To Professor Seyyed Hossein Nasr
Professor of Islamic Studies
I’ve been listening to your Modern Scholar course on Islam and the West, and while I find it interesting and informative, I am nagged with questions that no ordinary Muslim seems able or willing to answer. So I am writing to you in the hope that you can answer my questions.
I am not Muslim in respect to embracing the tenets of the religion of Islam, most particularly not Islamic law and Islam as a political and social regulatory force. However, I am a Muslim in respect to being devoted to a pursuit of truth, beauty, and goodness in life, what you might call “doing God’s will,” and I do recognize much good in the religion of Islam. Therefore, I am not an antagonist, I am a sincere student of Islam, and I am eager to learn more about it. In fact, I have read the Qur’an at least once, and much of it several times.
As for my earlier background, I was reared as a Baptist and have studied most of the world’s major religions in some depth. But I do not consider myself to be a Christian. Rather, I am primarily a student of The Urantia Book (for the past 33 years), and I consider myself to be a follower of Jesus, embracing his religion instead of a religion about him.
Now, here are my questions. I encourage you to answer them before reading my comments below:
- What are the principles of Jesus’ “gospel”, which Muhammad encouraged all Muslims to embrace? Where are they in the Qur’an?
- From whom did Muhammad learn about the gospel and the principles of Christianity?
- How do Jesus and Muhammad compare in character and nature, according to the Qur’an and recorded history?
- Is every single word in the Qur’an considered to be a sacred recital of words spoken by Gabriel to Muhammad, and if not, what portions are not sacred recitals?
Here are my motives for asking (I shall be expressing my considerations, opinions, and research findings, and I encourage you to correct my misunderstandings):
- What is the Gospel?
- Acceptance of the reality of the Fatherhood of God.
- Belief in the truth of the Brotherhood of Man.
- Faith in the effectiveness of the supreme human desire to be like God, to do his will.
The Urantia Book corroborates the above A B Cs of the gospel.
- Neither Jews nor Muslims actually see God as a Heavenly Father. Rather, they see him as an all-powerful deity who will crush them for their sins and misdeeds if they are unrepentant or iniquitous. Yes, they both claim God loves his human subjects, but they do not think of him as a loving Father. Jesus actually taught that a spirit fragment of the Heavenly Father indwells people’s minds and yearns for them to follow his leading. This implies the potential of divinity in human beings who seek to find, know, love, and be like God.
- Neither Jews nor Muslims actually believe all other humans are their siblings. Jews believe only fellow Jews are their “neighbors,” and Muslims believe only fellow Muslims are “brothers.” Yes, they both claim it is right to love other people, but they do not really feel a divine mandate to love them as though they are brothers. By contrast with brotherly love, which Jesus preached to the multitudes, Jesus taught his close associates about Fatherly love, and elevation in quality of relationship to fellow humans.
- Neither Jews, Christians, or Muslims actually believe humans can be like God. Most Christians assert man inherited a sin nature from Adam and Eve, and can never have fellowship with God unless they accept the notion that his crucifixion constituted a blood sacrifice that atones for sins. Jews are mostly silent on the subject because many, if not most, of them don’t even believe in an afterlife. Muslims actually believe God makes people be evil and makes them reject him, as though they have no choice in the matter. Jesus taught the multitudes that they should strive for personal perfection, and he did not focus on punishment that might be in store for them if they made mistakes. Rather, he focused on the good that would happen to them if they were righteous. He taught his close associates that humans are potentially divine, and that with his approval they can go on to meet the Father face to face.
- How did Muhammad learn about Jesus?
- Comparing Jesus with Muhammad
Summary and Conclusions