By Abu Hera
This article is the first of a 6-part series on Muslim views on Jesus.
One of the most fundamental belief systems in Islam is that Allah (GOD) has sent his chosen messengers and prophets to mankind in different nations and communities throughout the ages, from the time of Adam (PBUH) until His last prophet, Mohammed (PBUH). According to some Islamic traditions, there were more than 124,000 prophets who were sent by God to different nations and communities throughout human history.
Among them, the most famous are Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and finally Muhammad (peace be upon them all).
Please note that when Muslims take the holy names of prophets, we always add the honorific suffix Alaihis Salaam or Peace Be upon Him or PBUH for short. This is out of love and respect for these great people. If it is missing, anywhere by chance, it should be considered implied.
Muslims respect and revere Jesus (peace be upon him). We consider him one of the greatest among God’s messengers and prophets. We believe Jesus is a prophet, messenger, word, spirit, sign, and slave of God. The religious texts of Muslims, The Quran, and Sunnah (teaching of Muhammad PBUH) have a lot to say about Jesus, his mother, his birth, his mission and trials and tribulations, his ascension, and his return. In this brief booklet, we will try to cover some of the important beliefs that Muslims hold about Jesus (PBUH) and his mission.
First, we will detail who Jesus is according to the Quran, the literal word of God that prophet received, and the Sunnah, the traditions of the prophet according to Muslim belief. A Christian will not have much objection to most of these points. As such even though many of those details, incidents, and stories may not appear in NT, they are not something that contradicts Christian theology. However, Islam not only teaches who Jesus was, but it also teaches who Jesus wasn’t. So in the second section of this booklet, we will detail the Muslim position on who Jesus was NOT. Please realize that on certain matters, our belief system goes directly against the deeply held belief systems of Christians. We don’t intend to hurt the sentiments of our Christian colleagues and neighbors; rather our only purpose is to explain our own deeply held belief in a very honest and frank manner.
We Muslims also feel that the reason Christians and Muslims differ in these matters is not because of anything that Jesus himself taught, rather these differences are because of other factors such as social, theological, and historical factors. The influence of St Paul on doctrines of Christianity can’t be denied either. In fact in our studies, we have come across a large body of literature that assigns St Paul the position of founder of Christianity. Our purpose again is not to go into a detailed discussion on the history of the development of different doctrines of Christianity and what factors influenced which aspect and how we got here so different and distinct from the religion that Jesus really brought to mankind. However, to cut the discussion short we will say that our primary difference is because of two approaches e.g. Jesus according to St Paul vs. Jesus according to Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Them).
Christian scholars recognize that St Paul came on the scene several years after the departure of Jesus. In fact St Paul used to torture and kill Christians before his conversion according to NT. So obviously there were Christians during this interim period (between the departure of Jesus and the arrival of St Paul on the scene) who believed in the message of Jesus that was not influenced by St Paul. We are not aware of any Christian scholar today who claims that those followers of Jesus who were persecuted by Paul ( before he had the vision on the road to Damascus), were in any way misguided or unsaved. So there was a time when the religion of Jesus was not influenced by the teaching of St. Paul. That is the religion that we Muslims believe was the real religion of Jesus, a religion which was free from influences of St Paul or of anyone who had not learned the religion directly from the master himself. If our Christian colleagues could at least allow for this room of understanding, we believe we can have a much better understanding of our two faiths. We believe that by focusing on Jesus, our neighbors can really see that after all, the teaching of Jesus (PBUH) is not much different from the teaching of Muhammad (PBUH).
Moreover, there is a solid theological reason for Muslims to reject the non-eyewitness account of Jesus (e.g. letters and epistles of St Paul and others) when dealing with Christian sources. Muslims believe that God didn’t send any other prophet between Jesus and Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Them), so claims of St Paul and others of divine inspiration and the resultant source materials that come from such claims are not acceptable from our perspective.
Narrated Abu Huraira: I heard Allah’s Apostle saying, “I am the nearest of all the people to the son of Mary, and all the prophets are paternal brothers, and there has been no prophet between me and him (i.e. Jesus). (Sahih Bukhari Volume 4, Book 55, Number 651:)
Abu Huraira reported Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) as saying: I am most akin to the son of Mary among the whole of humanity and the Prophets are of different mothers, but of one religion, and no Prophet was raised between him and me (Jesus Christ). (Sahih Muslim Book 030, Number 5834:)
We will briefly detail what we Muslims believe about Jesus (PBUH) and his message based on the Quran and Sunnah in the next articles. If a Muslim doesn’t believe in any of these teachings, then his faith will not be valid.
This article is part 1 of 6 in a series on Muslim views on Jesus. Read part 2: Virgin Birth and Prophethood.
- Jesus from a Muslim perspective: Who is Jesus?
- Virgin Birth and Prophethood of Jesus
- Miracles of Jesus (PBUH)
- Who is not Jesus?
- Trinity, Sin, & Salvation in Christianity: A critical review
- Did Jesus die on the Cross?
Article Courtesy: American Herald Tribune