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The Figure of Jesus in Islam Essay

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Updated: Aug 31st, 2021

What are your thoughts on the implications of literal and interpretive interpretations of holy texts for interfaith dialogue both here in the U.S. and other parts of the world (e.g. Europe)?

The effective interfaith dialogue between Muslims and Christians in the United States and in Europe can be discussed as the first step to the world peace because conflicts based on the religious grounds in these countries often reflect in the threat of terrorism and international instability. Therefore, Muslims and Christians need to admit the fact that they have something in common and that their religious vision of Jesus can influence their relations in all aspects of life (Saritoprak presentation, January 29, 2015).

However, the problem is in the fact that Christians are often not aware of the role of Jesus in Islam, and Muslims often interpret the figure of Jesus in their religion in the most literal terms. From this point, although the focus on the literal interpretation of holy texts cannot contribute significantly to improving the interfaith dialogue, the focus on the allegorical interpretations can lead to the interreligious cooperation though understanding the figure of Jesus for both Muslims and Christians.

The idea of the intercultural understanding as the positive implication of interpreting holy texts and the figure of Jesus in them is promoted by Professor Zeki Saritoprak. According to Prof. Saritoprak, “the discussion of Jesus’s descent necessitates a discussion of the future of interfaith cooperation, particularly between Christians and Muslims” (Saritoprak 2014: xv).

Nevertheless, the achievement of such positive results for nations as cooperation, peace, mutual understanding, and stability is possible only when the interpretation of religious texts is interpretive or allegorical. Literal interpretation of Qur’an and other holy texts leads to accepting the fact that the belief in Jesus is common for Muslims and Christians, but this vision cannot prevent the world confrontation between the religions and believers.

Much attention should be paid to the symbolical interpretation of religious texts in order to understand the significant role of Jesus in Islam. Prof. Saritoprak accentuates “the importance of allegorical understandings of certain religious texts” because the dialogue between confessions is possible if Muslims and Christians admit the universal significance of Jesus for both religions (Saritoprak 2014: xvi).

Muslims in the United States and such European countries as France, for instance, need to see what they have in common with Christians in order to develop the effective dialogue and work for the prosperity of the whole world, without focusing on differences in religions and visions (Saritoprak presentation, January 29, 2015).

Christians, in their turn, need to understand that Islam is not threatening for them because Muslims’ visions of Jesus are similar to those holy visions of Christians all over the world. From this point, only the interpretative approach to understanding the sacred texts can contribute to building stability in the world. The interpretative analysis is also more effective than literal interpretations because Muslims need to understand the role of Jesus focusing on Prophet Muhammad’s words in the specific, bias-free context.

Thus, the development of the interfaith dialogue between Muslims and Christians is important for the whole world because the focus on the role of Jesus is the first step to finding points for mutual understanding.

However, not all discussions of the figure of Jesus in Islam are effective to contribute to the peaceful development of intercultural communication. Prof. Saritoprak points at the role of the interpretive analysis of the holy texts to see the core regarding the role of Jesus for Muslims. In this context, while finding aspects that unite representatives of two major confessions, it is possible to achieve the peace and stability in the world.

Works Cited

Saritoprak, Zeki. Islam’s Jesus. Orlando: University Press of Florida, 2014. Print.

—. “Lecture: Islam’s Jesus”. UC Irvine School of Social Sciences. Irvine, California. 2015. Lecture.

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