In the Name of the Compassionate and Infinitely Merciful Precious Beloved
This first appeared on Patheos.
I often wonder whether the myriad of "anti-foreign law bills" (read: anti-Sharia law) is born out of some religious fervor or zealotry. Is there a religious agenda behind these bills that are supposed to protect against so-called "creeping Sharia" that is happening all over the country? A comment by a Florida lawmaker seemed to confirm my suspicion.
At a recent breakfast, Florida State Senator Alan Hays, sponsor of Senate Bill 58, which is commonly known as the "anti-Sharia bill," said to a group of supporters and activists, "I want to thank you for being brave enough to stand up for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Contrary to popular belief, He is not a stranger in the Capitol."
That statement, very much like the shouts of "Jesus hates Muslims" at a mosque two years ago, made me scratch my head in confusion. How is sponsoring a bill aimed at preventing "foreign law" (read: Sharia law) standing up for Jesus Christ? Does being Christian automatically make you an enemy to all Muslims?
I know that there are some Muslims who feel this way (that Christians and those of other faiths are the enemy), but they are very few and very extreme. More importantly, how can "standing up for Jesus Christ" necessarily mean that you oppose Islam and Muslims when... Muslims love Jesus Christ?
It is within the very fabric of our theology and belief system to honor and revere Jesus Christ as the Messiah. One cannot be a Muslim without belief in and love for Jesus Christ. His name, in fact, is mentioned more in the Quran than the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) himself.
The story of Jesus's birth is told twice in the Quran (3:42-27 and 19:16-33). The Quran recounts the miracle of Jesus speaking in his infancy (3:46 and 19:29-33) and of Jesus healing the blind, curing lepers and raising the dead (5:110). The Quran also talks about how Jesus used to fashion birds out of clay and breathe life into them, by the permission of God (3:49). There may even be a reference to the Last Supper in the Quran as well (5:112-116).
Jesus in the Quran is "honored in the world and the hereafter, and one of the intimates of God" (3:45). Jesus in the Quran is "in the ranks of the righteous" (6:85). Jesus in the Quran is described as a "word, from God, which God sent down to Mary [and] a spirit from Him" (4:171). The Quran even says that Jesus was strengthened with the "Holy Spirit" (2:253, 5:110), although classical commentators have interpreted "Holy Spirit" to mean the Angel Gabriel or divine inspiration.
Knowing all this, how can "standing up for Jesus Christ" mean opposing Islam and Muslims? How could "Jesus hate Muslims," as some of his alleged followers claim? Clearly, these so-called devotees of Jesus Christ have no idea about Islam and its beliefs.
Now, these people are free to believe what they want, just as I am free to do the same. They are free to reject Islam's theology about Jesus—namely, that he was not divine—just as we are free to reject the claim that Jesus is divine. But to try to enshrine discrimination against an entire religious group into law, which is clearly unconstitutional and un-American to boot, based on the belief that this is somehow "standing up for Jesus" is wholly misplaced.
Jesus had nothing to do with Senator Hays' senate bill. His own bias did.