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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.

It was a rainy Sunday afternoon.  The mosque in Mission Viejo, California was hosting an open house, so with all the current interest in Islam we decided to pay a visit.  A well-groomed young Muslim boy walked out to our car with an umbrella and respectfully ushered us into a well appointed building.  A dozen or so smiling faces of Middle-Eastern descent greeted us — the men mostly in business casual attire, and the woman with head scarves.  It reminded us of attending an event at any local church.

We had many questions and they were eager to provide answers.  Book tables lined the entry.  Friendly people milled around us with a willingness to engage in conversation.  Then the announcement came that in a few minutes the head imam would make a presentation.  We went into the assembly hall with the forty or so folks who had similar suburbanite backgrounds to ourselves.

The imam was well dressed and brandished a huge smile telling us that he was from a small country in Northeast Africa.  He was a likeable fellow and a polished speaker.  He said that we were free to ask any questions and that nothing was off-limits.  He was my kind of person — I couldn’t wait to engage!

 The first 20 minutes or so was getting to know these new neighbors as friends: tolearn their history and the purpose of the mosque; how they serve the community and are faithful citizens.  He easily broke down any stereotypes I might have had that Muslims were somehow different.  No — they too were made in God’s image.  I was getting more comfortable with their different look, dress, language, and traditions.  However, in the following 20 minutes I started becoming uncomfortable as he addressed the tenants of Islam.

I have studied Islam to some degree.  I respect its differences with Christianity and can agree to disagree agreeably with Islam.  But what made me uncomfortable was the ease with which the imam smoothly glided over these differences, attempting to make Islam and Christianity seem like variations of the same religion.  For example, he and others later on misleadingly said:

  • We’re both monotheistic religions and both believe in the same God
  • The Bible was given by God and accepted by Muslims
  • All the OT prophets (Noah, Moses, Abraham, etc.) are indeed messengers of God and are respected as such by Muslims
  • Jesus was the greatest in the long-line of Hebrew prophets.  He had a miraculous birth,  performed many miracles and delivered “the gospel” (good news). 
  • Muhammad was the last of the prophets and the final revelation to mankind.
  • Each of these many Messengers spoke a different language and followed varied customs.  Yet the core faith taught by each was the same: surrender your imperfect and fickle will to your Creator.

The following Q&A was lively and engaging.  The imam has a regular TV program and was able to effortlessly handle the increasingly difficult questions coming his way:

  • What do you say about the Islamic terrorists?
  • Will there be the reward of 72 virgins in heaven?
  • Why don’t the moderate Muslims speak out against the radicals?
  • What’s your personal opinion about building the Mosque at Ground Zero?

Unfortunately my experience was becoming more like a Islamic PR campaign, and it started feeling like purposeful manipulation.  For example — Allah and YHWH are the same God. 

Allah is not the God of the Bible

They said that “Allah” is just the Arabic word for “God” and that Allah is the God of the Bible.  Not true –and it was deceptive how it was presented.  Yes — both Islam and Christianity are monotheistic (one God) religions, but their conception of God is fundamentally different even though they may have several similar attributes (e.g. God is the Creator). 

The Koran says:

“Allah is One, the Eternal God.  He begot none, nor was He begotten.  None is equal to Him” (Sura 112:1-4)

However, the God of the Bible says,

“I am the LORD (YHWH), that is My name; I will not give My glory to another” (Isaiah 42:8)

“I am the first and I am the last, and there is no God besides Me” (Isaiah 44:6)

“You are My witnesses,” declares YHWH … “I am the LORD: there is no savior besides Me” (Isaiah 43:10)

When there was an opportunity to discuss this with one of the leaders I said, “I respect your religion and how you are giving your children a good moral education” (we were impressed with what we saw in their School), “but let us not say that we worship the same God.  Our God is Triune, yours is not.  Our God was incarnate in Jesus Christ, yours was not.  In fact, you consider the incarnation blasphemous.  You do not worship YHWH and we do not worship Allah.  So either YHWH is God or Allah is God — or both of us are wrong.  I accept and respect those differences.  I can only hope you do too.”  After some discussion he sheepishly admitted that he attended a Catholic school when he was growing up in Pakistan; and that he knew the difference.  It appeared that he also knew (without admitting it) that Muslim evangelists say that Allah is just another name for the God of the Bible as propaganda to convert Westerners to Islam.

All in all it was a positive experience as I connected with those of a different culture and was able to see them as people for whom Christ died.  It increased my respect for Muslims as neighbors and American citizens.  At the same time it brought home that Christians need to understand the differences between the two religions, and not be swayed by attempts to eliminate or minimize those differences.  In this post-modern and politically correct age that is becoming increasingly difficult to do.

In future posts I will discuss the differences between the Koran and the Bible,  Jesus, the Prophets and Muhammad. 

Please Post a Comment and share with us your perspective, as well as any questions you may have.