Mary and Jesus in Persian miniature (courtesy Wikimedia Commons)
Mary and Jesus in Persian miniature (courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

compiled by JULIE POUCHER HARBIN, EDITOR, ISLAMiCommentary on DECEMBER 22, 2015: 

Zeki Saritoprak
Zeki Saritoprak

41JOC1bsy7L._SL160_Islam’s Jesus (Interview with Zeki Saritoprak by Elliott Bazzano, New Books in Islamic Studies, December 17, 2015)In Islam’s Jesus (University of Florida Press, 2015), Zeki Saritoprak explores an old topic from a fresh perspective. The status of Jesus in Islam has been of interest for centuries, and relates to both Christianity and Islam, but the level of synthesis that Professor Saritoprak’s monograph offers is remarkable.

He draws on a variety of Islamic literature, including commentaries on the Qur’an, works of theology, and collections of prophetic sayings. Moreover, he surveys not only the vast Arabic sources on his topic but also Turkish sources, and his research covers multiple schools of thought and time periods. Another hallmark of the monograph is the attention it gives to Jesus’ role in Islamic eschatology. Notably, Saritoprak demonstrates how mainstream as well as lesser known Islamic discourses on eschatology encompass numerous hermeneutical strategies; some, for example, understand the descent of Jesus as a physical phenomenon while others understand it as a non-material, spiritual phenomenon. The book highlights a number of other competing discourses as well, which are likely to challenge and even surprise the reader. The author’s clear writing style, combined with meticulous attention to scholarly rigor and textual engagement, makes the text accessible to a range of readers, which should render it useful to general audiences, as well as scholars of eschatology, Christian-Muslim relations, and Qur’anic studies. LISTEN TO INTERVIEW HERE

In September 2014 the Duke Islamic Studies Center (which manages the Transcultural Islam Project, which includes TIRN and ISLAMiCommentary), announced its official institutional affiliation with New Books in Islamic Studies — a bi-weekly audio podcast featuring hour long conversations with authors of exciting new research. For an archive see HERE.

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05-110Jesus in the Quran: Pious, Obedient, Favored Servant of God (Francis X. Clooney, American Magazine, December 21, 2015): EXCERPT: Then God will say, “O Jesus son of Mary! Remember My Blessing upon thee, and upon thy mother, when I strengthened thee with the Holy Spirit, that you mightest speak to people in the cradle and in maturity; and when I taught thee the Book, the Wisdom, the Torah, and the Gospel;” and how thou wouldst create out of clay the shape of a bird, by My Leave; and how though wouldst breathe into it, and it would become a bird, by My Leave; and thou wouldst heal the blind and the leper, by My Leave; and thou wouldst bring forth the dead, by My Leave; and how I restrained the Children of Israel from thee, when thou didst bring the clear proofs, and those disbelieved among them said, “This is naught but manifest sorcery.” And when I inspired the apostles to believe in Me and in My messenger, they said, “We believe. Bear witness that we are submitters.” (5:110-111) KEEP READING

Francis X. Clooney, S.J., is the Parkman Professor of Divinity at Harvard Divinity School, where he has taught since 2005, after teaching for 21 years at Boston College. Since 2010 he is the Director of Harvard’s Center for the Study of World Religions.

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Maryam, Mother of Jesus, in the Quran (Francis X. Clooney, American Magazine, December 18, 2015) EXCERPT:  I began this series because of my sharp disagreement with Donald Trump’s call to close our borders to all Muslims, and distress at how others seem to approve of the idea. His call for this is in my judgment wrong, unworkable and also ignorant. I felt it timely to urge my readers to push back against this dangerous ignorance and literal exclusion of people of another faith tradition, in part by informing ourselves about each other’s religions. For those of us who are not Muslim, the recently released Study Quran presents a fine opportunity to make the case for study and learning, and so I have offered this short series, A Catholic Reads the Quran during Advent. This is the fourth of five posts before Christmas. KEEP READING

Francis X. Clooney, S.J., is the Parkman Professor of Divinity at Harvard Divinity School, where he has taught since 2005, after teaching for 21 years at Boston College. Since 2010 he is the Director of Harvard’s Center for the Study of World Religions.

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HuffJummah: Jesus, the Dead Dog and Recognizing the Presence of God Everywhere (Omid Safi, The Huffington Post, April 15, 2013) EXCERPT: There are many tales about the life of Christ that circulated orally in the ancient Near East and never made it to the canonical Gospels. Some of the loveliest of these tales remained oral for centuries, and eventually came to be told and retold by both Christians and Muslims.

Here is one of the sweetest and most profound of these tales. Even if you think you have heard every good Jesus story, you may have not heard this one. This story appears in a number of important Muslim sources, such as the Musibat-nama of Farid al-Din Attar (a great 13th century poet and mystic from a generation before the time of Rumi), and the Khamsa of the 12th century sage Nezami of Ganja, the famed writer of Layla and Majnun (whose dark-eyed beauty Layla would someday inspire Eric Clapton to write his equally immortal song of unrequited love. (See the full story here.) Let’s get to the story. KEEP READING

Omid Safi is Director of the Duke Islamic Studies Center 

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Jesus and Islam (Jésus et l’islam) – NEW Documentary (Emran El-Badawi, International Quranic Studies Association, December 15, 2015): Six hours and thirty minutes is the duration of the new seven part documentary series on Jesus and Islam. The film Jésus et l’islam / Jesus und der Islam is presented in three versions (French, German and *English) and features twenty six academic specialists from around the world–including several current and former IQSA members. The specialists include historians, philologists, theologians, archeologists, experts on manuscripts and other subjects. The film was directed by Jérôme Prieur and Gérard Mordillat and is a production of Archipel 33, ARTE and in collaboration with the Centre National du Cinema and the Bibliothèque Nationale.

The documentary film was aired the week of December 8 and has been widely acclaimed in the French and German media. The film itself was in production for years, where directors Prieur and Mordillat methodically crafted a documentary exploring the role of Jesus in shaping Islam. The most important text for consideration, therefore, was the Qur’an–Islam’s holiest scripture and oldest historical document. In doing so the directors have asked the experts questions about the distinctly Islamic theological perspective on Christ and how and why it differs from Christianity. As the film demonstrates answering such questions can be complex and even controversial. Therefore, it also introduces viewers to the different academic schools (traditionalist, revisionist or otherwise) and their perspectives on the Qur’an, Jesus and Muhammad.

Each part of Jesus and Islam explores a major theme. The seven themes are:

The crucifixion according to the Qur’an
The origins of the text
The son of Mary
The prophet’s emigration
The religion of Abraham
The book of Islam
Jesus according to Muhammad
Jésus selon Mahomet (seiul.com)
Jésus selon Mahomet (seiul.com)

The seventh part of the series also inspired a book, Jésus selon Mahomet,in which the directors discuss their own views and perspectives. Prieur and Mordillat are seasoned writers and film directors who, among other things, specialize in documentary films on the history and formation of the Abrahamic religions. Their earlier works include Corpus Christi, L’Origine du Christianisme and L’apocalypse.

Emran El-Badawi is Assistant Professor and Director of the Arab Studies Program at the University of Houston 

*ISLAMiCommentary editor has not been able to locate a URL for the English version

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