It is my hope that we will find commonality in the way we believe rather than the differences that makes us be at odds with each other, and with good reason.
Recently I befriended a young man that is Muslim. At our first meeting I felt a sense of fear as well as excitement. I questioned why I felt excited because both of those emotions are, or shall I say, totally contrary to each other as being a weird combination.
While in deep conversation with this young man, and we will name him Tom, I began to see that we had a lot in common. I had this inner stirring in me and the peace-maker in me was being challenged because if I claim to be a “Truth Seeker” I need to be open to wisdom and knowledge based on other religions.
Did you know that Muslims believe in Jesus and in the Quran Jesus is mentioned twenty-five times. The disconnect to many Christians is that Jesus never tasted death. They believe that the Father took Him up unto Himself.
The purpose of writing this piece is not meant to persuade anyone into conversion. It is however, a way to bridge the two different cultures with some understanding. I still have no clue to how and why Islam has become so tainted by extremism. It certainly is not like a Christian fanatic in any sense of the word.
Let us begin in part to examine what Wikipedia says about Islam.
Isa ( Arabic: عيسى, Transliteration: ʿĪsā ), known as Jesus in the New Testament, is considered to be a Messenger of God and the Masih (Messiah) in Islam who was sent to guide the Children of Israel (banī isrā’īl) with a new scripture, the Injīl or Gospel. The belief in Jesus (and all other messengers of God) is required in Islam, and a requirement of being a Muslim. The Quran mentions Jesus by name twenty-five times, while it only mentions Muhammad by name four times as Muhammad and once as Ahmad; making it a total of five times. It states that Jesus was born to Mary (Arabic: Maryam) as the result of virginal conception, a miraculous event which occurred by the decree of God (Arabic: Allah). To aid in his ministry to the Jewish people, Jesus was given the ability to perform miracles (such as healing the blind, bringing dead people back to life, etc.), all by the permission of God rather than of his own power. According to the Quran, Jesus, although appearing to have been crucified, was not killed by crucifixion or by any other means, instead, “God raised him unto Himself”. Like all prophets in Islam, Jesus is considered a Muslim (i.e., one who submits to the will of God), as he preached that his followers should adopt the “straight path” as commanded by God. Islam rejects the Trinitarian Christian view that Jesus was God incarnate or the son of God, that he was ever crucified or resurrected, or that he ever atoned for the sins of mankind. The Quran says that Jesus himself never claimed any of these things, and it furthermore indicates that Jesus will deny having ever claimed divinity at the Last Judgment, and God will vindicate him. The Quran emphasizes that Jesus was a mortal human being who, like all other prophets, had been divinely chosen to spread God’s message. Islamic texts forbid the association of partners with God (shirk), emphasizing a strict notion of monotheism (tawhīd).
Numerous titles are given to Jesus in the Quran and in Islamic literature, the most common being al-Masīḥ (“the messiah”). Jesus is also, at times, called “Seal of the Israelite Prophets”, because, in general Muslim belief, Jesus was the last prophet sent by God to guide the Children of Israel. Jesus is seen in Islam as a precursor to Muhammad, and is believed by Muslims to have foretold the latter’s coming.
So as you can see, there are some similarities between Islam and Christianity, but very stark differences too. What I find to be interesting is the difference between Muhammad and Jesus’ proselyting. One would ask, why is it that Muhammad did not have any apostles like Jesus did? Jesus needed to have apostles to spread the good news to the Jews so that they would be updated, if you will, about superseding the Law of Moses.
Personally I think it is dangerous for anyone to follow one particular person and treat them like they are the Messiah without a following of followers. Perhaps that is exactly why Jesus had His apostles so that His teachings would not become corrupt. What do you think about this point?
I may take some heat for bringing this topic up because on one hand it is safe for people to keep Muslims in a box without taking the time to understand their beliefs. On the other hand we need to distance ourselves from fanatical extreme thinking that would cause harm to anyone.
We do need to look at similarities rather than differences because of arrogance and self righteousness that comes with being narrow minded as well as being self preserved. We are in dire need to work through these cultural differences seeing that we have terrorism on the rise.
I am sure that many people want to have one of the most important question answered. WHY? Why the absence of Muslims denounce the behavior of their follow believers? Why do they take their beliefs to the next level and become so fanatical that they bring in death to Americans or anyone that does not believe in the way they do? Why Sharia Law?
I can say this, the media has not reported the truth about Muslims and have managed to instil fear into the hearts of many Americans. For instance, the word Imam verses Iman. Imam is a religious leader like a Minister. Iman is the Arabic word for faith. They sound alike but have totally different meaning. Even the media is uneducated about the Muslims or they are mis-using their power to influence for the good by using Muslims to cause contention and division among people.
Whatever the case, we need to educate ourselves and we need to know how to resolve social problems for our own well being and safety. We need to have a major paradigm shift in the way we communicate with Mormons, Jews, Muslims, and other religions and beliefs including Atheists if we want to live more peacefully with each other. If we do not do our part to have peaceful solutions for complex problems we could very well become uncivilized to the point of no return.
We need to look at commonality and not differences between each other. I do have to make this point. sometimes we have to use violent means to establish peace like how war can defuse aggressive dictators that abuse their people.
In closing I want to express a sense of hope for all inhabitants of the earth in that we can hope for a better tomorrow, even if it seems like there is not a solution to the indifferences we have over religion and our beliefs. Muslims around the world have to do their part to hold extremist accountable for their aggressive behaviors. Remember that “terrorism” means bringing terror to those that do not understand. When we understand we are not as intimidated and so we are able to keep our own personal peace.
With Warm Regards,
Terrance W. Norton,
Humanitarian Mentor/Orator/ Writer
Some of us have real touching stories that makes us out to be “Patriots”. My personal story started back in the summer of 1971. I hope you enjoy my story because it is meaningful to me and I want to encourage you as our readers to send us your story so we can post it on both of our websites.
My father was a business man and he belonged to the YMCA Businessman’s Club. One day my father over heard these men talking about a athlete’s tour to Russia as a prepaid tour. I was not a very good 17-18 year old Christian boy back then because I was the typical teen rebel. I got with the wrong crowd and was doing stuff that upset my family.
My dad got to thinking about sending me on the tour of 18 different countries through the YMCA. He thought that I would do better by being around a better class of kids, that I would do better for myself. Well kids will be kids and the amount of money did not mean a darn thing.
Around the 4th of July 1971, twenty-two of us junior athletes were going through Check Point Charlie at the border of East Berlin and West Berlin. We were flying out of East Berlin in route to Moscow. We were cordially greeted at the airport in Moscow by a few men as one of them being our interpreter.
After leaving Moscow we went by bus down to a place down in the Crimean Sea called Simferopol. We had our own private floor in the beach hotel, which was a beautiful sight to see at sun down. This is just around the bend from Yalta where at the Yalta Conference where Winston Churchill, Franklin Roosevelt, and Joseph Stalin met at the Yalta Conference, 1945. They met in Yalta in the Crimea to plan the final defeat and occupation of Nazi Germany.
The events that took place in Simferopol were like being in the Olympics. We had events such as swimming, basketball, track, and shot put. On our team we had 11 boys and 11 girls. We got a lot of attention because our team was so small. I guess it did not help with us just being Americans. The teams that entered the competition were teams from Czechoslovakia, Russian, Yugoslavian, Polish, and German teams, and of course we were the only Capitalist country there. At least they called us Capitalists.
The night after the event was awards night, and of course we got our awards for placing first in a couple of events. ath Tears were flowing down my face and I was all choked up with gratitude. I was so proud to represent the United States of America as an athlete as well as a proud Patriot. The Russian organizers surprised us with a commemorative celebration for the 4th of July with fireworks, and the song I believe was America The Beautiful. It was if I could not control the tears of joy.
Also to our surprise too, was that the Russian organizers decided to go off program. They wanted to have a special event so that each country could have two speakers from each country speak about their country. Was this a good idea or not? We agreed to the agenda and as it turned out it was not a good idea. Our interpreter was not interpreting accurately and we were put into a bad political situation.
Little did us athletes know that our tour guides John and Eleanor Thune was taken captive and were harshly interrogated by the KGB. After we left the Soviet Union and on our way to Greece we were briefed on how to deal with the media frenzy. The news got out and we were in the European and the American papers. We were greeted by a whole barrage of media at the airport when we landed in Athens. They thought we were spies and I did not know this at the time in that I may have complicated matters more when I met and fell in love with a sweet little Russian cutie, her name was Svetlana, I called her Sam. She was some kind of a diplomat from what she told me. She did a lot of the interpreting when talking to people from other countries.
I believe they thought that we were part of some kind of spy ring and thought we were passing secrets back and forth. I kept a detailed image of her in my mind for several years after that and have always wondered if she was still alive or not.
I guess it was the KGB who broke into our rooms and confiscated our cameras and all of our literature. It was Lenin’s 100 year anniversary and so we were blessed to view Lenin in his tomb on Red Square. There was quite a celebration going on with the anniversary of Lenin’s death. I had quite a few books on Lenin because I was interested to know who he was and how bad he was as a dictator. Before we left for Kiev we had dinner in the dinning hall and after eating some of the athletes reported being very sick. The athletes that ate the chicken and rice ended up being food poisoned.
We left in the middle of the night which was much earlier than planned. I ran over to Svetlana’s hotel to let her know we were leaving. There were a lot of men in suits hanging around, so I went outside and threw rocks up to her window. She did not reply. As a matter of fact that was the last time I saw or heard from Svetlana. I believe the KGB may have done something bad to her because they could have thought that we were passing secrets back and forth, which is whacked out thinking. Our tour guides did not want us to worry and we did not know what they experienced until we left and were on our way to Athens, Greece.
As things turned I left the Soviet Union with a broken heart because I never heard from her when we got to Kiev and Leningrad. We were in route to Athens and were continuing on with our tour when I felt that things were not right with me because I was wondering if Sam was still alive or not.
The tour was bitter sweet to me and the memories I have of our tour has last me a lifetime and I will never forget that awesome 4th of July night down in the beautiful ambiance of the beaches in Simferopol down in the Crimean Sea. When we have moments like these it is hard to forget how one felt on an occasion such as this was. I proudly served my country in the Army soon after I got home from the tour. I served from September 1971 to September 1974 and I am a proud Patriot that has A LOVE FOR MY COUNTRY!
May God Bless America and may we all rebuke evil things in the world