By Elizabeth Rahman
Non-Muslims, especially Christians, are often surprised to discover that Muslims believe in Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) and in Maryam (Mary), the mother of Jesus. The Holy Qur’an, the Muslim holy book, speaks of Mary not only as the mother of Jesus but as ‘a virtuous woman, honoured above the women of all nations’. There is a whole chapter in the Qur’an called Maryam, referring to the mother of Christ.
We are told that God sent 124,000 prophets to all tribes and nations, and Muslims are required by God to believe in all of the Prophets of the old and new testaments, including Jesus Christ, and this line of prophets ended with Muhammad (pbuh). All these prophets preached the same message of one God; however their teachings were sometimes distorted by those hearing the message. You may be surprised to know that Christ is mentioned in the Qur’an four times more often than Muhammad.
So Muslims believe that Jesus was a prophet, a human being, and not divine. In chapter 4 of the Qur’an, we read: ‘Christ Jesus the son of Mary was no more than an apostle of God’. In Islam, Jesus is regarded as a human prophet and messenger of God, not part of God Himself. Jesus is also referred to in the Qur’an as the Spirit of God, the Word of God, the Sign of God & other honourable titles in the Qur’an. Jesus is also referred to as ‘Maseeh’ or messiah in Hebrew, which means ‘anointed one’, and he was anointed as God’s messenger by his cousin John the Baptist (pbuh), who was also a prophet of God.
According to the Qur’an, Jesus was one of God’s most beloved messengers, a precursor to the last prophet Muhammad and he was sent to guide the Children of Israel. In the Holy Qur’an, there are many stories of Christ’s miraculous birth, his teachings & the miracles he performed by God’s permission, such as healing the blind & those who had leprosy.
Muslims believe that Jesus was immaculately conceived without the intervention of a human father – that Jesus was born miraculously of a virgin mother and no father, much like the birth of the prophet Adam, the first human being, who was created with neither mother nor father.
When Mary was due to give birth, she retired to a remote place. When she returned with the baby, there was much ridicule. The people said: (quote from Qur’an)
“Thy father was not a man of evil, nor thy mother a woman unchaste!
She merely pointed to the babe. They said: ‘How can we talk to one who is a child in the cradle?’
The baby said; ‘I am indeed a servant of God: He hath given me revelation and made me a prophet;
And He hath made me blessed wheresoever I be, and hath enjoined on me prayer and charity as long as I live;
(He) hath made me kind to my mother, and not overbearing or miserable;
So peace is on me the day I was born, the day that I die, and the day that I shall be raised up to life (again)!’
Such (was) Jesus the son of Mary: (it is) a statement of truth, about which they (vainly) dispute. It is not befitting to (the majesty of God) that He should beget a son. Glory be to Him! When He determines a matter, He only says to it, ‘Be’, and it is.”
So this was Christ’s first miracle, when he spoke as a tiny baby to defend his mother’s honour. The Holy Qur’an denies that Jesus was crucified, that is that he died on the cross. Rather, God took Jesus up to Heaven where he sits at God’s right hand. Christ’s enemies boasted that they had killed him, but God tells us in the Qur’an that He made it look as though Christ had died on the cross to confound his enemies.
It is important to note that Jesus prayed to the same God to whom all Prophets prayed, the same God of the Jews and the Christians.
We are told in the Qur’an that Jesus will return before the end of the world. As I quoted, Jesus refers to the day that he will be raised up again; this refers to the day of judgement, when all mankind will be raised up again and we will be questioned about our beliefs and our actions, and judged accordingly.
There are many stories about Jesus and his ministry. Jesus was once seen running away from a man. People were surprised to see him running away – he did not run away from anything or anybody. He was known for his goodness, humility and friendliness.
So they asked him, ‘Jesus, spirit of God, why are you running away from that man?’ Jesus replied ‘I am running away from a fool’.
People were still more surprised – they knew that Jesus was a prophet. He had cured the sick. He had even brought the dead to life. So they said, ‘But Jesus, spirit of God, you have power to bring the dead to life’.
Jesus smiled and said: ‘True, I have brought the dead to life. But I find it difficult to bring a fool to his senses’.
So to sum up, according to the Qur’an Jesus was a great prophet ‘in the company of those nearest to God’, a servant of God & messenger of God who preached the same message as all the other prophets of the old and new testaments – that is the message of one unique God.