[Photo: Islamic Jesus (Isa) miniature of Sermon on the Mount]
First, a quick overview on what Muslims believe about Jesus:
- A prophet/Messenger of God
- Miraculously born of the Virgin Mary
- Given the ability to perform miracles by the permission of God
- Preached for people to adopt the straight path in submission to God's will
- The Christian concept of the deity of Jesus is blasphemous and seen as a form of polytheism.
- Neither killed nor crucified, but rather he was raised alive up to heaven.
- He will return to Earth before the Day of Judgment to restore justice and defeat al-Masīḥ ad-Dajjāl (The False Messiah or the Antichrist).
- Precursor to and foretelling of Muhammad's coming
It is said in the Qur'an that Allah sent Jesus to confirm the previous revelation to the Israelites, the Tawrat, and sent him with a new revelation the Injil (the Gospel). Even Christians agree that Jesus came as the fulfillment of the Law even though this is interpreted as fulfillment through his Death and Resurrection.
17 "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Matthew 5:17-18 NIVEven with all the similarities the main issue is that of Divinity. Was he Divine or not? Was he fully man, fully Divine, or fully Divine and fully man? The only problem with this question (and every theological question) is that it's all theory based on text based on events thousands of years ago, and this applies to both Islam and Christianity. Of course this is where faith steps in but that's a topic for another day.
If you want to understand Islam you must understand the concept of Tawhid, the Islamic doctrine of the Oneness of God.
[Excerpt taken from Wikipedia]
It holds God (Arabic: Allah) is one (wāḥid) and unique (ahad). The Qur'an asserts the existence of a single and absolute truth that transcends the world; a unique and indivisible being, who is independent of the entire creation.The indivisibility of God implies the indivisibility of God's sovereignty which, in turn, leads to the concept of a just, moral and coherent universe, rather than an existential and moral chaos. Similarly, the Qur'an rejects such ideas as the duality of God arguing that both good and evil generate from God's creative act and asserting that the evil forces have no power to create anything. The Qur'an also rejects the concept of Trinity as prevalent in Christianity. God in Islam is a universal god, rather than a local, tribal or parochial one -- is an absolute, who integrates all affirmative values and brooks no evil.This is the foundation stone of Islam and if we are to understand the Islamic Jesus we must understand their view of God. Isa's message, as well as the other prophets mentioned in the Qur'an, is to bring the people back to God whenever they stray. Muslims believe that most nations and tribes have been sent a prophet throughout history and that Isa was just one of them.
There are a lot of similarities between the Christian and Muslim Jesus life stories as well. As I mentioned Mary miraculously gave birth to Isa not as the son of God but as a sign to humanity. [There is no Joseph in the Qur'anic version.] The Qur'an mentions signs of all sorts that reveals the majesty of God from the complex design of nature to the verses of the Qur'an itself. Isa even speaks from the cradle to calm Mary's fears and silence scandalous rumors.
30 He said: "I am indeed a servant of Allah: He hath given me revelation and made me a prophet; 31 And He hath made me blessed wheresoever I be, and hath enjoined on me Prayer and Charity as long as I live; 32 (He) hath made me kind to my mother, and not overbearing or miserable; Qur'an 19:30–32Isa is a sign of God's power and majesty being created by the decree of God, no different than the Christian Jesus. But in Islam the sign is not worshiped nor becomes God. Even though Christians and Muslims will continue to battle over the divinity of Jesus they both understand the power of signs and symbols that point to something greater. These signs hold a hidden knowledge that contain divine elements which in some cases results in the sign being worshiped instead of what it represents. When Christians worship Jesus do they bow down to merely a man? No, but a person that led a sinless life as fully divine and yet also fully man as a symbol pointing to the divine. It is in these tangible symbols that both Christians and Muslims share in an attempt to worship the Unseen, the Unknowable. They may continue to battle over which symbols more clearly represents the Divine but in the end they are just symbols. Even though Humanity may never do away with symbols it is only when we transcend these symbols can we truly begin to recognize the Divine.