By the word “reconciliation,” people usually mean some sort of adjustment and accommodation between two contending parties. It is expected of both parties to concede and give up some of their initial claims to enable them to meet in the middle for the sake of peace.

There are two conditions that apply to the parties that represent two faiths in a serious dialogue — the first step toward reconciliation: One, they should have authenticity, in the sense that their claims should be supported by their scriptures. Two, they should honor justice, fairness, and reason, and sincerely seek truth.

Almighty God in the holy Qur’an commands Muslims to invite the People of the Book (i.e. Jews and Christians) to a common platform:

[Say: “O People of the Book, come to common terms as between us and you: That we worship none but God; that we associate no partners with him; that we erect not, from among ourselves, lords and patrons other than God.” If then they turn back, say: “Bear witness that we (at least) are Muslims (bowing to God’s will)”.] (Aal `Imran 3:64)

And we have Biblical authority also for a session of reasoned exchange of ideas, as we read in the Book of Isaiah:

“Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord” (Isaiah 1:18)

Jesus in Islam

Christianity and Islam, together with Judaism, are usually called the Semitic religions, and they cover much common ground, because their prophets were all Semites who spoke Semitic languages and lived in Middle East lands.

Muslims believe the following about Jesus and his message:

1.That the mission of Jesus was a divinely ordained mission, and his life itself was a great sign for humanity.

2.That Jesus was born miraculously without a father, and he did many miracles, such as curing the leper and the blind by God’s permission, and (what is more) restoring to life a dead man, by leave of God.

3. That Mary the mother of Jesus was chosen by God over all other women in the world. In fact there is a chapter in the glorious Qur’an called Mary.

4.Also God says about Mary in the Qur’an what means,

{Behold! The angels said, “O Mary, God has chosen you and purified you —  chosen you above the women of all nations.} (Aal `Imran  3:42)

5. That it is the One True God of the universe Who revealed the Torah to Moses, the Psalms to David, the Gospel to Jesus, and the Qur’an to Muhammad, peace be on them all.

6. That all the prophets mentioned in the Bible were God’s chosen prophets, who taught their respective peoples to lead a life of complete obedience to God’s commandments.

Muslims pray as Jesus prayed (“Jesus fell on his face and prayed” – Matthew 26:39); and Muslims greet one another the same way Jesus did: “Peace be unto you” (John 20:19). The Arabic equivalent of the greeting is as-salamu `alaykum.

According to the gospels, when Jesus was faced with the prospect of death at the hands of his captors, he prayed to God:

“O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt” (Matthew 26:39)

Note the words: “not as I will, but as thou wilt.” This is Islam, namely submission to the will of God.

The word, Islam (= submission to the will of God) stands for a life of obedience to the commandments of Almighty God. From the very beginning of humankind on earth, God has sent His prophets to guide them along the straight path. The first man, Adam, was the first prophet too who taught the divine guidance he received to his family.

As humankind multiplied and started living as societies in different places, new prophets came to teach them the religion of God. These prophets included Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, Solomon, and Jesus (peace be on them all) among others. They all preached the same religion, namely: Worship the One and Only God of the universe, and lead a virtuous life in obedience to His laws.

This divine religion as taught by Moses is now called Judaism, and the same religion as taught by Jesus is now called Christianity. But in its original form, the religion of Moses, Jesus, and other prophets was the same divine religion, Islam. 

But Christians view Jesus as more than a prophet, they view Jesus as the only begotten Son of God, who came to atone for “the original sin” of humankind by suffering and dying on the Cross.

They believe that only those who believe that the Son of God (i.e. God Himself!) suffered and died on the Cross to redeem them from their sins, would be “saved.”

Prophecies of Muhammad in Christianity

Before the disappearance of Jesus from earth, he told his followers that a Spirit of Truth or a Comforter will come after him to complete the religion of God.

In the following verses in the Gospel of John, Chapter 16, we read:

7. Nevertheless I tell you the truth; it is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.

8. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment

12. I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.

13. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.

14. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.

Christians believe that the Comforter or the Spirit of Truth was the Holy Spirit, a person in the Trinity, i.e. God Himself.

Whereas Muslims believe that the Spirit of Truth, prophesied by Jesus, was the same as the Prophet-like-Moses foretold by Moses in Deuteronomy 18. See the relevant verses:

17. And the Lord said unto me, They have well spoken that which they have spoken.

18. I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him.

19. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him.

An objective study shows how the qualities mentioned in the prophecies of both Moses and Jesus (given above) are evident in Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon them all), the Last Prophet of God through whom God completed His Guidance for humanity.

Islam as taught by Muhammad is thus the culmination and completion of the same religion taught by Moses, Jesus, and indeed by all the prophets (peace be upon them all) sent by Almighty God.

In fulfillment of the prophecy in the Torah about the coming of a Messiah, Jesus was born in Bethlehem, Judea. When he was 30 years old, Jesus started his mission as the expected Messiah. But the Jews, save for a small number, did not receive him as the Messiah; they instigated the Roman authorities to arrest him. And according to Christian belief, he was arrested and crucified.

Teachings of St. Paul

Soon after the disappearance of Jesus, a man called Saul of Tarsus (later St. Paul) appeared on the scene and claimed to be “the Apostle to the Gentiles,” appointed by Jesus in a vision.

 It was he who propagated the idea that Jesus was the Son of God, who died to atone for humanity’s sins. This was quite at variance with what Jesus himself had clearly taught them.

In fact, Jesus had never taught people about a salvation outside the Law of Moses. [1]

His mission was exclusively to the Children of Israel (See Matthew 15:24 — “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”)

But Paul took Jesus’s religion away from the Law and gave shape to “Christianity”[2]— a mix of polytheistic Mithraism and monotheistic Judaism (Franz 175-208).

In fact, the influence of Mithraism on Pauline Christianity is too apparent to ignore: In Mithraism, Mithra was the “Son of God” born as a man, to redeem humanity from their sins.

 He was known as “Savior, Redeemer, and Lamb of God.” His followers ate the sacramental meals in remembrance of Him. The sacred meal of bread and water was symbolic of the body and blood of the sacred bull. [3]

Hence we see in Pauline Christianity the concept of “a three-in-one God,” where Jesus is “God the Son”!

God in the holy Qur’an commands Muslims to urge the People of the Book to abide by their scriptures, instead of following the vain desires of the people of old:

[Say: “O People of the Book, you have no ground to stand upon unless you stand fast by the Law, the Gospel, and all the revelation that has come to you from your Lord.”] (Al-Ma’idah 5:68)

[Say: “O people of the Book, exceed not in your religion the bounds (of what is proper), trespassing beyond the truth, nor follow the vain desires of people who went wrong in times gone by, who misled many and strayed themselves) from the even way.] (Al-Ma’idah 5:77)

The foregoing verses highlight the question of authenticity: If the People of the Book (i.e. Jews and Christians) do not stand fast by their own revealed Books, they have no authentic ground to stand on. This applies to Muslims too: Muslims need to stand fast by the Qur’an.

To apply another point highlighted in the above verse to our context is: Those who strive for reconciliation must respect the bounds of truth and propriety.

In the light of these admonitions, it would be appropriate for Christians to consider whether their belief about Jesus’s divinity goes beyond the truth of Jehovah’s First Commandment in the Torah:

“You shall have no other gods before me.” (Exodus 20:3)

And oneness of God is an idea underscored by none other than Jesus himself:

And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, “Which is the first commandment of all?” And Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.” (Mark 12:28-30)

Moreover Jesus also said,

“my Father is greater than I.” (John 14:28)

Jesus says here that God is greater than he. So it is clear that he cannot be God. If he was God, how could he say he is less than God, or God is greater than he?

Muhammad, the Last Prophet (peace be upon him), came to restore and complete the true religion of God taught by Jesus and all other prophets before him, so he did not teach a new religion; he restored the same old religion of unconditional obedience to Almighty God, taught by all the prophets, including Abraham, Moses, and Jesus (peace be on them all): Islam.

By  Prof. Shahul Hameed