Fascinating programme on Radio 4 this morning, here; Anna Scott Brown bringing us the tale of identical twin sisters, one who has become a Christian, the other a Muslim, and how they are dealing with the terminal illness and imminent death of their (initially atheist) mother.
Its striking first because it cuts through the mushed-together presentation of religion that we so often get in the media; two sisters clear on the ‘fundamental differences’ between what they believe, so much so that they have each chosen in their will that the other will not look after their child in the case of each of their deaths.
Second, the huge difference that therefore follows in the assurance each of them holds. The near death of their mother is clearly focusing the issues. The Muslim sister is clear that ‘Muslims will never say anyone is saved, it’s between God and our hearts… and on the day of judgment God will judge and he is just.’ Whereas the Christian sister is humbly confident, ‘I believe I will go to heaven, and I want that for my Mum, but I don’t know if she will, and that’s really hard.’ She goes on, essentially trusting that ‘God has already made it better between you and God.’
And then thirdly, striking in the emotional trauma of a family going through suffering together. Close to her death the mother has a ‘religious experience’, believing she has met God, and bringing about a visible turnaround in her beliefs about life. Interestingly the Muslim sister is clear that this experience essentially hasn’t been about Jesus and so shouldn’t be classed as a ‘Christian experience’. Credit to Radio 4 for bringing us real life stories that do highlight the differences between Christianity and Islam and for not portraying either as religious wackos.