Who is Jesus in the world of Islam?
I. Jesus is called Isa al-Masih (Arabic for the Hebrew, Meshiach, the Anointed One; the Christ, or Messiah), in the Qu’ran. This title is used eleven times, and is usually translated as Christ Jesus. “Behold! The angels said: O Mary! God giveth thee glad tidings of a Word from Him; his name will be Christ Jesus, the son of Mary, held in honor in this world and in the hereafter.and of those nearest to Allah”. (Q.3:45) “The Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, is the Messenger of God and His Word conveyed to Mary and a Spirit from him”. (Q. 4:170)
II. The Virgin Birth of Jesus .Maryam is held in such high regard by Islam the Qu’ran dedicates a whole chapter to her life. Of course many stories in the Qu’ran are a curious mixture of folk tales, half-truths, and legends (Jesus speaks from the cradle, and creates a little bird from clay) There was no Arabic Bible translation available in Mohammed’s lifetime. His information about Jesus’ followers (Nasara: Arabic for Christians, followers of the Nazarene) was mostly hearsay.
“O my Lord, how shall I have a son when no man has touched me?” “He (Gabriel) said: even so, Allah createth what He willeth: when He hath decreed a matter, He but saith to it, “Be”. and it is”. And He will teach him the Book (Pentateuch), the Wisdom (Five Books of Wisdom) and the Injil” (Arabic for the Gospels) (Q. 3:47) And in a chapter dedicated to Maryam (Arabic for Mary) Gabriel says, “It will be so, Your Lord says, “It is easy for Me, and we will make him a sign to people, and a mercy from us”. (Q.19:21) Jesus was created miraculously in Mary’s womb by God’s Spirit, so “sex” was not involved. “We breathed into her from Our Spirit and made her and her son a sign FOR ALL PEOPLE”. (Q. 21:91) A Muslim will say that God cannot have a son because he did not have a wife.
“God said, Jesus, I will cause you to die and raise you up to me, and purify you from those who denied the Truth, and I will exalt your followers over those who deny you until the Resurrection Day” .(Q. 3:55a) Jesus speaks from the cradle: “So peace is on me the day I was born, the day that I die, and the day that I shall be raised up to life”. (Q. 19:33) This presents a problem because most Muslims deny Jesus was crucified on the Cross, died and then was resurrected.
III. Jesus is both Healer and Prophet in Islam. “I, by God’s permission, heal men born blind, and lepers, and give life to the dead.” (Q. 3:49; 5:110)) “Jesus, son of Mary, remember the grace I bestowed upon you and your mother? How I strengthened you with the Holy Spirit…when I taught you the Book , the Wisdom, the Torah and the Gospel…when I inspired the disciples to believe in Me and my Messenger (prophet)? They answered, We believe and bear witness that we submit ourselves to You.” (Q. 5:110, 111) “(Jesus) said, I am the servant of God; He has given me the Book, and made me a Prophet”. (Q. 19:30)
IV. Jesus is the Way. “When Jesus came with clear evidence, he said, I have brought you Wisdom and to clarify for you some of what you differ about. Be always mindful of God and obey me. God is my Lord and your Lord, so worship Him. This is a straight path.” (Q. 43:61)
V. Jesus is the Truth. “Such is Jesus(Isa) the son of Mary-the WORD OF TRUTH-about which they are in dispute. (Q. 19:34)
VI. Jesus is the Bread of Life ” Behold the disciples said: O Jesus, son of Mary! Can you Lord send us a feast from heaven? Jesus answered, Remain mindful of God if you are truly believers. They said, we only wish to eat from it so that our hearts might be reassured that you have told us the truth, and that we ourselves be witnesses to the miracle. Said Jesus, the son of Mary, “God our Lord! Send us a meal from heaven so we can have a recurring celebration (Arabic, eid, or a solemn festival) for the first and last of us, and a sign from You. Provide for us because You are the best of providers.God answered. I will send it down to you, and anyone who denies the truth after this will be punished with a punishment that I will not inflict on anyone else in the world”. (Q. 5:112-115) Even though this is a mixture of several different accounts, as is typical of the Qu’ran, to a Muslim we can easily point out our celebration of the Lord’s table, in communion.
Of course, Muslims will be quick to explain that Jesus was no more than an Apostle (Q. 4:171), that Jesus was not God (Q. 5:17).
Next week we will discuss the common misconceptions that Muslims have about Christianity, and who are the “People of the Book”.
- The Bible has been corrupted.
- We serve three gods.
- We think Jesus is God’s Son.
- Jesus did not die on the Cross.
- Jesus cannot pay for our sins.