Christmas holidays come and go each year with a shopping frenzy, hustle and bustle, Santa Clauses, Christmas trees, decorations and lights. This is the time when Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus. This article addresses the following questions relying mostly on quotations from the Holy Quran:
- What are the origins of Christianity?
- Was Jesus (pbuh) born without a father?
- Is Jesus (pbuh) a son of God?
- Did Jesus (pbuh) speak as a baby?
- Was he crucified?
THE ORIGINS OF CHRISTIANITY
Historical facts reveal that Jesus (peace be on him) did not use the word Christianity. He and his followers used to worship in the temple which other Israelites used. The message of Jesus was to call people back to the religion of Abraham and Moses from which they had gone astray. After Jesus, Paul declared that belief in Jesus sufficed for salvation. The Jewish scholars of that time called the followers of Jesus the misguided sect of Nazarene or Galilaens. In 43 C.E., when Paul and Barnabas went to Antioch to preach, they were ridiculed and were called Christians by the masses. The ones who were called Christians felt that if they are being given a name in reference to Jesus, there is nothing wrong in accepting it. Westerners have used the similar concept in labelling Muslims as Mohammedans. Oddly enough, literature on "Mohammedans" is still in abundance in the Western libraries.
PAUL ALTERED THE MESSAGE
At the beginning, Paul was a staunch opponent of Jesus and remained so for many years after his ascension. When he did join the followers of Jesus later on, he initiated many alterations in the teachings of Jesus in hopes of winning over the Gentiles (non-Jewish people). He introduced the following concepts into Christianity:
- The concept of Jesus as son of God;
- Jesus died on the cross to wash eternal sins of Adam's children through his blood; and
- The Law of Torah was renounced.
Paul eliminated all regulations concerning food and abrogated the injunctions of circumcision. The real followers of Jesus opposed these blatant misrepresentations of the message of Jesus. Their struggle to reject the notion of Divinity of Jesus continued for about two hundred years. Since these alterations were very appealing to the Gentiles, the true believers were unable to stop the misguidance. In 325 C.E., a council of Christian leaders met at Nicaea and officiated Paul's beliefs as their religion. Roman Empire declared Paul's religion as the religion of the State and all those books which denied these beliefs were banned. In 367 C.E., the State announced a list of books acceptable to it and fifteen years later, a council held under the presidency of Pope Damasius gave its approval to these books. At the end of the fifth century, Pope Galasius published a list of unauthorized books (Apocryphal) to further conform with Paul's religion of Christianity.
JESUS BORN WITHOUT A FATHER
The true story of Jesus' birth from Mary is narrated in the Holy Quran. We are told that he was born without a father by the command of God. Mary was single and a chaste woman.
(21:91) 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.
19:16 Relate in the Book (the story of) Mary, when she withdrew from her family to a place in the East.
19:17 She placed a screen (to screen herself) from them: then We sent to her Our angel, and he appeared before her as a man in all respects.
19:18 She said: "I seek refuge from thee to (God) Most Gracious: (come not near) if thou dost fear God."
19:19 He said: "Nay, I am only a messenger from thy Lord, (to announce) to thee the gift of a holy son."
19:20 She said: "How shall I have a son, seeing that no man has touched me, and I am not unchaste?"
19:21 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."
19:22 So she conceived him, and she retired with him to a remote place.
19:23 And the pains of childbirth drove her to the trunk of a palm-tree: she cried (in her anguish): "Ah! would that I had died before this! Would that I had been a thing forgotten and out of sight!"
19:24 But (a voice) cried to her from beneath the (palm-tree): "Grieve not! for thy Lord hath provided a rivulet beneath thee; 19:25 "And shake towards thyself the trunk of the palm-tree: it will let fall fresh ripe dates upon thee.
19:26 "So eat and drink and cool (thine) eyes. And if thou dost see any man, say, `I have vowed a fast to (God) Most Gracious, and this day will I enter into no talk with any human being.' "
JESUS SPOKE AS A BABY
19:27 At length she brought the (babe) to her people, carrying him (in her arms). They said: "O Mary! truly an amazing thing hast thou brought!
19:28 "O sister of Aaron! thy father was not a man of evil, nor thy mother a woman unchaste!"
19:29 But she pointed to the babe. They said: "How can we talk to one who is a child in the cradle?"
19:30 He said: "I am indeed a servant of God: He hath given me revelation and made me a prophet;
19:31 "And He hath made me Blessed wheresoever I be, and hath enjoined on me Prayer and Charity as long as I live;
19:32 "(He) hath made me kind to my mother, and not overbearing or miserable;
19:33 "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 (again)"!
19:34 Such (was) Jesus the son of Mary: (it is) a statement of truth, about which they (vainly) dispute.
19:35 It is not befitting to (the majesty of) God that He should beget a son. Glory be to Him! When He determines a matter, He only says to it, "Be," and it is.
19:36 Verily, God is my Lord and your Lord: Him therefore serve ye: this is a Way that is straight.
19:37 But the sects differ among themselves: and woe to the Unbelievers because of the (coming) Judgment of a momentous Day!
HE BEGETS NOT!
We note that the Holy Quran refers to Jesus as 'Jesus ibn Maryam', i.e., Jesus son of Mary. It is in contrast to the common usage in which children are referred to by their father's name and not by their mother's name. He is not a son of God. The following chapter from the Holy Quran explains the position of Islam in absolute terms:
SAY: "God is Unique!! God, the Source [of everything]. He has not fathered anyone nor was He fathered, and there is nothing comparable to Him!" (Chapter 112)
JESUS WAS NOT CRUCIFIED
The Holy Quran also rejects the claim that Jesus was killed on the cross.
4:157 That they said (in boast), "We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Apostle of God"; but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture to follow for of a surety they killed him not.
4:158 Nay, God raised him up unto Himself; and God is Exalted in Power, Wise.
4:159 And there is none of the People of the Book but must believe in him before his death; and on the Day of Judgment He will be a witness against them.
Based on the statements of Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.), Muslims believe that Prophet Jesus will return to earth at a time when Muslims will be in a dire need of a leader. He will not initiate a new religion but rather obey the Holy Quran and the teachings of Prophet Muhammad and lead Muslims to victory over the disbelievers.
We hope that this short essay will help our readers understand the origins of Christianity and Islam's position on Jesus. We encourage everyone to read the Holy Quran to obtain a better understanding of Jesus and Islam. The Holy Quran also gives a detailed account of the mission and lives of "Jewish" prophets like Moses and Zakarea. Altogether, twenty-five prophets are mentioned by name in the Quran, including prophet Abraham, who was neither a Jew nor a Christian, but a devout Muslim and a friend of Allah.
|Further Readings: Jesus son of Mary- A Messenger of Allah
|Manual of Dawah for Islamic Workers, The Islamic Circle of North America, 166-26 89th Avenue, Jamaica, NY 11432. (718)657-4090
|The Message, monthly magazine by ICNA, December 1993 issue is devoted fully to the Christianity.
|English translation of the Holy Quran by Abdullah Yusuf Ali
by: Ishaq Zahid