I am convinced that there is one God. This is not the God of one particular religion only, but the God of all religions and of all creation. This is important because it means that different religions, with their various and differing dogmas and creeds, do in fact have the most important thing in common: belief in one true God.
Mona Siddiqui, in her book ‘Christians, Muslims, and Jesus’ draws upon scholarship in Christianity and Islam as she discusses Jesus Christ and His significance to these two religions. She attempts to find common ground in the “christologies” of the two religions, but struggles to do so.
Using plenty of quotations, both from scripture and from learned academics, Siddiqui looks at subjects including ‘The End of Prophecy’, ‘God as One’, ‘Scholastic, Medieval and Poetic debates’, ‘Reflections on Mary’, and ‘Monotheism and the Dialectics of Law and Love’, as she tries to find common ground between Muslims and Christians in terms of the way Jesus is perceived.
It seems that there is some common ground, perhaps most notably in a shared reverence for Mary in the two religions, but in terms of Jesus and His crucifixion Christians and Muslims have quite different views.
Siddiqui demonstrates how the crucifixion is barely discussed in the Islamic literature, but is at the very heart of the Christian literature and indeed what it means to be a Christian. Also, the resurrection of Jesus is symbolically vital for Christians, but is not considered to be a core belief in Islam. Basically, Muslims see Jesus as a great teacher and a prophet, but not as the Son of God and the way to salvation. In Islam, there is no salvation in the Christian sense of the word.
The book was an enjoyable read and the academic style was not so complex that I couldn’t follow the thrust of the author’s train of thought. I would have preferred a simpler writing style, but then I am someone who really dislikes complex terminology and endless footnotes which in my opinion only serve to alienate readers – even those with academic training. However, Siddiqui is brave to attempt to tackle such a difficult subject and I think she has done a good job – the book has plenty of substance.
The highlight of the book for me is in the conclusion where Siddiqui asks various Christian friends to reflect on what the image of the cross means to them. The responses are touching and interesting. In the very last paragraph of the book Siddiqui chooses to close with a comment which points to what is really the crucial thing (for me) in Islamic / Christian relations – that Islam and Christianity share belief in one God, and even more crucially, that it is the same God.
I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the figure of Jesus or in multifaith or interfaith dialogue. The cover price of £20 is a bit steep (it is not a particularly long book) and I was told in Waterstones that the book is only available as a hardback. Keeping this in mind, the book still represents reasonable value for money and is an excellent contribution to interfaith dialogue.
For a full list of my book reviews, covering topics including philosophy, religion, spirituality, and mental health, click here.