The Islamic Jesus
How the King of the Jews Became a Prophet of the Muslims
When Reza Aslan's bestseller Zealot came out in 2013, there was criticism that he hadn't addressed his Muslim faith while writing the origin story of Christianity. In fact, Ross Douthat of The New York Times wrote that "if Aslan had actually written in defense of the Islamic view of Jesus, that would have been something provocative and new."
Mustafa Akyol's The Islamic Jesus is that book -- and even much more.
For The Islamic Jesus not only tells the story of Jesus, and his mother Mary, as narrated in the Qur'an. It also explores how this Islamic picture of the Nazarene resonates with pre-existing Christian sources, especially Apocrypha. In particular, it unveils the fascinating similarity between Islam and "Jewish Christianity," a strain in the early church that got branded as a heresy.
Jewish Christians were observant Jews who honored Jesus as a human -- not divine -- Messiah, and sought salvation by faith and works, not "by faith alone." Akyol shows how their peculiar creed vanished in history after the first few Christian centuries, but only to be reborn in 7th century Arabia by a new prophet named Muhammad. This provokes puzzling questions about the origins of Islam, and the Abrahamic genealogy.
The Islamic Jesus also offers an "Islamic Christology," and probes into Muslim beliefs on the "Second Coming." Perhaps most provokingly, it even contemplates, "What Jesus can teach Muslims today" -- at a time, Akyol argues, when Muslims are haunted by their own Herods, Pharisees and Zealots.
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
REVIEWS & INTERVIEWS
“A solid read for those interested in the history of theology and religions” - Publisher's Weekly
“A fascinating bridge text between Islam and Christianity.” - Kirkus Reviews
“An exceptionally compelling work that that promotes religious tolerance and understanding." - Library Journal
BLURBS BY SCHOLARS
"The Islamic Jesus is about so much more than Islam or Jesus. It’s about the very bridge that connects Jews and Christians with the followers of Mohammad. Regardless of whether he’s a Jewish radical or a Christian Messiah, Jesus is also one of the most beloved prophets in Islam. In this book, Mustafa Akyol expertly distills the Jesus persona and the role it plays in all three religions. This is a profound contribution in proving that Judaism and Christianity are not adversaries to Muslims, but rather intrinsic parts of the entire Islamic belief system."
―Reza Aslan, author of No god but God and Zealot
"Interfaith dialogue is undoubtedly an admirable way of advancing tolerance and understanding. But removing one’s 'military boots' and stepping into the proverbial shoes of another religious conviction in order to ask 'what can Jesus teach Muslims today?' is the preferred way of this book, which I applaud unequivocally. Akyol’s proposition to discern the Islamic Jesus through the early apocryphal literature uncannily echoes the Orthodox Church’s priority to illuminate the Gospel Jesus through the eastern liturgical tradition."
―Rev. Dr. John Chryssavgis, Archdeacon of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and author of Bartholomew: Apostle and Visionary
"This work helps Westerners, especially Christians, to gain more insight into the Islamic understanding of Jesus - upon whom be peace- and also into why, while he is so highly venerated in Islam, he is not divinized as he is in Christianity but remains a prophet."
―Seyyed Hossein Nasr, Professor of Islamic Studies, The George Washington University
"Anyone interested in the deeper relationship between Judaism, Christianity, and Islam will learn much from Mustafa Akyol’s thoughtful, clearly written, and well researched analysis of how Jewish beliefs and practiced carried over into Christianity, Christian themes were preserved by some Jewish groups, and both, but especially Christianity, were received in Islam. Drawing upon accepted Christian Scriptures as well as lesser known apocryphal writings and related sources, Akyol makes a compelling case for recognizing more common ground among the three faiths than has been heretofore acknowledged. His compelling book is a must read for friends and foes of the Children of Abraham theme."
―Charles Butterworth, Emeritus Professor, Department of Government & Politics, University of Maryland
"In this highly readable and provocative book, Mustafa Akyol establishes the unique role played by Jesus within the Islamic tradition. Most importantly, Akyol turns radical revisionist arguments on their head to make the compelling case that Jesus’ life when properly understood confirms the Islamic belief that there is no inherent contradiction between the Biblical and Qur’anic worldviews. From this vantage point, Jesus does not divide the Abrahamic religions but reconciles them, a message much needed in our divisive times."
―Asma Afsaruddin, Professor of Islamic Studies, Indiana University
"The Islamic Jesus is a learned and thought-provoking exploration of the figure of Jesus in Islam. Mustafa Akyol develops a measured and distinctive argument of how the Islamic understanding of Jesus is connected to Judaism and Christianity. At the same time he challenges readers to consider how earlier religious controversies, and the figure of Jesus himself, might offer guidance for Islam today."
―Gabriel Said Reynolds, Professor of Islamic Studies and Theology, University of Notre Dame
"Mustafa Akyol is the kind of public intellectual our fractured world needs. He is anchored in a specific tradition but also capable of engaging others with nuance, humility, and good will. In this timely and important book, Akyol provides an insightful account of an Islamic Jesus and a wonderful resource for anyone interested in Abrahamic dialogue."
―John Barton, PhD, Director of the Center for Faith and Learning, Pepperdine University