NEW YORK – A large painting of Jesus on the cross was left at a Long Island Islamic center, as the leaders of a leading American civil rights group invited the one who left it to visit the mosque and learn about Islamic beliefs.
“Bias may have motivated this incident, but it could serve as a teaching moment for the perpetrator and for the community if it leads to greater understanding of the love Muslims have for Jesus, peace be upon him,” a statement released by the New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NY) read.
“The Qur’an, Islam’s revealed text, states, ‘Behold! The angels said: ‘O Mary! God giveth thee glad tidings of a Word from Him. His name will be Jesus Christ, the son of Mary, held in honor in this world and the Hereafter and in (the company of) those nearest to God.’ (3:45)
“Other verses in the Qur’an state that Jesus was strengthened with the ‘Holy Spirit’ (2:87) and is a ‘sign for the whole world.’ (21:91) His virgin birth was confirmed when Mary asked: ‘How can I have a son when no man has ever touched me?’ (3:47)
“In the Qur’an, Jesus is shown speaking from the cradle and, with God’s permission, curing lepers and the blind. (5:110) God also states in the Quran: “We gave (Jesus) the Gospel (Injeel) and put compassion and mercy into the hearts of his followers.” (57:27)
CAIR-NY said the painting was found Friday on a fence of the Hillside Islamic Center in North New Hyde Park. The incident is being investigated by police as a possible hate crime.
Since the beginning of the year, CAIR’s national office has called for investigations of possible bias motives for dozens of other incidents targeting mosques in Colorado, Florida, Ohio, Iowa, Kentucky, Georgia, Arizona, Virginia, West Virginia, New Jersey, New York, Maryland, Texas, and a number of other states. By comparison, in the January-March period in 2016, CAIR recorded 19 such incidents.
CAIR-NY recently released a report showing a 560 percent increase in 2016 anti-Muslim incidents in New York compared to the previous year.
The same report showed that more than half of 2016 anti-Muslim hate crimes in New York occurred in the last 7 and a half weeks of the year, following Donald Trump’s election as President.
Uniting on Similarities
The group also stressed the many similarities shared between followers of the three Abrahamic faiths.
“The spiritual unity of the Abrahamic faiths is confirmed in the Qur’an when God states: ‘Say ye: ‘We believe in God and the revelation given to us and to Abraham, Ismail, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes, and that given to Moses and Jesus, and that given to (all) Prophets from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and it is unto Him that we surrender ourselves.’ (2:136)
“Islam’s Prophet Muhammad also said: ‘Both in this world and in the Hereafter, I am the nearest of all people to Jesus, the son of Mary. The prophets are paternal brothers; their mothers are different, but their religion is one.’
“The spiritual legacy of Jesus (peace be upon him) should be a unifying factor for Muslims and Christians, not a source of division or bigotry.”
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.
Muslims believe that Jesus will come back to earth before the end of time to restore peace and order, fight the Anti-Christ (Al-Masih Al-Dajjal) and bring victory for truth and righteousness.
The true followers of Jesus will prevail over those who deny him, misrepresent him and reject him.