Most Christians in the U.S. know very little about the religion of their Muslim neighbors. This lack of knowledge, compounded by media misinformation, can lead to bigotry and a breakdown of social harmony. It is, therefore, very important for Muslims to step up and provide authentic information to demystify Islam and Muslims for those who are willing to listen with open mind and heart. This is critical to supporting and protecting the healthiness of America’s pluralistic society. A good step in this direction is to spell out what Muslims believe about Jesus, peace be upon him.
From an Islamic point of view, a person can’t claim to be a Muslim in the first place if he or she denies the prophethood of Jesus (peace be upon him).
Many Christians are surprised when they find out that Muslims respect and love Jesus, considering him a great messenger from God, sent to humanity. From an Islamic point of view, a person can’t claim to be a Muslim in the first place if he or she denies the prophethood of Jesus. Believing in all the messengers of God, including him, is an article of faith in Islam. In reference to Jesus as a messenger of God, the Quran says: “The Messiah [Jesus], son of Mary, was no more than a Messenger before whom many Messengers have passed away; and his mother adhered wholly to truthfulness…” (Quran 5:75). The Quran also confirms Jesus’ miraculous virgin birth: “She said, ‘My Lord, how can I have a child when no mortal has touched me?’ He said, ‘Even so, God creates what He wills. If He decrees a thing, He says to it only: Be! And it is’” (Quran 3:45-47). Muslims thus believe that Jesus was born miraculously without a father, by the command of God, the same command that brought Adam into being without a father or a mother. The Quran says: “The case of Jesus with God is like the case of Adam. He created him from dust, and then He said to him, ‘Be!’ and he came into being” (Quran 3:59).
Muslims also venerate Jesus’ mother, Mary, and she is regarded as one of the most righteous and pure women to ever have lived. An entire chapter of the Quran is entitled “Mary.” The Quran says:“Behold! The angel said: ‘God has chosen you and purified you and has chosen you above the women of all nations. O Mary! God gives you the good news of a word from Him, whose name shall be Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, honored in this world and the hereafter, and one of those brought near to God’”(Quran3:42). Testifying to the miracles performed by Jesus, the Quran also mentions that Jesus told people: “I have come to you with a sign from your Lord. I make for you the shape of a bird out of clay, I breathe into it, and it becomes a bird by God’s permission. I heal the blind from birth and the leper. And I bring the dead to life by God’s permission….” (Quran 3:49).
Having noted the high esteem that Jesus is held in by Islam and Muslims, it is important to mention a number of issues that Muslims and Christians disagree about. One such issue is clerical celibacy by which priests are not permitted to marry. This chiefly applies to the Roman Catholic Church, not to the Protestant denominations. More broadly, monastic asceticism (withdrawing from worldly affairs to live an austere life of rigorous spiritual devotion, thus denying oneself all worldly pleasure), like celibacy, is a later innovation, not taught by Jesus. Islam also teaches that the New Testament has undergone many changes, deletions and embellishments over the centuries, departing in serious ways from the original teachings of Jesus. Muslims reject as well the doctrine of original sin, as this was added into church doctrine by St. Augustine around the year 400.
Most significantly, though,is that Muslims venerate Jesus as a divinely inspired human, but not as a divine being himself, or that he was “the son of God,” as this is seen as a blasphemous and untenable notion.God says in the Quran regarding the Trinity: “People of the Book (Jews and Christians)! Do not exceed the limits in your religion, and attribute to God anything except the truth. The Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, was only a Messenger of God, which He bestowed on Mary, and a spirit proceeding from Him: So believe in God and in His Messengers, and do not say ‘Trinity.’ Desist – it would be better for you. God is indeed just One God. Far be it from His glory that He should have a son. To Him belong all that is in the heavens and on the earth. God is sufficient for a guardian” (Quran 4:171).
To sum up,Jesus is revered by both Muslims and Christians and, therefore, common ground is established for interfaith relations, cooperation, and mutual understanding. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) once said,“Whoever bears witness that there is no god but God Alone, with no partner or associate, and that Muhammad is His servant and messenger, and that Jesus is His servant and messenger, a word which God bestowed upon Mary and a spirit created by Him, and that Heaven is real, and Hell is real, God will admit him through whichever of the eight gates of Heaven he wishes” (Bukhari and Muslim). May God Almighty help us all come to common terms,submit ourselves fully to our Creator,and grant our salvation hereafter. Ameen.