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Home / General / The Life of Jesus in the Qur’an

The Life of Jesus in the Qur’an

Short version:
jesus lifeQur’anic poetry is not so concerned about detailed information, but about a beautiful and forceful message like for example the Psalms are. The Qur’an hints at Christ’s kingship, priesthood, speaks of his divine wisdom, righteousness, his scripturality and divine mission, talks about His creative, healing, and life-giving miracles, as well as about His divine knowledge, all of which proves Him to be the representative of God, a sign for every true believer. According to the Qur’an Jesus confirmed the Bible, did away with human traditions, asked people to fear God and follow his own example in worshiping God as his only Lord. This is the straight, narrow way, this is true Islam.

Long version:
It is surprising for us that the Qur’an gives so little information on the life of Jesus compared to the gospels especially after knowing His Qur’anic titles: prophet, servant, and messenger of God, the Messiah, miraculous Son of Mary, God’s Word, Word of Truth and Spirit from Allah.

But this is a characteristic of Qur’anic poetry. It is not the wealth of information that counts, but the beauty and force of the message. For detailed information everybody is invited to go to the Hebrew and Greek books the Tawrat (torah), Zaboor (psalms), Hikma (wisdom literature) and Injeel (gospels), which is one of the Qur’anic terminology for the whole Bible. The same rule needs to be applied for all Bible characters in the Qur’an.

The psalms in the Bible show the same characteristic. Here is one example:

“Moses and Aaron among his priests, and Samuel among them that call upon his name; they called upon the LORD, and he answered them. He spoke unto them in the cloudy pillar: they kept his testimonies, and the ordinance that he gave them. You answered them, O LORD our God: You were a God that forgave them, though you took vengeance of their inventions. Exalt the LORD our God, and worship at his holy hill; for the LORD our God is holy.” (Psalms 99:6-8)

If we did not read the stories of Moses, Aaron and Samuel in the other books, how easily could we understand from this psalm that Moses was a priest alike Aaron. We even might assume that Samuel lived at the same time as Moses and Aaron.

Now let us read how the Qur’an poetically speaks about the life of Jesus and substantiate everything with Bible verses.

He shall be highly honored in this world an in the next,
And shall be one of those near stationed to God.
And he shall speak to men in the cradle and also later when he grows to maturity.
And shall indeed be among the righteous …
And He [God] will teach him the Book, the Wisdom, the Torah, the Gospel,
And he [Jesus] will be a messenger to the children of Israel
[and will say:] “I have come to you with a sign from your Lord.
I will make for you from clay the likeness of a bird And then I will breathe into it And with the permission of God it will become a bird.
I will also heal the blind and the leper, And with the permission of God bring the dead to life.
I will also inform you of what things you eat and what you treasure up in your houses.
Surely this is a sign for you if you are true believers.
And I have come to confirm the truth of the Torah before you And to make lawful to you some of the things Which had been forbidden to you.
I have come to you with a sign from your Lord; So fear God and obey me.
Surely, God is my Lord and your Lord;
So serve Him alone.
This is the straight way.”
And when Jesus perceived their leaning towards unbelief, he asked: “Who will be my helpers in the way of God?” The disciples said: “We are the helpers of God. We believe in God and be our witness that we are Muslims.”
(Āl ‘Imrān 3:45-52)

“He shall be highly honored in this world an in the next,
“Blessed be the King that comes in the name of the LORD … Glory in the highest.” (Luke 19:38) “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing … Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be unto Him that sits upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.” (Revelation 5:12,13)

And shall be one of those near stationed to God.
“We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens.” (Hebrews 8:1) “And I beheld in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb.” (Revelation 5:6) The Qur’an says “one of those” because there are also the four cherubim and the 24 elders.

And he shall speak to men in the cradle and also later when he grows to maturity
“And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him … And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers … Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.” (Luke 2:40,47,52) Not only with 12 years, but already as a baby Jesus “spoke” in a certain sense to men as can be seen with the shepherds, wise men, Simeon and Anna. His mere presence evoked all the prophecies about the Messiah in the hearts of men.

And shall indeed be among the righteous …
“We have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” (1 John 2:1) Yet, He is not the only righteous as can be seen from the following verse: “He that is righteous let him be righteous still.” (Revelation 22:11)

And He [God] will teach him the Book, the Wisdom, the Torah, the Gospel,
“And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures …” (Luke 24:27)

And he [Jesus] will be a messenger to the children of Israel.
“He shall save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21)

(And Jesus will say:) ‘I have come to you with a sign from your Lord.
“There shall no sign be given to you, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” (Matthew 12:39) “And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:12) “Behold, this child is set … for a sign which shall be spoken against.” (Luke 2:34) “For as Jonas was a sign unto the Ninevites, so shall also the Son of man be to this generation.” (Luke 11:30) “What sign do you show us? … Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.” (John 2:18,19) The Bible associates the word sign with the supernatural birth and resurrection of Christ. Also the Qur’an enumerates several things as the sign that distinguishes Jesus from all other creatures.

I will make for you from clay the likeness of a bird and then I will breathe into it and with the permission of God it will become a bird.
This reminds us of the apocryphal childhood gospel of the Eastern church. Yet it teaches metaphorically the Bible truth that Jesus was and is the means by which the Father created the universe and by which He creates a new heart in us. Jesus is the “Word of God”. Therefore this verse is important to show that Christ is elevated about every other human being or angel in the Qur’an. He is no mere man. He is the representative of God endowed with divine attributes.
“There is but one God, the Father, of (εξ) whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, through (δια) whom are all things, and we by him.” (1 Corinthians 8:6) “All things were created through (δια) him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.” (Colossians 1:16,17)
The Torah teaches that God’s actions are acted out by Michael, the Angel of the LORD as can be seen in the burning bush for example. The Apostles knew that Jesus had been Michael, the Angel of the LORD. The only place where the Bible speaks about someone forming a bird from clay and breathing into clay is in Genesis.
“And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul … and out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every bird of the air.” (Genesis 2:7,19) So the Qur’an sees Jesus as God’s representative involved in creation.

I will also heal the blind and the leper, and with the permission of God bring the dead to life.
In an effort to minimize Christ’s position in the Qur’an some Muslims point out that also Elisha opened the eyes of the blind soldiers, healed the leper Naeman and resurrected a boy from the dead. But although Elisha is mentioned in the Qur’an, his miracles are not. And Jesus’ healing and resurrection miracles are mentioned immediately after the bird miracle. This stresses the fact that it is the divine aspect of creation, which was always present when Jesus healed and resurrected people, that the Qur’an is concerned with. Also Jesus did not only work one miracle of each kind but several and not only literally but spiritually as well.
One thing however is extremely important in the Qur’an. Jesus is doing everything by permission, i.e. as a representative, messenger and servant of God, not by his own power. And this is in line with the Biblical message: “The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he sees the Father do.” (John 5:19) “I do nothing of myself; but as my Father has taught me, I speak these things.” (John 8:28)
In the same manner he had acted as the angel of the LORD before his incarnation. How else could he have been called angel (Heb = mal’akh), which means messenger, emissary, ambassador?

I will also inform you of what things you eat and what you treasure up in your houses.
Jesus with the permission of God also had supernatural knowledge about otherwise secret things. He knew the secrets of the hearts. He knew that the Samaritan woman had had five husbands, that the Pharisees planned to kill him, that Judas planned to deliver him to the priests. He knew the sinful history of the accusers of the adulteress. Thus he could write their sins in the sand. While it was not totally uncommon that prophets like Joseph and Daniel knew the secrets of human hearts, this was still not comparable in extent to Jesus who was God’s representative:
“And [Jesus] needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man.” “Shall not God search this out? for he knows the secrets of the heart.” (Psalms 44:21) “O LORD, you have searched me, and known me.” (Psalms 139:1) Jesus also knew what man ate, i.e. how he nourished his heart. This is why he asked them to eat His flesh instead. “Take, eat; this is my body.” (Matthew 26:26) “I have meat to eat that ye know not of.” (John 4:32) “Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.” (John 6:53)

Surely this is a sign for you if you are true believers.
Christ’s kingship, priesthood, divine wisdom, righteousness, scripturality, mission, His creative, healing, and life-giving miracles, and His divine knowledge proved Him to be the representative of God, a sign for every true believer. “But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.” (John 20:31)
“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace
(Salam) with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:1) This is a wonderful description of the process of Islam! By fully trusting God’s representative we are surrendering to God and enter a state of peace and righteousness. “Here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” (Revelation 14:12)

And I have come to confirm the truth of the Torah before you and to make lawful to you some of the things which had been forbidden to you.
“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:17-20)
Yet, Jesus came to make again lawful what the Pharisees had forbidden in addition to the prohibitions of the Torah. He taught men that they could eat without a ritual washing of hands. They could pick grains on Sabbath to feed themselves. They could work for the healing of people on the Sabbath. They could carry their bed home on a Sabbath, if they happened to be healed on that day. They could mingle redeemingly with publicans, prostitutes, gentiles and other sinners. Jesus broke the yoke of human traditions.

I have come to you with a sign from your Lord; so fear God and obey me.
“Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matthew 10:28) “Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.” (Revelation 14:7) “He that takes not his cross, and follows after me, is not worthy of me.” (Matthew 10:38) “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:27)

Surely, God is my Lord and your Lord;
Many Christians seem to have forgotten that God is also the Lord of Jesus Christ. They reason, because Jesus was only “God”, i.e. only divine, before he became flesh, therefore the invisible, immortal, omniscient and omnipresent God is Jesus Christ. Far from it. The Bible teaches otherwise:
“I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me.” (John 8:42) “It is my Father that honors me; of whom you say, that he is your God.” (John 8:54) “I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.” (John 20:17) “Him that overcomes will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God.” (Revelation 3:12)
God does not have a father, He is the Father. And Jesus is definitely not the father. The Bible explains: “Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort.” (2 Corinthians 1:3) “The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2. Corinthians 11:31) “And this is life eternal, that they might know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” (John 17:3)

So serve Him alone.
“And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get behind me, Satan: for it is written, you shall worship the LORD your God, and him only shall you serve.” (Luke 4:8)

This is the straight way.’
“Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.” (Isaiah 40:3) “Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.” (Luke 3:4) “Make straight the way of the Lord.” (John 1:23) “Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leads unto life, and few there be that find it.” (Matthew 7:14) “Master, we know that you are true, and teach the way of God in truth.” (Matthew 22:16) “Jesus said unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “This man was instructed in the way of the LORD … They … expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly.” (Acts 18:25,26) “But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets.” (Acts 24:14) “The way of peace (Salam) have they not known.” (Romans 3:17).

And when Jesus perceived their leaning towards unbelief, he asked: ‘Who will be my helpers in the way of God?’ The disciples said: ‘We are the helpers of God. We believe in God and be our witness that we are Muslims (surrendered to God).” (Al ‘Imran 3:45-52)
Here we have the definition of the word Muslim in connection with Christ. True disciples, students or followers of Christ who help him in the way of God are surrendered to God. They are Muslims according to the Qur’anic definition.

The life of Jesus in the Qur’an is praised in a very condensed but profound version. In the next newsletters we will look into other Qur’anic verses that speak about Jesus’s life, death, resurrection, ascension, sinlessness, second coming and Jewish and Christian heresies concerning Christ.

Kai Mester
Adventist Surrender
Bolivia

This post is also available in: Norwegian Bokmål

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