The Jesus of Islam: What Does the Quran Say?
Four Claims About Jesus from the Gospels: What the Quran Denies
Seven centuries before Islamic tradition says the Quran was revealed to Muhammad by Allah through the angel Gabriel, Jesus of Nazareth came with his own unique message to the world. According to the men who wrote the New Testament books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, Jesus appears in first-century Israel claiming special authority and purpose. While not an extensive listing, I will review some of the claims about him which are found in the gospel accounts here. I have chosen these four specifically because they are explicitly denied in the Quran. I will very briefly explain these claims, as my main purpose for this article is to discuss the counterclaims found in the text of the Quran itself.
Four New Testament claims about Jesus are:
1. He claimed to be God
I will give two examples of this repeated claim of Jesus. John 20:28-29 says:
28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
Notice that Jesus did not deny his deity here, but he accepted worship as God.
John 8:56-59 says:
56 Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.”
57 “You are not yet fifty years old,” they said to him, “and you have seen Abraham!”
58 “Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” (Here, Jesus gives himself the same name God gave to Moses when he appeared in the burning bush in the third chapter of Exodus--"I Am Who I Am.")
59 At this, they picked up stones to stone him***, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds.
***Keep this in mind!
2. He was Jewish
From the Biblical record, Jesus was born and raised a Jew. Even if one does not believe that the scriptures are divinely inspired, what is there in the text indicates that the man was Jewish, both by blood and religious observance. He frequently quoted the Jewish scriptures, celebrated Jewish feasts and holidays, and lived in every manner as a Jew.
3. He was crucified
It is perfectly reasonable to assume that a Jewish man named Jesus died on a cross in the first century Roman empire. Even if one disregards the claims of his divinity in the gospels, the account given of the crucifixion cannot be easily dismissed. Whatever one chooses to believe, the details of the crucifixion are there to be scrutinized, as they have been for centuries.
4. He died
If it is reasonable to assume Jesus was crucified, then it is just as reasonable to assume he died. Belief in his bodily resurrection from the dead is a matter of faith, but his death is a virtual certainty among most scholars today.
I believe the Bible is divinely inspired, and not the Quran.
40 Arabic Words...
Quranic Counterclaims Against These Four Teachings
So then, how does the Quran view these claims? Let's begin.
All quotations from the Quran, including in parentheses, are taken from The Noble Quran, translated by Muhammad Taqi-ud-Din Al-Hilali and Muhammad Mushin Khan.
1. Jesus is not the Son of God
Surah (a "surah" is a chapter) 10:68 reads:
They (Jews, Christians and pagans) say: "Allah has begotten a son (children)." Glory be to Him! He is Rich (Free of all wants). His is all that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth. No warrant you have for this. Do you say against Allah what you know not?
Surah 5:72 is quite clear on the consequences for saying Jesus is the Son of God:
Surely, they have disbelieved who say: "Allah is the Messiah ['Iesa (Jesus)], son of Maryam (Mary)." But the Messiah ['Iesa (Jesus)] said: "O Children of Israel! Worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord." Verily, whosoever sets up partners in worship with Allah, then Allah has forbidden Paradise for him, and the Fire will be his abode. And for the Zalimun (polytheists and wrong-doers) there are no helpers.
We see from this verse that those who worship Jesus as God will go to eternal fire. The Quran teaches that Christians worship three gods—The Father, Jesus, and Mary, Jesus’ mother. This is a misconception of the trinity, which is Father, Son and Holy Spirit as one God according to the New Testament(Matthew 28:19). To be fair to Muslims, Christians accept that the trinity is a difficult and mysterious concept.
Surah 9:30 says Christians are cursed by Allah for believing Jesus is divine:
And the Jews say: 'Uzair (Ezra) is the son of Allah, and the Christians say: Messiah is the son of Allah. That is a saying from their mouths. They imitate the saying of the disbelievers of old. Allah's Curse be on them, how they are deluded away from the truth!
And again in surah 4:171
O people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians)! Do not exceed the limits in your religion, nor say of Allah aught but the truth. The Messiah 'Iesa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary), was (no more than) a Messenger of Allah and His Word, ("Be!" - and he was) which He bestowed on Maryam (Mary) and a spirit (Ruh)created by Him; so believe in Allah and His Messengers. Say not: "Three (trinity)!" Cease! (it is) better for you. For Allah is (the only) One Ilah (God), Glory be to Him (Far Exalted is He) above having a son. To Him belongs all that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth. And Allah is All-Sufficient as a Disposer of affairs.
And finally, surah 5:116 is self-explanatorys
And (remember) when Allah will say (on the Day of Resurrection): "O 'Iesa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary)! Did you say unto men: 'Worship me and my mother as two gods besides Allah?' " He will say: "Glory be to You! It was not for me to say what I had no right (to say). Had I said such a thing, You would surely have known it. You know what is in my inner-self though I do not know what is in Yours, truly, You, only You, are the All-Knower of all that is hidden and unseen.
2. Jesus was a Muslim
The Quran claims Jesus was one of many human messengers of Allah and Islam, and that he was not divine in nature. We begin with surah 5:75:
The Messiah ['Iesa (Jesus)], son of Maryam (Mary), was no more than a Messenger; many were the Messengers that passed away before him. His mother [Maryam (Mary)] was a Siddiqah [i.e. she believed in the words of Allah and His Books (see Verse 66:12)]. They both used to eat food (as any other human being, while Allah does not eat). Look how We make the Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) clear to them, yet look how they are deluded away (from the truth).
Surah 3:52 says Jesus and his disciples were Muslims:
Then when 'Iesa (Jesus) came to know of their disbelief, he said: "Who will be my helpers in Allah's Cause?" Al-Hawariun (the disciples) said: "We are the helpers of Allah; we believe in Allah, and bear witness that we are Muslims (i.e. we submit to Allah)."
Surah 42:13 is clear when it says:
"He (Allah) has ordained for you the same religion (Islam) which He ordained for Nuh (Noah), and that which We have inspired in you (O Muhammad ), and that which We ordained for Ibrahim (Abraham), Musa (Mosesý) and 'Iesa (Jesus)* saying you should establish religion (i.e. to do what it orders you to do)."
*Abraham and Moses are considered to be Muslim prophets according to the Quran.
3. He was not crucified.
The crux of the Quran’s arguments against established Christian doctrine is found in surah 4:157.If what is said here is true, the foundations of the Christian faith crumble:
And because of their saying (in boast), "We killed Messiah 'Iesa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary), the Messenger of Allah," - but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but the resemblance of 'Iesa (Jesus) was put over another man (and they killed that man), and those who differ therein are full of doubts. They have no (certain) knowledge, they follow nothing but conjecture. For surely; they killed him not [i.e. 'Iesa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary) ]:
According to this verse: 1. Jesus was never on the cross. 2. Someone resembling Jesus took his place on the cross. 3. It appeared to Jesus’ followers that he had been crucified, but he had not.
The New Testament says clearly that the Jewish religious authorities wanted to kill Jesus because he repeatedly claimed to be God. For proof, take John 10:30-33:
“ I and the Father are one.”
Again his Jewish opponents picked up stones to stone him***, but Jesus said to them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?”
“We are not stoning you for any good work,” they replied, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.”
Just comparing the two texts, which seems more plausible--that Jesus was crucified for blasphemy because he claimed to be God, or that it only appeared to his followers that he was crucified, so much so that they believed it to be true?
The verse assumes that someone wanted Jesus dead. After all, the text says someone took his place on the cross. Why did they want Jesus dead according to the verse? No answer is given. Again, the New Testament account gives the more likely explanation--that the Jewish religious authorities wanted Jesus dead for supposed blasphemy.
Also, the verse says that the resemblance of Jesus was put over another man and that that man was crucified. Who did this and for what purpose was it done? Who tricked the disciples into believing Jesus was crucified?
At the risk of sounding redundant, which is more likely: that Jesus himself was actually crucified, or that someone made to look like Jesus, for no apparent reason, was crucified in his place?
Finally, the verse says that those who believe Jesus was crucified "are full of doubts. They have no (certain) knowledge, they follow nothing but conjecture." On the contrary, considering all of the questions I have raised here about surah 4:157, plus others which could be raised that I simply do not have the time to tackle, I think it is the Quran which lacks any real evidence for its position.
4. He did not die at all.
The New Testament says that Jesus was not only crucified and died, but that after three days he rose again. This is the standard Christian position.
The Quran, however, says about Jesus:
"But Allah raised him ['Iesa (Jesus)] up (with his body and soul) unto Himself (and he is in the heavens). And Allah is Ever All-Powerful, All-Wise."
Notice that this is the very next verse after the one discussed in counterclaim #3.
Read plainly, the verse says that Jesus never died, but instead Allah raised him up to the heavens, more commonly known in Islam as Paradise.
For the Christian, the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus from the grave is the crux of the gospel. If the resurrection never happened, then the Christian message, the gospel, is completely and utterly false. Why? Because Jesus' bodily resurrection means that his sacrifice on the cross, he being sinless, is acceptable as a payment for all the sins of mankind. If his body is still in the ground, the Christian faith means nothing. As Paul wrote to the church in Corinth: :
"And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied."
1 Corinthians 15:17-19
Islam and Christianity teach two very different messages. The Quran denies the essentials of the gospel message, claiming Jesus was not divine, taking him off the cross and denying the resurrection.
Without these essentials, there is no hope for anyone.