Who was Jesus (PBUH)?
The topic of Jesus (PBUH) is always a sensitive one for many Christians because Christians love Jesus (PBUH) so much. We Muslims also love Jesus (PBUH) too.
The Islamic view of Jesus lies between two extremes: the Jews, who rejected Jesus as a prophet and called him an imposter; whilst the Christians on the other hand, who considered him to be the son of God and worshipped him as such.
Islam considers Jesus to be the Messiah, and one of the greatest and most noble prophets, in addition to Noah, Abraham, Moses and Muhammad (PBUT).
Say, “We have believed in Allah (God) and in what was revealed to us and what was revealed to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, and the Descendants, and in what was given to Moses and Jesus and to the prophets from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and we are Muslims (who) submit to Him (God alone).” (Quran 3:84)
Muslims recognise that all the prophets were sent by the same God, and Muslims worship this One God alone.
Although the Quran does not present a detailed life-story of Jesus (PBUH), it highlights the important aspects of his birth, his mission, his ascension to heaven, and supersedes some of the changes that have been made in the Biblical texts.
Below are some of the truths which God revealed about Jesus (PBUH) in the Quran and which Muslims believe in with certainty.
We request our Christian readers to please take the time to read the below and understand the Islamic perspective of Jesus (PBUH):
Jesus was born from a Virgin Mother (PBUT):
Like Christians, Muslims believe that Mary, Maria in Spanish, or Maryam as she is called in Arabic, was a chaste virgin woman, who miraculously gave birth to Jesus (PBUT).
Jesus’ (PBUH) birth in itself was a miracle because he had no father. God describes his birth in the Quran as follows:
“And mention in the Book (the Quran), Mary, when she withdrew in seclusion from her family to a place facing east. She placed a screen (to screen herself) from them; then We sent to her a spirit from Us, (the Angel Gabriel), and he appeared before her in the form of a man in all respects. She said: ‘Verily, I seek refuge with the Most Kind (God) from you, if you do fear God.’ (The angel) said: ‘I am only a messenger from your Lord, (to announce) to you the gift of a righteous son.’ She said: ‘How can I have a son, when no man hath touched me, nor am I unchaste?’ He said: ‘So (it will be), your Lord said That is easy for Me (God): And (We wish) to appoint him as a sign to mankind and a mercy from Us (God), and it is a matter (already) decreed (by God).’” (Quran 19:16-21)
This fact however, does not imply that Jesus is divine in essence or spirit, or that he is worthy of worship, because the creation of Adam was more miraculous than Jesus (PBUT).
If Jesus’ miraculous birth was proof that he was God’s incarnate or His son, then Adam (PBUT) would have had more right over this divinity than him.
Instead, both are prophets who were created by God:
“Indeed, the likeness of Jesus with God is as the likeness of Adam. He (God) created him of dust, then He said to him: ‘Be!’ and he was.’” (Quran 3:59)
Jesus (PBUH) performed miracles by the permission of God:
Muslims, like Christians, believe that Jesus (PBUH) performed miracles, which were performed by the will and permission of God. God refers to this in the Quran:
“‘O Jesus the son of Mary! Recount My favour to you and to your mother. Remember! I strengthened you with the Holy Spirit (the angel Gabriel) so that you did speak to the people in childhood and in maturity. Remember! I taught you the Book and Wisdom, (and gave you) the Torah and the Gospel. And remember: you make out of clay, as it were, the figure of a bird, by My permission, and you breathe into it, and it becomes a bird by My permission, and you heal those born blind, and the lepers by My permission. And remember! You bring forth the dead by My permission. And remember! I did restrain the Children of Israel from (harming) you when you did show them the Clear Signs, and the unbelievers among them said: ‘This is nothing but evident magic.’” (Quran 5:110)
God sent all the prophets with miracles specific to the nation to whom they were sent to, to affirm the truthfulness of their message. Such miracles were only performed by God’s will and the miracles performed by Jesus (PBUH) were no different.
The Jews were well advanced in the field of medicine, and the miracles Jesus (PBUH) brought, were of this nature to prove the truthfulness of His message and to convince the Jews.
Jesus (PBUH) worshipped God Alone and never claimed to be the Son of God:
Today, most Christians believe in the Trinity, meaning that God has three forms: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost/Spirit. Yet, the concept of trinity was not adopted by Christianity until the Council of Nicea in 325 AD.
Some of the early Christians were Unitarians and even today, there are Christian Unitarian churches that do not accept the Trinity.
Notable Rationalist Unitarians include thinkers such as Ralph Waldo Emerson (American); scientists such as Isaac Newton (British); and famous figures such as Florence Nightingale (British) in nursing and humanitarianism; Charles Dickens (British) in literature; and Frank Lloyd Wright (American) in architecture.
Muslims believe in the absolute Oneness of God, Who is the Supreme Being, free of human limitations, needs and wants. He has no partners in His Divinity. He is the Creator of everything and is completely separate from His creation.
Why did Jesus (PBUH) worship God alone?
This was the same message brought by all the prophets of God, including Jesus (PBUH). Despite the numerous changes made within the Bible, when one looks at the older texts, one will not find any accounts of Jesus (PBUH) himself declaring that he was the “son” of God or part of the “Trinity.”
The Quran re-affirms this and explains that Jesus (PBUH) was a prophet sent to call people towards the worship of One God. God narrates of Jesus (PBUH) in the Quran:
“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)
Giving God a partner or a child is a derogation of His Magnificence. The Quran appeals to human logic in its explanation of why God cannot have partners.
“Allah (God) did not give birth to a son nor is there any God besides Him. (If there were), each god would have become an independent ruler over its creation and some would have tried to rule over others! May God be exalted above all that they attribute to Him.” (Quran 23:91)
If there were to be a partner or a child with Him, then the power would be shared between them and neither would have complete authority. This is not fitting for the Majesty of the Creator of all things:
“It is not fitting that Allah (God) give birth to a son. May he be exalted above all they associate with Him.” (Quran 19:35)
The phrase Son of God, Sons of God and Children of God is commonly found in the Bible. Muslims believe that each human being could be called the son/daughter of God because he/she was created by God.
Hence, there is nothing special or divine about Jesus (PBUH) being called the Son of God and Jesus (PBUH) should not therefore be worshiped and neither should the Angel Gabriel who is a servant and creation of God. God refers to the “Trinity” in the Quran:
“They have certainly disbelieved, (those) who say, ‘God is the third of three.’ (Rather) there is none worthy of worship except One (God). And if they do not desist from what they are saying, there will surely afflict the disbelievers among them a painful punishment. So will they not repent to God and seek His forgiveness? And God is Forgiving and Merciful. The Messiah (Jesus), son of Mary, was no more than a Messenger before whom many Messengers have passed away; and his mother adhered wholly to truthfulness, and they both ate food (as other mortals do). Look at how We make Our signs clear to them; and see how they are deluded!” (Quran 5:73-75)
“O People of the Book (Jews and Christians)! Do not exceed the limits in your religion, and attribute to God nothing except the truth. The Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, was only a Messenger of God, and His command that He conveyed unto Mary, and a spirit from Him. So believe in God and in His Messengers, and do not say: ‘God is a Trinity.’ Give up this assertion; it is better for you. For God is indeed (the only) One God. Far be it from His glory that He should have a son. To Him belongs all that is in the heavens and in the earth. And God (alone) is sufficient for a guardian.” (Quran 4:171)
What are the consequences for those who worship Jesus as the ‘Son of God’?
God deems this belief as an enormity against His Grandeur and such is the gravity of this sin that God describes it in the response to the heavens, the earth and the mountains.
“And they say: ‘The Most Merciful (God) has taken (for Himself) a son.’ Assuredly you utter a hideous thing, whereby the heavens are almost torn, and the earth is split asunder and the mountains fall in ruins; That they ascribe unto the Most Merciful a son, when it is not suitable for (the Majesty of) the Most Merciful that He should take a son. There is none in the heavens and the earth but comes to the Most Merciful as a servant.” (Quran 19:88-93)
Furthermore, such is the gravity of this sin, that it is the only sin God will never forgive if a person dies in the state whilst believing that God has a partner or child:
“Indeed, Allah does not forgive the worshipping of other besides Him, but He forgives sins less than that for whomsoever He wishes. And whoever worships others besides Allah has certainly invented a tremendous sin.” (Quran 4:48)
By informing humankind about the gravest sin and the reason for its gravity, they are given a chance to rid themselves of this sin by turning to Him and worshipping Him alone.
What will Jesus (PBUH) say on the Day of Judgement about those who worshipped him?
On the Day of Judgment, Jesus (PBUH) again will free himself from this false attribution. God gives us a glimpse of what he will say when he is asked about why people worshipped him:
“And (beware the Day) when God will say; “O Jesus, Son of Mary, did you say to the people, ‘Take me and my mother as deities besides God?’” He will say; ‘Glory be to You! It was not for me to say that to which I have no right. If I had said it, You would have known it. You know what is within myself, and I do not know what is within Yourself. Indeed, it is You who is Knower of the unseen. I said not to them except what you commanded me – to worship God, my Lord and your Lord.’” (Quran 5:116-117)
In these verses, God proclaims that ascribing to Jesus (PBUH) the attribute ‘Son of God’ or ‘part of a Trinity’ is indeed a great blasphemy.
The reason for this returns to the key fundamental assertion that God is Unique and unlike any of his creation; as well as in His Essence, He is Unique in His Divinity, His Attributes and His Lordship.
All of the above make up the strict monotheism which God revealed in His previous Scriptures.
Are there verses in the Bible which instruct its worshippers to worship God alone?
Despite the many changes within the Bible, references to monotheism (worshipping God alone) can still be found:
- The first of the Ten Commandments: “I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.” (Exodus 20:2 and Deuteronomy 5:6)
- Whilst tempted by the devil, Jesus (PBUH) is quoted in the Gospel as reaffirming pure monotheism to him; “…it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.” (Luke 4:8)
- “And Jesus answered him, the first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord.” (Mark 12:29)
Ascribing a son to God is in clear opposition to the principle of the reason behind why God made the creation and sent the prophets. God says in the Quran:
“And I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me (alone).” (Quran 51:56)
God also states:
“And We certainly sent into every nation a messenger, (saying), ‘Worship God and avoid all falsehood…’” (Quran 16:36)
Jesus’ (PBUH) mission was to invite people to worship God alone:
Jesus is a prophet in Islam and the prophets (PBUT) are indeed the best of creation as they are those whom God has chosen to receive His revelation.
Yet, with the utmost respect to them, they are only God’s messengers, and the notion of worship is reserved solely for God alone.
Throughout the Quran, Jesus (PBUH) is identified as a prophet of God sent to the Jews, who had deviated from the teachings of Moses and the other prophets (PBUT):
“And (remember) when Jesus, son of Mary, said: ‘O Children of Israel, I am the Messenger of God sent to you, confirming the Torah (which came) before me.’” (Quran 61:6)
Jesus Christ, the son of Mary, was the last in the line of the Jewish prophets (PBUT). He lived according to the Torah, the Law of Moses (PBUH), and taught his followers to do likewise. In Matthew 5:17-18, Jesus (PBUH) stated:
“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.” (Matthew 5:17)
In this aspect, he and his message were no different to that of the previous prophets chosen by God; who all called towards the worship of God alone and to obey His commandments.
Jesus (PBUH) did not die on the cross:
God clarified in the Quran that Jesus (PBUH) was not crucified; rather, it was made to seem that way to the Jews, and instead God raised him to the Heavens.
The Quran does not explain, though, who was the person crucified instead of Jesus PBUH):
“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.” (Quran 4:157-158)
As such, Islam denies that Jesus came to this earth with the purpose of sacrificing himself for the sin of Adam, Eve (PBUT), and the rest of humanity.
This is known as the ‘Original Sin’ in Christianity, and Islam strictly rejects this notion that any person bears the sin of another because that is not fair. God says:
“No bearer of burdens shall bear the burden of another.” (Quran 39:7)
Furthermore, God forgave Adam (PBUH) for what he did:
“Then Adam received from his Lord [some] words, and He accepted his repentance. Indeed, it is He who is the Accepting of repentance, the Merciful.” (Quran 2:37)
Hence, Islam stresses the notion that God is able to forgive all sins if a person truly repents and then refrains from repeating it.
God does not need any blood sacrifice for that, let alone for Him to descend in the form of a man and die for every man’s sins.
Rather, God’s mercy extends to all creatures, believers and disbelievers alike, and the door to forgiveness is open to anyone who seeks it.
“O My servants who have transgressed against themselves (by sinning), do not despair of the mercy of Allah (God). Indeed, Allah (God) forgives all sins. Indeed, it is He who is the Forgiving, the Merciful.” (Quran 39:53)
Jesus (PBUH) will return for his Second Coming:
Like the Christians, Muslims also believe in the return of Jesus the Messiah (PBUH) to earth, although his role and reason for his return does differ from what the Christians propose.
Jesus (PBUH) will return to earth first and foremost to prove his mortality and refute the false beliefs people held about him. He will live a normal life, marry, and also die as any other human.
At that point, the matter will be clear concerning him, and all people will have believed that he was truly mortal:
“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)
Jesus (PBUH) will also fight and defeat the false Christ (known as the antichrist), who will call people to the belief that he is God, and who will appear just before Jesus (PBUH) returns.
The topic of Jesus can be sensitive for some Christians because of the love they possess for him (PBUH). We Muslims also love and respect Jesus (PBUH) too.
However, it is not so much about who is right but what is right – we apologise to our Christian readers if we come across as overly critical.
That is not our aim; our aim is to ask you to look into your faith and please ponder over the questions below:
- Why do I commit blasphemy by associating a partner or child with God when He has commanded us to worship Him alone?
- Why do I place my trust and life in a Bible which has been altered so much, that it is no longer the word of God and instead over fifty different versions are now available?
- If I love Jesus (PBUH); then why do I not follow his ways? Please have a look at our ‘Some common views between Islam, Christianity and Judaism’ page for more details but these include: worshipping God alone, falling flat on ones face in prayer and not eating the meat of swine.