Jesus: The Messenger of Humanity
Chan’ad has a great post about how people in Bahrain are commemorating the birth of Jesus. It is absolutely amazing that people from different faiths can unite under the message of one man. The following stories I am about to share are fascinating accounts of how Muslims and Christians were able to not only tolerate each other but to offer help and support to each other in the most critical moments throughout history, from the birth of Islam till our very day.
The Church of the Nativity Siege
In April 2002, as Israeli forces entered Bethlehem and battle broke out, many Palestinians (both armed and civilians) sought refuge in the Church of the Nativity. More than 200 Palestinians were protected BY the church INSIDE the church for 38 days! Because of this incident, many people accused Muslims of desecrating Christianity’s holiest site. That is not true. Those people are underestimating the strong relationships between Muslims and Christians in the Holy Land and they’re ignoring the essence of the message Jesus sent to humanity. Jesus stood with the oppressed against the oppressor. Under the Israeli occupation, the Palestinians are the oppressed and by offering sanctuary to the Palestinians in the church, Christianity honors the word of Jesus and his teachings in the highest manner. Besides, Christians and Muslims lived peacefully in the cities of Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Nazareth, and other towns and villages in Palestine for centuries. Unconditional help and support Christians offer to Muslims and Muslims offer to Christians in times of hardship is only the natural result of a common history of peaceful coexistence. In fact, 1400 years ago when the persecution of Muslims increased in Mecca, the prophet Muhammad advised some of his followers to migrate to Al-Habasha (present-day Ethiopia) to seek help from the Christian King Negus. The King kindly treated the Muslims who found the Christian kingdom as a safe haven away from the oppression of Quraish. What happened in the Church of the Nativity is no different. It is a confirmation of the long tradition of support true Christians had given those who needed it…true Christians who believed in the message Jesus sent to humanity… the message that Muhammad continued… the message that unites both Christians and Muslims.
The Doorkeeper and the Key-bearer of the Church is a Muslim
The Church of the Holy Sepulcher is a 900-year old church in Jerusalem. It is the church where Jesus is believed to have been buried and resurrected. In the 12th century, when Saladin entered Jerusalem and defeated the Crusades, he found Christians from different denominations fighting over who should keep the key to the church. To end the fighting, Saladin entrusted the key to a Muslim family. They key had been passed down father to son until this day. After 8 centuries, it is still a Muslim man who safeguards the key in his home and wakes up every morning at dawn to open the church doors and returns every night to lock them. Truly amazing!
Muslims believe in God and in Jesus as a great prophet and messenger, despite disagreements on other aspects of faith, Muslims and Christians can meet on at least these common grounds.