Book Write-Up: Jesus and Muhammad: Their Messages, Side-by-Side

Louis St Michael. Jesus and Muhammad: Their Messages, Side-by-Side. Rising Myhrr, 2018. See here to purchase the book.

This book compares Jesus’s sayings in the biblical Gospels with Muhammad’s sayings in the Quran. On one page is Jesus’s sayings on a given topic, and on the opposite page is Muhammad’s comments on that topic. Rarely is there comment from the author, Louis St Michael, though there is an occasional footnote that provides context. The topics are numerous, but they encompass the mission of the messenger, warfare, the stance towards insiders and outsiders, spirituality, sexuality, morality, Satan, the afterlife, and eschatology.

The book also contains an extensive introduction and conclusion that provides information about the religions. The introduction focuses on Jesus and Muhammad themselves. It has a chart about the wars in which Muhammad was engaged and the question of whether each war was retaliatory, defensive, or a matter of conquest. The conclusion goes more into doctrinal and denominational issues.

The book is recommended by academics in religious studies and in Islam. Some specifically like that Louis St Michael places the quotations side by side without commentary, allowing the texts to speak for themselves.

Some thoughts:

A. To its credit, the book neither whitewashes nor demonizes Muhammad. The sorts of passages that critics of Islam cite are in this book, as are the passages that defenders of the religion cite. For instance, Muhammad talked about the importance of forgiveness, but also retaliation.

B. Of interest to me was Muhammad’s lack of assurance that he would go to heaven after he died. This is stated in the book’s conclusion. The reason that stood out to me was a quote in which Muhammad lists requirements that please God: do one’s prayers, give to charity, etc. One might look at that and think it is an easy enough checklist, in contrast with how some Christians make God’s law into a standard of perfection from which everyone falls short. Apparently, though, the requirements did not give Muhammad assurance.

C. In the section about Jesus’s crucifixion, the book cites the Quranic passage that appears to suggest that Jesus escaped the crucifixion. However, Mark Robert Anderson, in The Quran in Context, cites passages that seem to accept that Jesus died (see, for example, 3.55, 116-118, 144; 5.75; 19.15, 33).

D. The book’s positives are that readers can get a flavor of what Jesus in the Gospels and Muhammad in the Quran value, and they can look up a given topic (i.e., homosexuality, war) to see what, if anything, the source says. The book is good for reference in that sense. It is not exactly a smooth or easy read, though, because not much interpretive context or narrative is provided. The conclusion talks some about the divisions within Islam about what in the Quran is authoritative for today: is all of it authoritative, or have later passages superseded earlier passages? Tying that to the actual passages under discussion may have made the book easier to follow.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author. My review is honest.

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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