Jesus through Muslims’ Lenses

Jesus is identified in Arabic with Al-Maseeh ‘Isa Ibn Mariam, Peace Be upon Him, which translates to: The Messiah Jesus, the Son of Mary. Islam is the only religion to express love to Jesus, after Christianity. It is an obligation on Muslims to love Jesus, as no one disrespects Him would ever go to heaven. God says, “Say ye: We believe in Allah, and the revelation given to us, and to Abraham, Isma’il, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes, and that given to Moses and Jesus, and that given to (all) prophets from their Lord…” (Quran 2:136).  As a matter of fact, Jesus was expressly mentioned twenty-eight times in the Quran, but Muhammad (PBUH) was only mentioned four times! Muslims identify Him with the “The Sprit of God” and consider Him one of the greatest figures over history.

    Of all the major religions in the world, Islam is the only non-Christian faith that recognises Jesus. Within the pages of the Qur’an is a distinctly Islamic portrayal of Jesus. Three of its Surahs (chapters), Aale-Imran, Al-Maida and Mariam, are so named because of their references to Jesus and his work. There are about ninety verses spread across fifteen Surahs of the Qur’an that refer to Jesus. A second source for the Islamic understanding of Jesus are (sic) the numerous Ahadith (traditions), which portray his teaching and the ultimate purpose of his first and second coming. There are also many references to Jesus in other Islamic literature. (GIGOJ)

      Jesus’ Mother, Mary, was honored in the Quran with a chapter titled with her name: Mariam. The story of Mary in the Quran starts when her mother, Hanna, prayed to God that, if He would grant her a child, she would surely dedicate him or her for the service of God in the temple; the news came, “And when she was delivered she said: My Lord! Lo! I am delivered of a female–Allah knew best of what she was delivered–the male is not as the female; and Lo! I have named her Mary, and Lo! I crave Thy protection for her and for her offspring from Satan the outcast.” Mary was portrayed as a good woman, from a respected family, Al-Imran. God has chosen her, purified her, and “hath preferred thee above (all) the women of creation” (Quran 3:36, 3:42).

      One day, the Angel Gabriel came to her as a man and surprised her, “… O Mary! Allah giveth thee glad tidings of a word from Him, whose name is the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, illustrious in the world and the Hereafter, and one of those brought near (unto Allah). She responded, “… My Lord! How can I have a child when no mortal hath touched me? He said: So (it will be). Allah createth what He will. If He decreeth a thing, He saith unto it only: Be! and it is .” According to the Quran, after she had conceived Him, she went to a far place. There, the pains of childbirth drove her to a palm, where she cried grieving. God then talked to her, “…Grieve not! Thy Lord hath placed a rivulet beneath thee. And shake the trunk of the palm tree toward thee, thou wilt cause ripe dates to fall upon thee. So eat and drink and be consoled…” (Quran 4:47, 19:24-26).

      The delivery of Jesus (PBUH) brought as much controversy to her folk as it brought to the whole universe. When she brought Him to her people, “… They said: O Mary! Thou hast come with an amazing thing. Oh sister of Aaron! Thy father was not a wicked man nor was thy mother a harlot” (Quran 19:27-28). At this point, Jesus (PBUH) reveals His first miracle and speaks to public:

    … Lo! I am the slave of Allah. He hath given me the Scripture and hath appointed me a Prophet. And hath made me blessed wheresoever I may be, and hath enjoined upon me prayer and almsgiving so long as I remain alive, Peace on me the day I was born, and the day I die, and the day I shall be raised alive! (Quran 19:30-33)

In addition to speaking to people in childhood, Jesus is believed to have perpetrated many other miracles. He designed a figure of birds out of the clay, and breathed into it so that it became a bird. He healed those born blind and leaper. Moreover, He brought forth the dead and many others. However, all of those miracles were not possible without God’s will and His leave; God gave him this ability and power.

      One of the main doctrines of Christianity is the belief in the crucifixion of Jesus, whereas Muslims looks at it differently. The Quran mentions clearly that Jesus himself was not crucified, “and because of their saying: We slew the Messiah Jesus son of Mary, Allah’s messenger. They slew him not nor crucified, but it appeared so unto them; and lo! Those who disagree concerning it are in doubt thereof; they have no knowledge thereof save pursuit of a conjecture; they slew him not for certain” (Quran 4:157). It is reasoned that God did not want to have Jesus tortured and replaced him with someone who physically looked like him, but the Christians thought Jesus was the one. So, Muslims believe that Jesus is still alive and is living in heaven.

      As of Jesus’ birth, life and miracles, Muslims’ beliefs are almost similar to that of Christians. Nonetheless, when it comes to His Divinity, Islamic accounts point the main difference. Muslims reject the divinity part of the Christian’s creed and consider Jesus as one of God’s prophets. Islam steps in the middle between Christianity and Judaism when it comes to Jesus; Islam neither makes Jesus a worshiped figure, nor a rejected one. He is one of the five prophets that the Quran called “apostles of inflexible purpose.” They are called with this term for their extreme patience during the torture they had endured from nonbelievers. Generally, Muslims hold their claims by many evidences from both the Quran and the Bible.

      The Quran clearly states that Jesus is not a god: “They take their priests and their anchorites to be their lords in derogation of Allah, and (they take as their Lord) Christ the son of Mary; yet they were commanded to worship but One Allah. There is no god but He. Praise and glory to Him: (Far is He) from having the partners they associate (with Him).” (Quran 9:21). Yet, to consider this as evidence, we need to prove that the Quran is the word of God, and is righteous. Proving this is behind the purpose of this paper, but we would consider one rational argument:

    It [The Quran] speaks about past history and turns out right. It speaks about the future in prophecies and it turns out right. It mentions details of physical phenomena which were not known to people at the time; yet later scientific discoveries confirm that the Quran was right all along. Every other book needs to be revised to accord with modern knowledge. The Quran alone is never contradicted by a modern discovery. (“IslamWay”)

      The Quran, and to the surprise of many Christians, confirms that the Gospel (Al-Injeel) is the word of God: “… and We bestowed on him [Jesus] the Gospel wherein is guidance and a light, confirming that which was (revealed) before it in the Torah a guidance and an admonition unto those who ward off (evil).” Nevertheless, Islam suggests that Christians misinterpreted the Bible, and condemn the Jews for modifying the scripture: “Therefore woe be unto those who write the Scripture with their hands and then say, ‘This is from Allah,’ that they may purchase a small gain therewith …” (Quran 5:46, 2:69).

      Since early time, Muslims have been debating the issue of Jesus’ divinity with their counterparts, Christians. The earliest debate was between the Caliph Al-Mahdi and Timothy the Patriarch of the Nestorian Church in the late eighth century. Among the arguments Al-Mahdi made, one was on the issue of Jesus’ divinity. Al-Mahdi states that, if you read the Bible, it is obvious that Jesus referred to God as superior. An example would be, when Jesus said: “… but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God'” (John 20:17). How come then Christians claim that God the Father, God the Son, and the Holy Sprit are co-equal? (Beaumont)?

      After Al-Mahdi, several Muslims came into the scene.  Al-Qassim Al-Rassi wrote “A Reply to Christians in the early nineteenth century. The paper tried to prove that Jesus was portrayed as a human messenger in the Bible and that Christians were not following what they claim of to the righteous scriptures. Al-Qassim made this claim: The sonship the Bible talks about is not a natural descent but a metaphorical one. Evidence on this would be in John 1:12, where Jesus admits that anyone can be a son for God. In several places in the Bible, Jesus is found to ask his disciples to call God their father and him their brother; that means the sonship with God is not confined uniquely to Jesus. A conclusion would be that, when in the Jesus says, “I have come to you from my father,” He does not mean that God is His father through physical generation (Beaumont).

      Generations later, Al-Tabari came with another Replay to the Christians. Al-Tabari embraced Islam after seventy years of Christianity. Al-Tabari tried to prove that Christian’s creed opposed the Bible in several aspects. First, Jesus asked the Satan to worship God and no one else, and Jesus said that He, Jesus “came to do the will of the one who sent him.” And this contradicts the creed that speaks of three Gods. Moreover, Jesus told his disciples that He is going to his God and their God; where the creed says Jesus is a true God of true God. Third, the creed suggests that Jesus is the eternal Creator and not Created; but, at the same time it claims the Jesus was crucified and buried. So, is it possible that the eternal God dies? Furthermore, “Jesus said he was a human being, chosen by God, a servant. After He rose from the dead He said to the disciples who thought they were seeing a ghost, ‘Don’t you know that ghosts do not have flesh and blood and bones as I have?’ He had a body, but the eternal Creator does not have a body. So the creed makes the eternal Creator part of creation but Jesus did not call himself eternal Creator” Likewise, Jesus told his disciples He did not know the time of resurrection, but only God knew what would happen. Last but not least, Jesus was born at a particular time in a particular place. So, Jesus is not the eternal Son of God. Fourth, Al-Tabari tried to prove the humanity of Jesus by saying, “Christians, you claim that Christ had a mother, and uncles and relatives, and that he rode on a donkey, and ate and drank, and evacuated his bowels and urinated, and therefore you are saying that God has a mother and uncles and a father just like Abraham and David.” Fifth, Al-Tabari suggests that, if the creed was true, then Matthew 1:1 would have said, “Christ was born of the eternal God, son of David, son of Abraham,” rather than what Matthew had actually said, “Jesus Christ, son of David, son of Abraham.” Like Al-Qassim, Al-Tabari suggests that Christians should understand the title, “Son of God,” metaphorically; Al-Tabari concluded that Jesus did not think his relationship with God differed from that of his disciples (Beaumont).

      Debates among the followers of the three “Abrahamic Religions,” that is –Judaism, Christianity, and Islam– are endless when it comes to differences in faith. The arguments above are just a small portion of huge claims Muslims have made and are still making. The purpose from bringing the above arguments is not to persuade any of the readers; the purpose is to make it clear that Muslims do have points, along with the evidence supporting them. Yet, no one was able to end another’s religion or faith; because faith mostly comes from the heart, not from the mind. People say they argue for the truth, but most of them argue for the sake of argument. Would Jesus, Peace be Upon Him, love to see us fight each another? I do not think so. Why do we not we look for commonalities among us, instead of differences? Are not the “two religions are like different beams of light emanating from the same divine source” (Stevens)?

    The Qur’an is full of references to those who are acknowledged to be prophets, many of whom Jews and Christians recognize for their role in Old Testament history. Only a limited number of prophets are also messengers, including Abraham, Moses, and Jesus, before the coming of the final prophet and messenger, Muhammad. In recent times, relations among Muslims, Christians, and Jews in America are often cultivated under the rubric “Abrahamic religions,” suggesting that the common ancestry of the three faiths may be a more productive basis for interfaith conversation than the rehearsing of theological differences. (Smith)

      I was told once by a conservative Christian, in the southern part of the United States, that I would surely go to Hell! She assured me that she is going to heaven too –why? — Because she does believe that Jesus is God, and I do not. If that is true, then billions of people living now on the face of the earth would go to Hell, because of not being Christians! Is that the loving God she believes in? At the same time, other militant Muslims and Jews do claim that the heaven was created for them. They all talk as if God gave the keys for Paradise and Hell, and as if He is in dilemma of who deserves comfort or fire. God ended this controversy when He said, “Lo! those who believe (in that which is revealed unto thee, Muhammad), and those who are Jews, and Christians, and Sabaeans whoever believeth in Allah and the Last Day and doeth right surely their reward is with their Lord, and there shall no fear come upon them neither shall they grieve” (Quran 2:62).

      If we look deeply into our religious codes, we would discover a great amount of similarity. Muslims believe that Jesus–not Muhammad- is coming at the end of the world, bringing justice with Him; here the globe would unite for the first time and would get rid of evil. The Prophet Mohammed, peace be upon him, said:

    There is no prophet between me and him, that is, Jesus peace be upon him. He will descent (to the earth). When you see him, recognize him: a man of medium height, reddish fair, wearing two light yellow garments, looking as if drops were falling down from his head though it will not be wet … He will destroy the Antichrist (Dajjal) and will live on the earth for forty years and then he will die. The Muslims will pray over him. (“Blessed Jesus”)

      Despite the differences between Muslims and Christians, both consider Him one of the greatest figures over history. His wisdom, knowledge, compassion, and sacrifices can never be found in others. Jesus, a legacy that remains in the hearts and souls of those who love him. His remembrance should unite us all rather than separate us into scrabbling factions.
 

    Work[s] Cited

   Beaumont, Mark Ivor. “Early Muslim Interpretation of the Gospels.” Transformation. Jan.  2005: 20- Religion and Philosophy Collection. EBSCO. Murray State. University  Lib., Murray, KY. 12 Nov. 2005  <http://waterfield.murraystate.edu/login?url=http://search.epnet.com.ezproxy.waterfie ld.murraystate.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=rlh&an=16403093&loginpage=login.a sp&site=ehost>.

   “IslamWay: Seven Reasons to Read the Glorious Quran.” 1 Nov 2005. Islam Way. 12  Nov. 2005 <http://discover.islamway.com/articles.php?article_id=32&lang=1>.

   Quran. Trans. Picktall., n.d.

    The Wesley Bible, New King James Version: A Personal Study Bible for Holy Living.  Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1990.

1 Comment

  1. zaheer said,

    nice good infomation

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