A comparison of the Islamic and Christian views of Jesus

The Hagia Sophia: A Byzantine church later converted into a mosque.

The person of Jesus or Isa in Arabic (peace be upon him) is of great significance in both Islam and Christianity. However, there are differences in terms of beliefs about the nature and life occurrences of this noble Messenger.

Source of information about Jesus in Islam

Most of the Islamic information about Jesus is actually found in the Quran.

The Quran was revealed by God to Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him), and memorized and written down in his lifetime. Today, anyone who calls him or herself a Muslim believes in the complete authenticity of the Quran as the original revealed guidance from God.

Source of information about Jesus in Christianity

Christians take their information about Jesus from the Bible, which includes the Old and New Testaments.

These contain four biblical narratives covering the life and death of Jesus. They have been written, according to tradition, respectively by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. They are placed at the beginning of the New Testament and comprise close to half of it.

Encyclopedia Britannica notes that none of the sources of his life and work can be traced to Jesus himself; he did not leave a single known written word. Also, there are no contemporary accounts written of his life and death. What can be established about the historical Jesus depends almost without exception on Christian traditions, especially on the material used in the composition of the Gospels of Mark, Matthew, and Luke, which reflect the outlook of the later church and its faith in Jesus.

Below are the views of Islam and Christianity based on primary source texts and core beliefs.

ISLAM

1. Do Muslims believe he was a Messenger of One God? YES

Belief in all of the Prophets and Messengers of God is a fundamental article of faith in Islam. Thus, believing in Prophets Adam, Jesus, Moses, and Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon them) is a requirement for anyone who calls him or herself a Muslim. A person claiming to be a Muslim who, for instance, denies the Messengership of Jesus, is not considered a Muslim.

The Quran says in reference to the status of Jesus as a Messenger:

"The Messiah (Jesus), son of Mary, was no more than a Messenger before whom many Messengers have passed away; and his mother adhered wholly to truthfulness, and they both ate food (as other mortals do). See how We make Our signs clear to them; and see where they are turning away!" (Quran 5:75).

2. Do Muslims believe he was born of a Virgin Mother? YES

Like Christians, Muslims believe Mary, Maria in Spanish, or Maryam as she is called in Arabic, was a chaste, virgin woman, who miraculously gave birth to Jesus.

"Relate in the Book the story of Mary, when she withdrew from her family, to a place in the East. She screened herself from them; then We sent to her Our spirit (angel Gabriel) and he appeared before her as a man in all respects. She said: I seek refuge from you in God Most Gracious (come not near) if you do fear God. He said: Nay, I am only a Messenger from your Lord, to announce to you the gift of a pure son. She said: How shall I have a son, when no man has ever touched me, and I am not unchaste? He said: So it will be, your Lord says: ‘That is easy for Me; and We wish to appoint him as a sign unto men and a Mercy from Us': It was a matter so decreed" (Quran 19:16-21).

3. Do Muslims believe Jesus had a miraculous birth? YES

The Quran says:

"She (Mary) said: ‘O my Lord! How shall I have a son when no man has touched me.' He (God) said: ‘So (it will be) for God creates what He wills. When He has decreed something, He says to it only: ‘Be!'- and it is" (3:47).

It should also be noted about his birth that:

"Verily, the likeness of Jesus in God's Sight is the likeness of Adam. He (God) created him from dust, then (He) said to him: ‘Be!'-and he was" (Quran 3:59).

4. Do Muslims believe Jesus spoke in the cradle? YES

"Then she (Mary) pointed to him. They said: ‘How can we talk to one who is a child in the cradle?' He (Jesus) said: ‘Verily! I am a slave of God, He has given me the Scripture and made me a Prophet; " (19:29-30).

5. Do Muslims believe he performed miracles? YES

Muslims, like Christians believe Jesus performed miracles. But these were performed by the will and permission of God, Who has power and control over all things.

"Then will God say: ‘O Jesus the son of Mary! recount My favor to you and to your mother. Behold! I strengthened you with the Holy Spirit (the angel Gabriel) so that you did speak to the people in childhood and in maturity. Behold! I taught you the Book and Wisdom, the Law and the Gospel. And behold: you make out of clay, as it were, the figure of a bird, by My leave, and you breathe into it, and it becomes a bird by My leave, and you heal those born blind, and the lepers by My leave. And behold! you bring forth the dead by My leave. And behold! I did restrain the children of Israel from (violence to you) when you did show them the Clear Signs, and the unbelievers among them said: ‘This is nothing but evident magic' (5:110).

6. Do Muslims believe in the Trinity? NO

Muslims believe in the Absolute Oneness of God, Who is a Supreme Being free of human limitations, needs and wants. He has no partners in His Divinity. He is the Creator of everything and is completely separate from His creation.

God says in the Quran regarding the Trinity:

"People of the Book (Jews and Christians)! Do not exceed the limits in your religion, and attribute to God nothing except the truth. The Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, was only a Messenger of God, and His command that He conveyed unto Mary, and a spirit from Him. So believe in God and in His Messengers, and do not say: ‘God is a Trinity.' Give up this assertion; it would be better for you. God is indeed just One God. Far be it from His glory that He should have a son. To Him belongs all that is in the heavens and in the earth. God is sufficient for a guardian" (Quran 4:171).

7. Do Muslims believe that Jesus was the son of God? NO

"Say: "God is Unique! God, the Source [of everything]. He has not fathered anyone nor was He fathered, and there is nothing comparable to Him!" (Quran 112:1-4).

The Quran also states:

"Such was Jesus, the son of Mary; it is a statement of truth, about which they vainly dispute. It is not befitting to the majesty of God, that He should beget a son. Glory be to Him! When He determines a matter, He only says to it, ‘Be' and it is" (Quran 19:34-35).

8. Do Muslims believe Jesus was killed on the cross then resurrected? NO

"“They did not kill him, nor did they crucify him, but they thought they did.” (Quran 4:156) “God lifted him up to His presence. God is Almighty, All-Wise” (Quran 4:157) .

CHRISTIANITY

1. Do Christians believe Jesus was a human being and Messenger of God? YES & NO

With the exception of Unitarian Christians, who like all the early followers of Jesus, still do not believe in the Trinity, most Christians now believe in the Divinity of Jesus, which is connected to the belief in Trinity. They say he is the second member of the Triune God, the Son of the first part of the Triune God, and at the same time "fully" God in every respect. 

2. Do Christians believe he was born of a Virgin Mother? YES

A chaste and pious human woman who gave birth to Jesus Christ, the second member of the Trinity, the Son of God, and at the same time "fully" God Almighty in every respect.

Christians believe however, that while she was a virgin, she was married to a man named Joseph (Bible: Matthew:1:18). According to Matthew 1:25, Joseph "kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus".

3. Do Christians believe he had a miraculous birth? YES

"Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows. When His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit" (Bible: Matthew 1:18)

4. Do Christians believe he performed miracles? YES

"And now, Lord, look upon their threats, and grant to thy servants to speak thy word with all boldness, while thou stretches out thy hand to heal, and sign and wonders are performed through the name of thy holy servant Jesus (Bible: Acts 4:30).

Christians believe that Jesus performed these miracles because he was the Son of God as well as the incarnation of God. 

5. Do Christians believe in the Trinity? YES

With the exception of the Unitarian Christians, who do not believe in the Divinity of Christ, the Trinity, according to the Catholic encyclopedia, is the term used for the central doctrine of the Christian religion. The belief is that in the unity of the Godhead there are Three Persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. These three Persons or beings are distinct from each another, while being similar in character: uncreated and omnipotent.

The First Vatican Council has explained the meaning to be attributed to the term mystery in theology. It lays down that a mystery is a truth which we are not merely incapable of discovering apart from Divine Revelation, but which, even when revealed, remains "hidden by the veil of faith and enveloped, so to speak, by a kind of darkness" (Const., "De fide. cath.", iv). The First Vatican Council further defined that the Christian Faith contains mysteries strictly so called (can. 4). All theologians admit that the doctrine of the Trinity is of the number of these. The Catholic Encyclopedia notes that of all revealed truths, this is the most impenetrable to reason.

6. Do Christians believe that Jesus was the son of God? YES

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him (Bible: John 3:16).

However, it is interesting to note that the term "son of God" is used in other parts of the Bible to refer to Adam (Bible: Luke 3:38), Israel (Bible: Exodus 4:22) and David (Bible: Psalms 2:7) as well. The creatures of God are usually referred to in the Bible as children of God.

The role of Paul of Tarsus in shaping this belief and the belief in Trinity

The notion of Jesus as son of God is something that was established under the influence of Paul of Tarsus (originally named Saul), who had been an enemy of Jesus, but later changed course and joined the disciples after the departure of Jesus.

Later, however, he initiated a number of changes into early Christian teachings, in contradiction, for instance, to disciples like Barnabas, who believed in the Oneness of God and who had actually lived and met with Jesus.

Paul is considered by a number of Christian scholars to be the father of Christianity due to his additions of the following ideas:

  • that Jesus is the son of God,
  • the concept of Atonement,
  • the renunciation of the Law of the Torah.

Paul did these things in hopes of winning over the Gentiles (non-Jewish people). His letters are another of the primary sources of information on Jesus according to the Christian tradition.

The original followers of Prophet Jesus opposed these blatant misrepresentations of the message of Jesus. They struggled to reject the notion of the Divinity of Jesus for close to 200 years.

One person who was an original follower of Jesus was Barnabas. He was a Jew born in Cyrus and a successful preacher of the teachings of Jesus. Because of his closeness to Jesus, he was an important member of the small group of disciples in Jerusalem who had had gathered together following the disappearance of Jesus.

The question of Jesus's nature, origin and relationship with God was not raised amongst Barnabas and the small group of disciples. Jesus was considered a man miraculously endowed by God. Nothing in the words of Jesus or the events in his life led them to modify this view.

The Gospel of Barnabas was accepted as a Canonical Gospel in the Churches of Alexandria till 325 CE Iranaeus (130-200) wrote in support of pure monotheism and opposed Paul for injecting into Christianity doctrines of the pagan Roman religion and Platonic philosophy. He quoted extensively from the Gospel of Barnabas in support of his views. This indicates that the Gospel of Barnabas was in circulation in the first and second centuries of Christianity. 

In 325 (CE), a council of Christian leaders met at Nicaea and made Paul's beliefs officially part of Christian doctrine. It also ordered that all original Gospels in Hebrew script which contradicted Paul's beliefs should be destroyed. An edict was issued that anyone in possession of these Gospels would be put to death.

The Gospel of Barnabas has miraculously survived though.

7. Do Christians believe he was killed on the cross? YES

This is a core Christian belief and it relates to the concept of atonement. According to this belief, Jesus died to save mankind from sin. However, this is not stated explicitly in the four gospels which form the primary source texts of Christianity. It is found, however, in Romans 6:8,9.

Christians believe Jesus was spat on, cut, humiliated, kicked, striped and finally hung up on the cross to endure a slow and painful death.

According, to Christian belief, the original sin of Adam and Eve of eating from the forbidden tree was so great that God could not forgive it by simply willing it, rather it was necessary to erase it with the blood of a sinless, innocent Jesus.

Resurrection

The four Gospels and the Epistles of St. Paul are the main sources of Christianity which discuss the Resurrection of Jesus after his crucifixion. According to St. Matthew, Jesus appeared to the holy women, and again on a mountain in Galilee. Mark's Gospel tells a different story: Jesus was seen by Mary Magdalene, by the two disciples at Emmaus, and the Eleven before his Ascension into heaven.

Luke's Gospel says Jesus walked with the disciples to Emmaus, appeared to Peter and to the assembled disciples in Jerusalem. In John's Gospel, Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene, to the ten Apostles on Easter Sunday, to the Eleven a week later, and to seven disciples at the Sea of Tiberias.

Another account of the resurrection by St. Paul is found in Bible: Corinthians 15: 3-8.

According to Christian belief, Resurrection is a manifestation of God's justice, Who exalted Christ to a life of glory, as Christ had humbled himself unto death (Phil., 2: 8-9). This event also completes the mystery of Christian salvation and redemption. The death of Jesus frees believers from sin, and with his resurrection, he restores to them the most important privileges lost by sin (Bible: Romans 4:25).

More importantly, the belief in the resurrection of Jesus indicates Christian acknowledgment of Christ as the immortal God, the cause of believers' own resurrection (Bible: I Corinthians 4: 21; Phil., 3:20-21), as well as the model and the support of a new life of grace (Bible: Romans 4: 4-6; 9-11).

 

Photo Attribution: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hagia_Sophia_weekend.jpg

Comments

Rating this article, I could only say excellent. I've been searching for facts on the beliefs of Muslims towards Jesus vs. the beliefs of Christians and Jesus, and before now all I/ve found was opinions. Finding this article, answered all of my questions, leaving me wanting more information. I've read so many other article where I was discouraged as well as frustrated with the answers I was given. I now look forward to finding out the real answers, and the right religion that will lead me to serving God best. Thank You!

Location

home

That was a good article. As a christian it was very informative. I liked the way it was presented. As a strong believer of christianity, the article can never change my faith or opinion, but it was very informative and moreover, I was very qurious to know what importance they have forJESUS.

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Sharjah

Nice to read a reasonably balanced article. Was it the authors intent to attempt to convince non-moslems to join Islam? I recommend the author to join up with a Christian contemporary (i am not Christian by the way) and offer a joint appraisal of the similarities, differences, and areas for hope (which we need most of all at this time) between Islam and Christianity.Above all i enjoyed the article because i am interested in Islam, and most Islamic authored informationm on the Internet is too extremist. Metions a lot about violence done in the name of God or Allah, but not much about love, forgiveness, and respoect for human life. I will leave you with a question for both Christians and Moslems:Is God/Allah so weak that he needs people to kill in his name? Is it up to God/Allah to decide, and not those who claim to act with his consent?Thankyou. Peace forever.

Location

UK

As a former-muslim, i think this article was a good comparison to the two worlds largest religions. I moved to Italy from Iran and studied the bible for 2 years and also the Quran. I believe Christainity and Islam is very simular religion and i respect Islam. I'm still not accepted from my family because i converted to Christainity and i hope soon they realize why i chose Christianity. I think this web-site is a very place to study the two largest religions in the world. God Bless all and keep up the good work!

Location

US

God tells us in the Quran that He sent down all the Book of guidence and since they are from the same source there are similarities in them.

Location

chicago

The differences between Christianity and Islam will continue to be debated for ever...It has been difficult for me to believe that those who follow Islam see the Koran as the complete word of God. Much of the Koran and the Hadiths are direct copies from the Bible; stories of miracles,sayings and theological meanings are obviously not original in nature. To me this cannot be overlooked as pure co-incidence. More importantly, as a Christian I can not accept Mohammad as the final Prophet of God-a teacher maybe- but not a prophet.

Location

jones

A good article, and mostly well balanced. However, as a Christian, and I detect some errors and faulty reasoning in the article. The so-called gospel of Barnabas was never quoted by Iranaeus. With the greatest respect, you have made an error in this assertion. Nowhere does any reference to the gospel of Barnabas appear before the 1500's CE. Fifteen hundred years with no mention of the book whatsoever. Not even the Quran mentions it, which seems surprising, if the gospel of Barnabas had actually existed at that time. The most reasonable conclusion is that the gospel of Barnabas is a medieval forgery. It didn't get mentioned before the sixteenth century CE because it didn't exist before then. Descriptions of the real character of Barnabas and his relationship to Paul are found in the book of Acts, and in the letters of Paul. They were companions and supporters of each other. They co-authored letters.The article also correctly noted that the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were not written during the lifetime of Jesus, but then implied that the Quranic version must be more reliable. The Quran was given many hundreds of years after the time of Jesus. The four Gospels of the Bible were all written within 50 or 60 years of the death and resurrection of Jesus, by eyewitnesses, or close associates of eyewitnesses of the events. The earliest manuscript evidence (copies of copies) for these books dates from the early second century CE. Paul's letters, which were written only a couple decades after the events, describe the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. Paul was well acquainted with the original eyewitness disciples. In fact, Barnabas was the one who introduced him to them! Paul spent substantial time as a guest at Peter's house. His account is reliable.I mean no disrespect, but the four biblical Gospels and the letters of Paul were written hundreds of years before the Quran, and the thousands of surviving early manuscripts and manuscript fragments attest that they have come down to us unchanged in any substantial way. It does not seem reasonable to question their reliability. There is not a single surviving manuscript, manuscript fragment, or actual mention of the gospel of Barnabas before the sixteenth century. It does not seem reasonable to accept it as reliable.Once again, thank you for this article, it is one of the more balanced that I have read.

Location

i would like to comment on the very first person making comments about what Allah swt has said in the Quran about women and heaven im not sure what this friend has actually read but there are many verses in the Quran which refer to beleiving men and women to be sent to heaven as there are many verses stating about unbeleiving men and women for eg:67. The hypocritical men and the hypocritical women are all alike; they enjoin evil and forbid good and withhold their hands; they have forsaken Allah, so He has forsaken them; surely the hypocrites are the transgressors. 68. Allah has promised the hypocritical men and the hypocritical women and the unbelievers the fire of hell to abide therein; it is enough for them; and Allah has cursed them and they shall have lasting punishment. 71. And (as for) the believing men and the believing women, they are guardians of each other; they enjoin good and forbid evil and keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate, and obey Allah and His Apostle; (as for) these, Allah will show mercy to them; surely Allah is Mighty, Wise. 72. Allah has promised to the believing men and the believing women gardens, beneath which rivers flow, to abide in them, and goodly dwellings in gardens of perpetual abode; and best of all is Allah's goodly pleasure; that is the grand achievement.35. Surely the men who submit and the women who submit, and the believing men and the believing women, and the obeying men and the obeying women, and the truthful men and the truthful women, and the patient men and the patient women and the humble men and the humble women, and the almsgiving men and the almsgiving women, and the fasting men and the fasting women, and the men who guard their private parts and the women who guard, and the men who remember Allah much and the women who remember-- Allah has prepared for them forgiveness and a mighty reward. 5. That He may cause the believing men and the believing women to enter gardens beneath which rivers flow to abide therein and remove from them their evil; and that is a grand achievement with Allah10. Surely (as for) those who persecute the believing men and the believing women, then do not repent, they shall have the chastisement of hell, and they shall have the chastisement of burning.in other verses of the Holy Quran Allah swt address humans as Oh mankind this is not referred to just men it is reffered to both men and women alike.

Location

uk

I did enjoy the site as I am studying the muslim religion and it offers good information. I am a christian and I will always be a christian. Allah just seems to me as an impersonal god where christianity depicts God as father, kind, loving and wanting all to repent. I have and am reading the Quran and it says nothing that makes me want to follow Allah. It does not say he is loving and kind. Mercifull yes. And then there's heaven. To me it seems like heaven is mostly for men "and therin shall be the damsels with retiring glances, whom nor man nor djinn hath touched before them". What of woman? What will be their reward in heaven? Will they also have virgin girls or something? Im sorry if I sound insulting, Im just curious. Also the pray five times a day ritual seems impersonal and as if you just do it because you have to. I may not bow and prostrate myself, but I go on my knees and I lift up my hands in surrender. I have seen God do things and he has answered my prayers many times. I have nothing against muslims as the religion seems similar to me. We all agree there is one God. I do not worship the Holy spirit, and I believe that God id the one and only God and I believe Jesus is God's son yet in the bible it does say that the father is in the son and the son in the father therefore they are one.

Location

NZ

This artcle is one of the best artcles i have ever read about christianity.Owing to its precise and consise style i really enjoyed it.The information i got it really strengthened my believe in allah.I hope that the christians study this artcle.

Location

uk

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