Here’s a quick exercise: go to Google and start typing the following: “Is Islam compatible with.” What are some of the predictions Google gives you for the end of that sentence? I get: Is Islam compatible with democracy? Is Islam compatible with modernity? Is Islam compatible with secular pluralistic societies? Is Islam compatible with evolution?
Google search predictions for the phrase "Is Islam compatible with..."
In comparison, when I type, “Is Christianity compatible with,” I get evolution, capitalism, yoga, and free masonry. Hinduism gets only one prediction: Christianity. Buddhism gets science, Christianity, atheism, and Judaism. Incidentally, there are no predictions for “Is Judaism compatible with.”
When Google predicts the end of your search, they’re looking for results based on what others before have searched for frequently. So although the exercise is admittedly trite, the message could not be clearer. People (or at least people who use Google) question Islam’s compatibility with fundamental political ideologies (democracy, modernity, secularism) much more regularly than they do other religions. Continue reading →
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.
In the Qur’an, Jesus is mentioned 25 times, and more often by name than the Prophet Muhammad. For Muslims, Jesus is usually referred to as the Prophet Jesus, or MusaIsa in Arabic. In total, Islam says there are 124,000 prophets, but the Qur’an highlights Jesus as one of the most important. Although Christianity and Islam both revere Jesus of Nazareth and largely agree upon the foundational principles that he spoke of and practiced, the two faith traditions differ greatly in their opinions of who he was.
Most Christians believe Jesus to be the Son of God or God Himself in human form, while Muslims view him as a prophet and believe the worship of him as anything more to be heretical. In Islam, Jesus is considered to be a Muslim, or one who submits to the will of God. Conversely, most Christians do not recognize the Prophet Muhammad as religiously significant so the idea of a Muslim version of Jesus is usually ignored. However, because of the tensions between the two faiths, and the centrality of Jesus in both, when the topic does come up, it can invoke strong emotional reactions.
We’ve decided to explore the issue head-on, and hope that you get a chance to tune in and share your thoughts.
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