"The Islamic Jesus" reveals startling new truths about Islam in the context of the first Muslims and the early origins of Christianity. Muslims and the first Christians—the Jewish followers of Jesus—saw Jesus as not divine but rather as a prophet and human Messiah and that salvation comes from faith and good works, not merely as faith, as Christians would later emphasize. What Akyol seeks to reveal are how these core beliefs of Jewish Christianity, which got lost in history as a heresy, emerged in a new religion born in 7th Arabia: Islam.
Akyol exposes this extraordinary historical connection between Judaism, Jewish Christianity and Islam—a major mystery unexplored by academia. From Jesus’ Jewish followers to the Nazarenes and Ebionites to the Qu’ran’s stories of Mary and Jesus, The Islamic Jesus will reveal links between religions that seem so contrary today. It will also call on Muslims to discover their own Jesus, at a time when they are troubled by their own Pharisees and Zealots
I think for this I’m going to have to turn to a bit from Irish comedian Dara O’Briain. “...There are two reasons I don’t do jokes about Muslims. A. I don’t know a f**kin’ thing about Muslims. And B. Neither do you. So frankly it’ld’ve be pointless. I could research and write the greatest Muslim-based material you’ve ever heard, ‘Hey what’s up with the big golden horse that comes over the hill once a year and hands out cake to the kids? What’s that all about?’ And you’d all be there going, ‘Is that a thing? I’ve never of that there. Is that a thing? Oh jeez, you’ve really nailed the Muslims there, Dara. Well done, congratulations.’ By the way apologizes to any Muslims in the room who are now sitting there going, “What golden horse? The f**k is the man talking about?” I started this book with practically no real background knowledge about Islam and the Muslim faith except what I had picked up from friends of mine who do follow those teachings. My faith background is very firmly set in the Judeo-Christian section, specifically evangelical southern baptists growing up. I think that having this sort of background was probably helpful in this case as I was able to understand much of what was being shown throughout the book.
All that being said, author Mustafa Akyol has obviously put in quite a lot of effort into this book. At times it reads like a scholarly text and yet it also manages to keep it to an understandable level with explanations and footnotes. It is an interesting look at not only the role that the man Jesus had, not only in the Judeo-Christian faiths but also in the Islamic faith. The connections and, in places, the mirrored text shows not only a root faith but perhaps a connection for those of these faiths to have with each other.
*This book was provided by NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press in exchange for honest feedback*
Mustafa Akyol lives in Istanbul and is a columnist for the Turkish newspapers Hürriyet Daily News and Star. He has written opinion pieces for the Washington Post, the International Herald Tribune, and Newsweek.