THE ISLAMIC COUNTER NARRATIVE-(Ibraheem, Moosa & Issa)


Part 1: THE SAMENESS ILLUSION

Part2: THE “SAMENESS” CLAIM SERVES MULTIPLE PURPOSES

Part 3 A: THE ISLAMIC COUNTER NARRATIVE-A

Part 3 B: THE ISLAMIC COUNTER NARRATIVE-B (Noah)

Allah Vs Jehovah
Allah Vs Jehovah

Muslim Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham)

The Myth of the “Three Abrahamic Religions”

In examining the Islamic account of the Islamised Abraham, renamed Ibrahim, and comparing it with the Biblical account of Abram and later Abraham, the main seeming resemblance between the two accounts is that of the concept of the “sacrifice of the son”. Even then, the two “sacrifice” stories are vastly different in detail and, of course, in outcomes and concluding doctrines. All other aspects of the life stories of Abram/Abraham vs. Ibrahim, are strikingly different. Yet, it is the accepted norm for many Christian theologians and missiologists to refer to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam as the “three monotheistic Abrahamic religions”, thus joining them together in one group that is distinct from other belief systems.

Strangely enough, the Qur’an unequivocally denounces any association of Ibrahim with Jews or Christians and their beliefs:

Surah 3:67, “Ibrahim was neither a Jew nor a Christian, but he was a true Hanafi Muslim and he was not of those who associate partners with Allah.

Ibrahim and His Belief in Allah vs. the Lord God’s Covenant with Abram/Abraham

The Ibrahim of Islam is depicted in the Qur’an in ways reminiscent of Muhammad’s story. Having lived among idol worshiping pagans, Ibrahim would arrive at the belief in the one Allah through reason:

Surah 6:76-79, 76 When the night covered him over, he saw a star: He said: ‘This is my Lord.’ But when it set, he said: ‘I love not those that set.’ 77 When he saw the moon rising in splendor, he said: ‘This is my Lord.’ But when the moon set, he said: ‘Unless my Lord guide me, I shall surely be among those who go astray.’ 78 When he saw the sun rising in splendor, he said: ‘This is my Lord; this is the greatest.’ But when the sun set, he said: ‘O my people! I am innocent of the charge of giving partners to Allah (i.e. Shirk). 79 For me, I have set my face, firmly and truly, towards him who created the heavens and the earth, and never shall I give partners to Allah.’

After “reasoning” that idols are to be rejected in preference to one Allah, Ibrahim has a number of confrontations with his unbelieving father, the pagan people of his time and his king. And Allah would later miraculously save Ibrahim from being thrown into a fire because of his opposition to the idol worshippers of his time (Surah 21:64-69).

Consequently, Ibrahim would become a true example for Muslims:

Surah 60:4, “Indeed there has been an excellent example for you in Ibrahim (Abraham) and those with him, when they said to their people: ‘We are free from you and whatever you worship besides Allah, we have rejected you, and there has started between us and you, hostility and hatred forever, until you believe in Allah only,’ except the saying of Ibrahim (Abraham) to his father: ‘I will ask for forgiveness (from Allah) for you, but I have no power to do anything for you before Allah Our Lord’….

In fact, he is the only prophet who would share this honour with Muhammad of being a true example for humankind. Why is that? Islam tells us that Muhammad was the direct descendant of Ibrahim through his Muslim son Ismaeel (the Islamised name of Ishmael).

But there is more. All of this is in opposition to the Biblical account whereby the Lord God revealed Himself directly to Abram first, and later to Abraham and made a covenant with him—a concept which is an anathema for Allah, as Allah only imposes covenants, and does not make covenants binding on himself. In Genesis 12:1-3 the Bible states:

The Lord had said to Abram, ‘Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.’

This initial covenant will be repeated and expanded when the Lord God changes his name from Abram (father of altitude) to Abraham (father of multitudes, many nations).

Genesis 17:4-6, “As for me, this is my covenant with you: You will be the father of a multitude of nations. No longer will your name be Abram. Instead, your name will be Abraham because I will make you the father of a multitude of nations. I will make you extremely fruitful. I will make nations of you, and kings will descend from you.

Some of the key features of the “Abrahamic Covenant” are:

(a) It is an unconditional covenant.

(b) It involves the promise of the Saviour, Christ Jesus, to be born from the “seed” of Abraham: Gal. 3:16, Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, ‘And to seeds’, as of many, but as of one, ‘And to your Seed,’ who is Christ.

(c) It also involves the promise of the “land” to be given to his descendants through Isaac.

Furthermore, the foundation of the Christian doctrine of “Salvation by Grace”, is related to Abraham. The Apostle Paul elaborates on this doctrine in Romans 4:3, What does Scripture say? ‘Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness’, thus echoing Genesis 15:6, Then he believed in the Lord; and he reckoned it to him as righteousness.

This account focuses on the restoration of the divine/human relationship by “electing” Abram/Abraham whereby through his “seed”, Jesus Christ will be born of a virgin, with the full expression of the doctrine of salvation by grace emanating from Abraham’s believing response to the Lord God’s promise.

Divergence at the “Sacrifice” Episode

The Biblical story achieves one of its greatest pinnacles in the command by the Lord God to Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac. The foreshadowings of the atonement through the blood sacrifice are familiar to the Christian reader. In Genesis 22:2 we read, Then God said, ‘Take your son, your only son, whom you love – Isaac – and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.’ Note here that the intended “sacrifice” is for a “burnt offering”, on Mount Moriah, of “his only son”. Of course the region of Moriah is where Jesus Christ would later on be crucified.

The alternative story of the “sacrifice” in the Qur’an achieves multiple Islamic purposes.

First, by requiring the sacrifice to be of Ismaeel rather than Is-haaq, Muhammad could then build the case for his “authority” by attaching himself to Ibrahim without being in the Hebrew line of prophets (Figure (from previous post) of the Tree of the Prophets demonstrates that the branch from Ismaeel to Muhammad is distinct from the Hebrew branch that starts with Is-haaq).

Second, this attempted sacrifice would take place on an unnamed hill/mountain in “Mecca” rather than on Mt. Moriah (See Figure below showing the Islamic version of Ibrahim’s travels).

abramtravel
Abraham/Ibrahim, the fork in the road….
The re-routing of Biblical history
Journeys of Biblical Abraham (solid line) vs. journeys of Qur’anic Ibrahim (dashed line)


The re-routing of Biblical history: Journeys of Biblical Abraham (solid line) vs. journeys of Qur’anic Ibrahim (dashed line)

Later when Ismaeel grew up, Ibrahim would join him again in Mecca to rebuild the Kaaba, the central shrine of Islam. This would then form the basis of the significant Islamic feast, the “Feast of the Sacrifice” (Eid Al-Adha) which in one fell swoop appropriates the Arab pagan tradition to Islam, links Muhammad to the Biblical traditions and, most importantly, provides the alternative theme and doctrine of denying the salvific sacrifice of Christ on the cross.

Later, Muhammad would declare the Kaaba in Mecca to be the most sacred shrine of Islam.

Omissions, Replacements, Additions, Changes and Distortions

  1. Added: Accepted imposed Fitrah covenant as given to Adam declaring all humankind born Muslim.
  2. Added: Accepted imposed covenant of the Prophets declaring Muhammad to be the Seal of the Prophets.
  3. Omitted: Allah did not speak directly to Ibrahim.
  4. Omitted: Allah did not “call” Ibrahim.
  5. Changed: Was a Muslim prophet: “Ibrahim was neither a Jew nor a Christian, but a true Muslim…” (Surah: 3:67).
  6. Changed: Sent to the idol worshippers of Ur, Haran, and Canaan.
  7. Added: Was a recipient of the “coming down” of 10 books from the Eternal Tablet of the Qur’an.
  8. Omitted: Abrahamic covenants of blessings, seed, nations, and land.
  9. Changed and replaced: Ibrahim’s journey from Ur to Canaan and Egypt extended on to Mecca.
  10. Changed and replaced: Abraham’s sacrificial offering of Isaac on Mount Moriah, was replaced by Ibrahim’s attempted sacrifice of Ismaeel in Mecca.
  11. Changed and replaced: The Ismaeel “sacrifice” counters the atonement on the cross and replaces the meaning of “the Biblical sacrifice” with a symbolic Islamic test of obedience to Allah.
  12. Added: Ibrahim and Ismaeel purified and restored/rebuilt the Kaaba in Mecca.
  13. Added: Ibrahim instituted the Islamic Hajj rituals in Mecca, focusing on Ismaeel’s sacrifice of obedience (countering the sacrifice of Isaac as a picture of substitutionary atonement and a foreshadowing of the death and resurrection of Christ).

Muslim Prophet Moosa (Moses)

The Context of Moosa and the Jews

The Qur’an is replete throughout with verses and text with various episodes and commentaries on Moosa (Islamic name of Moses) and his constituency “the Jews” [Al-Yahud in Arabic] or “the Children of Israel” [Banu Isra’eel]. Moosa is mentioned by name 130 times, but the entire context of “the Jews” occupies almost 60% of the entire Qur’an. Without much exaggeration, one would conclude that Muhammad and Allah, through the pages of the Qur’an and Hadith, are overwhelmingly preoccupied with the Jews and the underlying story of Moosa and his relationship with them. Therefore we should carefully examine the two narratives, the Biblical and Qur’anic, to establish the huge differences between the accounts, even though they are couched with apparent similarities.

The Biblical Account of Moses

The Biblical context of Moses is huge and foundational in understanding the full Biblical narrative of the Lord God’s story of salvation and redemption. As quoted earlier, Jesus reminded his disciples of the scriptures: And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself (Luke 24:27). He would continue, “… Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms…” (Luke 24:44).

Moses, as the reported writer through the Holy Spirit of the first five books of the Bible, referred to either as the Pentateuch or the Torah, would explain his own story mainly in the Books of Exodus and Numbers, but “the Law” and the issues surrounding it are given in the remaining two books, Leviticus and Deuteronomy.

The main theme of the Moses story is within the context of the Lord God’s fulfilment of His covenant with Abraham:

Exodus 2:23-25, During that long period, the king of Egypt died. The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for help because of their slavery went up to God. God heard their groaning and he remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob. So God looked on the Israelites and was concerned about them.

An essential part of the “fulfilment” is not only the election of Moses, but of His people, the Jews and their return to the Promised Land. It is a story of the profound “revelation” of the Lord God both to Moses and His people. It is a story of salvation, grace, covenant—all within the context of the foreshadowings and typologies of Christ.

The Biblical Moses story consists of three segments: first 40 years in the palace of Pharaoh, the second 40 years in exile in Midian, and the last 40 years leading his people through the struggle with Pharaoh, the Exodus from Egypt, and the preparation of God’s people to enter the Promised Land. This story is a foreshadowing of the salvation available to each one of us through acceptance of Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. And even after Christ came to us in the flesh and provided the final fulfillment of God’s promise, and despite the rejection by the Jews of his time, the Bible declares through the Apostle Paul,

I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin. God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew…” (Romans 11:1-2).

The Qur’anic/Islamic Narrative of Moosa and the Jews

Moosa, the Islamised Moses, has a historical narrative that seems similar to the Biblical one but with both stark and subtle differences that gradually chip away the trajectory of the Biblical narrative culminating in completely different conclusions.

The story line consists also of three segments with a notable difference: first 40 years in Pharaoh’s palace, next 8 years (not 40 as in the Bible) in exile in Midian, and the last 40 years in taking the Jews out of Egypt, preparing them to enter the Promised Land. By the end of the story and what would follow in terms of the opposition Moosa had faced from his followers, the Qur’an would at some point declare unequivocally the Jews as the permanent and eternal enemies of Allah. (In the particular Surahs below, “they” always refers to “the Jews”):

Surah 2:61, “… They were covered with humiliation and misery; they drew on themselves the wrath of Allah. This is because they went on rejecting the signs of Allah and slaying his messengers without just cause. This is because they rebelled and went on transgressing…”

Surah 5:64, “…We have put enmity and hatred amongst them till the day of resurrection. Every time they kindled the fire of war, Allah extinguished it; and they would strive to make mischief on earth. And Allah does not like the corruptors.

Surah 62:6-7, “6 Say (O Muhammad): ‘O you Jews! If you pretend that you are friends of Allah, to the exclusion of all other humankind, then long for death if you are truthful.’ 7 But they will never long for it (death), because of what (deeds) their hands have sent before them! And Allah knows well the unjust.

Surah 5:82, “You will truly find the most hostile of people to those who believe to be the Jews …”

Furthermore, although the Qur’an and Islam would portray Moosa as a Muslim “Anchor prophet” of great stature preaching the message of Islam, not only to his people but to Pharaoh and the people of Egypt, the Qur’an and Hadith would insert incidents in his story to lower his stature.

Portrayals of Moosa and his various encounters are scattered throughout the Qur’an making it difficult to piece together the entire narrative.

Differences between the Two Narratives

The differences between the Qur’anic/Islamic narrative of Moosa and that of the Biblical narrative of Moses, may be grouped into three categories: omissions, additions, and replacements/distortions. This would result in the implicit and explicit justification of Islamic “doctrines”, all of which are in direct opposition to Christian doctrines and beliefs. We explore these in what follows:

1. Omissions: There is a host of omissions in the Qur’anic story of Moosa as compared with the Biblical one. We concentrate here on just a few of the notable ones:

a. The Passover: The Biblical account of the Passover in Exodus 12, based on the decision by the Lord God to kill the firstborn in all of Egypt, but to spare the children of Israel by painting their doorposts with the blood of the lamb they had killed in preparation for the Passover meal and the Exodus, is completely omitted from the Qur’anic text. There is a suggested good reason for that—the Passover is indeed a foreshadowing of Christ’s death on the cross, an event that the Qur’an denies and opposes.

b. The Jewish Festivals: The seven Jewish festivals are ignored. Christian theologians have established that four of these festivals (Passover, Unleavened Bread, First Fruits and Pentecost) have already been fulfilled in Christ in the New Testament. The final three festivals (Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and Tabernacles) are yet to be fulfilled.

c. The Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17): They do not appear as such. Instead the Qur’an mentions the “tablets” Moosa received from Allah, but does not mention their contents. Surah 7:145, “And we inscribed for him in the tablets about all things, as an admonition and a detailing of all things....”

d. The Five Offerings prescribed by Leviticus 1-7: All these five offerings are fulfilled in the Sacrifice of Christ. [See Bibliography, Ref. 15.]

i. Burnt Offering

ii. Meal Offering

iii. Peace Offering

iv. Sin Offering and

v. Trespass Offering

e. The Tabernacle: This foundational foreshadowing of Christ is fully omitted from the Qur’anic text. In comparison, the Book of Exodus devotes chapters 25 through 28 to provide the precise design of the Tabernacle.

f. The Mosaic Covenant: This “conditional” covenant is essential to understanding the Lord God’s purposes and eventual fulfillment of the “Law” through Jesus Christ. (Matt. 5:17-20)

g. The Priesthood: The Bible through Moses defines the priests to be Levites consisting of Aaron, his sons and their descendants. It also defines their roles, dress, and duties. Christ would then replace the Aaronic priesthood as our only “Priest”.

h. Presence of God with His people: The physical presence of God in the form of a “pillar of fire” and a “cloud” are not represented as such in the Qur’an. Although the shading of his people by cloud is mentioned, it is only an element of nature, not the presence of God.

2. Qur’anic “additions” and “changes”:

a. Moosa accepted the imposed Fitrah covenant as given to Adam declaring all humankind born Muslim.

b. Moosa gave testimony of himself as being a Muslim: “And Moosa said, ‘O my people, if you have believed in Allah, then rely upon him, if you should be Muslims.’”(Surah 10:84)

c. Moosa accepted the imposed “Covenant of the Prophets” imposed by Allah to accept Muhammad as the “Seal of the Prophets”. (Surah 3:81)

d. Moosa preached Islam to Pharaoh: “And Moosa said, ‘O Pharaoh, I am a messenger from the Lord of the worlds.’” (Surah 7:104)

e. The magicians/sorcerers converted to Islam and were crucified by Pharaoh, according to Surah 26:45-51.

f. Pharaoh would finally believe in Allah only as he was drowning, according to Surah 10:90, “And we took the children of Israel across the sea, and Pharaoh and his soldiers pursued them in tyranny and enmity until, when drowning overtook him, he said, ‘I believe that there is no deity except that in whom the Children of Israel believe, and I am of the Muslims.’

g. The Qur’anic episode of Moosa and Al-Khidr: This is reported in Surah 18:66-78 and is elaborated upon in the Hadith and the Sirah. This rather convoluted episode attempts to lower the status of Moosa by putting him to the test by an unknown prophet called Al-Khidr to counter Moosa’s claim that he was the most knowledgeable of the prophets.

h. All of Moosa’s followers are declared Muslims: “And Moosa said: ‘O my people! If you have believed in Allah, then put your trust in Him if you are Muslims.’” (Surah 10:84)

3. Replacements/Distortions:

a. Departing of the children of Israel from Egypt in secret (Surah 26:52-57). In contrast to the Bible whereby Pharaoh had initially given his “permission” for the children of Israel to “go” (Ex. 12:31).

b. Instead of writing the Tawrat, it is said that it “came down” to Moosa from the Eternal Tablet.

Muslim Prophet Issa (Jesus)

The Context of Issa in Islam

The Qur’anic/Islamic narrative regarding the Muslim Prophet Issa, son of Maryam, is the crux of the answer to our question, “Is the Allah of Islam one and the same as the Lord God of the Bible?” For if the answer were to be “Yes” then Islam would be in agreement with the Biblical Triune God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. But this is not the case.

In the Qur’an Issa is mentioned by name 25 times, and there are over 90 Ayahs/verses associated with him directly. Also, the indirect references to Issa and Christians (termed Nasara), are far more numerous than that. Furthermore, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of episodes and stories associated with Issa given in the Hadith, the Sirah and other Islamic traditions.

The Muslim Issa was Born of a Virgin

The Islamic narrative about Issa emphasises that he was a “Muslim Anchor Prophet” who was born of a virgin (Maryam), but was a created being, not the Son of God. He was given the role of a prophet from birth, but his mission would start when he became an adult as a prophet and messenger to the Jewish people, with no mention of his age at that point in time. The Qur’anic story of the virgin birth contains some apparent similarities to the account given in the Gospel of Luke, chapters 1 and 2, but there are major differences in detail and in the Qur’anic interpretation of events associated with these details.

The main “virgin birth” narrative is given in Surahs 19 and 3. Here are some excerpts:

1. Maryam’s Encounter with Jibril:

Surah 19:16-21, “16. And mention in the book (the Qur’an), the story of Maryam, when she withdrew in seclusion from her family to a place facing east. 17. She placed a screen (to screen herself) from them; then we sent to her our spirit (Jibril), and he appeared before her in the form of a man in all respects. 18. She said: ‘I seek refuge with the most beneficent from you, if you do fear Allah.’ 19. He said: ‘I am only a messenger from your Lord, to announce to you the gift of a righteous son.’ 20. She said: ‘How can I have a son, when no man has touched me, nor am I unchaste?’ 21. He said: ‘Your Lord said: ‘That is easy for me, and to appoint him as a sign to humankind and a mercy from us, and it is a matter decreed.’”

Surah 3:45, “When the angels said: ‘O Maryam, Allah gives you the glad tidings of a word from him, his name will be the Messiah Issa, the son of Maryam, held in honor in this world and in the hereafter, and will be one of those who are near to Allah.’”

2. Issa Born under a Palm Tree

Surah 19:22-23, “22. So she conceived him, and she withdrew with him to a far place. 23. And the pains of childbirth drove her to the trunk of a date palm. She said: ‘Would that I had died before this, and had been forgotten and out of sight!’

3. Issa, the Baby in the Cradle Defends Himself and His Mother

Surah 19:24-31, “24. Then a voice cried unto her from below, saying: ‘Grieve not, your Lord has provided a water stream under you; 25. ‘And shake the trunk of the date palm towards you, it will let fall fresh ripe dates upon you.’ … 27. Then she brought him (the baby) to her people, carrying him. They said: ‘O Mary! Indeed you have brought an amazing thing…. 29. Then she pointed to him. They said: ‘How can we talk to one who is a child in the cradle?’ 30. ‘He (Issa) said: I am a slave of Allah, he has given me the scripture and made me a prophet; 31. And he has made me blessed wherever I be, and has enjoined on me Salat (prayer), and Zakat, as long as I live. 32. And made me dutiful to my mother, and made me not arrogant. 33. And peace be upon me the day I was born, and the day I die, and the day I shall be raised alive.’”

The “Word”, the “Spirit” and the Explicit Rejection of the Trinity

Despite the use of the expression that Issa was a “Word” from Allah with a “Spirit” from Allah bestowed unto him, the Qur’an denies any form of divine nature associated with Issa and attacks a version of the “trinity” as a form of polytheism and “Shirk” (associating partners with Allah), which is the ultimate blasphemy in Islam. The Islamic version of the “trinity” is in the form of an accusation that Christians believe in three gods: Allah, Issa, and Maryam.

Surah 4:171, “O people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians)! Do not exceed the limits in your religion, nor say of Allah aught but the truth. The Messiah Issa, son of Maryam, was (no more than) a messenger of Allah and his word, which he bestowed on Maryam and a spirit (Ruh) created by him; so believe in Allah and his messengers. Say not: ‘Three’ Cease! It is better for you…

Surah 3:59 explains the term “a word”, as referred to above in Surah 4:171, as not being “the Word” as referred to in the Gospel of John, but instead the direct command, “be” by Allah to create Issa – “The likeness of Issa before Allah is the likeness of Adam. He created him from dust, then said to him: ‘Be!’ – and he would be.”

In the same vein, the use of the term “spirit” is not in reference to the “Holy Spirit”, the third person of the Holy Trinity, but is rather “a spirit”.

Miracles, Shariah and Mission of Issa

Though said to be only a man, Issa is elevated to the status of a major Muslim prophet who carried out many miracles, and made changes to the Jewish dietary laws. As such, some of his reported miracles are exaggerated and unfounded with no evident purpose.

Issa would put life into a bird from clay, as follows:

Surah 3:49-50, “49 And I will make him (Issa) a messenger to the children of Israel (saying): ‘I have come to you with a sign from your Lord, that 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 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.’ 50 And I have come confirming that which was before me of the Tawrat (Torah), and to make lawful to you part of what was forbidden to you, and I have come to you with a proof from your Lord. So fear Allah and obey me.

The important qualifier “by Allah’s leave” (note in bold above) is used consistently by Muslims to assert that all the miracles of Issa were from Allah, and not from him, as he was just a prophet with no power of his own. Surah 13:38 amplifies this even further:

Surah 13:38 states, “And indeed we sent messengers before you (O Muhammad), and made for them wives and offspring. And it was not for a messenger to bring a sign except by Allah’s leave...”

Note that this rather bizarre and ostentatious “miracle” by Issa is not a reflection of the character of the Jesus of the Bible but is used in the Qur’an to make the case that this and the other miracles all came by permission from Allah. Some Christian missionaries, however, take this example to try to establish that the Qur’an recognises the divinity of Issa.

The elevation of Issa would culminate in his central “mission” which was to declare the coming of “Ahmad” (one of Muhammad’s names).

Surah 61:6, “And when Issa, son of Maryam (Mary), said: ‘O Children of Israel! I am the messenger of Allah unto you confirming the Tawrat which came before me, and giving glad tidings of a messenger to come after me, whose name shall be Ahmed’….’”

Consequently, Issa and his disciples would preach Islam:

Surah 3:52, “Then when Issa came to know of their disbelief (i.e. the Jews), he said: ‘Who will be my helpers in Allah’s cause?’ The disciples said: ‘We are the helpers of Allah; we believe in Allah, and bear witness that we are Muslims.’”

The above Qur’anic quotations establish the identity of the Issa of the Qur’an—defining who he was and what he did. The sections below will clarify the Islamic position of who he was and was not. This is achieved by categorically denying foundational aspects of the identity of the Jesus of the Bible.

Issa Was Not Crucified

According to the Qur’anic account of the confrontation between Issa and the Jewish establishment, the Jews would plot to kill him with no specific reason being given other than their evil nature. Yet Allah, in his “mercy and protection” of his prophet, would intervene directly. Rather than allowing Issa to be crucified, he would allow a person who resembled Issa to be crucified in his stead and would lift Issa up to himself, with the expectation being given that later on he (Issa) would return to earth to complete his “mission” of refuting Christianity and establishing Islam.

The Qur’an asserts that the “plot” by the Jews to kill Issa was outmanoeuvred by Allah, who is the “best of the plotters”:

Surah 3:54, “And they (the Jews) plotted (to kill Issa), and Allah plotted too (to rescue him). And Allah is the best of the plotters.”

So Allah prevented the crucifixion by placing Issa’s likeness on another man:

Surah 4:157, “And because of their saying, ‘We killed Messiah Issa, son of Maryam, the messenger of Allah,’ – but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but the resemblance of Issa was put over another man, and those who differ about it are full of doubts. They have no knowledge, they follow nothing but conjecture. For surely; they killed him not.”

Instead, Allah raised Issa to himself:

Surah 4:158, “But Allah raised him (Issa) up unto himself...”

The Qur’an goes on to assert that once “raised up unto himself”, Allah would cleanse Issa of error and prepare him for the message he would bring in his so-called “second coming”.

Surah 3:55, “Allah said, ‘O Issa, I will take you and raise you to myself and purify you from those who disbelieve and make those who follow you (i.e. the Muslims) superior to those who disbelieve until the day of resurrection. Then to me is your return, and I will judge between you concerning that in which you used to differ.’”

Second Coming of Issa

Issa’s mission during his second coming would be to bring all the Christians who had “gone astray” by believing in his deity, back to the true doctrine of the “Original Islamic Monotheism” (Tawheed). He would manifest this by breaking the cross (the most hated symbol from the perspective of Islam), and by killing the pig (the most rejected food in the Islamic dietary laws). As a human, he would then get married, have children, die, and be buried next to Muhammad in Medina.

What Will Happen on Judgment Day?

The Qur’an also reports that on the Last Day Allah would rebuke Issa by interrogating him regarding the issue as to whether he, Issa, had commanded his followers to worship him and his mother alongside himself. As a humiliated human being, Issa would then declare his limited understanding and lack of perception beyond what Allah had revealed to him, renouncing any responsibility for “Christians” having elevated him to the level of a partner, hence divine, and further confessing his lack of any authority to intercede for his followers, thus petitioning Allah to deal with them as he, Allah, would see fit:

Surah 5:116-118, “116 And when Allah will say: ‘O Issa, son of Maryam, did you say to men: Worship me and my mother as two gods besides Allah?’ Issa will reply: ‘Glory be to you. It was not for me to say what I had no right (to say). Had I said such a thing, you would surely have known it. You know what is in my inner self though I do not know what is in yours. Truly, only you, are the all-knower of all that is hidden and unseen. 117 Never did I say to them except what you (Allah) did command me to say: ‘Worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord.’ And I was a witness over them while I dwelt amongst them, but when you took me up, you were the watcher over them, and you are a witness to all things.’” 118 If you punish them, they are your servants. If you forgive them, you are the exalted in power, the wise.”

Comparison of the Qur’anic Account of Issa with the Biblical Narrative of Jesus

1. Changed: Issa was a “created being”, like Adam by a command of Allah through miraculous virgin birth (not incarnated)—Surah 3:59; Surah 19:16-33.

2. Denied: Was neither the Son of God, nor was He God.

3. Changed: Only a prophet, and sent to the Jews only.

4. Added: Accepted imposed Fitrah covenant as given to Adam declaring all humankind born Muslim.

5. Added: Accepted imposed covenant to declare Muhammad as the Seal of the Prophets.

6. Added: Recipient of the “coming down” of a book, called “The Injeel” (Gospel) from the Eternal Tablet of the Qur’an.

7. Added: Given a “Shariah” (which was incomplete).

8. Added: He made changes to dietary laws, i.e. made some forbidden foods permitted (Halal).

9. Denied: Was not crucified, but was “lifted” to heaven.

10. Added: Main mission: messenger to the children of Israel (only), to prophesy the coming of Muhammad (Surah 61:6).

11. Added: On the Last Day Allah will humiliate “prophet Issa” by interrogating him as to whether he made himself and his mother out to be gods. In response, Issa will deny it and will relinquish any responsibility for his followers giving him divine status.

12. Added: Issa will say to Allah, “If you choose to punish them, do so.” By this he declares that he has no intercessory authority.

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