BETWEEN TWO EXTREMES
Mohamed Kohia, Rockhurst University professor: No Muslim is considered a Muslim unless he believes in Jesus.
The Qur’an refers to Jesus as righteous (3:45-48), great prophet (5:75, 19:30-35), a humble servant of God (5:116-117), and the return of Jesus (Messiah) to Earth (4: 159). The Qur’an recalls his miraculous birth (19:16-21), his teachings, the miracles he performed by God’s permission, and his life as a prophet of God.
The fact that Jesus was born to a virgin mother does not necessitate that he is divine in essence or spirit, nor is he worthy of worship.
“Indeed, the likeness of Jesus with God is as the likeness of Adam. He created him of dust, and then he said to him: ‘Be!’ and he was.” (3:59)
The Islamic view of Jesus lies between two extremes: the Jews, who rejected Jesus and called him an imposter, and the Christians, who considered him to be God or the son of God.
Although he performed miracles, it was by the will and permission of God, who has power and control over all things (5:110). All prophets’ miracles were specific to the nation where they were sent.
The mission of Jesus was stated clearly in the Qur’an, “And (remember) when Jesus, son of Mary, said: ‘O Children of Israel, I am the Messenger of God sent to you, confirming the Torah (which came) before me…’” (61:6).
God clarified in the Qur’an that Jesus was not crucified (4:157), but “God lifted him up to his presence” (4:158). As such, Islam denies that Jesus came to this Earth with the purpose of sacrificing himself for the sin of humanity.
Islam strictly rejects the notion that any person bears the sin of another (39:7). Also, Islam stresses the notion that God is able to and forgives all sins. God does not need any blood sacrifice for that, let alone descend in the form of man himself and die for every man’s sins. Rather, God’s mercy extends to all creatures, believers and disbelievers alike.
The door to forgiveness is open to anyone who seeks it.
Syed E. Hasan, Midland Islamic Council: Jesus (may peace be on him) is a highly revered prophet in Islam. Not only is he mentioned 27 times in the Qur’an (compared with 14 for Muhammad), but an entire chapter is named after his mother, Mary.
In fact, it may be very difficult, if not impossible, for a reader to figure out whether the following passage is from the Bible or the Qur’an.
“Mary asked: ‘How shall I have a son, seeing that no man has touched me and I am not unchaste?’ The angel replied: ‘So it will be. Thy Lord says this is easy for me.’ So she conceived him, and she retired with him to a remote place.” (Qur’an 19:20-21).
There are remarkable similarities between the story of Jesus and Mary in the two scriptures: Muslims, like Christians, believe that Mary was a virgin who miraculously conceived Jesus, and assert that Jesus performed a number of miracles.
But there are some major differences as well: Muslims do not believe in the concept of Trinity. Islam asserts that God does not have a son or a father.
One of the shortest chapters in the Qur’an (112:1-3) succinctly states this unique attribute of God: “Say (O Mohammad): He is God (Allah), the One and Only; God, the Eternal, the Absolute; He begets not, nor was he begotten; And there is no one equal to him.”
Further, Muslims do not believe in Jesus as a redeemer and savior of humanity but put their trust in God’s mercy and lead their lives in conformity with the original and unaltered divine commands that were revealed to David, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad (peace be on them all) as the pathway to salvation and eternal bliss.
Send questions for the Voices columnists to firstname.lastname@example.org.
(c)2014 The Kansas City Star (Kansas City, Mo.)