Why did Prophet Muhammad allow a Christian delegation from Najran to pray in his mosque when they visited Madinah? And why do Muslims today forget that their Prophet (peace be upon him) accepted religious pluralism?
Can a Catholic believer accept Prophet Muhammad as the Spirit of Truth Jesus foretold in the Bible?
These are three questions that come to mind after reading Dr. Considine’s book, “The Humanity of Muhammad: A Christian View“.
From Religious Pluralism to The Golden Rule
To answer the first two questions, many Muslims do not recall or may not have even learned about the Najran Delegation. They were a group of around sixty or eighty Christian scholars, led by Abu Haritha ibn Alqamah, a Grand Bishop of Najran.
Dr. Considine mentions the story in the first chapter of the book to prove that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) encouraged religious tolerance and was an advocate of religious pluralism.
Dr. Considine expands on these proofs in Chapter 2 by explaining that, in the year 622 CE, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) granted religious freedom to the Jews through the Charter of Madinah. He then makes parallels with the US Constitution, ratified in 1787.
Prophet Muhammad’s firm stand against all types of prejudice is the subject of Chapter 3, a timely issue with racism being in crisis throughout many countries today.
Dr. Considine reminds readers of the inspirational pilgrimage of Malcolm X on discovering there was no racial disparity in Makkah, writing in his famous Letter from Mecca (April 1964):
I could see…that perhaps if white Americans could accept the Oneness of God, then perhaps, too, they could accept in reality the Oneness of Man–and cease to measure, and hinder, and harm others in terms of their ‘differences’ in color.
Chapter 4 is about seeking knowledge and its importance in Islam. Readers may be familiar with Muslim Spain and the positive interactions between followers of Abrahamic faiths but, few are familiar with the relevance of Sicily in the transfer of knowledge into Europe.
Dr. Considine sheds light on that golden era of Islam in Europe to give us yet another positive example of the dialogue of civilizations and its fruits.
Dr. Considine then covers the issue of women’s rights in Chapter 5, offering a summary highlighting the importance of aspects related to women in Islam.
In his view, Islam in the 7th century gave women many rights which other women around the world did not have at the time. It was a social revolution.
Prophet Muhammad helped to liberate women with divinely sanctioned social, property, and marital rights.
In Chapter 6, The Golden Rule, Dr. Considine compares the teachings of Muhammad and Jesus (peace be upon them both) with an emphasis on Jihad in the Islamic and Christian traditions. He suggests that followers of both faiths should embrace the “Jihad of Jesus,” and finally, making an unlikely connection between Muhammad and George Washington.
The Spirit of Truth?
The book ends by addressing the third question posed. Can a Catholic believer accept Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) as the Spirit of Truth Jesus foretold in the Bible?
The answer to this question may be the most interesting of the three questions for many readers. Jesus (peace be upon him) is reported to have said:
If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him because he abides with you, and he will be in [or among] you, (John 14:15-17)
Did Jesus (peace be upon him) tell his followers of a Prophet to come after him? Was the reference mentioned in these verses none other than Muhammad, the descendant of Prophet Abraham, peace be upon him, from the Ishmaelite lineage?
Most Muslims would respond to this question in the affirmative. And all Christians, with few exceptions like Dr. Considine, would claim that is not the case.
An interesting verse in the Quran confirms the Muslim position, where Allah the Almighty says:
And ˹remember˺ when Jesus, son of Mary, said, “O children of Israel! I am truly Allah’s messenger to you, confirming the Torah which came before me, and giving good news of a messenger after me whose name will be Ahmad.” Yet when the Prophet came to them with clear proofs, they said, “This is pure magic.” (Quran 61:6.)
A Wise and Timely Book
This is one of the few books I read in nearly one go. Once I started the book, I found it hard to stop reading. The timing of the book release is excellent because most of the issues covered are relevant to our world today.
At a time of rising nationalism, division, and polarization in many countries, this book is a valuable reminder of the value of religious pluralism.
The year 2020 brought many hardships, including a global revolution on racism, a topic well-covered by Dr. Considine.
The Golden Rule is also beneficial as a reference when dealing with the global challenges of refugees.
I enjoyed reading this book and highly recommend it for all readers: Muslims, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, and people of other faiths or no faith.
For Muslims, this book is a relevant reminder of the kindness and humanity shown by Prophet Muhammad. He was a mercy to the whole world.
And for people of other faiths and no faith, the book is an important, neutral, and objective source of information.
Do not allow the Islamophobia industry to misguide you from discovering the truth.
Thank you, Dr. Considine.
(From Discovering Islam archive)