The Islamic Jesus: Book summary and reviews of The Islamic Jesus by Mustafa Akyol

The Islamic Jesus

How the King of the Jews Became a Prophet of the Muslims

by Mustafa Akyol

The Islamic Jesus by Mustafa Akyol X
The Islamic Jesus by Mustafa Akyol

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Book Summary

An exploration into Islam in the context of the first Muslims and the early origins of Christianity.

When Reza Aslan's bestseller Zealot came out in 2013, there was criticism that he hadn't addressed his Muslim faith while writing the origin story of Christianity. In fact, Ross Douthat of The New York Times wrote that "if Aslan had actually written in defense of the Islamic view of Jesus, that would have been something provocative and new."

Mustafa Akyol's The Islamic Jesus is that book - and even much more.

For The Islamic Jesus not only tells the story of Jesus, and his mother Mary, as narrated in the Qur'an. It also explores how this Islamic picture of the Nazarene resonates with pre-existing Christian sources, especially Apocrypha. In particular, it unveils the fascinating similarity between Islam and "Jewish Christianity," a strain in the early church that got branded as a heresy.

Jewish Christians were observant Jews who honored Jesus as a human - not divine - Messiah, and sought salvation by faith and works, not "by faith alone." Akyol shows how their peculiar creed vanished in history after the first few Christian centuries, but only to be reborn in 7th century Arabia by a new prophet named Muhammad. This provokes puzzling questions about the origins of Islam, and the Abrahamic genealogy. 

The Islamic Jesus also offers an "Islamic Christology," and probes into Muslim beliefs on the "Second Coming." Perhaps most provokingly, it even contemplates, "What Jesus can teach Muslims today" - at a  time, Akyol argues, when Muslims are haunted by their own Herods, Pharisees and Zealots.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. This is a solid read for those interested in the history of theology and religions, Christian-Muslim dialogue, understanding more about Islam, or appreciating the multivalent milieu of the Middle Eastern world where Christianity, Judaism, and Islam emerged." - Publishers Weekly

"Starred Review. Akyol has produced an exceptionally compelling work that promotes religious tolerance and understanding. Recommended for religious scholars and anyone with an interest in religion." - Library Journal

"Intriguing ... A fascinating bridge text between Islam and Christianity." - Kirkus

"This work helps Westerners, especially Christians, to gain more insight into the Islamic understanding of Jesus - upon whom be peace- and also into why, while he is so highly venerated in Islam, he is not divinized as he is in Christianity but remains a prophet." - Seyyed Hossein Nasr, Professor of Islamic Studies, The George Washington University

"Anyone interested in the deeper relationship between Judaism, Christianity, and Islam will learn much from Mustafa Akyol's thoughtful, clearly written, and well researched analysis of how Jewish beliefs and practiced carried over into Christianity, ... His compelling book is a must read for friends and foes of the Children of Abraham theme." - Charles Butterworth, Emeritus Professor, Department of Government & Politics, University of Maryland

"In this highly readable and provocative book, Mustafa Akyol establishes the unique role played by Jesus within the Islamic tradition ... From this vantage point, Jesus does not divide the Abrahamic religions but reconciles them, a message much needed in our divisive times." - Asma Afsaruddin, Professor of Islamic Studies, Indiana University

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Author Information

Mustafa Akyol

Mustafa Akyol is a regular columnist for the Hurriyet Daily News, Al-Monitor.com, and the International New York Times. His book, Islam without Extremes, has been reviewed and quoted by The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Washington Post, NPR, The Guardian, National Review, and Washington Times. Akyol has appeared on Fareed Zakaria's GPS on CNN, Hardtalk on BBC, and TED.com. Islam without Extremes was long-listed for the 2012 Lionel Gelber Prize literary prize.

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