- Religion and Philosophy
Jesus, I Love You
The Muslim Scholar and the Christian Woman
I remember our gathering at the great late Islamic scholar’s place, Dr. Hassan Hathout. There were many sitting before him, seizing the opportunity of his presence in Cairo for a short period of time. At that night, a blond woman among other vailed women interrupted him asking: “Sir, I want to convert to Islam.” Instead of greeting her, he took a deep breath and asked her: “Shall I ask you why?” “Because I am married to a Muslim and I don’t want my children to be confused or hesitant about their creed”, she replied. He smiled and said: “I’m not enquiring about your husband or children.” He stopped for seconds then asked her: “what is your name?” “Samantha.”, she replied. He said: “Why is Samantha’s heart eager to embrace Islam?” She kept silent for a while, and looked at other attendees, as if she was quite uncertain of what she wanted to say. Dr. Hassan encouraged her with a warm smile, she said in tears: “I don’t want to embrace Islam, I love Jesus, and I can’t imagine anyone taking his place in my heart. “ Dr. Hassan said confidently: “ We all love Jesus, but please don’t convert because of your husband, children or anyone else; just stay as you are and learn your rights in Islam as a Christian married to a Muslim. No one on earth, even your husband, has the right to change your creed or even to speak with you about Islam, as long as you don’t have the will to listen. But you also have to know your duty, which is never to talk about your creed to your children, whom you have known beforehand that they will be Muslims, and that way they will never get mixed up or confused.” Upon hearing these words, she left with overwhelming joy.
I wished I could tell her before she leaves how we Muslims love Jesus and his mother Mary, and hold them in our hearts with great esteem.
How the Quran Honors Mary
Jesus’ mother Mary is one spoken with great reverence in many places in the Quran; in fact, there is a chapter (the nineteenth chapter of the Quran) that holds her name. This chapter defended her virtue and chastity against slander and praised her when she was confronting her people; she was lonely and facing the situation of a fatherless childbirth with courageousness and piety. The Quran described the situation by saying:
“Then she carried him (Jesus, her baby) and brought him to her people. They said, ‘O Mary, indeed you have done a great evil.’ ‘O sister of Aaron, your father was not an evil man, and your mother was not a fornicator.’ Then she pointed to him. They said, ‘How can we speak to a child in the cradle?’ (Jesus) He said, ‘Indeed, I am a servant of God. He has given me the Scripture and made me a prophet. And He has made me blessed wherever I may be, and He has enjoined upon me prayer and charity as long as I remain alive. And (has made) me kind to my mother, and did not make me arrogant or miserable. And peace be upon me the day I was born, and the day I will die, and the day I will be raised alive.” (19: 27-33)
Further Honor Granted to Mary
God presented Mary and the pharaoh’s wife, as two examples for believers (men and women):
“And Allah sets forth an example for those who believe -- the wife of Pharaoh when she said: My Lord, build for me a house with Thee in Heaven and save me from Pharaoh and his deeds, and save me from the unjust people. And Mary, the daughter of Imran, who guarded her chastity, so We breathed into him of our Spirit, and she fulfilled the Words of her Lord, and (also believed in) His Scriptures, and was obedient to Allah”. (66:11-12)
This shows the rank of Mary in specific and that of women in general in Islam.
The Reverence of Jesus
Jesus, peace be upon him, (PBUH) is mentioned by name in twenty-five instances in the Holy Quran. Moreover, He is addressed with respect as “the son of Mary”, “the messenger of God,” and spoken of as “the Word of God”, “the Spirit of God” and “the Sign of God”.
Eventually, a whole chapter that bears the name of Jesus’ holy family shows his fine rank in Islam. We have been told in this chapter the story of Mary’s birth, Jesus’ birth, Jesus miracles, and how God saved Jesus from crucifixion by ascension:
“And they (disbelievers) plotted [to kill 'Iesa (Jesus)], and Allah planned too. And Allah is the Best of planners, (And remember) when Allah said: O Jesus! Lo! I am gathering you and causing you to ascend unto Me, and am cleansing you of those who disbelieve and am setting those who follow you above those who disbelieve until the Day of Resurrection. Then unto Me you will (all) return, and I shall judge between you as to that wherein you used to differ (3: 54 – 55).
In the Quran, the crucifixion took place, however, Jesus was not crucified, but rather saved and raised to God, as we believe, as stated in the Quran, that “no one will bear the burden of another.” (35:18).
The Book of Jesus and the Disciples in the Quran
God describes the book of Jesus beautifully in the Quran in a chapter which bears the name of (The table)
“And in their footsteps, We sent 'Iesa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary), confirming the Taurat (Torah) that had come before him, and We gave him the Injeel (Gospel), in which was guidance and light and confirmation of the Taurat (Torah) that had come before it, a guidance and an admonition for Al-Muttaqun (the pious)” (5:46).
God even describes the followers of Jesus as Muslims. This shows that the revelations of both Jesus and Mohamed are one; in their core, they carry the message of submitting our will to God, which in Arabic means to be Muslims. God says:
“And when I (Allah) put in the hearts of Al-Hawarieen (the disciples) [of 'Iesa (Jesus)] to believe in Me and My Messenger, they said: "We believe. And bear witness that we are Muslims (we submit our will to God)." (5:111)
In the Muslims' eyes, Jesus (PBUH) holds the same status and love that we have for Prophet Mohamed (PBUH). Muslims do not take the holy name of Jesus, without saying “Jesus, peace be upon him." In fact, God asks Muslims in His Holy book not to differentiate between any of His messengers by saying:
“.. We (Muslims) make no distinction between any of His Messengers” (2:285)
Jesus and Muhammed, Peace Be Upon Them (PBUT)
The Quran addresses Prophet Mohamed together with Jesus in another instance:
" And (remember) when We (God) took from the Prophets their covenant, and from you (O Muhammad), and from Nooh (Noah), Ibraaheem (Abraham), Moosaa (Moses), and ‘Eesa (Jesus) son of Maryam (Mary). We took from them a strong covenant” )33:7)
In fact, every Muslim who reads the Quran, and goes into the story of Jesus, his love for him grows more. The independent writer Khaled Mohamed Khaled, trained at the al-Azhar University of Cairo, the most prestigious center of learning of Islam, was inspired by the story of Jesus and wrote in his book entitled Muhammad and the Christ: Together on the Road the following:
When Jesus was surrounded with betrayal, mockery, torture and greed, he said: “God, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And Prophet Muhammed said while his blood was exploding under the harshness of the stones thrown from each side in the Ta’ef incident: “Oh God, forgive my people that they do not know.” Was this a coincidence or are these the attributes of the role models who were sent to guide us?”
Certainly, both Prophets (PBUT) received the same message that holds justice and mercy. God is one, and the recipients are always the same, human beings, so why then do we expect different messages that are contrary?
The Bottom Line
We, Muslims, love Jesus from the bottom of our hearts; we honor him; in fact, we are not Muslims unless we believe in him and his miraculous virgin birth. So let us all, who believed in Jesus, walk in his footsteps and spread love and peace and never despair; if we truly hold his values in our hearts, surely, we will live in a far much better world.
References and Comments
 People who are unaware of the Arabic language and the old traditions of the Arabs in general and of the Quranic sciences in specific may find that there is a historical contradiction when the Quran greeted Mary as the sister of Aaron; they may conclude that Mary, whose name in Greek and Arabic is Maryam, has been confused with Miriam the sister of Aaron and Moses found in the Old Testament. However, Arabs used to give names after their pious people in their families’ lineage and sometimes after the name of their tribes. For example, there are other verses mentioning other prophets saying:
"And remember the brother of 'Ad, when he warned his people..” (46:21) (the brother of Ad points to Prophet Hud, and Ad is the name of his tribe).
The Quran also used the word brotherhood in many other places to describe friendship as well as people sharing the same principles and values.
“..And remember the favor of Allah upon you - when you were enemies and He brought your hearts together and you became, by His favor, brothers.” (3:103)
The People of Israel also used to call people by either their last names or by adding words such as "Son of..." or "Brother of...." or "Sister of...." When they called people "O Son of...." they didn't mean for that person to be the actual biological son of the person whom they used his name. The other person could be a simply in the family tree or the last name.
 This is understood from another Quranic verse which says: (..And they did not kill him, nor did they crucify him; but it was made to appear like this. And indeed, those who differ over it are in doubt about it.. (4:157)
 The Chapter bears this name, pointing to the table which the disciples of Jesus asked to have as a sign of God.
 Khaled Mohamed Khaled, Muhammad and the Christ: Together on the Road, Al Mokkatam lelShark publishing, Page 40