This morning, I presented my 52nd "Thought for the Week" on BBC Radio Manchester. As it was shortly after Christmas Day, I used that as my link for asking a question which I have often thought about.
Those Muslims who are familiar with the contents of the Quran know that Jesus receives a significant amount of coverage. However I rarely hear Muslims mentioning Jesus, either in conversation, when giving advice to younger people, or in sermons in mosques.
Why is this?
"Thought for the Week" broadcasts have to fit into 90 seconds (270 words) so you need to be concise. You can read the text of my talk below.
Last week saw Christmas Day. The official birthday of the most famous person who ever lived, Jesus of Nazareth. Someone revered by over 2 billion Christians, and over 1.5 billion Muslims.
One of my great-nephews is named after Jesus. Even though Jesus was Jewish, the irony is that most Jews tend to ignore Him!
Last month, a school in Stoke-on-Trent asked me to speak about the relationship of Christianity and Islam. There are big areas of overlap, and also fundamental differences. In particular, both religions agree about the Virgin Birth. Indeed, the Quran has a whole chapter devoted to Jesus’s mother, Mary.
However, I have noticed that Muslims don’t talk about Jesus as much as I would expect given the amount of coverage He receives in the Quran.
I’ve been thinking about what the reason might be. I think it comes from the long history of competition between Christianity and Islam. Both Christians and Muslims aim to spread their religion by conversion. They compete in missionary work.
Many people think about their religion the way they think about their football team.
Once they have chosen a religion, they fixate on what makes it different from other religions, instead of thinking about what religions have in common. Most of the time, they don’t even want to know what other religious people believe. For example, how many Christians read the Quran, unless they are looking for things in it to attack?
In the same way, I think that many Muslims are reluctant to talk very much about Jesus. It might feel too much like talking about the other football team’s captain!
I mention Jesus quite often. However there are two pages I particularly recommend: