Muslims in Nazareth

Fredy Winkler

For many years, Muslims in Nazareth, the city where Jesus grew up, have wanted to build a mosque near the Church of the Annunciation, with two minarets that would be taller than the church. Luckily, nothing has ever come of it. However, there is a small mosque at a central location, which is used to address all passing visitors with Koran verses on large placards as they make their way to the church.

At first glance, one of those verses appears to be very positive and generally acceptable. The English translation reads as follows: “Say: ‘We have believed in Allah and what was revealed to us, and what was revealed to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob and the descendants, and in what was given to Moses and Jesus and to the prophets from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and we are Muslims [submitting] to him.”

The catch is that Jesus is placed on the same level as all the others. In other words, He is not the Son of God and is not the Savior, who took away the sin of the world through His sacrificial death on the cross.

The Koran gives Jesus the outstanding title of “Prophet,” but denies the basic beliefs of Christianity: that Jesus was born of a virgin, is the Son of God, and that He died on the cross and rose again from the dead. Muslims do not believe that He is the Lord of Lords and the judge of the living and the dead, nor that God the Father gave Him all power in heaven and earth.

From a purely human perspective, these things are not easy to grasp and understand. They are ultimately a matter of faith, and must be accepted through the complete testimony of the Old and New Testaments.

The Koran attests that God Himself gave the Israelites the Old Testament and Christians the New Testament. Understandably, this statement from the Koran presents a big problem for Islam, because they believe that their religion contradicts the Old and New Testaments. But the Koran itself teaches that they came from God.

This problem is resolved within Islam quite simply, by saying that the Jews and Christians changed their scriptures after receiving them, and therefore they no longer agree with the Koran.

Attempts to relativize the differences today, through inter-religious discussion, will only lead to a loss of the truth. Without a doubt, tolerance is fundamentally important to the social existence of mankind. But when tolerance means that the truth I believe in isn’t true, because other people believe that truth is relative, then we have a problem.

Real tolerance could be demonstrated in a Muslim city, such as Nazareth, if a banner could be hung that reads, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved, except the name of Jesus Christ.”

We understand that this isn’t going to happen. Real tolerance would be actually having the complete freedom to speak the truth, while accepting others who see things differently.

Thankful that we are still relatively free to proclaim that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life, and that no one comes to the Father except through Him.

News from Israel - 06/2019

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