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Originally published Monday, December 16, 2013 at 3:46 PM

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Muslims, Christians have a lot in common worth celebrating

Jesus is not a barrier between the two faiths that influence the views and values of more than 40 percent of the world’s population; he is actually the bridge.


Special to The Seattle Times

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Faith & Values

How Muslims and Christians think about one another is one of the most significant issues of our time. Uncovering our shared values and love for Jesus this season may create a needed link.

Together Islam and Christianity influence the views and values of more than 40 percent of the world’s population. Jesus is not a barrier between the two faiths; he is actually the bridge.

Ask any Muslim if he or she loves Jesus and the answer will be yes. The Quran mentions Jesus 25 times, as the Messiah, the Christ, his miraculous birth to the Virgin Mary, miracles and preaching God’s word.

Concepts and areas of belief shared by the two faiths include God, angels, revelation, prophets, Holy Books of God, the Day of Judgment, life hereafter and a divinely inspired moral code.

Recognizing and appreciating our similarities can help us honor and respect one another, which does not mean compromise.

Prophet Muhammad was so accommodating of Christians that he allowed a delegation of 60 Byzantine Christians to worship in his own mosque in Medina. Muslims are required to have good relations with Christians.

“ ... and nearest among them in love to the believers will you find those who say, ‘We are Christians,’ ” (Quran 5:82)

Like most American Muslim kids, I had a great childhood friend who was Christian. His name was Glenn. His father was in the Navy and his mom stayed home — and in that home, I was always treated like family.

They lived on the shores of Puget Sound and as neighbors, Glenn and I spent much of our childhood boating, fishing and doing other activities that revolved around the beach. Rain or shine we were together.

I attended a few of his church-fellowship outings, which deepened my sense of respect for Christians. Looking back, I wish I had spoken up about the love Muslims have for Jesus, but sadly, I didn’t.

Today, when I share my faith with Christians, I start with Jesus’ spiritual legacy in Islam as a righteous and principled guide. It is a door-opener, characterizing our shared religious heritage.

Detractors and extremists who focus on our differences are not limited to any one faith; all faiths have them in their ranks and nothing good comes from their hurtful actions or ignorant rhetoric.

We live in a world where violent events and hate-filled rhetoric are increasing, so we must be wary of potential misinterpretations or misrepresentations of one another’s teachings.

To be fair, none of us is perfect, but folks today who promote understanding and mutual dialogue — who help our faiths build bridges and become peacemakers — they will be tomorrow’s heroes.

Muslims and Christians are not competitors, and if we use this holiday season to appreciate our common beliefs it may bring a little goodwill and peace to a world that desperately needs it.

Aziz Junejo is host of “Focus on Islam,” a weekly cable-television show and a frequent speaker on Islam. Readers may send feedback to faithcolumns@seattletimes.com



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About Mr. Aziz Junejo

Aziz Junejo is host of "Focus on Islam," a weekly cable-television show, and a frequent speaker on Islam.

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