Islam Awareness Week features lecture about perspectives on Jesus

Rund Khayyat

One distinction between Christianity and Islam regarding Jesus is that Muslims do not believe Jesus died, nationally known Imam Siraj Wahhaj said Wednesday.

Wahhaj spoke about Jesus in the Quran at an event called “What Did Jesus Really Say?,” hosted as a part of UT’s Islam Awareness Week. 

“Muhammad is mentioned in the Quran four times, while Jesus is mentioned 25 times,” Wahhaj said. “Further, the Quran mentions more miracles from Jesus that are not in the Bible. For example, the Quran says he spoke from the cradle.”

While Christians believe Jesus died on the cross and was resurrected, Muslims believe he never died and ascended into heaven, according to Wahhaj.

“Why do we study Jesus?” Wahhaj asked. “We believe one of the signs of the Day of Judgement is the return of Jesus. We believe that he will come back and die on that day.”

Islamic scripture states that all of the prophets, including Jesus, were human, Wahhaj said.

“The Quran lets us know Jesus was human because he was born; he ate food; and all of the prophets said they were human,” Wahhaj said. “Jesus is great. We love him, we respect him, but we would never, ever worship anyone other than the Creator himself.”

Many Christian and Jewish students were surprised by this information, according to Kareem Abdi, government sophomore and Muslim Students’ Association educational director.

“Many people told me hearing Jesus and our love for him is important in Islam made them feel more unity among the religions than they had previously imagined,” Abdi said.

It is important to come out and learn about other religions because UT is such a diverse campus, nutrition sophomore Caitlin Etherton said.

“It is so valuable to learn more about your peers so that you can understand them and connect with them in deeper and more effective ways,” Etherton said.

This lecture was part of Islam Awareness Week 2015, which encourages the University community to learn about Islam. There were more non-Muslim students in attendance than at other previous Islam-related events, according to the Muslim Students’ Association.

Many students base their ideas on the media because they haven’t gotten to know a Muslim, Abdi said.

“This week, students can meet and talk to their Muslim peers and Muslim scholars, and that is invaluable,” Abdi said.