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The Muslim Jesus (pbuh)

The first Muslim film about the life of the prophet Jesus has been released, though it's unlikely to be coming to a cinema near you unless you live in Tehran.

Jesus the Spirit of God shows Christ being saved from the cross by God - as the Qu'ran teaches - through the penal substitution of Judas. Jesus is played by the Iranian actor Ahmad Soleimani Nia in a blond wig.

The director Nader Talebzadeh says he wants to correct the version of Jesus's life told by Christians. But equally he aims to publicise the common ground between Islam and Christianity and encourage dialogue. 'It is fascinating for Christians to know that Islam gives such devotion to and has so much knowledge about Jesus' he says.

Muslims regard Jesus as one of five great prophets - the other Biblical ones being Noah, Moses and Abraham - who were sent to earth to announce the coming of Muhammad, the final prophet. Islam often describes Jesus' followers as 'people of the book'. A TV version of the film will explore the links between Jesus and the Imam Mahdi, whose return President Ahmadinejad has said his government is working to hasten.

Although Talebzadeh insists that 'the story is wrong', he is an admirer of Mel Gibson's 'well crafted' The Passion of the Christ. Like Gibson Shiite Muslims believe Jesus will reappear in a future apocalypse. 'Should we, as artists, stand idle until that time? Don't we have to make an effort?' asks Talebzadeh.

The director took a copy of Jesus the Spirit of God to show Gibson at his house in Malibu but, it being a Sunday, the Hollywood director was unavailable for comment.