Lecture educates on Jesus in Islam
Posted Oct. 31, 2008
Walter Mansilla
The lecture and discussion, “Jesus in Islam” was held in the President’s Dining Room on Oct. 21. Amir Mertaban, sponsored by the Most Greatest Club Ever, delivered a lecture on the similarities between Christianity and Islam with a focus on the life of Jesus in the Quran. An active dicussion between the audience members and Mertaban continued until 10 p.m.

With negativity in the media about Islam and fundamentalism, many were able to put that negativity to rest, become more educated about Islam and learn about what Muslims believe Jesus to be with a discussion called “Jesus in Islam,” led by Islam follower, Amir Mertaban.

The Most Greatest Club Ever, La Verne’s religion and philosophy club, organized the presentation, which was given in the President’s Dining Room on Oct. 21 with about 60 people in attendance.

Mertaban was relaxed and open to anything.

“I am very chill,” Mertaban said. “I have done my research in what Christians, Jews and Muslims believe Jesus to be, but I am not a religious scholar in any way.”

“My intention is not to convert anyone or push my Islamic views on anyone,” Mertaban added.

Mertaban began his presentation with an overview of what Islam is by explaining the religion of Islam in general and giving statistics.

He obtained much of his research from Georgetown University and Princeton University.

“Islam is an absolute monotheistic religion which was founded in 622 CE by the prophet Mohammad,” Mertaban said. “It literally means submission and peace.”

“More importantly, Islam is a way of life,” Mertaban said. “ It is practiced by more than 1.3 billion people in the world.”

He explained misconceptions about Islam and fundamentalism.

“The definitions and the verses mentioned in the Quran can go either way,” Mertaban said. “The beliefs in Islam are solid; they never change, and you can take it the way you want.”

“The Quran has a lot of points to be made and insights,” Mertaban said. “ Muslims are not how the media portrays them to be.”

Islam does not just involve faith; it also involves good deeds such as giving to charity and helping others, according to Mertaban.

After informing the audience about what Islam is, he talked about the similarities and differences between Islam, Judaism and Christianity.

He compared and contrasted the various subject matters regarding each religion, which included church and state, clergy, religious law, house of worship, sacred text and the current followers.

He then explained the origins of each religion and their religious beliefs.

After talking about all the facts about the different religions, he dove into the main topic of the presentation, “ Jesus in Islam.”

“According to Islam, Jesus is one of the greatest prophets in Islam,” Mertaban said. “ He is mentioned 25 times in the Quran and is portrayed as the son of Mary.”

Muslims believe Jesus was brought down as a prophet, someone chosen to talk for God and to guide people of Allah.

However, Jesus is not God nor is he the Son of God, according to Mertaban.

Muslims believe Jesus will be back as a believer in Mohammad, according to Mertaban.

He then noted that Muslims believe that all of the Prophets' lives were spared in the face of danger.

He described three different theories that Muslims hold to explain Jesus' presence on the crucifix.

The first idea is, “Jesus was not put on the cross and substituted his body with someone else.”

The second idea is, “Jesus was put on the cross, however, did not die on the cross. Then Allah raised him into Heaven.”

The third idea is, “Jesus was put on the cross and Allah raised him into Heaven before they could kill him.”

Throughout the discussion, Mertaban was open to questions and comments.

“I thought the presentation went really well,” said Dustin Witt, senior religion and philosophy major and president of the Most Greatest Club Ever. “ He was down to earth and not sophisticated or uptight at all.”

Many students and faculty attended the presentation given by Mertaban.

“We were pretty happy about the turnout,” Witt said. “ Even students from Cal Poly Pomona and Biola University attended the discussion.”

“His presentation was really good,” said Mireya Atoura, a converted Mexican Muslim and mother of freshman Nawal Atoura.

“The presentation was really good. I liked that he was very open to discussion, and he was very relaxed when he was explaining his culture,” said Jesur Habek, junior business major.

Witt found Mertaban on the Internet. He sent him an e-mail to come and speak about his religion, and Mertaban agreed.

Mertaban graduated from Cal Poly Pomona with a degree in international business and marketing and a minor in digital media.

Although he is a practicing Muslim and speaks fluent Arabic, he was born and raised in the United States and lives an American lifestyle, Mertaban said.

Natalie Veissalov can be reached at natalie.veissalov@laverne.edu.

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