Christ (Jesus) according to the Quran
The Quran, the holy book of Islam, contains several Surahs (chapters) and verses that discuss various aspects of the life, character, and attributes of Jesus (peace be upon him). These passages shed light on his creation, the story of his mother’s life, his own eventful journey, as well as his spiritual and moral qualities. Additionally, the Quran addresses and refutes certain Christian beliefs and claims, such as divinity and the concept of the Trinity. Such issues are included in the branch of the science of Tafsir , and in order to understand this issue in depth, and to obtain comprehensive information, we must enter the science of interpretation. In this article, we will briefly explore some of these verses from the point of view of Tafsir, organized under the following headings:
Creation and Birth
The story of Christ (Jesus) (peace be upon him) is closely associated with the name of his beloved mother Due to the nature of his creation, Jesus has offered been referred to as “Son of Mary”, “Jesus’s son of Mary” and “Messiah son of Mary”.
The Quran introduces Maryam (peace be upon her) as an exceptional and unique personality, describing her as the chosen lady, pure and virtuous, the most exemplary woman of her time, the embodiment of chastity, a role model for believers, a devout and truthful young woman who conversed with angels.
وَإِذْ قَالَتِ الْمَلَائِكَةُ يَا مَرْيَمُ إِنَّ اللَّهَ اصْطَفَاكِ وَطَهَّرَكِ وَاصْطَفَاكِ عَلَىٰ نِسَاءِ الْعَالَمِينَ ﴿٤٢﴾ يَا مَرْيَمُ اقْنُتِي لِرَبِّكِ وَاسْجُدِي وَارْكَعِي مَعَ الرَّاكِعِينَ ﴿٤٣﴾خ
“And when the angels said, ‘O Mary, Allah has chosen you and purified you, and He has chosen you above the world’s women. O Mary, be obedient to your Lord and prostrate and bow down with those who bow [in worship].’”
The Quran examines the creation of Jesus (peace be upon him) in Surah Al-Imran, verse 59:
إِنَّ مَثَلَ عِيسَىٰ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ كَمَثَلِ آدَمَ ۖ خَلَقَهُ مِنْ تُرَابٍ ثُمَّ قَالَ لَهُ كُنْ فَيَكُونُ
“Indeed, the case of Jesus with Allah is like the case of Adam: He created him from dust, then said to him, ‘Be,’ and he was.’”
Adam, the first human being on Earth, was created by Allah without the involvement of parents. Similarly, the creation of Jesus, known as Isa in Islam, was no more challenging for Allah than the creation of Adam. Just as Adam was brought into existence without a father and mother, the same power that created Adam is fully capable of creating Jesus, the son of Maryam, without a father. This perspective highlights the similarity in the creation of Jesus and Adam. If Jesus was born from a mother without a father, it is noteworthy that Adam was born without a father or mother as well. Both instances exemplify the divine power of Allah in bringing about miraculous creation.
This argument serves to address objections raised against the creation of Christ. It suggests that if Christ (peace be upon him) was born without a father, it should not be viewed as surprising or as a proof of him being the same as Allah. Rather, it highlights that the creation of Adam (peace be upon him) was even more remarkable, as he was born without a father or mother. Throughout history, such extraordinary occurrences have taken place, demonstrating that such things are not challenging for Allah.
For this reason, when Mary questions how she will bear a son, while no human being has married me, nor have I been immoral, her response is given in Surah Maryam, verse 21:
قَالَ كَذَٰلِكِ قَالَ رَبُّكِ هُوَ عَلَيَّ هَيِّنٌ ۖ وَلِنَجْعَلَهُ آيَةً لِلنَّاسِ وَرَحْمَةً مِنَّا ۚ وَكَانَ أَمْرًا مَقْضِيًّا
“He said, ‘So shall it be. Your Lord says, ‘‘It is simple for Me.’’ And so that We may make him a sign for mankind and a mercy from Us, and it is a matter [already] decided.”
In Surah Al-Mu’minun, verse 50, Allah has stated the creation of Jesus as one of the signs of His power:
وَجَعَلْنَا ابْنَ مَرْيَمَ وَأُمَّهُ آيَةً وَآوَيْنَاهُمَا إِلَىٰ رَبْوَةٍ ذَاتِ قَرَارٍ وَمَعِينٍ
“…and We made the son of Mary and his mother a sign, and sheltered them in a level highland with flowing water.”
Prophethood and the spiritual and moral authorities of Christ (peace be upon him)
The Quran has presented the exalted position and personality of Jesus (peace be upon him) by mentioning meaningful titles. In verse 85 of Surah Al-An’am, he is also included among the righteous, and these descriptions highlight the greatness of this Prophet:
وَزَكَرِيَّا وَيَحْيَىٰ وَعِيسَىٰ وَإِلْيَاسَ ۖ كُلٌّ مِنَ الصَّالِحِينَ
“and Zechariah, John, Jesus and Ilyas, each of them among the righteous”.
The first miracles and honors bestowed upon Christ were revealed in the early moments of his birth. While he was in the cradle, he identified himself as a servant of Allah, chosen by Allah as a prophet, and granted a book (the Bible). He was made him a source of blessings, comfort and peace. Verses 29 and 30 of Surah Maryam address this:
فَأَشَارَتْ إِلَيْهِ ۖ قَالُوا كَيْفَ نُكَلِّمُ مَنْ كَانَ فِي الْمَهْدِ صَبِيًّا ﴿٢٩﴾ قَالَ إِنِّي عَبْدُ اللَّهِ آتَانِيَ الْكِتَابَ وَجَعَلَنِي نَبِيًّا ﴿٣٠﴾
“Thereat she pointed to him. They said, ‘How can we speak to one who is yet a baby in the cradle?’ He said, ‘Indeed I am a servant of Allah! He has given me the Book and made me a prophet.”
The manner of his conversation with the Lord in Surah Al-Ma’ida, verse 116, is indicative of his practical ethics:
وَإِذْ قَالَ اللَّهُ يَا عِيسَى ابْنَ مَرْيَمَ أَأَنْتَ قُلْتَ لِلنَّاسِ اتَّخِذُونِي وَأُمِّيَ إِلَٰهَيْنِ مِنْ دُونِ اللَّهِ ۖ قَالَ سُبْحَانَكَ مَا يَكُونُ لِي أَنْ أَقُولَ مَا لَيْسَ لِي بِحَقٍّ ۚ إِنْ كُنْتُ قُلْتُهُ فَقَدْ عَلِمْتَهُ ۚ تَعْلَمُ مَا فِي نَفْسِي وَلَا أَعْلَمُ مَا فِي نَفْسِكَ ۚ إِنَّكَ أَنْتَ عَلَّامُ الْغُيُوبِ ﴿١١٦﴾
“And when Allah will say, ‘O Jesus son of Mary! Was it you who said to the people, ‘‘Take me and my mother for Allah’s besides Allah’’?’ He will say, ‘Immaculate are You! It does not behoove me to say what I have no right to [say]. Had I said it, you would certainly have known it: You know whatever is in myself, and I do not know what is in Your Self. Indeed, you are knower of all that is Unseen.”
When Allah asks Jesus (peace be upon him): “Did you tell the people to make you and your mother their Gods besides Allah, and worship you?” Not only does he deny saying this, but he says that he has no right to do so, and such speech is never compatible with his status and position.
Allah’s gifts to Christ (peace be upon him)
The Quran describes the story of Jesus Christ and the blessings bestowed upon him and his nation in Surah Al-Ma’ida, verse 110 as follows:
إِذْ قَالَ اللَّهُ يَا عِيسَى ابْنَ مَرْيَمَ اذْكُرْ نِعْمَتِي عَلَيْكَ وَعَلَىٰ وَالِدَتِكَ إِذْ أَيَّدْتُكَ بِرُوحِ الْقُدُسِ تُكَلِّمُ النَّاسَ فِي الْمَهْدِ وَكَهْلًا ۖ وَإِذْ عَلَّمْتُكَ الْكِتَابَ وَالْحِكْمَةَ وَالتَّوْرَاةَ وَالْإِنْجِيلَ ۖ وَإِذْ تَخْلُقُ مِنَ الطِّينِ كَهَيْئَةِ الطَّيْرِ بِإِذْنِي فَتَنْفُخُ فِيهَا فَتَكُونُ طَيْرًا بِإِذْنِي ۖ وَتُبْرِئُ الْأَكْمَهَ وَالْأَبْرَصَ بِإِذْنِي ۖ وَإِذْ تُخْرِجُ الْمَوْتَىٰ بِإِذْنِي ۖ وَإِذْ كَفَفْتُ بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ عَنْكَ إِذْ جِئْتَهُمْ بِالْبَيِّنَاتِ فَقَالَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا مِنْهُمْ إِنْ هَٰذَا إِلَّا سِحْرٌ مُبِينٌ ﴿١١٠﴾
“When Allah will say, O Jesus son of Mary, remember My blessing upon you and upon your mother, when I strengthened you with the Holy Spirit, so you would speak to the people in the cradle and in adulthood, and when I taught you the Book and wisdom, the Torah and the Evangel, and when you would create from clay the form of a bird, with My leave, and you would breathe into it and it would become a bird, with My leave; and you would heal the blind and the leper, with My leave, and you would raise the dead, with My leave; and when I held off [the evil of] the Children of Israel from you when you brought them manifest proofs, whereat the faithless among them said, ‘This is nothing but plain magic.’”
- Empowered by the Holy Spirit «اِذْ اَیَّدْتُکَ بِرُوحِ الْقُدُسِ»
- Speaking in the cradle «تُکَلِّمُ النَّاسَ فِی الْمَهْدِ وَ کَهْلًا»
- Teaching wisdom, Torah and Bible «وَ اِذْ عَلَّمْتُکَ الْکِتابَ وَ الْحِکْمَهَ وَ التَّوْراهَ وَ الْاِنْجِیلَ»
- Bringing birds to life by Allah’s permission «وَ اِذْ تَخْلُقُ مِنَ الطِّینِ کَهَیْئَهِ الطَّیْرِ بِاِذْنِی فَتَنْفُخُ فِیها فَتَکُونُ طَیْراً بِاِذْنِی»
- Healing of special patients «وَ تُبْرِئُ الْاَکْمَهَ وَ الْاَبْرَصَ بِاِذْنِی»
- Raising the dead «وَ اِذْ تُخْرِجُ الْمَوْتى بِاِذْنِی»
- Protection against the Israelites «وَ اِذْ کَفَفْتُ بَنِی اِسْرائِیلَ عَنْکَ اِذْ جِئْتَهُمْ بِالْبَیِّناتِ فَقالَ الَّذِینَ کَفَرُوا مِنْهُمْ اِنْ هذا اِلَّا سِحْرٌ مُبِینٌ»
Denying the Divinity and Trinity of Christ (peace be upon him)
One of the most significant deviations within Christian society is the issue of “Trinity and the concept of three deities”. The Holy Quran issues a warning against this profound deviation with concise and well-reasoned sentences.
In Surah An-Nisa, verse 171, Allah cautions against the path of exaggeration in their religion and emphasizes speaking only truth about Allah:
يَا أَهْلَ الْكِتَابِ لَا تَغْلُوا فِي دِينِكُمْ وَلَا تَقُولُوا عَلَى اللَّهِ إِلَّا الْحَقَّ ۚ إِنَّمَا الْمَسِيحُ عِيسَى ابْنُ مَرْيَمَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ وَكَلِمَتُهُ أَلْقَاهَا إِلَىٰ مَرْيَمَ وَرُوحٌ مِنْهُ ۖ فَآمِنُوا بِاللَّهِ وَرُسُلِهِ ۖ وَلَا تَقُولُوا ثَلَاثَةٌ ۚ انْتَهُوا خَيْرًا لَكُمْ ۚ إِنَّمَا اللَّهُ إِلَٰهٌ وَاحِدٌ ۖ سُبْحَانَهُ أَنْ يَكُونَ لَهُ وَلَدٌ ۘ لَهُ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَمَا فِي الْأَرْضِ ۗ وَكَفَىٰ بِاللَّهِ وَكِيلًا
“O People of the Book! Do not exceed the bounds in your religion, and do not attribute anything to Allah except the truth. The Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, was only an apostle of Allah, and His Word that He cast toward Mary and a spirit from Him. So have faith in Allah and His apostles, and do not say, ‘[God is] a trinity.’ Relinquish [such a creed]! That is better for you. Allah is but the One God. He is far too immaculate to have any son. To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth, and Allah suffices as trustee.”
Then, several points are highlighted, each serving as evidence against the Trinity and the divinity of Christ (peace be upon him):
اِنَّمَا الْمَسِیحُ عِیسَى ابْنُ مَرْیَمَ
- Jesus (peace be upon him) was only the son of Mary (peace be upon him). This interpretation (which mentions the name of Jesus’ mother alongside his name), is mentioned in sixteen cases in the Holy Quran . It underscores that Christ (peace be upon him) experienced the same development stages as other human beings – being in his mother’s womb, birth, infancy, and upbringing by his mother. In essence he possessed regular human qualities. How can such a person, subject to the laws of nature and changes in the material world, be considered eternal and divine?!
Furthermore, the word ” اِنَّمَا (indeed) used in the discussed verse dispels the illusion that if Jesus (peace be upon him) did not have a father, it does not mean that he was the son of God, but rather only the son of Mary!
- Jesus (peace be upon him) was the messenger of Allah a position that is not compatible with divinity.
وَ کَلِمَتُهُ اَلْقاها اِلى مَرْیَمَ
- Jesus (peace be upon him) was the “word” of Allah, which was revealed to Maryam. In several verses of the Qur’an, Jesus (peace be upon him) is referred to as “word” signifying his unique creation.
In conclusion, the Quran provides a comprehensive account of Jesus (peace be upon him) and his significance in Islamic belief. Through various surahs and verses, the Quran sheds light on the creation, birth, and remarkable qualities of Jesus. It also addresses and refutes certain Christian beliefs, such as divinity and the concept of the Trinity.
The Quran recognizes the exceptional status of Maryam (peace be upon her), describing her as a chosen and virtuous woman. She is portrayed as the epitome of purity, the ideal for believers, and someone who conversed with angels. The Quran emphasizes her unique role as the mother of Jesus, attributing titles like “Son of Mary,” “Jesus’s son of Mary,” and “Messiah son of Mary” to Jesus.
Additionally, the Quran draws parallels between the creation of Jesus and the creation of Adam, highlighting the divine power of Allah in both instances. Just as Adam was created without parents, Jesus was born from a mother without a father. This similarity underscores the miraculous nature of their existence and emphasizes the limitless capabilities of Allah.
Overall, the Quran presents Jesus as a revered prophet and messenger of Allah, with a significant role in guiding humanity. By exploring the verses related to Jesus, we gain a deeper understanding of his exalted position and the profound impact of his teachings within the Islamic faith.
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