While 2,020 Easters have come and gone, has he risen yet? Risen within us? I hope and pray that each of us will let Christ rise and shine through us, so through us, he can bring about a change that we are all yearning for a world where all of God’s children are respected and honored. Happy Easter!
Anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, Misogyny, Racism, Homophobia, xenophobia, and other phobias prevent us from realizing the elusive dream of a kingdom of heaven on this earth that Jesus talked about. Maybe he wants us to take on the task with his blessings. May the Golden rule be our guiding light, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (Matt. 7:12).
To be a Muslim, one has to believe in Christ, who brings life to the dead, the one who has the healing powers, and one who is the Morning star that brings the good news. He will come back as the Messiah to close the chapter of human suffering and bring salvation to humankind by reconnecting them with God.
Jesus is indeed a unifier and will herd us all towards the elusive kingdom of heaven, where we will live an eternal life free from anxieties, fears, and disappointments.
The world believes in Jesus inclusive of Christians and Muslims. It is his message of loving the enemy, loving thy neighbor, and forgiving the other that is universal, and following which will set us all free. Let’s celebrate that message!
To this Muslim, Easter represents the resurrection of Jesus through his message, and Easter is a symbolic day to celebrate that message.
Easter is a Christian festival and holiday celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ on the third day after his crucifixion at Calvary as described in the New Testament. Easter is the culmination of the Passion of Christ, preceded by Lent, a forty-day period of fasting, prayer, and penance. The last week of Lent is called Holy Week, and it contains the days of the Easter Triduum, including Maundy Thursday (also known as Holy Thursday), commemorating the Last Supper and its preceding foot washing, as well as Good Friday, commemorating the crucifixion and death of Jesus. Easter is followed by a fifty-day period called Eastertide or the Easter Season, ending with Pentecost Sunday.
The resurrection of Jesus is the Christian belief that Jesus Christ miraculously returned to life on the Sunday following the Friday on which he was executed by crucifixion. It is the central tenet of Christian faith and theology and part of the Nicene Creed: “On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures.”
At Jesus’ Grave
A few years ago, I was in Jerusalem and was blessed to sit by the place where he was supposedly buried. It was peaceful sitting out there for a few minutes. As a Muslim, I have the habit of praying at all burials sites for peace and blessings for the souls of the deceased.
I expressed my gratitude to him at the site for bringing the blessed message of love and forgiveness to humanity to create a better society for all of us to live.
On my way to Al-Aqsa Mosque early in the morning, after the Ramadan morning meal (suhoor) at Imam Bukhari’s great-great grandson’s house, who lives on Via Dolorosa, I saw a man carry a big cross on his shoulder. I was walking on the same path Jesus had walked some 2,000 years ago. I could not resist stopping and feeling fabulous with goosebumps all over me. I cherish that moment!
I want to make a point here: Jesus and his message belongs to the whole of humanity, just as the message of all the spiritual masters, including Buddha, Mahavir, Muhammad, Moses, Abraham, Krishna, Zoroaster, Nanak, and so many others, who brought the message of peace and pluralism to the world. Please do not monopolize these great individuals as yours, their blessings are not limited to your group but, but for all.
Baptizing a Muslim
Many Christians don white clothes, symbolizing purification. Indeed, Muslims do the same when they go to Mecca for the Hajj pilgrimage.
Jesus donned one piece of white cloth when he was baptized, and to this day, the tradition is followed at the Yardenit. I was dunked at the same baptismal spot in River Jordan, a symbolic gesture of following Jesus.
Thank God the Baptist Minister agreed to customize the invocation for me. He recited, “in the name of God, and to honor Jesus, I baptize you today at this holy site.” Indeed, two Dutch imams felt comfortable with the recitation and got baptized as well.
It was an enriching experience to me, particularly, feeling the symbolic transformation of the feeling of love towards all of God’s creation, every human being.
Muslims feel the same upon the performance of Hajj Pilgrimage; we become child-like with love for all of God’s creation, life, and matter. The Hindus cherish an identical feeling when they take a dip at the Sangam in River Ganges, particularly during the Kumbh Mela. Of course, every tradition has a purifying ritual.
(More Baptismal pictures here.)
Every faith is composed of a set of unique rituals to bring discipline and peace to human life. Fasting is one of the critical elements of observing Lent.
The spirit and intent of Lent lie in a human transformation in forty days of the inner spiritual journey of finding oneself in tune with spirituality.
As a token of solidarity, I have observed lent a few times.
Lent reminds me of the 30 days of Ramadan, seven days of Jain Paryushan, eight days of Jewish Passover, and nine days of Hindu Navaratri. The essence of all these events is a renewal of the soul and reflection on life. I am happy that these actions are designed to make better humans out of us.
Jesus is one of my mentors, a true pluralist who had no barriers between him and humanity; as a Muslim, I reiterate the affirmation of that thought, of being boundless.
I salute Pope Francis for all the right things he has done so far, and he has many more things to accomplish in his lifetime, including mitigating conflicts between Jews and Christians, Christians and Muslims and Christians and others. I am willing to jump and take up the task of peace for every human being.
Jesus blessed the peacemakers from Mount Beatitude, and I took his message seriously to be a peacemaker when I walked on that hill. What does it mean for us? We must gear ourselves to mitigate conflicts, seek peace between conflicting parties, forgive others, seek forgiveness, treat others as we would want to be treated. We must seek justice for every human being. If we can learn to respect the otherness of the other and accept the God-given uniqueness to each one of us, then conflicts fade, and solutions emerge to live cohesively without apprehensions.
May you find a new person in you who cares for all of God’s creation.
Dr. Mike Ghouse is a speaker, thinker, author, community consultant, pluralist, activist, newsmaker, and an interfaith wedding officiant. Mike is deeply committed to Free speech, Human Rights, and Pluralism in Religion, Politics, Societies, and the workplace. He is the founder and president of the Center for Pluralism and a writer at the World Muslim Congress, a Think Tank. He is the author of the book American Muslim Agenda, building a cohesive America. He has dedicated his life to building a cohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions to the media and the policymakers on issues of the day. Everything about him is at www.TheGhousediary.com