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» 03/26/2004
lebanon - islam
"Issa's" (Jesus's) crucifix fascinates today's Islamic intellectuals

The release of the movie "The Passion of the Christ" in Middle East Muslim countries opens the question on how Muslim see the crucifix. In Italy, for example, the crucifix in public places makes some Muslims intolerant and blasphemous. Elsewhere in the Islamic world, the Jesus who died on the cross and resurrected, the Jesus of Catholics, fascinates religious Muslims – above all poets, writers and contemporary intellectuals.



 Beirut (AsiaNews) – "Jesus's passion is essential to innovative modern poets; in this way they hope to give new life to language and society," said Tarif Khalidi, professor of Islamic history at Cambridge University during a seminar at the American University of Beirut. Tarif Khalidi is author of the book, "The sayings and stories of Jesus the Muslim in Islamic Literature" (Harvard). The book was recently published in Arabic by the Lebanese publishing housing, An-Nahar, under the title "The Gospel According to Muslims".

Muslims respect and honor Jesus in a special way. So much that when his name is said, one adds "peace be upon him". Officially for Islam, Jesus escaped death by using others as substitutes (cf. An-Nisà's Sura IV, "The Women").

During a seminar held in Beirut, Khalidi spoke about the "fascination that the figure of Jesus has had on the Muslim imagination" since antiquity.

When Islam speaks about Jesus, according to Khalidi, one must distinguish between two tendencies: firstlt, there is the "theological-prophetic" Jesus of the Koran who is considered the "Word of God", "His Breath", "Messiah", "Allah's Messenger"; secondly, there is the narrative or "mythical" Jesus, in terms of his life as told in the Muslim literature and in myths, "in the flesh and blood and in stories".

It is this very "mythological" aspect –that of Christ's passion, blood and resurrection –which interests Islamic intellectuals. Among them are three contemporary poets: the Sudanese Muhammad al-Fayturi, Palestinian Mahmud Darwish and Iraqi Badr Shaker al-Sayyab, inspired by Christ's "mythological" status as seen in his death and resurrection to save mankind.  For the poet, Al-Sayyab, "Jesus is a figure who is more in tune with nature and the seasons than Mohammad."

The images used by these poets to describe Jesus represent a challenge to the Koran, where nothing is said of his divinity and crucifixion. However, for these authors the main elements of the Christian faith "are too beautiful…to leave out." 


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See also
03/26/2004 qatar
Gibson's "Passion" arrives in the Middle East
03/26/2004 islam - christianity
Islam and Jesus: almost a "love affair" (profile)
03/12/2004 Lebanon
Cardinal Nasrallah Sfeir says Gibson's film is not anti-Semitic
07/26/2004 MALAYSIA
"The Passion of the Christ" for Christians-only viewing
03/11/2004 PHILIPPINES
Bishops impressed by "The Passion": "Mel Gibson is like Mother Teresa"
cambodia
"The Passion: A Great Instrument For Mission Work"
pakistan
Viewers react to " Passion of the Christ"
INDIA
Gibson's film inspires passionate interest in Aramaic
THAILAND
Passion of the Christ raises questions among Buddhist audiences
IRAN
'Passion' opens despite Islamic objections
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Gibson's "Passion" appreciated by Hindus, seen as antidote to fundamentalism
HONG KONG - TAIWAN – CHINA
"The Passion" : Movie theaters booked by churches inviting non-Christians
Qatar
After seeing "The Passion" Muslims start searching for the Gospel
philippines
'The Passion of the Christ': "A milestone in the cinema history"
south korea
"The Passion" welcomed by Protestants and Catholics
malaysia
Malaysian Muslims offended by "The Passion"
Palestine
"The Passion of the Christ" resounding success as moviegoers search for traces of anti-Semitism
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philippines
Archbishop Rosales: "Watch 'The Passion!'"
qatar
Gibson's "Passion" arrives in the Middle East
islam - christianity
Islam and Jesus: almost a "love affair" (profile)
ITALY
Jim Caviezel: Under the make-up, a man of Faith
Lebanon
Cardinal Nasrallah Sfeir says Gibson's film is not anti-Semitic
PHILIPPINES
Bishops impressed by "The Passion": "Mel Gibson is like Mother Teresa"

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by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
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