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In "Building Bridges," a Tapestry of Faith program
Participants read excerpts from the Qur’an, compare stories told with alternate versions told in the Bible, and discuss the implications of those differences.
Share with participants that the Bible is recognized as a sacred text by Muslims. Explain:
In Islam, the Bible, through not considered the ultimate authority, is still counted as a sacred text of true revelation. Islam recognizes that Jesus was a holy messenger, a prophet, but does not consider Jesus divine. Muslims believe that the message in the Bible had become confused or corrupted in the 600 years since it had been written, and therefore Allah’s revelations to Muhammad through the angel Gabriel were intended to provide clarity and be the final word. For this reason, while translations of the Qur’an are used by people all over the world, only the original Arabic Qur’an is considered the ultimate authority to Muslims.
Interestingly, just as the Christian scriptures (or New Testament) were not written down during Jesus’ lifetime, the Qur’an was not written down while Muhammad lived. Instead, it was memorized and repeated word for word. Caliph Uthman, the third Muslim leader in the Sunni tradition, ordered the Qur’an written down, starting about 18 years after Muhammad’s death.
The Qur’an contains instructions for most areas of people’s lives. Its importance to faithful Muslims cannot be overstated. The instructions which became known as the Five Pillars of Islam appear there, as well as many recommendations which (together with additional information from the Hadith) have been codified in Islamic nations as Sharia law. It cannot be changed or added to.
Familiar prophets, including Abraham and Jesus, and many familiar Bible stories appear in the Qur’an. There are differences, however, between the biblical and the qu’ranic tellings, some minor and others significant.
In the story of Noah and the flood, for example, Noah’s son drowns in the qur’anic version, while in the Hebrew scripture version all Noah’s three sons and their wives survive. The Qur’an specifically denies a Trinity, identified as Father, Mother, and Son, while Christian scripture makes no specific mention of a Trinity, although many Christians believe a Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is strongly implied.
In the Qur’an, Jesus appears as a true prophet of God, but truly and only human; in the Christian scriptures, Jesus appears as divine and second only to God.
Distribute Handout 4, Excerpts from the Holy Qur’an and copies of the Bible. Ask a volunteer to read the first excerpt from the handout aloud. Then invite participant responses and discuss the passage with questions such as:
Ask a volunteer to read the second excerpt from the handout. Then invite participant responses and discuss, using these questions:
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Last updated on Wednesday, October 26, 2011.
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