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PAKISTAN: Oxford-educated PM Imran Khan casts doubt on the existence of Jesus Christ, but is it really so shocking in the light of the systemic persecution in Pakistan's education system?
On the 20th of November Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan addressing Rehmatul-il-Alameen Conference in Islamabad weighed in on his view of whether Jesus Christ, who is recognised as a prophet in Islam, was a historical person or not.
Prime Minister Khan, who is Oxford-educated, made a shocking, but unsupported assertion against the historicity of Jesus. He said:
“Other Messengers of God (Allah) came but there is nothing about them in human history.
“Very little about them
“Prophet Moses (Hazrat Musa) has been mentioned but there is nothing about Jesus Christ (Hazraat Essa) in history.”
PM Imran Khan making his claims about Moses and Jesus Christ
Did these views come from Oxford?
Conjecture about who Jesus Christ actually was, does happen in academic circle, and some derision is cast on his historicity despite the fact history is spit in two parts: The time before he was born and the time after. However with extrabiblical records abounding that document his existence and the specific facts of his life, there is no question that Jesus existed and was a historical person. There is no truth in the statement that there is no record in human history that Jesus existed.
PM Imran Khan made the statement about Jesus Christ during a speech declaring the that there was a lack of evidence that Jesus existed, but where might Imran Khan have gotten his uninformed opinion?
Did PM Khan develop his views from Oxford? Would not have Oxford instructed him in classical literature? Certainly he would have been exposed to the basic literature from the Greco-Roman age at such a prestigious British institution!
There are neutral, hostile and sympathetic records proving Jesus existed. Not to mention the established Biblical record, but also the fact that others in history such as the Muslim prophet himself could not ignore the fact Jesus existed and took great pains to dictate his views on issues he wanted to address regarding the life of Jesus in his writings and teachings.
One Roman scholar who can be very easily named is a historian who was born only 13 years after of Jesus died and would have known contemporaries of Jesus Christ. The Roman senator Tacitus wrote about Jesus of Nazareth as a matter of course in his official duties without having any vested interest in proving who he was or was not.
Tacitus, was not only a Roman historian, but also a senator who clearly would have access to government records and news from around the Roman Empire. He wrote his final work Annals in ca. AD 116 where he writes about Christ, notes his execution happened under Pontius Pilate as recorded in the Biblical record. The passage about Jesus and his early followers is found in book 15, chapter 44. (click here)
In addition Tacitus describes the torture of early Christians who were demonized and blamed by Nero after he, himself burnt down Rome. This is noteworthy given the number of people alive who could have personally met an eye witness to the life of Christ, or have interacted with Him themselves. Why would so many people endure such intense persecution if Jesus was not real, especially so close to time he lived? The early Church knew for themselves Jesus existed, not just because of their existential experience, but because they had seen and heard Jesus Christ for themselves and believed in His resurrection from the dead.
The same question can be asked for the meagre Pak-Christian minority who make up only 1.6% of Pakistan's population, but who account for 15% of all blasphemy allegations. The testimony of Asia Bibi's 10 years of agony with 8 of those being on death row is a testimony to her faith in Jesus, as at anytime her isolation and physical misery could have been ended by converting to Islam; however she endured it in order to retain her faith.
Where else could these views have come from?
Pakistan's school curriculum is notorious for its content that dehumanises Christians and accuses them of being spies for the west. The problems Pakistan's National Curriculum causes for minorities there is well documented and has even warranted past funding by the National Endowment for Democracy, an American funding agency that promotes democratic values and human rights around the world. (click here)
British Pakistani Christian has documented numerous incidents where Christian students are directly harassed in or on their way to the educational setting, and bullied in an attempt to get them to convert to Islam. Abuses of Christian students and young persons of school age, range from not permitting a child to use the same toilet facilities as Muslim students (click here) , and not allowing them to drink water from the same location, to varying degrees of sexual abuse (click here) (click here), blasphemy allegations (click here) and murder (click here) All of these atrocities happen because of the Christian's status as a kaffir, which is a doctrine that the majority of the population learns is correct and acceptable, not just at home or at the mosque, but in the Pakistani education system.(click here).
Wilson Chowdhry said:
"It is strange that a leader of Prime Minister Khan's calibre could make these statements, but given the deep-seated indoctrination of Pakistani population against religious minorities in the educational system, perhaps it is not surprising to hear such a comment made to minimalise the Christian faith, either because he sincerely holds these views or for political reasons.
"Pakistani Muslims would not convert to Judaism or change their identification, unless they already considered themselves Jewish (click here) so making a positive affirmation of Moses' existence is therefore harmless, however Muslims do sometimes convert to Christianity and suffer harsh and draconian consequences for it as apostates.
"It is plausible that this was a poorly phrased misstatement that was simply intended to declare his opinion that Islam is superior to Christianity. He is entitled to his opinion. However it is really hard to fathom how he could make such and unverifiable claim that there is no historical reference to Jesus Christ."
Many Pak-Christians may not take undue offense at the Prime Minister's statements as they do not consider the person depicted as the Messiah in the Koran the same person as the historical Jesus. It is interesting then that PM Khan was stating there was no record in history of the person described in the Koran. What is certain is that there is historical evidence for the Biblical record of Jesus Christ.
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