Jesus and Muhammad

We covered the rise of Islam in History 304 on Thursday. Speaking of the differences between Christianity and Islam, I thought again about sign I saw at the First Baptist Church in White, Georgia a couple of years ago. It read:

MUHAMMAD IS DEAD
JESUS IS ALIVE
ENOUGH SAID

Unfortunately I did not have my camera with me to take a picture. I swear it’s true! Given recent events I can understand why people might be suspicious of Islam, but I still believe that you don’t need to run down someone else’s religion in order to promote your own. And note that the sign is objecting to Islam as such, not to some radical political interpretation of it. Sheesh.

The funny thing is that a Muslim would surely agree with this sign, although he would come to a different conclusion about its intended message. As far as Muslims are concerned, the fact that Muhammad was a man (worthy of respect, to be sure, but nothing more than a man) is the whole point of Islam. Christians committed a grave offense against monotheism when they imagined that Jesus was the son of God; that he was God himself, co-equal and co-eternal with his father. Muhammad, by contrast, was a prophet in the Old Testament sense of the term, who only ever performed one miracle, the revelation of the Koran. So yeah, he died and was buried, and you can visit his tomb. Enough said!

7 thoughts on “Jesus and Muhammad

  1. Dr. Good,
    Do you consider yourself to be pretty knowledgeable on Islam? I imagine that you studied it as a part of your focus on the Middle Ages.

    I would take issue with the term “imagined” in your comment about Christians believing that Jesus was one with the Father. Well, perhaps believing would be the better term. Christ said this Himself many times. Whether one believes it’s true or not, Jesus Himself made this claim numerous times throughout the Gospels. Chapters six through ten of John’s Gospel are a great place to read on my point.

  2. Do I know anything about Islam? Only enough to be dangerous, I suppose!

    My use of “imagined” was ironic – or rather, I was simply trying to present the Muslim view of things. Of course Christians believe that Jesus is the Son of God. I don’t know how Muslims explain the words of the Gospels. Maybe they believe that the writers put words into Jesus’ mouth.

  3. Yes, I believe what happened was Muhammad sought to spread his message to the Christians and Jews in Arabia, claiming that he was the Prophet that Moses foretold of and that their Scriptures were corrupted. They rejected this, obviously. Muslims today claim that Jesus never said He was God, but this claim is false, and again I would point to the Gospel of John (chapters 5-12) specifically to refute them.
    Also, I’m not so sure that the belligerent label is incorrect when applied to Islam. When one examines the life and sayings of Muhammad, you see that he was very belligerent. He claims to have received visions in Mecca and sought to start Islam in a peaceful manner. When his message was rejected there, he went to Medina and claims to have received more visions, this time justifying violence against those who did not accept Islam. When people say that the Quran calls for peace and love toward Christians and Jews, they need to understand a few things before subscribing to that view:
    1. The Quran is not laid-out in chronological order of when Muhammad claimed to receive his visions.
    2. Statements in the Quran calling for peace and love toward Christians and Jews come from Muhammad’s time in Mecca.
    3. Verses calling for violence toward Christians and Jews come from Muhammad’s time in Medina, when he himself began to become more militaristic.
    4. In Islam, there’s what’s called the doctrine of abrogation. When there is a disagreement between verses in the Quran, they look to which verse came later chronologically. This verse then takes precedent over the one which came earlier. So, the violence against Christians and Jews is seen as justified by Muhammad and the Quran.
    One can then view the life of Muhammad and see how after he claims to have received these visions in Medina, he becomes more militaristic and begins conquering, by the sword, the Arabian peninsula (including Mecca) in the name of Islam.
    Mark Gabriel, former professor of Al-Azhar University in Egypt, the premier Muslim University in the Middle East, lays all of this out in his book, Islam and Terrorism, which is available in RU’s library.

  4. My point is that this seemingly “radical political interpretation” of Islam is not really radical at all, it actually goes right along with the way Islam began.

  5. Yes, yes, yes, of course it does… and yet there are long stretches of Islamic history that are characterized by peaceful co-existence between Islamic rulers and Christian (and Jewish) ruled. “Let there by no compulsion in religion,” believe it or not, has been taken quite seriously in many places and many times. It doesn’t mean that there was equality between Muslims and other peoples of the book, but in the Middle Ages I would rather have been a Jew under Islam than a Jew under Christians.

  6. And sorry, but citing the Gospels to prove that Jesus is the Son of God… you and I might believe this, but all that a Muslim would have to say is that Jesus did not write it! (Unlike the Koran, which was revealed directly from Heaven to Mohammad). Particularly John’s gospel, the non-synoptic one that is dated to c. AD 90, some sixty years after Christ’s death. This would have left plenty of time for the early Christians to write it however they wanted, adding all sorts of details to justify their own interpretation of what Christianity was supposed to be.

  7. I fully understand that the acts of many who called themselves Christians in the Middle Ages do not line up with the teachings of Christ, and there were egregious errors made by those who thought it their duty to harm the well-being of others (ie. Jews and Muslims) in order to honor the Lord. This was inexcusable and there’s no defense for it.
    More to my point, though, is that widespread violence in the name of Christianity was not called for in Scripture. Widespread violence in the name of Islam was present at that religion’s founding and continues today. Their book, the Quran, which Muhammad claims to have received directly from heaven, calls for violence against Christians and Jews, and really anyone who does not believe what they believe. Again, this is not a radical interpretation, it’s explicit in their book.
    So when someone says Islam is a peaceful religion, it absolutely is not. I am glad that not everyone who is Muslim practices jihad, yes, but they are called to this by their book.
    And concerning the Gospels, I am not pointing to them to “prove” per se that Christ is the Son of God, but rather to disprove the Muslim claim that Jesus didn’t say He was God. So a couple things here:
    1. Yes, the Gospel of John was written around 90 A.D. or C.E., but that which it tells of Jesus fits right in with His characteristics as described in the other Gospels which were written earlier, as well as with the other books of the New Testament written during the lives of those who lived when Christ walked the earth.
    2. If you want an earlier recording of the claim from Jesus that He is God, see at Mark chapter two. And Mark is dated as the earliest among the Gospels, again, written during a time when many who witnessed Jesus’ life were still alive. They could have easily “snuffed-out” the false claims and this book would have never survived to become the most well supported document to come out of Antiquity in terms of the sheer number of manuscript copies.
    In all, I am not attempting to “put down” Islam in order to “promote” Christianity. I am a Christian, yes, I believe Jesus is God, but my point in all this is to simply lay out the facts and help people understand that what is going on with Al-Qaeda, ISIS, etc., today is not a “radical, political interpretation of Islam”, rather, it is what Islam is supposed to look like based on the Quran. Anyone can see this for themselves from former insiders such as Mark Gabriel in his book Islam and Terrorism.

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