Opinion

I produced an interfaith play. Then all hell broke loose

Mary is portrayed by ensemble member Annelyse Ahmad in the Silk Road Rising production of “Christmas Mubarak” at the Chicago Temple in Chicago. Photo by Airan Wright/Silk Road Rising

(RNS) — Christmas Mubarak! A beautiful Christmas greeting from Muslims to Christians. In Arabic, mubarak means “blessed.”

So I was taken aback when “Christmas Mubarak,” a new play produced by my theater company in Chicago, unleashed right-wing anger on social media.

How can Muslims and Christians build bridges of understanding? So often conversations focus on that which divides us. I attempted to produce a conversation built on all that we share.

While those who attended the play found it both informative and inspirational, those commenting online didn’t need to see the show to have an opinion.

Some thought the play, which presents the story of Mary and Jesus as told in the Quran with musical accompaniment by a Methodist church choir, to be the end of times as predicted in “Chronicles of Narnia”: An attempt to create one world religion (“Chrislam”) so as to eliminate differences between faiths and dilute their respective meanings.

Mary and baby Jesus are portrayed in a scene from “Christmas Mubarak.” Photo by Airan Wright/Silk Road Rising

Others thought it was blasphemous and anti-Christian. How could we stage a play that depicts Jesus as Muslims know him, a holy prophet and not the son of God? The divinity of Jesus comes shining through in the Christian songs we performed, yet the tired old trope of “War on Christmas” still got trotted out. It’s odd to consider a play whose title means “Blessed Christmas” to be a war on Christ.


RELATED: A new play, ‘Christmas Mubarak,’ mixes Christian and Muslim stories of Jesus’ birth


Others thought the play was an attempt to convert Muslims to Christianity. After all, our play is being produced in a building owned by a church.

If the deluge of anti-play sentiment had remained online, I’d be less worried. But when emails started being sent to the Methodist church that hosts our theater and to the organization that sends us volunteer ushers, it had gone too far.

All the emails we received were blatantly Islamophobic — almost as if these canned sentiments had been generated by professional Islamophobes.

In Islam, we recognize two significant miracles: One is the virgin birth of Jesus. The other is the revelation of the Quran to the Prophet Muhammad, a man who was illiterate. The first word of the Quran is “Read.” The angel Gabriel who brought the Quran to Muhammad also had brought glad tidings to Mary.

How many people know that Mary is the only woman named in the Quran? And not just named, but mentioned more often in the Quran than in the New Testament? In fact, there’s a whole chapter named after her.

How many people know that Jesus’ miraculous birth is accepted in the Quran — and that it is incumbent on all Muslims to accept Jesus as a prophet if they are to be considered Muslim?

Micah Hilson, center, performs in a scene from the Silk Road Rising production of “Christmas Mubarak” at the Chicago Temple in Chicago. Photo by Airan Wright/Silk Road Rising

The Islamic world and Islamic literature are full of stories about Jesus and his numerous miracles. Yes, he walks on water. Yes, he heals the blind and the lepers. Yes, he can turn clay into a living bird.

These miracles signal for Muslims the miraculous nature of Christ as God’s prophet and messenger.

Our play elucidates some theological differences: We Muslims believe Jesus ascended to God; he was not crucified. But what is wrong with us not thinking he died for our sins? We believe that God would not punish his elite prophet in such a way.

God says in the Quran, “We have created you from a single pair of male and female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know each other not that you may despise each other.”

In today’s America, that means we need to hear each other’s stories.

Silk Road Rising, my theater company, believes its purpose is to unleash curiosity. Our core aim with each of our productions is to help viewers open up to a new possibility, to permit them to set aside their beliefs for a moment and consider something else.

When the anti-Muslim personalities began to perpetuate lies online against “Christmas Mubarak,” I realized that God’s word, “We have … made you into nations and tribes, that you may know each other not that you may despise each other,” was revealed for this very moment.

For Muslims, as for Christians, the word of God is a continual revelation. It is not a historic text but one that continues to inspire the better person who resides within us.

As we approach Christmas, let us make a commitment to know each other. Hello, my name is Malik. I believe in the miraculous birth of Christ. Let me tell you more.

The full cast and choir sing in the Silk Road Rising original production of “Christmas Mubarak” at the Chicago Temple in Chicago. Photo by Airan Wright/Silk Road Rising

(Malik Gillani is the founding executive director of Silk Road Rising in Chicago. The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily represent those of Religion News Service.)

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Malik Gillani

151 Comments

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  • I applaud Malik Gillani’s intentions and if I were in Chicago I’d be interested in seeing the production. But his statement that he was “taken aback” by the right-wing backlash floors me. Seriously? In this political climate?

    Frankly, I would have been stunned if there hadn’t been a backlash.

  • Let there be another play by Christians in a mosque. Let the play’s storyline be that Jesus is the last prophet. Let us hear how Muslims—especially Muslim theologians—reacted to that.

    The dispute Gillani’s play is depicting is theological. There is no need to redescribe this theological dispute as a right-wing backlash, present political climate, Islamophobia, …

    Muslims are getting good grades in school and college. It is time that Muslims are recognized as liberal intellectuals as well. And this means, they need to participate in stomach-wrenching debates.

  • In this political climate? In what political climate do right-wing noses not get bent out of shape over the least little thing? Google “One Million Mom’s” if you want to read about non-stop right-wing outrage over nothing.

  • Gallani described the response as “right-wing anger on social media.” That’s neither debate nor dialogue. It’s people getting ticked off because they perceive that their religious beliefs are under assault. Whether that’s objectively true or not I have no idea because I haven’t see the play. And I’d bet a hefty amount that most of those venting their spleens about it haven’t see it either.

    It’s a play. It’s not a theological treatise. Maybe it has merit and maybe it doesn’t, but why jump right to outrage over it? I say this as a Christian. See the thing or don’t, but why not give Gallani and his collaborators the benefit of the doubt that their intentions are benign?

  • Gallani could have described the response as “resident Martians on earth anger on social media.”

    Unless Gallani can support his assessment, I chalk it up to the same defect of mind and psyche that led him to think devout Muslims and Christians would not be offended.

  • A Christian church promoted dialogue. They promoted the idea that there is much we share in beliefs about important figures sent by God – even if we may not share the same ideas about how important those people are or what they accomplished for God.

    They opened a door for dialogue, discussion, exploration. Christians would benefit by thinking about a different view, learning why others think differently. Comparing Christian beliefs to those of others is a great opportunity to dig into what we believe, how our beliefs were developed and by whom and with what sources of information.

    Christians also invite those who believe differently to the same exploration of their faith and of the Christian faith.

    I see a great deal positive in this event in a focus on what we share rather than what divides us.

  • “It’s a play. It’s not a theological treatise.”

    No! A thousand times no! Plays have always been a way for intellectuals’ ideas to percolate to the masses. The holding of this play is to stimulate a debate. It is every bit as intellectual as the op-ed pages of a leading newspaper.

    So when the public pushes back, when the public vents their spleen, without seeing the play, it means that they are not satisfied with the one-sided way this play is being presented.

    I will give you an example I heard about. A Christian priest in the UK visited a Hindu temple in the UK. He asked permission to speak about Christianity in the temple. The temple manager said this: “You can speak about Christianity, but it must be in the form of a debate. So the Hindu side must be present to give the opposite point of view. Then, a similar debate must be held in your church. Our side presents a view of Hinduism; your side presents the opposite view.”

    Suppose that the same thing had been done with this play. Suppose that this play would be the first of four plays. The second play will be a Methodist response to the first play. The third play would be held in a mosque, and present the Methodist point of view. The fourth play would be the Muslim’s response to that.

    The public is not protesting really at Gallani. They are protesting at the general class of intellectuals: they want a shift in the topics of discourse, in the assumptions that lie under that discourse, before being fed with more discourse.

  • Malik Gillani is the owner of a theater company, not a church.

    No one would expect a devout Muslim to consider it any less than blasphemous, and since it treats Christ as a prophet one would be unsurprised at similar response from an orthodox Christian.

    In short, it really did not focus on what we share – a belief in a divinity – but on what separates us.

  • This was something of a setup.

    First the article about the play – free PR and advertising.

    Then whining about pushback – plays to the RNS bean sprouts and sandals set.

    Then the comments will attack primarily Christians.

    Speak about predictable ….

  • I happened to have lunch with my chaplain (priest) today and showed him this story and asked his opinion. He shared the following:

    1. “But what is wrong with us not thinking he died for our sins?” — Priest’s answer – because He did.

    2. Is this Islamaphopia? Priest’s answer: no, this is an example of Islamic appropriation of the story of Mary and appropriation of Jesus with some serious editing going on to gut the central core of who Jesus is in the Christian faith and what Jesus accomplished in the Christian faith.

    3. Is Jesus a prophet of Islam? Priest — no. Islam is a creation that comes centuries later. An appropriation of Jewish and Christian theology either by someone who was highly creative or through Satanic visions.

    I asked him if he really believed that last part — that Satan is real and gives visions and so forth. He said not only does he believe it because he has seen possession, but the New Testament is full of warning about this kind of thing. He then told me to read Matthew 24 specifically 23-24 which I just did. Very curious I must say. “23Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There he is!’ do not believe it.
    24For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.”

    I am fairly skeptical of what religions say though i appreciate much of the wisdom that is found in many of them. But that said, his explanation makes far more sense than the idea that the disciples of Jesus didn’t have a clue about who He was or what He did and so God waits 300 years to send a final prophet to clear it up for us. It makes more sense that someone (I lean human) just had a problem with Christians and Jews and so creatively invented a religion to help them conquer the world.

    As for the play. Seems more designed to sell Islam masked a Christian friendly to me. But I agree with the priest. The play and the defense of it in this editorial is all Islam and has no similarity to Christianity. Its like “trans-religion” dressing something up in someone else’s clothes to try to construct a new identity.

  • lol…..I see your point, It keeps the regulars busy, I think me included.
    Also, do you think Islam would be pleased about us blaspheming their god?

  • Sooner or later, religionnews.com will have an article pertaining to the caste “system”. That will serve as a rough approximation to blasphemy, I suppose!

  • Hi, Malik. I’m from the Christian side. Sorry I could not see your play. Sorry you have suffered this backlash. Religionists are noted for behaving badly these days, it seems. No, I do not have your theological background. You say, though, that you meant well with this production and meant it as a bridge between belief systems. That’s completely good enough for me. I believe you and wish no one was giving you a hard time about it.

  • The caption of the photo is “The full cast and choir sing in the Silk Road Rising original production of “Christmas Mubarak” at the Chicago Temple in Chicago. Photo by Airan Wright/Silk Road Rising” I googled Chicago Temple in Chicago and found out it’s a Christian Church. Christ is documented in the Koran and the Bible. This play exhibited the Koran’s version of his life. A dialogue would have explored both sides of the equation or an additional performance of Jesus’ Christian life in a Mosque. This would have afforded an exchange of religious beliefs and promoted a dialogue. Other than the name of Jesus, Islam and Christianity do not share any beliefs regarding him, except that he was the son of a woman named Mary.

  • Mark Connelly, check your Koran, 4:171, O People of the Scripture, do not commit excess in your religion or say about Allah except the truth. The Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary, was but a messenger of Allah and His word which He directed to Mary and a soul [created at a command] from Him. So believe in Allah and His messengers. And do not say, “Three”; desist – it is better for you. Indeed, Allah is but one God. Exalted is He above having a son. To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth. And sufficient is Allah as Disposer of affairs.

  • Your Koran citation has nothing at all to do with my post.

    I am familiar with the main points of the Koran, but since I do not read and write Arabic, I do not normally quote it.

  • What a misleading question: “[Is] the play … an attempt to convert Muslims to Christianity”? Of course not. Because actually, though, “the Silk Road Rising production of ‘Christmas Mubarak’ … [is] an attempt to convert Muslims to” – becoming like Malik Gillani, or welcoming and, if possible, affirming him for who he is: “Me … proudly gay and Muslim”! They get that Malik Gillani’s words in “How the Orlando massacre affected me, a man who is proudly gay and Muslim”, New York Daily News, June 14, 2016:

    (1) “I attend [mosque] only infrequently because I can’t take my husband, Jamil, with me. … Although I’m welcome to come as myself to Jamat Khana [my mosque since a child], it’s a difficult environment for people to be out. It goes back to cultural upbringing.”

    (2) “My family[‘s] … interest in my boyfriends, and ultimately in the man I chose to marry, has meant a complete family that is there for both of us … [like when] my Mom … remarked, ‘Jamil is so smart; shouldn’t he consider becoming a Muslim?’ (No; he’s happy as a Christian).”

    (3) “The fact is, if you’re going to be a gay Muslim, … allies, Muslim and non-Muslim, make the journey that much less treacherous.”

  • I don’t know how to answer the question. As a Christian, you are committed to the theology of Eusebius, Tertullian, Augustine and the Letter of Diognetus. That theology makes category mistakes:

    1. We are said to have a religion (and not just. a theory of mind)
    2. This religion has gods
    3. The gods are serious-minded agents, and not playful. So they can get offended. Or we can get offended on their behalf

    The social sciences inherit all these category mistakes, and are sold as valid form of knowledge and education. So a lot of Hindus try to talk as though we also have blasphemy.

    If I am allowed to speak in my own categories, the answer is, “No, we don’t have blasphemy. But we can be offended. Just as African-Americans can be offended by pictures of nooses, burning crosses and bananas; just as a lot of Americans are offended by dog slaughter and horse slaughter; so also we can be offended by cow slaughter.

    This offense is sold as blasphemy by social science professors.

  • Your priest sounds utterly terrified and ignorant.

    Appropriation? Appropriation is mainstream Christianity, no? Look at your own backwards doctrine–burning in an eternal furnace (forbidden in Tanak), human sacrifice of Jesus for sins (forbidden in Tanak), calling on another’s name as God (forbidden), knowing God as a man (rejected in Tanak), and of course your rejection of the whole Tanak itself as “Old” (unless of course you want to justify persecuting gays or bullsht U.S. wars). And then you turn around and say those followers of the Torah/Judaism are doomed for eternity. What a sad joke. This account confirms the Gospel account of the Virgin Birth; modern Christianity takes traditional Judaism and totally butchers it whilst ignoring the simple message of Christ. But you remain firm in your own tradition of hypocrisy.

    But maybe you’re scared of Isla–excuse me–Arabs too?

  • It’s different, and you submissive fake patriots fear that. Like the anthem worshipers: all was good with the presence of politics in NFL stadiums until someone did something different by not standing for the meaningless “pledge”. Then it became “we don’t want politics in our sports. First afraid of blacks, then Arabs, then Blacks you think are Muslim, then immigrants, then “Demonrats”. NOW you’re afraid of Islamic plays.

  • Islam is the toxic ideology of a war mongering child rapist. No wonder it is beloved by unpatriotic Godless White liberals.

  • Directly from the Israeli website Breitbart–or maybe Fox News.

    Again, you fake conservatives have been exposed as scared boys and girls. That’s your identity now. Even General Flynn said it was “rational” to be afraid of Muslims. This was supposed to be a man protecting our borders. Sad.

  • Now you are telling me what I am afraid of? Let’s teat your mind reading ability and see if you can tell me what I am having for dinner tonight?

  • I was responding to your comment, ” No one would expect a devout Muslim to consider it any less than blasphemous, and since it treats Christ as a prophet one would be unsurprised at similar response from an orthodox Christian.” Islam would NOT believe this play to be blasphemous, for Islam does believe Christ to be a prophet (only a prophet). Islam’s belief system is that of the antichrist, for their dogma denies Christ is the son of God and his death on the cross, saved us.

  • Ever notice how these snow flakes can’t deal with the substance of an argument so go to personal attacks assuming they can see through this discussion board into motives. They really think they have the gift of prophecy or divinity or something. All I see is the gift of arrogance or maybe projection of their own fear. Hard to tell.

  • Again, you miss the mark. I was commenting on the location of the play. Even the author commented, “After all, our play is being produced in a building owned by a church.” This play did not present Islamic and Christian beliefs, for Christians do not believe Christ was a prophet, but the son of God. This play was only about Islam, for it denied the Divinity of Christ. It relied upon, “the story of Mary and Jesus as told in the Quran with musical accompaniment by a Methodist church choir, to be the end of times as predicted in “Chronicles of Narnia” The Chronicles of Naria are fiction. This play should be considered blasphemy to Christians. A play about the divine life of Christ, being the son of God and dying on the cross for our sins, would never be allowed in a building owned by true Muslims.

  • John 2 – 22 “Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son. 23 Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also.” People that don’t like this play are not Islamphobic. They do not have an unreasonable fear of Islam, for they know Islam to be the antichrist. This is not fear. It is the realization the Christians and Muslims do NOT share the same faith. Yes the Koran and the Bible both speak of Jesus, Mary and Saint Michael the Archangel, but not in the manner. Many Christians know the differences in these two religions, but a few falsely think we believe in the same God. Our beliefs are different, our religious books are different, but even though we believe differently, we need not hate each other.

  • Very peculiar indeed. I don’t blame them though. Their positions tend to be indefensible, so they have play the only card that they have. Logical fallacy.

  • Being afraid of Islam, or more appropriately for Americans, Arabs, is irrational, especially when based on writings from the 1st century. And the God spoken of in the Qur’an is the God of the Hebrew Bible, as stated throughout the ENTIRE book. Ignorant and superstitious–Trump voter I’d guess.

    Please don’t speak for all Christians. Not all of us are scared.

  • It’s not clear to me why some see learning about other religions to be such a threat. I think that Mr. Gillani’s efforts are to be commended, as is the fact that the Methodist church chose to provide a venue for the staging of the play.

  • I do not fear Islam. I fear sorry for Muslins, for they don’t know Christ as the son of God. Jews believe in an even older religion and Islam originated in the 7th century, so none of these religions are exactly new. The God spoken of in the Qur’an has no son. I realize I don’t speak for all Christians, for too many of them are false. Muslims believe in the Qur’an (17:111) And say: “All praise be to Allah Who has neither taken to Himself a son, nor has He any partner (the Trinity) in His kingdom, nor does He need anyone, out of weakness, to protect Him.” 125 So glorify Him in a manner worthy of His glory.” I respect their belief system, but it is different. Their God has no son. The God spoken of in the Qur’an is not the God of the Bible. There is no reason for fear. Please consider another verse from John, “If anyone says, “I love God”, but hates his brother, he is a liar; for whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen can’t love God whom he has not seen.” John 4:20. Additionally, Jesus said, ” A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. John 13:34. To the best of my knowledge, this love applies to everyone.

  • Only Christianity could be so fractured that when someone says “There is one God” and “I accept Jesus as the Messiah” they are still called false because they don’t obsess over a parable of the son. Adam was called Son of God, and Israel–not Christ–is called God’s firstborn. No? Maybe you do not care about the Hebrew scripture but Christ did.

    But this is a doctrinal argument–which never goes anywhere. The play should be seen as a positive interfaith learning experience.

  • Exactly. If they were secure in their own faith maybe they would enjoy learning about how other cultures express divinity.

  • I’ll agree the play is a positive learning experience for Islam. Mr. Gillani stated, “Some thought the play, which presents the story of Mary and Jesus as told in the Quran with musical accompaniment by a Methodist church choir, to be the end of times as predicted in “Chronicles of Narnia”:” (The Chronicles of Narnia is fiction.) The story of Mary & Jesus in the Quran is not the same story as in the Bible. I fail to see the interfaith aspect of it. Perhaps you can help me out with the Christian aspect of this play ? Was it the Methodist music ? Perhaps because it was in a bldg. owned by the Methodist Church ?

    In Exodus 4:22-23 the Lord wasn’t claiming Israel as His actual son. He was using a comparison to convey Israel’s importance to Him. We would say, “He’s like a son to me.” He said since Pharaoh wouldn’t let His son go, He would kill Pharoah’s son. In this way Pharaoh would understand just how much it meant to God to have Israel freed.

    Adam was a direct creation of God and therefore had no father or mother in the biological sense, so he was not begotten the way Jesus was. Luke called Adam the son of God because God was responsible for bringing him into the world.

  • Ah…now I understand. You assume I am a Christian though I would suspect my chaplain is. I haven’t had a rabbi work for me in awhile so can’t ask about this one, but have had many conversations with my rabbi chaplains that worked for me in the past. When it comes to the old testament, or first testament or whatever you want to call it, it seems to me that there are only really two options. ONe either the whole thing is a bunch of hooey or this Jesus is the Messiah. Your own book predicted the coming of the Messiah and I haven’t seen any other show up. If not hooey then God allowed your own temple to be leveled to the ground and circumstnaes develop that there is no way it can be rebuilt which means all your offerings for sin no longer are possible So either God cut you off, its a bunch of hooey to begin with, or this Jesus fellow is the Messiah promised in the older part and you are missing out. As I understand it all the first Christians were Jewish which makes it a Jewish religion in the beginning. That is a big big difference from some guy coming along 300 years later claiming to be the last great prophet of God and saying everyone before him was completely off base. I don’t think Christians claim the great people of the old testament were off base. They might think the current folks are off base but I don’t see them discounting the validity of the old testament. But the new prophet of Islam certainly discounts everything that is of substance about Jews and Christians. These are just my observations from the outside but I look at it the same way I look at reading Aristotle or Derrida or Plato or Foucault or any one else who says this is the way reality works, I look at what makes systemic sense and whether a theory has to discard pieces because they don’t fit. A good theory fits all the pieces. So for me when it comes to the relationship of Judaism and Christianity three options make sense: 1. it is all hooey. 2. God gave up on people including the Jews since the temple is destroyed. 3. Or the temple became obsolete because Jesus was the Messiah and sin is real and so he had to deal with it.

  • And yes… I am sometimes scared of those who like to shoot at me… and they are most often Islamist. Not saying Muslims are all bad. Just saying everyone who has literally tried to blow me up has been of the stripe.

  • There is no objective truth in these scriptures which have been twisted and altered to appear Chronological. A perfect example of this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VhymoqLR2EQ. You claim he is predicted in the Tanakh. Most Jews would disagree. And Islam does not repudiate Judaism in any way–only the Christian Trinity and Demigod Jesus (who by the way recited the Shema Israel, a declaration of faith that the Lord God is One, not three).

    “A good theory fits all the pieces.” I totally agree with you. Which is why reading through all the Abrahamic books–many heavily changed from their original forms, as you know–I have concluded that there is One God, as many ancient cultures have concluded. If the theory becomes “There is One God, only detailed truly by the Hebrews, and his Son, who is also himself, who existed before time, who himself can only be detailed truly by ancient Greeks, who died for another’s sins”, then I cannot understand. Even the Native Americans worshiped a “Great Spirit”. I think of the One God as Universal–not a Tri-God that the entire world cannot nor ever has agreed on.

  • So you watch all the movies as they come out, never-minding online & printed reviews of them? Malik Gillani is a critic of his own play here, and everybody’s trying to decide whether it’s worth all those highly biased 5 out of 5 stars he has given it. He graded his own paper here – and you love it. WHO DOES THAT!

  • I thought in one of your above post you stated “we”; implying you are Christian.
    Now, it appears you’re not; but are a typical hysterical hand-winging lefty.
    Truth is not your strong suit.

  • Hey, New Purina Cat Chow, understandably but for a limited time only, you’re new here, so do know this is called SMOKESCREEN around here when I’m present: “If [people like New Purina] were secure in their own faith [as she is in hers] maybe they would enjoy learning about how other cultures express divinity [just as she would].” Because, that’s not exactly true & transparent of you, is it now? What follows, see, is a Statement of SMOKESCREEN for, in fact, your very “insecure … faith[lessness]”:

    “New Puritan 6 hours ago … 7 hours ago … 11 hours ago … I think of the One God as Universal … I have concluded that there is One God, as many ancient cultures have concluded. … The God spoken of in the Qur’an is the God of the Hebrew Bible … There is no objective truth in [Christian] scriptures … writings from the 1st century … [but only] backwards doctrine [such as the] burning in an eternal furnace … human sacrifice of Jesus for sins … [Truth is] Israel – not Christ – is called God’s firstborn”.

    No wonder, then, of all people, you “would enjoy learning about how other cultures express divinity” – from the Silk Road Rising production of “Christmas Mubarak” by the “proudly gay and Muslim”*** Malik Gillani. MIt’s your very own religious “[in]secur[ity]” doing the talking there!

    ***Malik Gillani, “How the Orlando massacre affected me, a man who is proudly gay and Muslim”, New York Daily News, June 14, 2016.

  • Our collection is growing… we have one poster who calls everyone a liar, one who calls everyone childish, and now another one who calls everyone afraid. And likely all for the same reason.

    You just can’t make this stuff up!

  • I have no problem with a play on the birth of Jesus from a Muslim perspective, at all at all—if Muslims want to use a play to show the world (or at least their part of it) what Islam teaches about Jesus’s birth. I don’t even have a problem with a church providing the venue. Having a church choir performing as part of the play is getting a bit wiggy, though.

  • My denomination doesn’t matter. Rebuke what I’ve said. “Lefty”–You sound like a Trump supporter.

  • What kind of a man STOPS his search for God after finishing the New Testament? Why limit your learning to the Gospels and Pauline letters? In the end the play is no big deal–the right-wing snowflakes just cannot handle anything outside their Fox Box.

  • The only place to learn about who God is, is the Bible. Nothing more can be truly trusted. The Bible is God’s revelation of Himself

  • What you should be concerned with is, the Ye-of-Little-Faith faith that you have – not “[my] small box”. Your Sized-Little Faith is much, much worse. Huge faith in “[a] small box”, on the other hand, is zee best, ‘yo!

    Oh and welcome to the neighborhood, by the way. Be seeing you, now that I’ve measured you up proper-like. Not many Lib-Progs @ RNS – mostly atheists (go figure). But us JellyCalls & TrueCathos – why, of course, they’re quite the regular type around here.

    May wanna dig into the editorial history of RNS. There have been paradigm shifts here and there. You’ve missed really good reporters around here; they just upped and left. Writers and Board, see, let’s just say, have “creative differences”.

  • Christ’s truth are his own words, no? Are Augustine’s writings any less credible than Paul’s? Who gave him authority to set doctrine?

    The original point is that there is no threat in learning about another’s religion. It seems all the venom on these boards comes from Christians. Why do you think? I’ve yet to run into a Muslim on here disrespecting Jesus–but then again I’m new.

  • Yeah, billions would argue otherwise. And that doesn’t warrant any of the hate directed towards this play by triggered right-wingers acting on irrational fear/misunderstanding of Middle-easterners.

  • Once more the most hostile commenter is a Christian. I can only guess a Protestant–and a Trump supporter. I think Spuddie exposed you awhile ago. Back to the Fox Box.

  • The problem is that it isn’t dialogue – real dialogue would give equal weight to both Christian and Muslim understandings of the significance of Jesus.

  • There is a difference between the relationship between the Old Testament/ Tanak and the New Testament, and that between the New Testament and the Qu’ran – Christians believe that Jesus/Yeshua of Nazareth fulfilled many of the prophecies in the OT/Tanak, whereas there are no prophecies pointing uniquely to Mohammed in the New Testament.

  • Wrong again.
    I’m not the one who lied and started categorizing people; you did.
    I’m just calling bullshit on you coming on this board calling yourself a Christian; and then revealing through your comments you are not even close.
    Then, once people engage you, you label them as hateful Christians because they disagree with you.

  • The “defenders” of Christianity such as yourself are the nastiest on these boards. If I call it out you get upset.

    You do not define Christian.

    I pointed out that if one is to call Islam an appropriation of Christianity, then what is Christianity in the eyes of Judaism? Again, can you leave the Fox Box? No answer except “lefty” from you.

  • In Exodus 3:14, the Divine Name that is given to Moses is I am/will be who I am/will be. As I understand it, this means that God is claiming to be self-configuring as well as self existent. Since we are made in His image, not He in ours, our human configuration of one human person = one human entity does not have to apply to God – He could/can choose to configure Himself as three divine persons = one divine entity if He so wished/wishes. And actually one would expect God to be more complex than we are, given our derivative, created nature, though this does not of itself indicate a specific form of complexity (and obviously God did/does not have to choose the three divine persons = one divine entity configuration, any more than a one divine person = one divine entity configuration). One possible clue is found in p.12 of http://lcweb.loc.gov/catdir/cpso/romanization/hebrew.pdf. where the author, Dan Stuhlman, identifies that the plural “Elohim” is accompanied by the singular “Adon” in references to God in the OT/Tanak. Stuhlman, writing from a Jewish perspective, compares this to kings using the royal “we”, but it is also consistent with a singular Lord Who is simultaneously a plural Divinity.

  • Check out Yusuf, then. With a link to his Disqus channel, The Golden Rule, he commented on Aysha Khan’s article, “Pop heartthrob Zayn Malik says he’s no longer Muslim, leaving his Muslim fans divided”, Religion News Service, November 16, 2018.

    I’m not gonna do the rest of the homework for you, but, as you’ll now see, just within this past one month time alone this “Muslim [has been] disrespecting Jesus”! Take for instance:

    “Yusuf a month ago … No, Jesus is not … the son of God … Jesus was born as a Muslim … The more you study and mimic the life and sayings of Jesus Christ (a.s.), the more like a Muslim you act”!

    YOU GOT ALL THAT, New Purina?! Theoretically, that’s like saying, No, Muhammad is not the Last Messenger of Allah. Muhammad was born as a Christian. The more you study and mimic the life and sayings of Muhammad, the more like a Christian you act!

    No True Muslim like Yusuf can take that blasphemy, any more than a True Christian can take his.

  • So we should be outraged and offended. I am not. If there were a Hindu play about Jesus studying their faith in India during his “lost years” I wouldn’t be offended abut that either, even if I believe it happened not.

  • The truth is that there was still inconsistent belief into the 4 century and later whether Jesus was deity or just prophet. Most bishops of the time believed he was just a preacher. The council of nicea was called and attended by the leader of rome, constantine, to decide which version of christianity they WOULD TEACH and it was there they invented the trinity and the three gods in one dogma. It was never believed by everyone since it was post biblical. Our founders didn’t believe in the deity of jesus, there still are non trinitarian churches that consider themselves christian, and so not every christian would be offended by this play.

    Extreme christian evangelicals will never be happy with anything that doesn’t look like the puritans wish for a ‘city on a hill’, a country where only their version of christianity is tolerated, under threat of death.

  • I warned you earlier about your SMOKESCREEN. And already this, another one, just landed in “[my] small box”, thank you very much!

    “New Puri[na] 8 hours ago … 3 hours ago … I’ve yet to run into a Muslim on here disrespecting Jesus … [because, even though] we should be outraged and offended … I am not.”

    Uhm … so basically you’re admitting, How disgusting, this New Purina Cat Chow!

    That it is, that it is.

  • Meanwhile, back in the real world, the 318 Bishops gathered at Nicea freely discussed and bore witness to what they traditionally believed and taught in their Churches. It wasn’t unitarianism or some form of proto-Islam. The majority proclaimed their traditional Biblical Trinitarian belief, and bore witness to what they believed in the words of the Nicene Creed.

  • “What kind of a man STOPS his search for God after finishing the New Testament?”

    Answer: A wise one, who understands and believes what he has just read.

  • Cut the [email protected] about being “scared of…Arabs”.

    I have known many Arabs whose families have been Christians for well over a millennium. It’s not a European/Arab thing like you keep pretending.

  • The NFL controversy was about the “Anthem”, not the “Pledge”.

    They are two quite different things. Get a clue.

  • that’s the christian apologists version. the thing with me being a former christian and now an atheist with no dog in the fight, is I don’t have anything to defend. there is a blow by blow account of the counsel from ppl who were there available that contradicts that. If everyone already agreed on his deity there would be no need for the counsel.

  • It could be the start of dialogue. Someone has to open the conversation. But more than that, art is intended to cause us to see life and the world through different lens. Art inspires dialogue – or it could.

    What is interesting to me is that though the play was written by a Muslim it was enacted in cooperation with Christians.
    There were Muslims and Christians learning about each other’s faith.

    Fotine – while I get it that dialogue involves at least two people, it also involves the art of listening, of taking in what one “side” says to the other “side.” My sense of your comment is that what you want is a debate, rather than a dialogue.

  • Dear Mr Malik Gillani
    >>unleashed right-wing anger on social media.<<

    Are you absolutely certain it is only "right-wing anger?" Once an exception to this is revealed, then by vilifying one group while ignoring the rest is a mindset constant with bigots who give broad brush accusations which diminishes your own moral credibility.

    Perhaps that one sentence should read instead:

    "So I was taken aback when “Christmas Mubarak,” a new play produced by my theater company in Chicago, unleashed so much anger on social media."

    This affixes no identity as who you believe(ans cannot prove for certain) is spreading the anger. It acknowledges surprise at the anger, focusing on that anger and its contentions, rather than the "political view" they might represent.

    Moreover if your real intent is indeed to promote better interfaith relations then it might be best to avoid charged rhetoric such as "anti-Muslim personalities ……. perpetuate lies. " or "professional Islamophobes."

    Thank you
    SteamChip

  • We have some partial accounts of 2 participants (Athanasius and Eusebius), was well as second hand accounts by several historians.

    There was considerable discussion over the meaning of terms, but the results were as I mentioned above to Dixie.

    Much discussion centered on whether the Son was born of the Father before time (and thus Divine from all eternity), or was made by the Father in time and and then raised to Divine status second to the Father (and thus Divine only from some point in time). The controversy was not so much whether or not the Son was Divine, but whether he was Divine from all eternity or in time.

  • The people this anti-Islam propaganda is being directed at are played by their right-wing media. Highly uneducated and taught to fear protesting African Americans, Central American refugees, and Middle-easterners with a different culture than their own. Islam is too complicated for these narrow minded viewers anyways. Listen to Dennis Prager ramble for just 20 minutes and you’ll understand–especially when he brings up “Judeo/Christian values”.

    You make the gullible right-wingers–especially those outraged at this play–out to be much smarter than they are.

  • It’s that kind of close-mindedness that allows one to be outraged at a play that I’m not sure even mentions Jesus’ divinity. Does it–have you seen it?

  • Standing for a meaningless song to show unconditional support for our troops thereby absolving them of any wrongdoing in any of their current or upcoming corruptions. Corrected. Thanks for pointing it out Rick.

  • all true. But since I don’t believe the gospels ever happened, that that Jesus never existed, then it doesn’t matter to me. I’m not alone in that.

    But there has been discussion ever since that the trinity idea doesn’t make sense to a lot of people and it seems like 3 gods and not one. It makes christianity polytheism.

  • Typical leftist ploy, bringing up alleged Christian “appropriation” in an attempt to deflect attention from Islamic appropriation in asonof’s post.

    And then, rather than address the fact I brought up that the problem is religious in nature, you retreat to the standard fall-back accusation of “raaacist!” -always swallowed by ignorant, gullible leftists.

  • No “lefty” ploys and no “TDS”–in fact I almost voted Rand Paul 2016. When called out on the absurdity of “Trumpism” that is all you can resort to: liberal conspiracies

    It is not about Islam anymore than “border security” is about keeping out gangs; it is about their different ethnicity and the fear of it “replacing whites” or “changing the culture”–and you know this. Not my fault Trump and the cult are played like a fiddle by identity politics like the simple-minded under educated bigots they are.

  • Right and even a Trinitarian who believes in the divinity of Christ has to twist and turn to find offense in a little-known mid-western play. The “cult” still believes they are being “persecuted”.

  • I understand that. I was making the point about “cultural appropriation”: I see no outrage from the Jews after a Christian play or movie about their “Old Testament” (an offensive term in itself) and its “Christological” meanings. And it is an equivalency.

    These are Christian snowflakes.

  • Hilarious how you bring in Trump and politics when we (asonof and I) were talking about religion and a play! You make everything about politics, and seem obsessed with it.

    Your second sentence provides solid confirmation of how you always fall back on cries of “Racism”, etc.

    Hint: Not everyone is obsessed with politics and “racism”. The world is far larger and more interesting than your pet fixations.

    Take a little time to smell the flowers and enjoy a sunset. Don’t be such a puritan.

  • Just 1 flaw in your Ph.Dessert there, Mr. Larvae: Ancient “puritans wish[ing] for a ‘city on a hill'”, were Calvinists. The majority of “extreme christian evangelicals” nowadays just aren’t.

  • Oh goodie you don’t feel “being ‘persecuted’, New Purina, when I stamp, TRASH, on this, your Proggish Pseudo-Doctrinal Statement:

    “I think of the One God as Universal … I have concluded that there is One God, as many ancient cultures have concluded. … The God spoken of in the Qur’an is the God of the Hebrew Bible … There is no objective truth in [Christian] scriptures … writings from the 1st century … [but only] backwards doctrine [such as the] burning in an eternal furnace … human sacrifice of Jesus for sins … [Truth is] Israel – not Christ – is called God’s firstborn”.

  • I call this The Larvae Lie:

    “Since I don’t believe the gospels ever happened, that that Jesus never existed, then [religious controversy] doesn’t matter to me.”

    SURE IT DOES & YOU KNOW IT.

  • I have never seen any record of that, only the final number of 2 to 316 based on who did and did not ascribe to the Creed.

    Kindly direct me to where I can find a record of the voting you mention. Thanks.

  • For the record, I do not support our endless neocon-inspired wars, nor the glorification of our military meant to draw in new recruits.

    But standing for a country’s national anthem predates that, and to my mind is simple courtesy.

  • Refute the points then HpO. They’re as valid as your doctrine and you know it.

    Triggered Christian snowflakes.

  • Because Fox News and Breitbart and right-wing radio does not shape religious beliefs, right? They sure influenced the Synagogue shooter.

    Not all are obsessed with politics but the anti-Islam crowd’s hate and bigotry is. Ever listen to Michel Savage?

  • Aww already feeling “being ‘persecuted'”, New Purina Cat Chow? C’mere, then, come & get your bowl of flavorful “points” of self-humiliation as the Get-Lost-and-Stay-Lost Post-Christian that The Christ Jesus and His 1st apostles & disciples all judge you as “and you know it.” Their sum of all “points” is: Read those labels, New Purina Cat Chow is bad, bad, bad.

  • CORRECTION: “extreme [ashiests the likes of Neil deGrasse Tyson, David Silverman, Lawrence Krauss & Al Franken, your fallen heroes] are extreme, I don’t care what they [and their #MeToo victims] call themselves.”

  • Handel never claimed that his “Messiah” was an attempt at bridge building with Jewish people, nor have I ever heard of an attempt to stage it in a synagogue. It is the sheer dishonesty of this play’s claim to be an example of constructive “dialogue” that gets to me. I already knew what the Qu’ran said about Jesus – that isn’t new to me (and, BTW, the fact that the Angel Gabriel is stated to have grabbed Mohammed and crushed his chest is very illuminating, given that angels do not behave in this way in the Jewish and Christian Scriptures, but it is a classic description of trance mediumship), but a unilateral statement of the same views, however artistically framed, is monologue, not dialogue.

  • What we are discussing is whether this play constitutes genuine dialogue, not what my motives may or may not be. If it does not constitute genuine dialogue, then no amount of openness or liberalism on my part will change that fact.
    True dialogue requires that both parties abide by common ground rules. These include proper turn-taking (both parties do some of the talking, some of the artistic special effects, some of the hospitality, funding and facilitation); honesty (no taqiyyah or liberal fudging) and openness (no hidden agendas, like the belief that proclaiming Qu’ranic doctrines in a building constitutes a legitimate claim of said building for Islam).

  • I am posting on a mobile phone. I will search one out later tonight. If it is easy to find then you owe me an apology for being such a lazy SoB.

  • The reality of the birth of Jesus yet again:

    A 21st century summary:

    Christmas , the embellished story of the birth of a simple, preacher man named Jesus.
    As per many contemporary NT exegetes, his parents were Mary and Joseph although some say Jesus was a mamzer, the result of a pre-marital relationship between Mary and a Roman soldier.

    http:// http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/theories.html

    Jesus was not born in Bethlehem at least the one we are familiar with and there were no pretty wingie thingies singing/talking from on high, no slaughter of the innocents by Herod, no visiting wise men and no escape to Egypt.

    “Mark’s gospel, the most historical of the four gospels, does not even mention the event.

    And from Professor Gerd Ludemann in his book, Jesus After 2000 Years, pp. 269-272, “The historical yield of the Lukan infancy narrative in respect to the birth of Jesus is virtually nil.

    Matt 1:18-25: , pp. 123-124, “The fathering of Jesus from the Holy Spirit and his birth from the virgin Mary are unhistorical”. Ludemann gives a very detailed analysis to support his conclusions. One part being the lack of attestations to these events and the late time strata of said story.

    “Lüdemann [pp. 261-63) discounts Luke’s account as a legend deriving from Jewish Hellenistic circles that were concerned to hold together the procreation of the Spirit, the authentic sonship of the Messiah and the virginal conception. ”

    Then there are these additional conclusions:

    Professor Bruce Chilton

    “In [Rabbi Jesus: An Intimate Biography] (2000), Chilton develops the idea of Jesus as a mamzer; someone whose irregular birth circu-mstances result in their exclusion from full participation in the life of the community. He argues for the natural paternity of Joseph and finds no need for a miraculous conception. In his subsequent reconstruction of Jesus’ life, Chilton suggests that this sustained personal experience of exclusion played a major role in Jesus’ self-identity, his concept of God and his spiritual quest.

    Professor John Dominic Crossan

    “In [Historical Jesus] (p. 371) Crossan treats this cluster, like 007 Of Davids Lineage, as an example of the interplay of prophecy and history in the development of the Jesus traditions.

    “In [Birth of Christianity] (pp. 26-29) Crossan uses Luke’s account of Jesus’ conception and birth to explore ethical issues concerning the public interpretation of the past. He notes the tendency of Christian scholars to disregard “pagan” birth legends while investing great effort in the defence of biblical birth narratives. He concludes:

    I do not accept the divine conception of either Jesus or Augustus as factual history, but I believe that God is incarnate in the Jewish peasant poverty of Jesus and not in the Roman imperial power of Augustus. ”

    “The following ancient parallels to Jesus’ miraculous conception should be noted:

    Birth of mythical Moses (Exod 2:1-10)
    Birth of Plato (Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers, 3.45) [see Acts of Jesus, p. 507]
    Birth of Alexander the Great (Plutarch, Parallel Lives, 2.1-3.5) [see Acts of Jesus, p. 502f]
    Birth of Apollonius (Philostratus, Life of Apollonius, I.4) [see Acts of Jesus, p. 505]”

    And some final words from Thomas Jefferson, not a contemporary NT scholar, but indeed a very learned man:

    “And the day will come,
    when the mystical generation of Jesus,
    by the Supreme Being as His Father,
    in the womb of a virgin,
    will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva”

    Letter to John Adams, from Monticello, April 11, 1823.

    Conclusion: Christmas is historically a non-event. Ditto for the Feast of the Magi and the solemnity of Mary aka New Years day.

  • There was no miraculous birth of Jesus as the event fails rigorous historic testing: Once again:

    A 21st century summary:

    Christmas
    , the embellished story of the birth of a simple, preacher man named Jesus.
    As per many contemporary NT exegetes, his parents were Mary and Joseph although some say Jesus was a mamzer, the result of a pre-marital relationship between Mary and a Roman soldier.

    http:// http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/theories.html

    Jesus was not born in Bethlehem at least the one we are familiar with and there were no pretty wingie thingies singing/talking from on high, no slaughter of the innocents by Herod, no visiting wise men and no escape to Egypt.

    “Mark’s gospel, the most historical of the four gospels, does not even mention the event.

    And from Professor Gerd Ludemann in his book, Jesus After 2000 Years, pp. 269-272, “The historical yield of the Lukan infancy narrative in respect to the birth of Jesus is virtually nil.

    Matt 1:18-25: , pp. 123-124, “The fathering of Jesus from the Holy Spirit and his birth from the virgin Mary are unhistorical”. Ludemann gives a very detailed analysis to support his conclusions. One part being the lack of attestations to these events and the late time strata of said story.

    “Lüdemann [pp. 261-63) discounts Luke’s account as a legend deriving from Jewish Hellenistic circles that were concerned to hold together the procreation of the Spirit, the authentic sonship of the Messiah and the virginal conception. ”

    Then there are these additional conclusions:

    Professor Bruce Chilton

    “In [Rabbi Jesus: An Intimate Biography] (2000), Chilton develops the idea of Jesus as a mamzer; someone whose irregular birth circu-mstances result in their exclusion from full participation in the life of the community. He argues for the natural pa-ternity of Joseph and finds no need for a miraculous conception. In his subsequent reconstruction of Jesus’ life, Chilton suggests that this sustained personal experience of exclusion played a major role in Jesus’ self-ident-ity, his concept of God and his spiritual quest.

    Professor John Dominic Crossan

    “In [Historical Jesus] (p. 371) Crossan treats this cluster, like 007 Of Davids Lineage, as an example of the interplay of prophecy and history in the development of the Jesus traditions.

    “In [Birth of Christianity] (pp. 26-29) Crossan uses Luke’s account of Jesus’ conception and birth to explore ethical issues concerning the public interpretation of the past. He notes the tendency of Christian scholars to disregard “pagan” birth legends while investing great effort in the defence of biblical birth narratives. He concludes:

    I do not accept the divine conception of either Jesus or Augustus as factual history, but I believe that God is incarnate in the Jewish peasant poverty of Jesus and not in the Roman imperial power of Augustus. ”

    “The following ancient parallels to Jesus’ miraculous conception should be noted:

    Birth of Moses (Exod 2:1-10)
    Birth of Plato (Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers, 3.45) [see Acts of Jesus, p. 507]
    Birth of Alexander the Great (Plutarch, Parallel Lives, 2.1-3.5) [see Acts of Jesus, p. 502f]
    Birth of Apollonius (Philostratus, Life of Apollonius, I.4) [see Acts of Jesus, p. 505]”

    And some final words from Thomas Jefferson, not a contemporary NT scholar, but indeed a very learned man:

    “And the day will come,
    when the mystical generation of Jesus,
    by the Supreme Being as His Father,
    in the womb of a virgin,
    will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva”

    Letter to John Adams, from Monticello, April 11, 1823.

    Conclusion: Christmas is historically a non-event. Ditto for the Feast of the Magi and the solemnity of Mary aka New Years day.

  • In India in the 1800’s the Muslims and the Christians did debate. Everyone agreed the Muslims won the debate. They used the new Bi blical Scholarship that proved many of the points made by the Christian proponents in error or dubious.

  • Maybe the play should have had a trigger warning out of sensitivity to right wing Christians, or just right wing partisans with no great religious beliefs.

  • Said references do not meet rigorous historic testing. Then there is this from

    Professor Bruce Chilton-

    “In [Rabbi Jesus: An Intimate Biography] (2000), Chilton develops the idea of Jesus
    as a mamzer; someone whose irregular birth circumstances result in their
    exclusion from full participation in the life of the community. He argues for
    the natural pa-ternity of Joseph and finds no need for a miraculous conception.
    In his subsequent reconstruction of Jesus’ life, Chilton suggests that this
    sustained personal experience of exclusion played a major role in Jesus’ self-identity,
    his concept of God and his spiritual quest.

  • Behold, Jesus the tabula rasa. Select your preferred attributes and build your own Messiah.
    Seriously, anyone who writes a biography of Jesus whilst questioning the validity of large chunks of the Gospels, is sawing off the branch on which s/he is perched. It only takes a soupcon of new liberal scholarship on the criteria for historicity to render his/her efforts completely redundant.
    The relationship of Jesus and His disciples with the Temple, and with the Jewish leaders of the day, is a key theme of the Gospels and much of the New Testament. Humanly speaking, it was what led to His death (though of course Mohammed disputed the historicity of the Crucifixion). Appalling as Constantine’s anti-semitism was, I do not believe that it could have resulted in as radical a revision of the New Testament as to add in this amount of material. And if Jesus had been a Robin Hood figure, the frequent factionalism which is so frankly recorded in the NT could not have happened, because He would not have had a sufficiently broad based appeal.

  • I recommend a good course on rigorous historic testing of the NT, OT, Koran et al. Get back to us when you finish.

  • You want all the answers all at once. It does open a conversation, start a learning process, show an openness. It does make a difference. I don’t think you want to admit that.

  • Professional Islamaphobes – you are not kidding! I am so sorry this is happening, and I stand with you and your blessed work!

  • Unilateral dialogue seems to me to be a contradiction in terms. However, the writer of the play may have gone as far as he can without risking the Rushdie treatment.

  • no, this is an example of Islamic appropriation

    I must say, this did make me guffaw – if we’re really going to use 21st century concepts like “appropriation” against people from the 7th century, we’re also going to have to use it against the Christians. After all, they “appropriated” many of their core concepts from various other religions that preceded them.

  • How many people know that Mary is the only woman named in the Quran? Sorry but there are two women named after Sura chapters in Quran Mary and Sheba…Peace!

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