May 17, 2008 | Farooqi, Neda
Those who have always thought that Jesus belongs to Christianity alone are mistaken. The Whylslam organization held an event titled “Jesus In Islam” on May 7 at the Westland Public Library.
WhyIslam.org is a website-oriented association that has regional leaders spreading the word of Islam through events and speeches throughout the U.S.
“Jesus is familiar to Muslims as a prophet in Islam. (But) there is no concept of original sin,” said Harry Bissell, the main speaker for the evening.
Bissell converted from Christianity to Islam in 1993. He was offended by the ill treatment of Biblical figure Hagar, who was the Egyptian handmaid of Sarah, Abraham’s wife. When Sarah was unable to have children, she arranged to make Hagar the concubine of Abraham, in order to start a family, according to Christian scripture.
This moved Bissell to search other religions. When he stumbled upon Islam, he was moved by Islam’s version of Abraham’s story.
“In many ways, Abraham in Islam has influenced me,” said Bissell.
Bissell is now an imam or congregational leader at his local mosque. ni
Bissell explained that many nonMuslims assign Muhammad to Islam parallel to Jesus in Christianity.
“Oftentimes we are called Muhammadans. This is incorrect. We don’t worship or correlate Muhammad to God in any way or form,” said Bissell.
Bissell also tried to clear up other misconceptions such as the ranking of prophets.
“There is no hierarchy of prophets in Islam. Each and every one is equal.” Bissell told the crowd that there are more pages in the Qur’an on Moses man there are on Muhammad, while most people think that Muslims favor Muhammad over the others.
He said that Muhammad is just a prophet of Islam, and has no godly characteristics to him.
Bissell illustrated correlations between Islam and Christianity.
“We believe in many of the same prophets, from Adam to Abraham to David.”
The mixed audience of the two different religions felt a wave of uneasiness when Bissell said “There is no account of Jesus crucified.”
Bissell was quoting the Qur’an from the chapter titled, “Surah AnNisa.” “Jesus was raised up to God and he will return to fight the antiChrist but he never died according to the Qur’an,” he said.
This raised a myriad of questions from the Christian audience, resulting in a heated argument.
Bissell explained that he was merely conveying what the Qur’an says and that this is the belief of Muslims.
“We have to come together in this country and try to focus on the similarities,” he said. “Arguing over things we cannot alter will just waste our time.”
“The Bible has been re-written numerous times. Muslims believe in its original form,” said Bissell.
He said that 13 of the 27 books in the Bible are Paul’s legal opinions without any accounts of Jesus.
“The purpose of this dialogue and others like such is to broaden our knowledge about one another,” said Bissell. “This is how we will progress.”
Imam Harry Bissell:
“We have to come together in this country and try to focus on the similarities. Arguing over things we cannot alter will just waste our time.”
May 17, 2008 | Farooqi, Neda