Deus non alligatur. God is not bound. Nibbanam paramam sukham. Unbinding is the Highest Happiness. The Heart is Divinity. God is the primal radiance of Divinity. Nature is the primal manifestation of Divinity. The Buddha is the primal realization of Divinity. La ilaha il Allah. Allah is Complete Wholeness.

03 June 2007

On Being Christian and Muslim

A little more than a year ago, the Rev. Dr. Ann Holmes Redding [page 9] found herself
at the doorway of a new world, Islam, and wasn’t quite sure how she got there.
As she reflected on her journey, she realized Jesus was her guide. Now both a
practicing Muslim and an Episcopal priest, Redding shares her thoughts on how the
two faiths inform each other.

“The way I understand Jesus is compatible with Islam,” Redding explains, “and
although there are Christians and Muslims who think I must convert from one to
the other, the more I go down this path the more excited I am about both Christianity
and Islam.”

Redding credits her upbringing for early exposure to interfaith relationships. She was
baptized by an African Methodist Episcopal minister but the only Sunday school she
attended was Episcopal. She attended a Unitarian youth group in high school when
the Episcopal group disbanded. She was influenced by a cooperative community near
where she grew up that was comprised of mostly Quakers, Unitarians and Jews. Her
father was a prominent civil rights lawyer whose work brought him and the family into contact with people of many faith backgrounds.

After an introduction to a Muslim prayer practice in early 2006, Redding knew
she had been wrestling with a call to Islam. She approached a Muslim woman and
told her so, and the woman replied, “Christianity has been good to you and you to
it, and you don’t have to choose.” That made all the difference in Redding’s choice to
practice Islam.

“What Islam has done for me is shed this light on Christianity and shown for me
anew what a glorious way Christianity is,” she explains. “We Christians, in struggling to express the beauty and dignity of Jesus and the pattern of life he offers, describe him as the ‘only begotten son of God.’ That’s how wonderful he is to us. But that is not literal,” she continues. “When we say Jesus is the only begotten one, we are saying he’s unique in some way. Islam says the same thing. He’s the only human aside from Adam who is directly created by God, and
he’s different from Adam because he has a human mother. So there’s agreement—this
person is unique in his relationship to God.” Christianity also says that we are all part
of the household of God and in essence brothers and sisters of Jesus. Muslims take
the figurative language of “only begotten,” make it concrete and contradict it: God “neither begets nor is begotten.”

“I agree with both because I do want to say that Jesus is unique, and for me, Jesus
is my spiritual master,” Redding says. “Muslims say Mohammed is the most perfect.
Well, it depends on who you fall in love with. I fell in love with Jesus a long time ago
and I’m still in love with Jesus but I’d like to think my relationship with Jesus has

She added that what Islam does is take Jesus out of the way of her relationship
with God, “but it doesn’t drop Jesus. I was following Jesus and he led me into Islam,
and he didn’t drop me off at the door. He’s there, too.”

1 comment:

Paul said...

To me this stresses the sometimes tragically overlooked historical connections that in fact exist between Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. One hopes a day will be reached where this is emphasized in religious intruction in all three faiths.