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A Search for Christ's Essence

 

As a child, December 25th came and went like every other day we were out of school.  It was nothing to us.  We didn't believe it was the day of Christ's birth much less a Holy Day because according to the verses in the Bible Jesus was born during the harvest season (not winter) and nothing in the Bible declared this day one that was to be kept as holy.  Furthermore, the means by which it was celebrated were contrary to verses in the Bible, which addressed the pagan worship of trees through their decoration with silver and gold.  With my dad being part of a church that desired to steadfastly abide by God's guidance as sent to His prophets in the form of revelation, I was raised to stay clear of all things pagan even if they were a part of the popular culture.

In my teens, I went to live with my mom who had a very different outlook.  Attending a Baptist church with her, we learned of the concept of Jesus as Savior and were exposed to the popular traditions of decorating a tree with an angel or star on top and wrapped gifts underneath.  It was, of course, nice to get gifts from those we loved, but I couldn't accept the beliefs that were supposed to accompany all this joy and celebration.  I could see Mom didn't want us to be left out of the pleasures of this life anymore, but Dad's concerns about our next life held strong in my heart and mind.  Jesus was someone to be loved, but this just didn't seem like the most appropriate way of showing it.

Especially as Christmas became more and more commercialized and about what one would "get this time," reflection on Jesus and the reasons he was sent to us seemed all the more lost.  One of the most precious beings that had ever lived was being brushed aside by materialism and spiritually contrary traditions.  Even those efforts by churches like my mom's to remind the people of Christ through manger scenes full of statues and plays depicting Christ's supposed appearance and demeanor only added to my confusion as to who Christ really was.  Was he chosen by God and brought forth by virgin birth as a guide and mercy to mankind, or was he somehow a part of God brought forth as Son of God in human form?  If the second, how could Almighty God be contained by anything in His creation?  What evidence supported that?  Did Jesus not eat, sleep, and pray like every other human?  Was his creation not similar to the creation of Adam who had no father or mother but was shaped and molded and brought into existence by God's word?  It was quite unsettling, but there was nothing else to turn to for guidance and understanding of this very important aspect of belief.

Or at least, I was unaware of it at the time.  Attaining adulthood and going off to college, I began learning of Islam and its concept of Christ.  As I discovered these teachings of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in his sayings and in the revelations he received from God as the Quran, the comprehensive explanation of it all brought my heart peace and a depth of understanding that I never knew before.  Jesus Christ was a prophet from a long line of prophets born of a virgin birth and sent with a message and numerous miracles as an exemplifier of mercy and a guide so that the people of that time might save their own souls through belief in the one and only God and His prophets.  Facing tremendous opposition to his message, God took him alive to later return and fulfill his purpose thereafter passing away into the next life like all other humans.  Finding this belief substantially more congruent with the nature of God, the All Powerful, the Creator and Sustainer of the Worlds, and the known nature of Jesus himself found in scripture, it was only logical that I accept these teachings of Prophet Muhammad about his brother in prophethood Jesus Christ (peace be upon them both).

As a native of Texas who converted to Islam at age nineteen, Najla Tammy Ilhan strives to share glimpses of the wisdom she has found in the seventeen years since
 

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