What Does The Quran Say About Jesus?
As we occasionally do, below is a question and answer session adopted from Islamic blog, aboutislam.net. The answer covers the issue surrounding how Muslims view Jesus (AS) and we believe it will be educative to us all. Do not hesitate to share this with anyone you believe will benefit from it.
Assalam alaikum. My question is about Prophet Isa/Jesus. Someone told me that Prophet Muhammad once sent a letter to a King saying that Jesus was a spirit. This acknowledges that Jesus was God. Is this written anywhere? Thank you.
Salam (Peace) Senoga,
Thank you for your question.
We believe that the Quran is the exact word of Almighty Allah revealed to mankind and that it is His last revelation. Allah did reveal messages to former prophets.
These were for a particular people and for a particular time. The revelation made to Jesus was for the Jews, but the Quran is the final revelation to the whole of mankind and for all time. Where the Quran agrees with previous scriptures, it confirms them. Where it differs from previous scriptures, it cancels what they say.
Other than that, we have no way of knowing whether what they say is true or not.
The Quran is quite clear that he was not God, nor the Son of God
In order to refute the false idea that the Christians had developed over the centuries, the Quran is at pains to insist that Jesus is not God: Christ the son of Mary was no more than a Messenger; many were the messengers who passed away before him. (Quran 5:75)
Speaking about the Christians, the Quran says:
And (they take as their Lord, Christ the son of Mary; yet they were commanded to worship but one God: there is no God but He. Praise and glory to Him. (Far is He) from having the partners they associate (with Him). (Quran 9:31)
This is repeated again and again, that Allah does not have partners, and that He does not have a son, so that it is made perfectly clear that such a belief is wrong, since Jesus was only a messenger.
The Birth of Jesus
In telling the story of the birth of Jesus, the Quran is in many places similar to that which is found in Saint Luke’s Gospel, but it also differs in many ways.
Jesus was born of a virgin named Mary, although there is no mention of shepherds or wise men visiting him at his birth.
The Quran tells us that Mary gave birth to her son under the shade of a palm tree and that when people asked who this child was, Jesus spoke these words from the cradle:
He [infant Jesus] said: “I am indeed a servant of Allah: He hath given me Revelation and made me a Prophet: And He hath made me blessed wheresoever I be, and hath enjoined on me prayer and zakah [obligatory alms] as long as I live.” (Quran 19:30-31)
Muslims believe that our Christian friends are mistaken in attributing to Jesus things which do not become him.
The early Christians were highly influenced by the writings of Paul, who taught that Jesus was the answer to everything the Jewish people had been looking for and that he was, in fact, equal to God, God’s Son, but this was never what Jesus taught.
An Anointed Prophet
The word that Christians use to talk about Jesus is “Christ”, which means “Anointed One” in Greek.
The Quran, too, uses this word, since Jesus was specially anointed as a prophet of Islam. (The Jewish word for Messiah also means “Anointed One”).
In other words, out of an exaggerated respect for Jesus, the early Christians were led to go that step further and to see him as something other than human.
The Quran corrects this:
He was no more than a servant: We granted Our favor to him, and We made him an example to the Children of Israel. (Quran 43:59)
The Word of God
Even though historians and Biblical scholars are not sure who exactly was its author, the Gospel known as Saint John’s Gospel does draw on Greek and Gnostic ideas which talked about Jesus as the Word of God.
Paul elaborates this idea to suggest that God’s Word is actually God Himself. The Quran is simpler. It says that God’s Word is exactly that: His Word.
The exact words of Allah, then, were spoken through Jesus.
Aishah, Mother of the Believers (may Allah be pleased with her), used to refer to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) as a walking Quran, since he embodied in his life and actions everything contained in the message of the Quran.
A Spirit from Him
In a similar way, Jesus embodied the message he had been given: Christ Jesus the son of Mary was (no more than) a Messenger of Allah, and His Word, Which He bestowed on Mary, and a Spirit proceeding from Him. (Quran 4:171)
The mention of Jesus being a Spirit does not mean that he was anything less than human.
This would contradict everything else written in the Quran.
Rather, it suggests that Jesus came from Allah, as everything comes from Him.
In our own everyday language, we talk about people being the very spirit of their Age, don’t we?
It doesn’t mean that they are spirits, but rather that they embody the Age they live in.
If Prophet Muhammad did use this word “Spirit” he would have used it in full knowledge of what the Quran says about Jesus and he would not have said anything to contradict the exact words of Allah which had been revealed to him.
Jesus: Muhammad’s Announcer
Finally, and in total contradiction of any suggestion that Jesus was God, Jesus says in the Quran that he was called to announce the coming of a messenger who would come after him.
The name he uses of this messenger is “Ahmad.”
“Ahmad” means “Praised One.” It is also the same name as Muhammad.
If Jesus was the final revelation, equal to Allah Himself, he would not need to announce the coming of a further Messenger, would he?
The Quran relates it like this:
And remember, Jesus, the son of Mary, said: “O Children of Israel! I am the Messenger of Allah (sent) to you confirming the Torah (which came) before me, and giving glad tidings of a messenger to come after me, whose name shall be Ahmad. (Quran 61:6)
I hope this answers your question and reassures you that Jesus was not God and that our beloved Prophet never suggested that he was. Please keep in touch.