By Abdul-Rahman Mojahed
He is Jesus, the son of Mary (“Eissa” in Arabic). He is the most prominent human being, taken as a god and worshiped along with God throughout the human history, despite the confirmation of his servitude, prophethood and messengership in the texts of the Bible and the Qur’an.
Maybe, Jesus is the most controversial prophet and even human being in Judaism, Christianity and Islam. So, let’s know more about Jesus’ character in Christianity and Islam according to the Bible and the Qur’an.
Prophet Jesus in Christianity
The Old Testament does not make any explicit mention of Jesus, except for the generic references and allusions which Christians interpret in such a way which may apply to Jesus and other prophets and messengers not to mention the ordinary people.
That is why Jews do not believe in Jesus as God or even a prophet or even a messiah allegedly for he does not satisfy the messianic descriptions they have. According to the contemporary Jews, Jesus could not be more than a good teacher in the best scenario, given the considerable refinements introduced into the Jewish tradition which once abounded in gross slanders against Mary and her chastity.
On the contrary, the New Testament is rife with claims of Jesus’ divinity and literal sonhood of God though it is devoid of any command for the worship of Jesus or any explanation of how to worship him. Rather, Jesus’ servitude, prophethood and messengership are evidenced by the Bible itself.
For example, about Jesus’ servitude, we read: “The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our ancestors, has glorified his servant Jesus, whom you handed over and denied before Pilate, though he had decided to release him.” (Acts 3:13)
About Jesus’ prophethood, the New Testament quotes him as saying:
He went to his hometown and began to teach them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished and said, “Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers? Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother called Mary, and his brothers James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas? And his sisters, aren’t they all with us? So where does he get all these things?” And they were offended by him. Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his household.” (Matthew 10:40-41)
About Jesus’ messengership, we read: “And so, dear brothers and sisters who belong to God and are partners with those called to heaven, think carefully about this Jesus whom we declare to be God’s messenger and High Priest. For he was faithful to God, who appointed him, just as Moses served faithfully when he was entrusted with God’s entire house.” (Hebrews 3:1-2)
Prophet Jesus in Islam
In Islam, Eissa or Jesus, the son of Mary, is God’s servant, prophet and messenger according to the Qur’an. About Jesus’ servitude and prophethood, the Qur’an quotes Jesus as saying in the cradle:
[Jesus] said, “Indeed, I am the servant of Allah. He has given me the Scripture and made me a prophet. (Maryam 19:30)
About Jesus’ messengership and servitude, we also read:
O People of the Scripture, do not commit excess in your religion or say about Allah except the truth. The Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary, was but a messenger of Allah and His word which He directed to Mary and a soul [created at a command] from Him. So believe in Allah and His messengers. And do not say, “Three”; desist – it is better for you. Indeed, Allah is but one God. Exalted is He above having a son. To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth. And sufficient is Allah as Disposer of affairs. Never would the Messiah disdain to be a servant of Allah, nor would the angels near [to Him]. And whoever disdains His worship and is arrogant – He will gather them to Himself all together. (An-Nisaa’ 4:171-172)
Relationship between Jesus, Father and Holy Spirit in Christianity and Islam
In fact, the doctrine of the Holy Trinity exists only in the conciliar creeds or the professions of faith embraced at the ecumenical councils, mainly the Nicene Creed adopted at the Council of Nicaea in 325 .A.D.
As for the Bible, it does not make any express mention of a holy trinity or the divinity of the Holy Spirit or Jesus. On the contrary, the Bible involves much evidence for the fact that neither the Holy Spirit nor Jesus is divine.
One simple, clear and widespread piece of evidence in the Bible is reference to the Father only as God and Lord. This indicates that it is valid to describe the Father alone as God or Lord, while it is not valid to give the Holy Spirit or Jesus the same descriptions in the same context.
For example, about the reference to the Father alone as “Lord” in the New Testament, we read:
But after he had considered these things, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because what has been conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:20-21)
About the reference to the Father alone as “God”, we read:
“How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how he went about doing good and healing all who were under the tyranny of the devil, because God was with him.” (Acts 10:38)
In the above verses, the Bible mentions the Holy Spirit and Jesus by name and refers to the Father alone as “Lord” and “God”. This indicates that only the Father is God and Lord, given reference to him as such and the fact that the Holy Spirit and Jesus are mentioned by name in the same context without reference to them as God or Lord. There are similar uncountable examples in the New Testament.
The features of the relationship between God (referred to as “Father” in Christianity), Jesus and the Holy Spirit are frequently cited in the Qur’an. It is a sort of relationship between the true God and Lord Who has no partner in godhood or lordship, and one of His angels, namely Gabriel, as well as one of His servants, prophets and messengers, namely Jesus, whom God sent to the children of Israel and supported with the Holy Spirit.
For example, in the Qur’an, we read:
And We did certainly give Moses the Torah and followed up after him with messengers. And We gave Jesus, the son of Mary, clear proofs and supported him with the Holy Spirit. (Al-Baqarah 2:87)
We also read:
Those messengers – some of them We caused to exceed others. Among them were those to whom Allah spoke, and He raised some of them in degree. And We gave Jesus, the Son of Mary, clear proofs, and We supported him with the Holy Spirit. (Al-Baqarah 2:253)
As a part of the Muslim creed, Islam makes it obligatory for Muslims to believe in Jesus as a servant, prophet and messenger and in the holy scripture with which he came (Injeel) in the form it was revealed by God, side by side with all other prophets and the holy scriptures sent sown to them by God.
The faith of a Muslim cannot be valid without belief in the previous prophets and messengers, including Jesus, and in the previous scripture sent down to them even if their original forms are missed and lost. In the Qur’an, we read:
Say, [O believers], “We have believed in Allah and what has been revealed to us and what has been revealed to Abraham and Ishmael and Isaac and Jacob and the Descendants and what was given to Moses and Jesus and what was given to the prophets from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and we are Muslims [in submission] to Him.” (Al-Baqarah 2:136)
Jesus’ Birth in Christianity and Islam
Christians believe that Jesus was born by a human mother, namely Mary, without a human father. According to them, Jesus is the only son of God in a literal sense as the Holy Spirit came on Mary and so she conceived Jesus.
This is a false belief for several reasons, mainly the Holy Spirit’s coming on Mary does not necessarily mean her impregnation. The Bible is full of many people – men and women – who had the Holy Spirit coming on them. Does this mean that the Holy Spirit impregnated all those people?
Muslims believe that Jesus was born by a mother without a father. No wonder, Adam was created without a father or a mother thanks to the exceptional ability of God. In the Qur’an, we read:
Indeed, the example of Jesus to Allah is like that of Adam. He created Him from dust; then He said to him, “Be,” and he was. (Aal `Imran 3:59)
The Qur’an blamed Jews for accusing Mary of adultery, deemed such an accusation tantamount to disbelief in God and His extraordinary might and confirmed her chastity, modesty and virginity. We read:
And [We cursed them] for their breaking of the covenant and their disbelief in the signs of Allah and their killing of the prophets without right and their saying, “Our hearts are wrapped”. Rather, Allah has sealed them because of their disbelief, so they believe not, except for a few. And [We cursed them] for their disbelief and their saying against Mary a great slander (An-Nisaa’ 4:155-156)
Jesus’ Ascension in Christianity and Islam
Christians believe in Jesus’ death for three days and three nights as atonement for humanity’s sins. They also believe that he rose from the dead and was then raised to heaven.
In fact, the accounts of the crucifixion story involve a lot of contradictions, discrepancies and inconsistencies to such an extent which makes it impossible to accept belief in the whole story.
The simplest argument against the belief in crucifixion is the established fact that God is the Life-giver and Death-causer. It is God Who gives life and causes death. None can give Him life or causes Him to die. It is God Who is Ever-living and may not die.
In the Bible, we read: “See now that I, even I, am He, and there is no god besides Me. I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal; neither is there any that can deliver out of My hand. For I lift up My hand to heaven and say: I live for ever.” (Deuteronomy 32:39-40)
Another simple argument is that Jesus remained in his alleged grave for two nights and one day only. He was allegedly buried on Friday night (Matthew 27:60) and rose before dawn on Sunday (Matthew 28:1), i.e. Saturday night.
Another intuitive argument is that the Bible teaches us that everybody dies for his sin. None dies for the sin of another. We read: “But he put not their children to death, but did according to that which is written in the law in the book of Moses, as Jehovah commanded, saying, The fathers shall not die for the children, neither shall the children die for the fathers; but every man shall die for his own sin.” (2 Chronicles 25:4)
Muslims believe that God raised Jesus alive and that he was neither killed nor crucified. According to them, there is no point in raising Jesus if he was killed and crucified. In the Qur’an, we read:
And [for] their saying, “Indeed, we have killed the Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary, the messenger of Allah.” And they did not kill him, nor did they crucify him; but [another] was made to resemble him to them. And indeed, those who differ over it are in doubt about it. They have no knowledge of it except the following of assumption. And they did not kill him, for certain. Rather, Allah raised him to Himself. And ever is Allah Exalted in Might and Wise. (An-Nisaa’ 4:157-158)
The purpose of Jesus’ raising to Heaven in Islam was saving him from killing at the disbelievers’ hands. So, Jesus was raised alive just as souls are taken at night during sleep and then given back in the morning without death. About Jesus’ ascension, we read:
[Mention] when Allah said, “O Jesus, indeed I will take you and raise you to Myself and purify you from those who disbelieve and make those who follow you [in submission to Allah alone] superior to those who disbelieve until the Day of Resurrection. Then to Me is your return, and I will judge between you concerning that in which you used to differ. (Aal `Imran 3:55)
About taking souls during sleep and giving them back in the morning, we read:
And it is He who takes your souls by night and knows what you have committed by day. Then He revives you therein that a specified term may be fulfilled. Then to Him will be your return; then He will inform you about what you used to do. (Al-An`am 6:60)
Jesus’ Comeback in Christianity and Islam
Christians believe in Jesus’ comeback at the end of the world and upon the Day of Judgment. They believe that he will come back as a god and a lord to judge humanity and so reward the believers and punish the disbelievers.
However, this belief is false for several reasons, mainly Jesus’ disownment of judgment and ascription of the same to the Father. Even in the positions where he claims judgment he indicates that it is originally the Father’s and he derives it from Him. Accordingly, it is unreasonable that Jesus has real judgment.
About Jesus’ disownment of judgment, we read: “And if any man hear my sayings, and keep them not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.” (John 12:47)
About judgment ascription to the Father alone, we read: Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may be seen of men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have received their reward. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thy head, and wash thy face; that thou be not seen of men to fast, but of thy Father who is in secret: and thy Father, who seeth in secret, shall recompense thee. (Matthew 6:16-18)
About judgment derivation from the Father, we read: “And he has granted him the right to pass judgment, because he is the Son of Man.” (John 5:27)
Muslims believe in Jesus’ comeback at the end of the world as one of major portents of the Judgment Day. They also believe that he will come back to confirm the final monotheistic message of Islam already brought by Prophet Muhammad, refute the contemporary Trinitarian Christianity, break the cross and call to monotheism again. In the Qur’an, we read:
And there is none from the People of the Scripture but that he will surely believe in Jesus before his death. And on the Day of Resurrection he will be against them a witness. (An-Nisaa’ 4:159)
We also read:
Jesus was not but a servant upon whom We bestowed favor, and We made him an example for the Children of Israel. And if We willed, We could have made [instead] of you angels succeeding [one another] on the earth. And indeed, Jesus will be [a sign for] knowledge of the Hour, so be not in doubt of it, and follow Me. This is a straight path. (Az-Zukhruf 43:59-61)
- The Glorious Qur’an
- The Holy Bible