Chrislam //, is a pejorative term, defined by William Lane Craig as "neither Christianity nor Islam", referring to certain interfaith branches of Christianity and Islam. "Chrislamic" Christian sects would be those which reject the position of John of Damascus on Muhammad viewing him instead as an inspired Christian graced with the spiritual gift of prophecy. "Chrislamic" sects of Islam would be those which reject any interpretation of the Quran causing contradiction with the Christian Bible faith. The views are very similar to those expressed by the Nestorian Catholicos-Patriarch Timothy I of Baghdad in his famous "Apology for Christianity". Nevertheless, critics describe these sects as a new syncretic religion which mixes elements of Christianity and Islam.
Although the term "Chrislam" was coined by Craig, attempts to unite Christianity and Islam are as old as Islam itself. In the late 6th century, Muhammad who is described variously as a Tsabi and a Hanif was married to a Nasrani (Jewish-Christian) called Khadija bint Khuwaylid, by her cousin, a Nasrani Bishop (Waraqah); he encouraged his followers to seek refuge among the Nasara (Alexandrian Christians) of Abyssinia; and he also established a peaceful society consisting mainly of Nasara and his own sect of Hanifs in Medina by the 630sAD.
Islamic literature makes reference to the 7th century Emperor Heraclius and Pope Honorius I both taking a favourable view on Islam, and indeed both men were accused of heresy by other Christians for taking an inclusive approach to oriental views on Christ. While the Caliphs managed to establish a distinct Arabic identity for Islam, the attacks of John of Damascus on Muhammad in the 8th century precipitated a final break-down of relations with the Church of the East which recorded its response in the form of Timothy's Apology for Christianity.
For some time the mediaeval Turko-Mongol Kaghanates and Sultanates of Central Asia maintained a balance between Christianity and Islam often with significant Jewish influence (e.g. Khazars) with migrants into Europe such as the Khalyzians leaving chroniclers confused about their religion. As the expansion of the Rus' absorbed many of these lands, the Spiritual Christian orders emerged in their territories, derived from the Church of the East and influenced by the Shia Sufi Orders, they were not entirely assimilated by Eastern Orthodoxy or Islamic Orthodoxy but continued to survive as Spiritual Orders in isolated pockets across the Expanding Russian Empire, China, and throughout the Islamic world.
More notable were the Christian pilgrimages to the Shrines of Shia saints in Iraq, and the Imam of the Central Mosque in Istanbul who was required to have memorised the entire Hebrew Bible, Christian Gospel, and Islamic Quran before the collapse of the Caliphate in the 1920s. The subsequent emmergence of "Chrislams" following the demise of 20th Century Socialism might therefore be regarded as having been inevitable.
Belief and worship
Chrislamic people, derogatorily called "Chrislims", may call themselves both Christians and Muslims as Chrislam uses both the Bible and Qur'an and sees them both as holy texts. They point out that the Arabic word "Muslimeen" is equivalent to the Hebrew word "Meshalomim" which Christ used in the beatitudes to refer to the Peacemakers. In worship, verses of the Bible are read with commentary from the Ahadith Qudsi or Arabic Qur'an in the Homily.
Christian Muslims believe that Muhammad, Moses and Jesus were all great prophets equally deserving of love and respect but with very distinct and different roles. Worship services include singing of Christian hymns and Islamic nasheeds to praise God and attract his presence. Christian Muslims in congregation freely to call out in "The Name" of Allah (Elohim) during worship.
Christmas, Easter, Ramadan and other Christian and Islamic religions celebrations are accepted and celebrated without judgment or hostility. They use the historical calendar which Muhammad used throughout his lifetime where Ramadan falls in December (Nativity Fast) and Hajj in March (Holy Week) but reject the adjustments introduced by Caliph Umar. Christmas is observed as both a time to celebrate Christ's sovereignty and to celebrate the revelation of the Qur'an.
Inside their places of worship there is an altar similar to those built by Abraham where the worshipers pray and seek the face of God most of the day centered mainly around the Morning service (Fajr) Afternoon service (Zohar/Asr) and Night service (Maghrib/Isha). Friday Jummah initiates preparations for the sanctification of the Sabbath with a meal in the evening Ma'ida Al-Hamd comparable to a Christian Mass.
The most famous famous branches of Chrislam in recent years inspire by more agreeable elements of the Ansar movement of the Nation of Islam are two different religious movements in Nigeria, one called Ifeoluwa founded by Tela Tella in the 1970s and 80s and another called Oke-Tude founded by Samson Saka in 1999. They are also known as The Will of God Mission or The True Message of God Mission respectively
Ifeoluwa comprises about 1,500 adherents predominantly in Lagos. As in other Chrislamic movements, its followers recognise both the Bible and the Qur'an as holy texts, and also practice "running deliverance," a distinctive practice of spiritual running likened to Joshua's army circling Jericho, or the practice of Pilgrims circumambulating a Church for Palm Sunday or the Kaaba, and Jews around the Synagogue during Sukkot. In ancient Nestorian tradition, Ifeoluwa is still Sabbatarian with formal worship sessions being held three times a day on Sabat (Arabic for Saturday). This is seen as a suitable mid-way solution to avoid favouritism between mainstream Christians who worship on Sundays and mainstream Muslims who worship on Fridays.
However, in contrast to other Chrislamic sects, Tela Tella, while claiming to believe in both the Qur'an and the Bible, says they are incomplete, and is writing his own book called the “Ifeoluwa Book”.
Tela Tella claims that an angel of God came to him and told him that he gave him the mission and the name "Ifeoluwa: The Will of God Mission".
In Ifeoluwa there is an annual pilgrimage to The Mount of Authority, where the people pray for three days, and other annual festivals put on by Tela Tella. Tella also leads the singing of hymns during the Saturday service. Tella claims that these hymns were revealed to him by the angels Gabriel and Michael.
Ifeoluwa has very strict regulations that Tella calls commandments. These commandments deal with behavior, morality, discipline, how to dress, what not to eat and how to eat it, and hygiene and purity. Tella says that these commandments were given to him when he was on the Mount of Authority.
Oke Tude is slightly less recognisable to mainstream Christianity, resembling more interfaith worship with three different sessions or services that take place on Sunday. The first is a Muslim session, then a Christian session, and finally there is a joint session that Saka leads. During this he stresses the similarities between Christianity and Islamic beliefs.
Rick Warren, Pope Francis and the Lebanese Islamic-Christian National Dialogue Committee have all been attacked by the critics of Chrislam who cite alleged "irreconcilable differences" between its two component religions. Chrislamic people themselves see no problem with the basic unity of the two religions, because they say that God loves all people and wants us to love all people. The Messianic Jewish channel "Jewish Voice Today" is particularly scathing of Chrislam. Nevertheless, Christian Muslims take solace in regarding themselves as the Muslim followers of Christ at his second coming.
According to Stephen Ellis, who together with Ineke Van Kessel edited the book, Movers and Shakers: Social Movements in Africa, the religion in Africa is "rather exceptional and increasingly so." According to Sidney M. Greenfield, who wrote the book, Reinventing Religions: Syncretism and Transformation in Africa and the Americas, Chrislam is a logical solution for the Yoruba people because they want to be able to work out their own destiny. Since the people of Nigeria are struggling in all areas of life and Chrislam offers miracles and deliverance they see this as a good spiritual way to help them get through every day living. Others disagree with the religion because they believe Christianity and Islam are different religions with different beliefs. Saka says that when people criticize Chrislam he takes solace in what Jesus says about loving others in all religions.
- Chrislam: Forging Ties in a Multi-Religious Society
- Marloes, Janson. Chrislam’s Healing School in Lagos. p. 3, footnote 4.
- Christian Science Monitor
- Rousseau, Richard. Christianity and Islam: The Struggling Dialogue. University of Scranton Press. 2005. ISBN 978-0-940866-03-4. p. xvi.