CAIRO - An American professor is highlighting similarities between the Noble Qur'an and the Bible as a way to clear misconceptions about Islam and Muslims in the world.
"One of the things right off the bat that shocks Christians and Jews very often if they haven't read the Qur'an much is the fact that there are these biblically affiliated stories and traditions in the Qur'an," John Kaltner, a professor of Muslim-Christian relations at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee, told Star Tribune.Kaltner is an associate professor of religious studies at Rhodes College, where he teaches courses on the Bible, Islam, and Arabic.
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He is the author of several books, including Ishmael Instructs Isaac: An Introduction to the Qur'an for Bible Readers and The Old Testament: Its Background, Growth, and Content, which he coauthored with Steven L. McKenzie.
Kaltner will lecture on March 19, on similarities between Islam, Christianity and Judaism.
The lecture, themed "Moses, Jesus and Mary in the Qur'an at University of St. Thomas at the O'Shaughnessy Educational Center on the St. Paul campus, will also show shared details in the stories told in Qur'an and Bible.
For example, in the story of Prophet Moses' birth, the Qur'an highlights similar details of the story while focusing on the role of Allah in each and every step.
"For example, in the biblical story, God is completely missing in the story of Moses in the basket on the river. Not a single reference," he said.
"But in the Qur'anic story, God is all over the place. That is because of the Islamic view of God as being ultimately behind everything. Engaged and very much controlling things.
In the story of Jesus, the Qur'an refers more than once to his virginal conception, Kaltner adds.
"At its very heart and understanding, Islam is intimately connected to the people of the Bible," he said.
Muslims believe in Jesus as one of the great Prophets of God and that he is the son of Mary but not the Son of God. He was conceived and born miraculously.
In the Noble Qur'an, Jesus is called "Isa". He is also known as Al-Masih (the Christ) and Ibn Maryam (Son of Mary).
As for his crucifixion, Muslims believe that Jesus was not crucified but was lifted up to heaven.
Kaltner thinks these similarities are important to clear misconceptions about Islam in the post-9/11 era.
"The text of the Qur'an ... it functions in a way very similar to the Bible in that it's meant to be a road map and a guide for people to live their lives," he said.
The US professor says that many misconceptions about Islam were shaped in the minds of non-Muslims who tend to stereotype the religious minority.
"It's absolutely essential we know as much as we can about people who are different from ourselves.
"In the case of Islam, it's particularly important because of the events of 9/11 ... that have shaped the perceptions of many non-Muslims and have led to a reliance on stereotypes ... of Muslims that just perpetuate and spiral into serious problems."
Since 9/11, US Muslims, estimated between six to seven million, have become sensitized to an erosion of their civil rights, with a prevailing belief that America was stigmatizing their faith.
Anti-Muslim frenzy has grown sharply in the US in recent months over plans to build a mosque near the site of the 9/11 attacks in New York, resulting in attacks on Muslims and their property.
Moreover, US Muslims have sensed a growing hostility following a hearing presented by representative Peter King on what he described as radicalization of US Muslims.
Lawmakers in at least 15 states have introduced proposals forbidding local judges from considering Shari`ah when rendering verdicts on issues of divorces and marital disputes.A Gallup poll had also found that the majority of US Muslims are patriot and loyal to their country and are optimistic about their future.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net