Is Jesus a Muslim Prophet?

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Image by Rachid Oucharia. Adapted for Redemption of Humanity. Used under licence.

The Bible’s Answer

Introduction

Although Jesus holds a central position in Christianity, he also holds a high position in Islam, too. But who is Jesus according to Islam? And is he the same Jesus as the historical Jesus of the Bible? To find out the answer, let’s compare the Jesus of the Qur’an with the Jesus of the Bible.

Points of Agreement

Born of the Virgin Mary

First of all, there are a number of similarities between Jesus in Christianity and Islam. For example, the Qur’an teaches that Jesus was born of the virgin Mary and that he was “pure” (some translations say “faultless”).¹,²,⁶ Surah 19 verses 19–22 says:

He said, “I am only the messenger of your Lord to give you [news of] a pure boy.” 20 She said, “How can I have a boy while no man has touched me and I have not been unchaste?” 21 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.'” 22 So she conceived him, and she withdrew with him to a remote place. (Qur’an 19:19–22) ³ ⁽ᵖᵃᵍᵉ ⁶⁰⁾

The Messiah and Word of God

The Qur’an also calls Jesus the Messiah and a word from Allah.³ Surah 3 verse 45 teaches:

[And mention] when the angels said, “O Mary, indeed Allah gives you good tidings of a word from Him, whose name will be the Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary – distinguished in this world and the Hereafter and among those brought near [to Allah ]. (Qur’an 3:45) ²,³ ⁽ᵖᵃᵍᵉ ⁵⁹⁾

Miracle Worker

Furthermore, the Qur’an teaches that Jesus performed many miracles in his life, such as curing the blind, lepers, and raising the dead.¹,²,⁴ Surah 3 verse 49 says:

And [make him] a messenger to the Children of Israel, [who will say], ‘Indeed I have come to you with a sign from your Lord in that I design for you from clay [that which is] like the form of a bird, then I breathe into it and it becomes a bird by permission of Allah. And I cure the blind and the leper, and I give life to the dead – by permission of Allah. And I inform you of what you eat and what you store in your houses. Indeed in that is a sign for you, if you are believers. (Qur’an 3:49) ¹,⁴

Righteous

The Qur’an also teaches that Jesus was among the righteous. Surah 6 verses 84–85 says:

And We gave to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob – all [of them] We guided. And Noah, We guided before; and among his descendants, David and Solomon and Job and Joseph and Moses and Aaron. Thus do We reward the doers of good. 85 And Zechariah and John and Jesus and Elias – and all were of the righteous. (Qur’an 6:84–85) ³ ⁽ᵖᵃᵍᵉ ⁶⁵⁾

Prophet

Moreover, the Qur’an teaches that Jesus was a prophet who knew the Scriptures, and who was blessed wherever he went. Surah 19 verses 29–31 teaches:

So she pointed to him. They said, “How can we speak to one who is in the cradle a child?” 30 [Jesus] said, “Indeed, I am the servant of Allah. He has given me the Scripture and made me a prophet. 31 And He has made me blessed wherever I am and has enjoined upon me prayer and zakah as long as I remain alive (Qur’an 19:29–31) ³ ⁽ᵖᵃᵍᵉ ⁶⁴⁾

This is all in agreement with the teachings of the Bible concerning Jesus (with the exception of Jesus speaking in the cradle and breathing life into clay birds). However, there are certain points in which the Qur’an differs significantly from the historical, biblical Jesus.

Points of Disagreement

Introduction

Islam teaches that Jesus was a Muslim prophet, and that all the prophets who came before him, such as David, Solomon, Abraham, and Moses, were also Muslims.⁵ In fact, according to Islam, all people are born Muslims, and the only reason why some people are of different religions and worldviews is because they chose to reject the message of Muhammad.⁵ As a Muslim, Jesus would have to agree with the basic teachings of the Qur’an. But does he actually? What does the Bible have to say about Jesus?

Eternal Creator or Creation of God

According to surah 3 verse 59 of the Qur’an, Jesus was created just like Adam:

Indeed, the example of Jesus to Allah is like that of Adam. He created Him from dust; then He said to him, “Be,” and he was. (Qur’an 3:59) ³ ⁽ᵖᵃᵍᵉ ⁵⁸⁾

However, the Bible teaches that Jesus was never created. In John 1:3, it is taught that all created things in the universe were made by Jesus:

All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. (John 1:3)

This, of course, excludes Jesus from everything “that was made”, and he is therefore eternal. Another Bible passage which teaches this is Colossians 1:16–17, which says:

For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. (Colossians 1:16–17)

Jesus is the eternal creator of the universe who is before all things according to this passage. Jesus himself made it clear that he eternally pre-existed at the Father’s side when he said:

And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed. (John 17:5)

So, the Bible makes it clear that Jesus was never created, and that he is the creator of all things in existence, in opposition to the Qur’an’s teaching that God created him.

Son of God or Not

Another major point of disagreement over Jesus between the Qur’an and the Bible, is that according to the Qur’an, Jesus is not the Son of God, and Allah has no son at all.² The Qur’an teaches:

[He is] Originator of the heavens and the earth. How could He have a son when He does not have a companion and He created all things? And He is, of all things, Knowing. (Qur’an 6:101) ³ ⁽ᵖᵃᵍᵉ ⁵⁵⁾

The Jews say, “Ezra is the son of Allah “; and the Christians say, “The Messiah is the son of Allah.” That is their statement from their mouths; they imitate the saying of those who disbelieved [before them]. May Allah destroy them; how are they deluded? (Qur’an 9:30) ⁷

To the contrary, the Bible teaches that Jesus is the Son of God. After being questioned who he truly was while on trial, Jesus clearly confessed to being God’s Son:

But he remained silent and made no answer. Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” 62 And Jesus said, “I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven. (Mark 14:61–62)

When Jesus asked his disciples who they believed he was, Scripture tells us:

Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 16:16–17)

Jesus not only affirmed Peter’s declaration of him being the Son of God, he also said that it was God the Father who had revealed this truth to him. On the mountain where Jesus was transfigured before his disciples, we are told:

And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him! (Luke 9:48)

Contrary to what Allah says in the Qur’an, in the Bible God tells us that Jesus is his Son and his Chosen One whom we should listen to. The Bible teaches that Jesus is God’s Son in the sense that he is equal with God (John 5:18) and shares his divine nature (Hebrews 1:3); not in the sense that God had sexual relations with a companion.

Hypostatic Union or Merely Human

The Qur’an also strongly opposes the deity of Christ, which is an essential doctrine of Christianity. Surah 5 verse 116 says:

They have certainly disbelieved who say, “Allah is the Messiah, the son of Mary” while the Messiah has said, “O Children of Israel, worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord.” Indeed, he who associates others with Allah – Allah has forbidden him Paradise, and his refuge is the Fire. And there are not for the wrongdoers any helpers. (Qur’an 5:72) ¹⁰

But the Bible, on the other hand, teaches that Jesus is truly God and truly man; he has both a divine and a human nature. The prologue of John clearly teaches this, saying:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. … 14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:1, 14)

The passage is clear that Jesus is the Word made flesh, who was with God in the beginning, and who was God. Here, we see the divine nature of Jesus, “the Word was God”, and the human nature of Jesus, “And the Word became flesh”. This passage also tells us that Jesus is distinct from the Father, because “the Word was with God”. Thus the Bible teaches that they share a oneness of essence, not personhood. A similar passage is Colossians 2:9, which says:

For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, … (Colossians 2:9)

This passage confirms that Jesus is God incarnate. In him was “the whole fullness of deity”, so he is 100% God, and it dwelt “bodily”, so he is simultaneously 100% human; his deity and humanity did not cancel one another out. Isaiah recognised Jesus as “Mighty God” long before he was even born:

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)

And God the Father called Jesus God in Hebrews 1:8, saying:

But of the Son he says, “Your throne, O God, is for ever and ever, the sceptre of uprightness is the sceptre of your kingdom. (Hebrews 1:8)

Jesus himself claimed to be God by calling himself “the first and the last”:

When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, 18 and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive for evermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades. (Revelation 1:17–18)

There is no doubt that Jesus is God according to the Bible. He and the Father aren’t the same person, but they are of the same essence. In this regard, the teachings of the Qur’an are radically different from those of the Bible.

Crucified & Resurrected or Saved from Death

Another serious departure from biblical truth is the Qur’an’s denial of Jesus’ crucifixion and death, and consequently, his resurrection, too.⁶ Instead, it teaches that someone else was crucified who “was made to resemble him”, but that Allah took him up into Heaven to save him from death. The Qur’an teaches:

And [We cursed them] for their disbelief and their saying against Mary a great slander, 157 And [for] their saying, “Indeed, we have killed the Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary, the messenger of Allah.” And they did not kill him, nor did they crucify him; but [another] was made to resemble him to them. And indeed, those who differ over it are in doubt about it. They have no knowledge of it except the following of assumption. And they did not kill him, for certain. 158 Rather, Allah raised him to Himself. And ever is Allah Exalted in Might and Wise. (Qur’an 4:156–158) ³ ⁽ᵖᵃᵍᵉ ⁶⁶⁾

The traditional interpretation of this is that Judas Iscariot was mistaken to be Jesus, and he was crucified instead.⁵ Other interpretations say it was Simon of Cyrene, a Roman soldier, or a rabbi.⁵ However, according to the Bible, Jesus was crucified, died, and raised again from the dead on the third day. In Matthew 17:22–23, Jesus predicted his own death and resurrection, saying:

As they were gathering in Galilee, Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men, 23 and they will kill him, and he will be raised on the third day.” And they were greatly distressed. (Matthew 17:22–23)

Jesus was crucified and died on the day after the Passover meal in the third year of his ministry, at Golgotha:

So they took Jesus, 17 and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called The Place of a Skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha. 18 There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them. … When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished”, and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. (John 19:16–18, 30)

But three days later, he rose again, and appeared to his disciples alive:

But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. 6 He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.” 8 So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9 And behold, Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshipped him. (Matthew 28:5–9)

Thus, God’s Word makes it clear that Jesus was crucified and resurrected. He was not rescued from death and taken up into Heaven immediately.

Saviour of the World or Not

The Qur’an teaches that no one has any need of a Saviour, because Allah doesn’t demand perfection from this followers, and allows us to merit eternal life through faith and good works even if we have sinned. It says:

Allah does not charge a soul except [with that within] its capacity. It will have [the consequence of] what [good] it has gained, and it will bear [the consequence of] what [evil] it has earned. “Our Lord, do not impose blame upon us if we have forgotten or erred. Our Lord, and lay not upon us a burden like that which You laid upon those before us. Our Lord, and burden us not with that which we have no ability to bear. And pardon us; and forgive us; and have mercy upon us. You are our protector, so give us victory over the disbelieving people. (Qur’an 2:286) ²

The Jesus of the Qur’an is seen as nothing more than a messenger who set a good example, because he had no need to save anyone according to Islamic theology. Surah 43 verses 57–59 says:

And when the son of Mary was presented as an example, immediately your people laughed aloud. 58 And they said, “Are our gods better, or is he?” They did not present the comparison except for [mere] argument. But, [in fact], they are a people prone to dispute. 59 Jesus was not but a servant upon whom We bestowed favor, and We made him an example for the Children of Israel. (Qur’an 43:57–59) ⁶

However, according to the Bible, Jesus is the Saviour of the world. 1 John 4:14 teaches that God the Father sent his Son into the world to be its Saviour:

And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Saviour of the world. (1 John 4:14)

Jesus’ mission was to save us from our sins:

She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins. (Matthew 1:21)

In the Bible, God’s standards for eternal life are perfection (Matthew 5:48). Sinning against God incurs an infinite punishment because of God’s infinite holiness (Matthew 25:41–43, 46). A perfect ransom for sin, therefore, had to be paid to reconcile sinful humanity to God. Jesus said that he came to provide that ransom:

For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. (Mark 10:45)

According to the Bible, the crucifixion of Jesus was an event of cosmic importance. When Christ hung upon the cross, he took upon himself the sins of the world, and died as our substitute, to put away sin once and for all. The Bible says:

But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27 And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgement, 28 so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him. (Hebrews 9:26–28)

Jesus’ sacrifice to the Father was a perfect ransom for sin, and satisfied God’s righteous judgement against us and his condemnation of sin. Whoever trusts in what he has done for us on the cross, and believes that God rose him from the dead on the third day, will be saved (Romans 3:23–26, 10:9).

Final Judge or Islamic Jihadi

According to Islam, Jesus will come to the earth a second time just like the Bible says. Many Muslims believe that surah 43 verse 61 predicts Christ’s second coming:

And indeed, Jesus will be [a sign for] knowledge of the Hour, so be not in doubt of it, and follow Me. This is a straight path. (Qur’an 43:61) ⁷

However, the purpose of Jesus’ second coming in the Islamic view is very different from the Bible’s. Sunan Abu Dawud, Book 37, Number 4310 says that Jesus will come back as a jihadi who will fight in the way of Islam, break the crosses (to show that he wasn’t crucified), kill the swine (to abolish the consumption of pork), slay the antichrist, and abolish the Jizyah, because Islam will be enforced on everyone. Then, he will die on earth:

There is no prophet between me and him [Jesus Christ]. He shall descend, so recognize him when you see him. He is a man of medium height, [his complexion] is between reddish and white, he will be [dressed] in two yellowish garments. His head looks as if it is dripping water even though it is not wet. He will fight people in the way of Islam, will break the cross, kill the swine, and abolish the annual tax [Jizyah]. Allah will put an end to all religions except Islam during his time. He will slay the Antichrist and he will stay on Earth for forty years. Then, he will die and the Muslims will perform the funeral prayer over him. (Sunan Abu Dawud Book 37, Number 4310) ⁸,⁹

To the contrary, the Bible teaches that Jesus will return to the earth as the final judge of the living and the dead. He will take all Christians who have waited for him to Heaven, to enjoy his presence forever:

For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. … 16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. (1 Thessalonians 4:14, 16–17)

However, he will inflict vengeance on all non-Christians who disbelieved, and will send them away from his presence forever:

… and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels 8 in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, … (2 Thessalonians 1:7–9)

Jesus himself claimed to be the final judge of the world when he said that on the final day he would separate the Christians from the non-Christians, and send the Christians to his kingdom, and the non-Christians to the eternal fire:

When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. … 41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. (Matthew 25:31–34, 41)

Therefore, according to the Bible, when Jesus will come again, everyone will be judged by whether or not they believed in Christ for salvation; the believers will go to eternal life, but the non-believers to eternal damnation. When Jesus comes, he will initiate the end of the world, send us to our eternal dwelling places, and then God will create all things new (Revelation 21:1, 5). He will not enforce Islam, fight in the way of Islam, kill the swine, or break the crosses.

Conclusion

After examining the evidence, it is clear that Jesus was not a Muslim prophet, and that he in no way endorsed Islam. A lot of what the biblical Jesus said and did goes completely against the Qur’an’s portrayal of him, and, would even be considered blasphemous by Muslim standards. Muslims may have a prophet called Jesus in their faith, and highly regard him, but their faith isn’t in the biblical Jesus of history whom Christians have always believed in. Islam presents us with a counterfeit Jesus, one who isn’t the eternal and divine Son of God, the crucified and risen Saviour of the world, and the final judge, and the Bible warns us of religious systems or individuals that do this (2 Corinthians 11:3–4). Islam cannot offer salvation; only the biblical Jesus can.

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2 He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. (1 John 2:1–2) *

Notes

* Propitiation is a theological term in Christianity which means “payment”, and is used in regards to Jesus’ perfect obedience and sacrifice on the cross as the perfect payment that satisfied God’s wrath against sinners and fulfilled the legal demands of his law.

References:

1. El-Naggar, M 2008, THE STORY OF JESUS IN BRIEF, The Religion of Islam, accessed on 23 June 2018, <https://www.islamreligion.com/articles/1185/story-of-jesus-in-brief/>

2. Khan, S 2017, Jesus in Islam, Islami City, accessed on 23 June 2018, <https://www.islamicity.org/5797/jesus-in-islam/>

3. Richter, R 2011, Comparing the Qur’an and the Bible: What They Really Say about Jesus, Jihad, and More, BakerBooks, MI

4. What Do Muslims Believe about Jesus?, Islam Guide, last accessed on 23 June 2018, <https://www.islam-guide.com/ch3-10.htm>

5. 2018, What is the Qur’an? What do Muslims Believe about Jesus?, Answering Muslims, accessed on 23 June 2018, <http://www.answeringmuslims.com/2018/06/what-is-quran-what-do-muslims-believe.html>

6. Slick, M, What does Islam and the Quran say about Jesus?, the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry, accessed on 24 June 2018, <https://carm.org/what-does-islam-and-quran-say-about-jesus>

7. Second Coming, Wikipedia, accessed on 24 June 2018, <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Coming#Islam>

8. 2016, When Jesus Comes Again to This World Will He Come as a Follower of Prophet Muhammad?, SeekersGuidance, accessed on 25 June 2018, <http://seekershub.org/ans-blog/2016/10/24/jesus-peace-upon-comes-world-will-come-follower-prophet-muhammad-peace-upon/>

9. JESUS IN HADITH, Muslims for Jesus, accessed on 25 June 2018, <http://www.muslimsforjesus.org/Jesus%20in%20Hadith/jesusinhadith.htm>

10. Fatoohi, L 2010, The Qur’anic Verses that Refute the Divinity of Jesus, Qur’anic Studies, accessed on 25 June 2018, <http://www.quranicstudies.com/historical-jesus/the-quranic-verses-that-refute-the-divinity-of-jesus/>

All passages of the Qur’an are taken from the Sahih International translation.

All passages of the Bible are taken from the English Standard Version.

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