Ibrahim Hooper, National Communications Director at the Council on American-Islamic Relations
Ibrahim Hooper, National Communications
Director at the Council on
American-Islamic Relations

NOTE: The following commentary is available for local publication through ISLAM-OPED, CAIR’s national editorial syndication service. To obtain permission to publish this or other commentaries offering an American Muslim perspective on issues of importance to our society, contact Ibrahim Hooper at 202-488-8787, or e-mail ihooper@cair-net.org.

“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.” (5:27)

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 Mohammed himself sought to erase any distinctions between the
message he taught and that taught by Jesus, whom he called God’s “spirit
and word.”

Prophet Mohammed 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 Mohammed, 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, 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, the nation’s largest Muslim civil
liberties group.





CAIR received the following e-mail in response to the commentary above:

“I read your article”¦in my local paper today. I was glad to see a Muslim
perspective on the common values that both religions share. People would be
better served to realize that we both strive to glorify God and live
accordingly to those values. It is unfortunate that both of our faiths have
extreme elements that distract from the raising the glory of God to more
people. Thank you again for sharing these words of harmony and common link
of our religions”¦


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