Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Notes on Islam - Lesson 8 Jesus

Jesus is revered in Islam as a great prophet. Known as Isa in Arabic, Jesus is mentioned over 90 times in the Quran in 15 various surahs.

In this lesson we are going to look at what the Bible and the Quran have in common regarding Jesus, and then look at the substantial differences.

Points of Similarity
·      Both the Bible and the Quran teach that Jesus was a prophet. Here are some basic statements from the Quran:
o   Surah 3:84 Say [Muhammad], ‘We [Muslims] believe in God and in what has been sent down to us and to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes. We believe in what has been given to Moses, Jesus, and the prophets from their Lord. We do not make a distinction between any of the [prophets]. It is to Him that we devote ourselves.
o   Surah 5:46 We sent Jesus, son of Mary, in their footsteps, to confirm the Torah that had been sent before him: We gave him the Gospel with guidance, light, and confirmation of the Torah already revealed.
o   Surah 57: 27 We sent other messengers to follow in their footsteps. After those We sent Jesus, son of Mary: We gave him the Gospel and put compassion and mercy into the hearts of his followers.

·      Both the Bible and the Quran teach that Jesus was born of a virgin. Here are some key passages in the Quran:
o   Surah 3:45 The angels said, ‘Mary, God gives you news of a Word from Him, whose name will be the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, who will be held in honour in this world and the next, who will be one of those brought near to God. 46 He will speak to people in his infancy and in his adulthood. He will be one of the righteous.’ 47 She said, ‘My Lord, how can I have a son when no man has touched me?’ [The angel] said, ‘This is how God creates what He will: when He has ordained something, He only says, “Be”, and it is.
o   Surah 66:12 and Mary, daughter of ‘Imran. She guarded her chastity, so We breathed into her from Our spirit. She accepted the truth of her Lord's words and Scriptures: she was truly devout.

The Quran goes further than the Bible in saying that Jesus defended Mary from scurrilous charges while he was an infant.

Surah 19:27 She went back to her people carrying the child, and they said, ‘Mary! You have done something terrible! 28 Sister of Aaron! Your father was not an evil man; your mother was not unchaste!’ 29 She pointed at him. They said, ‘How can we converse with an infant?’ 30[But] he said: ‘I am a servant of God. He has granted me the Scripture; made me a prophet.

·      Both the Bible and the Quran teach that Jesus performed many miracles. Here are some references in the Quran:
o   Surah 5:110  Then God will say, ‘Jesus, son of Mary! Remember My favour to you and to your mother: how I strengthened you with the holy spirit, so that you spoke to people in your infancy and as a grown man; how I taught you the Scripture and wisdom, the Torah and the Gospel; how, by My leave, you fashioned the shape of a bird out of clay, breathed into it, and it became, by My leave, a bird; how, by My leave, you healed the blind person and the leper; how, by My leave, you brought the dead back to life; how I restrained the Children of Israel from [harming] you when you brought them clear signs, and those of them who disbelieved said, “This is clearly nothing but sorcery.”

(Note: the reference to a bird shaped out of clay is not mentioned in any canonical gospel, but is mentioned in a non-canonical gospel called The Infancy Gospel of Thomas).
o   Surah 2:87 We gave Moses the Scripture and We sent messengers after him in succession. We gave Jesus, son of Mary, clear signs and strengthened him with the Holy Spirit.

·       Both the Bible and the Quran teach that Jesus was the Messiah. For instance: Surah 5:75 says: The Messiah, son of Mary, was only a messenger; other messengers had come and gone before him; his mother was a virtuous woman; both ate food [like other mortals]. See how clear We make these signs for them; see how deluded they are.

In addition to these statements from the Quran, there are many Muslim traditions about Jesus that bear some similarity to the Bible. For instance, Muslims believe that Jesus will return. However, as you read the following hadith, you will see clear differences between Islam and Christianity:

Narrated Abu Huraira:
Allah's Apostle said, "By Him in Whose Hands my soul is, son of Mary (Jesus) will shortly descend amongst you people (Muslims) as a just ruler and will break the Cross and kill the pig and abolish the Jizya (a tax taken from the non-Muslims, who are in the protection, of the Muslim government). Then there will be abundance of money and no-body will accept charitable gifts. (Sahih Bukhari Volume 3, Book 34, Number 425)

Narrated Abu Huraira:
The Prophet (pbuh) said: There is no prophet between me and him, that is, Jesus (pbuh). He will descend (to the earth). When you see him, recognize him: a man of medium height, reddish fair, wearing two light yellow garments, looking as if drops were falling down from his head though it will not be wet. He will fight the people for the cause of Islam. He will break the cross, kill swine, and abolish jizya. Allah will perish all religions except Islam. He will destroy the Antichrist and will live on the earth for forty years and then he will die. The Muslims will pray over him. (Sunan Abu Dawud Book 37, Number 4310)

There are also many crucial differences between what the Bible and the Quran teach.

Teachings of the Quran About Jesus Which Contradict the Bible
·      Jesus was only a prophet and was not divine. Here are some passages:
o   Surah 5:72 Those who say, ‘God is the Messiah, son of Mary,’ have defied God. The Messiah himself said, ‘Children of Israel, worship God, my Lord and your Lord.’ If anyone associates others with God, God will forbid him from the Garden, and Hell will be his home. No one will help such evildoers.
o   Surah 4:171 People of the Book, do not go to excess in your religion, and do not say anything about God except the truth: the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, was nothing more than a messenger of God, His word, directed to Mary, a spirit from Him. So believe in God and His messengers and do not speak of a ‘Trinity’—stop [this], that is better for you—God is only one God, He is far above having a son, everything in the heavens and earth belongs to Him and He is the best one to trust.
·      Jesus was not crucified and resurrected. There is ambiguity in the Quran over Jesus’ death. On the one hand, the Quran explicitly states that it only appeared that Jesus was crucified:
o   Surah 4:157 and 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—158 God raised him up to Himself. God is almighty and wise.

This passage alleges that God made it appear that Jesus was crucified. A phoney gospel called the Gospel of Barnabas made a similar claim. On the other hand, other passages in the Quran speak of Jesus being taken up to God:

o   Surah 5:117 I told them only what You commanded me to: “Worship God, my Lord and your Lord.” I was a witness over them during my time among them. Ever since You took my soul, You alone have been the watcher over them: You are witness to all things.
o   Surah 3:55 God said, ‘Jesus, I will take you back and raise you up to Me: I will purify you of the disbelievers. To the Day of Resurrection I will make those who follow you superior to those who disbelieved. Then you will all return to Me and I will judge between you regarding your differences.

Not all Muslims believe that Jesus only appeared to be crucified. Popular Muslim apologist Ahmed Deedat has rescusitated the “swoon theory” and claimed that Jesus was crucified but only appeared to die on the cross, revived, and later preached in India (Crucifixion or Cruci-Fiction).

·      Jesus spoke of the coming of Muhammad. The Quran says that Jesus promised that Muhammad (Ahmad) would come after him:
o   Surah 61:6 Jesus, son of Mary, said, ‘Children of Israel, I am sent to you by God, confirming the Torah that came before me and bringing good news of a messenger to follow me whose name will be Ahmad.

Some Muslims claim that Jesus’ reference to the paraklete in John 14:16-17 is in fact a promise of the coming of Muhammad.

Some Muslim scholars suggest what Jesus actually said in Aramaic represents more closely the Greek word periklytos which means the ‘admired one.’ In Arabic the word ‘Muhammad’ means the ‘praiseworthy, admired one.’ In other words, periklytos is “Muhammad” in Greek. http://www.islamreligion.com/articles/198/

A Possible Point of Reasoning

Interestingly, the Quran contains a description of Jesus also found in John 1, “the Word.” Notice again the first part of Surah 4:171: “People of the Book, do not go to excess in your religion, and do not say anything about God except the truth: the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, was nothing more than a messenger of God, His word, directed to Mary, a spirit from Him.”

Perhaps this could be a point of conversation, particularly since most Muslims believe God’s word (the Quran) is uncreated and eternal.

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