Muslims do honour Jesus, but they do not know who He is.
Muhammad, the founder of Islam who died in 632, said many things about Jesus in the Qur’an and Hadith, which form the basis for what most Muslims believe about Jesus. As Islam becomes part of the theological mainstream in Australia it is important for Christians have some idea about this.
Here is a summary of what Muhammad said.
Jesus’ mother was Miriam/Mary the daughter of Amram and the sister of Moses and Aaron, Qur’an 3:35-51, 19:28 & 53, 66:12, Ex. 15:20. The Holy Spirit came as a man and announced to Mary the birth of Jesus, 19:17.
Jesus was born of a virgin, 3:45-47. He spoke from the cradle, 19:29-35. Jesus is not lord, or the divine Son of God, 19:35.
God, 19:35. No one can be called a son of God, 5:18; you can only be a slave, 19:92-93. God is not father.
There is no Trinity, 4:171, 5:73. Jesus is a word and a spirit from God, 4.171.
He is like Adam with no father, 3:59.
Jesus is just a prophet, 4:171.
Jesus is the Messiah, 3:45.
He came to Israel, 43:59.
Jesus made birds from clay and breathed the spirit of life into them, 3:49, 5:110.
He gave guidance, 2:135-6.
Jesus taught jihad, 9:111.
Jesus confirms and yet changes the law of Moses, 3:50.
He foretold the coming of Muhammad, 61:6.
The gospel is for all nations, 3:3-4, 187, 21:91, 5:47.
Jesus did not die nor was he crucified but he ascended to God and is now alive, 4:157.
Muhammad can intercede to God for you better than Jesus, Sahih al-Bukhari: vol. 6, bk. 60, no. 3.
He will come again to break all crosses, kill pigs and abolish the Jizya tax (i.e. bring the final jihad against all nonMuslims) Sahih al-Bukhari: vol. 3, bk. 43, no. 656.
When Jesus returns he will teach the Qur’an, Sahih al-Bukhari: vol. 4, bk. 55, no. 658.
When Muhammad teaches about Jesus it is usually to justify himself in some way
There are elements of Muhammad’s understanding of Jesus that Christians would recognise as part of the true Gospel, but there are other elements which are not.
Where did Muhammad get these ideas from? To whom was he listening? It is noticeable that the Qur’an does not quote the Bible in the same careful way the New Testament does of the Old Testament. Instead, the stories are retold by way of illustration for some point Muhammad wishes to make. Furthermore, the stories do not come from the Bible but from apocryphal sources. For instance, Jesus only appearing to die comes from the Docetic Gospels, and creating birds from clay is from the Infancy Gospel of Thomas. This shows the range of Christians Muhammad was arguing with.
The fact that he denies the divine Sonship of Jesus and the reality of His death means that Muhammad teaches a false gospel and as such should be considered a false prophet (Gal. 1:6-10).
When Muhammad teaches about Jesus it is usually to justify himself in some way. For instance Jesus is said to teach jihad: “God has bought from the believers their persons and their possessions for the price of Paradise; they fight in the way of God; they kill, and are killed; that is a promise binding upon God in the Torah, and the Gospel, and the Qur’an” (Qur’an 9:111).
Jesus foretells the coming of Muhammad: “And remember, Jesus, the son of Mary, said: ‘O Children of Israel! I am the messenger of Allah (sent) to you, confirming the Law (which came) before me, and giving Glad Tidings of a Messenger to come after me, whose name shall be Ahmad” (Qur’an 61:6).
The common verses that Muslims claim are about Muhammad are: Deuteronomy 18:18, Song of Solomon 5:16, John 14:16. These verses, however, have nothing to do with Muhammad and this has led some Muslims to write their own Gospels just as the Gnostics did in the past
An example is the The Gospel According to Islam which was only written in 1979. It claims: “The book before you is a Gospel. It is written in the light of the revelation of God made to the prophet Muhammad. … This outline is supplemented in this book by some background material (derived mostly from the New Testament and sometimes transformed accordingly to the Qur’anic revelation) to form a Gospel of approximately the size of Mark. … As we said earlier, this book is offered as a new Gospel, a Muslim equivalent of, and alternative to, the existing Gospels” (Ahmad Shafaat, The Gospel According to Islam, 1979, pp. 1-2).
Muslims think that if you want to learn about Jesus you need to read the Qur’an… Would they like us to learn about Muhammad by reading Bahai Allah?
And we read in this Islamic Gospel: “And Pilate sent an order, that Jesus Barabbas be released. But the officers who received the order did make an error and released Jesus of Nazareth, and crucified Jesus Barabbas. And when he was released he departed for Galilee, and he met two travellers who were going to Emmaus … And Jesus answering said unto them, Lo, Jesus of Nazareth is not crucified nor dead, but he liveth (26:21-30).”
Another example is the fraudulent Gospel of Barnabas from 14th century which is widely used by Muslims today. Muhammad considers that when Jesus returns he will be a Muslim and obey Muhammad’s teaching and so Muhammad is the final prophet even with the return of Jesus.
You may have heard the phrase that Muslims believe that Jesus is a prophet. This is true but does not really explain the situation. In the Qur’an all of the main characters are just prophets. For instance Aaron the high priest is also just a prophet. All the unique roles that various people had in the Bible are lost as everyone is squashed down to one level. Therefore, not only does Muhammad misrepresent Jesus, he misrepresents all the other biblical figures as well.
The worst sin one can commit in Islam is to associate anything with God. Calling Jesus the Son of God is such a sin. Muhammad not only denied that Jesus is the Son of God, he also denied that anyone can call himself a son of God (5:18). At this point we see that Muhammad not only disagrees with the Gospel but also with all of the prophets because the doctrine of the Son of God is in the Torah (Ex. 4:22), Prophets (2 Sam. 7) and the Psalms (2). Muhammad shows no understanding of the unity of scripture and how all scripture builds upon itself and is meant to be read together (3:50, 5:48).
Muhammad’s understanding of Jesus is also inconsistent. For instance, throughout the Qur’an it is stated that Jesus is not God, yet Muhammad retells the story from the Gospel of Thomas where Jesus makes birds from clay and breathes into them the breath of life (15:28-29). This moulding of clay and breathing of life is exactly how God creates Adam (3:39). Muhammad says that Jesus did this only by the permission of God, but for Jesus to create anything means he shares in the unique attribute that defines God. If Jesus is not God and God can give this permission to anyone then Islam teaches pantheism.
Muslims think that if you want to learn about Jesus you need to read the Qur’an. We need to point out to them that we should learn about Jesus on his own terms. Would they like us to learn about Muhammad by reading Bahai Allah? Point out that Muhammad is just one man 600 years after Jesus while the NT contains multiple witnesses from Jesus’ own companions.
Samuel Green is founder of the website http://www.answering-islam.org