Jesus is known to Muslims as 'Isa, the Arabic rendering of his name.
Muslims believe Jesus to be one of the greatest Prophets of God who will play a crucial role in times to come. There are significant differences between Islam and Christianity’s take on Jesus.
The Birth of Jesus – a messenger of God
Muslims, like Christians, believe that Mary was the mother of Jesus. Jesus was born to her in a miraculous birth – she was a chaste woman who had not been touched by any man:
The Miracles of Jesus
This setting apart of Jesus from his fellow humans was not a matter unique to him. Muslims believe that God sends His Prophets with miracles in order to authenticate their Prophethood. The birth of Jesus thus served as a primary miracle of his Prophethood. Muslims believe that he was also bestowed other miracles as a proof of his Prophethood:
“Behold! I strengthened you with the Spirit (the angel Gabriel) so that you did speak to the people in childhood and in maturity... And behold: you make out of clay, as it were, the figure of a bird, by My leave, and you breathe into it, and it becomes a bird by My leave, and you heal those born blind, and the lepers by My leave. And behold! You bring forth the dead by My leave...” (Quran 5:110)
Jesus’ divinity and his message
The Christian belief is that Jesus is part of a trinity, where he is worshiped as Lord and as God’s son. Muslim’s believe in the Absolute Oneness of God. He is a Supreme Being, free of human limitations.
God says about the belief that Jesus is part of a “Trinity”:
“They have certainly disbelieved who say, ‘God is the third of three.’ (Rather) there is none worthy of worship except One (God) ... the Messiah (Jesus), son of Mary, was no more than a Messenger...” (Quran 5:73-75)
All prophets have proclaimed the same message, that God is One, including Jesus himself:
“They have certainly disbelieved who say, ‘God is the Messiah, the son of Mary’ while the Messiah has said, ‘O Children of Israel, worship God, my Lord and your Lord...’” (Quran 5:72)
God deems this belief as an enormity against His Essence:
“Assuredly you utter a hideous thing, whereby almost the heavens are torn, and the earth is split asunder and the mountains fall in ruins...it is not suitable for the Most Merciful that He should take a son.” (Quran 19:88-93)
In fact, Jesus’ message was one of continuation of a previous divine message. He was the last in the line of Jewish prophets and called his people to follow the Law given to Moses. He called to the worship of God and God alone, as well as to the obedience of His commandments, and even foretold of another prophet to come after him:
“And when Jesus, son of Mary, said: ‘O Children of Israel! Indeed I am the messenger of God confirming what came before me of the Torah and bringing good tidings of a messenger who will come after me, whose name is the Praised One.’” (Quran 61:6)
The Son of God crucified?
The rational incomprehensibility of a part of God having to be killed gruesomely in order to salvage humanity speaks for itself, and it is partly for this reason that the debate about Jesus’ nature has plagued Christianity itself since the start.
Muslims believe that Jesus was lifted to heaven by God, and changed the appearance of one of the followers of Jesus to make him look like Jesus. Muslims therefore believe that Jesus was lifted to heaven and not crucified:
“…They did not kill him, nor did they crucify him, but (another) was made to resemble him to them…” (Quran 4:157)
“God lifted him up to His presence. God is Almighty, All-Wise.” (Quran 4:158)
Islam denies that Jesus came to this earth with the purpose of sacrificing himself for the ‘sin’ of Adam, Eve and the rest of humanity. It rejects outright that any person bears the sins or burdens of another (Quran 39:7).
The second coming
Islam foretells of a second coming of Jesus, in which he will serve as a Messiah who will defeat the anti-Christ and be at the side of Imam Mahdi, a second figure who will lead Muslims to victory over the anti-Christ’s forces and spread justice on Earth.
It is also believed that he will marry, have children and die a normal death. In particular, his second coming will also clarify the false beliefs regarding him and prove his mortality.
“There is not one of the People of the Scripture but will believe in him (Jesus) before his death, and on the Day of Resurrection he will be a witness against them.” (Quran 4: 159).
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