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Jesus, Son of Mary: Muslims Love Jesus, Too! Part 4-5

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Jesus, Son of Mary: Muslims Love Jesus, Too! Part 4-5

Jesus, son of Mary (part 4 of 5): Did Jesus Really Die?
 
Description: This article outlines the Muslim belief concerning Jesus and the crucifixion. It also repudiates the notion of a need of ‘a sacrifice’ to pay for the original sin on behalf of mankind.
 
The idea of Jesus dying on the cross is central to the Christian belief. It represents the conviction that Jesus died for the sins of mankind. The crucifixion of Jesus is a vital doctrine in Christianity; however Muslims reject it completely. Before describing what Muslims believe about Jesus’ crucifixion, it may be useful to understand the Islamic reaction to the notion of original sin.
 
When Adam and Eve ate from the forbidden tree in paradise, they were not tempted by a serpent. It was Satan who deceived and cajoled them, whereupon they exercised their free will and made an error in judgement. Eve does not bear the burden of this mistake alone. Together, Adam and Eve realised their disobedience, felt remorse and begged for God’s forgiveness. God, in his infinite mercy and wisdom, forgave them. Islam has no concept of original sin; each person bears responsibility for his own deeds.
 
“And no bearer of burdens shall bear another’s burden”. (Quran 35:18)
 
There is no need for God, a son of God, or even a Prophet of God to sacrifice himself for mankind’s sins in order to buy forgiveness. Islam refuses this view entirely. The foundation of Islam rests on knowing with certainty that nothing should we worshipped but God alone. Forgiveness emanates from the One True God; so, when a person seeks forgiveness, he must turn to God submissively with true remorse and beg forgiveness, promising not to repeat the sin. Then and only then will sins be forgiven.
 
In the light of Islam’s understanding of original sin and forgiveness, we can see that Islam teaches that Jesus did not come to atone for the sins of mankind; rather, his purpose was to reaffirm the message of the Prophets before him.
 
“.. None has the right to be worshipped but God, the One and the Only True God…” (Quran 3:62)
 
Muslims do not believe in the crucifixion of Jesus, nor do they believe that he died.
 
The Crucifixion
 
Jesus’ message was rejected by most of the Israelites as well as the Roman authorities. Those who believed formed a small band of followers around him, known as the disciples. The Israelites plotted and conspired against Jesus and formulated a plan to have him assassinated. He was to be executed in public, in a particularly gruesome manner, well known in the Roman Empire: crucifixion.
 
Crucifixion was considered a shameful way to die, and “citizens” of the Roman Empire were exempt from this punishment. It was designed to not only prolong the agony of death, but to mutilate the body. The Israelites planned this humiliating death for their Messiah – Jesus, the messenger of God. God in his infinite mercy prevented this abominable event by putting the resemblance of Jesus on somebody else and elevating Jesus alive, body and soul, to heaven. The Quran is silent about the exact details of just who this person was, but we know and believe with certainty that it was not Prophet Jesus.
 
Muslims believe that the Quran and the authentic narrations of Prophet Muhammad contain all the knowledge mankind needs in order to worship and live according to God’s commandments. Therefore, if small details are not explained, it is because God in His infinite wisdom has judged these details to be of no benefit to us. The Quran explains, in God’s own words, the conspiracy against Jesus and His plan to outwit the Israelites and raise Jesus to heaven.
 
“And they plotted to kill Jesus and God planned too. And God is the Best of the planners.” (Quran 3:54)
 
“And because of their boasting, “We killed Messiah Jesus, son of Mary, the Messenger of God.” But they killed him not, nor crucified him, but the resemblance of Jesus was put over another man, and those who differ therein are full of doubts. They have no (certain) knowledge; they follow nothing but conjecture. For surely, they killed him not. But God raised him Jesus up unto Himself. And God is Ever All Powerful, All Wise.” (Quran 4:157)
 
Jesus Did Not Die
 
The Israelites and the Roman authorities were not able to harm Jesus. God says clearly that He took Jesus up to Himself and cleared him of the false statements made in Jesus’ name.
 
“O Jesus! I will take you and raise you to Myself and clear you of the forged statement that Jesus is God’s son.” (Quran 3:55)
 
In the previous verse, when God said He “will take” Jesus, he uses the wordmutawaffeeka. Without a clear understanding of the richness of the Arabic language, and knowledge of the levels of meaning in many words, it may be possible to misunderstand God’s meaning. In the Arabic language today the word mutawaffeeka is sometimes used to denote death, or even sleep. In this verse of Quran, however, the original meaning is used and the comprehensiveness of the word denotes that God raised Jesus to himself, completely. Thus, he was alive at his ascension, body and soul, without any injury or defect.
 
Muslims believe Jesus is not dead, and that he will return to this world in the last days before the Day of Judgement. Prophet Mohammad said to his companions:
 
“How will you be when the son of Mary, Jesus descends amongst you and he will judge people by the Law of the Quran and not by the law of Gospel.”(Saheeh Al-Bukhari)
 
God reminds us in the Quran that the Day of Judgement is a Day that we cannot avoid and cautions us that the descent of Jesus is a sign of its nearness.
 
“And he, Jesus, son of Mary shall be a known sign for the Hour. Therefore have no doubt concerning it. And follow Me! This is the Straight Path.” (Quran 43:61)
 
Therefore, the Islamic belief about Jesus’ crucifixion and death is clear. There was a plot to crucify Jesus but it did not succeed; Jesus did not die, but ascended to heaven. In the last days leading up to the Day of Judgement, Jesus will return to this world and continue his message.
 
Jesus, son of Mary (part 5 of 5): People of the Book
 
Description: An overview of some of the terms the Quran use for Jesus and his followers from before the advent of Muhammad: the “Bani Israeel”, “Eissa” and the “People of the Book”.
 
After reading and understanding what Muslims believe about Jesus, son of Mary, there may be some questions that come to mind, or issues that need clarification. You may have read the term “People of the Book” and not been completely clear about what this meant. Likewise, while exploring the literature available about Jesus you could have come across the name Eissaand wondered if Jesus and Eissa were the same person. If you are considering investigating a little further or perhaps reading the Quran, the following points may be of interest.
 
Who is Eissa?
 
Eissa is Jesus. Perhaps because of the difference in pronunciation, many people may not be aware that when they hear a Muslim talking about Eissa, he is actually talking about Prophet Jesus. The spelling of Eissa may take many forms – Isa, Esa, Essa, and Eissa. The Arabic language is written in Arabic characters, thus any transliteration system tries to reproduce the phonetic sound. No matter what the spelling, all indicate Jesus, the Messenger of God.
 
Jesus and his people spoke Aramaic, a language from the Semitic family. Spoken by more than 300 million people throughout the Middle East, North Africa and the Horn of Africa, Semitic languages include, among others, Arabic and Hebrew. The use of the word Eissa is actually a closer translation of the Aramaic word for Jesus – Eeshu. In Hebrew this translates to Yeshua.
 
Translating the name Jesus into non Semitic languages complicated things. There was no “J” in any language until the fourteenth century[1], so consequently, when the name Jesus was translated into Greek, it became Iesous, and in Latin, Iesus. Later, the “I” and “J” were used interchangeably, and finally the name transitioned into English as Jesus. The final “S” on the end is indicative of the Greek language where all male names end in “S”.
 
Aramaic  Arabic Hebrew  Greek  Latin  English 
Eeshu  Eisa  Yeshua  Iesous  Iesus  Jesus 
 
Who are the People of the Book?
 
When God refers to the People of the Book, He is talking mainly about the Jews and the Christians. In the Quran, the Jewish people are called Bani Israeel, literally the Children of Israel, or commonly the Israelites. These distinctive groups follow, or followed, the revelation of God as it was revealed in the Torah and the Injeel. You may also hear the Jews and Christians referred to as “the People of the Scripture”.
 
Muslims believe the divinely revealed books before the Quran have either been lost in antiquity, or changed and distorted, but they also recognize that the true followers of Moses and Jesus were Muslims who worshiped One God with true submission. Jesus, son of Mary, came to confirm the message of Moses and to guide the Children of Israel back to the straight path. Muslim’s believe the Jews (Children of Israel) denied Jesus’ mission and message, and the Christians incorrectly raised him to the status of a god.
 
“O people of the Scripture! Exceed not the limits in your religion other than the truth, and do not follow the vain desires of people who went astray in times gone by, and who misled many, and strayed from the Right Path.” (Quran 5:77)
 
We have already discussed in previous parts how the Quran deals extensively with Prophet Jesus and his mother Mary. However, the Quran also includes many verses where God speaks directly to the People of the Book, particularly those who call themselves Christians.
 
The Christians and Jews are told not to criticise the Muslims for no reason other than believing in One God, but God also draws attention to the fact that Christians (those who follow Christ’s teaching) and Muslims have much in common, including their love and respect for Jesus and all of the Prophets.
 
“.. and you will find the nearest in love to the believers those who say: ‘We are Christians.’ That is because amongst them are priests and monks, and they are not proud. And when they listen to what has been sent down to the Messenger, you see their eyes overflowing with tears because of the truth they have recognised. They say: Our Lord! We believe; so write us down among the witnesses.” (Quran 5:83)
 
Like Jesus son of Mary, the Prophet Muhammad came to confirm the message of all the Prophets before him; he called the people to worship the One God. His mission, however, was different from the earlier Prophets, (Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and others) in one respect. Prophet Muhammad came for all of mankind while the Prophets before him came specifically for their own time and people. The advent of Prophet Muhammad and the revelation of the Quran completed the religion that had been revealed to the People of the Book.
 
And God spoke to Prophet Muhammad in the Quran and beseeched him to call to the People of the Book by saying:
 
“Say O Muhammad ‘O people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians): Come to a word that is just between us and you, that we worship none but God (Alone), and that we associate no partners with Him, and that none of us shall take others as lords besides God.’” (Quran 3:64)
 
Prophet Muhammad said to his companions, and thus to all of mankind:
 
“I am the nearest of all the people to the son of Mary, and all the Prophets are brothers and there is none between me and him.”
 
And also:
 
“If a man believes in Jesus and then believes in me he will get double reward.” (Saheeh Al-Bukhari)
 
Islam is a religion of peace, respect and tolerance, and it applies a just and compassionate attitude towards other religions, particularly in respect to the People of the Book.
 
Footnotes:
 
The Encyclopaedia Americana.
 
The Oxford English dictionary.