Almighty Allah says in the Qur’an: “Say: we believe in Allah and the revelation given to us, and to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, and the tribes, and that given to Moses and Jesus, and that given to (all) prophets from their Lord: we make no difference between one and another of them: and we bow to Allah [in Islam]” (Al-Baqarah, 2:136).
There is much commonality between the two faiths and better understanding can bring productive and mutually beneficial relations among them
And in another verse we are told: “Behold! The angels said: ‘O Mary! Allah gives you glad tidings of a Word from Him: his name will be Jesus, the son of Mary, held in honor in this world and the Hereafter and of [the company of] those nearest to Allah’” (Al-Imran, 3:45).
It may be a surprise to many Americans that Muslims also believe in Jesus. Although Muslims do not believe that Jesus is the son of God in the sense of being Divine, we do respect and honor him as one of the greatest Prophets of God. In the Qur’an he is called “Isa.” He is also known as Masih (the Christ) and Ibn Maryam (son of Mary). He has many other beautiful names and titles in the Qur’an. Every Muslim honors him, respects him and loves him. His mother is also highly respected, loved and honored. There are hundreds of thousands of Muslim men all over the world who feel proud and blessed to have the name Isa; as there are thousands of Muslim women who feel honored to be called Maryam.
The Qur’an speaks in detail about God’s will for human beings and about many of God’s Prophets and Messengers. All the basic facts about Jesus’s life are mentioned in the Qur’an, and in several places it is stated that Mary was a pious virgin who devoted herself in prayer and service to the Divine. The angel of God one day visited her and gave her the good news of the birth of a blessed child. This was a miraculous birth as Mary was not a married woman and had never been touched by a man.
The virgin birth is clearly mentioned in the Qur’an and no recognized Muslim authority has ever disputed this claim. However, Muslim and Christian theologies differ on the meaning of virgin birth. For Christians it is the incarnation, the coming to earth of the Son of God. For Muslims, it is a special miracle, a virgin giving birth to one destined to be a beloved prophet of God.
For every Prophet a particular miracle was given according to the needs and challenges of his time. Since Jesus’s contemporaries used to deny the existence of spirit, they were shown the presence and the power of divine spirit by this unique birth. Jesus also performed many other miracles, such as raising of the dead to life, healing the blind and lepers, and speaking with knowledge and authority about the unseen realm. All these miracles show that the material domain is not the only reality; there is something beyond the material world that must be recognized. Jesus reminds us about the power of Divine Spirit. The Qur’an emphasizes that Jesus performed all his miracles only by the permission of God.
The message of Jesus was basically the same message of other prophets of God. He was sent to invite people to the worship of one God, to enjoin them to do righteous deeds, and to be kind and benevolent to others. He reminded his people to pay attention not only to the letter of the law — the formal rules, regulations, and principles — but also to the spirit of the law, which encompasses the intent, meaning, and value.
The Qur’an says that Jesus was mistreated, denied, and rejected by his own people just as other prophets were also mistreated. Some of his contemporaries opposed him and tried to crucify him. It is also reported in the Christian Bible that Jesus prayed to God to save him from his enemies and remove the “cup of death” from him: “If Thou art willing, remove this cup from me; nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done” (Mark 14:36 and Luke 22:42). God accepted Jesus’s prayer and, according to the Qur’an, saved him from crucifixion, from death on the cross. He was lifted up to heaven (Al-Nisa 4:157-158). Islam teaches that Jesus is a human being who is divinely blessed and is destined to fulfill an eschatological mission, returning to earth before the end of time. By the permission of God, he will struggle against the Anti-Christ (Dajjal) or demonic forces, restore peace and order, and bring victory for truth and righteousness. The true followers of Jesus will prevail over those who deny him, misrepresent him, or reject him.
Muslims and Christians both believe in God and in Jesus. There is much commonality between the two faiths and better understanding can bring productive and mutually beneficial relations among them.