“Image can be found in the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey.”
So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I am about to spit you out of my mouth. (Rev. 3:16)
Over the Thanksgiving holidays, somehow the topic of Jesus and Islam came up in conversation. I was rebuffed when I mentioned that Jesus was as important, or even more important, than Mohammad within Islam. The competitive side of me went to work to prove my argument. I could have made my statement more precise by saying that while Mohammad remains preeminent in Islam, Jesus’ role is as important, or even more important in the eternal future of Islam.
I consider the Christian Century one of the most intellectually, and religiously, significant periodicals in the world today. Muslims, according to Amy Frykholm, in her Christian Century article “Who is Jesus for Muslims,” understands Jesus to be born of the Virgin Mary, but “neither God nor the Son of God.” “Jesus’ message is called the ‘Injil,’ or the gospel.” Muslims also affirm the Christian tradition of Jesus being a miracle worker. They even include Jesus’ miracles not included in the Christian gospels.
Within Islam, Jesus is “one of the five elite messengers of God.” As one of the five elite messengers, Muslims believe that Jesus is “unique among the prophets of God,” and in the last days will return to the earth. First, Jesus will “lead a great battle against ‘ad-Dajjal’ or the Antichrist.” The complexity of this statement would take volumes of interpretation to consider fully, but in simple terms, Jesus is fundamental to God’s return. Further, Jesus is the only one who has the Islamic title, “al-Masih.” Al-Masih means “Anointed One.” The root means “touching,” for it is Jesus whose touching brought healing. In Islam end-times belief, Jesus will be touching the faithful are healed for eternity.
I share this not to say Muslims are Christians in disguise, or that Jesus is somehow better than Mohammad. They have different tasks and different job descriptions. Rather than deny Jesus, Islam affirms and honors Jesus in a transformative way. Islam is extremely careful to uphold monotheism and make a careful dance to avoid having Jesus appear divine. Jesus came before Mohammad and will return to heal the people. I believe that God affirms all three religious people, as long as they live their faith with passion and compassion. I believe God is much more upset with those who are lukewarm in all three religions.
There remain significant differences between Islam, Judaism, and Christianity, but I hope you finish this devotion realizing that there is more that unites us than what divides us. No matter what fundamentalists of all three religions claim, we remain close in many ways. Today, pray for all three religions, that we can begin modeling mutual respect and love. There should be room for all three monotheistic cousins to affirm what unites us, discuss and even disagree about what separates us, while affirming that the one true God loves and touches all three religious’ peoples. Plus, I win the family Thanksgiving argument! (I know the last sentence was immature! Allah, forgive me!