Monday, March 30, 2015
A Muslim Jesus?
We enter Holy Week with a number of "Jesusy" TV offerings, a combination of old chesnut movies, newer adaptations and historical explorations such as National Geographic's Killing Jesus. It is based on the book by Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard and it explores the political and religious dynamics which led to Jesus' death. I wasn't able to watch because we don't have the channel but it is one of the side stories which intrigues me. http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/killing-jesus/
The actor who plays Jesus is Middle Eastern, which may be a first, and he is Muslim. Haaz Sleiman was born in the United Arab Emirates and raised in Lebanon. Sleiman, who was raised Muslim, might be best known for playing an illegal immigrant in The Visitor, which earned him an Independent Spirit Award nomination in 2008. This was a little film we really liked.
Sleiman was interviewed by Christianity Today and asked how his mother felt about him taking on this role. His answer was interesting:
Well, in Islam, Jesus is a prophet, and if you look at Mohammed and Jesus and Moses, it's not like Moses is better than Jesus and Jesus is better than Mohammed. They're all so highly respected and honored and followed and they're all there for a reason. Jesus is probably even more important than Mohammed in a way. He came before Mohammed, and I think he's mentioned in the Koran so many times, people would be shocked.
Sleiman's mother gave her blessing and he considered playing Jesus an honour.
Any thoughts about this?