Was Muhammad an Advent prophet?

Category: Faith & Spirituality, Featured Topics: Prophet Jesus (Isa) Channel: Opinion Views: 3786
3786

Advent celebrates the scriptural words prophesizing the coming of the Lord. But should we Catholics also include the Muslim Prophet Muhammad as one of the witnesses to Jesus? At first, the question seems strange because we usually think of prophets as "fore-telling" something that will happen in the future, and since Muhammad lived after Christ -- the reasoning goes -- he could not have predicted the birth of Christ. But Advent speaks not only of the birth of Christ, it also announces the fruits of his coming. So when passages in the Qur'an praise the Messiah and name him as Jesus Christ, they add a welcomed clarity to the Advent message. 

The Qur'an affirms Jesus as the Messiah: "When the angels said, 'O Mary, God gives thee glad tidings of a son through a word from Him; his name shall be the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, honored in this world and in the next, and of those who are granted nearness to God..." (Surah 3:45). That same passage affirms the Virgin Birth (v. 47) of Jesus to the Blessed Mother. Additionally, many Muslim commentaries on the Qur'an, like the 41st book of the Sahih Muslim Hadith, state that the Second Coming of Christ will bring the end of the world, which is also the Catholic belief. Clearly, there are parts of the Qur'an in disagreement with Church teachings, but that is also true of segments of the Hebrew Bible. If Advent teaches us to celebrate the prophetic character in the scriptures of Judaism while ignoring differences, might not we do the same for Islam?

I do not think Catholic America should approach the Qur'an as if it belongs to a hostile religion. Muhammad considered himself a reformer of the Abrahamic faith found in both Judaism and Christianity. He felt called by God to purify the faith in both Testaments from extraneous practices and misguided interpretations so that the Arabs might inherit the promises made to Abraham and his descendants without submitting to secular powers. After all, as stated in the Hebrew Bible (Genesis 16:15), Abraham's first-born son was Ishmael, patriarch of all Arabs. Moreover, Muslims accept the revelation of the Bible and the Gospels, which means Islam has a place alongside of Judaism and Christianity in the family of Abrahamic faith.

Affording Islam a special place in Salvation History is Catholic teaching. Long ago, in 1076 Pope Gregory VII invoked the commandment of love between Christians and Muslims "because we believe in one God, albeit in a different manner, and because we praise him and worship him every day as the Creator and Ruler of the world." This precedent was cited by today's Benedict XVI who recognized "that Muslims and Catholics worship the same God and, more than that, have a common mission to give witness to the Almighty in an increasingly secular world." In accord with papal teachings and the affirmation of the II Vatican Council (Nostra Aetate 1, 3), Muslims worship the same God as we do. 

If we change "Allah" to "God" in sections of the Qur'an, we can add to the richness of our Advent preparations. (Such a change is reasonable, since that word in Arabic can be translated as "God," much like the Hebrew scriptures where circumlocutions like "Elohim" and "Adonai" are used for "Yahweh," the name of God.) 

The reason we should include Muhammad in Advent is because we cannot bring Christ's peace to the world without Muslims. Pope Benedict has adjusted his vision of interfaith dialogue since he was Cardinal Ratizinger says theologian Gregory Baum, so reading from the Qur'an furthers the pope's aspirations for unity among people of faith in a century when secular politics predicts a "clash of civilizations." 

I would not expect readings from the Qur'an in the formal Eucharistic liturgy of the Mass, but Advent allows many opportunities for extra-liturgical blessings and reflections at Vespers and tree lightings. 

Consider my favorite in the Surah called "Maryam":

"Jesus said, 'I am a servant of God. ...Peace was on me the day I was born, and peace will be on me the day I shall die, and the day I shall be raised up to life again." (Surah 19:30, 19:33).

Amen.

*****

Anthony Stevens-Arroyo is an American Catholic scholar who has worked as professor of Puerto Rican and Latino studies at Brooklyn College. He has contributed to the national debate on human rights and was nominated by President Jimmy Carter to serve on the U.S. Commission of Civil Rights.

Source: The Washington Post


  Category: Faith & Spirituality, Featured
  Topics: Prophet Jesus (Isa)  Channel: Opinion
Views: 3786

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Older Comments:
SAYED FROM US said:
Didn't jusus already raised up again to life three days after died?
Or, your translation is right that he will be raised up for the second time ( I respect your oponion either way).

2010-12-15