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Who is Jesus for Muslims?

Over the past 200 years historians have been concerned with recovering an accurate picture of the historical Jesus, making a distinction between the Jesus of history and the Christ of faith.[1] The Christian hope has been that the portrait of the Jesus of history, as painted by historians, will bear a resemblance to the Christ of faith. This should also be the Muslim hope, yet for Islam the Christ of faith is an altogether different picture. In this paper I shall explore the Christ of faith from the Muslim perspective in order that we may answer the question that Jesus himself asked; “Who do you say I am?” (Mark 8:27).

In this paper I shall refer to the Islamic conception of the person of Jesus as ‘Isa,’ and the Christian conception of the same person as simply ‘Jesus,’ or ‘Christ.’ This devise is meant to clarify that Christians and Muslims consider Isa and Jesus to be the same person, yet at the same time have radically different conceptions of who that person is, and particularly about what he claimed about himself. These pictures, as we shall see, will be mutually exclusive of each other, such that if one is correct, the other must be false. Of course, they could both be false, but both could not be true in the same sense. Other historical figures featured in both religions, each with different names and conceptions, like Jesus/Isa, will have their alternate names placed in parentheses.

I will first outline the Qur’anic concept of who Isa was, beginning with his different names and titles, then moving on to different aspects of his person; namely his miracles, teaching, and mission, and the theological concerns that drive the Islamic polemic against the Christian conception of Jesus. I will then examine the Qur’anic account of the fate of Isa, and reflect on the requirement of theological coherence, and finish with a brief look at subsequent tradition about Isa. Restricting the survey to the Qur’anic source material is for two reasons. First, to limit the scope thus ensuring brevity. Second, to critique the foundational source, rather than sources which are to some considered secondary or, to others, not authoritative at all. By critiquing the value of this material along the way the intent is to create both an effective and as broad a ranging apologetic response to Islam as possible.

Jesus (Isa) in the Islamic conception

The Qur’an mentions the name ‘Isa’ twenty-five times.[2] In sixteen of these references he is referred to as ‘the son of Maryam.’[3] and is paired five times with former prophets[4]Mūsā (Moses) in particular. Isa is referred to as el-Messih, ‘the Messiah’ eight times,[5] adding two references to the list of twenty-five. Two of the references to Isa give him the title of Kalimet Allah, ‘the word of God’ or ‘the word from God’ (3:40; 4:169), and another refers to him as Ruh Allah, ‘Spirit of God’ or ‘Spirit from God’ (4:169). Isa is commonly known as Nabi and Rasûl, prophet and apostle respectively (see 4:169; 19:30; 57:27), making him inspired by God and with a special dispensation or revelation and able to preform miracles by the will of Allah. That he is highly revered is also evident from his other titles; aya ‘a sign’ (19:21; 21:91; 23:50), mathal ‘a parable’ or ‘example’ (3:59; 43:57, 59), shahid ‘a witness’ (4:157; 5:117), rahma ‘a mercy’ (19:21), wajih ’eminent’ (3:45), min al-muqarrabīn ‘one bought near’ (3:45), min al-sālihīn ‘one of the upright’ or ‘righteous shall he be’ (3:46), and mubarak ‘blessed’ (19:31).

Diverse opinions exist today on the origin of the name ‘Isa.’ Parrinder says the general agreement is that ‘Isa’ derives from the Syriac Yeshū, itself derived from the Hebrew Y’esua, a shortened form of Yehoshua.[6] However, the regular principles of etymology make this explanation forced. The morphing requires a reversal in the order of the letters, altering the vowel order and changing the weak consonant. Some western scholars suggest that the vowel change may have been influenced by pairing the name with Mūsā, creating a rhyme as is done with other similar pairings; for example, Jalut and Talut for Goliath and Saul, and Habil and Kabil for Able and Cain. Reducing the force of this suggestion however is the fact that Isa and Mūsā are only paired five out of the twenty-five times Isa is mentioned. (This same consideration also weakens the theory Muhammad invented the name to create the rhyme.) The Muslim commentator Baidāwī scoffs at fanciful efforts of providing an etymology for Isa, such as the one which identifies ‘ayasun, meaning ‘white with a shade of red.’[7] Like others western scholars he sees Isa deriving from the Syriac Yasū, with a varied pronunciation from Nestorian and Docetic Christians in Syria and Arabia.

A compelling explanation for the Qur’anic usage of ‘Isa’ is given by Dr. Otto Pautz.[8] He suggests the Jews of Muhammad’s acquaintance in Medina had taken to caricaturing Jesus as Esau, the elder brother of Jacob, son of Isaac. Since Esau and his descendants were historically in opposition with Jacob and his descendants, the heirs of the promise, it was fitting that Jesus—to the Jews of Medina a pretender to the fulfilment of that promise and false messiah—be awarded that name. Without being aware of the sinister import of the name the Jews had given him, Muhammad adopted a form of that name for the Qur’an. This is the most plausible in light of Muhammad’s pattern of borrowing and adapting from Judaism.[9] The theory’s chief weakness is the complete lack of evidence for it.[10]

The title al-Masīḥ is evidently taken from the Hebrew word mashiach meaning ‘the anointed.’ The conception of a Messiah in first century Judaism was of a political liberator somehow associated with the office of prophet, priest and king.[11] It was this conception without the terms political dimensions, that Jesus in the Gospels attributed to himself.[12] Jesus came not to stoke Israel’s nationalistic fever but to establish the kingdom of God, and it was this kingdom and for this purpose God had sent His promised deliverer. Thus naturally in the first century Jesus’ disciples adopted the equivalent Greek word Christos as a title for Jesus, and eventually applied to themselves as those who follow Christ—Christians. No explanation of the title al-Masīḥ is given in the Qur’an. Subsequent to New Testament usage the term seems to have lost its original meaning and obtained a different one. Usage of al-Masīḥ in the Qur’an connects the term with being a servant (4:170, 172; cf. 19:30-31; 43:57-61) and a special messenger of God (4:156-7, 169-171; cf. 9:30-31). Firozālādī, the great fourteenth century Arabic lexicographer, said there were over fifty explanations.[13] Zamakhshari and Baidāwī in the twelfth and thirteenth century respectively admit to its foreign origin, and suggest the word was a title of honour that was used as something like a surname.[14] This suggestion has its merits, for the title Christos survived as a proper name when Christianity expanded beyond its Jewish influence and the original meaning of the word became foreign. Rāzī, the eighth century scholar, connects the word with the Arabic root word Sah, meaning ‘to wander’ or ‘to go on pilgrimage.’ Imam al sa’yihin is ‘the leader of wanders,’ referring to how Jesus never spent many days in one place during his ministry – an idea that resonates with the later Islamic tradition of Isa as a mystic and ascetic.

Ibn Maryam ‘the son of Mary’ is the title used most often in the Qur’an. Identification with one’s mother is unusual but not unheard of in the Arabia of the sixth century.[15] The phrase occurs only once in the New Testament (Mark 6:3), thus it is unlikely that the phrase’s origin in the Qur’an was influenced by the biblical literature. The phrase is present in the apocryphal Arabian and Syriac infancy narratives that were circulating at the time; five times in the Arabic, eighteen times in the Syriac. Establishing the direction of influence between the Qur’an and the Arabic narratives proves difficult, but the Syriac narratives reliably pre-date this and provide further evidence of links between Syrian Christianity and early Islam.[16] Ibn Maryam is an honorific, with no hint of the derogatory. Its usage in the Syriac narratives shows that some Christians used it, and may also indicate that Jews used it in debate while denying that Jesus was the Christ.[17] The Qur’an may similarly use it to emphasise its polemic against the Christian’s claiming Jesus is the Son of God.

The Qur’an’s portrayal of Isa is curious in another regard with respect to the infancy narratives of the Arabian and Syrian apocryphal gospels. In the ninety or so verses of the Qur’an that are about Isa there are relatively few of him in adulthood and of his teaching, restricting its remarks chiefly to his annunciation (3:42-48; 19:16-21) and virgin birth (19:22-34; 23:50), and a bare list of his miracles (3:48-53; 5:112-115) or ‘signs’ to confirm his teaching. Cragg observes that, very unlike what is commonly observed about the New Testament Gospels being passion narratives with extended introductions, the Qur’an is really a nativity narrative with an attenuated sequel.[18] The significance of Isa, as well as John the Baptist, is heralded by the ‘sign’ of their birth, but the not interpreted by extending the narrative into their future lives. Cragg quips, ‘Birth, to be sure, is a prior condition of biography. It can hardly substitute for it.’[19]

The miracles that accompanied Isa as signs of the authenticity of his message are only listed (3:48-53); coming without any context for the events to determine their quality or quantity. The list includes are creating birds from clay figurines, miracles of healing the blind and lepers, and raising the dead back to life. For the most part the New Testament Gospels give confirmation of Jesus performing these types of miracles. The exception is the story of the clay birds, versions of which can be found outside the Christian canon in the apocryphal Gospel of Thomas the Israelite, a collection of known fables about Jesus, as well as the Arabic Infancy Gospel, and the Jewish Toldoth. In addition to this list is the story of the banquet table from heaven (5:112-115), which appears to be an amalgamation of stories of the feeding of the five thousand and the Last Supper found in the gospels. Finally, to confirm his office as prophet, and his calling to prayer and almsgiving, Isa speaks as an infant still in the cradle (19:30-33). Again a version of this story can be found in the prior sources of the Arabic Infancy Gospel and the Gospel of Thomas the Israelite. St. Clair-Tisdall speculates that the stories were given to Muhammad by his Coptic hand-maid, Mary, and from her, believing these were from the gospel, he included them into the Qur’an with his own adaptions.[20] The mode of transmission is not clear, but what is not a matter of speculation is the literary dependancy on the Arabic Infancy Gospel the Qur’an displays.

The Qur’an likewise has little to say on Isa’s teaching. Sixty-four verses of the ninety there are about Isa in the Qur’an relate the infancy narratives and miracles, leaving only twenty-six verses to elaborate on the substance of his adult ministry. The Qur’anic account of Isa’s teaching becomes even more bare-boned when repeated content is considered. The Qur’an says that Isa would come in the tradition of other prophets sent from God, confirming the Torah that was given beforehand (2:87; 3:48; 5:46; 61:6), yet making some things lawful what were previously forbidden (3:50). No specifics of these exceptions are is given. Isa was given the Gospel, which was ‘guidance and light’ for righteous living, yet again there is little in the Qur’an to ascertain the content of this good news. Isa’s teaching in the Qur’an is that the right path was to worship God, the Lord of everyone (3:50-51). Obedience to Isa should look like the fear of God, in whom all worshiped.

Isa is said to have bought ‘good tidings’ of a messenger to come after him, whose name is Ahmad—commonly held to be another name for the Prophet Muhammad (61:6).[21] That the name was inserted into the Qur’an to prove Isa prophesied Muhammad’s coming is unlikely, given the variant Ahmad is much less obvious than the name Muhammad; the name he was purportedly more commonly known by. J. Schacht in the Encyclopaedia of Islam says that ‘Ahmad’ is to be taken not as a proper name but as an adjective and that it was understood as a proper name only after Muhammad had be identified with the Paraclete, the Greek word for ‘Comforter’ or ‘Advocate.’[22] This word is used in the Gospel for the Holy Spirit (Jn. 14:16, 26; 15:26; 16:7; cf. 1 Jn. 2:1), and being difficult to understand was often transmitted without translation. Thus the Greek paraclete, became paraqleto’ in the Syriac Gospel, and fāraqlīt in the Arabic, leading to the suggestion that parakletos (phonetic spelling of the Greek) was confused with periklutos (phonetic spelling of the Arabic) meaning ‘celebrated’ or ‘praised.’ Since this is the meaning of Ahmad, Muslim commentators and editors have long seen in the Gospel, and on the lips of Jesus, a prediction, by name, of the coming of Muhammad. The correct translation should be menahhemana, ‘life-giver’ or in context ‘consoler’ or ‘comforter.’

Isa’s mission in the Qur’an is to bring the Injil, corrupted from the Greek word evangel for ‘Good News,’ to the Jews. This word appears twelve times in the Qur’an (3:2; 3:43, 58; 5:50, 51, 70, 72, 110; 7:156; 9:112; 48:29; 57:27), indicating that this revelation produces a spirit of adoration (48:29), prompts kind and compassionate deeds (57:27), urges righteousness and restrains unrighteousness (7:157). It is not clear whether this refers narrowly to the words of Jesus only, or broadly to the New Testament. God’s revelation, according to Islam, is continuous from Law to Gospel to Qur’an, such that prior revelations confirm the teaching of the Qur’an (10:94). There is no sense in which the previous revelation, given to Jew and Christian, had been abrogated by the Qur’an. Rather, it confirms and commands everyone to uphold all the teaching that preceded it (5:68; 61:6), even instructing the ‘People of the Gospel judge what Allah has revealed therein’ (5:47). In doing so it lays the ground work for the charge to arise, as later Muslims encountered the Christian scriptures, that Christians had nefariously changed the message of Isa by assuming a text prior to the four Gospels was corrupted. Today Muslims like to say that Christians have misinterpreted the message in its current unchanged form. The response is for apologetics, yet if this charge can arise, then by the same merits a parallel charge may also be lodged that Muhammad was only familiar with second-hand Christian sources, and not the scriptures themselves.

This mission was not universal but to the Jews only.[23] Muslims bolster their justification for this is with the words of Jesus, who said ‘I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel’ (Matt. 15:24).[24] That this interpretation is contradicted by Jesus’ ministry to Romans, Greeks and Phoenicians (e.g. Mark 7:24-30) in the other Gospels not fully taken fully into account, nor is Jesus’ commission to his disciples at the end of that same Gospel to spread his message to ‘the ends of the earth’ (Matt. 28:18-20).

Isa’s mission was for the Jews because they had fallen into error, but there is too little information given to be able to describe what this error was,[25] or how they had departed from their belief in one God or the religion of their forefather, Abraham. The Jewish response to Isa’s message was antagonistic. The Jews are blamed for rejecting the message of Isa by trying to kill him, but there is however no indication of the special content of Isa’s teaching, thus no motive that would induce them to kill him. It appears that the context of Isa’s struggle with the Jews was roughly parallel to the struggle of Muhammad with the Quraish in Mecca. The Qur’an however, doesn’t give a historical or religious background, and so leaves the reader with the impression the struggle of Isa is the same struggle carried over and experienced by Muhammad some six centuries later.[26] Isa asks, ‘Who are my supporters in the cause of Allah?’ (3:52). The reply he receives from his disciples is an affirmation of belief in Allah and their submission as Muslims. The response given by Allah is a similar admonition against the disbelievers in Him and those who refuse to submit (3:55-56). This assumption of similarity in the Qur’an that does not take into account the shifting contexts between Isa and Muhammad and is a persistent challenge for Muslims who would seek to understand the Jesus of the Christian tradition.

The most pressing concern with Isa in the Qur’an is theological. In order to uphold the majesty of God, the Qur’an insists on denying all ideas that belittle the divine. Instead of starting as the Christian scriptures do, with God reaching out to man with the Word made flesh (John 1:1-14), the Qur’an begins with man reaching out to God who is exalted above everything of the flesh. ‘Exalted is He above having a son.’ (4:171)[27] Thus Christian teaching regarding Jesus is caught in the crosshairs. In Surah 112, a central confession in Islamic prayer, there is embedded a polemic against the Christian teaching of the incarnation

Say ‘He is Allah, [who is] One, Allah, the Eternal Refuge. He neither begets nor is born, Nor is there to Him any equivalent. (Q. 112)

By extension we also have here a denial of the deity of Jesus, and the Christian doctrine of the trinity. The Qur’an even places on the lips of Isa a denial that he ever said that Allah, his mother and he should be considered divine (5:116). This is a skewed view of the doctrine of the trinity which both Muslims and Christian’s can unite in disagreement with. This also reinforces the idea that Muhammad was ignorant of orthodox Christian theology, for had he known that Mary was never a member of the Trinity surely he would have had a more accurate rendering of the doctrine. Unfortunately, this denial also includes a denial of the divinity of Christ, and on this point where faithful Christians and Muslims will forever be divided. In the Qur’an’s theological denials we find the definitive boundaries of each religion, and none more so in the discussion of the purported fate of Isa.[28]

Christians believe that Jesus died on the cross, was buried, and then raised back to life leaving an empty grave behind him (1 Cor. 15:3-5), in divine confirmation of his prior claims to be God incarnate[29]. The Qur’anic account offers a very different story regarding the fate of Isa.

The denial verse[30] states that ‘… they did not kill him, nor did they crucify him; but [another] was made to resemble him to them.’ (4:157).[31] It’s purpose was to defend against the claim being made by the Jews that they had killed Jesus by crucifixion. Ma salabu-hu is to say ‘they did not cause his death on the cross’ and is straight-forward and unambiguous. For Shubbiha la-hum various translations have been put forward over the years. It means either ‘he was counterfeited for them’ (Bell), or ‘it appeared to them as such’ (Massignon), or ‘only a likeness of that was shown to them’ (Arberry), or ‘and they who entertained wrong opinions about him, did not crucify him’ (Ubayy b. Ka’b).[32] Upon this Qur’anic skeleton is built the commentaries and traditions that seek to explain this enigmatic verse. Dr. Kamel Hussein takes a mystery view, saying Christ’s fate can be left ‘unexplained among the several mysteries which we have taken for granted on faith.’[33] However, no mystery view can ever be held as the best explanation, especially for historical events, for it essentially is a failure to give an explanation. The pertinent question is the fate of Christ, and two possible explanations have emerged in tradition as the main competitors; the Apparent Death Theory—that Isa did not die but swooned the cross,[34] and the replacement theory—that Isa was, by conspiracy and miracle, substituted by another to die in his place.[35] When this substitution happened, and exactly who the perpetrator of this conspiracy was, varies according to which commentator or tradition is listened to.

Standing against this tradition is the affirmative verse, which speaks of the death of Isa. ‘And peace is on me the the day I was born and the day I will die and the day I am raised alive’ (19:33). Probably because of the difficulty posed, Baidāwī explains that the death of Isa comes chronologically after his return in the coming era, which is after his ascension. However, the plain reading of this verse, especially when read in context with verse 15 where John the Baptist receives the same epithet, suggests that Isa’s death would come at the end of his present human life, and ‘the day I am raised alive’ refers to the general resurrection. Additionally, Isa’s death is alluded to elsewhere in the Qur’an (3:55; 5:117).[36] Parrinder concludes the cumulative effect of the Qur’anic verses is strongly in favour of a real death, and a complete self-surrendering of Jesus.[37]

Christian and other non-Muslim exegetes of the Qur’an need not be constrained by the concern of consistency in Islamic theology. Whatever remaining concerns regarding the coherence of Muhammad’s thought is of little consequence to those who view him as a false prophet of a false religion. Of course, this may also be the conclusion of the Muslim exegete who holds that abrogation is understandable for commands but not for historical narratives, and that coherence is a minimum requirement for the truth of divine revelation. Commentators on the Qur’an who find these conditions reasonable need to wrestle with this apparent contradiction in their sacred scriptures.

On the bones of the Qur’anic account of Isa is the flesh of tradition, that expand and elaborate on this material. It tells how Balus (Paul) perpetrated a deception on the Christians turning Isa into Jesus, the ‘son of God.’[38] Other have explained the erroneous theology of Isa’s sonship by misinterpretation.[39] In commentaries of the Qur’an and in collections of ‘stories of the prophets’ Jesus is often portrayed as an ascetic. This may have suggested itself due to the strange and foreign notion, according to the Islamic mindset, of living unmarried and childless (cf. Q. 3:39). Ibn Kathir, the twelfth century commentator on the Qur’an, relates a Jesus that wore rough wool clothing, ate only leaves and had no home, teaching his follows sincere repentance and to think of themselves as only guests in this world, making life in heaven their only desire. In tradition Isa also became a man of vengeance. Commentary on Isa ‘cursing the Israelistes’ (5:78) lead to stories of Jesus transforming a group of Jews into pigs.[40] Traditions on Jesus’ return in the last days (which have little basis in the Qur’an) have him fight the enemies of Islam, kill the Jews, break crosses, and slaughter all of the pigs on earth.[41]

Cheong rightly observes there are many ‘Islams’ and interpretations of Jesus, and these oblige Christians to go beyond surface treatments of one standard Muslim Jesus.[42] Yet all “Islams” hold to the Qur’an as special revelation, and this is why I have strictly kept to the Qur’anic source material. If the Qur’an’s picture of the Christ of Faith is lacking historical and theological credibility, then all do.


In this essay we have seen an overview of the Islamic conception of Isa, the person Christains refer to as Jesus. This conception, though superficially similar in the circumstances of his birth, bearer of the titles such as ‘Messiah’ and ‘Son of Mary,’ a miracle-worker, and prophet, we have found is fundamentally at odds with the Jesus of Christian piety. The brevity and spareness of information regarding Isa in the Qur’an, specifically the absence of his teachings and the rational for the Jewish rejection of him as a prophet, does not recommend the Qur’anic account as historical source. The abundance of theologically driven polemics surrounding the figure of Isa, its reliance on apocryphal source material, and its apparent contradictory teaching of the death of Isa, further reduces the value of the Qur’an in recovering the authentic Isa (Jesus) of history.


  1. Reimarus: Framents, ed. C. H. Talbert, trans. R. S. Frazer (Philadelphia: Fortress Ress, 1970), See also Reimarus, ‘The Intention of Jesus and His Disciples’ 1788
  2. Q. 2:81, 130, 254; 3:40, 45, 48, 52. 78; 4:156, 161, 169; 5:50, 82, 109, 112, 114, 116; 6:85; 19:35; 33:7; 42:11; 43:63; 57:27; 61:6, 14.
  3. Q. 2:81, 254, 3:40; 4:156, 169; 5:50, 82, 109, 5:112, 114, 116; 19:35; 33:7, 57:27; 61:6; 6:14.
  4. Q. 2:81, 130; 3:78; 4:161; 42:11.
  5. 3:45; 4:157, 171-2; 5:19, 76, 79; 9:30
  6. Geoffrey Parrinder, Jesus in the Qur’an (London; Sheldon Press, 1977), 16.
  7. Baidāwī’s commentary, I:96, Quoted in Samuel M. Zwermer, The Muslim Christ; An Essay on the Life, Character, and Teachings of Jesus Christ According to the Koran and Orthodox Tradition (Edinburge; Oliphant, Anderson and Perrier, 1912), 34. See also Parrinder, Jesus in the Qur’an, 17.
  8. Paulz, Otto. Muhammad’s Lehre von der Offenbarung (Leipzig, 1898), 191.
  9. Geiger, Abraham, Judaism and Islam (Madras, 1898); Washat Mohammed aus dem Judenthume aufgenommen? Bonn, 1833.
  10. Geoffrey Parrinder, Jesus in the Qur’an (London; Sheldon Press, 1977), 16. Zwermer, The Muslim Christ, 34.
  11. That Jesus’ contemporaries saw these miraculous signs as earmarks of the Messiah’s coming is evident from the Dead Sea Scrolls kept by the Essenes at Qumran (4Q521). Jesus’ answer to John the Baptist’s disciples blends prophesies about the Messiah (Isa 35:5-6; 26:19 and 61:1), fulfilling the criterion of Palestinian milieu increasing the probability of the saying’s authenticity.
  12. For Jesus’ self-conception as Messiah see Jesus’ question ‘Who do you say I am?’ at Ceasarea, multiply attested in independent sources in Mk. 8:27-30; Lk. 3:15-16; Jn. 1:19-27; Gospel of Thomas. For Peters answer, multiply attested in independent sources see John 6:69; Mark 1:24; Acts 3:14. For Jesus’ response to John the Baptist’s disciples see Mt. 11:2-6, multiply attested in Q; Lk. 7:19-23; and independently attested in Jn. 6:69; Mk. 1:24; Acts 3:14.
  13. Parrinder, Jesus in the Qur’an, 31
  14. Ibid., See also Gabriel Said Reynolds, The Emergence of Islam: Classical Traditions in Contemporary Perspective (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2012), 113.
  15. Muhammad was sometimes called Ibn Abi Kabsha. A son of ‘Alī was called after his mother, perhaps to distinguish him from two of his brothers with similar names. Abu Jahl, the opponent of Muhammad, was sometimes called after his mother, perhaps indicating that strong matrilineal ideas existed in some Arabian families in the sixth century. See W. Montgomery Watt, Muḥammad at Medina (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1956).
  16. E. A. W. Budge, The History of the Blessed Virgin Mary (London; Luzac, 1899), 76. See also Parrinder, Jesus in the Qur’an, 28-29.
  17. ‘This man of whom you speak who hath called himself the Son of God is the Son of Mary . . . Whence can ye show us that the Son of Mary is the Christ?’ Budge, The History of the Blessed Virgin Mary, 76.
  18. Kenneth Cragg, Jesus and the Muslim: An Exploration (Boston, MA: Oneworld Publications, 1999), 26.
  19. Ibid.
  20. W. St. Clair-Tisdall, The Sources of Islam: A Persian Treatise (trans. Sir William Muir; Edinburgh, Scotland; T. & T. Clark, 1901) 8:102, 58-59.
  21. Variants of this verse in early Islam Ubayy b. Ka’b and Ibn Ishāq, do not speak of the name of Ahmad in the passage.
  22. Parrinder, Jesus in the Qur’an, 99.
  23. This aspect of Isa’s ministry is found most clearly in the tradition, though it makes good sense of the Qur’anic material and concept of Muhammad. Sahih Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 55, Number 652: ‘Allah’s Apostle said, ‘Both in this world and in the Hereafter, I am the nearest of all the people to Jesus, the son of Mary. The prophets are paternal brothers; their mothers are different, but their religion is one.’ See also Book 030, Number 5836.
  24. Also Matt. 10:5-6
  25. One possible answer is given in Surah 9:30, which refers to the Jews saying Ezra was the ‘Son of God.’
  26. Kenneth Cragg, Jesus and the Muslim: An Exploration, 26.
  27. ‘O People of Scripture, do not commit excess in your religion or say about Allah except the truth. The Messiah, Jesus the son of Mary, was but a messenger of Allah and His word which He directed to Mary and a soul [created at a command] from Him. So believe in Allah and His messengers. And do not say, ‘Three’; desist—it is better for you. Indeed, Allah is but one God. Exalted is He above having a son. To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth. And sufficient is Allah as Disposer of affairs.’ (4:171)
  28. It is here the contradictory nature of the teaching of the Qur’an begins to come into focus. For in seeking to deny the Christian claims about Jesus it makes Isa a human being like any other. Yet to Isa the Qur’an grants special titles and honourifics, a litany of miracles, and lists him with other persons of great renown, including Abraham, Moses, David and Adam (3:59).
  29. The worship of Jesus by monotheistic Jews as God incarnate within twenty years of His death requires an adequate cause to be found in Jesus’ own claims. These are both explicit claims (Messiah: Mk. 8:27-30; Matt. 11:2-6; Luke 7:19-23; Mark 11:1-11; John 12:12-19; Mark 14:61-65; Mark 14:61-65; Mark 15:16; The Son of God: Mark 12:1-9; Matthew 11:27; Mark 13:32, Mark 15:26; The Son of Man: Mark 14:60-64, cf. Dan. 7:13-14) and implicit claims (Matt. 5:31-32; Matt. 5:31-32, Mark 8:12; 9:1; Luke 11:20; Mark 2:1-12; Matt. 11:4-5; Luke 12:8-9).
  30. The title ‘denial verse’ and ‘affirmation verse’ is taken from Kenneth E. Nolan, ‘A Pilgrimage into Islam,’ unpublished manuscript, 1980; Quoted in A. H. Mathias Zahniser, The Mission and Death of Jesus in Islam and Christianity (Maryknoll, NY; Orbis, 2008), 15.
  31. And [for] their saying, ‘Indeed, we have killed the Messiah, Jesus the son of Mary, the messenger of Allah.’ And they did not kill him, nor did they crucify him; but [another] was made to resemble him to them. And indeed, those who differ over it are in doubt about it. They have no knowledge of except the following of assumption. And they did not kill him, for certain. (4:157)
  32. Parrinder, Jesus in the Qur’an, 109.
  33. Muhammad Kamel Hussein, City of Wrong: A Friday in Jerusalem (trans. Kenneth Cragg; London; Geoffrey Bles, 1959), 222; quoted in Parrinder, Jesus in the Qur’an, 112.
  34. [Popularised by Ahmed Deedat and Zakir Naik, but entered into Islamic discourse through critical atheistic historians early in the nineteenth century. Anon., ‘Did Jesus Die on the Cross’ Accessed 20 November 2013, Online:
  35. Refutations to the Apparent Death Theory and the Swoon theory are offered by Michael Licona, Paul Meets Muhammad: a Christian Muslim debate on the Resurrection (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2006). See also Gary Habermas, The Historical Jesus: Ancient Evidence for the Life of Christ (Joplin: College Press, 1996).
  36. Two additional verses which possible imply the death of Jesus (5:17, 75). See Parrinder, Jesus in the Qur’an, 106-108.
  37. Ibid., 108
  38. Nizam al-Din al-Hasan ibn Muhammad ibn al-Husayn al-Qummi al-Nisaburi, Ghara’ib al-Qur’an wa-ragha’ib al-furqan, ed. Ibrahim ‘Atwa ‘Awd, 1st ed., 30 vols. (Cairo: al-Babi al-Halabi, 1384/1964), 10:72; and ‘Ala’ al-Din ‘Ali Ibn Muhammad Ibn Ibrahim al-Baghdadi al-Khazin, Lubab al-ta’wil fi ma-ani al-tanzil, 4 vols. (Beirut: Dar al-Ma’rifah, n.d.), 2:319; See Mahmoud Ayoub, “Jesus the Son of God: A study of the Terms Ibn and Walad in the Qur’an and Tafsīr Tradition” in A Muslim View of Christianity: Essays on Dialogue by Mahmoud Ayoub, (ed. Irfan A. Omar; Maryknoll, NY; Orbis Books, 2007), 123.
  39. Mahmoud Ayoub, “Jesus the Son of God: A study of the Terms Ibn and Walad in the Qur’an and Tafsīr Tradition” in A Muslim View of Christianity: Essays on Dialogue by Mahmoud Ayoub, (ed. Irfan A. Omar; Maryknoll, NY; Orbis Books, 2007), 124-6.
  40. Reynolds
  41. Sahih Bukhari Vol. 4, Bk. 55, No. 657. See Muslims for Jesus, “Jesus in Hadith” Accessed: 20 November 2013, Online:
  42. John Cheong, “Images of Jesus Christ in Islam.” (review of Oddbjorn Leirvik, Images of Jesus in Islam New York: Continuum, 2010. 292.), Trinity Journal 32 (2011): no. 1: 122-124.


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