Dr. Stephen Kirby
The Tri-Faith Initiative in Omaha has lofty goals for the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim partners involved. It is best summed up in the Tri-Faith’s Vision Statement:
In working together, our vision is to build bridges of respect, trust and acceptance, to challenge stereotypes of each other, to learn from one another, and to counter the influence of extremists and agents of hate.
Among the Founding Principles is this statement:
Each participant agrees to completely respect the beliefs and practices of the other participants. All beliefs shall be respected.
These are noble ideals, but the reality is that the Muslim partners can never respect and accept the beliefs of their Christian partners. This is because Islam teaches that Christianity is a false religion, based on a fraud, and initially spread by those who knew it was a fraud. The crux of the issue revolves around Jesus.
An Imposter on the Cross
Islam teaches that Jesus (‘Isa) was not crucified; instead, someone took his place on the cross. This is explicitly stated in Chapter 4, Verses 157-158 of the Koran:
And because of their saying (in boast), “We killed Messiah ‘Isa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary), the Messenger of Allah,” – but they killed him not nor crucified him, but it appeared so to them [the resemblance of ‘Isa (Jesus) was put over another man (and they killed that man)], and those who differ therein are full of doubts. They have no (certain) knowledge, they follow nothing but conjecture. For surely, they killed him not [i.e. ‘Isa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary)]; But Allah raised him [‘Isa (Jesus)] up (with his body and soul) to Himself (and he is in the heavens). And Allah is Ever All-Powerful, All-Wise.
The authoritative Muslim scholar Ibn Kathir provided the explanation of these verses:
Ibn Abi Hatim recorded that Ibn ‘Abbas said, “Just before Allah raised ‘Isa to the heavens, ‘Isa went to his companions, who were twelve inside the house. When he arrived, his hair was dripping water and he said, ‘There are those among you who will disbelieve in me twelve times after he had believed in me.’ He then asked, ‘Who volunteers that his image appear as mine, and be killed in my place. He will be with me (in Paradise)?’ One of the youngest ones among them volunteered and ‘Isa asked him to sit down. ‘Isa again asked for a volunteer, and the young man kept volunteering and ‘Isa asking him to sit down. Then the young man volunteered again and ‘Isa said, ‘You will be that man,’ and the resemblance of ‘Isa was cast over that man while ‘Isa ascended to heaven from a hole in the house. When the Jews came looking for ‘Isa, they found that young man and crucified him…”
Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Vol. 3, p. 28
So Islam teaches that instead of being crucified, Jesus first asked for a volunteer to take his place, and then was taken bodily to heaven while the volunteer, whom Allah had made to look like Jesus, was crucified in his place.
Ibn Kathir also made an interesting observation. He noted that those twelve companions in the house knew that Jesus ascended to heaven from the house and that it was the volunteer who was crucified (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Vol. 3, p. 27). And of course, if there was no Crucifixion, there was no Resurrection.
The implication is that it was the Twelve Apostles in the house, which would mean that those Apostles then went out and knowingly preached a lie, based on a fraud, which spread across the world as the Christian religion. The Muslim partners in the Tri-Faith Initiative are supposed to respect and accept this?
And to add another nail in the coffin of respect and acceptance, a Muslim who knows his religion will look at a crucifix or a painting of the Crucifixion and see an imposter hanging on the cross.
Commonality with Jesus?
But isn’t there still a commonality in belief and acceptance among Christians and Muslims that Jesus will return to earth? Yes, both religions do believe that Jesus will return, but there is a vast difference in what is taught about the purpose of that return.
Here is what Muhammad said would happen when Jesus first returned:
He [Jesus] will descend while wearing two long, light yellow garments. His head appears to be dripping water, even though no moisture touched it. He will break the cross, kill the pig, and banish the Jizyah and will call the people to Islam. During his time, Allah will destroy all religions except Islam…’Isa will remain for forty years and then will die, and Muslims will offer the funeral prayer for him.
Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Vol. 3, p. 32
So during those forty years after Jesus returned, Allah would destroy all religions except Islam, and Jesus would be breaking the cross of Christianity and calling the people to Islam. The Jizyah is the protection money demanded of Jews and Christians in 9:29 of the Koran in lieu of fighting to the death or converting to Islam. So when Islam’s Jesus returns to earth, the Jizyah will be banished simply because the only religion allowed will be Islam.
And, according to Muhammad, Jesus would also be judging mankind by the laws of the Koran:
Narrated Abu Hurairah: Allah’s Messenger said, “How will you be when the son of Maryam (Mary) [‘Isa (Jesus)] descends amongst you, and he will judge people by the law of the Qur’an and not by the law of the Gospel.”
Sahih Al-Bukhari, No. 3449
So when it comes to the meaning of Jesus’ return to earth, there is no respect or acceptance extended to Christians by Islamic doctrine.
Shirk, the Unforgiveable Sin
Christians believe that Jesus is the Son of God. According to Islamic doctrine, this means that Christians are ascribing a “partner” to Allah; in Islam this is the sin of Shirk. And in 4:48 the Koran states that Shirk is the one sin that Allah will not forgive:
Verily, Allah forgives not that partners should be set up with Him (in worship), but He forgives except that (anything else) to whom He wills; and whoever sets up partners with Allah in worship, he has indeed invented a tremendous sin.
And 3:151 of the Koran states what is to be done to those engaging in Shirk:
We shall cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve, because they joined others in worship with Allah, for which He had sent no authority; their abode will be the Fire and how evil is the abode of the Zalimun (polytheists and wrongdoers).
So those engaging in Shirk will have terror cast into their hearts and they are destined for the Fires of Hell.
This was reiterated by Muhammad:
Narrated ‘Abdullah: The Prophet said one statement and I said another. The Prophet said “Whoever dies while still invoking anything other than Allah as a rival to Allah, will enter Hell (Fire).” And I said, “Whoever dies without invoking anything as a rival to Allah, will enter Paradise.”
Sahih Al-Bukhari, No. 4497
So Christians, by definition, engage in Shirk, the unforgivable sin in Islam that condemns Christians to the Fires of Hell.
The Christian partners of Omaha’s Tri-Faith Initiative are waiting in vain if they expect Islamic doctrine to respect Christianity. According to Islamic doctrine, Christianity is simply a false religion based on a fraud, and Christians are destined for Hell. How can a devout Muslim respect such a religion?
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