The Islamic and Christian views of Jesus: a comparisonThe 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.
1. Do Muslims believe he was a Messenger of One God? YESBelief 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:
2. Do Muslims believe he was born of a Virgin Mother? YESLike 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.
3. Do Muslims believe Jesus had a miraculous birth? YESThe Quran says:
4. Do Muslims believe Jesus spoke in the cradle? 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.
6. Do Muslims believe in the Trinity? NOMuslims 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:
7. Do Muslims believe that Jesus was the son of God? NO
8. Do Muslims believe Jesus was killed on the cross then resurrected? NO
1. Do Christians believe Jesus was a human being and Messenger of God? YES & NOWith 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? YESA 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
5. Do Christians believe in the Trinity? YESWith 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
The role of Paul of Tarsus in shaping this belief and the belief in TrinityThe 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.
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? YESThis 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.
ResurrectionThe 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).