The Jesus of Jihad
by A. Maeve McDonald
The world’s Muslim population is expected to increase by about 35% in the next 20 years, rising from 1.6 billion in 2010 to 2.2 billion by 2030, according to population projections by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life. Islam is the fasted growing religion in the world, mainly due to high birthrates in Asia, the Middle East, and Europe—not in large part due to conversions. Despite the enormous global impact of Islam, many Christians in the West are apathetic toward, or uninformed about, the religion and what it actually teaches. Yet having an understanding of Islam is important in helping us pray more specifically about, and respond knowledgeably to, the rapid growth of the religion.
Christians in the West are often surprised to learn that Muslims revere Jesus, who is referred to in Arabic as Isa, and is declared in the Qur’an to be a prophet of Islam. Consequently, Muslims lay claim to Jesus, not as the Son of God, but as the prophet who foretold the coming of Muhammad, and performed [some pretty outlandish] miracles. In an era of Western pluralism, it is becoming common to hear the argument that Christianity and Islam should share Jesus, and that He rightfully belongs to both religions. In this vein, the concept of the “Abrahamic civilization” of the West is gaining ideological clout in place of the former emphasis on a “Judeo-Christian civilization.” This shift of thinking reflects the growing influence of Islam in the world today.
If we are to share Jesus with Islam, let’s consider the implications of this. Firstly, it’s useful to be aware of the common ground Islam and Christianity share when it comes to Jesus, as much is made of this in the interfaith movement and in the pluralistic schools of thought that prevail in most American colleges and universities…
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