Christians and Muslims: Much in Common

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Also published with bibliography and footnotes at Google.

July 2012, Andrea Morisette Grazzini

One would hardly know it from reading much of the news, but Islam and Christianity are nearly identical — morally, at least.  Though for the violence done in their names it seems apparent they are mortally opposed. Beyond the bloodshed and some, like Michele Bachmann‘s accusatory theology, the truth is the faiths are not morally opposed.

By looking into their contexts and vernaculars one can see their truer parallels, intersections and departures. It quickly becomes clear how opposition has been created by atomistic structures of politics and religion that undermine their deeper truths.  Truths, which in both intent and content, transcend their religions’ inhumanness.  Still, erroneous translations of both theologies express exclusive intolerances that belie each faith’s intended hermeneutics.

The blame, then, for amoral doctrines lies in humanity’s mixed and/or missed interpretations. It certainly doesn’t help that media amplifies the lies these misinterpretations represent.

The devil lurks in doctrinal details.  

Conversely, holiness is hidden behind each, perceivable in the prevailing intents conveyed by their Creator-deities.  These deities are the same God creator. Called YHWH by Christians and Al-Khāliq by Muslims.

Well beyond this, both see their God as truth and their scriptures as revelation of such, while tolerating debate that the latter are constructed and understood as non-literal metaphysical frames. Or, even as anti-rhetorical heresy.

Angel Gabriel Started It

Christianity begins when Angel Gabriel visits Mary of Nazareth to inform her she will conceive Jesus.  Thereafter, Christianity is expressed through oral and witnessed accounts, until the New Testament is written, about 200 years later.  Its foundation of Christian Creed demonstrates its epistemic truth as Christianity’s Word of God as Christ embodied and enacted the metaphysical truths of God.

Islam similarly begins with Gabriel (Jabril).  When he begins visiting Mohammed, about 600 years after Christ’s death.  Mohammed’s oral and experiential accounts are witnessed and written by his companions, over twenty-some years.  The Qur’an engages Christian Gospels as divine revelation expressed through various prophets.  Institutionalized Christianity, however, does not acknowledge the Qur’an as divine revelation.

Beyond these details, the texts diverge in a pivotal interpretation. While Christians interpret Jesus as the human manifestation of a Triune God, Muslims believe God is a single monotheistic entity. And, that Jesus is a prophet like Mohammed, both conduits to God’s word, but not actually God who has not yet come to earth.

Bible confirms Qur’an, Qur’an confirms Bible

This is not incongruent with the Christian New Testament. Jesus, the literal and figurative expression of God, never claims to actually be God.  When asked, he demurs. Neither does Jesus claim to be a prophet (or for that matter, a man.) All are implied as witnessed in various contexts, but none are revealed as spoken by Jesus in the semantics of human, oral language(s).

Both texts agree Jesus and Mohammed are both sons of the same God.  They share the same lineage going back to Adam and Eve, and more directly Abraham. Mohammed is directly descended from Ishmael, the first son of Abraham. Jesus is born into the house of David, descended from Isaac, the second son of Abraham and his wife Sarah.

What the H— ?

The easy answer is continuous war happens, fueled by religiously politicized corruption of God’s intents. The most significant corruptions being due to dipolar religious co-option of respective metaphors, similes, motifs, idioms and symbols as immutably literal.

Comprehensive knowledge of both texts acknowledges this immutability. Muslims are instructed to neither believe nor disbelieve the Qur’an, and clearly assert only God is immutably the “Truth.”  Christian Biblical texts imply the very same.

Thus, any human communication of God’s word, even if directly revealed by Him, remains delimited by human interpretive methods.  Any attempts, including by holy people who have experienced divine encounters, are contextualized to capture and convey holy revelation, but in and of themselves, are abstractions as diverse as those who tell and read them.

Sins of Fathers and Mothers

Answers can be found in what one might think of as “sins of the fathers and mothers.” Starting with “first family” of Christianity and Islam led by Sarah and Abraham, and going all the way back to the “first human family” led by Adam and Eve.

Ishmael is conceived via sacrifice and selfishness when then-barren Sarah offers her handmaiden Hagar as sexual surrogate to husband.  This way Abraham could father a son, who Sarah could claim her own, too. Only later, Sarah and Abraham were surprised by Isaac’s birth and Sarah changed her mind about Ishmael’s parentage.

Single Mothers raise Holy Sons

Though reluctant, Abraham complied with his wife’s urging that he exile first-born Ishmael, with now-single mother Hagar, into the wilderness. What Muslims believe is akin to Abraham’s prophesized sacrifice of his “first born” son.

Jesus was conceived via a mix of Divine love and the human selflessness of God’s handmaiden Mary.  And enjoyed the benefits of a surrogate human father, Joseph, who, in turn was a descendent of Abraham’s second-born Isaac.

God echoes Abraham’s sacrifice of a son by sending His own son.  Jesus is unselfishly sacrificed, in the name of his human peers, or, as he would refer to them, siblings.  Jesus called them “brothers and sisters. ”  He was semantically unequivocal here.  Remember, he never specifically identified himself as a Holy deity.  But he consistently, specifically identified himself as the “immediate family” of mankind, sharing with all the same father-God.

Anti-Church/State Inbreeding

Moreover, like Moses, who is recognized by both Islam and Christianity (as well as by Jewish people) for liberating humans from violent oppression, Jesus consistently calls into question the violent oppression of institutionalized religions. Not surprisingly, so does Mohammed.

Peacemaking is the vocation our shared Father calls us ALL to.’  –Mohammed and Jesus

As Mohammed and Jesus continuously taught: God desired only two things for His (and/or Her) people:  Love and Life, that’s all.  Which God called on humans to co-produce in His (and/or Her) name, together.  Needless to say, there have been struggles.

Deadly Competition

A prescient example is the Bible’s second story of human fall: Cain and Able. Consider the parallels of this first sibling rivalry we find between Christianity and Islam.  Cain passionately desired the recognition he believed his little brother Able had unfairly achieved.  In reaction to these familial frustrations, he killed his brother.

Though Adam, their father, had given them life and love only intending his sons to abet and amplify both, without competition. Just as the God of Islam and Christianity asks.

Huma Abedin, staff for US Secretary of State

Of course, this is not at all unlike how problems still play out today, when sons (and yes, daughters) like and since Cain overreact with judgments, or lack thereof.  As Bachmann has regarding Huma Abedin, much to the despair of many Christians, conservative leaders and others who share her religion and Republicanism, but little else with her.

Most troubling is how so many continually forget their parents’—both the Holy and the human—deepest desires for them.  Invoking God, not through empowering and en-living love, but in deathly battles against one another. Only to scramble to get back in God’s good graces, before it’s too late.

Neither Jesus nor Mohammed condoned the unholy judgment that calls for killing, or, for that matter the violent defense of faith.

Here’s Mohammed: “O people of the Book, do not be fanatical in your faith.” And, Jesus: “If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.”

While Islam does acknowledge that killing in self-defense is not a sin, its does so only in comparatively miniscule passages.  Its prevailing message asserts over and over a message of non-violence.  In fact, self-defense is also cited in the Bible Samson’s reason for killing as an acceptable excuse for murder.  But, again, the clearest, most concise and most comprehensively expressed Biblical message, like the Qur’anic, vastly prioritizes non-violence.

Mortal Misinterpretation + Misrepresentation

In any case, mortal opposition is today as it always has been since Samson and Moses, the deadly creation of human misinterpretations of morality.  It was the very reason, according to the Bible,  God sent His son to earth.  Jesus’ life was God’s unselfish sacrifice to end religious corruptions and illuminate His intent and spirit of love in unmistakable vernaculars intimately related to humans.  He sought peace between all His children — that would  be all Jesus’ and Mohammed’s siblings and descendants — who share His earth.

It’s this moral message righteous Christians and Muslims believe, and seek to live by.  Why all Muslims use the greeting “As salaam,” which means “Peace be upon you,” a greeting near identical to one some Christians use: “Peace be with you.”

As Salaam and Peace Be With All People

Including — maybe especially — religious and political leaders who obstruct, offend, co-opt and corrupt God, Allah, Jesus and Mohammed’s plaintive pleas for non-violent peace.

Would that they all preach these true Gospel truths:

That Allah and God reject inhumanity.  That inhumanity is never holy. That killing is inhumane. That killing in God or Allah’s name violates both.

Only peace, only salaam is truly Holy.

Andrea Morisette Grazzini is founder of the civil discourse initiative DynamicShift and founder and CEO of WetheP, Inc.




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