BEIRUT, March 1 (IslamOline.net & News Agencies) – Palestinian academic researcher and historian Tarif Khalidi – in his book “The Muslim Jesus: Sayings and Stories in Islamic Literature” – deems what he calls “The Islamic Bible” as an important and significant factor in the current Interfaith dialogue.
“The material collected in this book is derived from these stories that form the greatest on Christ. I thought to symbolize it with ‘an Islamic Bible’ to facilitate references,” Khalidi, a current professor in the American University in Beirut and formerly in Cambridge University, elaborated on the material of his book, issued in English.
The book was issued in 330 pages and published by Dar Al-Nahar in November 2003.
The preface to the book was translated into Arabic by Dr. Soliman Murad. The English version was issued in 2001 by Harvard Press.
The Palestinian scholar added that his main objective is to “highlight the unknown aspects of Jesus character. Such an image may stir the curiosity of those interested in grasping the idea of how a religious culture like Islam can revere the Christ’s character and deny at the same time his being a god.”
“The Bible may play a significant role in an historic reconciliation and in the constant quest for the pillars of the current dialogue between Christianity and Islam,” he added.
The so-called “Muslim Bible” does not occur as a complete text in any of the Arab Islamic texts but is dispersed in several texts since the second Hijri up to the 12th Hijri centuries.
Such sources are interested in different subjects such as manners, mysticism, wisdom and the stories of prophets and messengers. Stories about Jesus differ in size and content.
The exact number of such news about Jesus Christ is not known; yet, they attracted the attention of western researchers since the 18th century.
The author says that his book deals with “Jesus might have been resurrected in an environment that turned him into a Muslim prophet. In that new environment, the Christ plays a pioneering role in formulation and support of some Islamic concepts like piety, religious responsibility and the relationship with the state.”
Khalidi thinks that “although Jesus Christ in the Islamic Bible has a different character from the Qura’nic Christ, the latter remains the basis upon which the subsequent image of the Christ is built.”
Khalidi adds that the book is directly interested in two subjects, namely “Doomsday conditions” and the “Old Testament”.
Regarding “Doomsday conditions”, the Christ has become a central character in the Islamic story up to the end of the world. His role at that time has occupied the imagination of the Eastern Church.
The Christ of the “end of the world” has occupied a pioneering place in the proper Hadith (Prophet Sayings) books. There is another Christ that is flourishing in the books of piety.
The second Christ plays a central role as a tutor of good manners and as a activist in the internal Islamic argument.
Khalidi says that such stories, amounting to 85, belong to two main books on piety at the beginning of Islamic era.
In general, such stories can be divided into four groups: Sayings that focus on the end of the world, sayings derived from the bible, sayings on piety and sayings that reflect subjects and notions that represent the core differences among Muslims.