Jesus is a Christian though isn’t he?
Jesus (peace be upon him) isn’t just exclusive to Christianity. Muslims believe Jesus (called ‘Isa in Arabic) is a prophet - a messenger of Allah (swt) who was sent to mankind with a revelation from Allah (swt). In the Quran, stories about the life and teachings of Jesus (pbuh) are abundant. In fact, Jesus (pbuh) is mentioned more times in the Quran than Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).
Moses (Musa), Noah (Nuh), Adam, John (Yahya), David (Da’ud), and many other key figures in the Bible, (peace be upon them all) are also prophets in Islam.
So do Muslims believe Jesus is the Son of God?
No, absolutely not. In the Quran, Jesus is often referred to as ‘Isa ibn Maryam, which translates as Jesus, son of Mary, and the Quran repeatedly asserts that Jesus, like all the other prophets, was only a human, who worshipped Allah (swt) and taught his followers to do the same. Allah (swt) tells us Himself:
“It is not for God to take a son unto Him” (Chapter 19, Verse 34)
Muslims also reject the concept of the Trinity, the belief that God exists eternally and simultaneously as God the Father, God the Son and God the Spirit, as a blasphemous denial of Tawhid (monotheism). This is because GOD IS ONE. Three cannot be one. Believing otherwise in Islam is known as Shirk - the unforgivable act of worshipping something or someone other than Allah (swt) or associating something or someone as a partner with Him.
What else does the Quran say about Mary, the mother of Jesus?
Mary (called Maryam in Arabic) (may Allah (swt) be pleased with her) is the only female mentioned by name in the Quran. In fact, she has a whole chapter named after her - chapter 19 - one of only eight people to have this honour in the Quran. As a matter of fact, there is more information in the Quran about Mary’s life than in the Bible.
Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) described Mary as one of the most perfect women to have ever lived. Not only is she a perfect role model for women, but because of her sincerity, piety, purity and pure devotion to Allah (swt) she is an outstanding example to all who believe.
Do Muslims also believe Mary was a virgin?
Yes, Muslims too believe in the miraculous conception of Jesus (pbuh). Mary’s elderly father Imran and barren mother Hannah (may Allah (swt) be pleased with them both) desperately longed for a child, so much so that Hannah in her prayers vowed to dedicate the child to Allah (swt) if she ever became pregnant. When she gave birth to Mary, Hannah stuck to her promise and left Mary in the care of the priest Prophet Zakariyya (pbuh).
It was here that the Angel Gabriel came to Mary with the news that she would give birth to Jesus (pbuh).
“The Angels said to Mary, ‘O Maryam! Verily, Allah (swt) has chosen you, purified you, and chosen you above the women of the worlds’” (Chapter 3, Verse 42)
“‘How can I have a son when no man has touched me, and when I have never been immoral?’ He said, ‘Just like that - Allah creates whatever He wants. When He decrees something, then all He says to it is “Be!” and it is’” (Chapter 3, Verse 47)
Muslims though reject the Christian view that the virgin birth of Jesus (pbuh) implies he is divine, as Prophet Adam (pbuh) was born without both a mother and a father, yet no such assertion is directed at him.
Is the Quranic version of Jesus’ birth similar to the Biblical version?
The two versions couldn’t be more different. In the Quran, Mary retreats to a secluded place, and gives birth all alone. Jesus (pbuh) isn’t born in a stable and Joseph doesn’t feature in the story at all. While in the throes of labour, the Quran tells us,
“And the pains of childbirth drove her to the trunk of a palm-tree. She
cried [in her pain]: ‘Ah! Would that I had died before this! Would that I had been
forgotten!’” (Chapter 19, Verse 23)
As a Prophet, what was the message Jesus was sent to mankind with?
Muslims believe that Allah (swt) gave a Direct Revelation to Jesus (pbuh) - the Gospel (called the Injil in Arabic).
His purpose was also to re-establish the original teachings of Prophet Moses (pbuh) in the revelation he had been given - the Torah (called Taurah in Arabic), which had been significantly changed and corrupted by the time of Jesus’ (pbuh) miraculous birth. So much so that Jesus (pbuh) was rejected by the very people who claimed to be following the Torah!
Muslims believe that the Gospel or New Testament has also been misinterpreted, misrepresented, mistranslated and textually distorted over time, so therefore no longer represents the original revelation, which the Quran calls a “Light”, guidance, and a divine scripture (Chapter 5, Verse 45).
In the Bible, Jesus performed loads of miracles, is that true in Islam too?
Yes, the Quran also details miracles performed by Jesus (pbuh), on the leave of Allah, to confirm his prophetic mission. In comparison to the Bible which reports Jesus (pbuh) performed his first miracle when he was 30 years old, the first miracle in the Quran was when Jesus (pbuh) spoke to defend his mother when she returned after giving birth.
When accused of being deceitful, immoral and unchaste, such was Mary’s faith and trust in Allah (swt) that she simply pointed to her baby, who by the permission of Allah (swt), spoke in her defence! Other miracles performed by Jesus (pbuh) included healing those born blind, reviving the dead, walking on water and breathing life into a bird made of clay. However, all these too only occurred on the leave of Allah (swt).
What else do we know about Jesus?
We know that Jesus (pbuh) lived a life free from sin, but that is not to say he wasn’t ever tempted. He also lived a very humble life and didn’t own very much at all.
It is said he only carried with him a comb and a jug, but after seeing a man combing his beard with his fingers, he gave it away and after seeing another man drinking water from a river with the palms of his hands he gave away the jug too. He warned his followers to beware of greed:
“He who seeks after the world is like one who drinks sea water; the more he drinks, the more his thirst increases, until it kills him”.
Do Muslims believe Jesus was crucified?
No. It was certainly the plan of his enemies the Jewish priesthood and the Romans who opposed his teachings, to put him to death on the cross, but the Quran is clear on this:
“They did not kill him, nor did they crucify him, but they thought they did” (Quran 4:156)
“God lifted him up to His presence. God is Almighty, All-Wise” (Quran 4:157)
As these verses indicate, Jesus (pbuh) was taken and raised to heaven. He was not crucified, but Allah (swt) saved him and someone else was crucified in his place.
So Jesus didn’t actually die?
No. Muslims believe Jesus (pbuh) is still alive. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) on his miraculous night journey through the seven heavens (Mi’raj) saw Jesus (pbuh), so we know Jesus (pbuh) is in one of the seven heavens. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) also confirmed that Jesus (pbuh) will return to Earth.
It has been related by Abu Hurayra (may Allah (swt) be pleased with him) that the Prophet (pbuh) said:
“He will come again, and when you see him, you will recognize him. He is of medium height and his colouring his reddish-white. He will be wearing two garments, and his hair will look wet.”(Ahmad ibn Hanbal: Musnad, 2.406)
Do we know anything else about Jesus’ return?
He will return to destroy the Antichrist (called Dajjal in Arabic), a false messiah whose appearance will mark the imminent end of the world. Abu Hurayra (may Allah (swt) be pleased with him) relates that the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said:
“By the One in Whose hand my soul is, the son of Maryam will soon descend among you as a just judge, and he will break the crosses, and kill pigs, and abolish the Jizya (a protection tax payable on non-Muslims to a Muslim ruler), and wealth will pour forth to such an extent that no-one will accept it, and one Sajda (prostration) will be better than the world and what it contains” (Al-Bukhari).
We also know that Jesus (pbuh) will marry, have children and live for forty-five years, after which he will die and be buried next to Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) in Madinah.
If Muslims believe in Jesus then why don’t they celebrate Christmas?
Even among Christians, there is no agreement on the exact date of the birth of Jesus (pbuh).
The Catholic Church's observance was originally timed to replace the pagan winter solstice festival and appease converts. Most Christians in the Middle East and North Africa observed Christmas according to other calendars.
Among Muslims, the anniversary of Jesus’ (pbuh) birth falls on Ashura Night, the 10th night of the 1st month of the Muslim lunar calendar. This auspicious night is the anniversary of many other events that happened in the lives of many Prophets (peace be upon them all) and this holy-night is observed worldwide.