A lot of people don’t realize that Jesus is honoured as one of the great prophets and messengers of God and that Muslims believe he was passing on the same message of worshipping one God as the other prophets. The Qur’an goes into vivid detail about his life and his practice of calling people to worship a singular God, but Muslims dismiss and fundamentally reject any concept that Jesus was divine in anyway, whether it be as the begotten son of God or as a god himself.
The miraculous birth of Jesus is something not contested by Muslims. In the Qur’an, the story of his birth begins with the story of his mother, Maryam, and her immaculate conception. In this account, Maryam is devoted to the service of God’s will, is provided for by God and is completely submitting in her faith of Him. The annunciation is also not disputed as one day Maryam was praying to God and the form of a man appeared before her. This was actually the angel Gabriel coming to announce her miraculous pregnancy with a “righteous son”. When Mary protested that this was impossible, the angel replied that when God decreed something, He need only to say Be and it was. This is why many people argue that Jesus is the word of God. Following this, Maryam decided to go into seclusion to avoid the misinformed judgment of others who might not understand Immaculate Conception. She wandered around in labour until she finally settled at the base of a palm tree far away from anyone or anything. Many will notice that this is a very different story from a manger and three kings visiting with gifts. Muslims believe biblical accounts of Maryam’s birth and her engagement to a carpenter named Joseph are inaccurate and fabricated. With the Mercy of Allah on he, Maryam birthed Jesus alone, pulling on a palm tree to help her, eating the dates that fell from it and refreshing herself with the stream provided by God beneath her.
Following this miraculous birth, Maryam decided to return to her people, despite possibly facing scorn at being an unwed mother. In the Qur’an it becomes clear that she would be provided for as the angels instructed her to take a vow of silence and not address anyone who spoke to her. When she arrived, people naturally started asking her all sorts of questions about her “sin” and scolded her for her transgression. Maryam did not reply and signaled to them that she had taken a vow of silence, gesturing instead to the baby. The next miracle of Jesus would show itself as the baby opened his mouth and spoke to those questioners, saying I am indeed a servant of God. He has given me revelation, and made me a prophet. And He has made me blessed wherever I may be, and has enjoined on me prayer and almsgiving as long as I live. He has made me kind to my mother, and not overbearing or unblessed. So peace is on me the day I was born, the day I die, and the day that I shall be raised up to life. (Qur’an 19:30-33) Following this, most people acknowledged this child and his special miracle and left Maryam alone.
The Qur’an also makes clear that any of the other miracles performed by Jesus in his lifetime, including curing blindness and leprosy were done by the will of God and are not examples of any divine powers held by Jesus. According to Islam, Jesus is a continuation of a long chain of prophets who came to mankind from God in order to express monotheism and implore others to the proper worship of God. Islam rejects that he was anything more than a mere messenger of Allah. For this, the Qur’an is very clear: Christ, the son of Mary was no more than a messenger. (Qur’an 5:75) Islam also rejects the idea the Jesus was somehow the Son of God. This title had been given to others before him and was meant to indicate that that person was God’s servant, not the literal progeny of God. Though Jesus had no human father, this does not mean that he was the literal son of God, rather, the Qur’an points out that Adam too had no father and was willed into existence by God Alone as well.
The term Messiah is applied to Jesus in the Qur’an and refers to the anointment of a prophet in the service of God. In Islam, all prophets were anointed for the service of God. It is merely a way of describing his special status as a big messenger of God and serves as a title of respect. Most frequently though, Jesus is referred to simply as the son of Maryam, reinforcing his innate humanity.
It should be clear by now that because Muslims reject any notion of Jesus as divine or the progeny of God, that it follows that they would also reject the concept of the Holy Trinity – the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit – meant to elucidate in a Christian paradigm what Jesus was on earth and in heaven.
Additionally, Muslims also disagree with Christians about the circumstances that surround the end of Jesus’ stay on earth, particularly the crucifixion and what it represents. According to Islam, it never took place and that though there was a plot to kill Jesus, it failed ultimately because God saved him from his enemies. It is considered blasphemous to Muslims to imagine a Prophet of God tortured in this way. The Qur’an condemns the actions of disbelievers who rejected Jesus but contends that he was not crucified. The Qur’an only points out that someone who looked like him was put in his place so that it appeared to those crucifying him that they had carried out their hideous deed successfully.
Muslims believe in the Second Coming of Jesus, meaning that he will return to the earth just before the Day of Judgment. Though it is not mentioned explicitly in the Qur’an, it does say that his return will be a sign for the Coming Hour of reckoning. More details about his return are given through the hadith which are the oral examples from the Prophet Muhammad in which he mentioned that Jesus would come among us as a judge near the end of time. He will follow the Laws of Islam and all confused Jewish and Christians will believe in him properly before his death. He will also defeat the AntiChrist.
Despite multiple theological differences between the religions, Muslims try very hard to focus on the commonalities between Muslims and Christians. The Qur’an reminds us that Nearest among them in love to the believers will you find those who say “We are Christians”. (Qur’an 5:82)