Is there a Muslim Jesus?

Muslim Jesus FINAL

A flyer from the Muslim Jesus event

For some, hearing “The Muslim Jesus” provokes many questions. Who is the Muslim Jesus? Is it the same Jesus I know of? I didn’t know Jesus was Muslim…

For most, Jesus is a figure who is automatically associated with Christianity. This is fair due to the fact that he is the namesake of this religion, and thus, the centrality of Jesus is undeniable. What many are surprised to hear, however, is that as a Muslim, Jesus is important to me too. I read about him often in our scripture (the Quran). I hear stories about his life on Fridays during our pray services. And I draw inspiration from him and lessons on how to live my life closer to God. Jesus teaches me how to be a better Muslim.

This was Imam Hendi’s message during the event “The Muslim Jesus.” Although Islam is the revelation sent by God to the Prophet Muhammad through the angel Gabriel, Muhammad is not our only Prophet—though he is our main one. Since the Quran speaks of Islam as continuous with previous religions, namely Judaism and Christianity, Muslims hold many of the same prophets as those named in the Bible. Thus, Noah, Abraham, Moses and Jesus play central roles in the Quran as prophets who preached the central message of worshiping the One True God.

As Imam Hendi explained the role Jesus plays in Islam, the miracles he performed, the purpose of his prophethood, it was clear how much of his life’s story is shared between Muslims and Christians. This is something Fr. Michael Calabria touched on during his own presentation. From a scholastic point of view, Fr. Michael discussed how both Christianity and Islam, as two Near Eastern religions, draw upon a shared pool of stories and beliefs as a result of their common environment—not that they influenced one another, but rather, that they had a similar source.

Despite these similarities, it will always be true that Jesus will also be a source of contention between Christians and Muslims. This is inevitable, due to the inherent differences in the theology that Jesus represents in the two religions. While Imam Hendi focused on how the Quran emphasizes Jesus as fully human and just a prophet, Reverend Oskvig explained how Jesus is primarily understood as part of the Trinity. He is fully human, but at the same time fully divine. Not only that, quite contrary to Islam, he is God’s Son, and in that sense, he is God himself by being one of three parts that make His essence.

These differences may seem shocking and irreconcilable, and they are. That’s what I like about dialogues such as these—we don’t deny the differences or try to blur the lines where they can’t be. Each of our respected presenters acknowledged that Christians and Muslims have utterly divergent understandings on who Jesus is. But the night ended with the ultimate purpose of these dialogues: finding common ground. Theology aside, both Christians and Muslims look to Jesus and his life for inspiration. We both take his teachings concerning social justice and attempt to incorporate them into our lives. Ultimately, we both love Jesus, even though we may love him in different ways.

Like any good dialogue, the night passed with lots of laughs, a little bit of awkwardness, a good sense of unity (in spite of differences), and (hopefully) some enlightenment. Yes, there is a Muslim Jesus.

Emna Baccar, SFS ’15