The Story of Jesus, as told by the Qur’an

by Mohamad K. Yusuff

Introduction: The essence of Islam -- willing submission and commitment to the authority of Allah -- was the message taught by all prophets and messengers from Adam through Muhammad (s.a.a.w). These divinely-appointed emissaries explained to mankind the relationship between man and God, man and man, man and his environment, and man’s living according to God’s laws for his eventual salvation in the hereafter. Thus, any contradiction among revealed religions is viewed by Islam as man-made, introduced into religion through error or by corruption. The polemic status of Jesus in Judaism and Christianity is not an exception.

The month of December is upon us again and the world of Christianity prepares to celebrate Christmas (the alleged birth anniversary of Jesus) even though historical records admit to the contrary. This article will briefly explore the Islamic view of Jesus, Messenger of Allah.

The Status of Jesus in Islam: The Islamic view of Jesus lies between two extremes. The Hebrews of antiquity (the ancient Israelites) rejected him as a Prophet of God and conspired with the Roman authorities to have him executed. The Gentiles (Christians), on the other hand, consider him the trinitarian God-man: God the father, God the son, and God the holy spirit; and they worship him as such. Islam accepts Jesus, son of Mary, as one of the great Messengers of Allah and accords him the same respect as such Messengers as Abraham, Moses, and Muhammad (s.a.a.w).

The Qur’an explains Jesus’s nature: "People of the Book. . . The Messiah Jesus, son of Mary, was no more than God’s apostle......" [Sura Al Nisa’/Women/4:171];

and his purpose, ". . . I come to confirm the Torah already revealed to you and to make lawful to you some of the things you are forbidden . . . ." [Sura Al ‘Imram/The Family of ‘Imran/3:49-51]

Birth of Jesus: The Qur’anic account of Jesus starts with the conception of his mother, Mary, whose mother, the wife of ‘Imran, vowed to dedicate her child to the service of God in the temple. When Mary became a woman, the angels brought her the news of a son. The Qur’an narrates:

When the angel said, "Mary, God gives you good tidings of a Word from Him whose name is Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary; high honored shall he be in this world and the next, near stationed to God. He shall speak to men in the cradle, and in his prime, and righteous shall he be."

"Lord," said Mary, "How shall I have a son, seeing no mortal has touched me?" "Even so," he said, "God creates what He will. When He decrees a thing He does but say to it, "Be" and it is." [Sura Aal ‘Imran/The Family of ‘Imran/3:45-47]

In the chapter entitled "Mary," the Qur’an tells us how Mary gave birth to her son and how the Israelites accused her of impropriety when she brought the child home:

Then she brought the child to her folk carrying him; and they said: "Mary, you have surely committed a monstrous thing. Sister of Aaron, your father was not a wicked man, nor was your mother a woman unchaste." Mary pointed to the child; but they said: "How shall we speak to one who is still in the cradle, a little child?" And he said, "Lo, I am God’s servant; God has given me the Book and made me a Prophet. . ." [Sura Maryam/Mary/19:27-30]

Jesus is not the Son of God: Later in this same chapter [Mary], Allah assures Prophet Muhammad (and the rest of mankind) that what is told about Jesus in the above verses is the truth even though the Christians and the Jews might not accept it. That is, Jesus is not the son of God; rather, he is the son of Mary. The revelation continues: "Such is Jesus, son of Mary, in word of truth, concerning which they are doubting. It is not for God to take a son unto Him. Glory be to Him! When He decrees a thing, He but says to it, "Be," and it is." [Sura Maryam/Mary/19:34-35]

After this powerful statement about the status of Jesus, Allah directed Prophet Muhammad to invite the Christians to worship Him: "Surely Allah is my God, and your God, so serve Him. This is the straight path." [Sura Maryam/Mary/19:36]

The rejection of the very idea of God having a son is restated later in the same chapter [Mary] with even stronger words:

"And they say, "The All-Merciful has taken unto Himself a son." You have indeed advanced something hideous... and it behooves not the All-Merciful to take a son......" [Sura Maryam/Mary/19:88-92]

That Jesus had no human father does not make him the son of God or God Himself. The Qur’an draws the similarity of the miraculous creation of both Adam and Jesus in the following verse:

"Truly the likeness of Jesus, in God’s sight, is as Adam’s likeness; He created him of dust, then said He unto him; "Be" and he was." [Sura Al ‘Imran/The Family of ‘Imran/3:59]

The Doctrine of Trinity is Rejected: The Qur’an rejects the trinitarian doctrine -- God the father, God the son, and God the holy ghost -- as strongly as it rejects the concept of Jesus as the son of God. This is so because the Qur’an insists that:

". . . Allah is One, the Eternal God, He begets none, nor was He begotten. And none is equal to Him." [Sura Al Ikhlas/Oneness/112:1-4]

At the same time, the force of logic dictates that three cannot be one, and one cannot be three. The Qur’an addresses the Christians:

People of the Book, do not go beyond the bounds in your religion… The Messiah Jesus, son of Mary, is only the Messenger of God, and His Word that He committed to Mary, and a spirit from Him. So believe in God and His Messengers, and say not "Three." Refrain, better is it for you. God is only One God. God forbid that He should have a son!... [Sura Al Nisa’/Women/4:171]

The denial of Jesus’s divinity (and also Mary’s) is presented in the Qur’an in the form of a dialogue, on the Day of Judgment, between the Almighty Allah and Jesus. The Qur’an explains:

And when God said, "O Jesus son of Mary, did you say unto men, "take me and my mother as gods, apart fi-om God?" He said, "To You be glory! It is not mine to say what I have no right to. If I indeed said it, you knew it, knowing what is within any soul, and I do not know what is within Your soul; You know the things unseen. I only said to them what You did command me: "Serve God, my God and your God." [Sura Al Ma’ida/Cattle/5:116-117]

Mission of Jesus: Jesus was sent to the Israelites, who had turned away from the teachings of Moses. On this the Qur’an states:

... He [Allah] will instruct him [Jesus] in the scriptures and in wisdom, in the Torah and in the Gospel, and send him forth as an apostle to the Israelites. He will say: "I bring you a sign from your Lord .... I come to confirm the Torah already revealed to you and to make lawful to you some of the things you are forbidden. I bring a sign from your Lord: therefore, fear God and obey me.... [Sura Al ‘Imran/The Family of ‘Imran/3:49-50]

But, the majority of the Israelites rejected Jesus and his ministry and plotted to have him killed.

Jesus Did Not Die on the Cross: It is a sad fact of history that not many people adhered to the "straight path" about which Jesus preached. The message of Jesus was only followed by a few disciples inspired by Allah (s.w.t) to support him. The non-believing Israelites conspired to kill him. But Allah had a better plan for Jesus and his followers, as the Qur’an tells us:

And when Jesus perceived their unbelief, he said, "Who will be my helpers in the cause of God?" The disciples said, "We will be helpers of God. We believe in God; be witnesses of our submission . . . " And they devised, and God devised, and God is the best of devisers. When God said, "Jesus, I will take you to Me and will raise you to Me, and I will purify you of those who do not believe. I will set your followers above the unbelievers till the Resurrection Day. . . " [Sura Al ‘Imran/The Family of ‘Imran/3:52-S5]

According to the Qur’an, Jesus was not crucified. Allah saved him, as stated in the Qur’an:

And for their unbelief, and their uttering against Mary a might calumny, and for their saying, "We slew the Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, the Messenger of God. . ." yet they did not slay him, neither crucified him; only a likeness of that was shown to them... and they did not slay him of certainty ... no indeed; God raised him up to Him: God is Almighty, All-wise. [Sura Al Nisa’/Women/4:156-158]

Jesus’s Prophecy of Prophet Muhammad: According to the Qur’an, Jesus confirmed the validity of the Torah which was revealed to Moses, and also conveyed the glad tidings of a final messenger who would follow him:

"And when Jesus son of Mary said, "Children of Israel, I am indeed the messenger to you, confirming the Torah that is before me, and giving good tidings of a Messenger who shall come after me, whose name shall be Ahmad (the praised one)." [Sura Al Saff/The Ranks/61:6]

The "praised one" is a translation of "Ahmad" -- also the name of Prophet Muhammad. The New Testament confirms this prophecy:

"And I will pray the Father (God), and He will give you another Counselor (Prophet Muhammad), to be with you forever, even the Spirit of Truth. [John 14:26]

Six centuries later, this prophecy came to past.

Posted September 15, 1998. This article was printed in the December 1993 issue of the Voice of Islam newsletter. (This newsletter is published by the Islamic Society of the Washington Area).