Jesus is highly revered in Islam and Christianity. Although the religions today are different, their origins were the same, and so should have been the beliefs. Many are aware of the fundamental difference that Islam regards Jesus as a prophet of God, while Christians believe Jesus was/is God, son of God, or part of the trinity.
However, there are more details. In this article, we will look at the Qur’anic expositions and draw upon an independent historical reference to provide clarity on Islamic and Christian beliefs.
What Islam Says About Jesus
- Jesus was born miraculously to Mary.
- Mary was a chaste virgin. She was chosen above all women to give birth to God’s messenger.
- God revealed the Injeel (Gospel) to Jesus, just as He revealed Torah to Moses and Zaboor (Psalms) to David and the Qur’an to Muhammad (peace be upon them all).
- Jesus will return and rule the earth with justice establishing God’s laws.
- When Jesus returns, he will kill Dajjal (the False Messiah).
- Jesus, by the will of God, cured the lepers, healed the blind, brought the dead back to life, and spoke when he was a child in cradle. These are miracles that God gave to Jesus, just as He gave miracles to all His prophets.
Differences between Islam and Christianity
1. Messenger of God, not son of God
Islam says Jesus was a Messenger of God, like the many other messengers that were sent to deliver the divine message. All messengers called people to worship the One True Almighty God – the All-Powerful Creator –, as He alone deserves to be worshiped, and that no creation has a share in His divinity.
The Qur’an mentions what Jesus said to his people:
“Truly, God is my Lord and your Lord, so worship Him (Alone). This is a Straight Path.” (Qur’an, 3:51)
According to the Bible, this was the first commandment given to Moses, and Jesus testified to this.
Christians believe in all prophets and messengers before Jesus, but when it comes to Jesus, they believe he was God’s son. God says in the Qur’an:
“It befits not (the Majesty of) God that He should beget a son. Glorified (and Exalted) is He (above all that they associate with Him). When He decrees a thing, He only says to it: ‘Be!’ – and it is.”(Qur’an, 19:35)
“The Messiah (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary), was no more than a Messenger; many were the Messengers that passed away before him. His mother (Mary) was a Siddiqah (i.e. she believed in the Words of God and His Books). They both used to eat food (as any other human being, while God does not eat). Look how We make the Ayat (proofs, lessons) clear to them; yet look how they are deluded away (from the truth).” (Qur’an, 5:75)
The fact that Jesus was born miraculously does not make him divine or the “son of God.” Creating someone without a father is easy for the Creator, as He created the universe from nothing. He merely says “Be” and it comes into existence.
“Verily, the likeness of (Jesus) before God is the likeness of Adam. He created him from dust, then (He) said to him: ‘Be!’ – and he was. (This is) the truth from your Lord, so be not of those who doubt.” (Qur’an, 3:59-60)
2. Oneness of God, not Trinity
Islam does not approve of the concept of trinity. According to Trinitarian Christianity, the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, despite being three separate beings, are one God, or are “three persons in one single Godhead.”
Encyclopedia Britannica states:
“Neither the word Trinity nor the explicit doctrine appears in the New Testament, nor did Jesus and his followers intend to contradict the Shema in the Hebrew Scriptures: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord” (Deuteronomy 6:4) […] The doctrine developed gradually over several centuries and through many controversies.”
Islam says God is One. This oneness is meant in the most straightforward sense of the word. God has no children, no parents, and no partners equal (or even comparable) to Him. He is Unique and none of His creation share in His divine right to sole worship.
Like numerous historical religious accounts, Islam asserts that the belief that “God is three” was not taught by any of the prophets or messengers. The message was always the same: “God is One”. It was only in later years that the Trinitarian doctrine was introduced to Christianity – a fact acknowledge by many Unitarians among Christians today.
“O People of the Scripture, do not commit excess in your religion, nor say about God except the truth. The Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary, was but a messenger of God and His Word which He directed to Mary and a spirit (Ruh) created by Him. So believe in God and His messengers. And do not say, “Three” (trinity); Cease! – it is better for you. Indeed, Allah is but one God. Exalted is He above having a son. To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth. And sufficient is Allah as Disposer of affairs.” (Qur’an, 4:171)
When God says that Jesus is His “Word,” He refers to the command “Be” through which God created him. When God refers to Jesus as a “spirit,” He refers to the soul through which Jesus came into existence.
3. Raised up, not Crucified
Regarding the death of Jesus, Islam says he was neither crucified nor killed on the cross, but God raised him up alive. Jesus was saved from the shame and torture his enemies wanted to inflict on him. However, God made it appear to the people that Jesus was crucified.
“And because of their (Jews) saying (in boast), “We killed Messiah Jesus, son of Mary, the Messenger of God,” – but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but the resemblance of Jesus was put over another man (and they killed that man), and those who differ therein are full of doubts. They have no (certain) knowledge, they follow nothing but conjecture. For surely; they killed him not.
“But God raised him (Jesus) up (with his body and soul) unto Himself (and he is in the heavens). And God is Ever All Powerful, All Wise.” (Qur’an, 4:157-158)
Since Jesus (peace be upon) did not die, and since every soul shall taste death, he will return to earth, complete his lifetime and die as every other messenger. When he returns, however, he will follow the law of Muhammad (peace be upon him) – the last and the most complete form of existing divine legislation.
4. Muhammad is the Final Messenger
Lastly, Christians do not believe in Muhammad (peace be upon him) as the last and final prophet of God. Whereas all previous prophets were sent to a specific group of people, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was sent to all humanity due to his role as the final prophet on earth. Prophet Muhammad came with the Qur’an, the final revelation, clarifying the differences and disagreements amongst religious groups and calling people to the same message of all prophets: to worship God alone and to believe in the prophet He sent.
The message of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) struck a balance between Jews, who disbelieved and vilified Jesus, and Christians, who in their extreme love and respect for their prophet exaggerated his status to that of God. His message called people to believe in all prophets without making distinction between them.
The Last Messenger, who was prophesied in the previous scriptures, is the Prophet of Islam. Islam, which simply means to submit to God.
God says that Jesus said to his people,
“O Children of Israel! I am the Messenger of God unto you confirming the Torah (which came) before me, and giving glad tidings of a Messenger to come after me, whose name shall be Ahmad. But when he (Ahmad i.e. Muhammad, peace be upon him) came to them with clear proofs, they said: ‘This is plain magic’.”(Qur’an, 61:6)
True Message of Jesus
As millions of Christians worldwide prepare to celebrate Christmas in the name of Jesus, it is beneficial to reflect on the true nature of Jesus’ life and message.
God says (its meaning in English):
“And when God will say (on the Day of Resurrection): “O Jesus, son of Mary! Did you say unto men: ‘Worship me and my mother as gods besides God?’ “ He [Jesus] will say: “Glory be to You! It was not for me to say what I had no right (to say). Had I said such a thing, You would surely have known it. You know what is in my inner-self though I do not know what is in Yours, truly, You, only You, are the All-Knower of all that is hidden and unseen.
“Never did I say to them aught except what You did command me to say: ‘Worship God, my Lord and your Lord.’ And I was a witness over them while I dwelt amongst them, but when You took me up, You were the Observer over them, and You are a Witness to all things.” (Qur’an, 5:116-117)
Thus, numerous religious practices, like praying to Jesus, worshiping the cross, and making idols of “god” (which is an overt form of paganism), all contradict Jesus’ teachings and have consequently given rise to a religion different from that practiced by Jesus himself.
By embracing the final, uncorrupted revelation of God—the Quran—Muslims worldwide follow the true message that Jesus, a message that was taught by all prophets of God.
Read also: 106 Reasons: ‘Why I Converted to Islam’