December 23, 2007
Islam and Christianity
I’m itching to get some books and I am interested in especially Tariq Ramadan’s “Western Muslims and the Future of Islam“, which has gotten pretty good reviews. It was listed as one of the best 2004 nonfiction books by the Christian Science Monitor. A synopsis of the book reads as follows:
As the number of Muslims living in the West grows, the question of what it means to be a Western Muslims becomes increasingly important to the futures of both Islam and the West. While the media are focused on radical Islam, Ramadan claims, a silent revolution is sweeping Islamic communities in the West, as Muslims actively seek ways to live in harmony with their faith within a Western context.
Western Islam will see the religion coming out of its stereotypical jihadist-terrorist label that has tainted itself for many years. I, for one, am interested in seeing how this new development of Islam will take its course from here on. I’m not sure Islam Hadhari is the best way to frame it, since Islam is Islam and we should start defining it at its most essential core (note: the word “fundamental” has also taken on a negative meaning although it means something perfectly innocent, i.e. back to original doctrine), and not by giving it a new name. (of course new names are marketable but they can just be token)
Another interesting book I’ve been trying to get my hands on is “The Muslim Jesus” by Tarif Khalidi.
In The Muslim Jesus: Sayings and Stories in Islamic Literature, Tarif Khalidi brings together Islamic primary sources about Jesus from the eighth to the 18th centuries. Included are mystical works, historical texts about prophets and saints and, of course, the foundational words about Jesus in the Qur’an. “As a whole,” Khalidi explains, these writings “form the largest body of texts relating to Jesus in any non-Christian literature.” Khalidi pays particular attention to the literary quality of the texts and the role “the Muslim Jesus” has played in both Muslim piety and Muslim-Christian relations.
Not many people know that Nabi Isa, or Jesus, plays an extremely central role in Islam as well. He is highly revered and considered one of the most powerful prophets whose gifts of miracles and healing were bestowed upon him.
The last book I want to buy this season is “No God but God” by Reza Aslan, which has been highly recommended as well. Written from a historical perspective of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and makes no false romanticism of his journey and struggle – paints a man for who he truly was.
I believe that one of the most essential relationships to cultivate at this stage is that of Muslim-Christian relations. This year, numerous Muslim leaders across the world sent a document called “A Common Word” to all Christian leaders, outlining the core of both religions and how these are actually the same. Drawing from exactly the same sources.
Thus despite their differences, Islam and Christianity not only share the same Divine Origin and the same Abrahamic heritage, but the same two greatest commandments.
You can endorse the document as well, which was later responded to by the Pope himself, as well as other Protestant denominations. Also, in the UK, there is an organisation called “The Christian Muslim Forum” that aims at fostering good relations between the two.
I am mighty excited about these things, and hope to expand on my knowledge of Islam to better understand how the two religions can work together and build bridges for.. yes, you got it (*ahem* in Miss World-type conventions), world peace!
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