The Prophet Muhammad (saw)
Prophethood
 

Prophet Jesus in the Quran

According to the Quran, Prophet Jesus (Isa) was one of the five ulu'l azm prophets, that is the greatest prophets. His name, or an attributive reference to him, appears in 15 chapters and 93 verses; the most frequent references to Prophet Jesus are made in the Al-i Imran, Maida and Meryem surahs, with information being given about the glad tidings of his birth, his coming to the world, the revelation, miracles, the end of his life in this world and his ascension to Allah.

In the Quran Jesus is mentioned as Isa (Jesus), Ibn Meryem (son of Mary) and the Messiah (Mesih), as well as with other names, and he is also given a number of titles; twenty-five times the name Isa appears, twenty-three times Ibn Meryem is used, sixteen of which are used along with the name Isa. The title Messiah appears in eleven places, either on its own or as Messiah Ibn Meryem or Messiah Isa b. Meryem. However, the word for Messiah (Mesih) does not have the same meaning that it is given by Christians. Isa Mesih (Jesus Christ) was created as the other prophets were, and is a servant of Allah. According to Islam, the attribution of divinity to Prophet Jesus, making him into a god, is definitely not correct.

The mother of Prophet Jesus, Meryem, was a member of one of the four distinguished families which are stated as being above all people in the Quran (Al-i Imran, 3/33). Again, in the Quran there is information about Meryem, the mother of Prophet Jesus, in connection with the glad tidings of his birth. According to the Quran, Meryem left her family and while living in the place that was allocated for her Allah's soul (Archangel Gabriel) appeared before her as a perfect human; in fear, she sought shelter with Allah and did not want Gabriel to touch her. The angel told her that he was an envoy sent by Allah with the gift of a pure baby son. When Meryem asked how she could possibly have a child as no male hand had ever touched her and as she was a virgin, the angel told her this was easy for Allah (Meryem 19/16-21). Finally, Meryem became pregnant with Jesus, although no male hand had ever touched her (Meryem 19/22).

The information given about the glad tidings of Prophet Jesus' birth in the Bible is both similar and different than that in the Quran. Both accounts state that Meryem was a virgin, but according to the Gospels, she was engaged to someone called Joseph. In Luke (1/26-35) the angel Gabriel, who gives Meryem the glad tidings that she is pregnant, is not the same as the Ruhul-kudus (Holy Soul) by whom she becomes pregnant. In the Quran, Allah Almighty speaks of "our soul" being with the angel He sent and generally this is accepted as being Gabriel. The angel gives Meryem the glad tidings, and then blows Allah's soul into her and Meryem becomes pregnant with Jesus. As Jesus was born into this world without a father, a comparison is made to the creation of Adam (Al-i Imran 3/59).

After Meryem gives birth to Jesus, she returns to her family. When the members of the tribe see the baby in Virgin Mary's arms they think that he is the product of an illegitimate relationship and say "O Meryem! This is a horrific thing that you have done. O sister of Aaron! Your father was not a bad man, your mother was chaste." In response to this Jesus, who is in his cradle, speaks: "I am the servant of Allah. He gave me a book and has made me a prophet. Wherever I am, I will be; He created me blessed; He ordered me to pray and to give alms throughout my life. He made me respectful towards my mother; he did not make me an unfortunate despot. Salvation is mine on the day I was born, on the day I will die and on the day I will be lifted alive from my grave." In the Quran, the only thing related about Jesus' life from his birth to the period when he starts to teach the revelation is that Meryem and her son were settled in a fertile area on a hill with water (Al-Muminun 23/50).

According to the Quran, Allah gave Jesus a book and made him blessed. He was a prophet who was sent to the Israelites. He called them to the servanthood of Allah, confirmed the Torah, abrogated some matters, and ordered the nation to pray and pay charitable alms.

The Quran speaks of Jesus' birth, death and also says that he will return to life (Meryem 19/33). However, from the general Islamic point of view this resurrection did not occur after the crucifixion, but rather will occur after the Day of Judgment. In fact, according to the Quran Jesus was not crucified. The Jews were displeased by the message Jesus was teaching and set up a trap to kill him (Al-i Imran 3/54). "That they said (in boast), ‘We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Apostle of God'; But they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety, they killed him not: Nay God raised him up unto Himself; and God is exalted in Power, Wise" (An-Nisa 4/157-58). Thus Islam does not accept the event of Jesus' crucifixion, which is an important belief in the Christian religion and is seen as expiation for people's sins.

According to Islam, Jesus was not a god or the son of God, as claimed by the Christians, nor was he an ordinary person as the Jews claimed; he was a prophet and a messenger sent by Allah, he was the prophet sent to the Israelites, and he was given the Bible (the Gospels). He confirmed the Torah, but some matters were abrogated by him. Jesus said "Certainly Allah is my Lord and He is your Lord. Thus, let us be his servants. This is the correct path," and invited the Israelites to servanthood of Allah, stating that he was the servant of Allah. He performed many miracles. He was concerned with worshipping in temples, obedience and worship; he was given sustenance by Allah and brought into the world by Meryem, who was a symbol of chastity. He was raised without a father, and thus both mother and son were signs of Divine power.

According to the Quran, despite all the superior characteristics of Jesus, he was human and a servant (An-Nisa 4/172; Al-Maide 5/17, 75, Al-Meryem 19/30, Az-Zuhruf 43/59). At no time did Jesus claim that he should be deified and only advised servitude to Allah (Al-Maide 5/116-117). The Quran clearly refutes the Trinity, bringing forward the basic principle of unity (monotheism).

Jesus is also mentioned in the hadiths (sayings of Prophet Muhammad). Prophet Muhammad said that every one who is born will certainly be touched by Satan, but Satan could only touch Prophet Jesus through a curtain/veil, not directly; it is also stated that Jesus was one of three people who was able to speak in his cradle and Prophet Muhammad encountered him on the second level of heaven during the Miraj (Prophet Muhammad's miraculous ascent to Heaven). It is also stated that on the Day of Judgment those who come to Jesus for intercession will be sent to Prophet Muhammad. In the hadiths we are told that those who have faith that there is no god other than Allah, that Muhammad is his servant and messenger, that Jesus was Allah's servant and envoy, that he was inseminated in Meryem by Allah's command and that Jesus is a soul from Allah will enter Heaven, and we are told that Prophet Muhammad is the person closest to Prophet Jesus, the son of Meryem. Moreover, Prophet Muhammad forbade his being worshiped in the way that Jesus, the son of Meryem, is worshipped by the Christians. We can also find a physical description of Prophet Jesus in the hadiths. According to this, Jesus had a ruddy complexion, curly hair and a broad chest.

Prophet Jesus, as he is presented in the Quran and the Hadiths, is different from the man in the Gospels and in Christian theology. The components of basic Christian belief, that he was the embodiment of divinity and that due to his crucifixion Christians will be saved, are not accepted by the Qur'an. These differences have been reasons for arguments between Muslims and Christians from the earliest times. As early as the Era of Happiness, the Christians of Nejran visited Prophet Muhammad and discussed the basic Christian beliefs. It is reported that the first eighty verses of Surah Al-i Imran were revealed in connection with the discussions about Jesus that were held between the committee from Nejran and Prophet Muhammad in Medina.

 

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