Jewish, Christian, and Muslim children at the YMCA Peace Preschool in Jerusalem make a banner that flew on a shuttle to the International Space Station. Photo: Tara Todras-Whitehill, AP
On our latest radio show, Jean spoke with Professor Suleiman Mourad about Jesus in Islam and Christianity. They discussed a number of topics, ranging from the importance Islam gives to Mary–the Qur’an dedicates an entire chapter to her, Sura 19, Maryam–to Islam’s take on prophethood. A number of callers’ comments during the show added other interesting perspectives, but what struck me most was the symbolism that Mourad used to describe the theological differences between Jews, Christians, and Muslims. He sees the theological disagreements among followers of Abrahamic traditions as similar to siblings vying for parental attention. He sees the differing views on Jesus as
part of the terrain, competition over attention of the parent. Often we mistake this [as] anxiety; this [is] eagerness on the part of each member of this community of believers to receive the complete attention of their Father. … There is an excessive protectiveness of God. … We need to be more scholars and historians than religious defenders.
Pilgrims circling the Kaaba
In the past week, millions of Muslims have flocked to Mecca in Saudi Arabia for the hajj, which takes place each year between the 8th and 12th days of Dhul Hijjah, the last month of the Islamic lunar calendar. The pilgrimage draws over 2.5 million believers. Mecca is the center of the Muslim worldview and the hajj is not only a physical journey but a spiritual one as well. Pilgrims leave behind all their worldly markers, signified by the ihram, two white sheets worn by all men, and spend four days worshiping God. Continue reading
Nearly a decade after the 9/11 attacks, many in the U.S. still believe the actions of a tiny minority of violent Islamists is representative of all Muslims and Islam more generally. Yet even in the midst of hateful bigotry and prejudice towards Muslims, much of New York has taken constructive steps towards understanding who Muslims are and what Islam is. The New York Public Library system is just one a few prominent New York institutions that has made efforts to educate the public about Islam.