Out Of Context – Part 11

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Omar Suleiman

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Is Jesus Christ Divine? – Omar Suleiman

In Part 11 of the interview, Shaykh Omar takes questions from the audience. The best way to alter the public perception of Muslim women in the West, says Sheikh Omar Suleiman, is for them to continue to be out there and for thriving, successful Muslim women to engage fully in their communities. Regarding the debate over the divinity of Jesus, a study of early Christianity will reveal that it was far from monolithic.

Episode Transcript

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Hi, my name is Mike Bachman. And I mean, I'm a Methodist pastor, and I'm excited that we're able to share a little question and answer time with Imam Omar Suleiman. He's here to answer questions from some folks who have been part of our audiences, we've been having an extended conversation together. So I'll introduce them each and looking forward to hearing their questions. And their response to that Imam Omar has so now we have Nikita, who is here to ask them questions, and she's ready with notes and everything to make sure that she gets those questions. Well, yes, thank you for having me. On behalf of my colleague that had to step out, I did want to make sure that her thoughts and and

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questions were acknowledged here. So I'm going to read it word for word here. How do we change the general public's opinion of women's treatment in Islam and show that is actually complimentary, not contradictory to how many to how many women of other faith traditions feel? I know, we kind of touched on this a little bit earlier. But I think the biggest thing that she would like you to address is how are we going to help change the

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the public opinion. So I think that Muslim women just continuing to be visible and continuing to be successful. That's the greatest statement of empowerment that could possibly exist there, no matter what I say about it, no matter how much we debate or discuss it, right, it's at the end of the day,

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you know, you have to see those thriving successful Muslim women. And there are plenty of examples, as we've already mentioned, right, that are out there, and that are, that are doing great things, both in the worldly sense, and also, at the same time living out their faith, very proudly.

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So I think that we have, you know, there's the theological level of this, there's the intellectual the academic level. So obviously, in academia, we could debate topics of women's empowerment. And even you know, the, you know, there's a lot out there, what constitutes feminism, that's a very everyone's definition of feminism is very different. Right? So what constitutes feminism, that's still that's still a very, that's, that's still yet to be determined, and it will never be determined, right? It will always be a debate. So certainly, what we can see is that there are Muslim women that feel empowered by their faith, as opposed to being restricted by their faith, and

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they're there many of them, and they are the majority. In this country, in particular, if I can offer just another sign of hope from, you know, the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. Not that long ago, David Cameron made a statement, the Prime Minister, something along the lines of, you know, the kind of traditional submissive Muslim woman or something like that was a reference in a speech or in a conversation. And it launched a large number of Muslim British women posting pictures of themselves with their degrees, or, you know, making reference to the books that they've written, or whatever their their accomplishments were. And there's a hash tag that was associated with it that

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was like typical Muslim woman or something like that, to, to help change that. And I just thought that was a great example of how we can respond when someone makes a comment like that when a public official reinforces the stereotype.

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That there's an impetus on all of us to try to speak out in creative ways. And the internet, for better or for worse, affords us the opportunity to make positive change and that if the detractors are using it, we ought to be to

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have another question here. And I'll segue in from the internet there. With your question, surely, I could have just googled this, but I'm fully confident that you're well studied man, so that you might be able to give me a better understanding and as a woman of faith and follow of Christ, I think that this is an important conversation that we have and to debunk myths and read the world of ignorance, one question and answer at a time. So

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with that being said,

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how is it that

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of the Muslim faith and I heard you reference and when you spoke of Jesus and said, peace be upon him, that he can be simply and I'm, I lose that you use that word, very loosely, a prophet, when a prophet is supposed to be someone who speaks on behalf of God, but Jesus acknowledges and

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speaks that he is the I Am. Okay. So I think the study of early Christianity will show that Christianity was anything but monolithic. In the first few centuries, right. There are many different movements that arose money. And you know, Jesus peace be upon him was viewed in many different ways. So for example, you have the early Jewish Christians, if you study about the early Jewish Christians that believe that they still had to abide by

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I have a pastor here. So I'm gonna let you correct me if I feel like I'm saying anything that's wrong or incorrect, but there were Jewish Christians that believe that saw Jesus peace be upon him as as part of that line of Jewish prophets are calling to the law of Moses confirming Law of Moses. So the law of Moses peace be upon him was still relevant and so on so forth. There were questions.

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If you study the the, you know, the adoption movement, the Gnostic Bibles, there were people early on in Christianity, in fact, even in Jerusalem, that debated Christ's divinity, peace be upon him and whether he was God, whether he was the son of God, whether the Son of Man, the saw these debates did take place where the gospels were actually not standardized until what sixth century right about the sixth century, the gospel started fourth century, fourth, fourth, yeah, around the fourth century. So the debate about who the nature of Jesus peace be upon him is a very early debate. as Muslims, we view him, and this is with full love and respect to our Christian Brothers and sisters,

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to keep that in mind, it's a healthy debate, right? We are, after all, the only other religion in the world that holds Christ peace be upon him in any esteem. as Muslims, we view him as a messenger of God as a prophet of God as one of the greatest messengers and prophets, who came to confirm the law of Moses,

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and abrogated only some of those laws, and who's in a line of messengers and prophets, so even the Messiah, we do believe he's the Messiah. So Muhammad peace be upon him, didn't teach that he would come back to the world to reform it, he actually taught that Jesus peace be upon him would return, and would establish justice in the world once again. So we believe in a second coming of Christ.

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But certainly, again, the Gospels that were standardized after, after Christ, and we we do hold him in high esteem. But we do see him as continuing as a continuation of that line of prophets, and messengers, and not as a son of God, not in the not in the megaton sense. So the way that we see it is, and it was called the adoption is movement, right, the nestorian church and so on and so forth. You. We believe that when God you know, even in biblical rhetoric, so when it says, The Son of God, God references the children of Israel, for example, in the Bible, collectively as the Son of God,

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other prophets are referenced the sons of God, so we don't believe it to be a anything more than,

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you know, anything more than

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metaphorical in that sense, as opposed to something which is literal. So we just hope we do hold those differences, but we are the only other faith in the world that holds Jesus peace be upon them in any esteem. Yeah, and and that is a place of, you know, it is a place where we hold different beliefs as Muslims and Christians and, and there, there was a lot of diversity of opinion of who Jesus was for those first several 100 years. But, you know, eventually kind of the majority pulled out the, you know, kind of the official statement where that does believe in the divinity of Christ that came out in in the fourth century.

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But it is fair to acknowledge that there was a diversity of opinion on that, across the early church.

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But we understand that, you know, Jesus is a figure in our religious lives differently. Absolutely. And what I would say is that, I mean, certainly there is a difference of opinion as to who he was. But once again, the two largest religions in the world hold Jesus peace be upon them in a very high esteem.

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And that's something to acknowledge as well, that the similarities are more than a differences however to us. So our view of God is more in accordance with the Judaic tradition, right,

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of who God was, and so on, so forth. So the concept of salvation and so on so forth, all of that is more more in accordance with, with with the Jewish tradition and things of that sort. So we believe that Jesus peace be upon him was a in the line of those messengers and prophets. And, you know, we see ourselves as an extension of those early some of those early Christian groups, if you will, that that had those differences as to who Jesus peace be upon him was and things of that sort.

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Is that fair pastor? Yeah, you're good with that.

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With that, don't have to do anything to your cookies, right.

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I'm gonna, I'm gonna get out of the way here soon. But

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just for further clarification for myself, I'm in his own admission, Jesus. Right. He said that he was I am it's not really about the perception or other that is there any written document from Jesus peace be upon him or anything that was written directly from him saying that, are they all accounts after his after his departure? Speaking that I am, I would be more than happy to look that up for you. You know,

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the gospels were written after right Jesus's time right and so

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again, the way Muslims would say that that he never claimed that that's that's something that's debatable, okay.

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Well, that's understood. That's basically I guess my question is that there? Yeah. Okay. Thank you for answering that. And I would love to further that conversation just so I have, you know, a better understanding for myself. I'm finally

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about

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I don't understand what extra

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I guess you can say, the purpose of being having 72 wives are virgins and heaven. Where does that come from? And what extra

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good thing is that to have awaiting you? If, okay, I'm sorry.

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I don't I don't I have a lack of understanding all you need. So it's good that you bring that question forward.

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The number 72. And these types of things, these are all things that are

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none of this is actually traced authentically. Within the tradition, actually the number 70, and sub even in the Arabic language, the number 70 means capital, which means quantity, it means money. But there's nothing in Islam, there is no actual authentic narration to the Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him about a man dying and getting his 72 virgins. There is a concept of spouses and paradise, heavenly spouses in Paradise and a multitude of heaven, heavenly spouses and in paradise. The way that we answer that question is that paradise in Islam is what you want it to be. It's exactly what you want it to be. There is nothing that's prohibited in Islam. now realize that, especially the

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context, right that this was in a time where the world was by and large, polygamous, okay, when the plan was revealed and things of that sort.

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That's not to say that since the world has moved away from that, that that, you know, that Paradise is no longer polygamous, right? Paradise is what you want it to be to us. So if, you know, I've had I've had women come up to me and say that if I've got to be with my husband, I don't want to go something like,

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like,

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don't worry.

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So for men, and for women, Paradise is what you want it to be in Islam. So there isn't this like set once you go to Paradise, it's 72. And it's, it's sort of passed off in a very derogatory manner. And a lot of these conversations like, oh, we're gonna send them to a 72 virgins, it doesn't work that way. It's a paradise is where you go when you've pleased God when you've lived your life in accordance with,

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with with his, with his teachings, and so on, so forth. And if you get there, and when you get there, it's what you want it to be. Thank you so much. I think I think I would just like to thank you, Nikita, for asking difficult questions. And for also, you know, acknowledging that, that that place of disconnect between

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Islam and Christianity about the figure of Christ and there are other theological disconnects that we have, and that's why we're not the same religion, right? But we might still be chasing the same God and finding ways to do to walk and reflect with each other. And, you know, it's difficult when we start pushing for like, pull what is the truth and, and that's an increasingly difficult thing in our world. But I appreciate the question that desire for understanding. We need to ask those hard theological questions of one another in order to get to that place. Thank you for your questions. Appreciate that. Thank you.