Jesus in Islam
What Do Muslims Believe about Jesus?
Muslims respect and revere Jesus (peace be upon him). They consider him one of the greatest of God's messengers to mankind. The Quran confirms his virgin birth, and a chapter of the Quran is entitled 'Maryam' (Mary). The Quran describes the birth of Jesus as follows:
(Remember) when the angels said, "O Mary, God gives you good news of a word from Him (God), whose name is the Messiah Jesus, son of Mary, revered in this world and the Hereafter, and one of those brought near (to God). He will speak to the people from his cradle and as a man, and he is of the righteous." She said, "My Lord, how can I have a child when no mortal has touched me?" He said, "So (it will be). God creates what He wills. If He decrees a thing, He says to it only, 'Be!' and it is." (Quran, 3:45-47)
Jesus was born miraculously by the command of God, the same command that had brought Adam into being with neither a father nor a mother. God has said:
The case of Jesus with God is like the case of Adam. He created him from dust, and then He said to him, "Be!" and he came into being. (Quran, 3:59)
During his prophetic mission, Jesus performed many miracles. God tells us that Jesus said:
"I have come to you with a sign from your Lord. I make for you the shape of a bird out of clay, I breathe into it, and it becomes a bird by God's permission. I heal the blind from birth and the leper. And I bring the dead to life by God's permission. And I tell you what you eat and what you store in your houses...." (Quran, 3:49)
Muslims believe that Jesus was not crucified. It was the plan of Jesus' enemies to crucify him, but God saved him and raised him up to Him. And the likeness of Jesus was put over another man. Jesus' enemies took this man and crucified him, thinking that he was Jesus. God has said:
...They said, "We killed the Messiah Jesus, son of Mary, the messenger of God." They did not kill him, nor did they crucify him, but the likeness of him was put on another man (and they killed that man)... (Quran, 4:157)
Neither Muhammad nor Jesus came to change the basic doctrine of the belief in one God, brought by earlier prophets, but rather to confirm and renew it.
Jesus is a Servant of God
It will be quickly obvious that they often referred to him as a servant of God, but never Son of God. Peter, for example, said:
"The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus" (Acts 3:13).
Peter further said:
"God raised up his servant" (Acts 3:26), where the title servant refers to Jesus.
Not only Peter, but the entire group of believers viewed Jesus as God's servant. When they raised their voices together in prayer to God, in the course of their speaking to God they called Jesus "your holy servant Jesus whom you anointed" (Acts 4:27). They repeated this title also in verse 30. Consistently, Jesus was being called servant of God by the original followers of Jesus.
Some people mistakenly thought that the disciples called Jesus Son of God. An inconsistency of translation actually helped to give this wrong impression. In the King James Bible, the translators call Jesus "Son of God" in Acts 3:13, 26, and "child of God" in Acts 4:27. They simply translated the Greek word paida as "son" or "child". But the word paida also means "servant", and the present context demands this translation since the author of Acts is trying in this passage to establish that Jesus is indeed the servant of God.
The translators knew that the Greek word paida means servant. When the same word was used for David in chapter 4, verse 25, they translated it "servant". Why not call Jesus also by the same title? Or, if they feel that "son" is the correct translation, why not also call David "Son of God"? Jesus and David are both called by the same title in Greek. Why not call them by a same title in English also?
Other translators recognized this inconsistency and corrected it in the modern translations of the Bible. Therefore the New International Version of the Bible and many others call Jesus Servant of God in the verses already quoted above. Nevertheless, the fact that Jesus was God's servant was so well known that even the King James Bible called him by this title in Matthew 12:18. Referring back to Isaiah 42:1, Matthew identified Jesus as the servant of the one true God Yahweh.
In the next part, we will see how the eagerness in some people to call Jesus "Son of God" led them to invent explanations that indirectly insult God.
The Messiah, Jesus Son of Mary
"O People of the Scripture! Do not exaggerate in your religion, and do not say anything concerning Allah except the truth. The Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, was only a messenger of Allah, and His word which He conveyed unto Mary, and a spirit from Him. So believe in Allah and His messengers . . . " (Qur'an 4:171; see also 66:12).
In the above passage Jesus in called by four noble titles. He is the Messiah, the Messenger of Allah, a Word from Allah, and a Spirit from Allah. In the same passage, it is clear that the Qur'an seeks to discourage exaggeration in religion. Further in the same passage, Allah says:
"Allah is only One God. Far is it removed from His transcendent majesty that He should have a son. His is all that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth. And Allah is sufficient as Defender" (Qur'"an 4:171).
Refusing to call Jesus son of God is not done with a view to belittle Jesus. No! On the contrary, it is done to Glorify God, to magnify His name, and to proclaim His transcendent majesty.
The Qur'"an confirms that Jesus was born of a virgin. When the angel announced to Mary, on whom be peace, that she will bear a child, she said:
"My Lord! How can I have a child when no mortal has touched me"
She received the following reply:
"So (it will be). Allah creates what He will. If He decrees a thing, He says unto it only: Be! and it is. (Qur'"an 3: 45, 47).
In another surah, after relating the incidents surrounding the birth of the Messiah, the Qur'"an concludes as follows:
"It befits not (the majesty of) Allah that He should take unto Himself a son. Glory be to Him! When he decrees a thing, He says unto it only: Be! and it is."" (Qur'an 19:35).
The Qur'an seeks to correct a common misconception in the minds of people. Many assume that since Jesus had no father then God must be his father.
Glory be to Allah. He does not father children. He created everyone we know from a man and a woman. But He created Adam from neither a man nor a woman. And He created Eve from a man, but not from a woman. Then, as if to complete the picture, God created Jesus from a woman but not from a man. God has demonstrated His power to create in every way.
"Lo! the likeness of Jesus with Allah is as the likeness of Adam. He created him from dust, then he said unto him: Be! and he is" (3:59).
It is important to realise that Jesus, on whom be peace, never taught that he is the Son of God. Allah says that those who call Jesus "Son of God" are following the saying of other people (see surah 9:30). Jesus taught only what he was commanded (5:117). He himself was quite pleased with being a servant of Allah (4:172). As a messenger of Allah, Jesus knew that none in the heavens or the earth can approach Allah except as a slave (19:93).
Finally, those who say that God has a son should know that they have no warrant for this, but they are saying something without knowledge (10:68).
In the next part, God willing, we will see from a careful study of the Bible that Jesus never called himself God's son.