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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.

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He’s thought of as the smartest man — or at least the smartest man in theoretical physics.  Stephen Hawking, the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge University for 30 years, has just released his new  book — The Grand Design.  In it he  says there is no need for God, and that the universe (including you and me) have been created out of nothing.  He says he has solved the mystery of creation and believes that mankind’s salvation  will be found through time travel in the universe.  “We’re real close to understanding the theory of everything and when the scientific account is complete, theology will be unnecessary.”

What I find most fascinating about his pronouncements is that they are not scientific.  Rather they are statements of philosophy and speculative ponderings.  But most people think (and he is happy to project) the backing of the authority of science.  Here is where the Christian can be wise and expose the “bait and switch” taking place. 

As Professor Hawking makes his rounds promoting his latest book and appearing on Larry King Live and Good Morning America, et. al., people sit wrapped in awe taking his conclusions as fact.  He is certainly entitled to his opinion about God, but know what he is proclaiming is not science even though it’s portrayed as such. 

Here are six points that show his statements are non-scientific —

1. Observational science is based on corroborating evidence.  If there is any one fact of science known with certainty it is that “nothing comes from nothing.”  So why would Hawking make such an apparently ridiculous claim?  Because he can make his mathematical models say so.  You see you can play games with numbers and show practically anything you want.  You’ve heard that said about statistics; well it is just as true in physics (e.g. ponder sometime what zero divided be zero means in the physical world; or even what the physical significance of “infinity” is).  Hawking’s alleged “proofs” consist of mathematic and philosophic speculation.

2.  Hawking says life arose spontaneously on earth therefore it arose spontaneously throughout the universe.  On this one he’s way out of his field of cosmology.  The most ardent evolutionary biologists have no idea of how life arose on earth let alone on planets trillions of miles away.  They don’t know how living things came out of non-living things.  We have even less knowledge of how our own consciousness arose.  As Einstein once commented, “The only thing incomprehensible about the universe is that it is comprehensible.”  Once again Hawking is making speculative assumptions.

3.  The physics behind his conclusions stem from what is called the “Multiverse Hypothesis.”  When he says “the mystery of creation of the universe has been solved,” you are led to think that science has found an alternative to God; but that is not what he means.  What he really is saying is that he believes our universe is just one of many — perhaps an infinite number of — universes.  Ours “just happens” to be the one where our laws of physics work the way they do.  It’s like if you had an infinite number of spins on a roulette wheel — you are bound to find the winning number no matter how you defined it.  Scientifically this is a meaningless statement, as well as anti-scientific.  Hawking admits “there is no evidence for this” but  he doesn’t tell you that it is not even possible to find out anything about these supposed alternate universes.  We are locked into our own universe by our own physical laws.  Sure we can play with the mathematics and wax philosophically, but that has nothing to do with scientific reality.

4.  In Hawking’s multiverse theory there are many — even an infinite number — of possible histories and possible states.  There can even be a universe exactly like this one but where he doesn’t exist!  I know that sounds like the Twilight Zone, and is certainly fun entertainment, but it doesn’t lend much to his scientific credibility nor trusting his conclusions.

5.  He says, there is no need for God because our universe “just happens” to be the one that works.  Out of this  infinite sea of universes ours “just happens” to have the “just right” laws of physics; ” the “just right” conditions where life will spontaneously arise out of non-life; the one universe with the “just right” tuning of all possible physical laws; and the one that “just happens” to possess within itself all the answers (by unknown mechanisms) to our being conscious; having a conscience; pondering a soul; requiring  meaning and purpose, as well as the answers to our ultimate questions of “Why?”.  Where does the longing in our hearts for God and love, eternity and truth, goodness and beauty come from?  The great questions regarding our existence are the grist by which we live our daily lives, even if just by assumption.  Hawking’s answers are certainly possible but are not backed by anything scientific.

6.  Remember Carl Sagan and his Cosmos series on TV.  The show’s byline was,  “The Cosmos is all there is; all there ever was; and all there will ever be.”  For Sagan, the Cosmos was his god.  Professor Hawking has only raised the stakes.  To him, the “Universes” are all there is, all there ever was, and all there will be.  They have no beginning and no end.  But philosophic Universes and Cosmoses are only Sagan and Hawking’s conceptions of God, not scientific reality.  Hawking shows his hand when he says that “since we are part of this universe, we are in a sense lords of creation.”  That is not science — it is theological speculation.  I pray the Creator bless him in his struggle to find the true and living God.

I’m delighted Stephen Hawking has raised this question and that his book is selling well (currently #2 on NY Times Best Selling List).  It brings to attention the most basic questions we all wrestle with, but usually don’t discuss in public:  How did we get here?  Why is there something rather than nothing?  Why are we here?  Where are we going?  This is great engagement material for Christians who, unlike Hawking, have special information given by the Creator Himself. 

We are all struggling to know the answers to the great questions.  Hawking’s book provides a wonderful opportunity  for us to put forth our biblical worldview.  But we must be prepared to understand the Grand Design arguments and be able to show why they aren’t so grand after all.  Understanding the six points above will help you show why the Grand Design isn’t fact, even if it comes from the mind of the smartest man in the world.

Please leave you comments and join in on the discussion.