Jesus in the Qur’an

Here are some verses in the Qur’an that speak about Jesus. These verses are significant; and the Spirit of God has used these to move a number of Muslims to ask who is this Jesus who stands out as unique.

Let’s start with verse 39 from Sura 3:

And (appoint him) a messenger to the Children of Israel, (with this message): “I have come to you, with a Sign from your Lord, in that I make for you out of clay, as it were, the figure of a bird, and breathe into it, and it becomes a bird by Allah’s leave: And I heal those born blind, and the lepers, and I quicken the dead, by Allah’s leave; and I declare to you what ye eat, and what ye store in your houses. Surely therein is a Sign for you if ye did believe.”

Although the story of Jesus making a clay from a bird is from an apocryphal account, it is nonetheless significant. Who is the only other person in the Bible who makes something from clay and breathes life into it?

In addition, this verse tells us about the many miracles that Jesus did: raising the dead, making the blind to see, and healing the lepers. Jesus stands out as unique among all those sent by God. Yet, this statement is not connected to any of the stories of the healings. To access these stories everyone has to turn to the Gospels.

This same statement about Jesus is repeated again in verse 110 of Sura 5:

O Jesus the son of Mary! Recount My favour to thee and to thy mother. Behold! I strengthened thee with the holy spirit, so that thou didst speak to the people in childhood and in maturity. Behold! I taught thee the Book and Wisdom, the Law and the Gospel and behold! thou makest out of clay, as it were, the figure of a bird, by My leave, and thou breathest into it and it becometh a bird by My leave, and thou healest those born blind, and the lepers, by My leave. And behold! Thou bringest forth the dead by My leave. 

Expanding on this understanding of Jesus, look at how verse 171 in Sura 4 refers to Jesus:

O People of the Book! Commit no excesses in your religion: Nor say of Allah aught but the truth. Christ Jesus the son of Mary was a messenger of Allah, and His Word, which He bestowed on Mary, and a Spirit proceeding from Him: so believe in Allah and His messengers. Say not “Trinity”: desist: it will be better for you: for Allah is one Allah: Glory be to Him: (far exalted is He) above having a son. To Him belong all things in the heavens and on earth.

Jesus is referred to as the Word of God (Kalimatullah) and the Spirit of God (Ruhullah). Jesus is also referred to as the Word of God in verse 45 of Sura 3:

O Mary! Allah giveth thee glad tidings of a Word from Him: his name will be Christ Jesus, the son of Mary, held in honour in this world and the Hereafter and of (the company of) those nearest to Allah.

These titles of Jesus are immensely significant. We should not be put off by how verse 171 in Sura 4 speaks against the “Trinity.” This verse is not speaking against the biblical understanding of the Triune God, but against a misunderstanding. The Qur’an was composed in a context where the Trinity was thought to be composed of God the Father, Mary, the Mother, and Jesus the Son. The physicality embedded within this misunderstanding is obvious. We would object to any idea of God having a physical, sexual relationship with Mary as well.  This physicality is the context behind these verses in the Qur’an:

19:88 They say: “(Allah) Most Gracious has sired a son!”

19:92 For it is not consonant with the majesty of (Allah) Most Gracious that He should sire a son.

The Qur’an refutes any notion of a physical relationship between Mary and God. The Qur’an clearly attests to the virgin birth of Jesus:

In addition to these statements about Jesus, the Qur’an explicitly speaks of the virgin birth of Jesus. Verse 91 of Sura 21 says:

And (remember) her who guarded her chastity: We breathed into her of Our spirit, and We made her and her son a sign for all peoples (Sura 21:91).

She said: “How shall I have a son, seeing that no man has touched me, and I am not unchaste?” 21 He said: “So (it will be): Thy Lord saith, ‘that is easy for Me: and (We wish) to appoint him as a Sign unto men and a Mercy from Us’: It is a matter (so) decreed.” 22 So she conceived him, and she retired with him to a remote place (Sura 19:20-22). 

Returning to Jesus’ death and resurrection, look at verse 33 in Sura 19:

So peace is on me the day I was born, the day that I die, and the day that I shall be raised up to life!

This is a clear affirmation that Jesus died and was raised from the dead. Jesus’ resurrection is seen by some to be affirmed in verse 55 of Sura 3:

Behold! Allah said: “O Jesus! I will take thee and raise thee to Myself and clear thee (of the falsehoods) of those who blaspheme; I will make those who follow thee superior to those who reject faith, to the Day of Resurrection: Then shall ye all return unto me, and I will judge between you of the matters wherein ye dispute.”

I am not saying that all Muslims understand these verses in the same way. Islamic scholars engage in rigorous debate over the meanings of these verses. Nonetheless, many Muslims do understand these verses in this way; and these verses have been used by the Spirit of God to move Muslims to rethink their assumptions about Jesus.

 

 

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