Jesus in Islam
“[Jesus] said, ‘Indeed, I am the slave of Allah. He has given me the Scripture and made me a prophet.’ ” Qur’an 19:30
The Truth about Jesus
Islam is a religion of pure monotheism, or, in other words, the worship of The One and only true God – known as “Allah” in Arabic. Islam is also a religion of many great Prophets and Messengers, one of whom is Jesus (peace be upon him), a man whose name is known in almost every household. A man highly respected and revered by two major faiths: Islam and Christianity. What does this man, Jesus, have to do with Islam?
Jesus as a Prophet & Messenger
In Judaism, Jesus (peace be upon him) is denied as the Messiah. This is in stark contrast to Christianity, where he is worshipped as a deity, or the son of God. Islam takes the middle ground and actually acknowledges Jesus as an honourable Prophet and Messenger of God, as well as the Messiah. He is neither God nor is he part of a Trinity.
“[Jesus] said, ‘Indeed, I am the slave of Allah. He has given me the Scripture and made me a prophet.’” Quran 19:30
Muslims view Jesus in the same way they view all Prophets of God – highly respected and loved. To disbelieve in him or any other Prophet or Messenger within Islam, such as Moses, Abraham or Muhammad (peace be upon them), takes one out of the fold of Islam. Prophets are not worshiped, because doing so is an act for God alone, since it is He who created them and all that exists.
Jesus as God
The concept of Jesus being God or the begotten son of God is inconsistent with the old testament, the Qur’an and numerous passages within the New Testament.
As numerous Qur’anic verses clearly indicate, Jesus was not God, nor was he the begotten son of God, as it does not befit His Majesty to have children. Claiming that God has a son would mean to attribute human qualities and limitations to the All-Mighty, and God is far removed from such imperfection.
“Surely, they have disbelieved who say: ‘Allah is the Messiah, son of Mary.’ But the Messiah [i.e. Jesus] said: ‘O Children of Israel! Worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord.’” Qur’an 5:72
“It is not befitting for Allah to take a son; exalted is He! When he decrees an affair, He only says to it, ‘Be’ and it is.” Qur’an 19:35
A Christian must ask him/herself, does the idea of a god who was once a weak helpless child, one who could not survive without food, drink or sleep, be the same Omnipotent, All Mighty God described in the Old Testament? Surely not!
“And do not say, ‘Three [God is part of a trinity]’; desist – it is better for you. Indeed, Allah is but one God. Exalted is He above having a son. To Him belongs what is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth. And sufficient is Allah as Disposer of Affairs.” Qur’an 4:171
As for those who continue in their blasphemy, God says:
“And if they do not desist from what they are saying, there will surely afflict the disbelievers among them a painful punishment.” Qur’an 5:73
Mary, the Mother of Jesus
Mary, the noble virgin, holds a great status within Islam and an entire chapter within the Qur’an is named after her. Allah says:
“And remember when the Angels said: ‘Oh Mary, Indeed Allah has chosen you, purified you, and chosen you from amongst all the women.’” Qur’an 3:42
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) also recalls her high status with his statement: “The best of the world’s women was Mary (at her lifetime).”
The Birth of Jesus
The Angel Gabriel was sent to Mary in the form of a man, with glad tidings of a child who was to be born miraculously without a father.
“Then We sent to her Our spirit (angel Gabriel), and he appeared before her in the form of a man in all respects. She said: ‘Surely I seek refuge from you with the Most Beneficent (God), if you do fear God.’ He said: ‘I am only a messenger of your Lord: to announce to you the gift of a righteous son.’ She said: ‘How shall I have a son, seeing that no man has touched me, and I am not unchaste?’ He said, ‘Thus [it will be]’. Your Lord says, ‘It is easy for Me, and We will make him a sign to the people and a mercy from Us. And it is a matter [already] decreed.’” Qur’an 19:17-21
Some claim that his miraculous birth is evidence of Jesus’ divinity. However, Jesus was not the first to come into existence without a father, as Prophet Adam (peace be upon him) before him had neither a father nor mother. God says:
“The likeness of Jesus before Allah is as that of Adam; He created him from dust, then said to him: ‘Be’, and he was. This is the truth from your Lord, so be not of the disputers.” Qur’an 3:59-60
Surely, if Jesus is worshipped due to having no father, Adam is more deserving of worship since he was created without either parent.
What was his message?
Jesus was sent to the Children of Israel to confirm the message of the past Prophets – to believe in the One True God (Allah). He was also taught by Allah the Books of old (i.e. the previous revelations), as God says: “And He (Allah) will teach him the Book and the wisdom and the Torah and the Injeel (Gospel).” Qur’an 3:48
“And when Jesus came with (Our) clear Proofs, he said: ‘I have come to you with the wisdom, and in order to make clear to you some of the points in which you differ, therefore fear Allah and obey me. Verily, Allah! He is my Lord and your Lord. So worship Him alone. This is the only Straight Path.’ ” Qur’an 43:63-64
As an honourable obedient Messenger of God, Jesus submitted willingly to God’s commands. As such, he was a “Muslim” – one who submits to the will and commandments of God.
The Miracles of Jesus
Jesus performed great miracles by the will and permission of God. One of his greatest miracles was that he was conceived with no father. He also spoke as a baby in the cradle to defend his mother against the children of Israel who accused her of fornication.
“He (Jesus) will speak to the people in the cradle and in manhood, and he will be one of the righteous.” Qur’an 3:46
Jesus also gave life to the dead, cured the leper and the blindall by the will of God:
“Indeed, I have come to you with a sign from your Lord, that I design for you out of clay like the form of a bird, then I breathe into it and it becomes a bird with God’s permission; and I heal the blind and the leper, and bring the dead to life with God’s permission and I inform you of what you eat and what you store in your houses; most surely there is a sign in this for you, if you are believers.” Qur’an 3.49
The fact that Jesus (peace be upon him) performed miracles does not mean that he was anything more than a humble slave of God (Allah) and His Messenger. In fact many Messengers performed miracles, including Noah, Moses and Muhammad (may peace be upon them all) and these miracles only took place by the permission of Allah, so as to prove the authenticity of the Messenger.
Crucifixion or Cruci-fiction?
The Islamic perspective is that Jesus was not crucified, but rather raised up to the heavens. This point is further clarified in the following verses of the Qur’an:
“[The Jews] killed him not, nor crucified him, but the resemblance of Jesus was put over another man (and they killed that man), and those who differ therein are full of doubts. They have no (certain) knowledge, they follow nothing but conjecture. For surely they killed him not: but Allah raised him (Jesus) up (with his body and soul) unto Himself. And Allah is Ever All-Powerful, All-Wise.” Qur’an 4:157-158
The Return of Jesus
Muslims believe that Jesus will reappear before the Hour, i.e. Day of Judgement, and descend back to earth. God says:
“And he (Jesus, i.e. his descent to earth) shall be a known sign for the coming of the Hour (Day of Judgement).” Qur’an 43:61
He will descend as a Muslim (one who submits to God’s laws) and call others to Islam, rejecting those who took him as other than a slave and Messenger of the One True God. Jesus was born, will return and die, as a Muslim.
Muslims view Jesus in the same way they view all Prophets of God. They respect and love him dearly, however, they do not worship him, as worship is for God alone who created him and everything that exists. Jesus is not god, nor is he the son of god, nor is he three entities in one.
God tells the Muslims to come to common terms and understanding between them and the People of the Scriptures (Jews and Christians). He says: “Say: ‘O People of the Scripture! Come to a word that is equitable between us and you: that we will not worship anything except Allah and not associate anything with Him and not take one another as lords instead of Allah.” But if they turn away, then say, ‘Bear witness that we are Muslims [submitting to God].’” Qur’an 3:64