In the spring, I had the honor of teaching a class on Islam and Muslims. I thoroughly enjoyed teaching and learned much from the experience, including that very few people know how important Jesus, peace be upon him, is to Muslims.
My audience was surprised to hear that Jesus is mentioned 25 times in the Quran and is considered one of the five great prophets of strong will along with Noah, Abraham, Moses and Muhammad (peace be upon them all). His mother, Mary, is considered by Muslims to be one of the purest women in all Creation, and a whole chapter in the Quran is named after her.
The story of Jesus in the Quran is given much attention and begins with the conception of Mary. We read in Chapter 3, verses 35-37: “Remember when the wife of ‘Imran [mother of Mary] said: ‘O my Lord! I have vowed to You what is in my womb to be dedicated to Your service, so accept this from me. Verily, You are the All-Hearer, the All-Knowing.’
“Then when she gave birth to her she said: ‘O my Lord! I have given birth to a female child’ — and Allah knew better what she brought forth — ‘And the male is not like a female, and I have named her Mary, and I seek refuge with You for her and for her offspring from Satan, the outcast.’”
The life of Mary and the great status she held with God is described in Chapter 3, verses 42-43: “And remember when the angels said: ‘O Mary! Verily Allah has chosen you, purified you, and chosen you above all women.’
‘O Mary! Submit yourself with obedience to your Lord, and prostrate yourself, and bow down along with those who bow down.’”
Then the Quran continues by detailing the creation of Jesus in Chapter 3, verses 45-47: “Remember when the angels said: ‘O Mary! Verily, Allah gives you the glad tidings of a Word from Him, his name will be the Messiah Jesus, the son of Mary, held in honor in this world and in the Hereafter, and will be one of those who are near to Allah.’
“‘He will speak to the people in the cradle and in manhood, and he will be of the righteous.’
“She said: ‘O my Lord! How shall I have a son when no man has touched me.’ He said: ‘So it will be for Allah creates what He wills. When He has decreed something, He says to it only: ‘Be!’ — and it is.’”
In two very beautiful verses, God outlines the Islamic view of Jesus (peace be upon him ) very clearly. We read, “Truly the likeness of Jesus with God is as the likeness of Adam. He created him of dust, and then said to him, ‘Be!’ and he was.” (Chapter 3, verse 59) And “The Messiah Jesus, son of Mary, was no more than a Mes-senger; many were the Messengers that passed away before him. His mother Mary was a believer in the Word of God.” (Chapter 5, verse 75)
In Chapter 19, verses 29-33, we read about Jesus (peace be upon him ) as a baby: “Then she brought the child to her folk, carrying him, and they said, ‘Mary, you have surely committed a monstrous thing. Sister of Aaron, your father was not a wicked man, nor your mother a woman unchaste.’ Mary pointed to the child; but they said, ‘How should we speak to one who is still in the cradle, a little child?’ And he said, ‘Lo, I am God’s servant, God has given me the Book, and made me a Prophet. Blessed He has made me wherever I may be; and He has enjoined me to prayer, and to give the alms, so long as I live, and likewise to cherish my mother. He has not made me arrogant and wicked. Peace be upon me, the day I was born, and the day I die, and the day that I am raised up to live.’”
The Quran further describes the prophethood of Jesus (peace be upon him) and the miracles he could perform as proof of his prophethood. “When Jesus came with Our clear proofs, he said: ‘I have come to you with Prophethood, and in order to make clear to you some of the points in which you differ. Therefore, fear Allah and obey me. Verily, Allah is my Lord and your Lord. So worship Him alone. This is the Straight Path.’ (Chapter 43, verses 63-64)
‘I have come to you with a sign from your Lord, and I design for you out of clay a figure like that of a bird, and breathe into it, and it becomes a bird by Allah’s leave; and I heal him who was born blind, and the leper, and I bring the dead to life by Allah’s leave. And I inform you of what you eat, and what you store in your houses. Surely, therein is a sign for you, if you believe.’” (Chapter 3, verse 49)
Last, the Quran describes the end of Jesus’ existence on Earth. Muslims believe that Jesus was neither killed nor crucified, but was raised alive up to heaven. The Quran states in Chapter 3, verses 52-55: “When God said, ‘Jesus, I will take you to Me and will raise you to Me, and I will purify you of those who do not believe.’”
And in Chapter 4, verse 157: “And because of their saying, ‘We killed the Messiah Jesus son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah,’ — but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but it appeared so to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubts.”
The Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) is considered to be a Messenger of God who was sent to guide the Children of Israel with a new scripture, the Gospel. The Quran states that he will return to Earth near the Day of Judgment to restore justice, defeat the Antichrist, and proclaim the truth regarding his Prophethood.
It is by reading these verses in the Quran that Muslims grow to honor and love Jesus and his mother, Mary (peace be upon them both). Mary is one of the purest women that ever was. Jesus is one of the greatest men to walk the Earth. He was chosen by God to guide the people to submission to the only One worthy of worship. This is Jesus in the Quran; Jesus in Islam; Jesus to the Muslims.
Eaman Attia, a graduate of the Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Toronto, resides in Bangor with her husband and three young children.