Alpha & Omega Ministries Apologetics Blog
12/21/2006 - James WhiteIn light of Colin's article on the Qur'an and Christmas, the following is quite interesting. David Ould dropped me a note about a conversation over on the White Horse Inn site about a toy set for sale. Here's the cover.
Notice anything...odd? Out of place? Look at the skyline of Bethlehem. What's that? Yeah, a minaret. A minaret in first century Bethlehem? Well, if you accept the idea that Jesus was a Muslim, why not? Of course, in all probability, the skyline came from a completely historically clueless graphics designer surfing the web, but then again, maybe not. But it is interesting to note nonetheless.
Christmas in the Qur'an
12/21/2006 - Colin SmithAs a rule, while Muslims revere Jesus as a prophet, they do not celebrate Christmas, mostly because they recognize it is a distinctly Christian festival espousing a particularly Christian belief (the Incarnation) that is blasphemy to Muslims. While some Muslims might put up lights and Christmas trees in response to the cultural celebration, even this is regarded as dangerous since it can lead to making a special occasion out of a non-Muslim holy day which might cause confusion, especially in the eyes of Muslim children.
Muslim apologists prefer to regard Christmas as an opportunity to show Christians how much there is in common between the two faiths, and how Muslims can respect the season without participating in it. "After all," the Muslim might say to his Christian co-worker, "we worship the same God, and we both give honor to Jesus. Hey, we even believe in the Virgin Birth, just like you!" Of course, attitudes like this are capitalized on by secular society to the extent of using similar argumentation to promote some kind of "why can't we all just get along" attitude.
In light of this, I thought it might be interesting to look at exactly how the Qur'an deals with Christ's birth, and how this reflects Islamic belief with regard to Jesus' mission. I would also like to examine how this contrasts with what the Bible teaches, and the significance of this difference. For the purpose of the blog, I will keep the study brief; however, there are plenty of online resources (including The Qur'an) for you to pursue more in-depth study.
The Gospel According to Muhammad
The account of Christ's birth in the Qur'an is found in Sura 19. Each Sura of the Qur'an has been given a heading that reflects either the main point or character of the Sura, or identifies a distinctive element of the Sura as a memory aid. For example, the Sura titled "The Bee" is not about a bee, but a bee features in part of the Sura which makes this Sura distinctive. Sura 19 has been given the title "Maryam," or "Mary" because Mary is a prominent figure in the Sura. The general message of the Sura seems to be Allah's grace and mercy to those who are faithful to him, and warnings to those who are not. This is not unique to the Qur'an; a similar synopsis could be provided for other Suras. This one in particular, however, starts with the birth of John the Baptist, recalling the story of his father, Zacharias, and how he pleaded for a child to be given to his barren wife. In the Qur'an we are told that after Allah said He would answer Zacharias' prayer, He struck Zacharias dumb in response to his request for a sign. Zacharias then, by means of sign language, commanded the people to praise Allah. Allah then, according to the Qur'an, gave John "wisdom, piety, purity," and he was "devout, kind to his parents, and he was not overbearing or rebellious" (19:12-14). ...
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Getting to Know Islamic Vocabulary
12/06/2006 - James WhiteOur brothers and sisters, so often persecuted in Islamic lands, are supposed to be protected by Islamic authorities due to their status as dhimmis. According to The Oxford Dictionary of Islam (2003),
Dhimmi Non-Musilm under the protection of Muslim law. A covenant of protection was made with conquered "Peoples of the Book," which included Jews, Christians, Sabaeans, and sometimes Zoroastrians and Hindus. Adult male dhimmis were required to pay a tax [the jizyah] on their income and sometimes on their land. Restrictions and regulations in dress, occupation, and residence were often applied. Islam offered dhimmis security of life and property, defense against enemies, communal self-government, and freedom of religious practice. (68)Of course, especially in lands such as Pakistan, or Indonesia, security of life is surely no longer offered in many locations. And, of course, "freedom of religious practice" does not include the conversion of a Muslim to your faith, as we have noted here many times. See Bat Ye'or's Islam and Dhimmitude: Where Civilizations Collide for a study of the subject.