Can A Christian Be A Muslim? Or A Muslim A Christian?
Bismillahi ar-rahmani ar-rahimi (In the name of God, Merciful and Compassionate),
I have been mulling over this question for some time.
Can a Christian follow Islam? Meaning, can a Christian believe that Muhammad is a true prophet from God, believe that the Qur’an is from God, and that Islam is true?
Secondly, can a Muslim follow Christianity? Meaning, can a Muslim believe that Jesus is the Messiah, that the Bible is from God, and that Christianity is true?
Can a Christian Follow Islam?
Can a Christian remain a Christian and yet believe favorably in the life of Prophet Muhammad and that God truly did speak through Muhammad and give him the Qur’an? First, would this in any way deny his own faith to believe this? If he did believe this, would Muslims want and/or require him to become Muslim? What would that say if he remained a Christian? Would he be considered a denier (kafir)? Or does Islam allow for Christians to remain faithful in their own religion?
To believe that Muhammad really was a prophet is intimately tied to the revelation that Prophet Muhammad received, the Qur’an. So really these two go together.
But lastly, there is the question of whether or not a Christian can believe that Islam (as a religious system) is true?
First, I want to argue, that yes, a Christian can remain a Christian and yet believe that Muhammad (saw) was a true prophet from God. And this then leads to the second part, that yes, the Qur’an is truly revelation from God. I believe this is possible because, if you look at what Arabia looked like before Prophet Muhammad (saw) there was idolatry, the family unit was being destroyed by greed for money, a new merchant class was arising that was undermining the traditional system of tribal relations and this was destroying family networks over money and wealth. Greed was the result, the lack of care for orphans, the poor, the widow also was prevalent. It was this scene upon which Prophet Muhammad came and brought the Qur’an. And the Qur’an has much to say against idolatry, greed, and the mistreatment of the less fortunate. It also has much to say about the value of family, about God’s Signs, and about the Prophets and Books that God has sent.
Also, in Arabia there were Jews and Christians. The Jews were corrupting what their holy book said. They weren’t corrupting the text, but instead were saying things about their text that was not true (It’s also possible that Christians were doing this too, but the Qur’an typically addresses the Jews in regards to this). This was done with their tongues, not with their pens. Secondly, the Christians present had some very strange beliefs indeed. They were talking about Jesus (as) and Mary (as) as second gods with Allah (swt). Their view of the Trinity was very strange compared to the Orthodox version which believes in only one God, not three. It seems to me that the Qur’an seeks to correct these deviations from the Straight Path (al-Siratul Mustaqeem).
Lastly, Islam itself. Can a Christian believe Islam is true? I say yes. The Qur’an says Prophet Abraham (as) was a Muslim, that the disciples (hawariyun) of Jesus were Muslim, etc. I think basically the only issue where Christianity might differ with some forms of Islam is in certain interpretations of what the Qur’an says and what some Hadith have said. Issues such as whether Jesus died on the cross being one of the most important. However, just because popular Islamic thought today says he didn’t die, doesn’t mean that the Qur’an necessarily teaches this. All one has to do is go back to the Qur’an in the original language of Arabic and read it for yourself. Secondly, to examine the various commentary (tafsir) on the subject and see what they say about the various verses (ayat) in question. It is evident that the verdict is not out on this question yet–even if popular Islam has already made up its mind (see the tafsir of Qurtubi, Razi, Tabari, and Qutb for example).
Can A Muslim Follow Christianity?
Can a Muslim remain a Muslim and yet believe in the Biblical account of the life of Messiah Jesus and that God truly did speak through Jesus and give him the Injeel (as revealed in the 4 Gospel accounts–Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John)? First, would this in any way deny his own faith to believe this? If he did believe this, would Christians want and/or require him to become a Christian? What would that say if he remained a Muslim? Would he be considered a denier (kafir)? Or does Christianity allow a Muslim to remain faithful in their own religious identity?
To believe that Jesus (as) is the Messiah is already within Islam, even if nowhere in the Qur’an has that title been explained. So, basically, the more controversial part is whether or not a Muslim can remain a Muslim and yet believe that the Biblical account (4 Gospel accounts–Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) is true and accurately represents the life of Jesus (Sunnah) and the teachings of Jesus (Injeel). It must also be stated that the Biblical account does explain what Messiah means so that is still an issue we will need to deal with.
But lastly, there is the question of whether or not a Muslim can believe that Christianity (as a religious system) is true?
First, I want to argue, that yes, a Muslim can remain a Muslim and yet believe that Jesus (as) was truly the Messiah (as explained in the Biblical account) from God. And this then leads to the second part, that yes, the Bible is truly revelation from God. Messiah (masih) in the Bible literally meant someone who is annointed. This type of annointing was specifically reserved for one who would be king. Prophet David (Dawood) (as) was annointed and he prophecied of one who would come after him from his own lineage and it would be this king whose rule on earth would last forever. This person was called the Messiah.
If you look at both the Qur’anic and Biblical accounts of Jesus’ life, is there ever a time where Jesus ruled as an earthly king? Not from what I can tell, and yet, he indeed was the Messiah, the annointed one in Prophet David’s lineage. I believe Christians and most Muslims also believe Jesus (as) will return at the Last Day and will inaugurate God’s rule on earth. The Bible also teaches that Jesus will rule as King on the earth at this time by God’s leave. He will act as God’s agent of rule . I believe the best Islamic description of this would be as vicegerent (khalifa).
Secondly, it was also prophecied that the Messiah would suffer and die for the sins of mankind. The Biblical account of Jesus’ life also documents his death on the cross, but also his resurrection and his current presence with God in heaven, awaiting the Last Day. So, basically for a Muslim to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, is to believe that he is the present and coming king who will rule the earth by God’s leave and that Jesus’ death and resurrection are God’s provision for humanity of power to live righteously as well as freed from the clutches of Satan (Shaitan) and his tools of fear and death.
Lastly, Christianity itself. Can a Muslim believe Christianity is true? I say yes, with some qualifications. Do we mean Christianity practiced in many of its current forms? Or do we mean the Way (al-Sirat), the actual Biblical account of what is faith and how that faith should be lived out? If we mean the latter, Can a Muslim believe that the Way of Jesus is true? I say yes.
In the Way of Jesus it is taught that Jesus is God’s Word (Kalimatullah), that he is also the Spirit of God (Ruh’ullah), and that he is the Messiah (masih). Jesus (as) is to be honored as one would honor God’s chosen king, God’s chosen prophet, as God’s chosen mouthpiece by which He most fully reveals Himself. Jesus (as) is also to be honored in a similar way that one might honor the Torah or the Qur’an, he is the only prophet to be called the Word of God. But nowhere should Jesus be honored or worshipped as a second deity with God or be called a literal Son of God–meaning that God had relations with his mother, Mary (Maryam) (as) and produced Jesus–this would be an abomination to either faith.
So, with these things said, any thoughts? Is this possible? And if it is possible, what might this mean?