Assalamo Alaikum Wa Rahmatullah
OPINION REGARDING THE DISCUSSION ON YOUR PROGRAM
I was very interested in your discussion on TV since this is a topic which I have discussed many times, both as student of religion, and outside the learning environment, in many parts of the world.
As an English Muslim convert, now living in Saudi Arabia, I find the sharp contrast between societies, thought-provoking from many new points.
Focusing upon the nature of Jesus and Mary as explained in the Koran, and in the Gospel of the New Testament, we see two opposing views — that of Christian teaching that Jesus is ‘Son of God’ and that of the Koran neglecting all such claims. It then, becomes necessary to ask the question WHY was it necessary for the early Christians to make such a claim about Jesus, when after all he never made any such claim himself?
It is my opinion that answer becomes clear if we study the basis for the religions of Islam and Christianity. As Muslims we base our faith upon God and upon Him alone, and upon the Koran — God’s word to His Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in whom we also believe — as a true Prophet of the one God. Muhammad (PBUH) is God’s servant, — faithful and obedient and totally human — he remains the instrument of God’s purpose to lead His people back to Him again.
Now, as a total contrast we turn to Christianity — a religion built not around God, or His book — for there was no ‘book’ until 150 years after Jesus’ death. Christianity became built around the personality of Jesus himself. By laying more and more stress upon the magnetic and wonderful personality of Jesus and unable and un-willing to describe the Prophet’s effect upon all who came to him in everyday terms — more and more attributes are added to his reputation — a man who could perform miracles, bring back the dead to life, heal the leper, cure the blind — all by God’s will, is indeed a wonderful man — blessed by God — born by God’s will to do His service. But after his death, the ‘magical’ personality must be kept alive and ‘Son of God’ appears to suitably qualify all his actions.
Living in a society, strongly flavored by the Greco-Roman gods, all ‘super human,’ the educated early Christians must surely also have been influenced in thought by their surroundings. Paul himself, one of the great teachers of Christianity, was a Hellenized Jew, who never saw or met Jesus during his lifetime. Yet many of his reported sayings show the influence of the times in which he lived. ‘The Living Lord’ was very real to him.
The miraculous nature of Jesus’ birth, also could help to give credence to the idea of Jesus identity as son of God. But it is child-like in its 1 + 1 = 2 type philosophy, i.e., God blew into the womb of Mary — Mary had Jesus, therefore God is Jesus’ father and Jesus is His son.
What Christians fail to see, and to understand is that in Jesus’ birth and conception we see a touching and wonderful revelation of the Kindness of God.
We are told by both Koran and Christian writings that Mary was a young woman of exceptional purity of both mind and body, brought into the world already pledged as God’s servant, blessed by God, while in His service in the synagogue so that she herself could produce small ‘miraculous’ occurrences by God’s will. How natural then, that God, having chosen her to be the vehicle by which His new, Prophet should be born on earth — chooses a means by which none of her blessed purity is touched. She serves her God, but in so doing He in His infinite kindness preserves her precious purity. Surely this needs no embellishment — no claims to ‘Sonship’ of God. God’s creation yes, but not Son by Paternity. That is obviously not the intention.
The fact that so much time elapsed before any of the sayings of Jesus or his teachings were written, also allows for the “Oral tradition’, by which they were passed on, to have substantially changed the original. And yet through the three synoptic gospels (John being written last and obviously full of religious dogma) Mathew, Luke and Mark despite any alteration — a picture of Jesus as a quiet, yet magnetic personality — a Prophet inspired by God, with a great love of all humanity, sent to sharpen out awareness of God, in all the aspects of life; Jesus tries to open our eyes and our hearts to a greater awareness of God — an unselfish appraisal of ourselves from our thoughts, to our actions, and to enlarge Faith and Trust in God. Only by so doing by the simple Faith and Trust of a child is God’s Kingdom to come on Earth — this idea is repeated many times in many of his reported sayings. His closeness to God was evident from the strength that he drew from prayers, and the power he was given by God, to perform miracles. Yet in all this power and in the performance of God’s wonders NEVER does he proclaim himself Son of God. In Jesus sense of the word ‘Son” we are all children of God, His sons and daughters, here on earth, and as such Jesus taught the people to pray to ‘Our Father, which art in Heaven’.
Of the actual volume of words he spoke or must have spoken in his teachings only a pitiable few, and not all reliable, have been recorded. Jesus seemed to be primarily concerned with the poor, the oppressed, the outcast, the sick — and not tolerant of the sanctimonious and meaningless religious ‘cant’ of the so-called “pious.” His call was to the hearts of men, and his theme was humanity and love. Did he mean to establish a church? I believe he did — but not in the sense we see the church today — Jesus was practical as well as spiritual. I believe he wanted to create a society of people whose Faith in God bound them to one another regardless of race or creed, in a family-type caring relationship under God’s guidance. It is not really evident from his teachings that he saw himself as a great shining light in this process. He tended more to regard himself as a tool in the hands of God.
By raising him up to unbelievable heights, the early Christian followers brought upon themselves the endless problems of theoretically explaining the crucifixion — and from this comes the doctrine of the suffering servants, raised from the Jewish ancient texts — spoken of in Isaiah, the doctrine of Sacrifice for the sins of man, and the consequential exclusiveness of Jesus — which is very important to the early Christians. A pagan could be equally faithful to many ‘gods’ — but in Christianity this could not be — ONLY by faith in Jesus can the Christian hope to gain salvation — ONLY by accepting his death for the sake of man’s sin — and ONLY by belief in his resurrection (for as son of God, God must lift him up again) can the Christian hope to gain Paradise. Any other path is death — although this places Jesus absolutely between God and His people — a position he never occupied in his life on Earth.
Doctrine on doctrine becomes intertwined, and we find in the history of the church, endless meetings, theories and arguments as to the Nature of Jesus — he has become now, in fact, less a tangible reality, and more an unearthly semi-spiritual being, wrapped in endless doctrine and dogma — far indeed from the simple, gentle personality, in whom God placed so much power, in order that he could bring awareness to His people. Has not the church then defeated Jesus’ own objective — simplicity?
We find in the “Trinity” — Father — Son — and Holy Ghost, perhaps the culmination of the efforts of people struggling for a ‘Supremacy’ in religious expression and achieving an enigma, few Christians can adequately explain today,
God’s spirit is as real in the days of Moses and Abraham as it is in the time of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). It does not need to be held in the confines of a “man-made” triangle. Nor did Jesus associate himself with any theory of this kind.
It is sad, that in the coming of Islam, Christians felt they saw the coming of the ‘fake prophet’ or Anti-Christ told of in the Book of Revelation to John (New Tes). It is even sadder that the noble who organized the 2nd Crusade against the Muslims was offered a copy of a translated Koran to read — and cast it aside. It is sad because it reflects an attitude to Islam seen even until today kept alive in the history of the Crusades, and founded on a total ignorance. It is for Muslims, now to assert their faith and for Christians to at least be willing to be made aware of the meaning of Islam. I am sure that to many Islam and its teachings will be as a mountain stream in the desert, to the parched souls of many searching for truth.