Jesus in Islam
After watching the Passion of Christ when it was first released earlier this year, my desire to see a high quality production of a movie dealing with events of Islamic History was rekindled. The Life of the Prophet Mohammad or the Battle of Karbala or any phase of Islamic history would make for a great movie. I am visualizing a film that would not just be a series of gory scenes which the Passion of Christ unfortunately was, but a film that would go beyond the mere stirring of emotions into revealing in more depth and detail the real greatness of the characters it tries to portray.
I personally think that the Passion of Christ underestimated the greatness of Jesus. I know the focus of the movie was the last 12 hours of Christ but I personally think more could have been done to develop his character even whilst focusing on the last few hours of his life. The movie was absolutely fantastic from an artistic and cinematic point of view, but it really didn’t do the character of Jesus justice. I really felt that if someone knew nothing about Jesus and saw the movie, they’d leave with a very blank inadequate impression of him. There was more blood than passion and that is a huge shortcoming in the portrayal of a character whose main message to humanity was about love, mercy, and compassion. In that, Jesus reminds me of Imam Ali. Both are unarguably great figures who had a huge positive impact on humanity, but which have also been done a huge disfavor by their own supporters. For instance, Muslims and especially Shias, have been for so long focusing on Imam Ali's eligibility of succeeding the prophet, while forgetting to appreciate his genius, his literary masterpieces, and his moral intellect. Same goes to Jesus; people across all monotheistic religions have been debating the nature of Jesus and the death of Jesus, forgetting to appreciate the LIFE of Jesus, his character and his accomplishments.
After watching the movie, my friend and I started comparing the Christian version of the story to Islam’s. Halfway through our discussion, I realized that my knowledge about how Islam views Jesus was lacking. Therefore, I decided to learn more about him and his mother (peace be upon them) by gathering all the related verses in the Holy Quran and reading their various interpretations. Below are all the verses I found. By keeping them in mind, an adequate picture of Jesus and Mary from an Islamic perspective can be formed.
Mary & the Birth of Jesus
And remember the angels’ words to Mary. They said: ‘God has chosen you. He has made you pure and exalted you above womankind. (3:42) Mary, be obedient to your Lord; bow down and worship with the worshippers.’ (3:43) This is an account of a divine secret. We reveal it to you (O Muhammad). You were not present when they cast lots to see which of them should have charge of Mary; nor were you present when they argued about her. (3:44)
Verse (3:44) refers to the dispute over who should be in charge of Mary. After casting the lots, Zakariya was chosen.
The angels said to Mary: ‘God bids you rejoice in a Word from Him. His name is the Messiah, Jesus son of Mary. He shall be noble in this world and the world to come, and shall be one of those who are favored. (3:45) He shall preach to men in his cradle and in the prime of manhood, and shall lead a righteous life.’ (3:46) ‘Lord,’ she said, ‘how can I bear a child when no man has touched me?’ He replied: ‘Even thus. God creates whom He will. When He decrees a thing He need only say: “Be,” and it is. (3:47)
The following is one of my favorite set of verses in the Holy Quran. It vividly describes the different phases Mary (pbuh) went through from the conception to the birth of Jesus and people’s reaction to it.
And you shall recount in the Book the story of Mary: how she left her people and betook herself to a solitary place to the east. (19:16) And had chosen seclusion from them. Then We sent to her Our spirit in the semblance of a full-grown man. (19:17) And when she saw him she said: ‘May the Merciful defend me from you! If you fear the Lord, [leave me and go your way.]’ (19:18) He said: "Nay, I am only a messenger from thy Lord, (to announce) to thee the gift of a holy son. (19:19) She said: "How shall I have a son, seeing that no man has touched me, and I am not unchaste?" (19.20) ‘Thus did your Lord speak,’ he replied. ‘“That is easy enough for Me. He shall be a sign to mankind and a blessing from Ourself. This is Our decree.”’ (19:21) Thereupon she conceived him, and retired to a far-off place. (19:22) And when she felt the throes of childbirth she lay down by the trunk of a palm-tree, crying: ‘Oh, would that I had died before this, and passed into oblivion!’ (19:23) But a voice from below cried out to her: ‘Do not despair. Your Lord has made a stream to flow beneath you; (19:24) and if you shake the trunk of the palm-tree it will drop fresh ripe dates in your lap. (19:25) "Therefore eat and drink and rejoice; and should you meet any mortal say to him: “I have vowed a fast to the Merciful and will not speak with any man today”’ (19:26) Carrying the child, she came to her people, who said to her: "O Mary! Truly an amazing thing hast thou brought! (19:27) "O sister of Aaron! Thy father was not a man of evil, nor, was your mother an unchaste woman!” (19:28) She made a sign to them, pointing to the child. But they said: "How can we talk to one who is a child in the cradle?" (19:29) He (Jesus) said: "I am indeed a servant of Allah: He hath given me revelation and made me a prophet; (19:30) And He hath made me blessed wheresoever I be, and hath enjoined on me Prayer and Charity as long as I live; (19:31) He hath made me kind to my mother, and not overbearing or miserable; (19:32) So Peace on me the day I was born, and the day I die, and the day I shall be raised alive!” (19:33) Such was Jesus the son of Mary: a statement of truth, about which they vainly dispute. (19:34) God forbid that he Himself should beget a son! When He decrees a thing He need only say: ‘Be,’ and it is. (19:35)
We gave Moses the Book and followed him up with a succession of messengers; We gave Jesus the son of Mary Clear (Signs) and strengthened him with the holy spirit. Is it that whenever there comes to you a messenger with what ye yourselves desire not, ye are puffed up with pride?- Some ye called impostors, and others ye slay! (2:87)
And (remember) her who guarded her chastity: We breathed into her of Our spirit, and We made her and her son a sign for all peoples. (21:91)
Nature of Jesus
O People of the Book! Commit no excesses in your religion: Nor say of Allah aught but the truth. Christ Jesus the son of Mary was (no more than) a messenger of Allah, and His Word, which He bestowed on Mary, and a spirit proceeding from Him: so believe in Allah and His messengers. Say not "Trinity”: desist: it will be better for you: for Allah is one Allah: Glory be to Him: (far exalted is He) above having a son. To Him belong all things in the heavens and on earth. And enough is Allah as a Disposer of affairs. (4:171) Christ disdaineth nor to serve and worship Allah, nor do the angels, those nearest (to Allah): those who disdain His worship and are arrogant,-He will gather them all together unto Himself to (answer) (4:172)
They do blaspheme who say: "Allah is Christ the son of Mary." But said Christ: "O Children of Israel! Worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord." Whoever joins other gods with Allah,- Allah will forbid him the garden, and the Fire will be his abode. There will for the wrong-doers be no one to help (5:72)
Christ the son of Mary was no more than a messenger; many were the messengers that passed away before him. His mother was a woman of truth. (5:75)
In blasphemy indeed are those that say that Allah is Christ the son of Mary. Say: "Who then hath the least power against Allah, if His will were to destroy Christ the son of Mary, his mother, and all every - one that is on the earth? (5:17)
And the Jews say: Ezra is the son of Allah, and the Christians say: The Messiah is the son of Allah. That is their saying with their mouths. They imitate what the unbelievers of old used to say. Allah (Himself) fighteth against them. How perverse are they! (9.30) They take their priests and their anchorites to be their lords in derogation of Allah, and (they take as their Lord) Christ the son of Mary; yet they were commanded to worship but One Allah: there is no god but He. Praise and glory to Him: (Far is He) from having the partners they associate (with Him). (9.31)
They say: "God hath begotten a son!" - Glory be to Him! He is self-sufficient! His are all things in the heavens and on earth! No warrant have ye for this! Would you say of God what you know not? (10:68)
Jesus is like Adam in the sight of God. He created him from dust and then said to him: ‘Be’, and he was. (3:59)
They declared: ‘Surely we have killed the Messiah, Jesus the son of Mary, the messenger of Allah; but they killed him not, nor did they crucify 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 (4.157) But Allah took him up unto Himself. Allah was ever Mighty, Wise. (4.158)
Muslims believe that Jesus was not killed. God protected him and the resemblance of Jesus was put over another man; and that man, not Jesus, was crucified. Muslims also believe that Jesus will reappear along with the Mahdi to defeat the Dajjal or the “anti-Christ.”
God said: ‘Jesus, I am about to claim you back and lift you up to Me. I shall take you away from the unbelievers and exalt your followers above them till the Day of Resurrection. Then to Me shall all return and I shall judge your disputes. (3:55)
Teachings of Jesus
Jesus told his people: 'O People of the Book! Do not transgress the bounds of truth in your religion. Do not yield to the desires of those who have erred before; who have led many astray and have themselves strayed from the right path' (5:77)
And remember, Jesus, the son of Mary, said: "O Children of Israel! I am sent forth to you from God to confirm the Torah already revealed, and to give news of an apostle that will come after me, whose name shall be Ahmad." (61:6)
And when Jesus came with evident signs, he said: 'I have come to give you wisdom, and to make plain to you some of the things you differ about, Fear God and follow me. (43:63) God is my Lord and your Lord: therefore serve Him. That is a straight path.' (43:64)
Then God will say: 'Jesus son of Mary, did you ever say to mankind: "Worship me and my mother as gods besides God?"' 'Glory be to You,' he will answer, 'I could never have claimed what I have no right to. If I had ever said so, You would have surely known it. You know what is in my mind, but I know not what is in Yours. You alone know what is hidden. (5:116) I told them only what You bade me. I said: "Serve God, my Lord and your Lord." I watched over them while living in their midst, and ever since You took me to Yourself, You have been watching them. You are the witness of all things. (5:117) If You punish them, they surely are Your servants; and if You forgive them, surely Your are mighty and wise.' (5:118)
He (God) will instruct him in the Scriptures and in wisdom, in the Torah and in the Gospel, (3:48) and send him forth as an apostle to the Israelites. He will say: (…) I come to confirm the Torah which preceded me and to make lawful for you some of the things you are forbidden. I bring you a sign from your Lord: therefore fear God and obey me. (3:50) God is my Lord and your Lord: therefore serve Him. That is a straight path”’ (3:51) When Jesus observed that they had no faith, he said: ‘Who will help me in the cause of God?’ The disciples replied: ‘We are God’s helpers. We believe in God. Bear witness that we submit to Him. (3:52) Lord, we believe in Your revelations and follow the apostle. Count us among Your witnesses.’ (3:53) They contrived, and God contrived. God is the supreme Contriver. (3:54)
Miracles of Jesus
God will say: 'Jesus son of Mary, remember the favor I bestowed upon on you and on your mother: how I strengthened you with the Holy Spirit, so that you preached to men in your cradle and in the prime of manhood; how I instructed you in the Book and in wisdom, in the Torah and in the Gospel; how by My leave you fashioned from clay the likeness of a bird and breathed into it so that, by My leave, it became a living bird; how, by My leave, you healed the blind man and the leper, and by My leave restored the dead to life; how I protected you from the Israelites when you had come to them with clear signs: when those of them who disbelieved declared: "This is but sorcery"'; (5:110) how, when I enjoined the disciples to believe in Me and in My apostle, they replied: "We believe; bear witness that we submit."' (5:111) 'Jesus son of Mary,' said the disciples, 'can your Lord send down to us from heaven a table spread with food?' He replied: 'Have fear of God, if you are true believers.' (5:112) 'We wish to eat of it,' they said, 'so that we may reassure our hearts and know that what you said to us is true, and that we may be witnesses of it.' (5:113) 'Lord,' said Jesus son of Mary, 'send down to us from heaven a table spread with food, that it may mark a feast for the first of us and for the last of us: a sign from You. Give us our sustenance; You are the best provider.' (5:114) God replied: 'I am sending one to you. But whoever of you disbelieves hereafter shall be punished as no man will ever be punished.' (5:115)
We made a covenant with you (Muhammad), as We did with the other prophets; with Noah and Abraham, with Moses and Jesus son of Mary. (33:7)
We have revealed Our will to you (Muhammad) as We revealed it to Noah and to the prophets who came after him; as We revealed it to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, and the tribes; to Jesus, Job, Jonah, Aaron, Solomon and David, to whom We gave the Psalms. (4:163)
We made the son of Mary and his mother a sign for mankind, and gave them a shelter on a peaceful hill-side watered by a fresh spring. (23:50)
When Jesus son of Mary said to the disciples: 'Who will come with me to the help of God?' the disciples replied: 'We are God's helpers.' Some of the Israelites believed in him while others disbelieved: But We gave power to those who believed, against their enemies, and they became the ones that prevailed. (61:14)