Yesterday I attended the book launch of “The Jihad of Jesus” by Dave Andrews… that’s a title that’ll get your attention…

I feel it takes a little explanation so I’m going to take the liberty of including Dave’s Preface here so that he is introducing the material in his own words…

“I do not write this an an expert. I am not.

I do not write this as a specialist. I am not.

I simply write this as a Christian, in conversation with Muslim friends, seeking to find a way we can struggle for love and justice that is true to the best of our traditions.

I am writing this for Christians who are concerned about the way Jesus has been (mis)represented by well-known crusading combative pastors, like Mark Driscoll.

I am writing this for Muslims who are concerned about the way jihad has been (mis)represented by well known militant extremist preachers, like Abubakar Shekau.

And I am writing this for people who subscribe to neither religion, but watch with horror, as Christians and Muslims slaughter one another in the name of God.

For many people jihad and Jesus are totally contradictory, mutually exclusive options.  You must choose the one or the other.  You cannot have both.  Given our present situation, Muslims would tend to choose jihad, Christians would tend to choose Jesus.

But it is my contention that – rightly understood -you can’t have one without the other.  in spite of the fact this may seem heresy to Muslims and/or Christians, I contend you cannot rightly pursue jihad without Jesus, or rightly pursue Jesus without jihad.

Reza Aslan’s book Zealot sets forth the case that Jesus was not simply a pious spiritual teacher, but actually a radical messianic activist. Of this there is no doubt.  Both Muslims and Christians believe Jesus was the Masih or the Messiah.  The debate is about what his radical messianic activism meant in the context of his time and what his radical messianic activism means in the context of the violence and counter-violence in our time.

If, as some would argue, Reza Aslan is right, Jesus could be a model for violent jihad.  But if, as I argue, Ahmad Shawqi is right, Jesus would be a model of nonviolent jihad: as

Kindness, chivalry an humilty were born on the day Jesus was born.  No threat, no tyranny, no revenge, no sword, no raids, no bloodshed did he use to call to the new faith.

The Jihad of Jesus is the sacred nonviolent struggle for justice.”

Dave Andrews, Bribane 2015

Nora (short, coloured, Muslim, woman) speaks first which is an important signal I think – the medium is the message.  She and her family build their home in a new development and meet with the neighbours regarding fence options and collectively decide not to have them but have the children stay, play, eat together… different religions, different cultures… five months later 9/11 happened.  She said “The fences will go up now” and they didn’t. Not until many years later when the family was to move.  They were known and, known, they were accepted.  Muslims make up 2.2% of the population in Australia (2011 census) – not likely to meet one but the culture of fear is being fed.  Nora felt called to speak out but Christians wouldn’t listen – “You won’t be accepted if you don’t remove your scarf”, serving her pork and giving her copies of the bible… someone suggested she meet Dave and she didn’t want to, this books captures 7+ years of the shared conversations that followed.

Dave (yes… tall, white, Christian, male) speaks second.  We believe in the same Abrahamic God- need to start where we agree and then explore other areas.  When 9/11 happened, Dave went to his local mosque and said “I’m sorry, they’re going to try and make it them and us (set us against each other) may I come in and join you in prayer as an act of solidarity?”

He gave Nora a copy of this books manuscript and has included her comments in footnotes where she has disagreed with him – minority/dissenting voice included.

Steps forward:

(Buy and read this book I reckon’!)

  • talk about it
  • live it out yourself
  • tell stories
  • invite others in
  • celebrate the wins