Christians are often surprised to discover similarities between Islam and their own faith, by how many biblical figures are mentioned in the Qur’an, according to scholar John Kaltner.
Highlighting those similarities is especially important in a post-9/11 world where misconceptions and fears of Islam persist, notes Kaltner.
He’s bringing that message to the University of St. Thomas in a lecture titled, “Moses, Jesus and Mary in the Qur’an,” March 19 at the O’Shaughnessy Educational Center on the St. Paul campus.
“One of the things right off the bat that shocks Christians and Jews very often if they haven’t read the Qur’an much is the fact that there are these biblically affiliated stories and traditions in the Qur’an,” said Kaltner, a professor of Muslim-Christian relations at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tenn.
“The text of the Qur’an ... it functions in a way very similar to the Bible in that it’s meant to be a road map and a guide for people to live their lives.”
Kaltner notes that the Qur’an and Bible share details in the story of Moses’ birth, but the Qur’an highlights the “Islamization of the tradition.”
“For example, in the biblical story, God is completely missing in the story of Moses in the basket on the river. Not a single reference. But in the Qur’anic story, God is all over the place. That is because of the Islamic view of God as being ultimately behind everything. Engaged and very much controlling things.”
With Jesus’ conception, Christians are also surprised to find the Qur’an refers more than once to his virginal conception, Kaltner adds. “At its very heart and understanding, Islam is intimately connected to the people of the Bible,” he said.
“It’s absolutely essential we know as much as we can about people who are different from ourselves. In the case of Islam, it’s particularly important because of the events of 9/11 ... that have shaped the perceptions of many non-Muslims and have led to a reliance on stereotypes ... of Muslims that just perpetuate and spiral into serious problems.”