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16 September 2012

Jesus is in our hearts

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Worship has become a mere routine for some members of our society; as a result the strength of their faith in an act of worship becomes either low or nonexistent.

By Lina Almaeena

The story of Mariam, the Saudi girl who rebounded from Islam to Christianity, rapidly spread on almost all media outlets. However, in my opinion, this was a rare but a serious case, nonetheless, compared to tens of thousands or millions of people converting to Islam from other religions.

Moreover, I think her case was more related to her having an emotional attachment to a Christian young man than to any ideological reasons combined with oppressive family and cultural experiences, many of which she had mentioned during her interview to a Christian channel. As an example she cited being banned by her family from going even to the supermarket.

Ethics today are no more Islamic values; they have become ethics of male tribalism and intolerance, which diluted the great divine principles in that girl.

Worship has become a mere routine stripped of spirituality for some members of our society; as a result the strength of their faith in an act of worship becomes either low or nonexistent, in prayer, fasting, or pilgrimage, or in any other type of worship. This was why Maryam declared that she was “tired of praying and fasting.” She did not learn the right way of performing it. So she was not able to raise it to a sublime level or connect it to her Creator.

This story reminded me of a situation which my sister went through last month in the United States. An American woman saw her and, because of my sister’s head cover, the lady told her that she wanted to warn her and advise her to follow Jesus, peace be upon him. My sister replied that she already follows Jesus and believes in him. However, her belief was not as him being a “God” but as him being a “prophet” who was raised by God to the heavens. The American lady was confused and she politely told my sister: “I just wanted to inform you”.
It’s our fault that we haven’t defined true Islam as an extension of Judeo-Christian religions, especially that millions of us travel every year, in addition to hundreds of thousands of students abroad.

As for Prophet Jesus, peace be upon him, what must be known is that: He was regarded as one of the messengers whom God had chosen and honored. The world must know that we, as Muslims, believe in and love all prophets and messengers with the last Prophet being Mohammad (peace and blessing be upon him). However, Prophet Jesus, peace be upon him, is raised up to be with God until it is time for him to come and kill the anti-Messiah (anti-Christ), and to establish God’s Shariah law on earth and judge the people under that law.

God says: “And [for] their saying, “Indeed, we have killed the Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary, the messenger of Allah. And they did not kill him, nor did they crucify him; but [another] was made to resemble him to them.

And indeed, those who differ over it are in doubt about it. They have no knowledge of it except the following of assumption. And they did not kill him, for certain. Rather, Allah raised him to Himself. And ever is Allah Exalted in Might and Wise.” – An-Nisa’, Verses: 157-158.

As for the Saudi girl “Maryam”, we pray that she goes back to the true message of Jesus as stated by God Almighty: “O Jesus, Son of Mary, did you say to the people, ‘Take me and my mother as deities besides Allah?’ He will say, ‘Exalted are You! It was not for me to say that to which I have no right. If I had said it, You would have known it. You know what is within myself, and I do not know what is within Yourself. Indeed, it is You who is Knower of the unseen’.” – Al-Ma’idah, Verse: 116.

Below is the story of the birth of Christ as told in the Qur’an:

Of the Biblical personages appearing in the Holy Qur’an, Islam’s scripture, the most prominent are Abraham, Moses and Jesus. One of the Qur’anic chapters revealed to Prophet Muhammad in Makkah is in fact honorifically entitled “Mary” (Maryam in Arabic) and has a section devoted to the annunciation, conception and birth of Jesus. The reverence in which Jesus and Mary are held by Muslims, combined with the poignancy of the Virgin’s circumstances, the touching tenor of the text, and the melodious rhythm of the verses in the original Arabic, have earned this passage universal appeal in the world of Islam.

The following rendering of some of the relevant verses of “Mary” (Chapter XIX, vv. 16-34) attempts to translate what is virtually untranslatable: the meaning and inimitable beauty of the sonorous Arabic. This soul-stirring passage has moved, and continues to move, millions of devout Muslims to ecstasy and tears:

Mention Mary in the Scripture, when she withdrew from her people to an eastern place, and she placed a screen to seclude herself from them; then We sent unto her Our Spirit, who presented himself to her as a perfect man.

She said, “I take refuge in the All-merciful from thee, if thou art God-fearing.”

Said he, “I am but a messenger of thy Lord, that I may bestow on thee a boy most pure.”

She said, “How can I have a son when no mortal has touched me, nor have I been a loose woman?”

Said he, “So shall it be! Thy Lord has said, ‘It is easy for Me; and We will make him a sign unto humankind, and a mercy from Us; it is a matter decreed.’”

So she conceived him, and withdrew with him to a remote place. And the birth pangs drove her to the trunk of the palm tree. She said, “Would that I had died before this, and become a thing forgotten, utterly forgotten.”

Then he called to her from below her, “Grieve not! Thy Lord has placed beneath thee a brooklet. Shake also towards thee the palm-trunk; it will drop upon thee dates fresh and ripe. So eat and drink and be joyful, and if thou dost see any mortal, say, ‘I have vowed to the All-merciful a fast, and I will not this day speak with any human being.’”

In time she brought the child to her folk, Carrying him. They said, “Mary, thou hast surely done a monstrous thing! Kinswoman of Aaron! Thy father was not a wicked Man, nor was thy mother unchaste.” Then she pointed to the babe. They said, “How can we talk to one who is a child in the cradle?”

He said, “I am the servant of God. He has given me the Scripture, and made me a Prophet. Blessed has He made me wherever I may be, and He has enjoined on me prayer and almsgiving, so long as I live; and He has made me dutiful to my mother; He has not made me overbearing, unblest. Peace be upon me the day I was born, the day that I die, and the day that I shall be raised up alive!”

Such was Jesus, son of Mary, in word of truth, about which they dispute....

(Interpreted by Ismail Ibrahim Nawwab: E-mail: gratefulthrice@gmail.com)

[Lina Almaeena is co-founder of Jeddah United Sports.co. She is also captain of Jeddah United women’s basketball team. She has a weekly column in Al-Madinah newspaper. She can be reached at lina@jeddahunited.com.]

(Courtesy: Saudi Gazette)

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