I recently came across this website (www.ilovemuhammad.com) as I was doing a web search on the Muslim views of Jesus (see http://ilovemuhammed.com/questions/86-what-does-islam-say-about-jesus-pbuh). The highlights of my entry page were intriguing:
What do Muslims believe about Jesus [pbuh]?
Answer: Muslims revere, respect, and love Jesus. … No Muslim can be a Muslim if he/she rejects Jesus, it is a fundamental of faith for the Muslim to believe in Jesus,… The Quran tells us a lot about Jesus, who he was, his miracles, and his mission.
How can a site named “ilovemuhammad,” state, “No Muslim can be a Muslim if he/she rejects Jesus, it is a fundamental of faith for the Muslim to believe in Jesus”? It is one thing for a Muslim to state that “Jesus is only a prophet [and not the Son of God],” and quite another to state, “No Muslim can be a Muslim if he/she rejects Jesus…”
As I reflect on what I call the “dressed-down” version of Jesus that Islam has concocted, the above statement seemed to make sense after all. In a future post, I will discuss Muslim eschatology regarding the return of Jesus. Islamic end-time prophecy includes the descent of Jesus from heaven, along with his declaration that Islam is the one, true, religion, and Christianity is a fabrication by Jesus’ left-behind, over-zealous disciples! But that topic will have to await another post; for now, we will look at Islam’s “dressed down” version of the crucified, risen, Lord Jesus.
We begin with a summary of what the Bible says about Jesus Christ. I will call them the “essentials” of Jesus; however, it is not my purpose to write a theological treatise on Jesus; most of those reading this post will be quite familiar with the essentials that I will summarize. I will provide Biblical support for my conclusions, but my primary point in this post is to address what Islam views about Jesus. Nevertheless, how can you recognize the counterfeit unless you first know what the original looks like.
- Jesus is God in human flesh (John 1:1-2; 14). Jesus is the Son of God, conceived by the Holy Spirit of God (see Islam the Cloak of Antichrist, pp. 18-20) who “overshadowed” Mary, his human mother, and for “that reason,” Jesus is called the “Son of God” (Luke 1:35). This does not mean that Christians believe that Mary and the Holy Spirit were “partners” in flesh (as Muslims interpret the Christian view); but in the same way that the shadow of Simon Peter “fell” upon the sick and healed them (Acts 5:15), so the Holy Spirit “overshadowed” (ἐπισκιάζω) Mary, and the Son was conceived in her womb. Psalms 2:7, Luke 1:35, Luke 9:35, John 1:1-2, 14; John 20:30, Philippians 2:6-8, Revelation 1:18. Related to this view is the Bible’s clarification of who, and what, Jesus was not — Jesus was not a prophet (Matthew 16:13-19).
- Jesus was crucified, until death, and was buried. In His crucifixion, Jesus’ death fulfills the prophecies of the suffering servant Messiah, Isaiah 53:6, 12, who takes upon Himself the sins of the world (1 John 2:2, John 1:29, Luke 22:37, Romans 3:23, 6:23, 8:3-4, 2 Corinthians 5:21, Galatians 3:13, 1 Peter 2:24, 1 John 3;5, Hebrews 1:3, Revelation 1:5, 5:6). Related to this view is that human-kind cannot be saved by human effort. Self-salvation is impossible because the Bible says that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). This means that our good works cannot cancel out our bad deeds (Ephesians 2:8-10, Titus 3:4-5, Galatians 2:16, 3:26).
- Jesus was raised from the dead, in body form, i.e., resurrected, by God. The resurrection declares to humanity that Jesus was God’s Son, because only God can raise someone from the dead. Romans 1:3-4, 6:4, Acts 2:23-24, 32, 1 Corinthians 15:1-8, 14-20. Jesus, having been raised from the dead, now sits at the right hand of God. Acts 2:33, Romans 8:34, Ephesians 1:20, Colossians 3:1, Hebrews 1:3, 8:1, 1 Peter 3:22.
The Qur’anic world view takes the opposite position on each of the above three essential Christian beliefs. It is almost as if the Qur’an was “revealed” to precisely deny the claims of Christianity (and Judaism for that matter. Muslims believe that it was Ishmael, not Isaac, that Abraham was willing to offer for sacrifice; and, that Ishmael is the son-of-promise, not Isaac). The Qur’an’s three-fold denial includes:
- Jesus is not the Son of God (Qur’an 3:47, 59, 64, 19:35), but only a prophet of God. Whenever the Qur’an refers to Jesus as a “son,” it always refers to Him as the “son of Mary” (Qur’an 2:87, 253; 3:45; 4:157, 171; 5:78, 110, 112, 114, 116; 19:34, 33:7, 57:27, 61:6, 14). The Qur’an, therefore, denies Jesus’ divinity, and replaces divinity with prophethood. The Qur’an acknowledges all the Biblical prophets, and Jesus is one of the prophets. There are twenty-four Biblical prophets mentioned by name, although the Qur’an credits Jesus with more mention than any other prophet. The significance of Jesus as prophet rather than Son of God is that Muhammad was also a prophet; and, since the Qur’an is a correction (the Muslim doctrine of tahrif) of the Old and New Testaments, it supersedes the divinely revealed Old and New Testaments. The Gospels which declare Jesus as Son of God are a perversion of the words of Allah who revealed the Bible to Jews and Christians (see “Bible.” In The Oxford Dictionary of Islam, edited by John L. Esposito. Oxford Islamic Studies Online, http://www.oxfordislamicstudies.com/article/opr/t125/e344 (accessed 29-Mar-2012). Related to the denial of the divinity of Jesus is the Qur’an’s denial of the Christian view of the Trinity (Qur’an 4:171). Muslims view the Trinity as polytheism, the worship of three gods (God, the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit); and, the “association of peers” with Allah. (See “Jesus.” In The Islamic World: Past and Present, edited by John L. Esposito. Oxford Islamic Studies Online, http://www.oxfordislamicstudies.com/article/opr/t243/e174 (accessed 28-Mar-2012)). Muslims view the Christian belief in the deity of Jesus as well as the belief in the Trinity as “shirk” (because either view ascribes a “partner” to Allah). In Islam there is no greater sin that shirk. Shirk is an unforgivable sin resulting in eternal damnation. Shirk violates the monotheism for Islam– Allah is One (not three-in-one). The “Shahada” is the “first of the so-called Pillars of Islam, and the only one of the five that has to do with faith and belief. “I testify,” the Muslim says, “that there is no god but The God” (Ashhadu an lā ilāha illā Allāh), “and Muḥammad is His envoy [Messenger].” To believe in Jesus as Son of God violates the Shahada on multiple accounts, one of which is the difference between Jesus’ message and that of Muhammad. It was Jesus, Son of God, that said, “A new commandment I give to you that you love one another even as I have loved one, that you should love one another.” (John 13:34). And, it was Muhammad who recited, “Fight those who believe not in [Allah] and the Last Day and do not forbid what [Allah] and His Messenger have forbidden—such men as practise not the religion of truth, being of those who have been given the Book [Jews and Christians]—until they pay the tribute out of hand and have been humbled” (Qur’an 9:29).
- Jesus was not crucified, but someone who appeared to be him was crucified in his place (Qur’an 4:157). To a Muslim, for any prophet of God to suffer and die is shameful and purposeless. Allah can forgive sins anytime he wants; for he is “God,” and he does not require a sacrifice in order for him to grant forgiveness. “Muslims do not believe in the idea of original sin, so they see no need for … a sacrifice [for humanity’s sins]. [Muslims] believe that each person is responsible for their own salvation through their actions” (see “Jesus.” In The Islamic World: Past and Present, edited by John L. Esposito. Oxford Islamic Studies Online, http://www.oxfordislamicstudies.com/article/opr/t243/e174 (accessed 28-Mar-2012). Muslims believe that a Muslim’s good deeds offset their bad deeds, and there is a “scale” that weighs the good and subtracts the bad. The “Reliance of the Traveller,” the classic manual of Islamic Sacred Law, Book V, 2.3 states, “It is obligatory to believe in the scale; which consists of two scalepans and a balance indicator between them, … . It weighs a servant’s deeds through the power of Allah Most High, ….” (p. 823).
- Jesus did not rise from the dead. He did not die, in fact, so His resurrection from the dead is a moot point. Rather, Allah took Him up to heaven, i.e., He “ascended,” much like Elijah (2 Kings 2:11) or Enoch (Genesis 5:24) (Qur’an 3:68; 3:55, 4:157-158). See also Esposito, John L. “FAITH AND PRACTICE”, In Oxford Islamic Studies Online, http://www.oxfordislamicstudies.com/article/book/islam-9780195157130/islam-9780195157130-div1-22 (accessed 28-Mar-2012).
Here is a summary statement that covers all three of the Muslim views above. It is from The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Islamic World:
Yet the Qurʿān also challenges, or indeed appears to deny outright, some traditional Christian beliefs about Jesus, including his status as Son of God (19:34), his role as a Person of the Trinity (4:171), and his death and resurrection (4:157–158).
Does it seem a little coincidental that the foundational views of who Jesus is, and what His purpose was, are all denied by Islam? In fact, the only Biblical view of Jesus that the Qur’an agrees with are His virgin birth (Qur’an 5:46), and His miracles (Qur’an 3:49). Concerning His miracles, the Qur’an adds a few not even included in the Scripture (they are included in the non-canonical Gospel of Thomas). The “ilovemuhammad” website describes a few miracles and quotes the Qur’an 19:28-30:
“O sister of Aaron! Thy father was not a man of evil, nor thy mother a woman unchaste!” But she pointed to the babe. They said: “How can we talk to one who is a child in the cradle?” He [Jesus] said: “I am indeed a servant of Allah: He hath given me revelation and made me a prophet; (19: 28-30) (Emphasis in original).
The Quran continues to tell us about the miracles of Jesus:
“And (appoint him) a messenger to the Children of Israel, (with this message): “‘I have come to you, with a Sign from your Lord, in that I make for you out of clay, as it were, the figure of a bird, and breathe into it, and it becomes a bird by Allah’s leave: And I heal those born blind, and the lepers, and I quicken the dead, by Allah’s leave; and I declare to you what ye eat, and what ye store in your houses. Surely therein is a Sign for you if ye did believe (3:49) (Emphasis in original).
Consider what the Qur’an has done to the Biblical view of Jesus: it has denied every essential doctrine that distinguishes Jesus Christ and His mission and purpose for all humanity, including Muhammad. How is it possible that Muslims can state, “we revere, respect, and love Jesus,” while at the same time discrediting Jesus at every opportunity? The perfect example of this is the Dome of the Rock which rests overtop the Foundation Stone of the Ark of the Covenant. The Arabic script on the interior and exterior walls declares over and over again, “Jesus is not the Son of God, but only a messenger… Far be it for Allah to have a Son…” The only distinguishing factor that has not been denied by Islam is the miraculous, virgin birth of Jesus; but even the virgin birth loses its importance when Islam denies:
- the divinity of Jesus;
- the crucifixion of Jesus, the reason why the Son came into the world (John 12:27); and,
- the resurrection of Jesus, the means whereby the Father declares Himself to be the author behind the events of Jesus’ life and mission (Romans 1:3-4).
The Qur’an has concocted a version of Jesus Christ that has been clearly “dressed-down” from the image of God expressed in the Bible (John 1:18). In fact, the Qur’an has not only “dressed-down” the only Begotten Son, but has stripped Him, naked, of everything God has clothed Him with. Why? If Muslims knew who Jesus really was, they would come to Him as God has revealed Him, not as the Qur’an has unclothed Him. Their “reverence, respect, and love” would be based on something other than the Qur’an requiring them to do so; or, because Jesus made clay birds talk 2000 years ago! If Muslims knew who Jesus really was, Muhammad, the so-called, “seal of the prophets,” would hardly be the “last prophet,” but a name in the history of the Arabs, long-ago forgotten.
If Muhammad is the “last great prophet,” why is it necessary for the Qur’an (and Hadiths) to “protect” his image by redefining the image of Jesus? In my own study of the Qur’an, I am amazed at how it seems to be more about who Jesus Christ is not, than who Muhammad is! Why is it necessary for the Qur’an to “protect” itself by declaring the death penalty to anyone who “defames” it, either intentionally or unintentionally? Can Allah not protect his own revelation? Why do modern-day authors, such as myself, have to write under pseudonyms to protect themselves from Muslims offended by someone stating a critical view about Muhammad (or the Qur’an)? Why is it that no one can evangelize Muslims except under threat of death? Can the message of Islam not stand up for itself against the message of other world religions? Why is it that a Christian church cannot exist on the Arabian Peninsula? Are Muslim Arabs afraid of the spread of the Church in their own backyard? Why does Islam have a law that legislates the death penalty for Muslims who leave the Muslim religion? If someone is born into a Muslim home, why is Islam their religion simply because their parents are Muslim? Can they not make that choice for themselves without violating Muslim laws against apostasy and its death penalty? Under “dhimmitude,” why is it necessary for non-Muslims (mostly Christians) to agree: not to evangelize, even their own children; not to maintain their churches or build new ones; not to sing loudly in church or to clap in church; not to wave Palm Branches on Palm Sunday? In other words, why are “protections” always necessary for Islam so that people will not leave the religion?
Consider a few of many modern examples of the “protections” afforded Islam, the Qur’an, Muhammad, or Allah, each of which, in some way, keeps Muslims from knowing the real Christ Jesus:
- New Delhi, India, March 12, 2012: Parents, Islamic Extremists Beat Young Woman in India. A young woman was thrown out of her home this month for daring to give thanks for healing in Christ’s name in a predominantly Muslim village in India’s West Bengal state, and then her parents helped Islamic extremists to beat her nearly unconscious. (Emphasis supplied).
- Iran. February 23, 2012.
Iran pastor facing execution any day, but supporters still hopeful. …. The case began in 2009 when [Yusef] Nadarkhani was arrested after complaining that his son was being taught Islam in school. He eventually was sentenced to death by the court of appeals. In 2011 the Iranian Supreme Court upheld the death sentence but ordered a lower court to examine whether Nadarkhani was ever a Muslim — a fact essential to determine whether he left Islam for Christianity. But that lower court in Rasht, Iran, found that although Nadarkhani was never a practicing Muslim he remained guilty of apostasy because he had Muslim ancestry.
- North Sudan: January 19, 2012. Authorities Threaten to Arrest Church Leaders Involved in Preaching or Evangelistic Activities. Sudan’s Ministry of Guidance and Religious Endowments has threatened to arrest church leaders if they carry out evangelistic activities ….
- Saudi Arabia: March 21, 2012.
Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti Calls for Destruction of Churches in Region. The Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia [right], the country’s top Islamic cleric [comparable to the Pope in the Catholic Church], has declared that it is “necessary to destroy all the churches of the region,” placing Christian places of worship throughout the Arabian Peninsula in potential jeopardy. Since Christianity is already forbidden in Saudi Arabia and no churches exist there, the implications of the cleric’s words were that the church ban should extend to other countries in the region, including Yemen, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates.
- Muslim cleric states that “Saying Merry Christmas is worse than fornication or drinking alcohol or killing someone.” It is “shirk” or “kufur.”
Uhmm…. Was it Muhammad that legislated these “protections” for Islam to keep Muslims away from Christ? Protections so serious that death of the violator was the most often consequence? I don’t think so. Muhammad only recited what Allah gave him. The root of all the denials of Jesus, as well as the death sentences for violators of Islamic blasphemy or apostasy laws, is not Muhammad– but Allah. The Qur’an contains the words of Allah, not Muhammad. The opening command of Allah given to Muhammad through the angel Gabriel is as follows:
Read! In the name of your Lord who created: 2He created man from a clinging form. 3Read! Your Lord is the Most Bountiful One 4who taught by [means of] the pen, 5who taught man what he did not know. Qur’an 96:1-4
I suppose that begs the question: Who is Allah that he would be so threatened by Jesus Christ, the only Begotten Son of God, that he would rewrite and discredit who Jesus really was, and is? Take a look at Revelation 12:9, and then, Revelation 13:2, 4. You will find your answer there.
May we be reminded this Easter of who Jesus Christ is; of how the Father has authenticated His witness (1 John 5:10); and of who stands against Him, and against those who are called by His name (Revelation 12:11,17).