Jesus in Islam


Jesus in Islam
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Jesus
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In Islam, Jesus (Arabic: عيسىʿĪsā) is considered to be a Messenger of God and the Masih (Messiah) who was sent to guide the Children of Israel (banī isrā'īl) with a new scripture, the Injīl or Gospel.[1] The belief in Jesus (and all other messengers of God) is required in Islam, and a requirement of being a Muslim. The Qur'an mentions Jesus twenty-five times, more often, by name, than Muhammad.[2][3] It states that Jesus was born to Mary (Arabic: Maryam) as the result of virginal conception, a miraculous event which occurred by the decree of God (Arabic: Allah). To aid in his ministry to the Jewish people, Jesus was given the ability to perform miracles (such as healing the blind, bringing dead people back to life, etc.), all by the permission of God rather than of his own power. According to the popular opinion and Muslim traditions, Jesus was not crucified but instead, he was raised up by God unto the heavens. This "raising" is understood to mean through bodily ascension.

Muslims believe that Jesus will return to earth near the day of judgment to restore justice and to defeat Masih ad-Dajjal ("the false messiah", also known as the Antichrist).[4][5]

Like all prophets in Islam, Jesus is considered to have been a Muslim (i.e., one who submits to the will of God), as he preached that his followers should adopt the "straight path" as commanded by God. Islam rejects the Christian view that Jesus was God incarnate or the son of God, that he was ever crucified or resurrected, or that he ever atoned for the sins of mankind. The Qur'an says that Jesus himself never claimed any of these things, and it furthermore indicates that Jesus will deny having ever claimed divinity at the Last Judgment, and God will vindicate him.[6] The Qur'an emphasizes that Jesus was a mortal human being who, like all other prophets, had been divinely chosen to spread God's message. Islamic texts forbid the association of partners with God (shirk), emphasizing a strict notion of monotheism (tawhīd).

Numerous titles are given to Jesus in the Qur'an and in Islamic literature, the most common being al-Masīḥ ("the messiah). Jesus is also, at times, called "Seal of the Israelite Prophets", because, in general Muslim belief, Jesus was the last prophet sent by God to guide the Children of Israel. Jesus is seen in Islam as a precursor to Muhammad, and is believed by Muslims to have foretold the latter's coming.[5][7]

Contents

Life

Birth

Jesus's lineage, going back to his great-grandfather.

The Qur'anic account of Jesus begins with a prologue, which describes the birth of his mother, Mary, and her service in the Jerusalem temple, while under the care of the prophet and priest Zechariah, who was to be the father of John the Baptist.[8] The Qur'an then goes on to describe the conception of Jesus. Mary, whom the Qur'an states was chosen by God over the women of all the worlds, conceives Jesus while still a virgin.

Annunciation of the birth of Jesus

Mary had withdrawn into the temple of prayer, where she was visited by the angel Gabriel (Arabic: Jibrail) to give the glad tidings of a holy son.[9] The Qur'an states that God sent the message through the angel Gabriel to Mary that God had honoured Mary among the women of all nations. The angel also told Mary that she will give birth to a holy son, named Jesus, who will be a great prophet, to whom God will give the Gospel. The angel further told Mary that Jesus will speak in infancy and maturity and will be a companion to the most righteous. When this news was given to Mary, she asked the angel how she can to conceive and have a baby when no man has touched her?[10] The reply of the angel to Mary was, " "Even so: Allah createth what He willeth: When He hath decreed a plan, He but saith to it, 'Be,' and it is!".[11] The Qur'an, therefore, states that Jesus was created from the act of God's will. The Qur'an compares this miraculous creation of Jesus with the creation of Adam (Adem), where God created Adam by His act of will (kun-fa-yakun, meaning "Be and it is").[12] According to the Qur'an, the same answer was given to the question of Zechariah, when he asked how his wife, Elizabeth, could conceive a baby as she was very old.[13]

Birth of Jesus

Virgin Mary nurtured by a palm tree, as described in the Qur'an.

The Qur'an narrates the virgin birth of Jesus numerous times. The Qur'an states that, Mary was in the midst of the desert in Bayt Lahm (Bethlehem), when the pains of childbirth came upon her, amidst Mary's agony, God made a small river run under Mary from which she could drink. Furthermore, as she was near a palm tree, Mary was told to shake the trunk of the palm tree so that moist dates would fall down from which she could eat and be nourished. Mary cried in pain and held onto the palm, at which point a voice came from "beneath her", understood by some to refer to Jesus, who was yet in her womb, which said "Be not grieved; God has provided a rivulet under thee; and shake the trunk of the palm and it shall let ripe dates fall upon thee, ready gathered. And eat and drink and calm thy mind". That day, Mary gave birth to her son Jesus while she was in the desert.

Forty days later she carried him back to her people. The Qur'an goes onto describe that Mary vowed not to speak to any man on that day, as God was to make Jesus, whom Muslims believe spoke in the cradle, perform his first miracle. The Qur'an goes onto narrate that Mary then brought Jesus to the temple, where immediately she began to be taunted by all the men, excluding Zechariah, who believed in the virgin birth. The Israelites accused Mary of being a loose woman and having touched another man whilst unmarried. In response, Mary pointed to her son, telling them to talk to him. They were angered at this and thought she was mocking them by asking them to speak with an infant. It was then that, God made the infant Jesus speak in the cradle, and he spoke of his prophecy for the first time. He said, which are verses 30-33 in the chapter of Mary in the Qur'an:

"I am a servant of Allah. He will reveal the Book to me and make me a prophet. He blessed me wherever I am. In the rules revealed to me there will be a special attention given to prayers and charity. Allah predestined that I will be kind to my mother and not a tyrant with a bad ending. Peace was on me the day I was born, peace will be on me on the day I will die, and on the day I am raised alive again!"
—Qur'an, sura 19 Maryam, ayat 30-33[5][14]

Mission

The Jordan river, where some Muslim accounts narrate that Jesus met with Yahya ibn Zakariyya (otherwise known as John the Baptist).[15]

According to Islamic texts, Jesus was divinely chosen to preach the message of monotheism and submission to the will of God to the Children of Israel (banī isrā'īl).

Scripture given to Jesus

Muslims believe that God revealed to Jesus a new scripture, the Injīl (gospel), while also declaring the truth of the previous revelations – the Tawrat (Torah) and the Zabur (Psalms). The Qur'an speaks favorably of the Injīl, which it describes as a scripture that fills the hearts of its followers with meekness and piety. The Qur'an says that the original biblical message has been distorted or corrupted (tahrif) over time from what was revealed to the messengers. In chapter 3, verse 3, and chapter 5, verses 46-47, of the Qur'an, the revelation of the Injil is mentioned:

It is He Who sent down to thee (step by step), in truth, the Book, confirming what went before it; and He sent down the Law (of Moses) and the Gospel (of Jesus) before this, as a guide to mankind, and He sent down the criterion (of judgment between right and wrong).
—Qur'an, sura 3 (Al-i-Imran) ayah 3[16]
And in their footsteps We sent Jesus the son of Mary, confirming the Law that had come before him: We sent him the Gospel: therein was guidance and light, and confirmation of the Law that had come before him: a guidance and an admonition to those who fear Allah.
Let the people of the Gospel judge by what Allah hath revealed therein. If any do fail to judge by (the light of) what Allah hath revealed, they are (no better than) those who rebel.
—Qur'an sura 5, (Al-Ma'ida), ayah 46-47[17]

Disciples of Jesus

The Qur'an states that Jesus was aided by a group of disciples who believed in Jesus' message. While not naming the disciples, the Qur'an does give a few instances of Jesus preaching the message to them. The Qur'an mentions in chapter 3, verses 52-53, that the disciples submitted in the faith of Islam:

When Jesus found Unbelief on their part He said: "Who will be My helpers to (the work of) Allah?" Said the disciples: "We are Allah's helpers: We believe in Allah, and do thou bear witness that we are Muslims.
"Our Lord! we believe in what Thou hast revealed, and we follow the Messenger; then write us down among those who bear witness."
—Qur'an sura 3, (Al-i-Imran), ayah 52-53[18]

The longest narrative involving Jesus's disciples are when they request a laden table to be sent from Heaven, for further proof that Jesus is preaching the true message. This story features in chapter 5, verses 112-115:

Behold! the disciples, said: "O Jesus the son of Mary! can thy Lord send down to us a table set (with viands) from heaven?" Said Jesus: "Fear Allah, if ye have faith."
They said: "We only wish to eat thereof and satisfy our hearts, and to know that thou hast indeed told us the truth; and that we ourselves may be witnesses to the miracle."
Said Jesus the son of Mary: "O Allah our Lord! Send us from heaven a table set (with viands), that there may be for us - for the first and the last of us - a solemn festival and a sign from thee; and provide for our sustenance, for thou art the best Sustainer (of our needs)."
Allah said: "I will send it down unto you: But if any of you after that resisteth faith, I will punish him with a penalty such as I have not inflicted on any one among all the peoples."
—Qur'an sura 5 (Al-Ma'ida), ayah 112-115[19]

Ascension

Islamic texts categorically deny the idea of crucifixion or death attributed to Jesus by the Bible.[5][20] The Qur'an states that people (i.e., the Jews and Romans) sought to kill Jesus, but they did not crucify nor kill him, although "this was made to appear to them." Muslims believe that Jesus was not crucified but instead, he was raised up by God unto the heavens. This "raising" is understood to mean through bodily ascension.

That they said (in boast), "We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah";- but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety they killed him not:-
Nay, Allah raised him up unto Himself; and Allah is Exalted in Power, Wise;-
—Qur'an sura 4 (An-Nisa) ayah 157-158[21]

Discussing the interpretation of those scholars who deny the crucifixion, the Encyclopaedia of Islam writes:

The denial, furthermore, is in perfect agreement with the logic of the Qur’an. The Biblical stories reproduced in it (e.g., Job, Moses, Joseph etc.) and the episodes relating to the history of the beginning of Islam demonstrate that it is "God's practice" (sunnat Allah) to make faith triumph finally over the forces of evil and adversity. "So truly with hardship comes ease", (XCIV, 5, 6). For Jesus to die on the cross would have meant the triumph of his executioners; but the Quran asserts that they undoubtedly failed: "Assuredly God will defend those who believe"; (XXII, 49). He confounds the plots of the enemies of Christ (III, 54).

In regard to the interpretation of the minority of Muslims who accept the crucifixion, Mahmoud Ayoub states:

The Qur'an is not here speaking about a man, righteous and wronged though he may be, but about the Word of God who was sent to earth and returned to God. Thus the denial of killing of Jesus is a denial of the power of men to vanquish and destroy the divine Word, which is for ever victorious.[22]

Substitution interpretation

Part of a series on the
Death and resurrection of Jesus

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While most Western Scholars,[23] Jews,[24][25] and Christians believe Jesus died then resurrected, most Muslims believe he was raised to Heaven without being put on the cross and God transformed another person to appear exactly like Jesus who was crucified instead of Jesus. Jesus ascended bodily to Heaven, there to remain until his Second coming in the End days.

Second coming

Muslims believe that Isa (Jesus) will return at a time close to the end of the world. The Qur'anic verse they allude to as an indicator to Isa' future return is as follows:[5]

"And when the son of Mary is quoted as an example, behold! the folk laugh out,
And say: Are our gods better, or is he? They raise not the objection save for argument. Nay! but they are a contentious folk.
He is nothing but a slave on whom We bestowed favour, and We made him a pattern for the Children of Israel.
And had We willed We could have set among you angels to be viceroys in the earth.
And lo! verily there is knowledge of the Hour. So doubt ye not concerning it, but follow Me. This is the right path.
And let not Satan turn you aside. Lo! he is an open enemy for you.
When Jesus came with clear proofs (of Allah's Sovereignty), he said: I have come unto you with wisdom, and to make plain some of that concerning which ye differ. So keep your duty to Allah, and obey me.
Lo! Allah, He is my Lord and your Lord. So worship Him. This is a right path.
But the factions among them differed. Then woe unto those who do wrong from the doom of a painful day.
Await they aught save the Hour, that it shall come upon them suddenly, when they know not?
Friends on that day will be foes one to another, save those who kept their duty (to Allah)."
—Qur'an sura 43 (az-Zukhruf), ayah 57-67[26]

According to Islamic tradition which describes this graphically, Jesus' descent will be in the midst of wars fought by the Mahdi (lit. "the rightly guided one"), known in Islamic eschatology as the redeemer of Islam, against the Antichrist (al-Masīh ad-Dajjāl, "False messiah") and his followers.[27] Jesus will descend at the point of a white arcade, east of Damascus, dressed in yellow robes – his head anointed. He will then join the Mahdi in his war against the Antichrist. Jesus, considered as a Muslim, will abide by the Islamic teachings. Eventually, Jesus will slay the Antichrist, and then everyone from the People of the Book (ahl al-kitāb, referring to Jews and Christians) will believe in him. Thus, there will be one community, that of Islam.[28]

Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 3, Book 43: Kitab-ul-`Ilm (Book of Knowledge), Hâdith Number 656:

Narrated Abu Hurairah: Allah's Apostle said, "The Hour will not be established until the son of Mary (i.e. Jesus) descends amongst you as a just ruler, he will break the cross, kill the pigs, and abolish the Jizya tax. Money will be in abundance so that nobody will accept it (as charitable gifts)"
—Collected by Muhammad al-BukhariSahih al-Bukhari[29]

After the death of the Mahdi, Jesus will assume leadership. This is a time associated in Islamic narrative with universal peace and justice. Islamic texts also allude to the appearance of Ya'juj and Ma'juj (known also as Gog and Magog), ancient tribes which will disperse and cause disturbance on earth. God, in response to Jesus' prayers, will kill them by sending a type of worm in the napes of their necks.[27] Jesus' rule is said to be around forty years, after which he will die. Muslims will then perform the funeral prayer for him and then bury him in the city of Medina in a grave left vacant beside Muhammad, Abu Bakr, and Umar (companions of Muhammad and the first and second Sunni caliphs (Rashidun) respectively).[5]

In Islamic thought

Mary and Jesus in old Persian Shi'a miniature.

Jesus is described by various means in the Qur'an. The most common reference to Jesus occurs in the form of "Ibn Maryam" (son of Mary), sometimes preceded with another title. Jesus is also recognised as a prophet (nabī) and messenger (rasūl) of God. The terms wadjih ("worthy of esteem in this world and the next"), mubārak ("blessed", or "a source of benefit for others"), `abd-Allāh (servant of God) are all used in the Qur'an in reference to Jesus.[5]

Another title frequently mentioned is al-Masīḥ, which translates to "the Messiah". This does not correspond to the Christian concept of Messiah, as Islam regards all prophets, including Jesus, to be mortal and without any share in divinity. Muslim exegetes explain the use of the word masīh in the Qur'an as referring to Jesus' status as the one anointed by means of blessings and honors; or as the one who helped cure the sick, by anointing the eyes of the blind, for example.[5] Qur'anic verses also employ the term "kalimat Allah" (meaning the "word of God") as a descriptor of Jesus, which is interpreted as a reference to the creating word of God, uttered at the moment of Jesus' conception;[30] or as recognition of Jesus' status as a messenger of God, speaking on God's behalf.[5]

Theology

Islamic texts regard Jesus as a righteous messenger of God, and reject the idea of him being God or the begotten Son of God. According to Islamic scriptures, the belief that Jesus is God or Son of God is shirk, or the association of partners with God, and thereby a rejection of God's divine oneness (tawhid) and the sole unpardonable sin.[31] All other sins may be forgiven through true repentance: shirk speaks of associating partners with God after having received the Divine Guidance, as it is said in the Qur'an and Hadith that when one submits to God (i.e. embraces Islam), their "accounts" (of sins and righteous deeds used to determine the standing of a person on the Last Day) are numbered from that moment. A verse from the Qur'an reads:

In blasphemy indeed are those that say that Allah is Christ the son of Mary. Say: "Who then hath the least power against Allah, if His will were to destroy Christ the son of Mary, his mother, and all every - one that is on the earth? For to Allah belongeth the dominion of the heavens and the earth, and all that is between. He createth what He pleaseth. For Allah hath power over all things."
—Qur'an sura 5 (Al-Ma'ida), ayah17[32][33]

The Christian doctrine of the Trinity is similarly rejected in Islam. Such notions of the divinity of Jesus, Muslims state, resulted from human interpolations of God's revelation. Islam views Jesus as a human like all other prophets, who preached that salvation came through submission to God's will and worshiping God alone. Thus, Jesus is considered in Islam to have been a Muslim by the definition of the term (i.e., one who submits to God's will), as were all other prophets in Islam.[34]

Precursor to Muhammad

Muslims believe that Jesus was a precursor to Muhammad, and that he announced the latter's coming. They base this on a verse of the Qur'an wherein Jesus speaks of a messenger to appear after him named Ahmad.[35] Islam associates Ahmad with Muhammad, both words deriving from the h-m-d triconsonantal root which refers to praiseworthiness. Muslims also assert that evidence of Jesus' pronouncement is present in the New Testament, citing the mention of the Paraclete whose coming is foretold in the Gospel of John.[36] Muslim commentators claim that the original Greek word used was periklutos, meaning famed, illustrious, or praiseworthy – rendered in Arabic as Ahmad; and that this was replaced by Christians with parakletos.[5][37] The tree shown right depicts lineage.

Ascetic literature

Jesus is widely venerated in Muslim ascetic and mystic literature, such as in Muslim mystic Al-Ghazzali's Ihya `ulum ad-Din ("The revival of the religious sciences"). These works lay stress upon Jesus' poverty, his preoccupation with worship, his detachment from worldly life and his miracles. Such depictions also include advice and sermons which are attributed to him. Later Sufic commentaries adapted material from Christian gospels which were consistent with their ascetic portrayal. Sufi philosopher Ibn Arabi described Jesus as "the seal of universal holiness" due to the quality of his faith and "because he holds in his hands the keys of living breath and because he is at present in a state of deprivation and journeying."[5]

Ahmadiyya views

The Ahmadiyya view of Jesus, while agreeing that Jesus was mortal, breaks with mainstream Islamic interpretation by asserting that Jesus was not raised alive to Heaven. They claim that he instead died a natural death in India, a position which they have adopted as a characteristic of their faith.

Appearance

Based upon several Hadith narrations of Muhammad, Jesus can be physically described thus (with any differences in Jesus’ physical description being due to Muhammad describing him when seeing him at different occasions, such as in a dream, during his ascension to Heaven, or when describing Jesus during Jesus' second coming):[38]

  • A well-built man of medium/moderate/average height and stature with a broad chest.
  • Straight, lank, slightly curly, long hair that fell between his shoulders.
  • A moderate, fair complexion of red or finest brown.
  • Of all the men, he had the nearest resemblance with 'Urwa ibn Mas'ud al-Thaqafi.

See also

Notes

  1. ^ The Oxford Dictionary of Islam, p.158
  2. ^ "Jesus, Son of Mary" in Oxford Islamic Studies Online
  3. ^ "Jesus in the Quran". islam101.com. http://www.islam101.com/history/people/prophets/jesus/christ_in_islam2.htm. Retrieved 2011-07-08. 
  4. ^ Encyclopedia of the Qur'an, Jesus
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Isa", Encyclopedia of Islam
  6. ^ Qur'an, 5th Surah, vs. 116.
  7. ^ Fasching, deChant (2001) p. 241
  8. ^ Quran 3:33–37
  9. ^ Quran 3:45
  10. ^ Quran 3:43
  11. ^ Quran 3:47
  12. ^ Quran 3:59
  13. ^ Quran 19:8–9
  14. ^ Quran 19:30–31
  15. ^ "Yahya b. Zakariyya", Encyclopedia of Islam.
  16. ^ Quran 3:3
  17. ^ Quran 5:46–47
  18. ^ Quran 3:52–53
  19. ^ Quran 5:112–115
  20. ^ For instance; Matthew chapter 27, Mark chapter 15, Luke chapter 23, and John chapter 19
  21. ^ Quran 4:157–158
  22. ^ The death of Jesus: Reality or Delusion. Muslim World 70 (1980) pp. 91–121
  23. ^ Crossan, John Dominic (1995). Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography. HarperOne. p. 145. ISBN 0060616628. "That he was crucified is as sure as anything historical can ever be, since both Josephus and Tacitus...agree with the Christian accounts on at least that basic fact."
  24. ^ Josephus Antiquities 18.3.3
  25. ^ Sanhedrin 43a.
  26. ^ Quran 43:57 (Translated by Pickthall)
  27. ^ a b Sonn (2004) p. 209
  28. ^ Sahih Muslim, 41:7023
  29. ^ Sahih al-Bukhari, 3:43:656
  30. ^ "She said: "O my Lord! How shall I have a son when no man hath touched me?" He said: "Even so: Allah createth what He willeth: When He hath decreed a plan, He but saith to it, 'Be,' and it is!", Quran 3:47, cf. Encyclopedia of Islam
  31. ^ See:
    • Esposito (2002) p. 32, 74;
    • Fasching, deChant (2001) p. 241
    • Markham and Ruparell (2001) p. 348
  32. ^ Quran 5:17
  33. ^ cf. Esposito (2002) p. 32
  34. ^ See:
    • Khalidi (2001) p. 75;
    • Fasching, deChant (2001) p. 241
  35. ^ "And remember, Jesus, the son of Mary, said: "O Children of Israel! I am the messenger of Allah (sent) to you, confirming the Law (which came) before me, and giving Glad Tidings of a Messenger to come after me, whose name shall be Ahmad." But when he came to them with Clear Signs, they said, "this is evident sorcery!" ", Quran 61:6
  36. ^ "And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;
    Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.", John 14:16–14:17
  37. ^ Watt (1991) pp. 33–34
  38. ^ Sahih al-Bukhari, 4:54:462, 4:55:607–608, 4:55:647–650, 4:55:649–650, Sahih Muslim, 1:316, 1:321, 1:325, 1:328, 41:7023

References

  • Anawati, G. C.. "`Īsā Alleh Islam". In P.J. Bearman, Th. Bianquis, C.E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel, W.P. Heinrichs. Encyclopaedia of Islam Online. Brill Academic Publishers. ISSN 1573-3912. 
  • Ayoub, Mahmoud (1992). The Qur'an and Its Interpreters. State University of New York Press US. ISBN 0791409937. 
  • Esposito, J. L. (2002). What Everyone Needs to Know About Islam. Oxford University Press US. ISBN 0-19-515713-3. 
  • Esposito, J. L. (2003). The Oxford Dictionary of Islam. Oxford University Press US. ISBN 0-19-512558-4. 
  • Fasching, D. J.; deChant, D. (2001). Comparative Religious Ethics: A Narrative Approach. Blackwell Publishing. ISBN 0631201254. 
  • Khalidi, T. (2001). The Muslim Jesus: Sayings and Stories in Islamic Literature. Harvard University Press. ISBN 0674004779. 
  • Markham, I. S.; Ruparell, T. (2001). Encountering Religion: An Introduction to the Religions of the World. Blackwell Publishing. ISBN 0631206744. 
  • Rippin, A.. "Yahya b. Zakariya". In P.J. Bearman, Th. Bianquis, C.E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel, W.P. Heinrichs. Encyclopaedia of Islam Online. Brill Academic Publishers. ISSN 1573-3912. 
  • Sonn, Tamarra (2004). A Brief History of Islam. Blackwell Publishing. ISBN 1405121742. 
  • Watt, W. M. (1991). Muslim-Christian Encounters: Perceptions and Misperceptions. Routledge. ISBN 0415054109. 
  • Wherry, E. M.; Sale, G. (2000). A Comprehensive Commentary on the Qurán: Comprising Sale's Translation and Preliminary Discourse (vol. II). Routledge. ISBN 0415231884. 
  • Tarif Khalidi (2003). The Muslim Jesus: Sayings and Stories in Islamic Literature. Harvard University Press. ISBN 0674011155. 
  • Zuckermann, Ghil'ad (2006). "'Etymythological Othering' and the Power of 'Lexical Engineering' in Judaism, Islam and Christianity. A Socio-Philo(sopho)logical Perspective", Explorations in the Sociology of Language and Religion, edited by Tope Omoniyi and Joshua A. Fishman, Amsterdam: John Benjamins, pp. 237–258. ISBN 90 272 2710 1

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