Sanam Tiffany: An Observation of Islamic and Christian Perspectives of Jesus

9/19/16

 

It is very curious to examine the Quranic view of integral qualities of Christianity, and the Islamic perspective on dually fundamental figures like Jesus and Mary. Though the overall history of Jesus is represented similarly in both holy books (for instance, Jesus’s main mission in both the Bible and the Quran is to come to aid of the Israelites) and he is respected as a prophet in both religions, there are certain specific and very interesting elements that vary in either account. These varying elements have also laid ground for lasting differences between the religions and cultures that these religions envelop.

Mary is the only woman mentioned in the Quran by name, as she is greatly respected as an Islamic figure and as the mother of Jesus. Like in Christianity, she is well-loved and widely regarded as the symbol of a faithful, pure, and truly beautiful woman. However, in Quranic examination of the birth of Jesus, Muslims believe that while God gave His will to Mary for immaculate conception to occur,  Jesus was ultimately fatherless (in the Quran, God is not Jesus’s father). In the Quran, she is one of only eight individuals to have an entire chapter named after and devoted to them.

In the Quran, it is said that the only two children who were born without the touch of Satan were Mary and Jesus (“Hardly a single descendant of Adam is born without Satan touching him at the moment of his birth. A baby who is touched like that gives a cry. The only exceptions are Mary and her son” Q 3: 36). This is one of many reasons both are so highly revered in Muslim culture. Furthermore, it is interesting to see how the Bible idolizes them versus how the Quran does; in the Bible, Mary and Jesus are highly respected in a pratically divine manner for their closeness to God. Mary, being the only woman God created a child with, and Jesus being the son of God. In the Quran, Mary and Jesus are so loved for their purity, their lack of Satan’s touch. Mary is also considered the most perfect women in all of Islam. Aside from being beautiful, she was pure and believed to have been completely sinless, kind, yet righteous.

Mary’s birth of Jesus is regarded as one of the most important moments in Islam, as it showed God’s miraculous abilities. This birth of immaculate conception was told by the angel Gabriel to be a sign for mankind. The Quranic version of this conception and birth are in many ways more pure in that they were impressed with this installation of a miracle at the hands of their God; it was a sign, simple yet wondrous that ensured Allah’s people that His presence was true. It is also said in the Quran that when confronted by non-believers, Mary showed the baby Jesus in his cradle to the men who disagreed with her and Jesus spoke from his baby bed his first prophecy (considered one of the six miracles of the Quran – “He shall speak to people while still in the cradle, and in manhood, and he shall be from the righteous.” Q 3: 46).

It is important to remember that the Quran does not consider Jesus divine. Though he is a significant figure and a prophet of Allah, he was and is not revered as a son of God nor as God’s incarnate in Islam. To consider him as a son or parallel to God in any way in Islam diverts from the divine oneness that only God possesses. Despite this, he was from his birth respected and followed as a prophet. As a child it is said he already filled empty glasses with water and raised slain children from the dead as a proof of his powers.

Muslim scholars have long since debated his death, as there is no specific Quranic mention of him physically dying. Instead, most believe that God brought Jesus back to himself in Heaven, causing him to die but not in the way a person would think. In the same vein, there are many debates concerning his crucifixion; many scholars and experts of Islam have interpreted the Quran in many different ways, stating in some essays that Jesus was not crucified, in others that somebody else was crucified, and in some few that he was physically crucified but saved by God mentally. Ultimately, it is taught by Islam that instead of dying when in most other religions it was said he did, Jesus ascended to the Heavens to be with God. It is also most commonly taught that someone was crucified around this time, though this person was another man transformed to exactly resemble Jesus to deceive the Jews so God could cause Jesus to ascend easily.

It is now argued that perhaps these ancient divisions of thought between Christianity and Islam (specifically the alternating accounts regarding the crucifixion and death of Jesus) have set up the table, so to speak, for modern discrepancies between the two religions. Though this of course does not account for many cultural differences that have made themselves apparent in modern times, this ancient disagreement is said to have driven a distinct and lasting wedge between them despite their many similarities. In the future, hopefully, followers of both faiths can look more closely at the ways they intersect and relate as opposed to the ways they differ. The story of Jesus’s life is one that is important to every Christian and Muslim person, so it would be a beautiful thing to see that his death no longer keeps them apart.