that the book is just full of acknowledgement and prayers. the teaching is just few. but i came to notice that they blieve in (islam/muslim)virgin mary the know that jesus died on the cross. they were thought to respect the elderly and the children but not all women.
    i just remember if i had come across a ten commandment or tenuntterances by ALLAH/GOD
    the quran is basically from the old testament. they know actually nothing from the new one.
    but i notice too that they blieve someoneis to return.
    if they dont blieve that JESUS IS THE SAME GOD THE CREATOR OR ALLAH in their lang. who is that they blieve is returning and waiting too?
    the BIBLE IS VERY FAR DIFFERENT IN THE QURAN. THE BIBLE IS A COMPLETE
    BOOK OF THE WORDS ANDTEACHINGS COMING FROM GOD. AS YOU CAN SEE AND PLEASE NOTICE THAT THE BIBLE IS AN ALIVE WORD OF GOD.
    THE QURAN IN PARTICULAR HAVE NO REVELATION. AND THE REVELATION AND WHAT IS THERE IS WHAT IS HAPPENING NOW PROPHECIED THOUSAND OF YEARS AGO, BY THE PROPHETS IN THE BIBLE.
    mohammad didnt teach you this or said those prophesy.
    i havenot read any of jehad in the quran so where did this acts come from.
    if mohammad says respect the elderly women and the children, then in the world you have to kill?
    even your very family that had done wrong? maybe mohammad means that respect lives of others and not just the elderly and the children.
    in the bible christians are thought to love as it says the ten commannents compressed in 4 letters words spelled LOVE. if youlove you dont hurt or kill and you have a respect with all and everything.
    islam or christian i ask who did not sin in this world in one way or another? if jesus is just a teacher or a propeht to islam and muslims, jesus said to ppl who would put mary magdalene to death by throwing stones, “WHO AMONGS YOU HAVE NO OR HAVE NOT SINNED WILL BE THE FIRST ONE TO THROW STONE” as the ppl around mary magdaline knows that they to in one way or another have sined, no one throw a stone.
    compare the teachings and the words of the 2 if jesusis a prophet to you. whois more credible and who is not. who teachesa more of life than more of death? JESUS teaches how live i accordance with GODS WORD AND LIVE A RIGHTFULL LIFE. WHAT DID MOHAMMAD TEACHES YOU ?
    JESUS SAID ANYONE WHO CALL IN HIS NAME WILL BE SAVED. who do you wanna call? by the way you blieve that mary is a virgin mother right
    islam should dig on this deeper

  • Abram

    All drains lead to the Ocean…

  • Afriqah

    As Salaamu Alaikum
    Kendra. you profess to have read both Qur’an and all of Buhkari ahadith. It would be wise of you, before you try to tell others what Muslims believe or don’t believe, to actually KNOW what your’e talking about. I strongly suggest to anyone who wants to know about Islam, please read Qur’an then go speak with Muslims. Go to a Masjid or Muslim center to learn further and get understanding of Islam. You cannot learn about Islam from a non-Muslim, simply because their view/understanding/opinion will always be slanted or clouded by their own religious beliefs.

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