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Saad Karamat: Let’s open dialogue among the belief systems

Guest commentary

Posted: January 14, 2012 1:30 a.m.
Updated: January 14, 2012 1:30 a.m.
 


My experience as a Muslim American living in the Santa Clarita Valley has shown me that local residents do not know much about Islam besides what they have seen in the media.
However, it seems that this valley, like most of America, is largely familiar with Christianity.

Thus, among other things, I will focus on commonalities between Islam and Christianity in this column, as well as some points of difference. I will do this while upholding the respectful and heartwarming spirit of interfaith harmony.

Through this journey, my main goal will be to educate and raise awareness about Islam, not to convert. Meanwhile, I will try to keep things fun and interesting. And, most importantly for many — including atheists and those from other religions — I will strive to remain logical.

In my opinion, there should be no conflict between religion and logic. Yes, there is something called faith, but that is different than belief. For many people who believe in God, actually, it is something they have not only experienced, but also believe due to convincing proofs and logic — not simply through stories or folklore.

Now, atheists might be thinking that I seek to convince about the existence of God through logic and reasoning. No.

I do not believe I could ever convince an atheist of God’s existence based on intellectual dialogue. Why? Because, again, a belief in God is something that not only lies in sound logical understanding, but more importantly, actual experience.

I now wish to briefly cover two concepts in this piece:

1. Jesus is, in fact, a highly esteemed figure in Islam. Many of you may know that Jesus is considered a prophet in Islam.

But what you likely do not know is that Jesus is mentioned, by name, more times in the Holy Quran than Islam’s founder, Muhammad. Jesus is such an important figure for Muslims that the majority of the Muslim world is waiting for his second coming.

(That is right. Both Christians and Muslims are waiting for Jesus to reappear one day. This will be explored another time.)

2. Muslims celebrate and honor Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son Ishmael in an act of submission to the will of God. They do this on an occasion known as Eid-ul-Adha, or the “festival of sacrifice.”

On Eid, Muslims sacrifice an animal. They share a third of the animal’s meat with their family members, a third with their friends and a third with the poor. This is done to foster the willingness among Muslims to give up their own bounties in order to strengthen ties of friendship and help the poor.

Muslims also exchange gifts on Eid — and thus, for some people, Eid is a kind of Christmas for Muslims. All in all, the celebration of Eid demonstrates the very Abrahamic nature of Islam.

The bottom line of this piece? Muslims and Christians have more in common than Christians might imagine. Jesus is mentioned extensively in the Quran, and his example is something not only for Christians to aspire toward, but also Muslims worldwide.

Ever wondered why no Muslims burned the Bible in retaliation to Pastor Jones’ “Burn a Quran” day? A belief in the truths of the Bible is, in fact, a tenet of Islamic faith. Second, the similarities of Christianity with Islam can be seen in a Muslim holiday which, perhaps surprisingly for some, celebrates something pre-Christ.

Saad Karamat is a Muslim American from Canyon Country. To contact him, email saadscvsignal@gmail.com. Unless otherwise stated, the views and opinions expressed by columnists are those of the respective authors and do not necessarily represent the views of The Signal.

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