Muslim actor portrays Jesus in Nat Geo movie

Published: March 29, 2015
Haaz Sleiman  plays Jesus in National Geographic Channel’s “Killing Jesus”. PHOTO: KENT EANES/NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC CHANNELS

Haaz Sleiman plays Jesus in National Geographic Channel’s “Killing Jesus”. PHOTO: KENT EANES/NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC CHANNELS

Haaz Sleiman  plays Jesus in National Geographic Channel’s “Killing Jesus”. PHOTO: KENT EANES/NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC CHANNELS

A 24-year-old Muslim actor will be portraying Jesus Christ in National Geographic’s film, Killing Jesus.

Three Abrahamic religious will meet in the film, as Haaz Sleiman will be seen playing Jesus, a Jewish Rabbi that Christians believe was God made flesh.

The film is based on Fox News best-seller Bill O’Reilly’s book of the same name.


Sleiman is hopeful the viewers will be transformed by Jesus the way he was. PHOTO: AFP


Sleiman said he was delighted to play the role, describing Jesus as the ultimate teacher, influencing his own life. When the Lebanese actor’s mother heard of her son’s newst venture, she said: “Bless you for playing Jesus, peace be upon him.”

Read: Muslim Actor: ‘It’s An Honor to Play Jesus’

Christians believe that Jesus was both divine and human, while Muslims claim he was not a son of God but his prophet. Sleiman said, “As an actor, my No. 1 focus was to be on the same page with the writer, director and producers,” he said.

“The idea that we got to focus on the humanity of Jesus was very inspiring and empowering to me,” Sleiman said. “It is what Jesus came to show us, the beauty of humanity and the love we are capable of having towards one another; even to love your own enemy.”

Read: Bill O’Reilly explains why he cast a Muslim actor for the role of Jesus in ‘Killing Jesus’

Sleiman was optimistic everyone regardless of their faith would watch the movie and admire it.

And then Sleiman was struck with the obvious question, about the disapproval from conservative Christians to the idea of a Muslim playing Jesus. “I cannot speak for Jesus, but I can quote his teachings, and he said, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’… How would he react to me playing Jesus? He wouldn’t judge it. He wouldn’t judge his own enemy.… Playing this part highlights his teaching in a very nice way.”

It is also interesting to note here that the film’s executive producer, Ridley Scott, was earlier criticised for casting white actors to play Hebrews and Egyptians for their role in Exodus: Gods and King, as well as terming it impossible to finance a film filled with actors named “Mohammad.”

The story was originally published in The Kansas City Star.

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Reader Comments (9)

  • Mar 29, 2015 - 4:39PM

    How come being a Muslim he can play the character of Jesus?Recommend

  • Eric Kumar
    Mar 29, 2015 - 7:22PM

    @Ayesha: That’s the beauty of Jesus. That’s his humanity. Being the son of God, He loves people of all the faith. A person of any faith can play the role of Jesus. Jesus Christ loves Muslim people. Muslims are god’s creation. In present world’s situation if Christians, Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs or person of any faith follow Jesus teaching . the world can become a better place.Recommend

  • Milind
    Mar 29, 2015 - 9:54PM

    @Eric Kumar – Don’t you know that Jesus himself travelled to India and was influenced by Hindu/Vedic thought? His grave is in Kashmir as most Kashmiris will attest…Recommend

  • Parvez
    Mar 29, 2015 - 11:00PM

    @Ayesha: My answer is that ……. he must be a good Muslim in the true sense to agree to play this part.Recommend

  • Iqbal
    Mar 30, 2015 - 12:22AM

    Let’s hope there is no fatwa on him.Recommend

  • Babbarsher Khan
    Mar 30, 2015 - 2:15AM

    Hope he is not tried in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia for blasphemy. Recommend

  • Mar 30, 2015 - 8:38AM

    I think what @Ayesha might have been referring to is that how can a Muslim play the party of a prophetic personality? (I.e. a ‘muslim’ should know better).

    Anyways. Everything that the prophets were, from Nuh (a.k.a. Noah) to Ibrahim (a.k.a. Abraham) to Musa (a.k.a. Moses) to Esa (a.k.a. Jesus) to Muhammad (peace be on all prophets) – they were all sent by One God (not different gods), and so they all had same message (ten commandments same in all three revelations), and everything they all were was taught by and was from The Almighty.

    Simple enough. Dont take my word for it. SEEK THE TRUTH AND THE TRUTH SHALL SET YOU FREE.Recommend

    Mar 30, 2015 - 2:02PM

    Thank God that fellow is not playing Muhammad or else there would have been another protest in Pakistan and like youtube another good channel like Nat geo could have been banned in Pakistan.Recommend

  • Beverly Thorpe
    Apr 1, 2015 - 7:34PM

    I knew this man was a peaceful muslim, and was proud of him for his portrayal of our God and to him, someone to be admired. That’s okay with me. His face was what I liked. Many who play Jesus are traditionally handsome and Jesus was actually a man of his people, his Father’s chosen people. This man’s face, showed normal features a Jew might have and he spoke the words of Christ in the dialog more casually, normally, like one would speak from one Jew to another on a normal day. I think he did a great job!Recommend

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