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“Islam’s Jesus” Lecture by Prof. Zeki Saritoprak

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Peace Islands Institute organized a lecture series by Prof. Zeki Saritoprak on his recently published book, Islam’s Jesus. Prof. Saritoprak, who is Bediuzzaman Said Nursi Chair in Islamic Studies at John Carroll University, lectured on the campuses of Le Moyne College, Syracuse University, and State University of New York at Oswego.

Prof. Saritoprak’s talk focused on Jesus in primary sources of Islam (mainly Quran and Hadith) and different theological approaches to the descent of Jesus. He began his remarks by stressing not-so-well-known facts about Jesus in Islam and the Quran. He noted, for instance, that one of the chapters in the Quran, surah al-Saf, is also referred to as the chapter of Jesus. He then discussed Quran’s reference to Jesus as one of the five arch-prophets in Islam, along with Noah, Abraham, Moses, and Muhammad (pbuh). Islam and Christianity, Prof. Saritoprak added, were the only religions that agree on the doctrine of virgin birth of Jesus. He further emphasized that Jesus was mentioned in more than 90 verses in the Quran, most frequently being mentioned as Ibn Maryam, or Son of Mary.

With regard to the topic of Jesus’ descent, Prof. Saritoprak brought in several interpretations of The Second Coming in the Islamic tradition. He then explained in detail the three different approaches to this concept of Jesus’ second coming, namely the modernist approach, the literalist approach, and the interpretive approach.

In closing his talk, Prof. Saritoprak emphasized how Bediuzzaman Said Nursi’s interpretive approach to the descent of Jesus indicated, as early as 1911, the possibility and importance of a “dialogue between Muslims and Christians to bring justice and peace to our world.” He reminded the audience that the followers of the three Abrahamic religions, Islam, Judaism, and Christianity, constituted 58% of the world population, adding that it would make a difference if this portion of the world population alone agreed on the importance of the dialogue for world peace.

A vibrant question and answer session followed the talk where members of the audience asked intriguing questions.

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