The names of God in Judaism, Christianity and Islam : a basis for interfaith dialogue

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In this letter, they acknowledged the real differences between Islam and other religions, but affirmed that love for God and love for neighbor are the twin pillars of mutual dialogue and cooperation:. Without peace and justice between these two religious communities, there can be no meaningful peace in the world. The future of the world depends on peace between Muslims and Christians.

The basis for this peace already exists. It is part of the very foundational principles of both faiths: love of the One God, and love of the neighbor. What prefaces the Two Commandments in the Torah and the New Testament, and what they arise out of, are the Unity of God—that there is only One God… Thus the Unity of God, love of Him, and love of the neighbor form a common ground upon which Islam, Christianity, and Judaism are founded.

We make no distinction between any of them, and we are Muslims in surrender to Him. Verily, people will swoon on the Day of Resurrection and I will be the first to awaken and, behold, Moses will be holding the side of the Throne. Allah not only commands us to behave well with others, but it is also part of our God-given conscience to feel empathy for others.

The early Muslim scholar Tawus ibn Kaysan d. They have one religion and there was no other prophet between us. And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you? The lesson here is that we find the blessings and mercy of Allah in serving others, regardless of their status in society. This is a message that all believers in God can get behind.

The earliest Christians to make contact with Muslims noticed these parallel teachings and, for this reason, agreed to protect the Muslims from persecution. These Muslims made the difficult journey there, only to be pursued by agents of the Meccan oligarchy. We were a people in the depths of ignorance. We adored idols, we ate dead bodies, we lived in immorality, we cut off our families, we were evil to our neighbors, and the strong among us consumed the weak.

We were like this until Allah raised a Messenger from among us. We recognized his lineage, his truthfulness, his trustworthiness, and his temperance. He called us to Allah Almighty, that we worship Him exclusively and renounce what we used to worship besides Him of stone statues and idols. He prohibited us from vulgarity, telling lies, consuming the wealth of the orphan, and slandering chaste women. He commanded us to worship Allah alone and not associate anything with Him in worship. He commanded us to pray, to give charity, and to fast.

He enumerated the matters of Islam, so we believed in him and had faith in him. We followed him in what he brought, so we worshipped Allah alone and did not associate anything with Him. We forbid what was forbidden for us and we permit what was permitted for us. The Negus began to weep until his beard was soaked, as well as his bishops wept until they soaked their pages, when they heard what was recited to them.

You are released. By Allah, I will never surrender them. This alone is enough to establish a just peace between Christians and Muslims, as it was for the early Muslims and the Abyssinian Christians.

Some scholars discouraged any reference to the previous scriptures or apocryphal Israelite sources, while others were vigorous in their defense of using them. Nonetheless, the early Muslims were eager to circulate sayings they had obtained from Jewish and Christian sources, often espousing themes common to Abrahamic faiths. These reports were especially plentiful in the early literary genre of piety, asceticism, and righteousness al-zuhd.

Review: Byrne’s “The Names of God in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam” | For Christ and His Kingdom

As you reap, so shall you sow. Blessed is he whose speech is the remembrance of Allah, whose silence is reflection, and whose observation is a lesson, who controls his tongue, whose house is sufficient, who weeps for his sins, and from whose evil the people are safe.

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O son of Adam, be disinterested in what people own and they will love you, be content with what Allah has allotted for you and you will be the wealthiest of people, love for people what you love for yourself and you will be a believer, do not harm your neighbor and you will be a Muslim, and do not laugh too much as it will deaden the heart. The classical exegete Ibn Kathir d. Verily, I fear successors after me and my wife has become barren, so grant me an heir from Yourself, who will inherit me and the house of Jacob, and make him pleasing to my Lord.

We have not given anyone before him this name. It is easy for Him, as He had created you before when you were not yet a thing. So he came out to his people from the chamber and inspired them to glorify Allah morning and evening. Peace be upon him the day he was born, the day he dies, and the day he is brought back to life. This passage more or less reaffirms the narrative in the beginning of the Gospel of Luke. This was not quite like the virgin birth, but it was a miracle nonetheless. John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

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And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. O you who have faith, when you stand for prayer, then wash your faces and your arms to the elbows, and wipe over your heads and wash your feet to the ankles.

If you are in a state of ritual impurity, then purify yourselves. When a Muslim or a believer washes his face in ablution, then every sin that he committed with his eyes will be washed away with the last drop of water. When he washes his hands, then every sin that he committed with his hands will be washed away with the last drop of water.

When he washes his feet, then every sin that he committed with his feet will be washed away with the last drop of water, until he emerges purified from sin. Verily, You are the Hearing, the Knowing. Al-Nawawi d. Mention in the Book, Mary, when she withdrew from her family to a place toward the east. She veiled herself in seclusion from them. Then We sent to her Our Angel in the form of a well-proportioned man. It is a matter already decreed. The pains of childbirth drove her to the trunk of a palm tree. Shake the trunk of the palm tree towards you and ripe dates will fall upon you.

Eat, drink, and be comforted. They would obviously suspect her of having committed adultery, something especially scandalous given her place in the family of priesthood. Then she brought him to her people, carrying him. O sister of Aaron, your father was not an evil man, nor was your mother unchaste! He has given me the Book and made me a prophet. He has made me blessed wherever I am and has enjoined prayer and charity upon me for as long as I live, and to be dutiful to my mother and He has not made me an obstinate tyrant. Peace is upon me the day I was born, the day I will die, and the day I am raised to life.

Some critics of Islam have pointed to this passage as an alleged historical error since Mary was not literally the sister of Aaron. This criticism, then, is simply a misinterpretation of the verse. Thus, We blew into her garment from Our Spirit. She believed in the words of her Lord and His Books, and she was devoutly obedient.

Ibn Hajar writes:. The criterion of prophethood for him is that whomever an angel came to from Allah with a judgment related to a command, a prohibition, or a sign of what is to come, then they are considered to be a prophet. In sum, the figures of Zechariah, John, and Mary in Islam, peace be upon them, are highly revered examples of faith and virtue.

And she who guarded her chastity, so We blew into her garment from Our Spirit, and We made her and her son a sign for the worlds. Whoever testifies that there is no God but Allah alone without any partners, and that Muhammad is his servant and his messenger, and that Jesus is the servant of Allah, son of his maidservant, His word which He bestowed upon Mary and a spirit from Him, and that Paradise is the truth and Hellfire is the truth, then Allah will admit him into any of the eight gates of Paradise he wishes.

About Jordan P. Barrett

Each of these titles has a specific meaning in Islam which differs from its interpretation by Christians. Classical Muslim exegetes have described some complementary interpretations of the title Messiah. According to Al-Tabari d. Like the word used in reference to the virgin birth, the spirit is likened to the creation of Adam from nothing. Thus when I have formed Adam and blew into him from My Spirit, then fall down in prostration to him. That is, Jesus was a spirit created by Allah and is under the ownership of Allah, not that Jesus shares in the essence of Allah.

Unlike Christianity, Muslims do not believe that the Holy Spirit is itself part of Allah or shares anything in the divine essence. We gave Jesus, the son of Mary, clear evidence and supported him with the Holy Spirit.

Interreligious dialogue between Christianity, Islam and Judaism

As such, Muslims do not believe that the Holy Spirit is the third person of the Godhead in the Trinity. I cure the blind and the leper, and I give life to the dead, with permission of Allah. I tell you what you eat and what you store in your houses. Verily, in that is a sign for you, if you are believers. Miracles function to inspire faith in the believers, in addition to the prophetic teachings themselves. One of the most famous miracles in the New Testament is the resurrection of Lazarus.

Provide for us, as You are the Best of Providers. It is said that what was sent down was some portions of barley bread and fish. Some people ate and then left. Other people came, ate, and then left, until everyone had eaten and there was still some left over.

And all ate and were filled; and they took up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve baskets full. Because they had faith, Allah gave them the sign they asked for but with the following warning:. The Angel Gabriel came to him and told him that he could turn the Mount Safa into gold for them, but if they rejected faith afterward they would be severely punished; otherwise, the door of repentance and mercy would remain open.

Some water was brought to the Messenger of Allah and he placed his hand in the vessel and ordered people to perform ablution. I saw water sprouting from his fingers and the people performed ablution until even the last person could do it. Whether or not a prophet should perform a miracle depends on the audience. A group of people might have strong unbelief and doubt in their hearts, which means they would neither believe in nor benefit from a miracle.

In that case, it is best for them not to see it. And he was amazed at their unbelief. I asked my Lord a question I wish I had not asked. Did I not find you lost and guide you? The miracles of every prophet in his time were appropriate to the people in that time.

It is mentioned that Moses, upon him be peace, had miracles appropriate to his time, as they had been skilled in occult magical arts. So he was sent with signs that dazzled the sights and humbled the necks…. Likewise, Jesus, son of Mar y was sent i n a time of many wise doctors, so he was sent with miracles they could not perform or understand how to do. That a doctor cures the unseeing suffering from blindness, and the leper and the outcast, and whoever was chronically ill; how can anyone of the creation make the dead rise from their graves?

This was known to everyone as a miracle indicating the truthfulness of the one who did it and the power with which he was sent. As mentioned earlier, that one prophet is given an apparently greater miracle than another does not imply that we should get into arguments over which prophet is superior. Rather, we should respect all of them equally.

It can be difficult to discuss the nature of Christ with Christians, which is why it is so essential to establish the common ground mentioned earlier. For most Christians today, believing in the divinity of Jesus—that he was literally God in person—is a core tenet of their creed. They believe it is necessary to believe that Jesus was God in order to be saved. The Islamic understanding of monotheism al-tawhid is based upon the Unity of God in three respects: unity of Attributes no one is like God , unity of Lordship no one creates from nothing but God , and unity of Divinity no one deserves to be worshiped but God.

He neither begets nor is He begotten, nor is there anyone equal to Him. He does not give birth to other gods and He was not born from a god, but rather has always existed eternally without beginning or end. It is not for Allah to take a son, glory to Him! But what does this term mean? Or was it an honorific title for a righteous servant of God?

Jesus: A Foundation for Dialogue Between Muslims and Christians

To infer what the phrase meant to the earliest believers in Christ, we need to examine how it is used in the Old Testament, or Torah. It simply had no connotation of divinity at all. It is likely that the meaning of the term shifted as Christianity came under the influence of polytheistic non-Jewish religions and cultures. As put by Geoffrey Parrinder:. But Jesus himself clearly wished to avoid the misunderstandings that might be attached to this title, ideas that expressed wrong notions of the Messiah.

What is more, Christians were never historically unanimous on the alleged divinity of Christ. It is a tenuous position, from Christian sources alone, to claim such a requirement when the Messiah himself declared the greatest commandments to be love of God and love of the neighbor, without any mention of the Trinity. We must have faith as well and rely upon the mercy of Allah.