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Points of convergence and divergence of Jesus Christ in Christianity and 'Isa, alayhis salam in Islam: Voyage on a deeper understanding of Cross, Trinity and other elements

Let him who seeks continue seeking until he finds

Let him who seeks continue seeking until he finds.
When he finds (truth), he will become troubled.
When he becomes troubled, he will be astonished,
and he will (become a master) to rule over all.

~ Saying of Jesus, recorded in the Gospel of Thomas

Ulul-Azim Series introduces Jesus and Isa

Beginning from the Month of November last year (2012), Shaykh Nooruddeen Durkee, may Allah have mercy on him, of Green Mountain Branch of the Shadhili School of Sufism has been hosting a series titled as Ulul Azim - which means the Great Ones. The series are intended to teach on the life and teachings of the Resolute Prophets of God. Taught and broadcasted on Sundays of each month the series covers the life and teachings of Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Muhammad and finally Imam Mahdi. As part of this series, 19th of May Sunday was the 5th Sunday on Ulul Azim series which covered on Prophet Isa alayhis salaam and the talk was titled as Jesus or Isa.

The discourse given by Shaykh Nooruddeen is unique from a number of perspectives, for it encompasses multidimensional facets about Jesus Christ who is known by his original Aramaic name, Isa in Islam, both from Judeo-Christian perspective and its historical background as well as Islamic teachings of his reality or haqiqat as communicated by his successor in the chain of messengership.

When each faith tradition offers a more complete picture, going beyond the mere appearances

In this age of globalization, when we have a greater access to understand faith even from that global perspective, this teaching of Shaykh Nooruddeen is a great example of how people of various faith (namely Abrahamic faith) can learn in a composite manner what each of the faith tradition has to offer about one of the most interesting character significantly connected historically to all three faiths. Jesus being a Jew, whose teaching gave birth to Christianity and who is again considered one of the most important Messenger of God by Islam. As Christ says in the Gospel of Thomas:

Recognize what is before your face
and that which is hidden from the you will be revealed to you.
For there is nothing hidden which shall not be made manifest,
nor buried which shall not be raised.

So in a sense, what each of the faith tradition has encoded in their Codex (Scriptures) are like "what is before the face of humanity" as common knowledge and according to Christ's own teaching, we are called to recognize them, and through them, we hope, and Christ himself encourages us so, that we shall be revealed that which is hidden, the reality (haqiqa) of who Jesus Christ was, who Isa ibn Maryam was.

A precondition of love is knowledge, is gnosis. Unless we know a person fully, we can not love fully. This knowledge is not information, but recognition. In that sense it is important for all of those who has faith upon Christ (both Christians and Muslims) to strive to better understand who he really was and what his true teachings were.

We read in the Act of John that it is the inner longing of Christ that we understand his mystery, his true nature, his true reality of all that occurred to him during his life and go beyond the mere appearances. We read in Act of John which Shaykh Nooruddeen also quotes in the talk, where Christ himself is speaking:

I will that it shall be called a mystery
For what you are you see for I show you your self.

What I am I alone know and no man else.

Behold me in Truth that I am.

Not what I said but what you are able to know.

You hear that I suffered but yet I did not suffer.

That I was pierced and yet was not pierced.

Nailed to a cross but yet not nailed.

That blood flowed from me but yet I did not bleed.

What they say of me did not happen.

But what they didn’t say that did I suffer.

Physical cross and Spiritual cross

In this talk Shaykh Nooruddeen also touches upon the works of Abü Yafiqüb as-Sijistani about relationship of Islamic Shahadah or witnessing the truth regarding the sole Divine reality and how it corresponds to the four dimensions of the "Cross."

I quote from the talk:

The profession of faith (shahadah, namely la ilaha illa Allah) is built on denial and affirmation. The “Cross” is made of two pieces of wood, one of which stands on its own and another piece whose placement depends on the placement of the other – Denial on the left hand and Affirmation on the right hand and Partial truth sunk in the earth and Full Truth raised on High.

The left hand is denial (la), the right hand is affirmation ('illa). That which is sunk in the earth is ('ilaha), the false, whilst that which is raised on high is (Allah), the Truth.

The profession of faith is four words, just as the cross has four extremeties. The profession of faith has four syllables comprised of three letters. The cross has four angles and three terminations. Each end of the cross has three points making twelve points in all corresponding to the shahadah which derives from three letters ('alif, lam and ha) only, not counting repetitions, in a similar way the cross is a compound of planes, lines and angles. The lines correspond to the aalif; the planes to the lam and the angles to the ha.

Just as the shahadah is only completed by being associated with Muhammada (sallallahu alayhis salaam), so the Cross is connected, correctly or incorrectly, with Jesus (and here I mean Jesus not 'Isa). as-Sijistani comments, “The cross thus becomes a clear sign and evidence for all ranks of the hierarchy and commonality. Christian veneration of the “Cross” is something required of them just as, similarly, our veneration of the shahadah is required of us as Muslims.”

Take away lessons

If you are a Muslim or have an existing understanding of where Isa alayhis salaam is positioned in Islam from the Quranic and Prophetic sources, then from this talk you can expect to enrich yourself by widening your knowledge because Shaykh Nooruddeen will go into various diverse sources of Islamic scholarship such as Ismaili views of Crucifixion of Jesus and also that of Ikhwan as-Safa, a 10th century secret society of Muslim philosophers and thinkers.

Similarly on other aspects, both Muslim and Christian person can appreciate this talk very much since this will give them a panoramic tour of the historical developments of various doctrines which shapes Christianity as we know it.

Those who are interested in Gnosticism or Gnostic Christianity may find interesting connecting points which Shaykh Nooruddeen introduces in this talk which may clarify a lot of points regarding what when wrong along various historical points in the development of Christianity and its doctrines during the formative period. The teaching addresses the converging and diverging points of Jesus Christ in Christianity and Isa in Islam.

You may watch the full talk, or download its audio and read the unedited text of the talk in full by visiting Green Mountain School website here: Ulul Azim: Jesus or Isa.

Click on the video above to watch the talk via Green Mountain School Youtube channel

"The true message of Jesus is one of humility, charity, peace, justice brotherly love and mercy not torture and pain which has so warped the world with its message of redemptive suffering and endless war and conflict. Jesus and 'Isa (alayhis salaam) both teach the transformation of the inner person. Love is the motivation and the Beatitudes provide a way of life that promises wholeness and peace on this earth."  ~ Shaykh Nooruddeen Durkee (read his bio), 5th Sunday talk on Ulul-Azim

# Talks of Ulul Azim Series on Green Mountain School:

You may access all the talks (audio and videos) from the following links:

1. Adam and Hawa (Eve)
2. Nuh (Noah)
3. Ibrahim (Abraham)
4. Musa (Moses)
5. Jesus or Isa 

- Divine peace and blessings be upon them all. May we all be guided by the truth which each of them brought with them. Indeed we testify that there is no god but One God the Most High and all Messengers were sent by Allah, Glory be to Him, to humanity and we make no discrimination among any of the Messengers of Truth, Justice, Love, Mercy and Freedom - and we submit to the Divine Will.



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Technology of the Heart: Points of convergence and divergence of Jesus Christ in Christianity and 'Isa, alayhis salam in Islam: Voyage on a deeper understanding of Cross, Trinity and other elements
Points of convergence and divergence of Jesus Christ in Christianity and 'Isa, alayhis salam in Islam: Voyage on a deeper understanding of Cross, Trinity and other elements
Technology of the Heart
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