Three Faiths, One God: So Why Is Islamophobia On The Rise?

Three Faiths, One God: So Why Is Islamophobia On The Rise?

“Allah hath revealed unto thee (Muhammad) the Scripture with truth, confirming that which was (revealed) before it, as Allah revealed the Torah and the Gospel.” — Qur’an 3:3

Three attempts to educate through experiential learning and all three attempts were greeted with anti-Muslim sentiment.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you may have noticed the shit storm when it comes to Islam and Muslims lately in this country – and the world of academia does not appear to be immune.

First, on December 13th, The Washington Post reported the following:

“Wheaton College, a prominent evangelical school in Illinois, has placed a professor on administrative leave after she posted on Facebook that Muslims and Christians ‘worship the same God’….”

Let’s see if I have this right; a Christian professor who teaches political science teaches a lesson in non-violent protest. Sounds like she did her job. Does Wheaton know what political science is? It’s the study of government and policy making. That lesson was genius. She schooled us all on what the “power of one” means. But rather than praise her for an exceptional demonstration of non-violent protest, she was suspended.

Here’s the Facebook post on Larycia’s page:

“I stand in religious solidarity with Muslims because they, like me, are Christian, are people of the book. And as Pope Francis stated last week, we worship the same God.”

Now I see. She was in “solidarity with Muslims.” I’m guessing she missed the memo, but we are not that popular these days.

Unfortunately, that was not the only missed lesson these past couple of weeks. A brazen music teacher from Anoka-Hennepin school District in Blaine Minnesota opted to perform a Muslim holiday song along with their ensemble of Jewish and Christian songs.

Again, let me get this right — a music teacher decided to demonstrate the harmony of unity through song at a holiday concert. That’s impressive. I didn’t even know there was such a thing as a Muslim holiday song. As a parent, I would think she is the type of teacher that every child should have – one who educates and celebrates diversity. However, the diversity bus of knowledge and pluralism clearly wasn’t to be had by parents of this particular school.

News outlets, CBS Minnesota and The Daily Mail reported that, “Parents raise questions after school chooses Ramadan song with the words ‘Allahu Akbar’ to be performed in Arabic during annual holiday concert.”

Yeah, the music teacher missed the memo. “Allahu Akbar,” – Arabic for “God is Great” is not the most popular of phrases these days. Ironically, no one seemed to have a problem with Latin’s Vivaldi’s, “Gloria in excelsis Deo”, meaning “Glory to God in the highest.” Even the Hebrew psalm, “Baruch Atah Adona Eloheinu Melech Ha’Olam,” meaning “Praised are You, the Eternal One our God,” got a nice aleichem! But teacher, Anoka-Hennepin didn’t expect a big Oh Hell No! the Muslim’s Allahu Akbar got from local parents. 

On December 18, 2015, a third act was reported in Reuters and the Washington Post that a nervy teacher had the audacity to teach calligraphy using Islamic Calligraphy, shutting down a school system for this unheard of act of decorative handwriting. The Reuters article stated that, “A teacher at Riverheads High in Staunton, Va., had students practice calligraphy by copying the Muslim statement of faith. The assignment caused so much controversy that school officials decided to shut down all public schools in Augusta County on Friday.”

Indian calligraphy, Japanese calligraphy, hieroglyphics are also types of calligraphy, and are all taught in schools – but nobody throws a tantrum over those. We often forget that Muslims are tax-paying, tuition-paying Americans who send their children to public schools and universities. And though the Muslim community has the second highest rate of higher education, schools don’t close for the Eid or the Prophet Mohammad’s birthday (PBUH). Think about that for a second; Muslims have the second highest rate of higher education. I’m not a mathematician, but I would bet that is quite a bit of tuition being paid.

Three attempts to educate through experiential learning and all three attempts were greeted with anti-Muslim sentiment.

Wheaton responded to the dissent after suspending the professor by stating:

“Though the college did not take a position on her wearing the hijab, some evangelical Christians said her statement should have spelled out what makes Christianity distinct from Islam.” a.k.a. — We are different than them.

The university statement continued, “Not doing so put her in conflict with the statement of faith that all Wheaton faculty members must sign and live by.” a.k.a. — We are different than them and you agreed to that.

Here’s some more – “While Islam and Christianity are both monotheistic, we believe there are fundamental differences between the two faiths.” a.k.a. –  We are different than them even though they are the same.

And finally, “Including what they teach about God’s revelation to humanity, the nature of God, the path to salvation and the life of prayer.” a.k.a. – We are different, and we like it that way.

You see, if there is any truth to the professor’s statements, then we might have to admit that we aren’t that different. We, the public,  are often presented with these three religions as if they were each a different choice; Islam, Judaism, and Christianity. Each has their own text and each provide a method of practicing worship of God. But did you ever really stop to think about why these three religions are so often at odds with each other? What if the Bible, the Torah and the Quran were all part of one monotheistic religion instead of three separate monotheistic religions? Or that perhaps the holy books are a “trilogy” (for lack of a better word) rather than separate diverse philosophies? Is it possible that all of the books are correct? Maybe one wasn’t meant to replace the other.

In some circles, those thoughts are blasphemous, but when you do the research – by that I mean actually study the texts of the religion and not rely on some regurgitated interpretation that mainstream media continues to perpetuate – they do have quite a bit in common. In fact, all of the religions claim themselves to be the decedents of Abraham. This was the same conversation that silenced the Professor at Wheaton. So, is it true? By no means am I a theological expert or anything but I think it’s a little more than coincidental that the Tanakh, the Old Testament, and the Quran tell similar stories in the “Book of Genesis,” which all three religions agree has been “revealed.”

Here’s where we differ:

Judaic belief states that in order to claim the fame of being a descendant of Abraham, you have to be born into the religion.

In Christianity, you can become a member of the in-crowd (a.k.a. descendant) through the rituals of the faith and their dedication to the faith.

Islam however, believes that whether or not you were a descendant was irrelevant. Its like Tinkerbell said, “All you have to do is believe!” She’s not too far off. Essentially, the only requirement to become a Muslim is to believe — no baptism, no barmitzvah, no hazing rituals — you just have to believe.

In Islam, Abraham is a prophet, one of many throughout Islamic history. He did not create the philosophy, but was a messenger of it. Abraham, in Islam, is not the father of the “believing community,” but rather a series of prophets that stem from Adam and end with Mohammad (peace be upon them). So, that said, do we really worship the same God?

“And who is better in faith than he who submits himself to Allah, and he is a doer of good, and follows the religion of Abraham, the upright? And Allah took Abraham for a special friend.” — Quran 4:126

All three faiths highlight a unique connection with God; in Judaism through Moses, Christianity through Jesus, and in Islam through Muhammad.

All three religions require regular prayer, one day of dedication to worship; Friday for Muslims, Saturday for Jews and Sunday for Christians.

According to the scripture, they all recognize the existence of each religion whether or not they agree on who came first.

“And before it there was the Book of Moses, a guide and a mercy; and this is a Book in the Arabic language fulfilling previous prophecies, that it may warn those who do wrong; and as glad tidings to those who do good.” — Al Quran 46:13

Muslims recognize Judaism and Christianity and share the same biblical prophets such as Adam, Abraham, Moses, and Jesus (peace be upon them).

Muslims also recognize the revelations of the Torah and the New Testament. As a matter of fact, when one of these prophets is spoken about, Muslims customarily say, “peace and blessings be upon him.” “Him” refers to all the prophets, not just Mohammad.

“And We gave him Isaac and Jacob; each did We guide aright, and Noah did We guide aright aforetime, and of his progeny, David and Solomon and Job and Joseph and Moses and Aaron. Thus do We reward those who do good.” — Al Quran 6:85

In the Quran, one of the verses (Al-Imran, which translates to “The Family”), states:

“We believe in God, and in that which has been bestowed from on high upon us, and that which has been bestowed upon Abraham and Ishmael and Isaac and Jacob and their descendants, and that which has been vouchsafed by their Sustainer unto Moses and Jesus and all the [other] prophets: we make no distinction between any of them. And unto Him do we surrender ourselves.” — Al Quran 3:84

Islam also references Jesus and the Virgin Mary. Actually, it makes more references to Jesus and the Virgin Mary than the New Testament. Jesus, according to Islam, was not crucified on the cross like Christians believe, simply because in Islam they believe that he was protected as a prophet of God and was therefore replaced by one of his disciples to be crucified on the cross. Many of the rituals in Islam can be found in either Christianity or Judaism.

In the documentary; Three Faiths One God: Judaism, Christianity, Islam — directed by Gerald Krell — a variety of clerics and scholars of the three faiths expos similarities in the scripture itself.

For example, in the Torah and in the Quran, followers are forbidden to taste the blood of animals. It is almost the exact same word; “Dom” in Hebrew and “Dem” in Arabic.

In Hebrew “Kutubbah” is a contract. In Arabic the word is “Khutbah”  – both refer to the contract of marriage.

Peace is the central message of all three religions. Think about the greetings, “ Shalom Aleichem,” “Salam Alaikum” and “Pax Vobiscum.” They all translate in Hebrew, Arabic, and Latin to “Peace be upon you/with you.”

“He has ordained for you of religion what He enjoined upon Noah and that which We have revealed to you, [O Muhammad], and what We enjoined upon Abraham and Moses and Jesus – to establish the religion and not be divided therein. Difficult for those who associate others with Allah is that to which you invite them. Allah chooses for Himself whom He wills and guides to Himself whoever turns back [to Him].” – Quran 42:13

Instead of dividing each other with the “Books,” how about we search for similarities. Islam, Judaism and Christianity share a fundamental agreement regarding how we treat each other and how we live with others within our communities. Peace is the central message of all three religions.

“The Messenger has believed in what was revealed to him from his Lord, and [so have] the believers. All of them have believed in Allah and His angels and His books and His messengers, [saying], “We make no distinction between any of His messengers. And they say, ‘We hear and we obey. [We seek] Your forgiveness, our Lord, and to You is the [final] destination.'”– Quran 2:285 — Image: Wikipedia

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