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Jesus the Muslim


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Jesus the Muslim

  1. 1. Jesus The Muslim Jesus, peace be upon him, was a Muslim. Its what millions of people believe. Its what the best New Testament scholarship now suggests. In the name of God, the We hear a great deal today about a “war,”Compassionate, the Merciful “conflict,” or “clash” between Islam and Christianity. The topic is so prominent in the media that many people assume that there is something irreconcilable between these two approaches to God. It is not surprising, then, that so many Christians of good will have concluded that Islam and Christianity are fundamentally incompatible.Yet, if, by “Christianity,” we mean “that which Jesus Christ (pbuh) meant to convey to his hearers,” I believe that these people of good will are mistaken when they tell us that Islam is incompatible with Christianity. Whats more, I believe we can now prove that the historically oldest Gospel verses reflecting the reported sayings of Jesus (pbuh) are entirely compatible with Islam. A WAVE OF CONVERSIONS If you are a Christian, the idea that Jesus (pbuh) practiced the same faith that today‟s news broadcasts hold responsible for so many of the world‟s problems may seem far-fetched to you. It seemed far-fetched to me when I first encountered it, before I consulted the Gospels closely. Yet you should know that many, many contemporary Christians have reached life- changing personal conclusions about the Gospel message and its relation to Islam.
  2. 2. “There is compelling anecdotal evidence of asurge in conversions to Islam since September 11,not just in Britain, but across Europe and America.One Dutch Islamic centre claims a tenfoldincrease, while the New Muslims Project, based inLeicester and run by a former Irish RomanCatholic housewife, reports a steady stream ofnew converts." (London Times, January 7, 2002.)MAINSTREAM MEDIA IGNORES USThe Western news media only rarely shares thestories of these individual converts to Islam withthe world at large, but I strongly suspect thatmost of these people -- if they are like me -- found themselves, at the end of the day,concerned about the consequences of callingJesus (pbuh) “Lord” without obeying hisinstructions ... found themselves far moreconcerned about that, in fact, than about anymedia coverage of geopolitical issues.This kind of concern causes peopleto change their lives.THE CHALLENGE OF QSpeaking personally, I changed my own lifebecause I could not ignore the implications of theauthentic, stand-alone Gospel passages thattoday‟s most accomplished (non-Muslim!) scholarsbelieve to be of the earliest date available.These sayings, which form a reconstructed textknown as Q, can all be found in the NewTestament. They are almost certainly the closestwe will ever be able to come to an authentic oraltradition reflecting the actual sayings of Jesus(pbuh).Q CONFIRMS ISLAMIf you are new to Q, you should know what thebest New Testament scholars now know, namelythat today‟s scholarship identifies certain Gospelpassages as not only instructive, but historicallymore relevant than other passages. Thisscholarship has led to some fascinating discussionsamong scholars (and a comparatively few layreaders).
  3. 3. I believe the Q verses tend to confirm Islam‟sdepiction of Jesus (pbuh) as a human Prophet witha Divine mandate essentially indistinguishablefrom that of Muhammad (pbuh).A HUMAN PROPHETI did not develop the theory of Q. It has beenaround for years. "Traditionalist" Christian clergyand theologians are generally hostile to it. Theyclaim that students of Q are somehow eager todiminish the status of Jesus (pbuh). Actually, weare eager to learn what he is most likely to haveactually said.Q represents a major challenge for contemporaryChristianity, not least because it strongly suggeststhat Islams picture of Jesus (pbuh) is historicallycorrect. The fact that Q essentially confirmsIslam‟s image of Jesus (pbuh) as a distinctlyhuman Prophet has not, I think, been widelynoticed by todays Christians. And it must be.Because a careful review of the scripturesdemonstrates that Jesus (pbuh) is in fact callinghis people to Islam.JESUS (PBUH) BROUGHT ME TOISLAM!I came to Islam, alhamdulillah, after threedecades of restless dissatisfaction withconventionial Christianity. Although Ive read a lotof conversion stories since I embraced Islam inMarch of 2003, I havent found many that citedthe Gospels as a point of entry to the HolyQuran. This is how it was for me.I was drawn to the Gospels at a young age --eleven -- and I read them compulsively on myown, despite the fact that I did not live in aChristian household. I soon learned to keepreligious matters to myself.EARLY QUESTIONSFor most of my adolescence I studied the Christianscriptures on my own. I still have the red KingJames Bible I bought as a child; my ownhandwritten note on the front page proclaims
  4. 4. June 26, 1974, as the date I accepted Jesus(pbuh) as my personal savior.When I say I read the scriptures compulsively, Imean that I was drawn to the Gospels of Matthew,Mark, Luke, and John like a magnet. There areplenty of notes and highlightings in that old Bibleof mine in Psalms, in Ecclesiastes, in Proverbs --but most of the notes and underlinings are in theGospels. But I sensed, even at an early age, thatthere were some internal problems with the textsI loved so dearly.WHO TAMPERED WITH THEGOSPELS?I can clearly remember reading the account in the22nd chapter of Luke where Jesus (pbuh)withdrew from the disciples, prayed, and returnedto find them fast asleep. Who, I wondered, couldhave possibly observed him praying ... and thenrelated the incident so that it eventually could beincluded in the Gospel of Luke? Theres anotherpassage in the Gospels where Jesus (pbuh)supposedly includes the words "let him who readsunderstand" in one of his spoken discourses, whichseemed odd to me. And there was yet anotherspot where the New Testament author assuredfirst-century Christians that their generationwould see the second coming of the Messiah -- apassage I found difficult to square with modernChristian doctrine. These and other queries aboutthe New Testament arose while I was still quiteyoung, certainly before I was fifteen. Hadsomeone manipulated the Gospels? If so, who? Andwhy?I "filed" my questions for later, and decided thatthe real problem was that I was not part of avigorous Christian faith community.CATHOLICAt eighteen, I headed East for college and enteredthe Roman Catholic Church. In college, I met a
  5. 5. beautiful and compassionate Catholic girl who wasto become the great love and support of my life;she was not particularly religious, but sheappreciated how important these matters were tome, and so she supported me in my beliefs. I do agreat injustice to her seemingly limitlessresources of strength, support, and love bycompressing the beginning of our relationship intoa few sentences here.AN ENCOUNTER WITH A PRIESTI asked the campus priest -- a sweet and piousman -- about some of the Gospel material thathad given me trouble, but he becameuncomfortable and changed the subject. Onanother occasion, I remember telling him that Iwas focusing closely on the Gospel of Johnbecause that Gospel was (as I thought then) afirst-person account of the events in question.Again, he stammered and changed the subject anddid not want to discuss the merits of one Gospelover another; he simply insisted that all four wereimportant and that I should study all of them. Thiswas a telling conversation, and a fateful one, as itturned out.CHRISTIANITY? OR PAULISM?Now, this is not my life story, but rather myreversion account, so Im going to fast-forwardover a lot of important events. That sweetcampus priest eventually married my girlfriendand me, and we settled in suburbanMassachusetts. We each moved aheadprofessionally and became grownups. We hadthree beautiful children. And I kept reading andrereading the Bible. I was drawn, as ever, to thesayings about the lamp and the eye, the ProdigalSon, the Beatitudes, the importance of prayer,and so many others -- but I had steadily moreserious intellectual problems with the surrounding"architecture" of the New Testament, particularlywith the Apostle Paul. The fact that Paul neverseemed to build a theological argument around
  6. 6. anything that Jesus (pbuh) actually said was a big,big problem for me.In the mid-1990s, my wife and I both becamedeeply disenchanted with the Catholic Church, inpart because of a truly terrible priest who gavevery little attention to the spiritual needs of hiscommunity. We later learned that he had beencovering up for a child abuser!PROTESTANTI found it necessary to immerse myself in a faithcommunity. I joined, and became active in, thelocal Protestant denomination, a CongregationalChurch.So I led Sunday School classes for children, andbriefly taught a Gospel class on the Parables forthe adults. In the Sunday School classes for thekids I stayed right with the curriculum I had beengiven; but in the adult class, I tried to challengethe participants to confront certain parablesdirectly, without filtering everything through theApostle Paul. We had interesting discussions, but Isensed some resistance, and I didnt try to teachan adult class again. My wife eventually joined mychurch. (She is a member there today.)By this point, I had become deeply affected bythe apparent intersection of the Christian mystictradition and that of the Sufis and the ZenBuddhists. And I had even written on suchmatters. But there seemed to be no one at mychurch who shared my zeal for these issues.FOCUSING ON THE GOSPEL SAYINGSIn particular, I was interested in the researchbeing done that indicated that the oldest strata ofthe Gospels reflected an extremely early oral
  7. 7. source known as Q, and that each of the individual sayings of Jesus (pbuh) needed to be evaluated on its own merits, and not as part of the narrative material that surrounded it. This is because that narrrative material was added many years later. AN EYEWITNESS ACCOUNT? In fact, the more I researched this subject, the more I found myself thinking of that conversation about the Gospel of John with my priest.I realized that what he had been unwilling or unable to tell me was that the author(s) of the Gospel of John had been lying. This was manifestly not an eyewitness account, though it claimed to be. I was in a strange situation. I was certainly enjoying the fellowship of the Christians at my church, who were all committed and prayerful people. Being part of a religious community was important to me. Yet I had deep intellectual misgivings about the supposed historicity of the Gospel narratives. Whats more, I was, increasingly, getting a different message from the Gospel sayings of Jesus (pbuh) than that which my fellow Christians were apparently getting. WRESTING WITH THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY The more I looked at these sayings, the more impossible it became for me to reconcile the notion of the Trinity with that which seemed most authentic to me in the Gospels. I found myself face-to-face with some very difficult questions. Where in the Gospels did Jesus use the word "Trinity"? If Jesus (pbuh) was God, as the doctrine of the Trinity claims, why did he worship God? AND -- if Jesus (pbuh) was God, why in the world would he say something like the following?
  8. 8. "Why callest thou me good? There is none goodbut one, that is, God." (Mark 10:18)Did he somehow forget that he himself was Godwhen he said this?(A side note -- I had a discussion with a womanwho assured me that this passage was not reallyin the Gospels, and who refused to believe that itappeared there until I gave her the chapter andverse number and she looked it up for herself!)THE HOLY QURANIn November of 2002, I began to read a translationof the Quran.I had never read an English translation of theentire text of the Quran before. I had only readsummaries of the Quran written by non-Muslims.(And very misleading summaries at that.)Words do not adequately describe theextraordinary effect that this book had on me.Suffice to say that the very same magnetism thathad drawn me to the Gospels at the age of elevenwas present in a new and deeply imperativeform. This book was telling me, just as I could tellJesus (pbuh) had been telling me, about mattersof ultimate concern.AUTHORITATIVE GUIDANCEThe Quran was offering authoritative guidanceand compelling responses to the questions I hadbeen asking for years about the Gospels.“It is not (possible) for any human being to whomGod has given the Book and Wisdom andProphethood to say to the people: „Be myworshippers rather than God‟s. On the contrary,(he would say): „Be devoted worshippers of yourLord, because you are teaching the Book, and you
  9. 9. are studying it.‟ Nor would he order you to takeangels and Prophets for lords. Would he order youto disbelieve after you have submitted to God‟swill?” (Qur‟an 3:79-80)The Quran drew me to its message because it sopowerfully confirmed the sayings of Jesus (pbuh)that I felt in my heart had to beauthentic. Something had been changed in theGospels, and that something, I knew in myheart, had been left intact in the text of theQuran.STARTLING PARALLELSBelow, you will find just a few examples of theparallels that made my heart pliant to the worshipof Allah (swt). Each Gospel verse comes from thereconstructed text known as Q -- a text thattodays scholars believe represents theearliest surviving strata of the teachings of theMessiah. Note how close this material is to theQuranic message.Q AGREES WITH QURAN ONTAWHEED (MONOTHEISM)In Q, Jesus (pbuh) endorses, in no uncertainterms, a rigorous monotheism."Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written,Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and himonly shalt thou serve. (Luke 4:8)Compare:"Children of Adam, did We not command you notto worship Satan? He was your sworn enemy. DidWe not command you to worship Me, and tell youthat this is the straight path?" (Holy Quran 36:60-61)Q AGREES WITH QURAN ON AQABA(THE UPHILL PATH)Q identifies a Right Path that is often difficult, a
  10. 10. path that unbelievers will choose not to follow."Enter ye in through the narrow gate. For wide isthe gate, and broad is the way that leadeth todestruction, and many there are who go in there.Narrow is the gate, and narrow is the way, whichleadeth unto life, and few there be that find it."(Matthew 7:13-14)Compare:"The worldly life is made to seem attractive to thedisbelievers who scoff at the faithful, but thepious, in the life hereafter, will have a positionfar above them." (Holy Quran 2:212)"Would that you knew what the uphill path is! It isthe setting free of a slave or, in a day of famine,the feeding of an orphaned relative and adowntrodden destitute person, (so that he wouldjoin) the believers who cooperate with others inpatience and kindness." (Holy Quran 90:12-17)Q AGREES WITH QURAN ON TAQWA(FEAR OF GOD)Q warns us to fear only the judgment of God."And I say unto you, my friends, Be not afraid ofthem that kill the body, and after that have nomore that they can do. But I will forewarn youwhom ye shall fear. Fear Him, which after Hehath killed, hath the power to cast into Hell. Yea,I say unto you, fear Him!" (Luke 12:4-5)Compare:"To Him belongs all that is in the heavens and theearth. Gods retribution is severe. Should you thenhave fear of anyone other than God?" (Holy Quran16:52)Q AGREES WITH QURAN ON THETRAPS OF DUNYA (EARTHLY LIFE)In Q, Jesus (pbuh) warns humanity plainly thatearthly advantages and pleasures should not bethe goal of our lives:
  11. 11. "Woe unto you that are rich! For you havereceived your consolation. Woe unto you who arefull! You shall be hungry. Woe unto you who laughnow! You shall weep and mourn." (Luke 6:24)Compare:"The desire to have increase of worldly gains haspreoccupied you so much (that you haveneglected the obligation of remembering God) --until you come to your graves! You shall know.You shall certainly know (about the consequencesof your deeds.) You will certainly have theknowledge of your deeds beyond all doubt. Youwill be shown hell, and you will see it with yourown eyes. Then, on that day, you shall bequestioned about the bounties (of God). (102:1-8)Q WARNS MANKIND NOT TO ASSUMEENTRY TO HEAVEN IS ASSURED!Consider also the following chilling words fromthe Messiah, which should (!) make every hearthumble, choke off all forms of arrogance inspiritual matters, and quiet every attack upon afellow monotheist:"And I say unto you, that many shall come fromthe east and west, and shall sit down withAbraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom ofheaven. But those who believe they own thekingdom of heaven shall be cast out into the outerdarkness. There shall be weeping and gnashing ofteeth." (Matthew 8:11-12)Obviously, this is an important teaching for allpeople of good will to bear in mind ... and to etchupon the memory.Q SAYS NOTHING OF CRUCIFIXIONOR SACRIFICE!You have seen how the historically earliest verses-- the Q verses -- parallel the major teachings ofthe Quran. Also worthy of mention is the fact thatQ teaches nothing whatsoever of theCrucifixion, of the sacrificial nature of the mission
  12. 12. of Jesus (pbuh) ... an intriguing omission indeed! We are left then with an amazing early Gospel -- a Gospel that (non-Muslim) scholars believe is historically closest to Jesus (pbuh) -- a Gospel that has the following characteristics: Agreement with the Qurans uncompromising message of Gods Oneness. Agreement with the Qurans message of an afterlife of salvation or hellfire ... based on our earthly deeds. Agreement with the Qurans warning not to be misled by dunya -- the attractions and pleasures of worldly life. AND ... A complete ABSENCE of any reference to Christs death on the cross, resurrection, or sacrifice for humanity! This is the Gospel that todays most advanced non- Muslim scholars have identified for us ... and this Gospel is pointing us, if only we will listen to it, in precisely the same direction as the Quran! MY DEAR CHRISTIAN BROTHERS AND SISTERS -- I BEG YOU TO ASK YOURSELVES PRAYERFULLY, TO SEEK ALMIGHTY GODS GUIDANCE ON THIS QUESTION: CAN THIS POSSIBLY BE A COINCIDENCE? SHARE THE WORD! I became a Muslim on March 20, 2003. It became obvious to me that I had to share this message with as many thoughtful Christians as I could. I wrote a book of Dawah to share with open-minded students of the Gospels. There are many, many more parallels between the oldest words of Jesus (pbuh) and the Holy Quran; I discuss them at length in my book Mere Islam. Please share this books message with the Christians in your life! A BOOK FOR THOUGHTFUL
  13. 13. CHRISTIANSI wrote Mere Islam to help people reach aninformed conclusion about the true nature ofthe mission of Jesus (pbuh). Because mediacoverage of Islam in the West is so unremittinglyhostile, I decided to rely primarily on the wordsof Jesus (pbuh), appealing only rarely to theHoly Quran. To the degree that they realizethat the oldest Gospel verses accurately mirrorthe teachings of Islam, thoughtful Christiansmay, Godwilling, become more curious aboutthe teachings of the Quran.Reasonable people may disagree on the age andauthenticity of the Q sayings of Jesus (pbuh) that Iappeal to in Mere Islam. All followers of Jesus(pbuh) must agree, though, that the words in Qcited in this book also appear in the Gospels foundin every Bible and are binding on everyChristian. For those who insist on the importanceof following Jesus (pbuh), surely that is enough.What you have read here is a brief summary ofwhy I believe Jesus (pbuh) was a Muslim. To learnmore about the recent New Testament scholarlybreakthroughs that support this point, please readmy book.I would love to hear from you. I hope you will e-mail me.