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This article is part of the series Christianity from the perspective of Islam

What does the Koran say about Jesus?

Isa Ibn Maryam, known in the New Testament as Jesus, is regarded as a messenger of God and al-Masih (the Messiah) in Islam, which was sent to lead the Children of Israel (Bani Isra'il) with a new scripture, al-Injil (the gospel). Faith in Jesus is required in Islam, as well as for all the other prophets who are mentioned in the Koran. He is clearly an important figure in the Koran, where he appears in 93 Ayaat (verses).

It is said that Jesus was born by the decree of God by a virginal conception of Mary (Maryam in Arabic). To support him in his responsibility for the Jewish people, Jesus was given the ability to perform miracles (such as the healing of the blind, resurrection of the dead and others), all with the permission of God and not by his own power.

Although it so appeared that Jesus was crucified, according to the Koran, he was not killed by crucifixion or by other means, but "God took him to himself". Like all prophets in Islam, Jesus is considered to be a Muslim, somebody who submits to God. He preached to his followers that they should follow the "straight path" as commanded by God.

Islam rejects strictly both the doctrine of the Trinity and that Jesus is an incarnated God or the son of God, that he was crucified or resurrected, or that he has atoned for the sins of mankind. The Koran says that Jesus himself would have never claimed all this and also points out that Jesus will deny at the final judgment having ever claimed divinity, and God will vindicate him.

And when Allah saith: O Jesus, son of Mary. Didst thou say unto mankind: Take me and my mother for two gods beside Allah? He saith: Be glorified. It was not mine to utter that to which I had no right. If I used to say it, then Thou knewest it. Thou knowest what is in my mind, and I know not what is in Thy Mind. Lo. Thou, only Thou, art the Knower of Things Hidden. [Al-Maida 119]

The Koran stresses that Jesus was a mortal man who was like all other prophets chosen by God to spread God's message. Islam forbids strictly to ascribe divinity to anyone or anything besides Allah. This is called Shirk and is the greatest sin a man can commit, and the only one that God will not forgive.

Numerous titles are given in the Koran and in Islamic literature for Jesus, the most common being "al-Masih" (Messiah) and "Ibn Maryam" (son of Mary). Jesus is also recognized as a prophet (Nabi) and messenger (Rasul) of God. The terms "wadjih" (worthy of esteem in this world and the next), "mubarak" (blessed or a source of benefit for others), "Abd-Allah" (servant of God), are all used in the Koran. Jesus is also known as "seal of the prophets of Israel" because Jesus was the last prophet sent by God to lead the children of Israel. Jesus is seen in Islam as a predecessor to Muhammad s.a.w. whose coming he would have predicted.

River Jordan at the place
where Jesus is said to
have met with John (Yahya).

Jesus special status is that he was not created by combination of opposite poles, but came directly from God. He is called "ruhun mina Llah" (Spirit of God) and "kalimatu Llah" (Word of God). Jesus and his mother Mary are the only people who, according to prophetic tradition, were not touched by Satan at birth, that is, they are completely sinless.

Muslims believe that Jesus will return at the end of time to restore justice on earth and to defeat the "false Messiah", al-Masih ad-Dajjal (called the Antichrist by Christians). Therefore, he plays a very special role.

The accounts of Jesus in the Koran begin with a prologue describing the birth of his mother Mary and her service in the temple of Jerusalem while under the care of the prophet and priest Zacharias. In the temple Mary receives provision directly from God, to the great astonishment of Zacharias. The Koran then describes the conception of Jesus. Maria, called the best of all women, receives Jesus while still a virgin.

Annunciation

Mary had retreated into the temple, where she was visited by the angel Gabriel (Arabic: Jibrail), who brought the good news of a holy son. The Koran says that God had honoured Mary among the women of all nations. The angel told her also that her son would become a great prophet, whom God would give the Gospel and that Jesus would be one of the righteous.

When Maria hears this message, she asks:

How can I have a child when no mortal hath touched me? He said: So [it will be]. Allah createth what He will. If He decreeth a thing, He saith unto it only: Be. and it is. [Ali Imran 47]

The Koran asserts the truth that Jesus was created as an act of God and compares this wonderful creation of Jesus with the creation of Adam, who God created also by an act of His will (kun-fa-yakun, which means, "Be. and it is.").

Birth of Jesus

The Koran tells the virgin birth of Jesus several times, and how Maria suffered from the pain of childbirth. During her agony and helplessness God caused a stream of water springing up below her feet, from which she could drink. Also, she was told to shake the trunk of a palm tree and ripe dates would fall. On this day, Mary gave birth to her son Jesus in the middle of the desert.

Maria brought the baby back to her people and was promptly ridiculed and accused by the elders of the temple of illegitimate sexual intercourse. But Zacharias believed in the virgin birth and supported her, and Maria pointed to her son and told them they should talk to the baby. The elders were upset and thought Mary would mock them. It was then that God made Jesus talk in the cradle:

Then she pointed to him. They said: "How can we talk to one who is in the cradle, a young boy?" He spake: "Lo. I am the slave of Allah. He hath given me the Scripture and hath appointed me a Prophet. And hath made me blessed wheresoever I may be, and hath enjoined upon me prayer and almsgiving so long as I remain alive. And [hath made me] dutiful toward her who bore me, and hath not made me arrogant, unblest. Peace on me the day I was born, and the day I die, and the day I shall be raised alive." [Maryam, 29-33]

Mission

According to the Koran, Jesus was chosen by God to preach the message of monotheism (tawhid) and submission to the will of God (Islam) to the Children of Israel (Bani Isra'il). He was given a new scripture, al-Injil (the Gospel), which confirmed the truth of the earlier revelations, that of the Torah and al-Zabur (the Psalms). The Koran speaks positively about al-Injil, which he describes as a scripture that fills the hearts of their followers with humbleness and piety. However, it is also said that the original biblical message has been corrupted and damaged (tahrif) over time.

And We caused Jesus, son of Mary, to follow in their footsteps, confirming that which was [revealed] before him in the Torah, and We bestowed on him the Gospel wherein is guidance and a light, confirming that which was [revealed] before it in the Torah - a guidance and an admonition unto those who ward off [evil]. [Al-Maida 49]

He hath revealed unto thee [Muhammad] the Scripture with truth, confirming that which was [revealed] before it, even as He revealed the Torah and the Gospel. Aforetime, for a guidance to mankind; and hath revealed the Criterion [of right and wrong]. [Ali Imran 3-4]

In this verse is made clear that the Koran is the criterion according to which the truth of the Bible (both Torah and Gospel) is measured, for example, in the following verse:

O People of the Scripture. Do not exaggerate in your religion nor utter aught concerning Allah save the truth. The Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, was only a messenger of Allah, and His word which He conveyed unto Mary, and a spirit from Him. So believe in Allah and His messengers, and say not "Three" - Cease. [it is] better for you. - Allah is only One Allah. Far is it removed from His Transcendent Majesty that He should have a son. His is all that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth. [An-Nisa 171]

Disciples

The Koran says that Jesus has been supported by a group of apprentices who believed in his message. Although the Koran does not name the disciples, he mentions how Jesus taught them.

But when Jesus became conscious of their disbelief, he cried: Who will be my helpers in the cause of Allah? The disciples said: We will be Allah's helpers. We believe in Allah, and bear thou witness that we have surrendered [unto Him]. Our Lord. We believe in that which Thou hast revealed and we follow him whom Thou hast sent. Enrol us among those who witness (to the truth). [Ali Imran 52, 53]

The longest story of the disciples is when they get a dinner table sent from heaven, as further evidence of the true message that Jesus preaches:

And when I inspired the disciples, [saying]: Believe in Me and in My messenger, they said: We believe. Bear witness that we have surrendered [unto Thee] "we are Muslims". When the disciples said: O Jesus, son of Mary. Is thy Lord able to send down for us a table spread with food from heaven? He said: Observe your duty to Allah, if ye are true believers. [They said:] We wish to eat thereof, that we may satisfy our hearts and know that thou hast spoken truth to us, and that thereof we may be witnesses. Jesus, son of Mary, said: O Allah, Lord of us. Send down for us a table spread with food from heaven, that it may be a feast for us, for the first of us and for the last of us, and a sign from Thee. Give us sustenance, for Thou art the Best of Sustainers. Allah said: Lo. I send it down for you. And whoso disbelieveth of you afterward, him surely will I punish with a punishment wherewith I have not punished any of [My] creatures. [Al-Maida 111-115]

Ascendance

Islamic texts categorically deny the idea of ??the crucifixion and death of Jesus, as described in the New Testament, although the Koran affirms that people (that is, the Jews and Romans) were trying to kill Jesus, but they did not succeed. Instead of Jesus, someone looking similar was crucified (or someone to whom the appearance of Jesus was put over, perhaps even Judas himself) and Jesus was lifted up to Allah.

And because of their saying: We slew the Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, Allah's messenger - they slew him not nor crucified him, but it appeared so unto them; and lo. those who disagree concerning it are in doubt thereof; they have no knowledge thereof save pursuit of a conjecture; they slew him not for certain. But Allah took him up unto Himself. Allah was ever Mighty, Wise. [an-Nisa 157, 158]

Second coming

According to Islamic tradition Jesus will appear during the wars lead by al-Mahdi. Al-Mahdi is the one who will unite the Muslims under his leadership, and will begin the fight against al-Masih ad-Dajjal (the Antichrist or "false Messiah") and his followers. Jesus will assist al-Mahdi in his war and will defeat the Antichrist. At this time, the people of the book (ahl al-kitab, i.e. Jews and Christians) will believe in him and become Muslims (as Jesus will judge according to the laws of Islam). Thus, there will be only one community, that of Islam.

The Hour will not be established until the son of Maryam will descend among you as a just ruler. He will break the cross (abolish the false Christianity), kill the pigs (i.e. the Mosaic laws concerning food and others will be reintroduced) and the jizya abolished. Money will be in abundance so that nobody will accept it (as charitable gift). [Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 3, Book 43: Kitab-ul-`Ilm (Book of Knowledge), Hadith No. 656]

After the death of al-Mahdi, Jesus will assume leadership. He will lead the Muslims and mankind back to God's guidance and the true understanding of religion. This will be a time of universal peace and justice, just as the world before was filled with injustice.

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Next chapter:

Jesus - Son of God?
Anyone who reads the Bible carefully, will notice that the Bible itself disproves the claim that Jesus is the Son of God, and it clearly shows that he, as claimed by the Koran, was a prophet and messenger of God. The concept of God's Son is close to the Roman polytheism and also the Hindu polytheism where an incarnated God is called Avatar (e.g. Krishna), but not to the religion of Abraham...

Index

Preface

What does the Koran say about Jesus?

Jesus, Son of God?

What became of God's commandments?

Where does Christmas come from?

The Sons of God

Original sin and crucifixion

Human sacrifice

Isaac and Ishmael

Bible & Koran - a revelation of God?