The foundation for the conflict between Muslims and Christians is genuine and is irreconcilable, but not out of the realm of solutions. The crux of the problem is God himself and how he is viewed in both traditions. The issue is the Holy Trinity V Tauheed (monotheism).
Politics is a byproduct of fear and insecurity. When Muslims outnumbered Christians through conversions in the 10th century Syria, the Christians legitimately feared the possibility of Muslim fanatics making their life difficult, although that was not the case at that time. However, to keep the Christians within the fold, a pastor in 957 AD declared that “Quran was a false book written by a false prophet” – those words continue to reverberate in halls of Christian corridors even today.
Muslims’ strongly believe in Quran; 112:3 لَمْ يَلِدْ وَلَمْ يُولَدْ (Asad) "He (God) begets not, and neither is He begotten;” and the unforgivable sin for a Muslim is to associate any one with God as his deputy, assistant or a partner. The idea is articulated in many verses including is 31:13 (Asad) And, lo, Luqman spoke thus unto his son, admonishing him: “O my dear son! Do not ascribe divine powers to aught beside God: for, behold, such [a false] ascribing of divinity is indeed an awesome wrong!”
The above completely goes against the doctrine of trinity, Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit who exists together as a communion of three persons. Muslims just cannot fathom that, and Christians can’t grasp a God who is not a being and not a thing.
Many of us, including me, who is active in interfaith dialogue has understood Christian belief in Christ as a son of God, or God in flesh and what it means to Christians, and respecting the Christian belief without agreeing with it. Unfortunately, most Muslims do not have that opportunity and are hung up with the idea that God can have a son; likewise, many Christians do understand Muslim belief in Christ as a prophet, but those who do not interact take it as an offense that Muslims reduce God to a mere mortal prophet.
Christianity and Islam are based on diagonally opposite idea of God, however both believe in one Supreme God, and that should be good enough.
There is a greater call from God than reconciliation; to coexist. In one of the verses of Quran God acknowledges the diversity of his creation, and conflicts are a part of that diversity. He advises, the best among you is the most righteous one among you. The righteous one is one who treats others as he would want to be treated.
That brings me to the topic of Pluralism. Pluralism is not about appeasing each other; pluralism is not about converging or meshing our beliefs; and Pluralism is not about faking civility, but rather, genuinely respecting the otherness of others and accepting each other's path as equally divine. It is indeed truly respecting the creator for creating us to be unique, respecting you with all my heart and mind is respecting the one who created you. If we can learn to accept each other's uniqueness, then conflicts fade and solutions emerge.
49:13 (Y.Ali) “O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise (each other). Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things)”
Quran further guides; you believe what works for you and I believe what works for me, as long as we do not mess with each other's space, sustenance and nurturance. Both will go to Janna (paradise) if we care about God's creation.
It is all there, what is needed is genuine leadership who can urge Muslims and Christians to accept the otherness of the other without the temptation to correct the other.
Islam is certainly compatible with Christianity in all aspects of life except the God issue of Trinity/Tauheed.
Both the traditions are fully compatible in terms of birth control, pre-marital and extra marital sexual relations, taking care of the elderly, poor, the hungry, sharing, caring, charity and raising kids with sound religious values. If it is not news, any Muslim who can afford to send his or her child will invariably send his child to a Catholic Convent over other schools.
Pope Francis is singularly the most influential person on the world stage besides the President of the United States who can affect positive or negative outcomes in a given society. He can aggravate the conflicts or mitigate them and become a Blessed peacemaker.
I hope and pray that he heralds a new beginning for building a better world for the humanity without distinction. After all he represents the man from the Galilee and hopefully follows him in embracing the whole humanity.
As a Muslim and a Pluralist, I welcome Pope Francis, and make myself available to jump at his call for creating peace in the world, where no human has to live in fear of the others, let the world be the new kingdom of heaven where we all feel safe and secure with each other. Amen!
God willing, through this year, I will be writing on the deep conflicts between different communities.
Mike Ghouse is a speaker, thinker and a writer on pluralism, politics, peace, Islam,Israel, India, interfaith, and cohesion at work place. He is committed to building aCohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day atwww.TheGhousediary.com. He believes in Standing up for others and has done that throughout his life as an activist. Mike has a presence on national and local TV, Radio and Print Media. He is a frequent guest on Sean Hannity show on Fox TV, and a commentator on national radio networks, he contributes weekly to the Texas Faith Column at Dallas Morning News; fortnightly at Huffington post; and several other periodicals across the world. His personal site www.MikeGhouse.net indexes all his work through many links.