Meet ‘Isa’, Muhammad’s Fabled ‘Jesus’

Depiction of angel 'Jibril' revealing Qur'an to Muhammad

The Qur’an (Quran, Kuran, Koran, Coran or al-Qur’?n), the religious text ostensibly revealed to Muhammad by “Allah” through the angel “Jibril”, is considered by Muslims to be the “final revelation” of ‘Allah”. In it, we find fables about various persons who are also mentioned in the Torah and in the Christian New Testament. Among them is “Isa”, who Muslims claim is Jesus.

Though Christians believe Jesus to be the Son of God and the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, Muslims consider “Isa” to be merely a prophet, in much the same manner that Jews and Christians consider Elijah to be a prophet. Muhammad also is considered a prophet; the last one sent by God and, therefore, because he ostensibly brought the “final revelation”, he is deemed by Muslims to be the most special prophet of all. As a “prophet”, “Isa” holds a special place in the mind of Muslims. Among the more zealous Muslims, we may find a willingness to strongly defend the name of “Isa”, who they will sometimes refer to as “Jesus”. For this reason, it is sometimes perceived that Muslims hold “Jesus” in higher honor than even Christians do. Since zeal for error should never be mistaken for holiness, it’s important that we understand more precisely what it is that Muslims believe about “Isa” (“Jesus”).

As a convert who was raised in a protestant home, I completely understand what it’s like to know “about” Jesus without really “knowing Jesus”. Today, Ash Wednesday, 2011, is the twentieth anniversary of my recognizing the Real Jesus in the Eucharist. Because of my own life experience, I understand that ignorance can be remedied through the grace of God and through our willingness to spread the truth about the Real Jesus provided that those who do not really know Jesus are willing to accept that their current view of Him is not altogether the truth. For this reason, it is important that we understand what Muslims believe, on some level, and be willing to engage them in dialogue and also to pray for their understanding of the Real Jesus.

The "Prophet Isa"

Muhammad’s view of Jesus is fundamentally flawed, both in the Qur’an and in the “Hadith” which offers context for the Qur’an much like the writings of the Early Church Fathers offer context for the Christian Scriptures.

In the Qur’an, we can hear certain ‘echoes’ of stories from the Christian Scriptural account of Jesus. As an example, I will offer two passages from the Christian Scriptures about Jesus and a passage from the Qur’an about Muhammad’s “Jesus” character.

Christians are all quite familiar with this passage from Matthew 16. Catholics know this to be the moment when Jesus gave authority to St. Peter, who became the first Pope:

And Jesus came into the quarters of Caesarea Philippi: and he asked his disciples, saying: Whom do men say that the Son of man is? But they said: Some John the Baptist, and other some Elias, and others Jeremias, or one of the prophets. Jesus saith to them: But whom do you say that I am? Simon Peter answered and said: Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answering, said to him: Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona: because flesh and blood hath not revealed it to thee, but my Father who is in heaven. And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

In John 6, from the Christian Scriptures, Jesus offers a hard saying that challenges His followers.

And he said: Therefore did I say to you, that no man can come to me, unless it be given him by my Father. After this many of his disciples went back; and walked no more with him. Then Jesus said to the twelve: Will you also go away? And Simon Peter answered him: Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we have believed and have known, that thou art the Christ, the Son of God. Jesus answered them: Have not I chosen you twelve; and one of you is a devil? Now he meant Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon: for this same was about to betray him, whereas he was one of the twelve.

Though the above passages are very different from what is said in the Qur’an, we can clearly hear an ‘echo’ of the above exchanges in the Qur’an, Sura 3:

But when Jesus felt [persistence in] disbelief from them, he said, “Who are my supporters for [the cause of] Allah ?” The disciples said,” We are supporters for Allah . We have believed in Allah and testify that we are Muslims [submitting to Him]. Our Lord, we have believed in what You revealed and have followed the messenger Jesus, so register us among the witnesses [to truth].” And the disbelievers planned (sometimes translated as ‘schemed’), but Allah planned (‘schemed’). And Allah is the best of planners (‘schemers’). [Mention] when Allah said, “O Jesus, indeed I will take you and raise you to Myself and purify you from those who disbelieve and make those who follow you [in submission to Allah alone] superior to those who disbelieve until the Day of Resurrection. Then to Me is your return, and I will judge between you concerning that in which you used to differ.

Jesus in an Islamic Portrayal of the Judgment

Clearly, there are certain ‘parallels’ between the real Jesus and Muhammad’s fable. Reading Sura 3, which speaks of “Jesus” (Muhammad’s fable version) Christians can recognize certain ‘echoes’ from Scriptural stories. At the same time, the many contradictions that may sound somewhat “scriptural” to Christians, and things that are made up out of whole cloth, make up most of the references to Jesus in Sura 3. Unfortunately, ‘echoes’ from the Word of God can be quite deceiving. Satan himself had no trouble quoting Scripture. In fact, Satan could quote Scripture better than Muhammad did. After all, Muhammad could not even read.

Though Muhammad couldn’t read, he did have access to Christian teaching on Jesus. It is instructive that Muhammad wrote the first 80 verses of Sura 3 after receiving a visit from three Christians, one of whom was a bishop. (More on that visit at the end of the article.)

In the Hadith, the “Jesus” of Muhammad is described as one who will return to judge….but also to do away with Christianity.

Translation of Sahih Bukhari, Volume 3, Book 34, 425:

Narrated Abu Huraira:

Allah’s Apostle said, “By Him in Whose Hands my soul is, son of Mary (Jesus) will shortly descend amongst you people (Muslims) as a just ruler and will break the Cross and kill the pig and abolish the Jizya (a tax taken from the non-Muslims, who are in the protection, of the Muslim government). Then there will be abundance of money and no-body will accept charitable gifts.

Translation of Sahih Bukhari, Volume 3, Book 43, Number 656:

Narrated Abu Huraira:

Allah’s Apostle said, “The Hour will not be established until the son of Mary (i.e. Jesus) descends amongst you as a just ruler, he will break the cross, kill the pigs, and abolish the Jizya tax. Money will be in abundance so that nobody will accept it (as charitable gifts).

Translation of Sahih Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 55, Number 657:

Narrated Abu Huraira:

Allah’s Apostle said, “By Him in Whose Hands my soul is, surely (Jesus,) the son of Mary will soon descend amongst you and will judge mankind justly (as a Just Ruler); he will break the Cross and kill the pigs and there will be no Jizya (i.e. taxation taken from non Muslims). Money will be in abundance so that nobody will accept it, and a single prostration to Allah (in prayer) will be better than the whole world and whatever is in it.” Abu Huraira added “If you wish, you can recite (this verse of the Holy Book): — ‘And there is none Of the people of the Scriptures (Jews and Christians) But must believe in him (i.e Jesus as an Apostle of Allah and a human being) Before his death. And on the Day of Judgment He will be a witness Against them.” (4.159) (See Fateh Al Bari, Page 302 Vol 7)

Clearly, this is not the Jesus we Christians know. He is a figment of Muhammad’s imagination.

Incarnation of the Word

Perhaps the foremost fundamental flaw in Muhammad’s personal view of Jesus — the error he adopted that may be primarily responsible for his getting so much else wrong in his fable — is his rejection of the Incarnation. It was his rejection of the Incarnation that brought those Christian visitors to see him, to discuss the matter of how it is that God could become man. When they explained to Muhammad the circumstances of Jesus’ conception, Muhammad replied:

“You lie. Your assertion that God has a son, your worship of the cross, and your eating pork hold you back from submission.”

As it stands, it is Muhammad’s unwillingness to accept Jesus as the Son of God — as God Incarnate — that held him back from understanding the truth.

I have no doubt that Muhammad now knows the truth about Jesus, but his followers continue to this day to reject Jesus as the Son of God. There is hope, however. Islam does accept the Virgin Birth, and they hold Mary in high esteem.

Sura 3:36

But when she delivered her, she said, “My Lord, I have delivered a female.” And Allah was most knowing of what she delivered, “And the male is not like the female. And I have named her Mary, and I seek refuge for her in You and [for] her descendants from Satan, the expelled [from the mercy of Allah ].”

Sura 3:42

And [mention] when the angels said, “O Mary, indeed Allah has chosen you and purified you and chosen you above the women of the worlds.

Under the mantle of the Blessed Virgin Mary, it could very well be that many Muslims will find their way to Jesus.

15 Responses to Meet ‘Isa’, Muhammad’s Fabled ‘Jesus’

  • T. Shaw says:

    I do not have the cirtation or attribution for this commentary.

    They describe Him wrongly and worship Him wrongly.
    I think you could argue that Islam is a kind of “Summatio omnium haeresium”:
    - It is Hebraizing (the first heresy – check Acts and Galatians) in that it restores Jewish habits such as circumcision and dietary taboos, which Christianity abolished;
    - It is Montanist, in that it claims to be a further revelation beyond that of Jesus, and also in the inherent inner contradiction between nationalist aspects (Montanism as “the Phrygian heresy”, Islam as the specifically Arabic religion in which Arab is the divine language) and universal tendencies;
    - It is Arian, in denying the Trinity and the Divinity of Christ;
    - It is Docetist, in denying that Christ died on the Cross;
    - it is Donatist, in spreading its word with the sword and punishing apostates with death;
    - it is Pelagian, in denying Original Sin (in fact, ultra-Pelagian, since Pelagius only claimed that Christ had abolished Original Sin, not that it never existed);
    - it is Calvinist, believing in “double predestination” – all men are born with a God-given doom, some to be saved, some to be damned;
    - it is Nestorian, in that it believes that Jesus the man was separate from the Spirit of God, and that the Virgin Mary is NOT the Mother of God (in fact, early Muslim rulers had particular sympathy for Nestorianism, and spread its predication from Spain – where it appeared as Adoptionism – to the borders of China);
    - It is Lutheran, in that it attacks Reason and believes that the only proper attitude to God is submission and prayer;
    - it is generally Protestant, in that it denies the Sacraments, the sacrificing priesthood, and any kind of hierarchy (except for the Shias), and in that it has no churches, but “meeting houses” – that is what mosques are – led by “preachers” – that is what Muslim clerics are.

    In short, Mohammed, led by some sort of perverse genius, actually managed to summarize in one teaching literally every doctrine that has ever been condemned by the Universal church, with the exception of Monophysitism and Monotheletism. Yes, we do worship the same God; we rightly, they wrongly.

  • Foxfier says:

    As my husband puts it:
    “Takes the power in Christianity and ties it into the power from tribalism, with a lot of what people want to hear.”

    Because a troll will show up any time now:
    flaws in the religion doesn’t mean that nobody who follows it can be good. Go read the Narnia books and grow a brain, or stop hunting for offense.

  • Jacob Morgan says:

    It is also generally Protestant in that the whole focus is on a book.

    The oddest thing is that there much more associated with Jesus’s birth and ministry than with that of Mohamed. Jesus was foretold by countless prophets: where he was born, where he lived, where the Holy Family fled, etc. Stars appeared that attracted the Magi. The holy innocents. A prophet proceeded him to pave the way. Great things were foretold when he was taken to the temple the first time. The incident when he went to the temple years later. He had 12 apostles, disciples, etc. He raised the dead. His Mother was very unique to say the least. The old Testament was in many ways a prototype of Jesus and his circumstances, from the protoevangelium of Genesis on up. All that to accomplish what? According to Mohamed, virtually nothing.

    Then Mohamed comes along, no stars in the sky, no prophecies from hundreds of years earlier, no prophets concurrent with him, no miracles, no mother assumed to heaven, etc., and claims to turn everything upside down once and for all for keeps. How bizarre that the second best prophet, according to them, would show up with such intricate, elaborate, and miraculous circumstance and have next to no lasting (valid) importance, according to them. Why such an infinitely disproportionate setting of the stage for the major versus the minor? That does not add up.

    Mohammedanism is the sort of religion one would create to give people (or men at least) what they want–and what a cruel thing that is. Christianity, I think it was C.S. Lewis who said it, is not the sort of thing a person would invent. It calls for turning the other check, to love and not merely obey, and such, and low and behold that is what people really need.

  • Foxfier says:

    Isn’t there the mythology that the Arabs are from Ishmael, and the Jews from Isaac? Remember it being mentioned in passing in one of the “why the Arabs hate the Jews” things….

  • “Isn’t there the mythology that the Arabs are from Ishmael, and the Jews from Isaac?”

    That immortal scene from the movie the Ten Commandments where Moses’ father-in-law says that his tribe is descended from Ishmael and they are “the obedient of God”. Moses responds that now he sees that Abraham has many children.

  • Met says:

    The Koran and Al Hadis manage to offer to a devout follower the fulfillment of every sensual vice – of course for men only. In this life, there is permission to rape one’s wife, and violate any others in the course of “war”, punish offspring with death. Sex and violence. In the next life – thousands of slaves, and sexual slaves male and female readily acquired in a “paradise market”. Allah is described also as the “greatest of deceivers” – Mohammed’s compatriot is terrified because he fears his god will double cross him. A follower is allowed to lie freely about anything, including the nature of Islam itself, if it will further Islam’s conquest, be that even the personal interest of a believer over an infidel.
    I know a fair many people who are good, and happen to be muslim – I do not think it is *because* they are highly observant – they would be good people in any religious context.
    There is in Islam no sense of God having an essence and nature that makes him consistant and truthful – he is wielder of arbitrary power and will. Man is denied free will of any kind, and may be arbitrarily perverted by “god” himself if it delights him.

    When you get down to what Islam actually holds to, amid some assorted ideas plucked from Christianity and Judaism, is the addition of a great deal of the smell of sulfur…Christian ideals in their inverse.

  • Stephen E Dalton says:

    The Jesus of Mohammad is the anti-Christ. The Apostle John defines anti-Christ as not believing Jesus is the Christ and denying Jesus is Christ come in the flesh. Mohammed also said God doesn’t have any pardners or son. John said , if you deny the Son, you deny the Father. Mohammad was an anti-Christ and a seducer, not a true prophet of God.

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