By Hadi Abdulmatin
This article is first of a 6-part series on Muslim view on Jesus.
One of the most fundamental belief systems in Islam is that Allah (GOD) has sent his chosen messengers and prophets to mankind in different nations and communities throughout the ages, from the time of Adam (PBUH) until His last prophet, Mohammed (PBUH). According to some Islamic traditions, there were more than 124,000 prophets who were sent by God to different nations and communities throughout human history.
Among them the most famous are Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and finally Muhammad (peace be upon them all).
Please note that when Muslims take the holy names of prophets, we always add the honorific suffix Alaihis Salaam or Peace Be upon Him or PBUH for short. This is out of love and respect for these great people. If it is missing, anywhere by chance, it should be considered implied.
Muslims respect and revere Jesus (peace be upon him). We consider him one of the greatest among God’s messengers and prophets. We believe Jesus is a prophet, messenger, word, spirit, sign and slave of God. The religious texts of Muslims, The Quran and Sunnah (teaching of Muhammad PBUH) have a lot to say about Jesus, his mother, his birth, his mission and trials and tribulations, his ascension and his return. In this brief booklet we will try to cover some of the important beliefs that Muslims hold about Jesus (PBUH) and his mission.
First we will detail who Jesus is according to the Quran, the literal word of God that prophet received, and the Sunnah, the traditions of the prophet according to Muslim belief. A Christian will not have much objection to most of these points. As such even though many of those details, incidents and stories may not appear in NT, they are not something that contradict Christian theology. However Islam not only teaches who Jesus was, it also teaches who Jesus wasn’t. So in the second section of this booklet we will detail Muslim position on who Jesus was NOT. Please realize that on certain matters, our belief system goes directly against deeply held belief systems of Christians. We don’t intend to hurt the sentiments of our Christian colleagues and neighbors; rather our only purpose is to explain our own deeply held belief in a very honest and frank manner.
We Muslim also feel that the reason Christians and Muslims differ in these matters is not because anything that Jesus himself taught, rather these differences are because of other factors such as social, theological and historical factors. Influence of St Paul on doctrines of Christianity can’t be denied either. In fact in our studies, we have come across a large body of literature which assigns St Paul the position of founder of Christianity. Our purpose again is not to go into detailed discussion on history of development of different doctrines of Christianity and what factors influenced which aspect and how we got here so different and distinct from the religion that Jesus really brought to mankind. However to cut the discussion short we will say that our primary difference is because of two approaches e.g. Jesus according to St Paul vs. Jesus according to Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Them).
Christian scholars recognize that St Paul came on scene several years after the departure of Jesus. In fact St Paul used to torture and kill Christians before his conversion according to NT. So obviously there were Christians during this interim period (between departure of Jesus and arrival of St Paul on the scene) who believed in the message of Jesus that was not influenced by St Paul. We are not aware of any Christian scholar today who claims that those followers of Jesus who were persecuted by Paul ( before he had the vision on the road to Damascus), were in any way misguided or unsaved. So there was a time when religion of Jesus was not influenced by teaching of St. Paul. That is the religion that we Muslim believe was the real religion of Jesus, a religion which was free from influences of St Paul or of anyone who had not learnt the religion directly from the master himself. If our Christians colleagues could at least allow for this room of understanding, we believe we can have much better understanding among our two faiths. We believe that by focusing on Jesus, our neighbors can really see that after all, teaching of Jesus (PBUH) is not much different from the teaching of Muhammad (PBUH).
Moreover there is a very strong theological reason for Muslims to reject non eyewitness account of Jesus (e.g. letters and epistles of St Paul and others) when dealing with Christian sources. Muslims believe that God didn’t send any other prophet between Jesus and Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Them), so claims of St Paul and others of divine inspiration and the resultant source materials that come from such claims are not acceptable from our perspective.
Narrated Abu Huraira: I heard Allah’s Apostle saying, “I am the nearest of all the people to the son of Mary, and all the prophets are paternal brothers, and there has been no prophet between me and him (i.e. Jesus).(Sahih Bukhari Volume 4, Book 55, Number 651:)
Abu Huraira reported Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) as saying: I am most akin to the son of Mary among the whole of mankind and the Prophets are of different mothers, but of one religion, and no Prophet was raised between me and him (Jesus Christ). (Sahih Muslim Book 030, Number 5834:)
We will briefly detail what we Muslims believe about Jesus (PBUH) and his message based on Quran and Sunnah in next articles. If a Muslim doesn’t believe in any of these teachings, then his faith will not be valid.
This article is part 1 of 6 in a series on Muslim view on Jesus. Read part 2: Virgin Birth and Prophethood.
- Jesus from a Muslim perspective: Who is Jesus?
- Virgin Birth and Prophethood of Jesus
- Miracles of Jesus (PBUH)
- Who is not Jesus?
- Trinity, Sin, & Salvation in Christianity: A critical review
- Did Jesus die on Cross?
Article Courtesy: American Herald Tribune
Hadi Abdulmatin is a well known speaker and activist among the Colorado interfaith community. He has been representing Islam and Muslims at several inter-religious dialogues for many years. Abdulmatin is an Information Technology professional and lives with his family in Colorado. He currently serves as the President of ICNA Southwest Region.