The cardinal doctrines of Christianity that are rejected by Islam center around the personality of Jesus. Specifically these are:
- The Trinity
- The Divinity of Jesus
- The Divine Sonship of Christ
- Original sin, and
All these dogmas are the result of over-exalting Jesus.
There are many similarities between Christianity and Islam such as the moral system and the emphasis on humane principles. The beliefs that Muslims associate with Jesus with Jesus are:
– the Virgin Birth of Jesus
– being able to speak in the cradle
– performing miracles, and
– the second coming of Jesus
The more scientific and biblical studies advance, the more they will agree with Islam; the Islamic truth is more evident with the passage of time. There is a complementary role of the subsequent messages of God’s messengers, which define:
– the relation between man and God
– man and man
– man and his environment, and
– to live according to God’s instructions
Thus, any contradiction among revealed religions is viewed by Islam as a man-made element introduced into these religions.
The Qur’an recognizes the fact that Jesus had no human father but this does not make him the son of God or God Himself. By this criterion Adam would have been more entitled to be the son of God because he had neither a father nor a mother.
Jesus was especially prepared by God to be sent to the Jews who had deviated from the teachings of Moses and other Messengers. As he was miraculously supported by God in conception, birth and childhood, he was also supported by numerous miracles to prove that he was a messenger from God.
The prophecy which was addressed to Moses said that God will send among the “brethren” of the israelites, a prophet like Moses who will be a founder, a leader, and an exemplar of a community of believers.
I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brethren; and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. And whoever will not give heed to My words which he shall speak in My name, I Myself will require it of him. (Deut 18:18-20)
It was Prophet Muhammad, not Jesus, who like Moses was born from ordinary parents, got married, founded a faithful community, established a great law and died a natural death. The same prophet is referred to by Jesus in John 14:16-17:
And I will pray the father, and He will give you another Counselor, to be with you for ever, even the Spirit of truth.
Later in John specific description of this Spirit of truth and his role is given as we read in John 16:13-14:
When the Spirit of Truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify Me…
The conclusion, that it refers to the Holy Ghost, is excluded by a previous verse in John, which reads:
Nevertheless I tell you the truth: it is to your advantages that I go away, for if I do not go away, the counselor will not come to you.
It is clear from the Bible that the Holy Ghost used to visit men before and during the life-time of Jesus. John was filled with the Holy Ghost before he was born and Jesus himself received the Holy Ghost in the shape of a dove. The characteristics of this counselor, as can be derived from the prophecy are the following:
- He will not come until Jesus leaves
- He will stay forever, with the believers
- He will glorify Jesus
- He will speak what he hears from God
These characteristics are applicable only to Prophet Muhammad as:
- Prophet Muhammad was the only messenger that came after Jesus. There was a period of six centuries between them. Jesus mission was limited to the “lost sheep of the children of Israel”, but Muhammad’s was a universal message. This explains the first characteristic.
- Only Prophet Muhammad’s message was intended by God to be a universal and everlasting message. This agrees with the statement that the counselor will stay forever with the faithful.
- No other prophet glorified Jesus as much as Prophet Muhammad did. The Jews called him an impostor and accused his mother of immorality. They tried to crucify him. Prophet Muhammad considered Jesus as great prophet and the “Word of God”. The Qur’an attributed to him miracles that are not mentioned in the Bible. Mary is considered the most chaste woman and the best of all women in paradise. Thus did Muhammad really glorify Jesus.
- The fourth characteristic also applies to Prophet Muhammad. The Qur’an was revealed to Prophet Muhammad through the angel Gabriel. When the angel finished reciting the Qur’an, Prophet Muhammad used to convey verbatim to his companions what he heard from the angel without adding, changing, or forgetting anything. The Qur’an also describes Prophet Muhammad saying,
He does not speak out of his own fancy. He utters what is revealed to him. (Qur’an 53:4-5)
If we compare this with, “He will not speak on his own authority”, we can see the striking similarity between the characteristics of the counselor and those of Prophet Muhammad. These and other prophecies in the old and new testaments predict in unequivocal terms the advent of Prophet Muhammad who is rejected by the Jews and Christians on the basis of misunderstanding and bias rather than on the basis of careful study of the Bible, the Qur’an and modern findings in teh field of comparative religion.
The statements that the Qur’an is the word of Muhammad who copied his information from Jewish and Christian sources is made by people who do not know the history of the world, the Qur’an or Muhammad. The first Arabic translation of the Bible appeared two centuries after Muhammad’s mission. If we add to this Muhammad’s illiteracy and the scarcity of religious books in any language outside churches and temples in the sixth century we can understand the absurdity of this allegation.
The Qur’an reports some of Jesus’s miracles, which are not reported in the present gospel. For example, Qur’an tells that Jesus spoke in the cradle and was able to tell people what they ate or treasured in their houses.
The divinity of Jesus was introduced by saint Paul and his followers and was established on the dead bodies of millions of Christians through history.
The choice of the present four gospels was imposed in the conference of Nicea 325 C.E. under the auspices of the pagan Emperor Constantine for political purposes. Literally, hundreds of gospels and religious writings were considered apocrypha, i.e. books of doubtful authenticity. Some of those books were written by Jesus’s disciples. If they were not more authentic than the four gospels they were of equal authenticity. Some of them still are available such as the “Gospel of Barnabas” and the “Shepherd of Hemas”, which agree with the Qur’an.
The Unitarian concept and the humanness of Jesus is not only held by Muslims but also by Jews and by some early groups of Christianity such as the Ebionites, the Cerinthians, the Baslidians, the Capocratians and the Hypisistarians to name several early sects. The Arians, Paulicians and Goths also accepted Jesus as a prophet of God. Even in the modern age there are churches in Asia, in Africa, the Unitarian church, and Jehovah witnesses who do not worship Jesus as God.
The Bible contains additions. The church, as Heinz Zahrnt said,
put words into the mouth of Jesus which he never spoke and attributed actions to him which he never performed.
(Read “Jesus Son of Man” by Rudolf Augustein)
The problem with present Christianity is the personality of Jesus, which is completely misunderstood.
a man approved by God, for special role within the divine purpose, and… the later conception of him as God incarnate… is a mythological or poetic way of expressing his significance for us. (“The Myth of God Incarnate”, written by seven theologian scholars in England and edited by John Hick)
All great prophets such as Abraham, Moses, and Muhammad have had a tremendous impact on people and none of them claimed that he was God or a son of God.
The concept of the Trinity is not, of course, available even in the present Bible. There are statements which negate it such as,
The Lord our Lord is one Lord. (Math. 12:29)
Hasting in “The Dictionary of the Bible” says,
Weather Jesus used it of himself is doubtful.
Even the title “son of god” was used by Jesus himself one should remember:
- As a biblical scholar said,
Semitic usage would never have allowed literal sense even though such an expression would be interpreted literally in the Hellenistic world of Jesus followers.
- The New Testament Greek words used for “son” are “pias” and “paiada”, which means “servant” or “son” in the sense of servant, are translated into son in reference to Jesus and servant in reference to others in some translations of the Bible. (Mufassir, P.15)
- The title “son of man” which is a self-designation of Jesus and occurs 81 times in the gospels is the clearest description and emphasis by Jesus on his humanity. The classical interpretation given to this title is that it is used to emphasize the human side of Jesus.
The traditional Biblical account of Jesus’s crucifixion is that he was arrested and crucified by the orders and plans of the chief priest and Jewish elders. This account was denied in the 1960’s by the highest Catholic Christian authority, the Pope. He issued a statement in which he said that Jews had nothing to do with Jesus’s crucifixion. This definitely does contradict the Biblical account. You might say: This is a political decree. This agrees with what Muslims are saying: the church had introduced many elements into Christianity and was influenced by many factors which made its view of Christianity not only changeable but, by and large, contradict the early forms of Christianity.
The Washington Post (January 5, 1978) reported that a University of Richmond Professor, Dr. Robert Alley lost the chairmanship of the Department of Religion there because holds the view that Jesus never claimed to be the son of God. After considerable research into newly found ancient documents, Dr. Alley concluded that:
The (Bible) passages where Jesus talks about the son of God are latter additions… what the church said about him.
For the first three decades after Jesus’s death Christianity continued as a sect within Judaism. The first three decades of its existence of the church were within the synagogue.
So, Islam does not abolish Jesus, it rather puts him in right position in the long line of men who brought real salvation to humanity. In reality they are adding a new dimension to their understanding of God, prophet-hood, and revelation.
To sum up, Islam considers Jesus as one of God’s great prophets. His mission was to preach the Oneness of God and to lead man to his Lord. He never claimed to be other than a servant and a Messenger of God. The Qur’anic account of his life and mission is supported by overwhelming evidence. The Muslims do believe in and are awaiting the Second Coming of Jesus. He will come back not as God to judge the non-Christians, but as Jesus God’s servant his coming is to correct the misconception which people have developed about his personality and his mission. According to a saying of the Prophet Muhammad, he will stay for forty years which is going to be the happiest years of life on this earth. At that time everybody will believe in him as the messenger, not the Son of God.
* modified from “The truth about Jesus” by Dr. Maneh Hammad Al-Johany