All Praise is for Allah alone. He is the Rabb of all that exists. Surely, we send the highest Salah and Salam upon the Final Prophet, the leader of the pious and upon his family, companions and those who follow their example with Ih’san till the Day of Reckoning.
One of the greatest hurdles confronting Muslims today is a lack of knowledge about certain essential beliefs that we as Muslims must unwaveringly adhere to. Of the most pertinent issues facing Muslims living in localities that are heavily influenced by western culture is how we view 'Isa ibn Maryum - Jesus the Son of Mary – 'alayhis-salam.
On a cyclical basis we are confronted with different "religious" occasions that are marked by our Christian neighbours, coworkers and acquaintances. It is paramount that we as Muslims have a firm understanding of what he – 'Isa,'alayhis-salam, represents to us as Muslims. Whether it is Easter Monday or Christmas day, we as Muslims should know what Islam says about the issues that are presented to us on a regular basis.
This article will attempt to expound upon the basic knowledge that Muslims may already have. It will also seek to introduce evidences from the Noble Qur'an and the Pure Sunnah with regards to issues that may not have been discussed in detail before.
The opinions expressed will be those that are held by the majority of the Scholars of Islam. The weaker opinions or those that do not have an evidentiary basis will not be discussed unless to show their inaccuracy or incorrectness. In discussing this issue we will only turn to the verified sources of authenticity. We will only narrate that which is accepted as true and verified by the Muslim scholars of past and present. We will not look into sources that do not have an Islamic basis. A Muslim writes this discussion for Muslims, from exclusively Islamic scholarly sources. To debate these issues from others sources (Bible) is a wholly separate discussion that has no place here.
The Muslim Nation is More Worthy of 'Isa than All Others
The one who claims that 'Isa, 'alayhis-salam, is God, or that 'Isa, 'alayhis-salam, is the Son of God, or that God is a Trinity that includes 'Isa is in fact the most distant from the teachings of 'Isa, 'alayhis-salam, even if he calls himself a devout Christian. Claiming love for someone implies that you adhere to what that individual stood for and called to. 'Isa, 'alayhis-salam, was never one who claimed any one of the previous three statements for himself. In fact neither did his true followers.
For this to become clear we will analyze four main points:
- The prophets of Allah are all related;
- The only accepted din (religious way of life) is Islam;
- 'Isa was but a humble Messenger and prophet of Allah; and
- 'Isa distances himself from the slander and unjustified claims of Christians.
The Prophets of Allah are All Related
The Messenger of Allah, sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam, said, "I am the most worthy of 'Isa bin Maryum in this life and in the hereafter." They (the Sahabah) asked: "Why is that O Messenger of Allah?" He, sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam, replied: "The Prophets are paternal (bloodline) brethren. Their mothers may be different (races, peoples, bloodlines) yet their din is always one (Islam)." [Reported by Bukhari and Muslim]
Therefore this necessitates that he who disputes the validity of one of the true Prophets and Messengers has in fact reviled and disputed all of them. One cannot believe in Muhammad, sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam, and not believe in 'Isa. Equally, one cannot truly believe in 'Isa and not believe in Muhammad, sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam. To truly accept one Prophet or Messenger necessitates the acceptance of all those who came before him and all who will come after him, ending with Muhammad, sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam.
This concept is clearly portrayed in the Qur'an. Allah mentions the first Messenger to humanity Nuh (Noah), 'alayhis-salam, in the Qur'an. What is very interesting is that Allah states in Surah Ash-Shu'arah (26:105) that "Nuh's people disbelieved the Messengers." The point of relevance is that a plural (Messengers) is used in this ayah, yet we know that there were no Messengers sent to his people or humanity as a matter of fact. Allah only sent Nuh, 'alayhis-salam, to his people and none other before him. This same concept is further emphasized in the same Surah. Allah says:
"'Ad's people disbelieved the Messengers." [Al-Qur'an 26:123]
"Thamud's people disbelieved the Messengers." [Al-Qur'an 26:141]
"Lut's (Lot's) people disbelieved the Messengers." [Al-Qur'an 26:160]
We know that to each of these people only one Messenger was sent to them.
Disbelieving in one Prophet or Messenger is disbelief in all the Prophets and Messengers.
"The Messenger (Muhammad) believes in what has been sent down to him from his Lord, and (so do) the believers. Each believes in Allah, His Angels, His Books, and His Messengers. (They say,) 'We make no distinction between one another of His Messengers.' " [Al-Qur'an 2:285]
Therefore all the Prophets and Messengers are a fraternity of brethren through the lineage of their fathers. Even 'Isa who was born without a father's input into the equation of procreation is from the family of Bani Israel the descendant of Ishaq (Isaac) son of Ya'qub or Jacob.
Even more important is to know that all the Prophets called to one and the same thing – Islam. This brings us to the second point of our analysis...
The Only Accepted Din (Religious Way of Life) is Islam
Allah says: "Truly the religion with Allah is Islam." [Al-Qur'an 3:19]
All of the Prophets and Messengers came calling to the one true faith. They all were sent with one mission. They were selected to call people to singling out only Allah in worship and to disavow all other gods or deities while establishing Allah Alone as the One deserving all worship. All the Prophets and Messengers called their respective peoples to Islam.
Nuh, 'alayhis-salam, called to Islam - Allah says: "(Nuh said) But if you turn away (from accepting Islamic Monotheism) then no reward have I asked of you, my reward is only from Allah, and I have been commanded to be of the Muslims!" [Al-Qur'an 10:72]
Ibrahim and Ya'qub or Abraham and Jacob called to Islam - Allah says:
"And who turns away from the religion of Ibrahim (Abraham) except him who befools himself? Truly, We chose him in this world and verily, in the Hereafter he will be among the righteous. When his Lord said to him, 'Submit (Be Muslim)!' He said, 'I have submitted myself (I am Muslim) to the Lord of the all that exists.' And this (Islam) was enjoined by Ibrahim upon his sons and by Ya'qub (Jacob) saying, 'O My sons! Allah has chosen for you the (true) religion, die not then except in the Faith of Islam (as Muslims).' Or were you witnesses when death approached Ya'qub? When he said to his sons, 'What will you worship after me (my death)?' They said, 'We shall worship your God (Allah) and the God of your fathers, Ibrahim, Isma'il (Ishmael), Ishaq (Isaac). The One (God), and to Him we submit (are Muslim).' " [Al-Qur'an 2:130-133]
Musa or Moses, 'alayhis-salam, came with nothing other than Islam. Allah says:
"And Musa said: 'O my People! If you have believed in Allah, then put your trust in Him if you are Muslims.' " [Al-Qur'an 10:84]
Yusuf or Joseph, 'alayhis-salam, came calling his people to Islam. Allah says:
"(Yusuf supplicated) My Lord! You have indeed bestowed on me of the sovereignty, and taught me something of the interpretation of dreams – the (Only) Creator of the heavens and the earth! You (O Allah) are my Wali (Protector, Helper, Supporter, Guardian) in this world and in the Hereafter. Cause me to die as a Muslim (submitting to You alone) and join me with the righteous." [Al-Qur'an 12:101]
In turn, 'Isa ibn Maryum, 'alayhis-salam, came calling his people only to Islam. Allah says: "Then when 'Isa came to know of their disbelief, he said: 'Who will be my helpers in Allah's Cause?' The disciples said: 'We are the helpers of Allah; we believe in Allah, and bear witness that we are Muslims.' " [Al-Qur'an 3:52]
And the finality of Prophethood, the Imam of the Messengers and the Leader of the Righteous, Muhammad, sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam, was sent calling all of humanity not just a single people to Islam. Allah says:
"This day I have perfected your religion for you (all humanity), completed My Favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion." [Al-Qur'an 5:3]
The religion of all those truly sent by Allah as Messengers was Islam.
'Isa Was But a Humble Messenger and Prophet of Allah
What is quite amusing to see is that there are those who accept the concept of Monotheism (Jews and Christians) yet reject it at the same time. The Jews reject known Prophets and Messengers of Allah. They at times went as far as executing them. This was planned for 'Isa as will be explained later on in our discussions. Allah describes this vividly in the Qur'an:
"Is it that whenever there came to you a Messenger with what you yourselves desired not, you grew arrogant? Some you disbelieved and some you killed." [Al-Qur'an 2:87]
On the other hand, those who claimed Christianity went too far in the veneration of their Prophet and Messenger 'Isa. They corrupted his teachings by claiming for him things that he never stated for him self. They elevated 'Isa after his departing them to a paganistic status that nullified whatever Monotheistic faith they had in their hearts.
"And they say: 'The Most Gracious (Allah) has begotten a son (or offspring or children).' Indeed you have brought forth (said) a most terrible, evil thing. Whereby the heavens are almost torn, and the earth is split asunder, and the mountains fall in ruins, that they ascribe a son (or offspring) to the Most Gracious. But it is not befitting (the Majesty) of the Most Gracious (Allah) that He should beget a son (or offspring). There is none in the heavens and the earth but comes unto the Most Gracious as a slave." [Al-Qur'an 19:88-93]
Shaykh ul-Islam Ibn al-Qayyim has a beautiful poem dispelling the falsities and irrational of Christians past and present. He poetically states:
To the worshippers of the Messiah we put forth a question.
We seek an answer from those who have comprehension.
If a god was to be put to death by a people
Can he be truly godly?
Stranger than a god being interned in a grave,
Is being confined in a womb
Remaining for nine months
In darkness; nourished from his mothers blood
Finally exiting the birth canal a small weak child
With open mouth seeking a breast to suckle
Suckling thus necessitating urination and defecation
Is this the God that you claim?!
Quite simply he is but a man who was chosen by Allah as a caller to guidance and righteousness. Allah says:
"The Messiah ('Isa) ibn Maryum, was no more than a Messenger, many who were Messengers have passed away before him. His mother (Mary) was a Siddiqah (believed in Words of Allah). Both of them used to eat food (as all other human beings). Look how We make the Ayat (proofs, evidences, lessons, examples) clear to them; yet look how they are deluded away (from the truth)." [Al-Qur'an 5:75]
Some will ask, how can someone be born to a virgin mother and not be divine?
"Verily, the likeness of 'Isa before Allah is the likeness of Adam. He created him (Adam) from dust, then (He) said to him: 'Be!' – and he was." [Al-Qur'an 3:59]
Surely the creation of a complete physical man from dust is greater than the creation of 'Isa. If Adam, 'alayhis-salam, is not thought of as being divine, then why has the same claim been made for 'Isa?
'Isa Distances Himself from the Slander and Unjustified Claims of Christians
Allah gives us a glimpse of what will be spoken by 'Isa on the Day of Judgment in defense of himself and proclaiming his innocence and freedom from the unjustified claims of those who ascribed to him abominable lies.
Allah mentions this to us in the concluding verses of Surah Al-Ma'idah:
"And (remember) when Allah will say (on the Day of Resurrection):
'O 'Isa, son of Maryum! Did you say unto men: 'Worship me and my mother as two gods besides Allah?' '
He ('Isa) will say: 'Glory is to You (Alone)! It was not for me to say what I had no right (to say). Had I said such a thing, You surely, have known it. You know what is in my inner-self though I do not know what is in Yours; truly You, only You, are the All-Knower of all that is hidden and (unseen).'
'Never did I say to them except what You (Allah) commanded me to say: 'Worship Allah, My Lord and Your Lord.’ And I was a witness over them while I dwelt amongst them, but when You took me up, You were the Watcher over them; and You are a Witness to all things.'
'If You punish them, they are Your slaves, and if You forgive them, verily, You, only You, are the All-Mighty, the All-Wise.'
Allah will say: 'This is a Day on which the truthful will profit from their truth: Theirs are Gardens under which rivers flow (in Paradise) – they shall abide therein forever.' Allah is pleased with them and they are pleased with Him. That is the great success (Paradise).
To Allah belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth and all that is therein, and He is Able to do all things." [Al-Qur'an 5:116-120]
These are the words of truth that are undeniable by the one who possesses insight, rational and a clear understanding of Allah.