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Who is Jesus according to Islam? 

While visiting the Mosque in Mission Viejo, CA I was very interested to learn what Islam teaches about Jesus.  After carefully listening to the Imam’s presentation, talking with him and his associates, and reading the literature they handed out, I did research of my own to discover the Jesus of Islam.  

Muslims have great respect for Jesus and consider him “the Hebrew Messiah and the last great Hebrew prophet (peace be upon him).”  In fact, they say that you cannot be a Muslim unless you believe in Jesus. But like the fact that Allah of the Koran and the God of the Bible are not the same God; the Jesus of the Koran and the Jesus of the Bible are not the same Jesus.  The Muslim Jesus (Isa) is not the Son of God who came to Earth in the Incarnation which we are about to celebrate.  He is not our Lord and Savior.  He did not die on a cross to atone for our sins, and was not resurrected to give us eternal life. (In Islam you have to save yourself — Sura 6:51, 70; 10:3).  Jesus was just another of the “Hebrew” prophets.  Muhammad is superior to Jesus and is “the true and final Prophet of God for all mankind.”  In fact, his coming was foretold by Jesus himself.

I wanted to compare the Muslim Jesus (Isa) to Muhammad from what Islam teaches about them.  According to the Koran, Isa is considered to have supernatural attributes whereas Muhammad is not, e.g., he performed miracles.  Isa possessed superior ethical attributes to Muhammad (apparently Muhammad’s shortcomings are of little concern).  A comparison shows clearly that the Muslim Jesus is superior in attribute and character to Muhammad, but Muslims obviously don’t draw that conclusion.  A discussion of that could provide a good starting point for Muslim evangelism and lead them to finding the real Jesus.

A Comparison of the Muslim Jesus (Isa) with Muhammad

 This information drawn from the Koran and other Islamic sources is helpful to the Christian in two ways:  (1) You will not be tempted into believing that the Muslim Jesus Isa is the Jesus of the Bible, and (2) the historical Jesus is our best starting point for Muslim evangelism. 

  • Jesus (Isa) was miraculously conceived by God and born to a virgin. 

 Contrast … Muhammad was the natural product of the sexual union of a mother and father. 

  • Isa was the Son of Mary (their favorite title for Jesus), a woman who was the sister of Moses and Aaron (Sura 19:28).  She was alone under a date palm in late summer when she gave birth to Isa (Sura 19:22). 

Contrast … Miriam, not Mary, was the sister of Moses and Aaron and lived 1400 years before the NT Mary.  It is commonplace throughout the Koran for biblical characters to be mixed up and placed together hundreds of years apart.

  • Isa’s birth, death and ascension were prophesied hundreds of years before his birth. 

Contrast… there are no prophesies concerning Muhammad.

  • Isa was faultless (sinless). 

Contrast… Muhammad was anything but.  He was human.  Allah commanded him to repent of his sins (Sura 40:55; 48:1-2).  Muhammad had all sorts of “faults” according to the Islamic records (below).

  • Isa performed many miracles throughout his entire lifetime. 

Contrast…. Muhammad never performed a single miracle (Sura 17:91-95).

  • Isa was the highest moral example for humanity. 

Contrast …  you will discover in the Koran and the Hadith (recollections of Muhammad’s eords and deeds), that Muhammad was a warrior who lied, cheated, lusted and murdered (Sura 2:216-18; 5:33; 9:5, 29).

  • Isa never possessed worldly goods to distract him from his mission. 

Contrast … Muhammad amassed fabulous wealth by looting caravans, settlements and conquering cities.  

  • Isa’s disciples went on peaceful missionary journeys after his death. 

Contrast … Muhammad’s disciples went on a hundred year crusade to conquer Iraq, Persia, Syria, Egypt, Cyprus, North Africa, Palestine, Spain and into the Byzantine Empire and India.  They were on their way to conquering Europe until they were stopped 100 miles south of France. 

Contrast … what they did with conquered people.  If those conquered were “People of the Book” i.e., Jews or Christians, they were given the  option to convert to Islam or they became 2nd class citizens (Dhimmis).  People of other religions, e.g. Hindus, Zoroastrians, etc., had to convert to Islam or die.

  • Isa committed no sexual sin.  

Contrast …. Muhammad engaged in gross sexual sin.  He had at least 16 wives and 6 concubines;  one of his “wives” was 8 years old (according to the Hadith she was “still playing with her dolls”).   And in an egregious act, he forcibly took his adopted son’s wife as his own after lusting after her.  Muhammad never repented of this.

  • Isa was sinless and miraculously taken to heaven (ascension).  He is now in heaven with Allah waiting to return to judge the quick and the dead at his 2nd coming (in other words, Jesus is alive!). 

Contrast …  Muhammad died in his sins and remains dead. 

  • Isa spread the Good News (Injeel) by teaching his disciples to witness and set a high moral example.  

Contrast … Muhammad taught his disciples to rob in Allah’s name and forced people to submit to Islam through jihad (over 150 verses in the Koran).

  • God directly rescued Isa from death.  Islam teaches that the Romans attempted to crucify Jesus but “he slipped away” and they mistakenly executed Judas (or some unknown person) instead. 

Contrast… Allah did not rescue Muhammad from death.  Muhammad’s life was abruptly ended; apparently assassinated by a Jewish woman.

  • Isa left detailed instructions for what his disciples were to do after his death. 

Contrast … death caught Muhammad by surprise.  He left no succession plans.  Immediately this became a huge point of contention between warring factions (Sunni and Shiite being the most prominent); and remains so to this day.

 

In the final analysis the Bible teaches that the historical Jesus is love incarnate, taught love, and loved humanity so much that He gave His life for each one of us.  There is no record in the Koran of Muhammad teaching love.  Instead he taught conquest and died for no one other than himself.

The question left hanging for our Muslim friend is, based on their own teaching, why would Muhammad be considered the “true and last Prophet of God for all humanity” rather than Jesus?  

Beyond the comparison the most important thing for the Muslim to know is that God loves them so much that He sent Jesus to die for them.  Since Muslims believe in a historical Jesus (regardless of how flawed their understanding might be), Jesus is the place to start the dialog with your Muslim friend.  But know that they have been taught that it is blasphemous for Christians to claim that Jesus is the Son of God and is the very incarnation of God — the core tenant of our faith.

Please click on Leave a Comment and share with us your perspective.         

Or feel free to Ask a Question.

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6 Comments

  1. Stuart, This is very informative and gives a clear picture of the basic differences between Jesus and Muhammad. It is amazing that they actually give testimony to Christ and his superiority to their beloved Muhammad without realizing what they are saying! How ironic. Helping them to see that is also another place to go when evangelizing Muslims. Isn’t it amazing how blinded those are who refuse to accept and believe in Christ and what He stands for? Even the Jews eyes and ears are blinded to all the prophecy He fulfilled. Praise God we have been given the opportunity to see the truth – it makes you realize anew what a gift we have been given! God bless you Stuart as you study and research these meaninglful and timely topics for us. Sandra

  2. I commend you for visiting a mosque. It is important for Christians to take the time to listen and learn about Islam from Muslims so we can better present the Gospel of Jesus Christ. As you point out in your post – the death of Jesus on the cross for the forgiveness of sin is central to Christianity. That Jesus came to save His people from sin is the meaning that the angel Gabriel gave to Jesus’ Name,

    “But after he [Joseph] had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:20-21).

    Muslims say they believe in Jesus, but they don’t believe in the Jesus of history. For example, Jesus testified under oath that He was the Son of God (Matthew 26:63-64). However, the Qur’an does not affirm that Jesus is the Son of God but says instead that such belief is perverse and accursed (Qur’an 5:17; 9:30; 10:68; 19:88-92).

    Thanks again for your good work!
    Aaron

  3. re:Isa was the Son of Mary who was the sister of Moses and Aaron (Sura 9:28).
    I think you meant 19:28, not 9:28.
    But I think it says Mary was a descendant of Aaron, not sister.
    I don’t know Arabic. Perhaps the word is ambiguous. For example, In English we could say two people were of the same “family” and mean “immediate sibling” or “share a common ancestor.”

    But maybe I’m missing something. Are there other references, when taken together, infer Aaron and Isa’s mother were sisters?

    Warmest regards.

    • Chuck,

      In Islamic writings there is strong evidence that Muhammad originally meant the “literal sister of Aaron (the brother of Moses)”. But when Muhammad was confronted by the Arabic Christians to be in obvious error, he changed his meaning of the text to that of “metaphorical.” There has been confusion and controversy ever since. No Muslim apologist will admit that either the Koran or Muhammad made an error, but the evidence is there (Encyclopedia Britannica 13:479).

      Also note that it is not uncommon for anachronisms to occur throughout the Koran. Examples include: Abraham being contemporaneous with Nimrod; Haman with Moses; Noah’s flood taking place in the day of Moses; and the Tower of Babel being built at the time of Pharaoh.

      Thank you for your insightful comment — and for pointing out the typo (fixed).

      Stu

    • George Giacumakis
    • Posted December 3, 2010 at 11:06 am
    • Permalink
    • Reply

    Stu:

    I appreciate so much your visit to the Mission Viejo mosque, and your comparison of Jesus to Allah and to Muhammad. I agree with your analysis, but I still wrestle with language. Since the word “Allah” means “God” in Arabic, the Christian Arab use the word “Allah” for the Lord God of the Scriptures.

    So we must be careful how we explain the difference.

    Thanks again for your apologetic writings.

    George Giacumakis

    • Thank you Dr. George for making sure that we are sensitive to whom we are speaking. You are the scholar in this area and I agee. On the other hand, my concern as an apologist is to help people understand that even though “Allah” and “God” might have the same name across languages, they do not have the same nature.


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