Islam and Christianity
Muhammed Asadi

The "industry" of manufacturing the "word of God" was in vogue in ancient times when religion was the most powerful institution in society. The elite whenever they wanted to convince people of something, to further their economic gain, used religion. This not only distorted and ruined the genuine "words of God", it created mischief and corruption in society which ultimately got blamed on religion. It was not religion but pseudo-religion and constructed books, like parts of the Bible, that got institutionalized and caused great harm and injustice to humanity.

The Koran, coming to reform such a world, presented itself as a criterion to distinguish true from false (Koran 2:185), based on the principles of science and rationality. It termed nature as being the reflections of God's will (Sunna in Arabic). It termed the careful analysis of nature and contemplation based on it, as a duty for every believer (3:195). The history of modern science began with the Koran. Muslims inspired by the Koran did pioneering foundation building work in all fields of modern science, thus sparking the European Renaissance.

The Koran, the source of Islam, from the beginning has sought conciliation with the "People of the Book." It presented itself as "all-inclusive" to members of all religions based on their sincerity in accepting the truth when it gets to them. In this context, it states that all those who believe in God and the last day, regardless of label, will have nothing to fear. Christians are termed as the "closest" to the Muslims in "love"(compared to all other groups). Mary, the mother of Jesus is honored in the Koran as, "a woman chosen above the women of all nations" (3:42).

Franklin Graham is one of America's most powerful Christian leaders. He delivered the benediction at George W. Bush's inauguration. His father, Billy, counseled a long list of presidents. But Franklin, taking advantage of the national tragedy of September 11th, 2001 says that Islam is:

"wicked, violent and not of the same God."

Here is what this "wicked" religion says,

" Let NOT the hatred of a people incite you to be unjust." (Koran 5:8)

Growing up in Pakistan, due to the diffusion of Western culture, the legacy of Colonialism, I became well aware of the "traditional" Western claims against Islam. To many Muslims in the "Third World", these claims have resulted in an inferiority complex. As a result, they must emulate the West and the religion of the West, in order to cure their "disease". Christian missionaries are well aware of this and usually take advantage of it. They may criticize the ways of the so-called "free society" while at home in the West, but in Muslim lands they present these "freedoms" as a consequence of Christianity.

Muslims are generally unaware of the historical conflict between freedom, science and Christianity. Ironically, they are also unaware that the history of modern science began with the Koran. Muslims inspired by the Koran did pioneering foundation building work in all fields of modern science, thus sparking the European Renaissance. The majority of Muslims live within countries whose regimes are as oppressive as they are un-Islamic, and as such, they fall easy prey to Christian propaganda, at times disguised as "human-relief" or charity.

The German philosopher, Fredrick Nietzsche was well aware of the harms Christianity's relationship to learning and freedom:

Not only did Christianity deprive us of the benefits of Roman culture, says Nietzsche, but of those of Islam as well. The rich Moorish culture in Spain was trampled down "because it said Yes to life." It was a culture from which Christendom could and should have learned much. The crusades were fought against a culture that "the crusaders would have done better to lie down in the dust before." An unstated real motivation behind the Crusades was to plunder the wealth of the Near East; Nietzsche refers to the Crusades as "higher piracy." [A 60, http://www.debunker.com/texts/anti_chr.html, retreived 12/08/'01]

The source of the conflict between Islam and Christianity are the historical stereotypes about Islam, usually quick and cheap excuses to lure people into Christianity. The culprits here are not the masses in the Christian world but the Christian missionaries. Evangelical Christian missionaries do not represent Jesus, according to my readings of his words and my experience with them. Similarly, Muslim preachers in mosques in "Third World" countries do not represent the words of the Koran.

The Koran from the beginning has sought conciliation with the "People of the Book." It presented itself as "all-inclusive" to members of all faiths based on their sincerity in accepting the truth when it gets to them. In this context, it states that all those who believe in God and the last day, regardless of label, will have nothing to fear. Christians are termed as the "closest" to the Muslims in "love" (compared to all other groups). Mary, the mother of Jesus is honored in the Koran as, "a woman chosen above the women of all nations." Such honor for Mary is not to be found in the Holy Bible itself. The Koran terms Jesus as one of the greatest of God's messengers and celebrates his birth and mission.

The major difference between Islam and Christianity revolves around the nature of Jesus. The Koran terms Jesus as a messenger of God, a mortal. It does not accept the Christian claim that God (immortal) becomes man (mortal), or that God begets offspring. The Koran presents reasons and encourages rational inquiry. This book is an attempt to state those reasons and to dispel common stereotypes held against Islam, which have no basis in reality.

This work is also an attempt at conciliation with those who study the historical Jesus, members of the Jesus Seminar for example. A textual analysis of the source books of Islam and Christianity shows that we have more in common, if we follow the sayings and doings of the historical Jesus, than is realized. The Koran is the bridge over which traditional Christians and scholars of the historical Jesus can approach each other's territory, safely and in harmony with the core sayings of Jesus.

© 2001

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