Isa Ibn Maryam (Arabic: عيسى بن مريم, translit. ʿĪsā ibn Maryām; English: Jesus, son of Mary), or Jesus in the New Testament, is considered to be a Messenger of God and al-Masih (the Messiah) in Islam who was sent to guide the Children of Israel (banī isrā'īl) with a new scripture, al-Injīl (the Gospel). To aid in his ministry to the Jewish people, Jesus was given the ability to perform miracles (such as healing various ailments like blindness, raising the dead to life, casting out demons, etc.), all according to God's will. No other prophet in Islam has ever been credited with these powers. According to the Qur'an, though it appeared as though Jesus was crucified, in fact he was not killed, neither by crucifixion nor by any other means. From a simple view many believe this represents a fundamental disagreement with Christian views. Others believe linguistic and theological rigors have not been sufficiently applied to be able so conclusively to divide these two communities from one another regarding the person of Jesus. The English interpretation of the The Qur'an says "God raised him (Jesus) unto Himself," a concept that comports with the Gospel message of Isa ascending into heaven. In the 19th Sura of the Qur'an (verse 33), Jesus is reported to have said "And peace is on me the day I was born and the day I will die and the day I am raised alive," a similar statement that John the Baptist declared a few verses earlier in the same Sura. Muslim tradition believes this to mean Jesus will experience a natural death with all mankind after returning to earth, being raised to life again on the day of judgment. Jesus is unique for being the only prophet in Islam who neither married nor had any children.
Muslims believe that Jesus will return to earth near the Day of Judgment to restore justice and to defeat al-Masih ad-Dajjal ("the false messiah", also known as the Antichrist). Jesus will not return as a new prophet; Muhammad was the final prophet. Jesus will continue from where he left off at the time of his ascension. He will live for another forty years before dying a natural death.
Islam teaches that Jesus is a prophet. Jesus clearly is a significant figure in the Qur'an, appearing in 93 ayaat (or verses) with various titles and assignations. Moses appears 136 times and Abraham 69 times.1 The Qur'an states that Jesus was born a 'pure boy' to Mary (Arabic: Maryam) as the result of virginal conception. According to the Qur'an the birth of Jesus was a miraculous event, which occurred by the decree of God the Creator (Arabic: Allah). This is consistent with prophesy in the Hebrew Bible, Isaiah 7:14 and referenced in the New Testament passages Matthew 1:18-25 and Luke 1:26-38.
Like all prophets in Islam, Jesus is considered a Muslim (i.e., one who submits to the will of God). He taught his followers to adopt the "straight path" as commanded by God. Islam rejects classical Christian Trinitarianism and the view that Jesus was God incarnate. The Qur'an says that Jesus himself never himself made such claims, and furthermore that Jesus will deny ever having claimed divinity, and at the Last Judgment God will vindicate Jesus.2 Islamic texts forbid the notion that God can have "partners." (shirk). Islam is most strict emphasizing that God is singular, or "one" (tawhīd).
Among the many titles given Jesus in the Qur'an and in Islamic literature, the most common is al-Masīḥ ("the Messiah"). At times Jesus also is called "Seal of the Israelite Prophets", because of the Muslim belief that Jesus was the last prophet sent by God to guide the Children of Israel. Jesus is understood in Islam to have been a precursor to Muhammad, and is believed by some Muslims to have foretold the latter's coming. Certain Muslim scholars however, say that this prophecy (which appears in the Chapter Al-Saff verse six) refers to Ahmad. Islamic scholars see this as the controversial mistranslation of the term Paraclete from Greek to Arabic.
BirthJesus' lineage, going back to his great-grandfather.
The Qur'anic account of Jesus begins with a prologue that describes the birth of his mother Mary, and the services she performed in the Jerusalem temple, while under the care of prophet and priest Zechariah, father of John the Baptist.3 The Qur'an then goes on to describe Jesus' conception. Mary, desribed in the Qur'an as chosen by God over the women of all the worlds, conceived Jesus while still a virgin.
It is generally agreed that Jesus spoke Aramaic, the common language of Judea in the first century C.E.4
Mary had withdrawn into the Temple, where she was visited by the angel Gabriel (Arabic: Jibrail) who brought her "glad tidings" of a holy son.5 The Qur'an states that God sent the message through the angel Gabriel to Mary. The angel told Mary that she would give birth to a pure son, named Isa (Jesus), who would be a great prophet, through whom God would give the Gospel. The angel further told Mary that Jesus would speak in infancy and in maturity would be companion to the most righteous. When this news was given to Mary, she asked the angel how she could conceive and have a child when no man had touched her.6 The angel replied: "Even so: Allah createth what He willeth: When He hath decreed a plan, He but saith to it, 'Be,' and it is!"7 The Qur'an, therefore, states that Jesus was created from the act of God's will. The Qur'an compares this miraculous creation of Jesus with the creation of Adam, where God created Adam by His act of will (kun-fa-yakun, meaning "Be and it is.").8 According to the Qur'an, the same answer was given to the question of Zechariah, when he asked how his wife, Elizabeth, could conceive a baby, as she was very old.9
Birth of JesusVirgin Mary nurtured by a palm tree, as described in the Qur'an.
The Qur'an narrates the virgin birth of Jesus numerous times.
In Qur'an, When the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary: 19:16 And mention, O Muhammad, in the Book the story of Mary, when she withdrew from her family to a place toward the east. 19:17 And she took, in seclusion from them, a screen. Then We sent to her Our Angel, and he represented himself to her as a well-proportioned man. 19:18 She said, "Indeed, I seek refuge in the Most Merciful from you, so leave me, if you should be fearing of Allah ." 19:19 He said, "I am only the messenger of your Lord to give you news of a pure boy." 19:20 She said, "How can I have a boy while no man has touched me and I have not been unchaste?" 19:21 He said, "Thus it will be; your Lord says, 'It is easy for Me, and We will make him a sign to the people and a mercy from Us. And it is a matter already decreed.' "
The Qur'an states that Mary was overcome by the pains of childbirth. During her agony and helplessness, God provided a stream of water under her feet from which she could drink. Furthermore, near a palm tree, Mary was told to shake the trunk of the palm tree so that ripe dates would fall down and she could eat and be nourished. Mary cried in pain and held onto the palm tree, at which point a voice came from "beneath her," understood by some to refer to Jesus, who was yet in her womb, which said, "Grieve not! Your Lord has provided a water stream under you; And shake the trunk of the palm tree, it will let fall fresh ripe dates upon you. And eat and drink and calm thy mind." That day, Mary gave birth to her son Jesus in the middle of the desert.
The Qur'anic narrative continues: Mary carried baby Jesus back to her people. She vowed not to speak to anyone that day. Muslims hold that Jesus' first miracle is that he spoke in the cradle. Mary then brought Jesus to the temple, where she immediately was ridiculed by all the temple elders. Zechariah however, who believed in the virgin birth, supported her. The elders accused Mary of being a loose woman and of having touched another man while unmarried. In response, Mary pointed to her son, telling them to talk to him. They were angered at this and thought she was mocking them, by asking them to speak with an infant. It was then that God made the infant Jesus speak from the cradle and he spoke of his prophecy for the first time. He said, (as found in verses 19:30-33 in the chapter of Mary in the Qur'an):
He said: "I am indeed a servant of Allah: He hath given me revelation and made me a prophet;Qur'an, sura 19 Maryam, ayat 30-3310
And He hath made me blessed wheresoever I be, and hath enjoined on me Prayer and Charity as long as I live;
(He) hath made me kind to my mother, and not overbearing or miserable;
So peace is on me the day I was born, the day that I die, and the day that I shall be raised up to life (again)!"
MissionThe Jordan river, where some Muslim accounts narrate that Jesus met with Yahya ibn Zakariyya (otherwise known as John the Baptist).11
According to Islamic texts, Jesus was divinely chosen to preach the message of monotheism and submission to the will of God to the Children of Israel (banī isrā'īl).
The miracle of Jesus speaking in the cradle is not only mentioned in the Qur'an but also mentioned in the Syriac Infancy Gospel. After this miracle, Jewish priests came to feel this child Jesus was dangerous. They feared that the people would turn to worship Allah, and disavow existing Jewish tenets, thus causing the priests to lose their authority over the people. Therefore, they kept the miracle of Jesus's speech in infancy secret, and continued to accuse Mary of her great misdeed.
As Jesus grew, the signs of prophethood increased. When he was twelve years old, he accompanied his mother to Jerusalem. There he wandered into the temple and joined a crowd listening to lectures from Rabbis there. The audience were all adults, but Jesus was not afraid to sit with them. After listening intently, he asked questions and expressed his opinion. The learned rabbis were disturbed by the boy's boldness and were puzzled by questions he asked. They could not answer his questions. They tried to silence him, but Jesus pressed on and continued to express his views. Jesus became so involved in this exchange that he forgot he was expected back home.
While this was going on, his mother left for home thinking that Jesus might have gone back with relatives or friends. When she arrived, she discovered that he was not there, so she returned to the city to look for him. At last she found him in the temple, sitting among the learned, conversing with them. He appeared to be quite at ease, as if he had been doing this all his life. Mary got angry with him for causing her worry. He tried to assure her that all the arguing and debating with the learned had made him forget the time.12
According to Islamic historians, the Jews made many things unlawful on the Sabbath; even self-defense or calling a doctor to save someone ill. They held that even through Pharisees were guardians of the law, they were ready to sell out whenever their own interests were involved, and to pursue personal gain.
Qur'anic stories of Jesus include the time he violated Sabbath Law, by reaching out to pick two pieces of fruit to feed a hungry child on the Sabbath. Also, he made a fire for old women to keep themselves warm from the freezing air. Again, a violation. When touring the temple, he found twenty thousand Jewish priests registered who earned their living from the temple. The temple rooms were full of them.
Jesus observed that the visitors were much fewer than the priests. Yet the temple was full of sheep and doves which were sold to the people to be offered as sacrifices. Every step in the temple cost the visitor money. It was as if worship was consumed by money. The Pharisees and Sadducees wrtherere both contentious with each other, and further treated the temple like a market place. Jesus sadly observed that poor people who could not afford the price of the sheep or dove were "swept away like flies" by the Pharisees and Sadducees. Jesus was astonished. The great excess of burnt offerings went on inside the temple, while thousands of poor people were hungry outside it?
On this blessed night, Prophet Yahya (John the Baptist) and Prophet Zakariyah died, killed during the massacre of the innocents. On the same night, a revelation descended upon Jesus. God commanded him to begin his call to the children of Israel. To Jesus, carefree life ended, and the struggle began to bring people to the true worship of God.12
Because of these experiences, Jesus' preaching denounces the practices of the Pharisees, while reinforcing the Law of Moses. He sought to deny materialism, luxury, and obsession with gold. Jesus by his word and deed called his people to a higher, nobler life. His exemplary life showed the way out of the wretchedness and diseases of his age. From the beginning he called for complete uprightness and piety. He wanted faith to appeal to the soul and the the inner being, rather than to function as closed system of rules laid down by society.
Jesus' ongoing preaching and witness for people to worship God was based on the principle that there is no mediation between the Creator and His creatures. It is taught that he was in conflict with the superficial interpretation of the Torah. He said he did not come to abrogate the Torah, but to complete it.
He wanted Jewish believers to understand that the Ten Commandments have even more value than they imagined. For instance, the fifth commandment does not only prohibit 'physical killing, but all forms of killing; physical, psychological, or spiritual. And the sixth commandment does not prohibit adultery only in the sense of unlawful physical contact between a man and a woman, but also prohibits all forms of unlawful relations or acts that might lead to adultery. For example, the eye commits adultery when it looks at anything with passion.
This had Jesus in confrontation with the people of his time. He told them to desist from hypocrisy, showiness, and false praise. He said there is no need to hoard wealth in this life. They should not preoccupy themselves with the goods of this passing world; rather we should be preoccupied with coming world, the everlasting world.
Jesus called obsession with this world a sin, not fit for pious worshipers. He said disbelievers do this because they do not know a better way. As for the believers, they know that their sustenance is with God, so we should trust in Him and scorn this world.
Jesus continued to invite people to worship the only Lord, who is understood in Islam as technically without partner. It is reported that Jesus' teaching annoyed the priests. He exposed their misdeeds, and his words seemed a threat to them and their positions.12
According to Islamic teaching, Jesus performed at least six miracles. It is written in the Qur'an:
"And We gave unto Jesus, son of Mary, clear miracles"Quran surah 2 (Al-Baqara) ayah 8713
The following is a brief description of the miracles performed by Jesus mentioned in the Qur'an.
A table laden with food from heaven
- Main article: The Last Supper
In the fifth chapter of the Qur'an, God narrates how the disciples of Jesus requested him to ask God to send down a table laden with food, and for it to be a special day of commemoration for them in the future.
"When the disciples said: O Jesus, son of Mary! Is your Lord able to send down for us a table spread with food from heaven? He said: Observe your duty to God, if ye are true believers. They said: We desire to eat of it and our hearts be at rest, and that We may know that you have spoken truth to us, and that We may be witnesses thereof. Jesus, son of Mary, said: 'O God, our Lord, send down for us a table laden with food out of heaven, that shall be for us a recurring festival, the first and last of us, and a miracle from You. And provide us our sustenance, for You are the best of providers!"Qur'an surah 5 (Al-Ma'ida) ayah 112-11414
Al-Qurtubi has narrated that the majority of the scholars (without specifying which scholars) believe that the table was actually sent down. He has supported this view saying, "The correct view is that the table did descend."
When the disciples requested such a table, Jesus stood up and weeping to his Lord, prayed, "O Allah, our Lord! Send to us a table from heaven, that it could be for us, the first and last of us, a solemn festival and a sign from You and provide us sustenance, as You are the best Sustainer." Allah accepted his supplication and replied, "I shall send it to you."
A red table between two clouds, one above and one beneath it descended. Whilst the people were staring in wonder upon it, Jesus was praying to his Lord, "O Allah! Make it a source of mercy and not a trial, You are my Lord to whom I ask for a miracle, so You give." The table landed in front of Jesus, who prostrated immediately and so did the disciples with him.
Whilst engaged in prostration, a wonderful aroma assailed their nostrils, from the food, such an aroma they had never experienced before. Jesus then asked, "Who, from amongst you, is the most ardent worshipper of Allah, the most courageous, the nearest to his Lord and the most reliant upon the Sustainer? He is the one who should remove the cover off the table, so that we may eat from it and take the name of our Lord upon it and praise Him upon it." The disciples replied, "You, Jesus, are the most befitting and deserving of this act." Thus Jesus performed ablution, prayed Salah and offered supplication, then sat by the table and removed the cover.
They were all surprised to find that the table was laden with varied provisions as follows: a huge fried fish, without bones, was placed in the center and different types of vegetables were set around it. Salt and vinegar flanked its head and five different kinds of bread were placed at its tail. Upon one bread were placed five pomegranates, dates were upon another, olives upon a third, cheese upon a fourth and eggs graced the last. Saint Peter, the leader of the disciples, asked, "Is this food that of paradise or the food of this world?" Jesus' reply was, "This is food specially created for you, it is neither from paradise or this world. Allah said to it, "BE," and so it was."
The people asked for yet another sign in addition to the table, so Jesus ordered the fish to become alive which it did. The disciples told Jesus to eat from the food first, but Jesus refused saying, "Those who asked for it should eat from it." But the disciples feared to partake of the food, so Jesus called to the poor and said to them, "Eat from the provision of your lord, upon the invitation of your prophet and praise Allah upon it." The poor people fell upon the food and the disciples joined in, after which Jesus had to fix turns for the people, as they would all gather upon the table and cause congestion. The people ate from the table for forty days.15
Speaking from the cradle
One of the miracles mentioned in the Qur'an, although not mentioned in the Bible, is that fact that Jesus, while still in the cradle, spoke out to protect his mother Mary from any accusations people may have placed on her due to having a child without a father. When she was approached about this strange incident after her childbirth, Mary merely pointed to Jesus, and he miraculously spoke, just as God had promised her upon annunciation.
"He shall speak to people while still in the cradle, and in manhood, and he shall be from the righteous."Qur'an surah 3 (Al-Imran) ayah 4616
When Jesus spoke from the cradle, He said to the people:
"I am indeed a slave of God. He has given me the Book and made me a Prophet, and He has made me blessed wherever I may be. And He has enjoined upon me prayers, and to pay the alms, as long as I live and He has made me kind to my mother, and He has not made me insolent, unblessed. And may peace be upon me the day I was born, and the day I die, and on the day I shall be raised to life."Qur'an surah 19 (Maryam) ayah 30-3317
Creating birds from clay
God mentions a miracle given to none other in the Qur'an but Jesus, one which is quite parallel to how God himself created Adam. This miracle was one which none can argue its greatness. God mentions in the Qur'an that Jesus says:
"I create for you out of clay the likeness of a bird, then I breathe into it and it becomes a bird with God's permission."Qur'an surah 3 (Al Imran) ayah 4918
This miracle is not found in the New Testament, but it is found in the non-canonical Infancy Gospel of Thomas; "When this boy, Jesus, was five years old, he was playing at the ford of a rushing stream. He then made soft clay and shaped it into twelve sparrows; Jesus simply clapped his hands and shouted to the sparrows: "Be off, fly away, and remember me, you who are now alive!" And the sparrows took off and flew away noisily."19
Healing the blind and the leper
Similar to the New Testament, the Qur'an also mentions Jesus to a have healed the blind and the lepers.
"I also heal the blind and the leper."Qur'an surah 3 (Al Imran) ayah 4918
The resurrection of the dead
"… and I bring to life the dead, by the permission of God."Qur'an surah 3 (Al Imran) ayah 4918
This, like the creation of a bird, was a miracle of incomparable nature, one which should have caused the Jews to believe in the prophethood of Jesus without doubt. Islam agrees with Christianity that Jesus brought a total of four people back from the dead. At first, Jesus brought three people back to life; the son of a widow of Nain, Jairus's daughter, and Lazarus. These three had died during his lifetime. When the Jews saw this, they said: "You only resurrect those who have died recently; perhaps they only fainted." They then asked him to bring back to life Shem; son of Prophet Noah. Shem had been dead for centuries.
When Jesus asked them to show him his grave, the people accompanied him there. Jesus invoked God to bring him back to life and behold, Shem; son of Prophet Noah came out from the grave gray-haired. Jesus asked Shem: "How did you get gray hair, when there was no aging in your time?" Shem answered: "O Spirit of Allah, I thought that the Day of Resurrection had come; from the fear of that day, my hair turned gray."12
The knowledge of all things
Jesus was given the miracle of knowing what people had just eaten, as well as what they had in store for the coming days.
"I inform you too of what things you eat, and what you store up in your houses. Surely in that is a sign for you, if you are believers."Qur'an surah 3 (Al Imran) ayah 4918
Tabari relates on the authority of Ibn Ishaq that when Jesus was about nine or ten years old, his mother Mary would send him to a Jewish religious school. But whenever the teacher tried to teach him anything, he found that Jesus already knew it. The teacher exclaimed, "Do you not marvel at the son of this widow? Every time I teach him anything, I find that he knows it far better than I do!" Tabari further relates on the authority of Ismail al-Suddi that "when Jesus was in his youth, his mother committed him to the priests to study the Torah. While Jesus played with the youths of his village, he used to tell them what their parents were doing." Sa'id ibn Jubayr, according to Tabari, is said to have reported that Jesus would say to one of his fellow playmates in the religious school, "Your parents have kept such and such food for you, would you give me some of it?" Jesus would usually tell his fellow pupils in the religious school what their parents ate and what they have kept for them when they return home. He used to say to one boy, "Go home, for your parents have kept for you such and such food and they are now eating such and such food."
As parents became annoyed by this, they forbade their children to play with Jesus, saying, "Do not play with that magician." As a result, Jesus had no friends to play with and became lonely. Finally, the parents gathered all the children in a house away from Jesus. When Jesus came looking for them, the parents told Jesus that the children were not there. Jesus asked, "Then who is in this house?" The parents replied, "Swine!" (referring to Jesus). Jesus then said, "OK. Let there be swine in this house!" When the parents opened the door to the room where the children were, they found all their children had turned to swine, just as Jesus said.20
Tabari cites the Qu'ran in support of this story:
"Those of the children of Israel who have rejected faith were cursed by the tongue of David and Jesus, son of Mary, this because of their rebellion and the acts of transgression which they had committed."Qur'an surah 5 (Al-Ma'ida) ayah 7821
Muslims believe that God revealed to Jesus a new scripture, al-Injīl (the Gospel), while also declaring the truth of the previous revelations: al-Tawrat (the Torah) and al-Zabur (the Psalms). The Qur'an speaks favorably of al-Injīl, which it describes as a scripture that fills the hearts of its followers with meekness and piety. In chapter 3, verse 3, and chapter 5, verses 46-47, of the Qur'an, the revelation of al-Injil is mentioned:
It is He Who sent down to thee (step by step), in truth, the Book, confirming what went before it; and He sent down the Law (of Moses) and the Gospel (of Jesus) before this, as a guide to mankind, and He sent down the criterion (of judgment between right and wrong).Qur'an, sura 3 (Al-i-Imran) ayah 322
And in their footsteps We sent Isa the son of Maryam, confirming the Law that had come before him: We sent him the Gospel: therein was guidance and light, and confirmation of the Law that had come before him: a guidance and an admonition to those who fear Allah.Qur'an sura 5, (Al-Ma'ida), ayat 46-4723
Let the people of the Gospel judge by what Allah hath revealed therein. If any do fail to judge by (the light of) what Allah hath revealed, they are (no better than) those who rebel.
The Qur'an states that Jesus was aided by a group of disciples who believed in His message. While not naming the disciples, the Qur'an does give a few instances of Jesus preaching the message to them. According to Christianity, the names of the twelve disciples were Peter, Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Matthew, James, Jude, Simon, and Judas.
The Qur'an mentions in chapter 3, verses 52-53, that the disciples submitted to the faith of Islam:
When Jesus found Unbelief on their part He said: "Who will be My helpers to (the work of) Allah?" Said the disciples: "We are Allah's helpers: We believe in Allah, and do thou bear witness that we are Muslims.Qur'an Surah Al-Imran 52-5324
Our Lord! we believe in what Thou hast revealed, and we follow the Messenger; then write us down among those who bear witness."
The longest narrative involving Jesus' disciples is when they request a laden table to be sent from Heaven, for further proof that Jesus is preaching the true message:
Behold! the disciples, said: "O Jesus the son of Mary! can thy Lord send down to us a table set (with viands) from heaven?" Said Jesus: "Fear Allah, if ye have faith."Qur'an Surah Al-Ma'ida 112-11525
They said: "We only wish to eat thereof and satisfy our hearts, and to know that thou hast indeed told us the truth; and that we ourselves may be witnesses to the miracle."
Said Jesus the son of Mary: "O Allah our Lord! Send us from heaven a table set (with viands), that there may be for us-for the first and the last of us-a solemn festival and a sign from thee; and provide for our sustenance, for thou art the best Sustainer (of our needs)."
Allah said: "I will send it down unto you: But if any of you after that resisteth faith, I will punish him with a penalty such as I have not inflicted on any one among all the peoples."
Islamic texts categorically deny the idea of crucifixion or death attributed to Jesus by the New Testament. For instance; Matthew chapter 27, Mark chapter 15, Luke chapter 23, and John chapter 19 The Qur'an states that people (namely, the Jews and Romans) sought to kill Jesus, but they did not crucify nor kill him, although "this was made to appear to them." Muslims believe that Jesus was not crucified, but instead he was raised up by God unto the heavens. This "raising" is often understood to mean through bodily ascension.26
And they said we have killed the Messiah Jesus son of Mary, the Messenger of God. They did not kill him, nor did they crucify him, though it was made to appear like that to them; those that disagreed about him are full of doubt, with no knowledge to follow, only supposition: they certainly did not kill him. On the contrary, God raised him unto himself. God is almighty and wise.Qur'an surah 4 (An-Nisa النساء) ayah 157-15827
Discussing the interpretation of those scholars who deny the crucifixion, the Encyclopaedia of Islam writes:
The denial, furthermore, is in perfect agreement with the logic of the Qur'an. The Biblical stories reproduced in it (e.g., Job, Moses, Joseph, etc.) and the episodes relating to the history of the beginning of Islam demonstrate that it is "God's practice" (sunnat Allah) to make faith triumph finally over the forces of evil and adversity. "So truly with hardship comes ease", (XCIV, 5, 6). For Jesus to die on the cross would have meant the triumph of his executioners; but the Qur'an asserts that they undoubtedly failed: "Assuredly God will defend those who believe"; (XXII, 49). He confounds the plots of the enemies of Christ (III, 54).