The theological fur is flying after a Church of England congregation hosted a joint birthday celebration for Muhammad and Jesus, with the church being accused of rejecting the fundamentals of the Christian faith.
The “Milad, Advent and Christmas Celebration” took place Sunday, Dec. 3, at All Saints Church in Kingston upon Thames and was organized with the Kingston Inter-Faith Forum and the South London Inter-Faith Group.
Milad, or Milwad, is the celebration of Muhammad’s birth.
“Marking the birthday of Prophet Muhammad and looking forward to the birthday of Jesus,” the flyer for the event read. “With provision for prayer at Asr and Maghrib and followed by the cutting of the birthday cake and Rizwan’s ‘High Tea.'”
That drew the attention and ire of Adrian Hilton, publisher of Archbishop Cranmer, one of the U.K.’s most popular political and highest-ranking religion blogs. Thomas Cranmer, an early Protestant reformer burned at the stake in 1556, was responsible for the Anglican Book of Common Prayer.
“Note how this event is ‘Marking the birthday of Prophet Muhammad,’ but not looking forward to the birthday of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God,” wrote Hilton. “Muhammad gets his prophethood, while Jesus gets neither his prophethood nor his priesthood; neither his kingship nor his messiahship. It’s the exalted Prophet Muhammad along with plain old Jesus, because to have added any of his claims to divinity would, of course, have alienated many Muslims (if they hadn’t already been alienated by the haram celebration), which wouldn’t have been very interfaith or sensitively missional, would it?”
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Acknowledging Muhammad as “Prophet” is no small thing, Hilton argued. Islam claims its founder came to fulfil and complete the partial revelation of those prophets who came before, including Jesus. Indeed, Jesus’ words to his disciples that after departing He would send them the Comforter, the “Spirit of Truth that proceeds from the Father” (John 15:26) – seen by Christians as a promise of the Holy Spirit – are viewed in Islam as a prophecy announcing Muhammad.
“Every time a church accords Muhammad the epithet ‘Prophet,’ they are rejecting the crucifixion, denying the resurrection of Christ, and refuting that the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, for Muhammad denied all of these foundational tenets of the Christian faith,” says Hilton.
Despite the criticism, a spokesman for the Diocese of Southwark defended holding the interfaith event, saying “it was not a service and … broke no Canon law.”
It “enabled Christians, Muslims and others to meet together in order to promote better understanding, conversation, and relationships.”
This is not the first time the Church of England has been taken to task for attempting to mix Christianity and Islam.
Westminster Abbey earlier hosted a service during which Muhammad was named in the succession of prophets. During a January 2017 church service in celebration of the Feast of Epiphany at St. Mary’s Episcopal in Glasgow, the Quran was read in Arabic by a young Muslim woman who chose as her passage one that declared Jesus was not the Son of God.
“To have a reading from the Quran at that point was a fairly serious error for the Christian worshiping community,” commented Rev. Gavin Ashenden, then chaplain to the queen. “But to choose the reading they chose doubled the error. Of all passages you might have read likely to cause offense, that was one of the most problematic.”
Ashenden subsequently resigned the chaplaincy so he could be free to “speak on behalf of the faith.”
While the Scottish church issued a statement saying it was “distressed” at what had occurred, no apology was issued.
Last month, WND reported that an elementary school in Norway had incorporated readings from the Quran into its Christmas celebration.
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According to anti-Shariah activist Pamela Geller, this has all sadly become par for the course.
“This is a sign of the times in Europe,” said Geller, author of “Stop the Islamization of America.” “It’s as if the Europeans know who their new masters and overlords are. The same spirit of appeasement and submission that animates such initiatives in Europe is alive and well here.”
Indeed, 50 U.S. churches in 26 states invited Muslim clergy to come and read from the Quran in their sanctuaries in 2011. It was part of the “Faith Shared: Uniting in Prayer and Understanding” initiative, a project of Interfaith Alliance and Human Rights First. The project was an effort to counter “anti-Muslim bigotry” at a time when Quran burnings had been in the news. The Washington National Cathedral was one of the churches that took part in the initiative.
Leo Hohmann, WND news editor and author of “Stealth Invasion: Muslim Conquest Through Immigration and the Resettlement Jihad,” had harsh words for the Christians who have allowed the Muslim holy book to be read in their sacred spaces.
“Allowing the Quran to be read inside a church is the equivalent of the ancient Israelites setting up an image of a false god in the Holy of Holies,” Hohmann declared. “It’s blasphemous. Why? Because the Quran denies the deity of Christ, denies that God is a Father or that he had a Son, and also denies the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. What’s left of Christianity that Islam and the Quran do not deny?”