In the inaugural article of this blog, the hijra was contrasted with the cross. In a subsequent article, the behavior of Ali ibn Abi Talib was examined in light of how it inadvertently preaches the very aspect of the gospel that Muslims typically denounce. In this last look at the hijra, let’s take one more look at Muhammad and Jesus from another angle.
Remember, the hijra was accomplished through the help of Ali ibn Abi Talib, who impersonated Muhammad on the night he was to be assassinated, allowing Muhammad the opportunity to escape unnoticed. Muhammad called his cousin Ali, and hatched the plot to have Ali put in harm’s way so that the leader of the fledgling new religion would have a better chance of escape. Ali’s act of bravery is well known within Islam. Of course, as much as a Muslim may praise Ali for this or any other of his acts, Muhammad is deemed as the person within Islam most to be praised.
Indeed, in Islam, Muhammad is the example to be followed (Qur’an 33:21). Yet in this case, it was Ali who stepped up and did what Muhammad was unwilling to do, put his life on the line. In a strange way, by praising Ali, Muslims inadvertently admit that Muhammad was outclassed on this particular occasion. Of course, saying this will cause an immediate and visceral reaction, so care must be taken. Deep down, do Muslims know Muhammad’s character got eclipsed on this day by Ali? If so, that could never, and will never, be explicitly stated.
Yet let’s move on to the main point. There were many times Jesus faced danger of persecution. For example, in Luke 4:29-30 he was about to be pushed off a cliff, but quietly slipped away by walking right through the crowd. In John 7:30 and John 7:44 the Bible says the Jews were seeking to kill Him, yet no one laid a hand on Him. In John 8:59 the Jews picked up stones in order to stone Him, but He hid Himself and went out of the temple.
As Christians, we often look to Jesus to see what He did. In fact, there was a large WWJD movement in years past, which stood for “What Would Jesus Do?” While this is a great question, there is an equally valid question that is rarely if ever asked. What Would Jesus NOT do? While the omission of any particular event does not prove its non-existence, there are certain conclusions that can be drawn from things Jesus was never reported to have done. In this case, we find as listed above several references to times when He was in physical danger. Of course, His hour had not yet come, but move past that for a moment. How did Jesus escape these times when His life was threatened? The Bible doesn’t go into a lot of detail, but here is one thing Jesus did NOT do. He never put His disciples in harm’s way. Never once did He ask Peter, John, or Andrew to run interference for Him. Never once did He ask Thomas or Simon to create a diversion so that He could safely retreat from danger. Even when on his own initiative Peter used his sword to defend Him, Jesus instructed to him stop. (Luke 22:49-51)
It is true that Jesus’ disciples faced severe persecution later, after Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. However, this happens as result of following Jesus’ example, not as a result of protecting His physical presence during the time of His incarnation.
So comparing Jesus and Muhammad reveals yet another clear opposite manner of behavior. Not once did Jesus ever ask His disciples to aid in His protection. Muhammad generated a scheme to put his cousin Ali at risk so that he could have a better chance at escape. This is something Jesus would never do. Jesus would never put His followers at risk to benefit Himself. Muhammad, however, was more than willing to do so. In fact, it was Muhammad who came up with the plan and summoned Ali and convinced him to go through with the plan.
As always, by studying Islam I learn so much about Christianity. By learning of what Muhammad does, I learn by inference so much about what Jesus would not do. Glory and praise be to the God who, when existing as a human, never put His own safety before others. What a marvelous and lofty standard for us to follow.