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ISLAM’S VIEW OF JESUS
Victor M. Eskew
A. The Islamic faith holds Jesus in high regard.
1. Jesus is discussed in 15 surahs and 93 verses in the Qur’an.
a. A righteous prophet (6:85)
b. Messenger to Israel (3:39-51) messenger of God 10 times
c. Christ (3:35)
d. Son of Mary (23 times)
e. The Messiah (11 times)
f. Servant of God
g. Word from God
2. The Qur’an supports
a. The virgin birth of Jesus (3:47)
b. The miracles of Jesus, including two not mentioned in the New Testament.
1) He spoke from the cradle (3:29-33)
2) He formed living birds from clay (5:110)
B. Even so, the Islamic view of Jesus is quite different from the Biblical view. In this lesson, we are going to present the “positive” and “negative” views of Jesus within the Islamic religion.
I. THE ABSOLUTE ONENESS AND UNIQUENESS OF GOD
A. Surah 112: “Say, he is God, the one and Only, The Eternal, Absolute; He begets not, Nor is He begotten; And there is none like unto Him.”
B. “One of the terms used in the above quoted sura is ‘samad.’ Samad is something that is so seamless and whole that one cannot even conceptualize it as divided or in parts. It has such integral unity that it is absolutely without seam for fissure, completely unified” (islamfrominside.com, “Jesus: An Islamic Perpective”).
II. ISLAM’S VIEW OF MAN
A. “Man enjoys a very important role in this cosmos. Although all things are made by God and identified with God in as much as their being created by Him, man is one who houses an aspect of God within him. In the Qur’an God says He has breathed His spirit into man” (islamfrominside).
1. “It is the innermost spirit that is the only part of a human that can in some sense perceive that divine Reality, as it is essentially a part of it” (islamfrom inside).
2. The rest of man is a curtain between man and God.
B. “Man has to put aside the veil of the corporeal or material self. Shunning it he is able to let his invisible dimension reflect the light that it so wants to see. This spirit of God which resides in man longs for a reunion with its original; it reaches out and makes man’s soul restless to cleanse itself of all that is not God” (islamfromiside).
III. ISLAM’S VIEW OF JESUS
A. The Perfect Man
1. “As man lays away his corporeal vestments his inner being sees more clearly. It gains a vision which sees what was previously unseen. Gates of knowledge are opened up to it and before such a person will be laid out the secrets of the realities underlying the universe” (islamfrominside).
2. The distance between man and God has been bridged by such people.
a. “Such men have been chosen to represent God in every way, they see through Him, hear through Him, walk, grasp, think, love…their every faculty has been captured and they have shackled themselves to the ‘robe of His majesty’” (islamfrominside).
b. “My servant continues drawing near to me…until I love him, and when I love him, I am the Hearing through which he hears, the Sight through which he sees, the Hand through which he grasps, and the Foot through which he walks” (Hadith Qudsi).
c. “One who has achieved this proximity to God is known in Islamic terminology as ‘Insaan al Kamil’ or perfect man” (islamfrominside).
3. It is in this context in that Jesus must be viewed.
a. He is called in the Qur’an a sign (ayat) of God.
b. “The prophets of God are generally all given this designation. They are all (from Adam to Muhammad) signposts marking the path to God, each one addressing both the universal nature of man and the specific contingen-cies of his time” (islamfrominside).
B. Jesus is the signpost who links man back to his original ancestor (Adam).
1. Surah 3:59 – “The similitude of Jesus before Allah is as that of Adam; He created him from dust, then said to him: ‘Be’ and he was.”
2. “The ‘Word’ is God’s creative Word (with which He also created Adam). The ‘Spirit’ is the Divine Spirit (which he also breathed into Adam). Thus Jesus is created according to the mold of Adam – but he is as Adam was before the fall from Paradise, before Adam was put into this world, where God’s presence is veiled and must be sought through signs” (islamfrominside).
3. He has seen with perfection of his inner eye the secrets of this Universe. When he tells man of Paradise he has seen it, when he talks of God he knows Him. His every word is spoken from knowledge. He sees and hears and moves through God. The Spirit of Allah is his guide” (islamfrominside).
C. An apostle of God: “…one charged by God to provide guidance for mankind and to bring man towards the path of perfection and salvation – and to be a sign which hints at the heights to which man is capable of being” (islamfrominside).
I. MUSLIMS DENY THE DEITY OF JESUS
A. Their teaching begins with Allah.
1. Allah is one.
2. Allah does not beget. “He begat none, nor was he begotten. None is equal to him” (Sura 112).
B. The Qur’an denies that Jesus is the Son of God.
1. Sura 5:72 – They do blaspheme who say: ‘God is Christ the son of Mary.’
2. Sura 19:88 – Those who say: ‘The Lord of mercy has begotten a son, preach a monstrous falsehood…that they should ascribe a son to the merciful, when it does not become Him to begat one!’
C. “The term ‘Son of God’ is offensive to the Muslims because they cannot conceive of God having sexual relationship with Mary or that God was ever married….The passages that disturb the Muslims are those the refer to Jesus as being begotten of God, such as John 3:16…” (Christ or the Qur’an?, Evertt L. Huffard, p. 78).
D. Sura 5:116-117 relates a conversation that is supposed to take place between Jesus and God on the day of judgment. “And behold! Allah will say: ‘O Jesus the son of Mary! Didst thou say unto men, “Worship me and my mother as gods in the derogation of Allah”?’ He will say, ‘Glory to Thee! Never could I say what I had no right (to say). Had I said such a thing, Thou wouldst indeed have known it. Thou knowest what is in my heart, though I know not what is in Thine….Never said I to them aught except what Thou didst command me to say, to wit, “Worship Allah – my Lord and your Lord.””
II. MUSLIMS DENY THAT JESUS IS ETERNAL
A. An eternal being has no beginning and no end.
B. Islam teaches that Jesus was created by Allah and that He is just a mortal man.
C. Sura 43:59 – Jesus was no more than a mortal whom [Allah] favored and made an example to the Israelites.
III. MUSLIMS DENY THAT JESUS DIED ON THE CROSS OF CALVARY
A. Sura 4:157-159 – That they say, We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah; but they killed him not, nor crucified him. Only a likeness of that was shown to them. And those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no knowledge, but only conjecture to follow, for a surety they killed him not.
B. Some Muslim explanations of the crucifixion:
1. Jesus hid while another took His place.
2. Allah made Judas appear like Jesus and take his place.
3. Satan was placed on the cross as punishment for his opposition to Allah.
C. “…Muslims say that someone else was substituted for Jesus on the cross, and Jesus himself was taken up into heaven where he is still living today. In the final days, Jesus will return, perhaps as the Mahdi (messianic figure of Islam), defeat the anti-Messiah, and live for 40 years on earth. He will then die (for the first time), be buried in a place reserved for him beside Muhammad in Medina, and be resurrected on the Day of Judgment when he, like all prophets, will be a witness for (or against) his community” (Dummies, 267).
D. “Can you imagine the skill that it must have taken in the appearance of the crowd and the crucifixion to make it appear as though it was Christ crucified? Could the Roman soldiers, Mary and the other women, and the mob be deceived? (Christ or Qur’an?, p. 70).
IV. MUSLIMS BELIEVE JESUS’ MINISTRY WAS LIMITED, NOT UNIVERSAL
“In a commentary found in the English translation of the Qur’an we read: ‘His life was incomplete, his ministry barely lasted three years, his mission was limited, and he was not called upon to deal with the many-sided problems that arise in a highly organized society or State. We pay our respect to him because he was Allah’s messenger, but that is not to say that his message covers the same universal ground as that of Al-Mustafa (Muhammad)’” (as quoted by Trent Wheeler in Think, 19).
V. MUSLIMS DENY JESUS IS THE SAVIOR OF MAN
A. Muslims do not believe that man needs another to save him. Salvation is dependent upon the manner in which one lives in this life.
B. “God doesn’t need to sacrifice Himself to atone for the sins of mankind because He can forgive anything He wants, anytime He wants” (The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Understanding Islam, 2nd ed., Yahiya Emerick, p. 225).
C. “In Islam, the basis is a weighing on the scale of justice: if a person’s good deeds outweigh his bad deeds, then he goes to paradise. And if the scale is unbal-anced in the other direction, he goes to hell. This assumes some standard that God uses to discern whether they’re going to the one place or the other, and all that is required to satisfy the justice of God is that the scales not be weighed more in the direction of sin than in the direction of virtue.
“However, if someone’s good outweighs his evil, God, who is supposedly a
just God, does not seem to sense any obligation to punish the evil. In that case
God simply forgives the evil. In this scheme God seems to be somewhat arbi-
trary, not entirely just” (The Dark Side of Islam, Sproul & Saleer, pp. 58-59).
VI. MUSLIMS DENY THAT JESUS IS THE MEDIATOR BETWEEN GOD AND MAN
A. “Islam requires people to ask God for forgiveness directly. No man can act as an intermediary or facilitator” (Idiot’s Guide, p. 225).
VII. MUSLIMS DENY THAT JESUS IS THE FINAL JUDGE OF MAN
A. Summary: “Jesus and the unique method of his creation, his ‘perfected’ status, and his apostleship to God, combine to create within the Islamic context, a picture of man who was both a servant and friend (awliya) of God. He is also seen as a man who was a sign, a symbol granted to mankind by God, and as a guide who awakens man to his nature, potential and relation to God” (islamfrominside).
B. Even with such a high view of Jesus, He is still not God according to the Muslims. He is just a “fully realized man and an apostle of God” (islamfrominside). “But even one who actualizes this potential and attains a type of union with God, does not become God. God remains God” (islamfrominside).
C. To the Christian, Jesus is a prophet, but He is more than a prophet. He is the very Son of God who plays a very unique role in the salvation mankind and the life of those who truly follow Him.
1. To the Christian, Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6).
2. Jesus said: …for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins (John 8:24). Either Jesus was right or the Muslims are right. There is no in-between ground.