Jesus, son of Mary (part 2 of 5): The Message of Jesus
Description: The true status of Jesus and his message in the Quran, and the relevance of the Bible today in relation to Muslim beliefs.
- By Aisha Stacey (© 2008 IslamReligion.com)
- Published on 05 May 2008
- Last modified on 25 Nov 2021
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We have already established that Jesus, son of Mary, or as he is called by Muslims, Eissa ibn Maryam, performed his first miracle while cradled in Mary’s arms. By the permission of God he spoke, and his first words were “I am a slave of God,” (Quran 19:30). He did not say “I am God” or even “I am the son of God”. His first words established the foundation of his message, and his mission: to call the people back, to the pure worship of One God.
At the time of Jesus, the concept of One God was not new to the Children of Israel. The Torah had proclaimed “Hear O Israel, the Lord your God is One,” (Deuteronomy: 4). However, God’s revelations had been misinterpreted and abused, and hearts had become hardened. Jesus came to denounce the leaders of the Children of Israel, who had fallen into lives of materialism and luxury, and to uphold the law of Moses found in the Torah which they had even changed.
Jesus’ mission was to confirm the Torah, to make lawful things that were previously unlawful and to proclaim and reaffirm the belief in One Creator. Prophet Muhammad said:
“Every Prophet was sent to his nation exclusively, but I was sent to all mankind,” (Saheeh Buhw-hkhari).
Thus, Jesus was sent to the Israelites.
God says in Quran that He would teach Jesus the Torah, the Gospel and the Wisdom.
“And He will teach him the Book and the Wisdom, the Torah and the Injeel.” (Quran 3:48)
In order to effectively spread his message, Jesus understood the Torah, and he was provided with his own revelation from God – the Injeel, or Gospel. God also endowed Jesus with the ability to guide and influence his people with signs and miracles.
God supports all of His Messengers with miracles that are observable and make sense to the people the Messenger has been sent to guide. At the time of Jesus, the Israelites were very knowledgeable in the field of medicine. Consequently, the miracles Jesus performed (by the permission of God) were of this nature and included returning sight to the blind, healing lepers and raising the dead. God said:
“...And you heal those born blind and the lepers by My leave. And behold! You bring forth the dead by My leave...” (Quran 5:110)
The Child Jesus
Neither the Quran nor the Bible refers to the boyhood of Jesus. We can imagine, however, that as a son in the family of Imran, he was a pious child devoted to learning and eager to influence the children and adults around him. After mentioning Jesus speaking in the cradle, the Quran immediately recounts the story of Jesus moulding the figure of a bird from clay. He blew into it and by God’s leave it became a bird.
“I design for you out of clay, as it were the figure of a bird, and breathe into it, and it becomes a bird by God’s Leave.” (Quran 3:49)
The Infancy Gospel of Thomas, one of a set of texts written by early Christians but not accepted into the tenet of the Old Testament, also refers to this story. It recounts in some detail the story of the young Jesus fashioning birds from clay and breathing life into them. Although fascinating, Muslims believe the message of Jesus only as it is recounted in the Quran and the narrations of Prophet Muhammad.
Muslims are required to believe in all the books revealed by God to mankind. However, the Bible, as it exists today, is not the Gospel that was revealed to Prophet Jesus. The words and wisdom of God given to Jesus have been lost, hidden, changed and distorted. The fate of the texts of the Apocrypha of which the Infancy Gospel of Thomas is one is testament to this. In 325AD, the Emperor Constantine attempted to unify the fractured Christian Church by calling a meeting of Bishops from all over the known world. This meeting became known as the Council of Nicaea, and its legacy was a doctrine of Trinity, previously inexistent, and the loss of somewhere between 270 and 4000 gospels. The council ordered the burning of all gospels not deemed worthy to be in the new Bible, and the Infancy Gospel of Thomas was one of them. However, copies of many Gospels survived, and, although not in the Bible, are valued for their historical significance.
The Quran Frees Us
Muslims believe that Jesus did indeed receive revelation from God, but he did not write down one single word, nor did he instruct his disciples to write it down. There is no need for a Muslim to try to prove or disprove the books of the Christians. The Quran frees us from the need to know if the Bible we have today contains the word of God, or the words of Jesus. God said:
“It is He Who has sent down the Book to you with truth, confirming what came before it.” (Quran 3:3)
“And We have sent down to you the Book in truth, confirming the Scripture that came before it and dominant over it. So judge among them by what God has revealed.” (Quran 5:48)
Anything beneficial for Muslims to know from the Torah or the Injeel is stated clearly in the Quran. Whatever good maybe found in the previous books is found now in the Quran. If the words of today’s New Testament agree with the words of the Quran, then these words probably form the part of Jesus’ message that did not become distorted or lost over time. The message of Jesus was the same message that all the Prophets of God taught to their people. The Lord your God is One, so worship Him alone. And God said in the Quran about the story of Jesus:
“Verily! This is the true narrative and, none has the right to be worshipped but God, the One and the Only True God, Who has neither a wife nor a son. And indeed, God is the All-Mighty, the All-Wise.” (Quran 3:62)