Islamic View of Jesus

I recently read an editorial that said that Muslims believe in the virgin birth of Christ. It is true; chapter 19 of the Quran describes the birth of John the Baptist, the Annunciation of the birth of Jesus by the angel, and the birth of Jesus. Even some so-called Christians would dispute the virgin birth!

However, that is where the similarity ends. In the Quranic account Jesus speaks from his cradle, denies his deity and in an attempt to deny that he was the Son of God declares, “It is not befitting to (the majesty of Allah that He should beget a son. Glory be to Him!” The Quran goes on to explain how he (Jesus) could be born without a father: “When He (Allah) determines a matter, He only says to it, ‘Be,’ and it is.” (Holy Quran 19:35, Yusuf Ali Translation.) The same chapter (sura)  goes on to proclaim disaster for those who say Allah has begotten a son (Quran 19:88-92), and in 9:30 the Quran calls down God’s curse on all who say Christ is the son of God. In a footnote on 19:89, Ali comments that this belief is a “stupendous blasphemy against Allah.”

The editorial goes on to say that Muslims believe that Jesus ascended into heaven. This is also true. In denying the crucifixion of Jesus, the Quran mentions that, “God raised him up unto Himself;” (Holy Quran 4:157). Some Muslims take from this that Jesus is in the presence of God. However, most Muslims believe that Jesus is in an inferior level of heaven. The Hadith are oral traditions of what Muhammad said and what he did. They have been written down, sorted and collected, and they provide much of the basis of what Muslims believe and practice. Some are more reliable than others. Various Hadith describe Jesus as being in the second or third level of heaven. One popular tradition (Miraj) tells of Muhammad’s ascension into heaven. On his way to the seventh heaven he mentions seeing Jesus and John the Baptist in the second heaven. By comparison, Adam was in the first level, Joseph greeted him in the third level, Enoch was in the fourth heaven, Aaron the fifth, and Moses was in the sixth.  He met with Allah in the seventh heaven, and the only other prophet mentioned there was Abraham.  Volume 4, Book 54, Number 429: Narrated Malik bin Sasaa: “Then we ascended into the second heaven… Then I met Jesus and Yahya (John) who said, ‘You are welcomed, O brother and a Prophet.’” From The Translation of the Meanings of Sahih Al-Bukhari by Dr. Muhammad Muhsin Khan (Medina: Islamic University of Medina, 1391 AH).

Unlike Christians who believe that Jesus is coming again to receive His Church unto Himself, establish His kingdom, defeat Satan and the Anti-Christ, and judge the nations, Muslims believe that Jesus is returning to establish Islam as the world’s religion, marry,  father children, die, and wait to be resurrected and judged like all people. According to Muslim belief, Jesus will break all the crosses, kill all the swine in the world and help to establish Islam as God’s true religion.

The editorial further asserts that the Fatiha, or the first chapter (sura) in the Quran is a prayer that mirrors the Lord’s Prayer. Some Christians say that they could pray the Fatiha with no problem. That may be so, but it would hold different meaning. Both prayers give praise to God, ask for God’s will to be done and petition God for provision, peace, and deliverance from sin or committing sins. The difference might seem slight, but it stems from a vast difference in the understanding of sin and salvation. The Lord’s Prayer asks God to forgive us of our sins. This request is rooted in the belief that man is sinful, and only God forgives sin. The Fatiha requests God to show the right way, the way that leads to God’s grace not his wrath. Muslims are concerned with guidance. This Arabic word is huge in Islamic theology. They believe that the Quran guides them and gives them enough information to make right decisions and thereby please God. Unlike Christians who believe that humans are born with a sinful nature, Muslims believe that all people are born innocent, free of sin. They commit sins, but they do not have a sinful nature. In fact, some Muslim scholars go so far to say that all babies in the world are born Muslims, and it is their environment, i.e. parents, country, culture, religion, that pulls them away from being true Muslims and becoming Christians, Hindus, etc.

Furthermore, the Fatiha reveals a major difference concerning what Muslims and Christians believe about revelation. Christians believe that the Bible reveals God. Christians are concerned with a relationship with God. Muslims believe that the Quran reveals God’s will and law. Muslims must obey God and submit to His will. Thus, Muslims are not concerned about regeneration, redemption, or atonement; they are concerned about guidance so they can make the right choices.

Christians believe that Jesus is deity. He is the Son of God, crucified, buried, resurrected, ascended to heaven, sitting at the right hand of God and exalted (Acts 2:22-36). Only Jesus’s atonement provides salvation. The attempt to strip Jesus of his deity and leave him as a mere human erodes the basic Christian concept of the nature of God. Anything less than a concept of God that includes Jesus as the Son of God is not the same God I worship.

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