‘Jesus, ibn Maryam, the son of Mary, came with the message, or risaleh, [an] epistle of good news, Injil, and what was it? That you should submit, surrender, and obey in sincerity and peace Almighty Allah. All of this we substantiated from the Bible and the Qur’an.’
This statement, which was said to be justified in two of the gospels of the New Testament as well as in the Qur’an, was one of many made by former minister of music and preacher of the Gospel Sheikh Yusuf Estes last Wednesday. The event was sponsored by the Muslim Student Union, who invited Sheikh Estes to speak at a program titled ‘Islam: The True Message of Jesus.’
The purpose of this one-hour event was, in Estes’ words, to ‘find some of the similarities and draw some parallels between what is being taught to Muslims and what is being taught to Christians as well.’ The goal was to bring together members of all faiths to examine these similarities.
The program began with Estes giving a brief description of his conversion to Islam, after which he started his comparison of the portrayal of Jesus and his message in Islam and Christianity.
By quoting many Biblical and Quranic verses, Estes clearly showed that both Islam and Christianity carry the same essential message that was preached by Jesus: to submit to the one God. He showed how this message was found in the religious texts of both religions through the etymological examination of many terms, including ‘Jesus,’ ‘Benjamin,’ ‘peace,’ ‘Islam,’ ‘Allah,’ ‘God’ and ‘Muslim.’
Emphasizing that examining these words in the original Aramaic of the Bible and Arabic of the Qur’an was essential to the effectiveness of the message of the scriptures, Estes repeatedly stressed the fact that his main purpose was to point out the similarities and draw parallels between the religions, because too often people focus on the differences when in fact there are more similarities than differences.
Estes’ style of speaking was relaxed and humorous. He presented his points clearly and kept his audience engaged. The program was followed by a brief question and answer session. However, due to time constraints, many of the questions went unanswered.
In order to receive more complete answers to the questions and those that were unanswered, Estes gave the following Internet addresses: http://www.yusufestes.com (which includes his conversion story), http://www.shareislam.com, and http://www.islamcode.com.
Many members of the audience said that the program was interesting and they appreciated the fact that Estes was well-informed about both Christianity and Islam, and could therefore provide accurate evidence from both religions’ scriptures and histories.
They also appreciated that Estes, as one student put it, found ‘middle ground’ in his discussion of this topic.
However, those in the audience who had heard Estes speak at prior events, although satisfied with the event, agreed he was not up to his usual self, and were slightly disappointed that this had not been one of his better days.
Nevertheless, the event was still enlightening and highlighted many points that members of the audience had not considered before. Estes ended the program by reiterating that ‘the point that we are delivering here is Jesus, or Isa, peace be upon him, came with a message, [to] submit to God on his terms,’ and whoever does that would be considered a Muslim.