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The Jesus of Islam: What Does the Quran Say?

Updated on July 12, 2014
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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.”

***For blasphemy!


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."

Surah 4:158

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

Final Thoughts


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.









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    • Jay C OBrien profile image

      Jay C OBrien 2 years ago from Houston, TX USA

      Let us simplify. No sacrifice (animal or human) has ever removed sin because sacrifice does not remove sin. Forgiveness removes sin (not sacrifice). Old Testament (OT) Judaism is simply wrong in assuming sacrifice removes sin. Agreed?

    • theomajor profile image

      theomajor 2 years ago from New Zealand

      May I point out that we have numeous examples in the Tanakh and Gospel where the apostle from Yah is treated as though he is Yah himself. One well known instance is Moses at the burning bush where he is 'talking to God' but is in fact talking to an angel. This type of thing also happens in the differing Gospel accounts where the Centurion's slave is healed at a distance by Jesus. The accusations of blasphemy against Jesus were spurious and connected with the rejection of Jesus as Messiah, something that was not clearly established at that time by non-witnesses to events outlined in the Qur'an at Jesus' birth.

      Secondly, the whole point of crucifying Jesus is to dis-establish him from the claim of being Messiah. Without a working knowledge of Torah it is a challenge for a christian to understand the concepts involved. This was a key point in many Jews rejecting Jesus at the climax of his ministry. There are strict legal definitions in the Torah for sacrifices. If Jesus does not meet those criterion then he is not the 'Passover Lamb'. You probably do not follow this legal argument at all so I shall try to make it plain. If somebody nailed you to a wooden cross, left you up there, then took you down after say half a day, would you have been crucified? The answer is no, you would be badly hurt but you would survive. That is why two people beside Jesus had their legs smashed. They were crucified according to the legal definition. Contrary to your theology, crucifixion does not accomplish any atonement, it is a punishment for those who are cursed by Yah. Only the blood sacrifice can achieve this manner of redemption in line with the Mosaic sacrificial system, which Jesus had to fulfill. This is defined in Daniel 8 where it states the the Messiah shall make sacrifice with the Ark, the Holy Of Holies. Some Gospels and Luke's account of Acts tell us that Jesus' early followers had trouble interpreting events clearly. Sadly, little has changed in 2000 years. The key differrence between then and now is that we have so much research and scripture at our fingertips.

      The Qur'an is the book that Yah sent to restore understanding after scripture had been tampered with and filtered through human minds. The Qur'an is emphatic that Jesus is the Messiah, and son of Mary, the fulfillment of Jeremiah 33. The Qur'an also cites the Gospel Of James, which is an account that fulfills an earlier portion of Jeremiah 33. The Qur'an upholds Luke's Gospel in particular as regards the method of Jesus death was not crucifixion. This was prophesised inside the Temple when he was an infant and fulfilled at Golgotha with a rhomphaia, after his soul was separated from his body, according to the gospels and Qur'an! I think your real issue is with the religion of men and not scripture. The Qur'an is not the same as Islam, nor are the Judeo-christian scriptures the same as Judaism and christianity. All three of the founding prophets, peace be upon them, foretold the apostasy of those who would be their successors.

    • Jay C OBrien profile image

      Jay C OBrien 3 years ago from Houston, TX USA

      Yes, you summarized well. What I am suggesting is the teachings of Jesus were somehow garbled or it depends on how one chooses to read the text. I think Islam recognizes this situation as, "corruption."

      What I am saying is that we were created as spirits (energy) which never dies. When we "die" we separate from our earthly (material) bodies and continue our existence in another plane or dimension. We are still what we were while on earth, but changed; we perceive more.

      Now read 4:157 again. Jesus never died because his spirit energy cannot die. It appeared he died to the eyes of the material man, but he did not die. He was taken up (detached from the material). He then reentered the physical body and showed himself for over 30 days to prove the afterlife or spirit actually exists. Those who do not believe this are full of doubts about whether there actually is a spirit.

      He did not die = He is alive

      You could also consider the resurrection as a Near Death Experience (NDE). Dead is still dead whether it is for a few minutes (an NDE) or a few days (mainstream Christian understanding).

      After we detach from our physical bodies, we face ourselves as in a mirror and judge ourselves objectively. The objective mirror is provided by Allah/God. Our heaven or hell is what we see in the mirror. What we see is in our minds. Negative emotions are hell and love and kindness is heaven. Jesus alluded to this, but the authors did not understand very well and wrote their own version as best they could. We should not hold it against them, but thank them for their best efforts. Now in this time we can better understand the meaning of the teachings of Jesus.

      Mohammad (pbuh) saw the corruption which was occurring in Christianity and tried to correct it. Much of what is taught in the Quran is good, but let us be honest. The Quran is also corrupted. Look beyond the books and meditate on it.

    • Brandon Ford profile image
      Author

      Brandon 3 years ago from Alabama

      I believe we have a soul that lives on forever after the physical body dies. All religions may assume we are spirit, but all religions differ on what happens with our spirit, at least as far as I can tell.

      I believe the Bible teaches when humans die they either go to eternal life or eternal punishment due to how each individual deals with Christ. If they believe he died for their sins and rose again as their only hope for salvation, they have eternal life. If they do not believe this, they have eternal punishment. Controversial, I know, but this is what Jesus taught.

    • Jay C OBrien profile image

      Jay C OBrien 3 years ago from Houston, TX USA

      We are energy beings or light beings. This is proved by the existence of telepathy (ESP). Science has proved this at the quantum level. Our energy cannot be destroyed. This is also called the spirit. All religions assume there is a spirit or we are spirit.

      See Hub, "My Telepathic Experiences."

      Until we get agreement on this you will not understand what I am saying about 4:157. Do you agree we are Energy Beings?

    • Brandon Ford profile image
      Author

      Brandon 3 years ago from Alabama

      The "spirit energy" part is all. I don't really know what you mean by:

      "Now read 4:157 (the second citation) with the idea that Jesus detached his energy from the body; re-entered the same body and then detached his energy again."

    • Jay C OBrien profile image

      Jay C OBrien 3 years ago from Houston, TX USA

      Thank you for your response. Let us focus. What part of a prior post are you having trouble following?

    • Brandon Ford profile image
      Author

      Brandon 3 years ago from Alabama

      Sorry for the late response. You said:

      "In the first citation it seems someone was substituted for Jesus. In the second citation a substitution is not indicated. Which translation should be used?"

      Both citations leave room for the substitution theory because both essentially say it was made to appear to Jesus' followers that he was crucified. I again ask, why was this done? The difference in the two translations seems only to be that in the Hilali-Khan version they go with substitution theory directly, whereas the Ali translation is more ambiguous.

      "First, there are no fact witnesses to events of the distant past. We really do not know what happened except by the writings."

      True, but we can assess which is the more documented and plausible explanation. Whether or not one believes Jesus was divine or rose from the dead, the accounts are rich in details which can show that Jesus was indeed crucified.

      "Second, all "scripture" has been translated and thereby changed."

      This is true in a sense, but the essence of what a text says can be retained in translation without damaging the true meaning.

      As for the rest of your post, to be frank I am having trouble following your meaning. One set of scriptures(the Quran) teaches Jesus did not physically die, and the other(the Bible) does. I understand you want unity, but the two messages are opposite and cannot be unified. They both claim exclusivity. I'm happy to continue this conversation as long as you want.

    • Jay C OBrien profile image

      Jay C OBrien 3 years ago from Houston, TX USA

      I tend to be objective. I believe the ultimate test of any religion is to result in Peace internally and among people. If a religion teaches God is violent we will have the tendency toward violence. Therefore I reject all writings which depicts God as violent, angry, jealous or to be feared. I am neither Muslim nor Mainstream Christian. I look for harmony.

    • Brandon Ford profile image
      Author

      Brandon 3 years ago from Alabama

      Are you Muslim? I'm only asking because knowing will help me answer you better.

    • Jay C OBrien profile image

      Jay C OBrien 3 years ago from Houston, TX USA

      4:157 As cited above

      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) ]:

      I am familiar with the following translation by Abdullah Yusuf Ali.

      That they said in boast, "We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Apostle of Allah," - but they killed him not, nor crucified 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 surely; they killed him not.

      In the first citation it seems someone was substituted for Jesus. In the second citation a substitution is not indicated. Which translation should be used?

      First, there are no fact witnesses to events of the distant past. We really do not know what happened except by the writings.

      Second, all "scripture" has been translated and thereby changed.

      Third, I propose a solution to the apparent inconsistencies between Matt, Mark and Luke vs. the Quran. The solution deals with what a Man is.

      A Man is spirit energy (which is eternal) attached to a material body. We are all spirit energy including Jesus. Jesus is a more pure form of energy or at a higher vibration, but still energy as we all are.

      Now read 4:157 (the second citation) with the idea that Jesus detached his energy from the body; re-entered the same body and then detached his energy again.

      In 4:157 it says, Jesus did not die. This is the "Good News" of the Bible. He is alive! I think Mohammad is trying to establish that the spirit never dies, but is eternal.

      Those who are filled with doubts, doubt the existence of the spirit itself. They are materialists. The resurrection proves the existence of our spirit (energy body).

      Problem: this proposed solution does not work in the translation you gave. Which translation to use?

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 3 years ago from The Beautiful South

      Very hard to read though I know it is the truth. Strange how they can just take what they want from the scriptures. I don't think they will have long to wait to see who is right.

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 3 years ago from southern USA

      Oh, yes, two very different messages no doubt. Islam did not even come along until way after Jesus ascended ... somewhere around 600 (something) A.D.

      Interesting and insightful hub.

      Voted up +++ and away

      God bless you. In His Love, Faith Reaper

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