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An essay donated by Sadia Carone

"Our Muslim Cousins"

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When God created the Garden of Eden, He told Adam and Eve "Do not eat from the tree of knowledge". Why did God create a perfect garden and put a forbidden tree there? After disobeying God and being cast out of the garden, Adam and Eve were given no further instructions on what to avoid.

Later in the story, Moses saw a burning bush and later presented the 10 Commandments. "Thou shalt have no other gods before me" was intended to keep the faithful from creating statues of gold and praying to them.

People who end the story before the birth of Christ, are Jewish.

Then Jesus Christ was born, son of Mary. He performed miracles such as raising the dead, healing the sick, and walking on water. He himself rose from the dead.

People who end the story here, are Christian.

Yet there is a third chapter -- 1. Talmud and Torah (=Old Testament of the Bible) 2. New Testament (Bible) 3. Qu'ran

About 500 years after the birth of Christ, God sent us another prophet. Tired of all the mistranslations of the previous texts, this time the Holy Word would be given in one language, Arabic, so there could be no confusion. Moses spoke of YHWH, Jesus spoke of God, and the Holy Prophet Mohammed spoke of Allah.

Three different names, three different ways to say the exact same God.

Just as Christians believe in Moses, Muslims believe in Jesus. The Holy Qu'ran says "He who does not believe in Jesus is not a good Muslim".

What does this mean to us today? Today the US is fighting two wars, one in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. The American soldiers are killing Muslims every day. But the Muslim God is the Jesus God. Muslims believe in Jesus and the American soldiers are killing them.

Muslims are friends of Jesus. If Christians can call themselves "Brothers in Christ" and "Sisters in Christ", then Muslims can be considered "Cousins in Christ". The 10 Commandments that Moses taught us say "Thou shalt not kill". Yet the American soldiers are killing every day, and have been doing so for over 7 years.

Make no mistake -- Allah is just the Arabic word for God. A Christian in Egypt prays to "Allah" because that is the Arabic word for "God", just as a French-speaking Christian prays to "Dieu" and a Spanish-speaking one prays to "Dios".

My personal experience is that by getting closer to God/Allah/Dieu/Dios, I lose my fear. As I walk in greater and greater faith, I know that God guides me and protects me. "He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways' (Bible, Pslam 91, verse 11).

With this in mind, it saddens me greatly when people who pray suddenly become afraid of certain places. The Garden of Eden was created for the first humans, I have heard of no place on earth that is "forbidden" to us today.

Several years ago in New York City, I had a friend name Shay. He was Jewish and a very talented chef. We met salsa dancing and spent a lot of time together, One evening after a lot of dancing, we were walking to the subway and I felt tired. I saw a bench in a garden and wanted to sit down. But Shay would not join me. This garden was property of the neighboring church and he would not leave the sidewalk. "I am Jewish and I cannot enter," he said. "But it's a garden! The church is over there," I said pointing at the large church building. But still he refused. So I sat alone until I was rested, and kept talking to him while he was 5 feet away.

This incident made me very sad. Belief in God does not make my world smaller, but bigger. Later that night Shay informed me that if I wanted to be his girlfriend, I would have to convert to Judiasm. This did not seem very attractive to me at the time -- if I converted, would I then be afraid to sit in a church garden?? I mentioned that if he wanted to be my boyfriend, then perhaps he could become Christian -- and this did not appeal to him, either.

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Here in Los Angeles, when I told some church-friends that I was thinking of visiting a Hindu temple, they become very upset. One almost started to cry. "No, Sadia, don't!" But I have visited before and I liked it. People pray there and study a holy book, they sing and dance and eat vegetarian food afterwards. It's fun!

I got the same reaction from my Christian friends when I told them I wanted to visit a mosque. "The Bible is all you need" they said. "You can find all the answers you need in Jesus," they pleaded. Well I have been to a mosque before and I liked it, too. I covered my hair and was taken to the women's section and prayed for a Muslim friend who had been killed. The women were all very nice to me and showed me a part of the Holy Qu'ran (in English) with the prayers to say when someone dies. And I cried for hours and prayed.

There is one God with many names. Catholics pray to many saints but believe in one God and in Jesus. Muslims believe in one God and in Jesus and in the Holy Prophet Mohammed. Why would anyone want to prevent me from visiting a place where Jesus is honored? Muslims are our "cousins in Christ" and Jesus is praised and honored in a mosque.

My Jewish friend was afraid to walk into a church garden with me, and my Christian friends are afraid to read the Holy Qu'ran or to step inside a mosque. Are we still living in the days of the Garden of Eden? I carry God in my heart, and I fear nothing on this Earth. Thank you.

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To my Muslim cousins:

May peace be upon you and may the blessings of Almighty Allah shine upon you and your family forever. I am writing as a friend, and my goal is to clear up some of the miscommunication between 2 sister religions, Christianity and Islam.

There is one God and Mohammed, may peace be upon him, is his prophet just as Moses and Jesus are His prophets (blessed be both of their names).

Christians believe that JC performed miracles and they believe that he is the Son of God. But according to our most famous Christian prayer, I am a child of God as well, because this prayer begins with "Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name" (Our Father who is in Heaven, blessed be Thy name). Every Christian believes in a Heavenly Father, and that Father is God Himself.

The Holy Qu'ran and the Bible agree that Jesus, blessed be his holy name, was the son of Mary and that he performed many miracles because he was God's blessed Prophet.

Christians like to think of God as a friend, as someone who walks with us in our everyday life and can help with our daily troubles. Christians say that JC is God, but to me this is just a matter of words. JC did not create the world in 7 days, and JC did not give the blessed prophet Moses the
10 Commandments. Saying that JC is God is just a way of putting a human face on Almighty God, this is a way of feeling closer to God.

Among the Christians, Catholics take this to the extreme. They pray to many saints, and each saint can be thought of as an aspect of God. If Almighty Allah has 99 names, then perhaps the Christian idea of God has several faces -- that of JC himself for the Protestants and the many faces of the saints for the Catholics.

It is not out of disrespect that Christians do not praise the name JC like the Muslims do. It is perfectly acceptable for a priest, pastor, or minister to say "You have a friend in Jesus!" without adding "may peace be upon him". Even in the Bible, JC spoken of as a person, in the same way as Mary his mother, and John the Baptist.

It was quite a surprise to me when I found out that JC is more highly respected in a mosque than in a church!

It is my goal to create a greater understanding between Christians and Muslims, because we have so much in common. I was misinformed about Islam, so now I seek to educate other Christians. We are all God's children, and although we have our differences it is my hope that we can learn to love and respect each other. People who pray and do good works make God happy. We have global problems of war, poverty, and disease -- by working together I hope we can all make the world a better place.

Thank you.

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Written: 2010-APR-20
Posted: 2010-MAY-19

Copyright Sadia Carone at [email protected]
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