by: Wajahat Husain. (Source: Islamic Information Center)
As two of the largest religions in the world, Christianity and Islam are at the forefront of many events occurring around the world. Collectively, According to estimates in Encyclopedia Britannica, Muslims and Christians collectively make up 55% of the world's population. This is a major reason why it is essential for Muslims and Christians around the world to better understand and be aware of each others beliefs and practices. The best way for this to happen is to find out what the two religions have in common with each other, rather than concentrating on the differences.
The number one thing that these two great religions have in common is that they are both monotheistic faiths, believing in One God and no other. After this, the most important unifying factor Islam and Christianity possess is the great reverence both faiths have for Jesus (peace be unto him). While there is the obvious difference of Christians believing in Jesus as God and Muslims believing Jesus, known as Isa in Arabic, as a Prophet, the morals and values that Jesus has brought forth are similar for both faiths, and form the foundation for both religions. It is this common thread that can help bridge the gap between Islam and Christianity.
"Verily, I am a servant of Allah. He has given me the Book, and has made me a prophet, and has made me blessed wherever I may be. And He has enjoined on me prayer and charity (zakah) as long as I live." (Holy Quran, 19:30-31) This is one verse that clarifies all at once the status of Jesus in Islam and the values he espouses.
Despite the differences that exist between Christians and Muslims as far as the theological differences they have between Jesus, there are a number of similarities that exist as well. In general, the source of information where Muslims obtain Islamic knowledge is the Quran. Words from the Holy Prophet Muhammad, peace be unto him and his family, are also used as a source of Islamic information. For Christians, their main source of information about Jesus' life is from the Old and New Testament, specifically from the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Using these sources of information only, it can be seen that there are a number of similarities in the Christian and Muslim views of Jesus. In addition to this, there are a number of traditions from the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and his Holy family about Jesus himself and his virtues.
Another key aspect of the life of Jesus that Muslims and Christians are in agreement is the performance of certain miracles by him. The occurrences of miracles play a big role in both religions. In Islam specifically, nearly all Prophets came with a miracle from God as a tool and a proof to show the people the veracity of their mission, and Jesus was no exception.
In the Bible it says, "And now, Lord, look upon their threats, and grant to thy servants to speak thy word with all boldness, while thou stretches out thy hand to heal, and sign and wonders are performed through the name of thy Holy servant Jesus (Bible: Acts 4:30).
In the same vein, the Quran mentions the performance of miracles as well. It says, "And behold: you make out of clay, as it were, the figure of a bird, by My leave, and you breathe into it, and it becomes a bird by My leave, and you heal those born blind, and the lepers by My leave. And behold! you bring forth the dead by My leave. And behold! I did restrain the children of Israel from (violence to you) when you did show them the Clear Signs, and the unbelievers among them said: 'This is nothing but evident magic'" (5:110)
This shows that the Quran and Bible both agree that Jesus did indeed perform miracles.
The aforementioned similarities that exist between Christianity and Islam regarding Jesus are just a sampling, as a complete list would be enough to fit an entire book. Of perhaps greater significance is finding out what the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and his Holy family have specifically said about Jesus and the words they have attributed to him. There are numerous reports of this kind, but listing a few of them will suffice to show the high amount of respect Islam and its Prophet (pbuh) show to Jesus. There are also many sayings and words of wisdom that Islam attributes to Jesus.
Imam Ali (as), who was the nephew of the Prophet and possibly the most knowledgeable and pious man of his time had this to say about Jesus in one of his sermons to the people, "If you like, I will tell you about Jesus the son of Mary ('a). He used a stone as his pillow, wore coarse clothing and ate rough food. His stew was hunger and his lamp in the night was the moon. His shade in the winter was the east of the earth and its west. His fruit and his basil were what grows from the earth for the cattle.
He had no wife to try him, and no son to grieve him. He had no wealth to distract him, nor greed to abase him. He had no mount to ride but his feet, and none were his servants but his own two hands." (Nahjul Balagah)
It is reported that Imam Ali has also said, ""Jesus the son of Mary ('as) said, 'Blessed is he whose silence is contemplation, the sight of whom is an admonition, whose house suffices him, who cries over his mistakes, and from whose hand and tongue people are safe."
To end with a story of Jesus found in Muslim traditions, a man asked Jesus the son of Mary ('as), "Which people is the best?" He (Jesus) took two handfuls of earth and said, "Which of these is the best? The people are created from earth, so the most honorable of them is the most God-wary."
This is just one of the many examples of the vast knowledge and wisdom attributed to Jesus in the Muslim traditions.
If anything will be able to bring the Muslims and Christians of the world together, it is the common bond that exists through this man. You can call him Jesus or Isa, revere him as God or as a Prophet of God, but no one can deny the fact that Jesus was a gift to mankind and can be used as a unifying factor for all Christians and Muslims.