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Saturday, January 19, 2013


The Christmas season is here with its crass commercialization of the supposed birthday of Jesus (peace be upon him) on December 25th. With all the Santas and door-buster sales wherever you look, it’s a wonder Jesus gets remembered at all. Following the teachings of Jesus should be what defines a true Christian, which leads us to the pivotal question: shouldn’t Christmas be a reminder to follow the teachings of Jesus?

Jesus wasn’t born Dec. 25th anyway -- you can look it up using Google or Wikipedia or a Bible: Luke 2:8 says Jesus was born when shepherds were still outside at night with their flocks. That ends in early Fall, not late December. The Quran supports this in chapter 19, “Maryam.” In verse 26, after Mary gives birth to Jesus at the base of a palm tree, an angel tells her: “. . . shake towards thyself the trunk of the palm tree; it will cause fresh ripe dates to fall upon thee.” Dates ripen in four stages from July to September, with the end of September corresponding to the time mentioned in Luke 2:8.

In the interest of refreshing the holiday spirit with something actually holy and spiritual, allow me to present some of Christ’s commandments, with related Islamic rulings for comparison. In Mark 12:28-29 Jesus is asked, “What is the first commandment?” He answers by quoting Deut. 6:4, the creed of Judaism: “Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord.” This statement of Jewish belief about the essential nature of God should be no surprise. What may surprise many is that this matches perfectly with the concept of the Oneness of God in Islam in chapter 112 of the Holy Quran: 

“In the name of God, the Gracious, the Merciful. Say, “He is Allah, the One; Allah, the Independent and Besought of all. He begets not, nor is He begotten; And there is none like unto Him.” (112:1-5) 

Jesus on dealing with evil (Mat. 5:39): “I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.” And likewise in Mat. 5:44 Jesus commands: “… love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you. . .” 

No Christian nation has ever “turned the other cheek” when dealing with its enemies or applied these other teachings of Jesus. You’ll be equally hard-pressed to find any individual Christians who live by these commandments.

Islam teaches the element of deterrence provided by the “eye for an eye” Old Testament Law of equitable retaliation, tempered with the allowance of forgiveness where appropriate. In chapter 42, verse 41 of the Quran we read: “And the recompense of an injury is an injury the like thereof; but whoso forgives and his act brings about reformation, his reward is with God. Surely, He loves not the wrongdoers.”

On divorce, Jesus says: “. . . whoever divorces his wife for any reason except sexual immorality causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.” (Mat. 5:32). This verse is what the Catholic Church uses to prohibit divorce except for adultery. No one disputes the devastating effects of adultery in society. 

Islam allows divorce in the case of adultery, but recognizes there are other legitimate reasons for ending a marriage, such as physical or mental abuse, being forced to do un-Islamic things or live with a spouse who does such things. The Holy Prophet (pbuh) has said that of all the things permissible in Islam, divorce is the most hateful in the sight of God. The purpose of marriage is to safeguard chastity, morality and the family -- especially the children. Every effort should be made to correct whatever problems are instigating the divorce.

Jesus on adultery: “. . . whoever looks lustfully at a woman has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you. . .” (Mat. 5:28-29). Jesus is not speaking metaphorically; the punishment is literal, but since it is supposed to be self-inflicted, the probability of it ever being done is probably zero.

Islam’s solution calls for women and men to dress modestly and never stare openly, let alone lustfully, at the other. There is no plucking out of eyeballs required. In the Quran, God’s commandment is to “cast down thy gaze” rather than the eyeball itself. This, in conjunction with the requirement for separation of the sexes (except for close family), is designed to prevent all the problems caused by free and unrestricted mixing of men and women past the age of puberty.

Jesus says “Blessed are the peacemakers. . .” Islam says be the peacemakers. Islam comes from the word salam -- “peace” -- and a Muslim is one who, by definition, must be peaceful and create peace. Self-defense is allowed in Islam, but being the aggressor in a conflict or creating terrorism or civil disorder is clearly forbidden.

As a Muslim, I love and respect Jesus as a true prophet and the messiah for the Israelites to whom he addressed his teachings (Mat. 15:24). The complete guidance and final Law from God was delivered to the world in the Holy Quran and the example of the Holy Prophet (pbuh). 

As an Ahmadi Muslim, I believe in the Second Coming of the messiah promised for the entire world in the person of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (1835-1908). In this way, I reap the blessings from accepting both messiahs. The first spoke of the coming of Muhammad (pbuh) and the second restored the lost truth and beauty of the religion Muhammad (pbuh) brought. I offer these same blessings to all who wish to receive them. 

(with Imam Shamshad. Appeared in the Dec. 15th, 2012 print edition of the Daily Bulletin's "From the Pulpit" religion section, and online at Ahmadiyya at: )

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