Islam and Christianity
Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life
According to the Islamic Calendar, Rajab 27, 1419 (which is approximately November 16 this year) marks the anniversary of the ascension of the Prophet Muhammad into the Seven Heavens and his return to earth. Muhammad had traveled from Mecca to Jerusalem. Muslims believe that he prayed with the prophets Abraham, Moses, and Jesus near the area of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. He ascended to heaven to speak with God, from the rock inside The Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, and returned to earth the same night. This occurrence is called Isra al Mi'raj, or the ascent of the Prophet Muhammad. Among religions there are sometimes comparable events, though there may be different understandings of them.
This commemoration is reminiscent of the biblical account of Jesus' transfiguration, observed by Peter, James, and John. In this experience, Jesus spoke with Moses and Elijah. God spoke aloud and said of Jesus, "This is my beloved Son: hear him" (Mark 9:7).
Christians by definition have gained an inner conviction that Jesus was more than a prophet or merely a good man. They acknowledge Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the living God. This conviction is more a result of inner revelation and communion with the Father than church doctrine.
Muslims on the other hand believe that God is One and has no Son. Jesus is acknowledged as a prophet inferior to Muhammad, who provided the final revelation of God to earth. From a Muslim point of view, for God to have a Son would abrogate God as One. This is a basic distinction between Christianity and Islam.
Perhaps the antipathy of Muslims toward the concept of God having a Son comes from the orthodox Christian doctrine of the Trinity, in which Father-Son-Holy Ghost are defined as three distinct but equal entities. This could be seen as negating the oneness of God and instead promoting multiple deities.
Primitive Christianity was based on the original Mosaic view of one God, which Jesus taught from the earlier Hebrew text, "Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord" (Deut. 6:4).
Christian Science, discovered by Mary Baker Eddy, reveals that because God is truly One, He is the Father of all. Since there is no other power or creator, all that is good must originate in God. His creation is, like Him, spiritual, holy, eternal. So the Son of God is the spiritual ideal, holy and eternal. This Son is the Christ, or promised Messiah. Jesus, as the preeminent human manifestation of Christ, revealed Christ to a waiting world hungering for hope of a direct relation to God. Jesus illustrated man's relation to God by showing that the sons and daughters of God, Spirit, are not God but individual expressions of God.
The power of this revelation was demonstrated in practical freedom from disease, sin, and even death. Jesus healed multitudes with this understanding that men and women are fundamentally spiritual, children of the one God. When Jesus later resurrected from the grave, he demonstrated a practical way of salvation for all men and women - that Christ as the Son of God has power to overcome death. He then ascended, or rose entirely above the physical comprehension of mortals. Yet Christ, the spiritual idea, remains to heal and save throughout the ages.
Mrs. Eddy, a modern-day prophet of God, called Jesus' ascension "his further spiritual exaltation." She continues, "Our Master gained the solution of being, demonstrating the existence of but one Mind [God] without a second or equal" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," Pg. 314). Jesus rose above all material conditions and proved his unity with God, Spirit. When his mission was completed, he resumed his original spiritual status - in other words, ascended.
In an age of increasing religious stridency, human doctrines would eclipse divine revelation. We all need to gain a more spiritual view of our beliefs. As this is done, divisive doctrines will diminish, and the one Spirit, God, will unite all His children through revelation and increased spiritual understanding.
Look for other articles like this one in The Christian Science Journal, a monthly magazine.