Good Literature Review About Sura Review
The world’s largest religions, Christianity and Islam share a common history in many fronts. As such, most fundamental beliefs in both Christianity and Islam are not only related but also founded on the same principles. The doctrines of Christianity are mostly found in the Christian holy book, the Bible. To Muslims, the Qur’an is the ultimate source of spiritual guidance. To the adherents of these two religions, the Bible and the Qur’an are revered. The Qur’an is mainly comprised of the hadith which, in essence, is an account of the life and traditions of Muhammad, the Muslim holy prophet and messenger of Allah. In Christianity, the life and times of the Jesus Christ, considered the son of God and therefore his greatest messenger is contained in the new testament of the bible.
The biblical new testament can therefore is to Christians what the hadith is to Muslims. There, however, is a fundamental difference between the hadith and the New Testament. One such difference is that the Old Testament was written by eyewitnesses who lived with Jesus and observed his day to day life. Most of those who write the books of the New Testament were Jesus’s disciples who travelled with him everywhere he went and witnessed his miracles. The hadith, on the other hand was written several years after the death of Mohammad. Historians and religious scholars have established that the first authoritative compilation of the hadith was done about two hundred and thirty eight years after the death of Mohammad. This was done by Al-Bukhari.
It must be noted that Christian fundamentalists and scholars have questioned the credibility of the hadith over the years. Those who have doubted the truth in the hadith argue that because they were compiled by people who were not with Mohammad or those who lived during his time, it is possible that a lot of error could occur regarding the life of Mohammad as narrated in the hadith. This notwithstanding, many people writing on the Relationship between Christianity and Islam have agreed that the hadith and the Suras can be used to by Christians as a bridge through which the Christian gospel can be spread to the Muslims. Studies of the Suras reveal that they tend to affirm several doctrines held by Christians. The Suras of the Qur’an, for instance, assert that God’s word lives forever and cannot be altered over time. This is the same position held by Christians as regards the word of God in the bible.
Fazlur Rahman, in his book Islam, writes that the Suras affirm that the first revelations by God were given to the Christians and the Jews. These were the Injil or gospel, the Zabur and the Tourat. The Zabur is the Christian Psalms and the Taurat is the Torah. The Psalms is one of the most important books in the Bible and so is the Torah. The fact that these books are recognized and mentioned not only once but several times in the Qur’an is an indication that there is a nexus between Christian and Muslim beliefs. Since the Qur’an is taken to be the ultimate word of Allah, the revelations made to before prophet Mohammad must be no less important than the hadith itself and the revelations contained in the Suras. Greg Livingstone writes that the hadith is very important to all Christians who wish to reach out to Muslims effectively. Christians, therefore, cannot ignore the hadith and hope to win the Muslim audience.
Many scholars have written on the suras of the hadith that make direct reference to the books of the bible and sanction them as the true word of Allah. Rauof and Carol in their book, A Christian Guide to The Qur’an: Building Bridges in Muslim Evangelism identifies sura 6 as one of the most important components of the hadith that seem to validate the biblical Old Testament. It explores the question of the finality of the word of Allah. Sura 6:34 asserts that “There is none that can change the words of Allah”. This position can be of great benefit to Christians evangelizing among Muslims. This is because the Qur’an supports numerous accounts made by Christians in both the Old Testament and the New Testament with, sometimes with only subtle alterations that do not have significant bearing on the meaning of such verses to both Christians and Muslims.
The truth in these verses of the bible can be qualified by the fact that the Christian God was always portrayed as a vengeful God who was never going to hesitate to punished those viewed to have gone against his word. To attempt to alter the scripture would therefore have attracted dire consequences. Roelf Kuitse asserts that this position is affirmed in the book of Deuteronomy, chapter 4:2 and in the book of revelation chapter 22: 18-19. It is therefore impossible to conceive that any Christian or Jew may have had the courage to alter the word of God. The truth in the word of God as contained in the bible is also supported by the fact that the Jews and Christians share a strong belief in the Old Testament with different accounts in the bible applying to Muslims as well without any alteration at all. Given that these are two different religions, it is likely that someone would raise an issue if there were alterations in the original text as written by the apostles.
It must be noted that there exists, in Muslim teaching, assertions of Mohammad’s prophesies existing in the old testament of the bible. A study of the bible however shows that there are no such prophesies contained in the bible. The most reasonable thing would, therefore, be to argue that the Christians and Jews removed these verses from their versions of the Old Testament. This argument has been found to be weak by Christian and Jews scholars. They argue that if such prophesies existed in the Old Testament of the bible as alleged by the Muslims, it is not possible that both the Christians and the Muslims could have removed them all from the bible. Secondly, a study of the Jews holy book reveals that they did not attempt to corrupt the scriptures to remove sections that covered prophesies about Jesus even though they do not believe in Jesus as their messiah and savior as Christians do.
That the Jews did not attempt to hide prophesies about Jesus is evidence enough that they would not attempt to alter sections covering Mohammad’s prophesies for whatever reason. By so doing, both the Christians and the Jews would be altering their own scripture. This was unacceptable in the traditions of the two religions and would most likely invite the wrath of God. In fact, records indicate that Christians were very keen on preserving their scripture. They would protect the scriptures even if doing so would put their lives in the line. Sura 6:8 refers to Christians and Jews as the men of the book in reference to the various Christian and Jews books and teachings accepted by Islam. These books refer to the laws given to Moses and the Gospel of Jesus. It is written in the Qur’an that these books were meant to give guidance to mankind and that they must be respected. It is stated in the chapter that Muslims must not dispute the people of the book. They should believe in the revelation that came down to Christians as well as that which came down to them. The mere fact that Allah directs Muslims to believe in the books of the bible attests to the truth of what is contained in the books. If the books have not been altered over the years as evidence shows, then they are the true account of Allah’s revelation. In fact, the Qur’an states in various sections that the scripture handed down to the Jews and the Christians existed during the time of Prophet Mohammad.
Another aspect of the Qur’an that can be used by Christians to bridge the gap between the two religions is how it presents Jesus. Jesus is sacred by both religions. But even then, the accounts of Jesus’ life as contained in the hadith are radically different from what we have in the New Testament of the bible. Sura 19 of the Qur’an details the birth and life of Jesus. A study of this Sura reveals striking similarities between what is written in the New Testament of the bible and what is contained in the Qur’an. In the Qur’an, it is evident that Mohammad regarded Jesus highly. This can be established from titles assigned to Jesus in the book. Indeed, Qur’an talks about Jesus in more than 14 suras, a testimony to the position he occupies in Islam as a religion. The similarities that exist in the bible and the Qur’an with respect to the birth of Jesus can only point to the possibility of a common foundation for the two religions.
Sura 19: 18-22, states that angel Gabriel appeared to virgin Mary with the message that she would give birth to a son trough the power of the Holy Spirit. “I am only from the Lord to announce to thee the gift of a holy son”, angel Gabriel is reported in messenger the Qur’an to have said when he visited Mary, the mother of Jesus. When Mary questioned how that was going to be possible the angel explains that it is the wish of the Lord and by that Mary shall conceive. It then followed that Mary conceived Jesus. Christian scholars have wasted no time in pointing out that the Qur’an supports the Christian position that Jesus was conceived by the strength of the Holy Spirit and born of virgin Mary. As such, the birth of Jesus is portrayed both in the bible and in the Qur’an as very different from other ordinary births. This suggests that Jesus is a divine being. Qur’an, in sura 3:59, however stresses that Jesus was born in a manner similar to the creation of Adam, “Just like Adam in the sight of God. He created him of dust and then said to him, ‘Be’, and he was”.
The teachings of sura 3:59 cement the Muslim belief that Jesus was no more human than Adam. They argue that the birth of Jesus demonstrated the omnipotent nature of God. He was able to create Jesus in Mary’s womb without the involvement of a man. But even then, the Qur’an records the miracles performed by Jesus, further affirming his divinity. The concept of divinity of Jesus could be used draw the relationship between the bible and the Qur’an and to act as the point of departure for Christians seeking to gain a deeper understanding of Islam.
Lastly, the Qur’an gives Jesus more honorable titles in comparison to any other prophet mention in the hadiths. In Qur’an, Jesus is reffered to as “Aposte”, “Prophet”, “Sign and Mercy” among others. But perhaps the most revered title given to Jesus in the Qur’an is “Word from Allah”. This is found in sura 3: 39 and 3: 45. By Qur’an, therefore essentially declare that Jesus is the word of God. He is the word of God rendered to his people through virgin Mary. Teachings from the Qur’an can therefore be used to approach Muslims in an attempt to bridge the gap between the two religions.
Christianity and Islam therefore overlap into each other. Each appears to have borrowed heavily from each other. In this respect, Islam, being relatively new is often said to have developed from certain aspects of Christianity. A good understanding of Islam would therefore go a long way in helping Christians understand Islam as a religion and reach out to Muslims in order to enable them appreciate Christianity.
Abdiyah Akbar AbduI-Haqq, Sharing Your Faith with a Muslim (Minneapolis: Bethany, 1980), 101.
Fazlur Rahman, Islam, 2nd ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1979), 50.
Fuad Accad, "The Quran: A Bridge to Christian Faith," Missiology 4 (1976): 334.
Giulio Basetti-Sani, The Koran in the Light of Christ: A Christian Interpretation of the Sacred Book of Islam (Chicago: Franciscan Herald, 1977), 70.
Greg Livingstone, foreword to Phil Parshall, Inside the Community (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1994), 9.
Maulana Muhammad Ali, The Religion of Islam (Lahore, Pakistan: The Ahmandiyyah Anjuman Isha’at Islam, 1950), 58, 71.
Maurice Bucaille, The Bible, the Qur’an and Science, trans. Alistair D. Pannell (Indianapolis: North American Trust Publication, 1979), 246.
Paul Varo Martinson, Islam: An Introduction for Christians, trans. Stefanie Ormsby Cox (Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1994), 185.
Rauof Ghattas and Carol Ghattas, (2009), A Christian Guide to The Qur’an: Building Bridges in Muslim Evangelism, Kragel Academic and Professional Publishers.
Roelf S. Kuitse, "Christology in the Quran," Missiology 20 (1992): 358.
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