“This ain’t a song about bottles in the club / This is about a role model filled with love. / A teacher, a preacher, with guidance from above.” So begins the rap song “I Believe in Jesus” by Mo Sabri, a Muslim from Johnson City, Tennesee.
Sabri introduces the song’s music video with:
The angels said, ‘O Mary, indeed God gives you good tidings of a word from Him, whose name shall be the Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary.’ (Quran 3:45)
Here’s a hip video, by a nice young gentleman wearing a starched shirt and a tie, about a radical commitment to following Jesus with one’s life, not just in words. Sabri’s isn’t a mushy attempt to paint Jesus as just a “nice guy” like the rest of us.
Instead Sabri sings about human weakness and sin, and our need for Jesus. He identifies Jesus as:
The son of a virgin, they say it is illogical,
probably improbable, but God made it possible.
Gabriel told Mary that her son would be phenomenal,
His voice was always audible, the opposite of prodigal,
He overcame the obstacles, people attacking him.
He was a walking hospital, with heathen he was compassionate.
He healed the sick, raised the dead. Shout out to Lazarus.
I’m talkin’ about Jesus of Nazareth.
Are there other Muslims who chant about beheading Christians? Yep. But they’re not the whole story. Listen to what Mo Sabri has to say, what he sings. He is part of the story of what it means to be Muslim today, and out of his faith he is engaging his culture to offer a way forward which is more beautiful than “bottles in the club,” namely one led by “guidance from above.”
The video makes no claim Christians and Muslims should or even could gloss over our differences about who Jesus is. But he highlights a shared belief that Jesus came, divinely, to teach us radical love. Sabri’s music video “I Believe in Jesus” ends with a quote from Hans Urs von Balthasar, “Even if a unity of faith is not possible, a unity of love is.”