Bible Character Noah Quran Reflections

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“It is interesting to note the details where these two versions of the Noah story converge: there is the mention of waters gushing forth from the earth, and not simply rainfall; there is also the mention of two animals of every kind. Even in these details, however, the differences are noteworthy. Genesis actually does not say that the waters gushed up out of the earth per se as the Qur’an does but that “the fountains of the great deep burst forth.” These “fountains of the deep” bear an obvious relation to Genesis 1, which speaks of God’s breath-wind (Heb. ruach) blowing across “the face of the deep.” It is clear—as clear as chaos can be!—that “the deep” represents the dark, mysterious, and massive waters of the sea (the Mediterranean, to be precise). In Genesis 1, it is these waters of “the deep” that God divides into waters “above” (whence falls the rain) and waters “below” (whence flow the springs). These waters, situated above and below the dry land called earth, are representative in biblical cosmology of the powers of swirling chaos, tohu bohu, that continually threaten the order of creation at its edges. In the flood narrative of Genesis 7, God is portrayed as unleashing these chaotic powers of destruction upon the earth, thereby reversing the act of creation as it is described in Genesis 1: the waters above and the waters below converge upon the land. Thus in the Genesis account, we encounter an act of divine decreation, God’s undoing what was done in creation. Chaos is let loose from its boundaries above and below and gushes back in upon the dry land. The point is not that the Qur’an denies this portrayal of Noah’s flood but that it mutes, if not altogether silences, the cosmic, even universal elements of the Genesis story.

Another difference between Genesis and the Qur’an regarding the story of Noah concerns the number of animals who made it on board. In this case, the difference very likely begins with varying traditions within the Bible itself. The Qur’an’s mention of “two of every kind” echoes God’s instructions to Noah in Genesis to bring “two of every kind,” “of every living thing, of all flesh” (6:19). But Genesis includes another narrative tradition in which God commands that “seven pairs of all clean animals … and seven pairs of the birds of the air also” (7:2–3) embark on the ark. It becomes clear later that the greater number of kosher animals is necessary for the sacrifices that Noah would offer after the ark hit dry ground: “Then Noah built an altar to the Lord, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird, and offered burnt offerings on the altar” (8:20). In other words, more than just a pair become necessary when Noah’s story is told in a culture in which sacrificial animals are important; in such a setting one would be likely to ask how Noah would be able to offer sacrifices without a surplus of kosher creatures. The Qur’an, meanwhile, would have no need to bother with this issue, given the fact that sacrificial practices and concerns are virtually absent from its pages.
But of course it is not only animals that board the ark. A remnant of the human community is also delivered. At this juncture, though, the Qur’an includes a subplot that is absent from the Bible:

Surah 11:42–43
And as it sailed along with them amid waves like mountains, Noah called out to his son, who stood apart: “My son, embark with us, and do not remain with the unbelievers.”
He said: “I will seek refuge in a mountain that will protect me from water.”
He said: “Today, there is no protector from Allah’s Decree, except for him on whom He has mercy.”
Then the waves came between them and so he was one of those who were drowned.

There is no story like this one in Genesis, nor is it easy to locate anything comparable in the history of Jewish interpretation of this passage.6 This may be entirely unique to the qur’anic revelation. In any case, it is a highly significant story line: whereas in Genesis Noah took his entire household—“you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you” (6:18)—in the Qur’an the humans who are saved are not necessarily all bound by family ties. Noah boards with family members who are believers and with others who have also believed in his proclamation. Further, one of his own sons, refusing to embark on the ark and seeking his refuge elsewhere, is drowned in the floodwaters. Robinson suggests that this fascinating detail may provide another point of identification between Noah’s story and Muhammad’s own prophetic experience, for it “probably mirrors the anguish of the Muslims who left relatives behind when they migrated [from Mecca to Medina].”7 With this new twist in Noah’s story, the Qur’an underscores the idea that Islam creates a new kind of social arrangement, a polis or social identity that is not dependent upon blood kinship but rather upon submission to Allah’s will.”

Lodahl, M. (2010). Claiming Abraham: Reading the Bible and the Qur’an Side by Side (pp. 119–121). Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press.

Practically all critical scholars agree Jesus died and rose again

Practically all critical scholars agree Jesus died and rose again

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“There are a minimum number of facts agreed upon by practically all critical scholars, whatever their school of thought. At least twelve separate facts are considered to be knowable history.

(1) Jesus died by crucifixion and (2) was buried. (3) Jesus’ death caused the disciples to despair and lose hope, believing that his life was ended. (4) Although not as widely accepted, many scholars hold that the tomb in which Jesus was buried was discovered to be empty just a few days later.
Critical scholars further agree that (5) the disciples had experiences which they believed were literal appearances of the risen Jesus. Because of these experiences, (6) the disciples were transformed from doubters who were afraid to identify themselves with Jesus to bold proclaimers of his death and resurrection. (7) This message was the center of preaching in the early church and (8) was especially proclaimed in Jerusalem, where Jesus died and was buried shortly before.
As a result of this preaching, (9) the church was born and grew, (10) with Sunday as the primary day of worship. (11) James, who had been a skeptic, was converted to the faith when he also believed that he saw the resurrected Jesus. (12) A few years later, Paul was converted by an experience which he, likewise, believed to be an appearance of the risen Jesus.”

Habermas, G. R. (1996). The historical Jesus: ancient evidence for the life of Christ (p. 158). Joplin, MO: College Press Publishing Company.

Quran and Inspiration

Quran and Inspiration

Qur’an and Inspiration

“In Muslim thinking it is not Muhammad who was inspired, but the message he transmitted. Its origin is not in Muhammad, but in the Preserved Tablet kept in heaven and referred to in Sura 85:22. From this record there have been other revelations given: the Torah, the Old Testament Law, given to Moses; the Psalms, given to David; the Gospel, given to Jesus; and the Qur’an, given to Muhammad. The Torah is in Hebrew for Jews, the Gospel in Greek for Gentiles, the Qur’an in Arabic for Arabs and ultimately for all people.

The Gospel in Greek for Gentiles, the Qur’an in Arabic for Arabs and ultimately for all people.
The book itself is not seen as the product of Muhammad. It is inspired. The word used is wahy from the verb awha, used in the Qur’an more than seventy times. In Sura 16:68 the word is used of the bee. How does it know how to construct its hive and where to build it? The answer is wahy. The bee doesn’t work it out logically: it is guided by God.

According to the Islamic scriptures, Muhammad’s times of inspiration were accompanied by physical manifestations: perspiration, shaking, and even trance. An example is given by Bukhari:

The Prophet waited for a while and then the Divine Inspiration descended upon him. Umar pointed out to Ya’la, telling him to come. Ya’la came and pushed his head (underneath the screen which was covering the Prophet) and behold! The Prophet’s face was red and he kept on breathing heavily for a while, and then he was relieved.15

Muhammad’s own explanation was that the inspiration sometimes came

“… like the ringing of a bell, this form of inspiration is the hardest of all and then this state passes off after I have grasped what is inspired. Sometimes the Angel comes in the form of a man and talks to me.” Aisha added: “Verily I saw the prophet on a very cold day and noticed the sweat dropping from his forehead (as the inspiration was over).”16

It was this claim to inspiration that gave authority to Muhammad’s teaching, although those who opposed him said that he was merely repeating what someone was telling him. Yet there is no denying that at least the earlier suras of the Qur’an are lively, highly imaginative, poetic, and in that sense inspired. The claim that the entire Qur’an is written in this same “inspired” form is debatable; the later suras can often seem labored (to non-Muslims, at least), giving the impression of being constructed to meet an immediate social or political need.”

Riddell, P. G., & Cotterell, P. (2003). Islam in Context: Past, Present, and Future (pp. 62–63). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.

 

“THE QURÁN.—The question of the inspiration will be fully discussed, and an account of the laws of the exegesis of the Qurán will be given in the next chapter. It is sufficient now to state that this book is held in the highest veneration by Muslims of every sect. When being read it is kept on a stand elevated above the floor, and no one must read or touch it without first making a legal ablution.1 It is not translated unless there is the most urgent necessity, and even then the Arabic text is printed with the translation. It is said that God chose the sacred month of Ramazán in which to give all the revelations which in the form of books have been vouchsafed to mankind. Thus on the first night of that month the books of Abraham came down from heaven; on the sixth the books of Moses; on the thirteenth the Injíl, or Gospel, and on the twenty-seventh the Qurán. On that night, the Laylut-ul-Qadr, or “night of power,” the whole Qurán is said to have descended to the lowest of the seven heavens, from whence it was brought piecemeal to Muhammad as occasion required.2 “Verily we have caused it (the Qurán) to descend on the night of power.” (Súra xcvii. 1.) That night is called the blessed night, the night better than a thousand months, the night when angels came down by the permission of their Lord, the night which bringeth peace and blessings till the rosy dawn. Twice on that night in the solitude of the cave of Hira the voice called, twice though pressed sore “as if a fearful weight had been laid upon him,” the prophet struggled against its influence. The third time he heard the words:—

“Recite thou, in the name of thy Lord who created—
Created man from clots of blood.” (Súra xcvi. 5.)

“When the voice had ceased to speak, telling how from minutest beginnings man had been called into existence, and lifted up by understanding and knowledge of the Lord, who is most beneficent, and who by the pen had revealed that which man did not know, Muhammad woke up from his trance and felt as if “a book had been written in his heart.” He was much alarmed. Tradition records that he went hastily to his wife and said—“O Khadíja! what has happened to me!” He lay down and she watched by him. When he recovered from his paroxysm, he said “O Khadíja! he of whom one would not have believed (i.e., himself) has become either a soothsayer (káhin) or mad.” She replied, “God is my protection, O Ab-ul-kásim. He will surely not let such a thing happen unto thee, for thou speakest the truth, dost not return evil for evil, keepest faith, art of a good life and art kind to thy relatives and friends, and neither art thou a talker abroad in the bazaars. What has befallen thee? Hast thou seen aught terrible?” Muhammad replied “Yes.” And he told her what he had seen. Whereupon she answered and said:—“Rejoice, O dear husband and be of good cheer. He in whose hands stands Khadíja’s life, is my witness that thou wilt be the Prophet of this people.”1 The next Súra, the 74th, was revealed at Mecca, after which there seems to have been an intermission, called the Fatrah. It was during this time that the Prophet gained some knowledge of the contents of the Jewish and the Christian Scriptures.
Gabriel is believed to have been the medium of communication. This fact, however, is only once stated in the Qurán:—“Say, whoso is the enemy of Gabriel—For he it is who by God’s leave hath caused the Qurán to descend on thy heart” (Súra ii. 91.) This Súra was revealed some years after the Prophet’s flight to Madína. The other references to the revelation of the Qurán are:—“Verily from the Lord of the worlds hath this book come down; the Faithful Spirit (Rúh-ul-Ámín) hath come down with it” (Súra xxvi. 192.) “The Qurán is no other than a revelation revealed to him, one terrible in power (Shadíd-ul-Quá) taught it him.” (Súra liii. 5.) These latter passages do not state clearly that Gabriel was the medium of communication, but the belief that he was is almost, if not entirely, universal, and the Commentators say that the terms “Rúh-ul-Ámín” and “Shadíd-ul-Quá” refer to no other angel or spirit. The use of the word “taught” in the last Súra quoted, and the following expression in Súra lxxv. 18. “When we have recited it, then follow thou the recital,” show that the Qurán is entirely an objective revelation and that Muhammad was only a passive medium of communication. The Muhammadan historian, Ibn Khaldoun, says on this point:—“Of all the divine books the Qurán is the only one of which the text, words and phrases have been communicated to a prophet by an audible voice, It is otherwise with the Pentateuch, the Gospel and the other divine books: the prophets received them under the form of ideas.”1 This expresses the universal belief on this point—a belief which reveals the essentially mechanical nature of Islám.

The Qurán thus revealed is now looked upon as the standing miracle of Islám. Other divine books, it is admitted, were revelations received under the form of ideas, but the Qurán is far superior to them all for the actual text was revealed to the ear of the prophet. Thus we read in Súra lxxv. 16–19:—

“Move not thy tongue in haste to follow and master this revelation;
For we will see to the collecting and recital of it;
But when we have recited it, then follow thou the recital;
And verily it shall be ours to make it clear to thee.””

Sell, E. (1880). The Faith of Islám (pp. 2–5). London; Madras: Trübner & Co.; Addison & Co.

“Another feature of the revelation of this the middle Meccan, period is the constant assertion of the inspiration of the Qurán. It is called the blessed Book, the luminous Book, the honourable Qurán. It is the Book from God, the best of all recitals He hath sent—a missive from on high:

A blessed Book have we sent down to thee, that men may meditate its verses, and that those endued with understanding may bear it in mind.—Súratu Sád (38) v. 28.

Muhammad is bidden not to grieve at the hardness of heart of his hearers and is assured that his message is divine. These are the signs of the lucid Book:

Haply thou wearest thyself away with grief because they will not believe.
Were it our will we could send down to them a sign from Heaven, before which they would humbly bow.
But from each fresh warning that cometh to them from the God of mercy they have only turned aside,
And treated it as a lie.—Súratu’sh Shu‘ará (26) vv. 2–5.

In the one hundred and ninety-second and following verses of this Súra there is a very strong assertion of the fact that Gabriel brought the Book down from heaven: but, as there is a reference to the Jews, this passage is considered by Jalálu’d-dín as Syúti to belong to the Madína period and so I do not quote it here. In other parts of this Súra, five of the older prophets are represented as saying “Fear God and obey me;” and the conclusion drawn is that in like manner the Quraish should obey Muhammad, or suffer for their disobedience; and if they disobeyed him then he could, in the name of God, say,

I will not be answerable for your doings. v. 216.

In Súratu’t Túr (52) the charge of forgery is met and the supernatural nature of the Qurán is asserted:

Will they say, ‘He hath forged it himself?’ Nay, rather is it they that believe not.
Let them produce a discourse like it, if they speak the truth. vv. 33–4.
Have they such a knowledge of the secret things that they can write them down? v. 41.
Verily, there is a punishment for the evil-doers. v. 47.

Súratu’l Háqqah (69) which belongs to the first Meccan period, contains one of the strongest denials of forgery to be found in the Qurán:

It needs not that I swear by what ye see, and by what ye see not,
This verily is the word of an Apostle worthy of all honour,
And that it is not the word of a poet—1
How little do ye believe!
Neither is it the word of a soothsayer—
How little do ye receive warning!
It is a missive from the Lord of the worlds.
But if Muhammad had fabricated concerning us any sayings,
We had surely seized him by the right hand and had cut through the vein of his neck;
Nor would we have withheld any of you from him. vv. 38–47.”
Sell, E. (1905). The Historical Development of the Quran (pp. 48–51). London; New York: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge; Edwin S. Gorham.

Quran and Crucifixion

Quran and Crucifixion

Quran and the Crucifixion

“Qur’an and Crucifixion

Most intriguing is the one verse in the Qur’an which deals with the crucifixion of Jesus. The Jews are being condemned in Sura 4:157 because

they uttered against Mary a grave false charge (and) that they said “We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah”—But they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them. And those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety they killed him not. (Sura 4:157)

The “grave charge” directed against Mary is obviously the accusation that she had been unchaste and that her pregnancy was the result. The remainder of the verse is both intriguing and perplexing: intriguing because the actual meaning of the passage is not clear; and perplexing because there appears to be one certainty at least about Jesus, that he was “crucified under Pontius Pilate.”45

The most obvious meaning is that given by the majority of Muslim scholars: Jesus was not crucified. This then gives rise to a further problem: then who was crucified? The Qur’an offers no answer to the question, simply asserting that it seemed to those responsible for the crucifixion that they had crucified Jesus. The sixteenth-century Gospel of Barnabas, written in Italian by Father Moreno, a Christian turned Muslim,46 provides a detailed explanation: it was Judas who was crucified, because God snatched Jesus away to the third heaven and made Judas resemble Jesus in appearance:

When the soldiers with Judas drew near to the place where Jesus was, Jesus heard the approach of many people, wherefore in fear he withdrew into the house. And the eleven were sleeping. Then God, seeing the danger of his servant commanded Gabriel, Michael, Rafael and Uriel, his ministers, to take Jesus out of the world.

The holy angels came and took Jesus out by the window that looketh toward the south. They bare him and placed him in the third heaven in the company of angels, blessing God for evermore.

Judas entered impetuously before all into the chamber whence Jesus had been taken up. And the disciples were sleeping. Whereupon the wonderful God acted wonderfully, insomuch that Judas was so changed in speech and in face to be like Jesus that we believed him to be Jesus. And he, having awakened us, was seeking where the master was. Whereupon we marvelled, and answered: “Thou, Lord, art our master; hast thou now forgotten us?”

And he, smiling, said: “Now are ye foolish, that know not me to be Judas Iscariot!”

And as he was saying this the soldiery entered, and laid their hands upon Judas, because he was in every way like to Jesus.…

The soldiers took Judas and bound him, not without derision. For he truthfully denied that he was Jesus.47

Certainly many Muslims find it hard to believe that a prophet like Jesus could be crucified. Muhammad himself was well aware of the fact that prophets could be rejected and even killed, but crucifixion was a death cursed in the Old Testament.48 How could a prophet die an accursed death?

Muhammad’s rejection of the crucifixion of Jesus may possibly be traced back to the Christian philosopher Basilides,49 who seems to have taught that Jesus was not crucified but someone else took his place. Perhaps this happened in the scuffle and confusion of the arrest, or perhaps at the cross things became confused and Simon of Cyrene was crucified instead of Jesus.

Since it is widely accepted on the basis of the historical record that Jesus was in fact crucified, it has been suggested that the text could be understood as meaning “they,” the Jews, did not crucify him. E. E. Elder made this suggestion, and this certainly has the advantage of leaving the question of just who crucified Jesus open. However, the Arabic text does not emphasize the pronoun “they” as might have been expected if that was the intended meaning; this interpretation is just, but only just, barely possible.50

A third option is that taught by the Ahmadis. They came into existence around the beginning of the twentieth century, led by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (1839–1908), who was born in the Punjab. He claimed to have received revelations from Allah when he was forty years old. He asserted that Jesus was crucified but did not die on the cross. According to the Ahmadis, Jesus was taken down from the cross alive and was resuscitated in the tomb through the efforts of Nicodemus, who in this account becomes a skilled doctor:

Joseph of Arimathaea and Nicodemus, an expert physician, now came and took charge of the body of Jesus, brought it down from the cross, wrapped him in a linen cloth, which was impregnated with spices, and laid him in a sepulchre.… There can be no doubt that Joseph and Nicodemus must have continued to minister unto Jesus in the strong hope of reviving him.51

Jesus is said to have completely recovered and subsequently to have gone eastward in search of the lost ten tribes, eventually dying and being buried in Kashmir.52

Seyyed Hossein Nasr recognizes the importance of the Qur’an’s denial of the crucifixion: “The Qur’an does not accept that Jesus was crucified, but states that he was taken directly to heaven. This is the one irreducible ‘fact’ separating Christianity from Islam, a fact which is in reality placed there providentially to prevent a mingling of the two religions.”53 Similarly, but polemically, the Ahmadi writer Muhammad Zafrullah Khan claims: “Once it is established that Jesus did not die on the cross, there was no accursed death, no bearing of the sins of mankind, no resurrection, no ascension and no atonement. The entire structure of church theology is thereby demolished.”54

In the twenty-first century the debates between Muslims and non-Muslims focus on the Jewish people and the State of Israel, on worldwide Christianity in its various manifestations, and on the economic and political system generally designated capitalism. In the thinking of many Muslims the latter two are in good measure conflated.

Nasr (rightly) sees the inescapable logic of the incompatibility of the two religions, Islam and Christianity. Meanwhile, Zafrullah Khan sees beyond that to the “demolishing” of the religious element of the principal alternative to Islam.”

45 As Geoffrey Parrinder comments, “No serious historian doubts that Jesus was a historical figure and that he was crucified, whatever he may think of the faith in the resurrection” (Jesus in the Qur’an [London: Sheldon, 1965], 116).

46 See David Sox, The Gospel of Barnabas (London: Allen and Unwin, 1984). This is a thorough examination of the many questions raised by the so-called Gospel of Barnabas and ought to have ended the claims by Muslims, and even by Muslim scholars, that this Gospel is the one and only first-century Gospel written by a disciple of Jesus; see Muhammad ur-Rahim, Jesus: A Prophet of Islam, 2d ed. (London: MWH Publishers, 1979), 39. See also the discussion of the Gospel of Barnabas in Moucarry, Faith to Faith, 247–51. For a spirited, if forlorn, defense of the authenticity of the Gospel of Barnabas, see Yusseff, Dead Sea Scrolls, the Gospel of Barnabas, and the New Testament.

47 Aisha Bawany Wakf, ed., The Gospel of Barnabas (Karachi: Ashram Publications, 1976). This is a new edition of the translation by Lonsdale and Laura Ragg (London: Oxford University Press, 1907); see also F. P. Cotterell, “The Gospel of Barnabas,” Vox Evangelica 10 (1977): 43–17.
48 Deut. 21:23.
49 Gnosticism certainly flourished in neighboring Egypt: Hans Lietzmann, “Egypt,” chap. 13 in The Founding of the Church Universal, 3d ed. (London: Lutterworth, 1953). Basilides claimed the authority of the apostle Peter for his system.
50 See Parrinder, Jesus in the Qur’an, 120.
51 Muhammad Zafrulla Khan, Deliverance from the Cross (Southfields: London Mosque, 1978),33.
52 See Khan, Deliverance from the Cross; and Kenneth Cragg, Islamic Surveys 3: Counsels in Contemporary Islam (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1965), chap. 10.
53 Seyyed Hossein Nasr, Islamic Life and Thought (London: Allen and Unwin, 1981), 209.
54 Khan, Deliverance from the Cross, 89.
Riddell, P. G., & Cotterell, P. (2003). Islam in Context: Past, Present, and Future (pp. 77–80). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.

Evangelizing Muslims

Evangelizing Muslims

Topic: Evangelizing Muslims 

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“The most important thing we can do as followers of Jesus is to do just that. Follow him. Jesus himself is the Good News. The message that we carry is Jesus. Not church, not capitalism, not democracy, not doctrine, not the religion of Christianity, not Calvin, not Luther, not Democrat, not Republican.
If we truly wish to be able to build a relationship with a Muslim friend, the most important thing we can do is to follow Jesus’ lead. Jesus had compassion for people, and he valued the same quality in his disciples, even above personal sacrifice.

If we begin with the attitude that we are going to debunk “all of that Islamic stuff,” we’ll be done before we get a chance to introduce Jesus, because we will have turned away somebody in the process.
Some suggestions when beginning a conversation:

Don’t insult Muhammad, and don’t be flippant with religious phrases or with God or your Bible. Show respect, and you may well be respected for it.

Do everything you can to keep it from becoming a me-versus-you debate. Or a my-religion-can-beat-up-your-religion diatribe. That’s not how Jesus spoke to others, and we would do well to follow his example.

Show interest in your Muslim friend’s faith not as a means of deception, but because you are interested in them and what they think about God. In fact, keeping the conversation on common ground and about everyday spirituality will prove to be far more effective than confrontation. Many Muslims are uneducated regarding their religion, and any attempt to force a theological point will end in shared frustration.

One thing you will notice about Muslims in the Middle East, in particular, is that the Eastern perspective on logic is totally different from ours in the West. For example, when I first arrived in Beirut, I attempted to use C. S. Lewis’s tried-and-true “Lord, Liar, or Lunatic” approach with my new friends. I said that because Jesus himself claimed to be the way, the truth, and the life, he was either who he said he was, or he was lying about it, or even worse, he was delusional. Those were the only options. It was either true or not.

“No,” my friends said, shaking their heads. “He was a prophet of God, and he never told lies and he certainly wasn’t crazy.”

“Don’t you see,” I would plead, “the only option left is that he is Lord.”
“No. He was something else. You need more options in your argument.”
“There aren’t any,” I said, palms sweaty. “I’m being logical, and Jesus was logical.”
That raised some eyebrows.

Only later did I realize that they had raised an interesting point: Jesus had lived in their region, spoke a similar language, and had similar ethnic qualities. And then Carl the Great White Missionary flew across the world to tell them that Jesus was logical.… That’s just like an American.

Be genuine and patient. Whatever denomination or church we come from, it is not our job to “secure converts.” In bolder terms, we are not even here to “build the kingdom” but rather to obey the king. Kings build their own kingdoms, and Jesus surely can build his. We are involved in the process because we follow him.

When speaking with a Muslim about Jesus: Use his title as a term of respect, i.e., “Jesus the Christ” (or Messiah). This is actually a term that Muslims accept, and it shows a sense of reverence.

Many Muslims are pleasantly surprised when they see someone praying, reading a Bible, or treating religious things with a sense of devotion. In the West, we are so used to the separation of church and state that in public we acclimate to the nonreligious norms within our culture. Muslims see this as a blatant disregard of devotion to God. Many of my Muslim friends are surprised when I tell them that the president or some public figure believes in God. They don’t see it in the media, where talk of God is rare, and devotion toward him seems nonexistent. Within Islamic nation-states, the opposite is true. Every Islamic state (even the secular ones) is permeated with religious devotion and/or tradition. Every public figure is a Muslim. Except for those in Lebanon, every political office carries with it some influence of Islamic law, to one degree or another.

We don’t want to wear our devotion on our sleeve, but we are free to be people who are obviously seeking to follow the ways of God and be more like Jesus. This is how we desire to live and what will pave the way for many genuine friendships.”

Medearis, C. (2008). Muslims, Christians, and Jesus: Gaining Understanding and Building Relationships (pp. 33–36). Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House.

The Nativity Scene Comparing Bible and Quran

The Nativity Scene Comparing Bible and Quran

The Nativity Scene Comparing Bible and Quran

The Nativity Scene Comparing Bible and Quran. For discussion visit the forum https://www.divinesoteriology.com/forums/topic/nativity-scene-comparing-bible-and-quran/

“There are some hints of similarity between the Qur’an and the Bible and significant differences concerning the annunciation, conception, birth, and infancy of Jesus.

In the Qur’anic version of the annunciation, Jesus is called the “son of Mary.” In the Bible, Jesus is miraculously born of Mary but called “the Son of the Most High.” The Qur’an designates Jesus as the “Messiah” but does not say that he will be given the “throne of his father David” and will “reign over the house of Jacob forever.”

In the Qur’an, the conception is by Allah’s decree. In the Bible, the Holy Spirit comes upon Mary and “overshadows” her, even as “the cloud” of the glory of the presence of the Lord God “covered” the tabernacle. The biblical account of the conception conveys an immanence that the Islamic faith would find inconsistent with Allah’s transcendence.

While the Qur’an designates Jesus as “of the righteous,” in the Bible, in the words of the angel Gabriel, Jesus is the “Son of the Most High,” the “holy one,” and “the Son of God.”

In the Qur’an, the birth of Jesus takes place under a palm tree that provides sustenance for Mary. In the Bible, Jesus is born in Bethlehem, the city of David. To bring this about, the Lord God moves the Roman emperor to decree a census requiring Joseph and his betrothed to go to Bethlehem. The birth of the Messiah must take place in “the town of David,” as the prophet foretold. The Bible provides both a historical and a universal dimension in the account of the birth of Jesus.

In the Bible, the Messiah humbles himself and is born in a stable and laid in a manger. The angel announces to lowly shepherds the good news of a Savior for all people. Jesus is not just another prophet, as in the Qur’an. He is the Son of God coming as Savior to the whole world. This is “good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” Jesus is the gracious gift of the Lord God to Jews, Arabs, and all people. It is a message to be “spread” immediately. It is a life-changing message that moves the heart to praise and glorify the Lord God with the shepherds in one’s everyday life.”

Richter, R. (2011). Comparing the Qur’an and the Bible: What They Really Say about Jesus, Jihad, and More (p. 63). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.