It is a fundamental principle in Islam to believe in all of the Prophets who have been sent by Allah (God). From amongst these Prophets, Jesus (May the Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) is one of the major ones. In fact Mary the Mother of Jesus has an entire chapter dedicated to her in the Quran. The Quran affirms Jesus’ struggles, pious life and his miracle birth amongst other miracles. Muslims understand that Jesus preached to the people and called them to worship The One Allah, a commandment which Muslims fulfil to this day. The main contrast between the Islamic view of Jesus and the Christian view of Jesus is that Muslims don’t consider Jesus to be the son of Allah, nor do they believe that he was crucified.
Yes. A Muslim cannot be a Muslim if he does not believe in Jesus (May the Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) as one of the great Prophets sent by Allah. Three Surahs (chapters) in the Quran speak in great detail about the story of Jesus and his mother, namely, Aal-Imraan (The Family Of Imraan [who was the father of Mary]), Al-Maa’idah (The Table-Spread) and Maryam (Mary). Other chapters of the Quran also speak about Jesus but not in the same level of detail.
In Surah Al-Imran, a light is shed on the background of Mary (Peace be upon her) and Jesus’ story, and how Mary’s mother when pregnant, had vowed to entrust and dedicate the child she is conceiving to the house of Allah, to serve and worship the Lord. When she gave birth to Mary, she was placed in the house of Allah to worship there, and as related in the chapter, she used to receive her sustenance from Allah by His Angels. The chapter then goes on to relate the rest of the story until Mary gave birth to Jesus.
As Muslims, we believe in the miraculous birth of Jesus from the Virgin Mary by the will of Allah, his prophethood and his many miracles, such as healing the sick and raising the dead. All the aforementioned miracles are also related in Christian sources and are common knowledge within Muslim and Christian faithful. However, the Quran also mentions other miracles unknown in Christian sources, such as him speaking in his cradle on the day of his birth to defend the honour of his mother when she was questioned and accused by her people of adultery and also to declare his prophethood. From amongst the other miracles, which are unknown in non-Islamic scriptures, is the miracle of creating animal figures out of clay, and by him blowing on them; they became living beings, by the will of Allah. The miracle of the Maa’idah (the food table), which descended from heaven in the last days, before Jesus was raised up to Allah.
An entire chapter of the Quran was dedicated to the story of Maryam (Mary), and was called ‘Maryam’. In this chapter, the Quran teaches us that the mother of Jesus, Maryam (Mary) was a pious woman, who would worship Allah day and night, during which she received the glad tidings about her giving birth to a child (Jesus), although she had no husband, being a virgin. The account of the story reaches the point when Mary, after giving birth to Jesus, was confronted by her kinfolk saying:
“Then she brought him (Jesus) to her people, carrying him. They said, ‘O Mary, you have certainly done a thing unprecedented. O sister of Aaron, your father was not a man of evil, nor was your mother unchaste.’” [The Quran: Maryam 19:27-28]
To this Mary responded with nothing, because she vowed not to talk to anybody. This is when the miracle occurred and Jesus, as a baby, said to the accusers, as related in the Quran:
“[Jesus] said, ‘Indeed, I am the servant of Allah. He has given me the Scripture and made me a Prophet. And He has made me blessed wherever I am and has enjoined upon me prayper and Zakaah (Charity) as long as I remain alive. And [made me] dutiful to my mother, and He has not made me a wretched tyrant. And peace is on me the day I was born and the day I will die and the day I will be resurrected.” [The Quran: Maryam 19:30-33]
Regarding what the people accused Mary of, Allah said in the Quran:
“And [We cursed them] for their disbelief and their saying against Mary a great slander (that of fornication)” [The Quran: An-Nisaa’ 4:156]
In chapter Al-Maa’idah in the Noble Quran, there is mention of another one of the major miracles performed by Jesus (May the Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him), which is the Maa’idah or the table of food. The table of food had descended from heaven to Jesus and his disciples, based on the request of the disciples of Jesus. The detail of the incident is surah Al-Maa’idah:
bq.*”[And remember] when the disciples said, ‘O Jesus, Son of Mary, can your Lord send down to us a table [spread with food] from the heaven’ [Jesus] said,‘Fear Allah, if you should be believers.’
They said, ‘We wish to eat from it and let our hearts be reassured and know that you have been truthful to us and be among its witnesses.’
Jesus, the son of Mary said, ‘O Allah, our Lord, send down to us a table [spread with food] from the heaven to be for us a festival for the first of us and the last of us and a sign from You. And provide for us, and You are the best of providers.’ Allah said, ‘I will send it down to you, but whoever disbelieves afterwards from among you, then indeed I will punish him with a punishment by which I have not punished anyone among the worlds.”* [The Quran: Al-Maa’idah 5:112-115]
Muslims stand in middle ground between Christians and Jews regarding Jesus (Peace be upon Him). They affirm his miraculous virgin birth and his Prophethood, and that he was sent by Allah to the children of Israel. Furthermore, Muslims believe that he was the Maseeh (the Messiah) and that his people denied him and then when his opponents were about to kill him, he was saved and lifted up to heaven by Allah and was not crucified.
Regarding this Allah says in the Quran:
“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 so it was made to appear 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.” [The Quran: An-Nisaa’ 4:157]
For Christians, Jesus had a divine nature, he was either the son of Allah (God) or Allah himself (depending on which Christian denomination), although, throughout the New Testament, he never mentioned that he is divine in any sense, but rather, he used to pray to Allah alone. In the Bible, Jesus was called a “good teacher!”, by someone and he famously replied: “Why do you call me good? ….No one is good except Allah alone.” (Mark 10:18), (Mark 10:17), if this was the case when someone called him good then imagine one attempting to call him Allah! In fact, he also referred to Allah (the Most High) as his Allah in the gospel of John: “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my Allah and your Allah.” (John 20:17)
In Islam, when it comes to the nature of Jesus, and whether he was Allah or the son of Allah, the Quran is very clear:
*“And they say, ‘The Most Merciful [Allah] has taken [for Himself] a son.’ You have done an atrocious thing!
Whereby the heavens are almost torn, and the earth splits open and the mountains collapse in devastation that they attribute to the Most Merciful a son. And it is not appropriate for the Most Merciful that He should take a son. There is no one in the heavens and earth but that he comes to the Most Merciful as a servant.”* [The Quran: Maryam 19:88-93]
The Jews are on the other extreme when it comes to Jesus, they don’t acknowledge Jesus as a Prophet at all, instead they deny him and consider him a liar and a blasphemer.
As you can see Muslims follow the middle path between the two extremes, they don’t consider Jesus to be of a divine nature like the Christians do, and they don’t consider him to be evil as the Jews do, but rather they believe him to have been a Prophet of Allah, calling people back to the worship of the One Allah (God).
In the Hadith (sayings and actions of the Prophet Muhammad), there is a lot of references to Jesus (Peace be upon him), his Prophethood and even his appearance and complexion. Many narrations also inform us that at the end of days, Jesus will come back and rule for a period of time, restoring peace and justice on earth, the Prophet Muhammad (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said:
“I saw Moses, Jesus and Abraham (on the night of my Ascension to the heavens). Jesus was of red complexion, curly hair and a broad chest. Moses was of brown complexion, straight hair and tall stature as if he was from the people of Az-Zutt (a race of people from the African continent).” [Bukhari: 3438]
and he said:
“on the white Eastern Minaret of Damascus he (Jesus) will descend from the heavens with his hands resting on the shoulders of two angels, clad in two saffron coloured garments. When he lowers his head it will seem as if water is flowing from his hair, when he raises his head, it will appear as though his hair is beaded with silvery pearls.” [Saheeh Muslim: 2937].
Also, the Prophet Muhammad (May the Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) said:
“By Him in Whose Hands my soul is, surely (Jesus,) the son of Mary will soon descend amongst you as a Just Ruler (will judge mankind justly); he will break the cross and kill the pigs and will abolish the Jizyah (i.e. taxation taken from non-Muslims). And money will be in abundance so that nobody will accept it.” [Saheeh Muslim: 155]
Furthermore, the Prophet Muhammad (May the Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) told us that he will be the one to quell the Maseeh Ad-Dajjal (the Anti-Christ), who will pose for a period of time as the Messiah. The Prophet Muhammad (May the Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) said:
“..and he (Jesus the Messiah) will pursue him (i.e. the Anti-Christ) until he encounters him at the gate of Lud (a city in current day Palestine), and (there) he shall kill him.” [Saheeh Muslim: 2937]
The Prophet Muhammad (May the Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) has also told us that the Jesus (Peace be upon him) – after returning to earth and fulfilling his work- will perform the pilgrimage to the House of Allah in Mecca as foretold by the Prophet Muhammad (May the Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) said:
“The son of Mary will declare his intention to perform Hajj or Umrah (or both) from Fajj Ar-Rawhaa’ (a place between Mecca and Madina).” [Saheeh Muslim: 1252]
He will live altogether for Forty years and eventually die after mankind had recognized his true message and after they have seen the great miracles brought on by the will of Allah (God) through him. We find this in the narration by the Prophet Muhammad (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) that he said:
“….and he (i.e. Jesus) will remain on earth for Forty years, then he will die and the Muslims will perform the funeral prayer over him.” [Abu Dawud: 4324]
Ultimately, Jesus (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) is a major figure in Islam, one whom Muslims must accept as a Prophet of Allah, a belief without which they cannot call themselves Muslims. One who will return during the end of time to fulfil various Prophecies. He is respected by all Muslims and is a common link between Islam and Christianity. However, in Islam he is not considered to be the son of Allah (God), nor was he crucified, rather he was a Prophet sent from Allah who called his people to worship One God alone just as the previous Prophets did and the Prophet Muhammad (May the Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) after him.