Jesus in Islam

From New World Encyclopedia
Jesus Name in Arabic.gif
The name Jesus son of Mary written in Islamic calligraphy followed by Peace be upon him
Born6 B.C.E.
Bethlehem, Palestine
PredecessorYahya (John the Baptist)
Religious beliefsIslam (According to Islam)

Isa Ibn Maryam (Arabic: عيسى بن مريم‎, translit. ʿĪsā ibn Maryām; English: Jesus, son of Mary), or Jesus in the New Testament, is considered to be a Messenger of God and al-Masih (the Messiah) in Islam who was sent to guide the Children of Israel (banī isrā'īl) with a new scripture, al-Injīl (the Gospel). To aid in his ministry to the Jewish people, Jesus was given the ability to perform miracles (such as healing various ailments like blindness, raising the dead to life, casting out demons, etc.), all according to God's will. No other prophet in Islam has ever been credited with these powers. According to the Qur'an, though it appeared as though Jesus was crucified, in fact he was not killed, neither by crucifixion nor by any other means. From a simple view many believe this represents a fundamental disagreement with Christian views. Others believe linguistic and theological rigors have not been sufficiently applied to be able so conclusively to divide these two communities from one another regarding the person of Jesus. The English interpretation of the The Qur'an says "God raised him (Jesus) unto Himself," a concept that comports with the Gospel message of Isa ascending into heaven. In the 19th Sura of the Qur'an (verse 33), Jesus is reported to have said "And peace is on me the day I was born and the day I will die and the day I am raised alive," a similar statement that John the Baptist declared a few verses earlier in the same Sura. Muslim tradition believes this to mean Jesus will experience a natural death with all mankind after returning to earth, being raised to life again on the day of judgment. Jesus is unique for being the only prophet in Islam who neither married nor had any children.

Muslims believe that Jesus will return to earth near the Day of Judgment to restore justice and to defeat al-Masih ad-Dajjal ("the false messiah", also known as the Antichrist). Jesus will not return as a new prophet; Muhammad was the final prophet. Jesus will continue from where he left off at the time of his ascension. He will live for another forty years before dying a natural death.


Islam teaches that Jesus is a prophet. Jesus clearly is a significant figure in the Qur'an, appearing in 93 ayaat (or verses) with various titles and assignations. Moses appears 136 times and Abraham 69 times.[1] The Qur'an states that Jesus was born a 'pure boy' to Mary (Arabic: Maryam) as the result of virginal conception. According to the Qur'an the birth of Jesus was a miraculous event, which occurred by the decree of God the Creator (Arabic: Allah). This is consistent with prophesy in the Hebrew Bible, Isaiah 7:14 and referenced in the New Testament passages Matthew 1:18-25 and Luke 1:26-38.

Like all prophets in Islam, Jesus is considered a Muslim (i.e., one who submits to the will of God). He taught his followers to adopt the "straight path" as commanded by God. Islam rejects classical Christian Trinitarianism and the view that Jesus was God incarnate. The Qur'an says that Jesus himself never himself made such claims, and furthermore that Jesus will deny ever having claimed divinity, and at the Last Judgment God will vindicate Jesus.[2] Islamic texts forbid the notion that God can have "partners." (shirk). Islam is most strict emphasizing that God is singular, or "one" (tawhīd).

Among the many titles given Jesus in the Qur'an and in Islamic literature, the most common is al-Masīḥ ("the Messiah"). At times Jesus also is called "Seal of the Israelite Prophets", because of the Muslim belief that Jesus was the last prophet sent by God to guide the Children of Israel. Jesus is understood in Islam to have been a precursor to Muhammad, and is believed by some Muslims to have foretold the latter's coming. Certain Muslim scholars however, say that this prophecy (which appears in the Chapter Al-Saff verse six) refers to Ahmad. Islamic scholars see this as the controversial mistranslation of the term Paraclete from Greek to Arabic.

Jesus narrative


Jesus' lineage, going back to his great-grandfather.

The Qur'anic account of Jesus begins with a prologue that describes the birth of his mother Mary, and the services she performed in the Jerusalem temple, while under the care of prophet and priest Zechariah, father of John the Baptist.[3] The Qur'an then goes on to describe Jesus' conception. Mary, desribed in the Qur'an as chosen by God over the women of all the worlds, conceived Jesus while still a virgin.

It is generally agreed that Jesus spoke Aramaic, the common language of Judea in the first century C.E.[4]


Mary had withdrawn into the Temple, where she was visited by the angel Gabriel (Arabic: Jibrail) who brought her "glad tidings" of a holy son.[5] The Qur'an states that God sent the message through the angel Gabriel to Mary. The angel told Mary that she would give birth to a pure son, named Isa (Jesus), who would be a great prophet, through whom God would give the Gospel. The angel further told Mary that Jesus would speak in infancy and in maturity would be companion to the most righteous. When this news was given to Mary, she asked the angel how she could conceive and have a child when no man had touched her.[6] The angel replied: "Even so: Allah createth what He willeth: When He hath decreed a plan, He but saith to it, 'Be,' and it is!"[7] The Qur'an, therefore, states that Jesus was created from the act of God's will. The Qur'an compares this miraculous creation of Jesus with the creation of Adam, where God created Adam by His act of will (kun-fa-yakun, meaning "Be and it is.").[8] According to the Qur'an, the same answer was given to the question of Zechariah, when he asked how his wife, Elizabeth, could conceive a baby, as she was very old.[9]

Birth of Jesus

Virgin Mary nurtured by a palm tree, as described in the Qur'an.

The Qur'an narrates the virgin birth of Jesus numerous times.

In Qur'an, When the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary: 19:16 And mention, [O Muhammad], in the Book [the story of] Mary, when she withdrew from her family to a place toward the east. 19:17 And she took, in seclusion from them, a screen. Then We sent to her Our Angel, and he represented himself to her as a well-proportioned man. 19:18 She said, "Indeed, I seek refuge in the Most Merciful from you, [so leave me], if you should be fearing of Allah ." 19:19 He said, "I am only the messenger of your Lord to give you [news of] a pure boy." 19:20 She said, "How can I have a boy while no man has touched me and I have not been unchaste?" 19:21 He said, "Thus [it will be]; your Lord says, 'It is easy for Me, and We will make him a sign to the people and a mercy from Us. And it is a matter [already] decreed.' "

The Qur'an states that Mary was overcome by the pains of childbirth. During her agony and helplessness, God provided a stream of water under her feet from which she could drink. Furthermore, near a palm tree, Mary was told to shake the trunk of the palm tree so that ripe dates would fall down and she could eat and be nourished. Mary cried in pain and held onto the palm tree, at which point a voice came from "beneath her," understood by some to refer to Jesus, who was yet in her womb, which said, "Grieve not! Your Lord has provided a water stream under you; And shake the trunk of the palm tree, it will let fall fresh ripe dates upon you. And eat and drink and calm thy mind." That day, Mary gave birth to her son Jesus in the middle of the desert.

The Qur'anic narrative continues: Mary carried baby Jesus back to her people. She vowed not to speak to anyone that day. Muslims hold that Jesus' first miracle is that he spoke in the cradle. Mary then brought Jesus to the temple, where she immediately was ridiculed by all the temple elders. Zechariah however, who believed in the virgin birth, supported her. The elders accused Mary of being a loose woman and of having touched another man while unmarried. In response, Mary pointed to her son, telling them to talk to him. They were angered at this and thought she was mocking them, by asking them to speak with an infant. It was then that God made the infant Jesus speak from the cradle and he spoke of his prophecy for the first time. He said, (as found in verses 19:30-33 in the chapter of Mary in the Qur'an):

He said: "I am indeed a servant of Allah: He hath given me revelation and made me a prophet;
And He hath made me blessed wheresoever I be, and hath enjoined on me Prayer and Charity as long as I live;
(He) hath made me kind to my mother, and not overbearing or miserable;
So peace is on me the day I was born, the day that I die, and the day that I shall be raised up to life (again)!"

Qur'an, sura 19 Maryam, ayat 30-33[10]


The Jordan river, where some Muslim accounts narrate that Jesus met with Yahya ibn Zakariyya (otherwise known as John the Baptist).[11]

According to Islamic texts, Jesus was divinely chosen to preach the message of monotheism and submission to the will of God to the Children of Israel (banī isrā'īl).



The miracle of Jesus speaking in the cradle is not only mentioned in the Qur'an but also mentioned in the Syriac Infancy Gospel. After this miracle, Jewish priests came to feel this child Jesus was dangerous. They feared that the people would turn to worship Allah, and disavow existing Jewish tenets, thus causing the priests to lose their authority over the people. Therefore, they kept the miracle of Jesus's speech in infancy secret, and continued to accuse Mary of her great misdeed.

As Jesus grew, the signs of prophethood increased. When he was twelve years old, he accompanied his mother to Jerusalem. There he wandered into the temple and joined a crowd listening to lectures from Rabbis there. The audience were all adults, but Jesus was not afraid to sit with them. After listening intently, he asked questions and expressed his opinion. The learned rabbis were disturbed by the boy's boldness and were puzzled by questions he asked. They could not answer his questions. They tried to silence him, but Jesus pressed on and continued to express his views. Jesus became so involved in this exchange that he forgot he was expected back home.

While this was going on, his mother left for home thinking that Jesus might have gone back with relatives or friends. When she arrived, she discovered that he was not there, so she returned to the city to look for him. At last she found him in the temple, sitting among the learned, conversing with them. He appeared to be quite at ease, as if he had been doing this all his life. Mary got angry with him for causing her worry. He tried to assure her that all the arguing and debating with the learned had made him forget the time.[12]


According to Islamic historians, the Jews made many things unlawful on the Sabbath; even self-defense or calling a doctor to save someone ill. They held that even through Pharisees were guardians of the law, they were ready to sell out whenever their own interests were involved, and to pursue personal gain.

Qur'anic stories of Jesus include the time he violated Sabbath Law, by reaching out to pick two pieces of fruit to feed a hungry child on the Sabbath. Also, he made a fire for old women to keep themselves warm from the freezing air. Again, a violation. When touring the temple, he found twenty thousand Jewish priests registered who earned their living from the temple. The temple rooms were full of them.

Jesus observed that the visitors were much fewer than the priests. Yet the temple was full of sheep and doves which were sold to the people to be offered as sacrifices. Every step in the temple cost the visitor money. It was as if worship was consumed by money. The Pharisees and Sadducees wrtherere both contentious with each other, and further treated the temple like a market place. Jesus sadly observed that poor people who could not afford the price of the sheep or dove were "swept away like flies" by the Pharisees and Sadducees. Jesus was astonished. The great excess of burnt offerings went on inside the temple, while thousands of poor people were hungry outside it?

On this blessed night, Prophet Yahya (John the Baptist) and Prophet Zakariyah died, killed during the massacre of the innocents. On the same night, a revelation descended upon Jesus. God commanded him to begin his call to the children of Israel. To Jesus, carefree life ended, and the struggle began to bring people to the true worship of God.[12]


Because of these experiences, Jesus' preaching denounces the practices of the Pharisees, while reinforcing the Law of Moses. He sought to deny materialism, luxury, and obsession with gold. Jesus by his word and deed called his people to a higher, nobler life. His exemplary life showed the way out of the wretchedness and diseases of his age. From the beginning he called for complete uprightness and piety. He wanted faith to appeal to the soul and the the inner being, rather than to function as closed system of rules laid down by society.

Jesus' ongoing preaching and witness for people to worship God was based on the principle that there is no mediation between the Creator and His creatures. It is taught that he was in conflict with the superficial interpretation of the Torah. He said he did not come to abrogate the Torah, but to complete it.

He wanted Jewish believers to understand that the Ten Commandments have even more value than they imagined. For instance, the fifth commandment does not only prohibit 'physical killing, but all forms of killing; physical, psychological, or spiritual. And the sixth commandment does not prohibit adultery only in the sense of unlawful physical contact between a man and a woman, but also prohibits all forms of unlawful relations or acts that might lead to adultery. For example, the eye commits adultery when it looks at anything with passion.

This had Jesus in confrontation with the people of his time. He told them to desist from hypocrisy, showiness, and false praise. He said there is no need to hoard wealth in this life. They should not preoccupy themselves with the goods of this passing world; rather we should be preoccupied with coming world, the everlasting world.

Jesus called obsession with this world a sin, not fit for pious worshipers. He said disbelievers do this because they do not know a better way. As for the believers, they know that their sustenance is with God, so we should trust in Him and scorn this world.

Jesus continued to invite people to worship the only Lord, who is understood in Islam as technically without partner. It is reported that Jesus' teaching annoyed the priests. He exposed their misdeeds, and his words seemed a threat to them and their positions.[12]


According to Islamic teaching, Jesus performed at least six miracles. It is written in the Qur'an:

"And We gave unto Jesus, son of Mary, clear miracles"

Quran surah 2 (Al-Baqara) ayah 87[13]

The following is a brief description of the miracles performed by Jesus mentioned in the Qur'an.

A table laden with food from heaven
Main article: The Last Supper

In the fifth chapter of the Qur'an, God narrates how the disciples of Jesus requested him to ask God to send down a table laden with food, and for it to be a special day of commemoration for them in the future.

"When the disciples said: O Jesus, son of Mary! Is your Lord able to send down for us a table spread with food from heaven? He said: Observe your duty to God, if ye are true believers. They said: We desire to eat of it and our hearts be at rest, and that We may know that you have spoken truth to us, and that We may be witnesses thereof. Jesus, son of Mary, said: 'O God, our Lord, send down for us a table laden with food out of heaven, that shall be for us a recurring festival, the first and last of us, and a miracle from You. And provide us our sustenance, for You are the best of providers!"

Qur'an surah 5 (Al-Ma'ida) ayah 112-114[14]

Al-Qurtubi has narrated that the majority of the scholars (without specifying which scholars) believe that the table was actually sent down. He has supported this view saying, "The correct view is that the table did descend."

When the disciples requested such a table, Jesus stood up and weeping to his Lord, prayed, "O Allah, our Lord! Send to us a table from heaven, that it could be for us, the first and last of us, a solemn festival and a sign from You and provide us sustenance, as You are the best Sustainer." Allah accepted his supplication and replied, "I shall send it to you."

A red table between two clouds, one above and one beneath it descended. Whilst the people were staring in wonder upon it, Jesus was praying to his Lord, "O Allah! Make it a source of mercy and not a trial, You are my Lord to whom I ask for a miracle, so You give." The table landed in front of Jesus, who prostrated immediately and so did the disciples with him.

Whilst engaged in prostration, a wonderful aroma assailed their nostrils, from the food, such an aroma they had never experienced before. Jesus then asked, "Who, from amongst you, is the most ardent worshipper of Allah, the most courageous, the nearest to his Lord and the most reliant upon the Sustainer? He is the one who should remove the cover off the table, so that we may eat from it and take the name of our Lord upon it and praise Him upon it." The disciples replied, "You, Jesus, are the most befitting and deserving of this act." Thus Jesus performed ablution, prayed Salah and offered supplication, then sat by the table and removed the cover.

They were all surprised to find that the table was laden with varied provisions as follows: a huge fried fish, without bones, was placed in the center and different types of vegetables were set around it. Salt and vinegar flanked its head and five different kinds of bread were placed at its tail. Upon one bread were placed five pomegranates, dates were upon another, olives upon a third, cheese upon a fourth and eggs graced the last. Saint Peter, the leader of the disciples, asked, "Is this food that of paradise or the food of this world?" Jesus’ reply was, "This is food specially created for you, it is neither from paradise or this world. Allah said to it, "BE," and so it was."

The people asked for yet another sign in addition to the table, so Jesus ordered the fish to become alive which it did. The disciples told Jesus to eat from the food first, but Jesus refused saying, "Those who asked for it should eat from it." But the disciples feared to partake of the food, so Jesus called to the poor and said to them, "Eat from the provision of your lord, upon the invitation of your prophet and praise Allah upon it." The poor people fell upon the food and the disciples joined in, after which Jesus had to fix turns for the people, as they would all gather upon the table and cause congestion. The people ate from the table for forty days.[15]

Speaking from the cradle

One of the miracles mentioned in the Qur'an, although not mentioned in the Bible, is that fact that Jesus, while still in the cradle, spoke out to protect his mother Mary from any accusations people may have placed on her due to having a child without a father. When she was approached about this strange incident after her childbirth, Mary merely pointed to Jesus, and he miraculously spoke, just as God had promised her upon annunciation.

"He shall speak to people while still in the cradle, and in manhood, and he shall be from the righteous."

Qur'an surah 3 (Al-Imran) ayah 46[16]

When Jesus spoke from the cradle, He said to the people:

"I am indeed a slave of God. He has given me the Book and made me a Prophet, and He has made me blessed wherever I may be. And He has enjoined upon me prayers, and to pay the alms, as long as I live and He has made me kind to my mother, and He has not made me insolent, unblessed. And may peace be upon me the day I was born, and the day I die, and on the day I shall be raised to life."

Qur'an surah 19 (Maryam) ayah 30-33[17]
Creating birds from clay

God mentions a miracle given to none other in the Qur'an but Jesus, one which is quite parallel to how God himself created Adam. This miracle was one which none can argue its greatness. God mentions in the Qur'an that Jesus says:

"I create for you out of clay the likeness of a bird, then I breathe into it and it becomes a bird with God’s permission."

Qur'an surah 3 (Al Imran) ayah 49[18]

This miracle is not found in the New Testament, but it is found in the non-canonical Infancy Gospel of Thomas; "When this boy, Jesus, was five years old, he was playing at the ford of a rushing stream. He then made soft clay and shaped it into twelve sparrows; Jesus simply clapped his hands and shouted to the sparrows: "Be off, fly away, and remember me, you who are now alive!" And the sparrows took off and flew away noisily."[19]

Healing the blind and the leper

Similar to the New Testament, the Qur'an also mentions Jesus to a have healed the blind and the lepers.

"I also heal the blind and the leper."

Qur'an surah 3 (Al Imran) ayah 49[18]
The resurrection of the dead

"...and I bring to life the dead, by the permission of God."

Qur'an surah 3 (Al Imran) ayah 49[18]

This, like the creation of a bird, was a miracle of incomparable nature, one which should have caused the Jews to believe in the prophethood of Jesus without doubt. Islam agrees with Christianity that Jesus brought a total of four people back from the dead. At first, Jesus brought three people back to life; the son of a widow of Nain, Jairus's daughter, and Lazarus. These three had died during his lifetime. When the Jews saw this, they said: "You only resurrect those who have died recently; perhaps they only fainted." They then asked him to bring back to life Shem; son of Prophet Noah. Shem had been dead for centuries.

When Jesus asked them to show him his grave, the people accompanied him there. Jesus invoked God to bring him back to life and behold, Shem; son of Prophet Noah came out from the grave gray-haired. Jesus asked Shem: "How did you get gray hair, when there was no aging in your time?" Shem answered: "O Spirit of Allah, I thought that the Day of Resurrection had come; from the fear of that day, my hair turned gray."[12]

The knowledge of all things

Jesus was given the miracle of knowing what people had just eaten, as well as what they had in store for the coming days.

"I inform you too of what things you eat, and what you store up in your houses. Surely in that is a sign for you, if you are believers."

Qur'an surah 3 (Al Imran) ayah 49[18]

Tabari relates on the authority of Ibn Ishaq that when Jesus was about nine or ten years old, his mother Mary would send him to a Jewish religious school. But whenever the teacher tried to teach him anything, he found that Jesus already knew it. The teacher exclaimed, "Do you not marvel at the son of this widow? Every time I teach him anything, I find that he knows it far better than I do!" Tabari further relates on the authority of Ismail al-Suddi that "when Jesus was in his youth, his mother committed him [to the priests] to study the Torah. While Jesus played with the youths of his village, he used to tell them what their parents were doing." Sa'id ibn Jubayr, according to Tabari, is said to have reported that Jesus would say to one of his fellow playmates in the religious school, "Your parents have kept such and such food for you, would you give me some of it?" Jesus would usually tell his fellow pupils in the religious school what their parents ate and what they have kept for them when they return home. He used to say to one boy, "Go home, for your parents have kept for you such and such food and they are now eating such and such food."

As parents became annoyed by this, they forbade their children to play with Jesus, saying, "Do not play with that magician." As a result, Jesus had no friends to play with and became lonely. Finally, the parents gathered all the children in a house away from Jesus. When Jesus came looking for them, the parents told Jesus that the children were not there. Jesus asked, "Then who is in this house?" The parents replied, "Swine!" (referring to Jesus). Jesus then said, "OK. Let there be swine in this house!" When the parents opened the door to the room where the children were, they found all their children had turned to swine, just as Jesus said.[20]

Tabari cites the Qu'ran in support of this story:

"Those of the children of Israel who have rejected faith were cursed by the tongue of David and Jesus, son of Mary, this because of their rebellion and the acts of transgression which they had committed."

Qur'an surah 5 (Al-Ma'ida) ayah 78[21]

Received scripture

Muslims believe that God revealed to Jesus a new scripture, al-Injīl (the Gospel), while also declaring the truth of the previous revelations: al-Tawrat (the Torah) and al-Zabur (the Psalms). The Qur'an speaks favorably of al-Injīl, which it describes as a scripture that fills the hearts of its followers with meekness and piety. In chapter 3, verse 3, and chapter 5, verses 46-47, of the Qur'an, the revelation of al-Injil is mentioned:

It is He Who sent down to thee (step by step), in truth, the Book, confirming what went before it; and He sent down the Law (of Moses) and the Gospel (of Jesus) before this, as a guide to mankind, and He sent down the criterion (of judgment between right and wrong).

Qur'an, sura 3 (Al-i-Imran) ayah 3[22]

And in their footsteps We sent Isa the son of Maryam, confirming the Law that had come before him: We sent him the Gospel: therein was guidance and light, and confirmation of the Law that had come before him: a guidance and an admonition to those who fear Allah.
Let the people of the Gospel judge by what Allah hath revealed therein. If any do fail to judge by (the light of) what Allah hath revealed, they are (no better than) those who rebel.

Qur'an sura 5, (Al-Ma'ida), ayat 46-47[23]


The Qur'an states that Jesus was aided by a group of disciples who believed in His message. While not naming the disciples, the Qur'an does give a few instances of Jesus preaching the message to them. According to Christianity, the names of the twelve disciples were Peter, Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Matthew, James, Jude, Simon, and Judas.

The Qur'an mentions in chapter 3, verses 52-53, that the disciples submitted to the faith of Islam:

When Jesus found Unbelief on their part He said: "Who will be My helpers to (the work of) Allah?" Said the disciples: "We are Allah's helpers: We believe in Allah, and do thou bear witness that we are Muslims.
Our Lord! we believe in what Thou hast revealed, and we follow the Messenger; then write us down among those who bear witness."

Qur'an Surah Al-Imran 52-53[24]

The longest narrative involving Jesus' disciples is when they request a laden table to be sent from Heaven, for further proof that Jesus is preaching the true message:

Behold! the disciples, said: "O Jesus the son of Mary! can thy Lord send down to us a table set (with viands) from heaven?" Said Jesus: "Fear Allah, if ye have faith."
They said: "We only wish to eat thereof and satisfy our hearts, and to know that thou hast indeed told us the truth; and that we ourselves may be witnesses to the miracle."
Said Jesus the son of Mary: "O Allah our Lord! Send us from heaven a table set (with viands), that there may be for us—for the first and the last of us—a solemn festival and a sign from thee; and provide for our sustenance, for thou art the best Sustainer (of our needs)."
Allah said: "I will send it down unto you: But if any of you after that resisteth faith, I will punish him with a penalty such as I have not inflicted on any one among all the peoples."

Qur'an Surah Al-Ma'ida 112-115[25]


Islamic texts categorically deny the idea of crucifixion or death attributed to Jesus by the New Testament. For instance; Matthew chapter 27, Mark chapter 15, Luke chapter 23, and John chapter 19</ref> The Qur'an states that people (namely, the Jews and Romans) sought to kill Jesus, but they did not crucify nor kill him, although "this was made to appear to them." Muslims believe that Jesus was not crucified, but instead he was raised up by God unto the heavens. This "raising" is often understood to mean through bodily ascension.[26]

And they said we have killed the Messiah Jesus son of Mary, the Messenger of God. They did not kill him, nor did they crucify him, though it was made to appear like that to them; those that disagreed about him are full of doubt, with no knowledge to follow, only supposition: they certainly did not kill him. On the contrary, God raised him unto himself. God is almighty and wise.

Qur'an surah 4 (An-Nisa النساء) ayah 157-158[27]

Discussing the interpretation of those scholars who deny the crucifixion, the Encyclopaedia of Islam writes:

The denial, furthermore, is in perfect agreement with the logic of the Qur'an. The Biblical stories reproduced in it (e.g., Job, Moses, Joseph, etc.) and the episodes relating to the history of the beginning of Islam demonstrate that it is "God's practice" (sunnat Allah) to make faith triumph finally over the forces of evil and adversity. "So truly with hardship comes ease", (XCIV, 5, 6). For Jesus to die on the cross would have meant the triumph of his executioners; but the Qur'an asserts that they undoubtedly failed: "Assuredly God will defend those who believe"; (XXII, 49). He confounds the plots of the enemies of Christ (III, 54).

Substitution interpretation

While most western scholars,[28] Jews,[29] and Christians believe Jesus died, Muslims believe he ascended to Heaven without being put on the cross and God transformed another person, Simon of Cyrene, to appear exactly like Jesus who was crucified instead of Jesus (cf. Irenaeuus' description of the heresy of Basilides, Book I, ch. XXIV, 4.[30]) Matthew 27:32 Mark 15:21 Luke 23:26. Jesus ascended bodily to Heaven, there to remain until his Second Coming in the End Days.

Second coming

According to Islamic tradition, which describes this graphically, Jesus' return will be in the midst of wars fought by al-Mahdi (literally "the rightly guided one"), known in Islamic eschatology as the redeemer of Islam, against al-Masīh ad-Dajjāl (the Antichrist "False messiah") and his followers.[31] Jesus will descend at the point of a white arcade, east of Damascus, dressed in yellow robes—his head anointed. He will say prayer behind al-Mahdi then join him in his war against the Dajjal. Jesus, considered as a Muslim, will abide by the Islamic teachings. Eventually, Jesus will slay the Antichrist, and then everyone who is one of the People of the Book (ahl al-kitāb, referring to Jews and Christians) will believe in him. Thus, there will be one community, that of Islam.[32][33]

Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 3, Book 43: Kitab-ul-`Ilm (Book of Knowledge), Hâdith Number 656:

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)."

Narrated by Abu Huraira[34]

After the death of al-Mahdi, Jesus will assume leadership. This is a time associated in Islamic narrative with universal peace and justice. Islamic texts also allude to the appearance of Ya'juj and Ma'juj (known also as Gog and Magog), ancient tribes which will disperse and cause disturbance on earth. God, in response to Jesus' prayers, will kill them by sending a type of worm in the napes of their necks.[31] Jesus' rule is said to be around forty years, after which he will die. Muslims will then perform the funeral prayer for him and then bury him in the city of Medina in a grave left vacant beside Muhammad, Abu Bakr, and Umar (companions of Muhammad and the first and second Sunni caliphs (Rashidun)) respectively.


Based upon several Hadith narrations of Muhammad, Jesus can be physically described (with any differences in Jesus’ physical description being due to Muhammad describing him when seeing him at different occasions, such as in a dream, during his ascension to Heaven, or during Jesus' second coming):[35]

  • A well-built man of medium/moderate/average height and stature with a broad chest.
  • Straight, lank, slightly curly, long hair that fell between his shoulders.
  • A moderate, fair complexion of red or finest brown.

"I was shown the Prophets in front of me, and Moosaa resembles the men of the tribe of Shanu’ah, and I saw ‘Eesaa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary), may Allaah exalt his mention, and the person who resembles him most is 'Urwa ibn Mas'ud al-Thaqafi, and I saw Ibraaheem and the person who resembles him most is your companion (referring to himself) and I saw Jibreel (the angel Gabriel), and the person who resembles him most is Dihyah."[36]

Ahmadiyya view

Similar to mainstream Islamic views, the Ahmadiyya Movement consider Jesus was a prophet and a mortal man. However, they go a step further to describe Jesus, as indeed raised on the cross, and remaining on the cross for six hours until darkness and a thunderstorm. Then Jesus was taken down from the cross in an unconscious condition, but still alive. He was treated for three days and nights by the physician Nicodemus in a cave-like tomb (especially built for Joseph of Arimathea). Thereafter, Jesus recuperated from his wounds, met his trusted disciples/apostles on the Mount of Olives and soon left Judea towards the Sea of Galilee on his way to Damascus. After his dramatic escape from crucifixion, prophet Jesus traveled to the eastern lands in search of the ten lost tribes of Israel. He traversed through Syria, Babylonia, and Persia. Finally, he died a natural death in Kashmir, India as opposed to having been raised up alive to Heaven. Hence, there is no question of his physical return to earth in the End Days. Prophecies about his second coming are taken metaphorically to express the coming of a person in the likeness of Jesus which Ahmadis believe have been fulfilled with the advent of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the founder of the movement.

Although the view of Jesus having journeyed to India before crucifixion had also been researched in the literature of authors independent of and predating the foundation of the movement,[37] Ghulam Ahmad was the first to propose a post-crucifixion journey and the Ahmadiyya Movement are the only religious organization to adopt this view as a characteristic of their faith, independently of earlier authors.

Names and references

Jesus is described by various means in the Qur'an. The most common reference to Jesus occurs in the form of "Ibn Maryam" (son of Mary), sometimes preceded with another title. Jesus is also recognized as a prophet (nabī) and messenger (rasūl) of God. The terms wadjih ("worthy of esteem in this world and the next"), mubārak ("blessed", or "a source of benefit for others"), `abd-Allāh (servant of God) are all used in the Qur'an in reference to Jesus.[38]

Another title frequently mentioned is al-Masīḥ, which translates to "the Messiah". Islam traditionally regards all prophets, including Jesus, to be mortal like all humans. Muslim exegetes explain the use of the word masīh in the Qur'an as referring to Jesus' status as the one anointed by means of blessings and honors; or as the one who helped cure the sick, by anointing the eyes of the blind, for example.[38] Qur'anic verses also employ the term "kalimat Allah" (meaning the "word of God") as a descriptive term for Jesus, which is interpreted as a reference to the creating Word of God, uttered at the moment of Jesus' conception;[39] or as recognition of Jesus' status as a messenger of God, speaking on God's behalf.[38]

Isa is also called the Spirit of Allah (Ruh-Allah). Some Muslim scholars hold the view that (Spirit) refers to Sayyidna Jibra’il, but some say that it refers to Sayyidna; ‘Isa himself. Allah Ta‘ala had placed before Sayyidah Maryam the likeness of the son to be born to her. But the former version is more appropriate and is confirmed by the statement that follows.[40] Ruh-Ullah - Spirit of God: a special title given by Prophet Muhammad (S. A.) to Jesus (A. A.).[41]


Islamic texts regard Jesus as a human being and a righteous messenger of God. Islam rejects the idea of him being God or the begotten Son of God. According to Islamic scriptures, the belief that Jesus is God or Son of God is shirk, or the association of partners with God, and thereby a rejection of God's divine oneness (tawhid) which is an unpardonable sin.[42] All other sins may be forgiven through true repentance: shirk speaks of associating partners with God after having received the Divine Guidance, as it is said in the Qur'an and Hadith that when one submits to God (i.e. embraces Islam), their "accounts" (of sins and righteous deeds used to determine the standing of a person on the Last Day) are numbered from that moment. A verse from the Qur'an reads:

They have certainly disbelieved who say that Allah is Christ, the son of Mary. Say, "Then who could prevent Allah at all if He had intended to destroy Christ, the son of Mary, or his mother or everyone on the earth?" And to Allah belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth and whatever is between them. He creates what He wills, and Allah is over all things competent."

Qur'an sura 5 (Al-Ma'ida), ayah17[43][44]

The Christian doctrine of the Trinity is traditionally rejected by most adherents to Islam. Such notions of the divinity of Jesus, Muslims state, is believed to be the result of human interpolations of God's revelation. Islam traditionally views Jesus as a human like all other prophets before him, who preached that salvation came through submission to God's will and worshiping God alone. Thus, Jesus is considered in Islam to have been a Muslim by the definition of the term (namely, one who submits to God's will), as were all other prophets in Islam.[45]

An alternative, more esoteric interpretation is expounded by Messianic Muslims[46] in the Sufi and Isma'ili traditions so as to unite Islam, Christianity, and Judaism into a single religious continuum.[47] Other Messianic Muslims hold a similar theological view regarding Jesus, without attempting to unite the religions.[48][49][50] Making use of the New Testament's distinguishing between Jesus, Son of man - being the physical human Jesus – and Christ, Son of God - being the Holy Spirit of God residing in the body of Jesus – The Holy Spirit, being immortal and immaterial, is not subject to crucifixion, for it can never die, nor can it be touched by the earthly nails of the crucifixion, for it is a being of pure spirit. Thus while the spirit of Christ avoided crucifixion by ascending unto God, the body that was Jesus was sacrificed on the cross, thereby bringing the Old Testament to final fulfillment. Thus Qur'anic passages on the death of Jesus affirm that while the Pharisees intended to destroy the Son of God completely, they, in fact, succeeded only in killing the Son of Man, being his nasut (material being). Meanwhile, The Son of God, being his lahut (spiritual being) remained alive and undying – because it is The Holy Spirit.[51]

Precursor to Muhammad

Muslims believe that Jesus was a precursor to Muhammad, and that he announced the latter's coming. They base this on a verse of the Qur'an wherein Jesus speaks of a messenger to appear after him named Ahmad.[52] Islam associates Ahmad with Muhammad, both words deriving from the h-m-d triconsonantal root which refers to praiseworthiness. Muslims also assert that evidence of Jesus' pronouncement is present in the New Testament, citing the mention of the Paraclete whose coming is foretold in the Gospel of John.[53]

Muslim commentators claim that the original Greek word used was periklutos, meaning famed, illustrious, or praiseworthy—rendered in Arabic as Ahmad; and that this was replaced by Christians with parakletos.[38][54] Islamic scholars debate whether this traditional understanding is supported by the text of the Qur'an. Responding to Ibn Ishaq's biography of Muhammad, the Sirat Rasul Allah, Islamic scholar Alfred Guillaume wrote:

Coming back to the term "Ahmad", Muslims have suggested that Ahmad is the translation of periklutos, celebrated or the Praised One, which is a corruption of parakletos, the Paraclete of John XIV, XV, and XVI.[55]

Ascetic literature

Jesus is widely venerated in Muslim ascetic and mystic literature, such as in Muslim mystic Al-Ghazzali's Ihya `ulum ad-Din ("The revival of the religious sciences"). These works lay stress upon Jesus' poverty, his preoccupation with worship, his detachment from worldly life and his miracles. Such depictions also include advice and sermons which are attributed to him. Later Sufic commentaries adapted material from Christian gospels which were consistent with their ascetic portrayal. Sufi philosopher Ibn Arabi described Jesus as "the seal of universal holiness" due to the quality of his faith and "because he holds in his hands the keys of living breath and because he is at present in a state of deprivation and journeying".[38]

Common ground with Christianity

Isa is the son of a virgin named Maryam (“Mary” in English), who is a role model for faithful women.[56] Isa is a prophet filled with the Holy Spirit (surat 2 Al-Baqarah, 87) and the messiah in both religions. Isa is the “word of truth” (surat 19 Maryam, 34). Isa, through God’s power and will, cures the blind and the leper, raises the dead to life, and knows what you eat and what you store in your houses (surat 3 'Ali `Imran, 49). Finally, Isa will come back at the end of times to help destroy the Masih ad-Dajjal or false messiah (Hadith 46.31).


  1. Gregory A. Barker and Stephen E. Gregg, Jesus Beyond Christianity: The Classic Texts Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), 84.
  2. Quran 5:116
  3. Quran 3:33–37
  4. Allen C. Myers (ed.). "Aramaic," The Eerdmans Bible Dictionary (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 1987, ISBN 0802824021), 72.
  5. Quran 3:45
  6. Quran 3:43
  7. Quran 3:47
  8. Quran 3:59
  9. Quran 19:8–9
  10. Quran 19:30–33
  11. Cyril Glassé, "Yahya b. Zakariyya", New Encyclopedia of Islam: A Revised Edition of the Concise Encyclopedia of Islam (AltaMira Press, 2003, ISBN 978-0759101906).
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 Ibn Kathir, Story of Prophet Isa/Jesus (pbuh). Retrieved December 15, 2015.
  13. Quran 2:87–158
  14. Quran 5:112-114–158
  15. The Table Set With Viands (Food) From Heaven. Retrieved December 15, 2015.
  16. Quran 3:46–158
  17. Quran 19:30-33–158
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 18.3 Quran 3:49–158
  19. The Infancy Gospel of Thomas From "The Apocryphal New Testament" M.R. James-Translation and Notes (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1924). Retrieved December 15, 2015.
  20. Mahmoud Ayoub, The Qur'an and Its Interpreters (Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1992, ISBN 0791409937),
  21. Quran 5:78–158
  22. Quran 3:3
  23. Quran 5:46–47
  24. Quran 3:52–53
  25. Quran 5:112–115
  26. Resurrection or Ascension of Jesus Retrieved December 15, 2015.
  27. Quran 4:157–158
  28. John Dominic Crossan, Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography (HarperOne, 1995, ISBN 0060616628), 145. "That he was crucified is as sure as anything historical can ever be, since both Josephus and Tacitus...agree with the Christian accounts on at least that basic fact."
  29. Josephus, Antiquities 18.3.3. Retrieved December 15, 2015.
  30. "Wherefore he did not himself suffer death, but Simon, a certain man of Cyrene, being compelled, bore the cross in his stead; so that this latter being transfigured by him, that he might be thought to be Jesus, was crucified, through ignorance and error, while Jesus himself received the form of Simon, and, standing by, laughed at them. For since he was an incorporeal power, and the Nous (mind) of the unborn father, he transfigured himself as he pleased, and thus ascended to him who had sent him, deriding them, inasmuch as he could not be laid hold of, and was invisible to all." Church Fathers Against Heresies, I_24 (St. Irenaeus) New Advent. Retrieved December 15, 2015.
  31. 31.0 31.1 Tamarra Sonn, A Brief History of Islam (Blackwell Publishing, 2004, ISBN 1405121742), 209.
  32. Sahih Muslim, 41:7023
  33. Sahih Muslim (in Arabic). 
  34. Sahih al-Bukhari, 3:43:656
  35. Sahih al-Bukhari, 4:54:462, 4:55:607–608, 4:55:647–650, 4:55:649–650, Sahih Muslim, 1:316, 1:321, 1:325, 1:328, 41:7023
  36. Urwah Ibn Masood resembles Eesaa Jesus, the most - Islam web - English. Retrieved December 15, 2015.
  37. The Life of Saint Issa translation by Nicolas Notovitch. Retrieved December 15, 2015.
  38. 38.0 38.1 38.2 38.3 38.4 Cyril Glassé, "Isa", New Encyclopedia of Islam.
  39. "She said: "O my Lord! How shall I have a son when no man hath touched me?" He said: "Even so: Allah createth what He willeth: When He hath decreed a plan, He but saith to it, 'Be,' and it is!", Quran 3:47, cf. Cyril Glassé, New Encyclopedia of Islam.
  40. Mufti Shafi Uthmani, Maariful Qur'an, Q. 19:16-21, Volume 6, p. 34.
  41. M. A. Qazi, Concise Dictionary of Islamic Terms (Chicago, IL: Kazi Publications, 1979), 57.
  42. See:
    • John L. Esposito, What Everyone Needs to Know About Islam (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2002, ISBN 0195157133), 32, 74;
    • D. J. Fasching, Comparative Religious Ethics: A Narrative Approach (Blackwell Publishing, 2001, ISBN 0631201254, 241;
    • I. S. Markham and Tinu Ruparell (eds.), Encountering Religion: An Introduction to the Religions of the World (Blackwell Publishing, 2001, ISBN 0631206744), 348.
  43. Quran 5:17
  44. cf. Esposito (2002), 32.
  45. See:
    • T. Khalidi, The Muslim Jesus: Sayings and Stories in Islamic Literature (Cambridge, MA:Harvard University Press, 2001, ISBN 0674004779), 75;
    • Fasching, (2001), 241.
  46. John Travis, "Messian Muslim Followers of Isa" International Journal of Frontier Missions 17(1) (Spring2000): 54. Retrieved December 15, 2015.
  47. Joseph Cumming,"Muslim Followers of Jesus?" Christianity Today, November 20, 2009. Retrieved December 15, 2015.
  48. David Marshall, "Can Jesus Save Islam?" Touchstone, November 2002. Retrieved December 15, 2015.
  49. Carl Medearis, Muslims Who Follow Jesus Huffington Post, March 11, 2013. Retrieved December 15, 2015.
  50. John J. Travis, "Why Evangelicals Should Be Thankful for Muslim Insiders" Christianity Today, January 15, 2013. Retrieved December 15, 2015.
  51. Cyril Glassé, "Jesus" New Encyclopedia of Islam, cf. L. Massignon, Le Christ dans les Évangiles selon Ghazali, in REI , 1932, 523-36, who cites texts of the Rasa'il Ikhwan al-Safa, a passage of Abu Hatim al-Razi (about 934), and another of the Isma'ili da'i Mu'ayyad fid-din al-Shirazi (1077).
  52. "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." But when he came to them with Clear Signs, they said, "this is evident sorcery!" ", Quran 61:6
  53. "And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever—
    the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.", John 14:16–17
  54. W. M. Watt, Muslim-Christian Encounters: Perceptions and Misperceptions (Routledge, 1991, ISBN 0415054109), 33–34.
  55. Liddell and Scott`s celebrated Greek-English Lexicon gives this definition for periklutos: "heard of all round, famous, renowned, Latin inclytus: of things, excellent, noble, glorious". James M. Whiton, (ed.), A Lexicon Abridged from Liddell and Scott's Greek-English Lexicon (American Book Company, 1906), 549. Periklutos occurs in The Iliad and The Odyssey, and Hesiod`s Theogony.
  56. "Anas reports that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him), said: “The best women of mankind are four: Mariam daughter of 'Imran, Assiya wife of Pharaoh, Khadijah daughter of Khuwailid, and Fatima the daughter of the Messenger of Allah.' [Bukhari and Muslim]" Paradise is for Believing Men and Women Retrieved December 15, 2015.

ISBN links support NWE through referral fees

  • Ayoub, Mahmoud. The Qur'an and Its Interpreters. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1992. ISBN 0791409937
  • Barker, Gregory A., and Stephen E. Gregg. Jesus Beyond Christianity: The Classic Texts. Oxford University Press, 2010. ISBN 978-0199553440
  • Bearman, P. J., Th. Bianquis, Clifford Edmund Bosworth, E. Van Donzel, and W. P. Heinrichs (eds.). The Encyclopaedia of Islam. Brill Academic Publishers, 2005. ISBN 978-9004139749
  • Crossan, John Dominic. Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography. HarperOne, 2009. ISBN 978-0061800351
  • Esposito, John L. What Everyone Needs to Know About Islam. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2002. ISBN 0195157133
  • Esposito, John L. The Oxford Dictionary of Islam. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2003. ISBN 0195125584
  • Fasching, D. J. Comparative Religious Ethics: A Narrative Approach. Blackwell Publishing, 2001. ISBN 0631201254
  • Glassé, Cyril. New Encyclopedia of Islam: A Revised Edition of the Concise Encyclopedia of Islam. AltaMira Press, 2003. ISBN 978-0759101906
  • Khalidi, Tarif. The Muslim Jesus: Sayings and Stories in Islamic Literature. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2003. ISBN 0674011155
  • Lawson, Todd. The Crucifixion and the Qur'an: A Study in the History of Muslim Thought. Oneworld Publications, 2009. ISBN 978-1851686353
  • Markham, I. S., and Tinu Ruparell (eds.). Encountering Religion: An Introduction to the Religions of the World. Blackwell Publishing, 2001. ISBN 0631206744
  • Parrinder, Geoffrey. Jesus in the Qur'an. Oneworld Publications, 2013. ISBN 978-1851689996
  • Qazi, M.A. Concise Dictionary of Islamic Terms. Kitab Bhavan, 2000. ISBN 978-8171512959
  • Saritoprak, Zeki. Islam's Jesus. Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida, 2014. ISBN 978-0813049403
  • Slade, Darren M. "Arabia Haeresium Ferax (Arabia Bearer of Heresies): Schismatic Christianity’s Potential Influence on Muhammad and the Qur’an" American Theological Inquiry 7(1) (January 2014): 43–53. Retrieved December 14, 2015.
  • Sonn, Tamarra. A Brief History of Islam. Blackwell Publishing, 2004. ISBN 1405121742
  • Watt, W. M. Muslim-Christian Encounters: Perceptions and Misperceptions. Routledge, 1991. ISBN 0415054109
  • Wherry, E. M. A Comprehensive Commentary on the Qur'án: Comprising Sale's Translation and Preliminary Discourse (vol. II). Routledge, 2013. ISBN 0415865816
  • Whiton, James M. (ed.). A Lexicon Abridged from Liddell and Scott's Greek-English Lexicon. American Book Company, 1906. ASIN B00634GLYG
  • Zuckermann, Ghil'ad. "'Etymythological Othering' and the Power of 'Lexical Engineering' in Judaism, Islam and Christianity. A Socio-Philo(sopho)logical Perspective", Explorations in the Sociology of Language and Religion, edited by Tope Omoniyi and Joshua A. Fishman, Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 2006, 237–258. ISBN 9027227101

External links

All links retrieved July 31, 2022.

Prophets of Islam in the Qur'an
Adam Idris Nuh Hud Saleh Ibrahim Lut Ismail Is'haq Yaqub Yusuf Ayub Mosque.svg
آدم ادريس نوح هود صالح إبراهيم لوط اسماعيل اسحاق يعقوب يوسف أيوب
Adam Enoch Noah Eber Shelah Abraham Lot Ishmael Isaac Jacob Joseph Job

Shoaib Musa Harun Dhul-Kifl Daud Sulayman Ilyas Al-Yasa Yunus Zakariya Yahya Isa Muhammad
شعيب موسى هارون ذو الكفل داود سليمان إلياس اليسع يونس زكريا يحيى عيسى محمد
Jethro Moses Aaron Ezekiel David Solomon Elijah Elisha Jonah Zechariah John Jesus Paraclete


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