Jesus Christ in Islam
By Yahya Ibrahim - Lecture delivered Perth, Australia
All Praise is for Allah alone. He is
the Rabb of all that
exists. Surely, we send the highest Salah and Salam upon the Final Prophet, the leader of the pious and
upon his family, companions and those who follow their example
with Ih’san till the
Day of Reckoning.
Before we begin, I will give you a primer on some of the Arabic
words that I will use in my lecture today:
Allah: Literally means "the God",
"the One who is deserving of worship".
Qur’an: The final scripture according
to Muslim tradition; the final Word of God.
Sala Allahu ‘alihi was-Salaam: You
may hear me use this phrase after mentioning the names of the
prophets. It means "may the peace and blessings of God be upon
Today’s lecture is intended as an educational discussion. But it
will also be useful for us to learn about each others’ beliefs,
because the scholars – past and present – have said, "The root
cause of hatred is ignorance".
Jesus is known to the Muslims as ‘Issa – this is the name for
Jesus that we have been given in our scriptures.
To Muslims, Jesus – or ‘Issa – is a saviour, a reformist, the
Messiah (the anointed one), the "Word of God". He was elevated to
heaven. He could cure the ill, raise the dead, fashion inanimate
objects and blow life into them, all by the Will of God.
We believe that the one who disbelieves in Jesus is not a Muslim,
because the person who disbelieves in one the prophets disbelieves
in all of them. So Muslims believe in Jesus and in his message.
His message was one with all the other messengers. In the Qur’an,
it is said that God never sent a messenger to mankind except that
he was sent with one warning: Worship Allah alone.
Muhammad (sala allahu ‘alihi was-Salaam) said:
"I am the most worthy of ‘Issa bin Marium in this life and in the
hereafter." They (Sahaba) asked: "Why is that O Messenger of Allah
(sala allahu ‘alihi was-Salaam)?"
He (sala allahu ‘alihi was-Salaam) replied: "The Prophets are
paternal (bloodline) brethren (from fathers side). Their mothers
may be different (races, peoples, bloodlines) yet their Deen is
always one (Islam)." Reported by Bukhari and Muslim.
Therefore this necessitates that he who disputes the validity of
one of the true Prophets and Messengers has in fact reviled and
disputed all of them. One cannot believe in Muhammad (sala allahu
‘alihi was-Salaam) and not believe in ‘Issa (Alihi as-Salaam).
Equally, one cannot truly believe in ‘Issa and not believe in
Muhammad (sala allahu ‘alihi was-Salaam). To truly accept one
Prophet or Messenger necessitates the acceptance of all those who
came before him and all who will come after him, ending with
Muhammad (sala allahu ‘alihi was-Salaam).
My lecture today will cover four main points:
1. Who was Mary – because before looking at
Jesus in Islam, we must first recognise the status of Mary in
2. The immaculate conception.
3. The special traits sent to Jesus by Allah as a way of proving
to all humanity of the truth of the essential divine
4. The Muslim perspective on the crucifixion, and what came after.
1. Maryam (Mary) the daughter of ’Imran
Of the most poignant and telling mother-son relationships in the
Quran is that of ‘Issa bin Marium (Alihi as-Salaam). For the first
and last time in history a Prophet would not be addressed by his
father’s name. Rather, he is referred to as Jesus the son of Mary.
To assess and grasp the true virtue of ‘Issa (Alihi as-Salaam) it
is necessary to learn about his mother Marium ibnata ‘Imran (Alihi
Mary’s mother grew to be of an old age, and became barren. She
prayed to God for one final child, whom she would dedicate in
God’s service. When she conceived in old age, she said as records
to us in the Quran says:
"Allah chose Adam, Nuh (Noah), and the family of Ibrahim and the
family of ‘Imran above the ‘Alameen (all creation during their
respective times). Offspring, one of the other and Allah is the
(Remember) when the wife of ‘Imran said: ‘O my Lord! I have vowed
to You what (the child that) is in my womb to be dedicated for
your services (free from all worldly work and obligations; solely
for your worship) so accept this from me. Verily you are the
All-Hearer (You hear my Du‘a) and the All-Knowing (and you know my
sincere intention in fulfilling this vow).’
Then when she gave birth to her (Marium), she said ‘O my Lord! I
have given birth to a female child.’ – And Allah knew better what
she brought forth (He is the Creator), - ‘And the male is not like
the female, and I have named her Marium (literally = pure
maidservant of Allah), and I seek refuge with You (Allah) for her
and her offspring from the Shaytan (Satan), the outcast.’
So her Lord (Allah) accepted her with goodly acceptance. He made
her grow in a good manner and put her under the care of Zakariyya
(Prophet Zachary)." Ali-‘Imran 3:33-37
When Mary’s mother gave birth to Mary, she was saddened that the
child was a girl. This was because, in Jewish tradition, there are
very few religious acts of devotion that could be performed by a
female. Of 514 daily acts of devotion, only 4 required of a Jewish
She named her child Maryam, which means "the pure one", or "the
one who is purified". Allah accepted the young female child into
His service, and chose Zakariyyah – or Zacchariah – to be her
caregiver. Zakariyyah was one of the prophets of Islam. He was
chosen out of all of the scribes of his time, who were gathered
together and instructed to throw their pens into a stream. They
were told that whoever’s pen flowed against the current would be
the child’s guardian. Zakariyyah’s pen was the one that flowed
against the current.
Of Maryam, the Prophet Muhammad (sala Allahu ‘alihi was-Salaam)
said: "Of men, many have attained completion with their Lord. But
of women, there were four – Marium the daughter of ‘Imraan, Asiyah
the wife of Pharoah, Khadeejah bint Khuwaylid and Fatimah the
daughter of Muhammad." (Agreed Upon)
The Prophet Muhammad (sala Allahu ‘alihi was-Salaam) also said of
Maryam, that when every child is born, the devil pricks the child
at the time of its birth, and the child cries out, except for
Maryam and her son.
Rasool ul Allah (sala Allahu ‘alihi was-Salaam) mentions: "No new
born escapes the prick (touch) of the Shaytan at the time of their
birth. (The touch is what) causes them to begin to scream. Only
Marium and her son (escaped being molested by the Shaytan)."
Reported through authentic narrations in the Musnad of al-Imam
Ahmed and the Sahih of al-Imam Muslim.
Allah said in the Qur’an:
"And (remember) when the angels said: "O Maryam! Verily, Allah has
chosen you, purified you (from polytheism and disbelief), and
chosen you above the women of the ’?lam?n (mankind and jinn)."
Qur’an – Surat ?l-Imr?n 3: 41
Thus, Maryam was chosen above all of humanity to bear ‘Issa.
Chapter 19 of the Qur’an is titled "Maryam", and is dedicated to
her story and the immaculate conception.
2. Immaculate conception
In the Qur’an, Muhammad is told to recite the story of Maryam:
"And mention in the Book (the Qur’an, O Muhammad, the story of)
Maryam, when she withdrew in seclusion from her family to a place
facing east. She placed a screen (to screen herself) from them;
then We sent to her Our Ruh (the angel Gabriel), and he appeared
before her in the form of a man in all respects. She said:
‘Verily, I seek refuge with the Most Gracious (Allah) from you, if
you do fear Allah.’ (The angel) said: ‘I am only a messenger from
your Lord, (to announce) to you the gift of a righteous son.’ She
said: ‘How can I have a son, when no man hath touched me, nor am I
unchaste?’ He said: ‘So (it will be), your Lord said "That is easy
for Me (Allah): And (We wish) to appoint him as a sign to mankind
and a mercy from Us (Allah), and it is a matter (already) decreed
(by Allah)." ‘ " Qur’an – Surat Maryam 19: 16-21
Jesus was named the "Word of God", because Allah said "Be" and he
was. Allah sets forth a parable between Jesus and Adam: Adam was
taken from the earth, not born from the womb of a woman. Allah
"Verily the likeness of ‘Issa (Jesus) before Allah is the likeness
of Adam. He created him from dust, then (He) said to him: ‘Be’ –
and he was." Qur’an – Surat ?l-Imr?n 3: 59
Jesus did not have a father. But this does not mean that Jesus is
divine and worthy of worship, because Adam’s existence was more
miraculous than that of Jesus.
Allah also says in the Qur’an that Jesus and his mother would
become tired, and would need sustenance. Therefore, they could not
The story of the Immaculate Conception is continued in the Qur’an:
"So she conceived him, and she withdrew with him to a far place.
And the pains of childbirth drove her to the trunk of a date palm.
She said: ‘Would that I had died before this, and had been
forgotten and out of sight!’ Then [the baby ‘Issa] cried unto her
from below her, saying: ‘Grieve not: your Lord has provided a
water stream under you.’ " Qur’an – Surat Maryam 19: 22-24
Jesus spoke to Maryam as a miracle from God, to tell her that she
should not be fearful and she should not be in sorrow. Maryam was
instructed that when she returned to her family, she was not to
answer any of their questions. So when they confronted her, she
pointed to the child. They said, "How can we ask this child in the
cradle?" Then the baby Jesus spoke, and said:
" ‘Verily I am a slave of Allah, He has given me the Scripture and
made me a Prophet; and He has made me blessed wheresoever I be,
and has enjoined on me Salaat (prayer) and Zakaat (alms-giving or
charity), as long as I live. And to be dutiful to my mother, and
made me not arrogant, unblest. And peace be upon me the day I was
born, and the day I die, and the day I shall be raised alive!’
Such is ‘Issa, son of Maryam. (It is) a statement of truth, about
which they doubt." Qur’an – Surat Maryam 19: 30-34
That is the story of the immaculate conception as it is related to
us in the Qur’an.
3. Special attributes of Jesus
The immaculate conception was one of the many miracles that Allah
gave to Jesus.
In Islamic sources, Jesus began as a shepherd, as were all of the
prophets of God before they received their Message. Jesus knew the
Torah, and could read and write from the time of infancy.
Jesus grew up knowing his cousin Yahya (John the Baptist). Both of
them would together call to the worship of God.
Jesus never once said: "Worship me" – this was not befitting for
any of the Messengers of God.
Jesus lived a full life, but he was fought against and hated and
reviled by different enemies, including the evil rabbis of the
time, who wished for power and status.
The scholars state that every Prophet and Messenger was sent with
the type of evidence, signs, and proofs that their respective
nations would respond to. During the time of Musa (Alihi
as-Salaam), magic and illusions were widespread and falsely
attributed to false deities. So Allah sent Musa with what would
eclipse Pharaoh’s magicians. During the time of ‘Issa (Alihi
as-Salaam) curing the ill was seen as a divine power. Allah
therefore sent ‘Issa and granted him unique abilities.
Allah will remind ‘Issa of these abilities on the Day of Judgment
as Allah describes them to us in Suratil Ma’idah (5:110-115):
"(Remember) when Allah will say (on the Day of Resurrection), ‘O
‘Issa son of Marium! Remember My Favour to you and to your mother
when I supported you with Ruh ul-Qudus (Jibreel) so that you spoke
to the people in the (from the) cradle (at a young age) and
(while) in maturity. Jibreel aided you in ordering the people to
work good deeds and to submit themselves to Allah while staying
away from evil deeds throughout the whole of your time with them
And when I taught you writing, al-Hikmah (the power of reasoning,
logic, understanding. Putting everything in its proper place at
the proper time for the proper reason), and the Torah and the
Injeel (Gospel). Allah granted ‘Issa all of these intellectual
capabilities from his inception as some of the people of Tafseer
have stated. We do not establish this claim as truth, nor do we
deny it as falsehood.
And when you made out of clay, as it were, the figure of a bird,
by My Permission, and you breathed into it, and it became a bird
by My Permission.
And you healed those who were born blind (not just those who
happened to have lost their sight), the lepers by My Permission.
And when you brought forth the dead by My Permission.
And when I restrained the Children of Israel from you (when they
resolved to kill you) since you came unto them with clear proofs,
and the disbelievers among them said, ‘This is nothing but evident
magic.’ This was the greatest miracle granted by Allah to ‘Issa.
We will shortly begin discussing the intricacies of how ‘Issa was
saved from the Jews and the Romans. This ayah also shows that
those who sought the death of ‘Issa were the Jews and not the
Romans per-say. The ayah also shows that there were Jews who
believed (Hawarieen or Disciples) and those who disbelieved.
And when I (Allah) put in the hearts of al-Hawarieen (the
Disciples of ‘Issa) to believe in Me and My Messenger (you O ‘Issa),
they said: ‘We believe. And bear witness that we are Muslims.’
This ayah shows clearly that Allah places guidance in the hearts
of individuals. There were many that rejected the truth although
they also witnessed the aforementioned miraculous occurrences.
Guidance is solely from Allah, as is the misguidance of those whom
were destined to reject the truth and Light of Tawheed.
(Remember) when the disciples said: ‘O ‘Issa, son of Marium! Is
your Lord able to send down to us a table spread (with food) from
heaven?’ ‘Issa said, ‘Fear Allah, if you are indeed believers!’
Although they have seen clay birds being brought to life, the
blind and lepers alleviated of their illness, the raising of the
dead and many other miracles, they still say, "Is your Lord able!"
The syntax of their question implies that if your Lord does not
furnish us this table spread then He is UNABLE, not unwilling!
They said, ‘We wish to eat thereof and to be stronger in Faith,
and to know that you have indeed told us the truth and that we
ourselves be its witnesses.’
Once again the weakness of their faith is apparent. The syntax in
their statement indirectly implies that if you have told us the
truth and you really are a Prophet and a Messenger then your Lord
will bring down the table spread that we request. Otherwise you
have not spoken the truth. They admit that their faith is weak.
‘Issa (Alihi as-Salaam) therefore invokes Allah for the table
‘Issa, son of Marium, said, ‘O Allah, Our Lord! Send us from
Heaven a table spread (with food) that there may be for us – for
the first and the last of us – a festival and a sign from You; and
provide us Sustenance, for You are the Best to Sustain.’ The
request although seemingly simple enough in comparison with the
other miracles performed by ‘Issa is of a different nature. The
request of the Disciples is a challenge to Allah. Sufyan
ath-Thawri (radiya Allahu ‘Anhu) states: A day of festivity means
a day that we can mark with your worship.
Salman al-Farisi (radiya Allahu ‘Anhu) said: A day for us to mark
by remembering you.
Allah said, ‘I am going to send it down unto you, but if any of
you after that disbelieves, then I will punish him a torment such
as I have not inflicted on anyone among (all) the ‘Alamin (all
that exist, mankind and Jinn).’
‘Abullah bin ‘Amr bin al ‘Aws (radiya Allahu ‘Anhu) states: "The
three most punished peoples on the Day of Ressurrection shall be:
The Hypocrites (at time of Rasool ul Allah), those who disbelieved
after the Table spread was brought down, and Pharaoh and his
4. The Muslim perspective on the crucifixion
Jesus was saved by God for the end of times. Allah said in the
"And because of their (the Jews) disbelief and uttering against
Marium a grave false charge (that she has committed illegal sexual
And because of their (the Jews) saying (in boast), ‘We killed the
Messiah ‘Issa, son of Marium, the Messenger of Allah (they say
this in mockery),’ – but they killed him not, nor crucify him, but
the resemblance of a ‘Issa was put over another man (and they
killed that man). And (surely) those who differ therein are full
of doubts (amongst themselves). They have no (certain) knowledge,
they follow nothing but conjecture (speculation). For surely they
killed him not.
But Allah raised him (Rafa‘ahu) up (‘Issa’s body and soul
together) unto Himself. And Allah is Ever All-Powerful, All-Wise."
Qur’an – Surat An-Nis?’ 4: 157
The Jews and the Romans proclaimed in joy: "We have killed the
Messiah!" But they did not kill him or crucify him; but he was
saved by God and raised to heaven.
Allah says in Surati Ali-‘Imran (3:54-58):
"And they (the disbelievers from the Jews and Romans) plotted (to
kill ‘Issa), and Allah Planned too. And Allah is the Best of
And (remember) when Allah said: ‘O ‘Issa! I will take you (Mutawaafeek)
and raise you to Myself and clear you (of the forged statements)
of those who disbelieve, and I will make those who follow you
(Monotheists) superior to those who disbelieve (in the Oneness of
Allah) till the day of Resurrection. Then you will return to Me
and I will Judge between you in the matters in which you used to
We Muslims believe that one day the Antichrist will come, and then
Jesus will descend from the heavens and slay him, and will live
among the Muslims and rule them. During those times the earth
shall be filled with justice and blessing.
Mohammad (sala Allahu ‘alihi was-Salaam) said:
"The earth would be told to bring forth its fruit and restore its
blessing and, as a result thereof, there would grow (such a big)
pomegranate that a group of persons would be able to eat that, and
seek shelter under its skin.
A cow would give so much milk that a whole party would be able to
drink it. And the camel would give such (a large quantity of) milk
that the whole tribe would be able to drink out of that.
And the sheep would give so much milks that the whole family would
be able to drink out of that.
At that time, Allah would send a pleasant wind, which would soothe
(people), even under their armpits, and would take the life of
every Muslim and only the wicked would survive who would commit
adultery like asses and the Last Hour would come to them."
Reported by Imam Muslim."
Muhammed (sala Allahu ‘Alihi was-Salaam):
"How glorious will be the time when Jesus lives among you, and you
will plant a seed on a barren rock and it will sprout; there will
be no drought; vegetation will cover the earth, and a man will be
able to sit next to a lion and feel no harm." Authentic – reported
Jesus will come again, and will marry and have children, and live
for 40 years among us. And soon after he dies, the Day of Judgment
This is the empirical belief of the Muslims as regards Jesus.
Allah (subhanhu wa Ta‘aala) said:
"And they say: ‘The Most Gracious (Allah) has begotten a son (or
offspring or children).’ Indeed you have brought forth (said) a
most terrible, evil thing. Whereby the heavens are almost torn,
and the earth is split asunder, and the mountains fall in ruins,
that they ascribe a son (or offspring) to the Most Gracious!
But it is not befitting (the Majesty) of the Most Gracious (Allah)
that He should beget a son (or offspring).
There is none in the heavens and the earth but comes unto the Most
Gracious as a slave." Marium (19:88-93)
Allah (Subhanhu wa Ta‘aala) says:
"No son (or offspring or children) did Allah beget, nor is there
any god along with Him. (If there had been other gods or rivals or
sons), behold, each god would have taken away what he had created,
and some (gods) would have tried to overcome other (gods)!
Glorified is Allah above all that they attribute to Him!" Al-Mu’minoon
There are more similarities than differences between Muslims and
Christians. In Islamic law, we have special rules for "the People
of the Scripture", who are similar to us except for some minor
differences in major areas of dogma.
We conclude by saying:
"O people of the Book (Jews and Christians): Come to a word that
is just between us and you, that we worship none by Allah (alone),
and that we associate no partners with Him, and that none of us
shall take others as lords besides Allah." Qur’an – Surat Al-Imran
 Rabb: Allah the One and the Only
Lord of all that exists. He is the only One deserving of worship.
Allah is the Creator, Sustainer, Maintainer, Planner, Giver of
Security, Innovator, etc. Rabb is one of the Names of Allah.
 (SAAW=(Salah Allahu ‘alihi wa Salaam): The Salah (prayers) of Allah upon His Prophet, Muhammad, is
His mentioning of the Prophet’s name and his praise in front of
the angels in the Most High place in the Heavens. Refer to Al-Ahzab
 Ih’san: The highest level of
deeds and worship. Perfection in ones worship of Allah (SW). When
you worship Allah, consider yourself as if you see Him and if you
cannot achieve this feeling or attitude, then you must bear in
mind that He sees you.
 Amma Ba‘du: An expression used to
separate between introductory remarks and the main body of the
discourse. It translates into: ‘Whatever comes after.”
Compiled by: Sr. Shadia Rahman
Edited by: Br. Yahya Ibrahim