Billboard highlights bond between Muslims and Jesus
A billboard on U.S. 290 near Highway 6 in Hempstead calls attention to the commonalities between Islam and Christianity, reminding drivers that "Muslims ❤️ Jesus" too.
The big picture: Illinois-based Islamic education center GainPeace is placing similar signs in Chicago, Dallas and central New Jersey to highlight the religions' shared roots and to work through the misconceptions.
Between the lines: Christianity and Islam are both monotheistic faiths whose religious texts — the Bible and the Quran — include many verses about Jesus and Mary. Muslims consider Jesus to be a prophet of God.
Zoom in: GainPeace serves as the outreach arm of the nonprofit Islamic Circle of North America and chose to put billboards in cities where the organization has a strong presence and where there is a significant Muslim population.
- They paid about $6,000 for the Houston sign, which was sponsored by a local Muslim convert who wants people to know about the religions' similarities.
- The "Muslims ❤️ Jesus" billboard includes a phone number, 800-662-ISLAM (4752), that people can call if they have any questions.
What they're saying: Abdul Sheikh, a GainPeace employee at the call center and a teacher of comparative religions, said they get about 20 calls daily — some hate calls and some with preconceived notions, but most people have been generally curious.
- "We've been getting a lot of calls and questions like, 'What do you mean you guys believe in Jesus?'" GainPeace volunteer Aamer Abdul-Jaleel says.
- "When we explain that in order to be a Muslim, we have to believe in Jesus and the Virgin Mary, they're just blown away," he says.
What's next: Abdul-Jaleel says the billboard has prompted dozens of calls and invitations to "break bread" with priests and pastors over breakfast or lunch. The hope is to expand those conversations to other cities.
- "The belief in prophets all the way to Adam — and Jesus — is part of the articles of faith in Islam," he says. "These campaigns are intended to celebrate the commonalities of faiths across communities and to build bridges, educating ourselves on the differences that exist."
Of note: The Houston billboard is scheduled to be up until at least late January, but the date may be extended.
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