The Qur’an on Maryam, Jesus Christ and Easter celebrations part 2

The graduands with Chief Jamiu Ekungba (middle) at the event last Saturday in Akeredolu Town, Ifo LGA, Ogun State

The graduands with Chief Jamiu Ekungba (middle) at the event last Saturday in Akeredolu Town, Ifo LGA, Ogun State

This is opprobrium,” the Jews shouted. “This is impossible,” they chorused. “In response she merely pointed towards the baby. They said: “How can we talk to a babe in the cradle?” Whereupon the baby spoke out: “I am indeed a servant of the Almighty. He has given me the Book and made me a Prophet. His blessing is with me wherever I go. He has commanded me to establish Salat (Muslim prayer) and give Zakah (charity to the poor) as long as I shall live. He has exhorted me to honor my mother and has not made me domineering, hard to deal with. Peace be upon me the day I was born, the day I shall die and the Day I shall be raised to life again.” Such was Jesus the son of Mary, and this is the True statement about him concerning which they are in doubt.(Q19:27-34).

Now dear brethren, the above speaks to the story behind the story of the birth of Prophet Isa (a.s). But the message he brought to the Jewish nation equally led to controversy. How could a man enjoin justice, egalitarianism and sincerity in the worship of the Almighty in a society where injustice, oppression of the poor and dishonesty were the very spirit of success. Thus, Jesus Christ became an enemy within. To hate him is to be popular; to seek to kill him is to show commitment to the hideous principles which undergird the then Jewish society. Ultimately, the Jewish authorities announced it had killed him on the cross. It is this event and his subsequent rising after the third day, both of which the Quran negates (Q4: 157-158) which informs the celebration of the Easter every year.

In other words, dear compatriots, Easter is associated with the belief in Christendom that Jesus Christ is the savior of humanity. Brethren, our Christian compatriots equally hold the belief that the Almighty God is Just and that in effect, it is incumbent on Him to punish every sin and every infraction of His laws. Brethren our Christian compatriots further hold that in order that humanity can have access to Heaven, in order to rescue humanity from the abyss of eternal damnation, the Almighty sent the sinless Jesus Christ to the world and cause him to die on the cross as ransom for humanity and that only those who believe in and acknowledge this shall have eternal salvation. This belief is premised on yet another principle which is that no human being can live a good enough life to warrant entry into God’s presence in heaven except through the redemptive blood of Jesus which was spilled, according to the Bible, on the cross. Without his death and resurrection the whole idea of Christianity becomes invalid.

On this occasion therefore due respect and reverence, in line with the Quranic injunction, is expected from Muslims for Prophet Isa (Jesus Christ). But what else other than reverence and respect is expected from you for a man who Islam equally regards as a savior, though not through a redemptive sacrifice. What else other than honour and reverence does Islam expect from Muslims for a man whose conduct and carriage call attention to other prophets of the Almighty all of who lived sinless lives and were torch-bearers of the highest moral standard for the whole of humanity. What else other than reverence do we expect from Muslims for Prophet Isa whose birth is Quranized as miraculous and one whose vocation is the invocation of miraculous ministrations?

In other words, contrary to the oft-celebrated conflictual interface between the cross and the crescent, there is unequivocal scriptural consensus between the Quran and the Bible around awesome aspects of Jesus life including his nature, birth by a chaste woman and his performance of miracles.

Thus, the primary differences between Muslims and Christians about the historical Jesus are only his divinity and his death and by implication the idea or notion of salvation.

Thus while my Christians compatriots ‘claim’ Jesus as their savior, I affirm my belief in him too as a stakeholder in my spiritual world. In that sense, you could very well refer to me as a Muslim-Christian. But in referring to me as such, you would have to note that I am equally an Ibrahimian (believer in the message of Prophet Ibrahim, a.s), a Musaian (believer in the message of Prophet Musa, a.s) and a Nuhian (believer in the message of Prophet Nuh, a.s). While referring to me as a Muslim-Christian, dear sister, you are ‘condemned’, as it were, to yield space to my identity as a strict follower of the message brought by Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w).

In other words, I lay claim to and identify with all the prophets and guides sent by the Almighty to the world as saviors, through their deliverance of God’s messages to humanity. The universal message that all the prophets delivered and which instructs mankind about knowing and approaching God, distinguishing truth from falsehood, and distinguishing right from wrong actions, is what Muslims consider as the “Gospel” that Jesus delivered and that saves.

The Quranic warrant for this posture can be found in Q2: 285 where the Almighty says: “The Messenger believes in the Guidance revealed to him from his Lord and so do the Believers. They all believe in the Almighty, His angels, His books and His Messengers. They say: “We do not discriminate against anyone of His Messengers.” And they say: “We hear and we obey. Grant us Your forgiveness, O Lord; to You we shall all return.”

In another portion of the Quran, the Almighty says in reference to what is expected of the Muslims in relation to other scriptures sent by the Almighty to the world: “Say: We believe in Allah and that which was revealed unto us and that which was revealed unto Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob and the tribes; and that which was given to Moses and Jesus and the prophets from their Lord.  We make no distinction between any of them, and unto Him we are submitters” (Q3:84)

But one thing constantly catches my attention in the life of Prophet Isa on earth. First, he was said to have been questioned one day: “why don’t you get married”? He responded, as usual with wisdom and decorum: “we prefer the plenitude of the hereafter.” In other words, Prophet Isa never built a cathedral of materialism as is common in our world today. He never built mansions and estates all of which raise questions about our claim to faith in him and his ministry.

He led a life which was tempered by the certainty of the ephemerality of life on earth and the eternity of life hereafter.
Or what other interpretation do you give to the Biblical reading that he rode a donkey to Jerusalem? Would Jesus Christ have purchased a private Jet were he to be alive today? If indeed the Easter occupies the core of the Christian faith such should be the opportunity it provides for my compatriots to return to his message. If Jesus were to appear today, are you actually ready to meet with him? (08122465111 for texts only)

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