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Who is Jesus? An Islamic perspective

The Tribute Money c.1625 by Anthony Van Dyke (1599-1641). Oil on canvas.
JESUS IS the figure that defines Christianity and is one of the main distinctions from other Abrahamic faiths such as Islam and Judaism.

Retired Uniting Church minister Garth Read has a close friendship with members of the Bald Hills Mosque and said that understanding different perspectives of Jesus is very important in interfaith dialogue.

“Answers to the question ‘Who is Jesus?’ are central to any Christian religious faith and commitment,” said Mr Read. “Answers to this question are also significant for Muslims as they see him as one of the prophets of Allah.

“Adherents of some other religions may be curious about Jesus. However, beliefs about him do not have a place in their religion.

“Interfaith dialogue is conversation about religious beliefs by people of different religions.

“All who participate in interfaith dialogue need as full an understanding as possible of their own and other people’s religions.”

He said the differences between Jesus, the young Jewish man, and Jesus, the Christ, can be explored through interfaith discussions.

“It is also important for Christians to hear what others believe to be some of the more hurtful, even disastrous, consequences of Christian beliefs about Jesus Christ as God’s only Son, ‘the (only) way, truth and
life’, ” said Mr Read.

The sacred text of Islam, the Qur’an, mentions Jesus some 90 times in a very positive light. Dr Mohamad Abdalla is Director of the Griffith University Islamic Research Unit and Director (Griffith Node) of the National Centre of Excellence for Islamic Studies. Dr Abdalla said Jesus is a central figure for Muslims.

“Muslims respect and revere the Prophet of God, Jesus (peace of God be upon him),” he said. “They consider him as one of the greatest of God’s messengers to humanity.

“All Muslims love Jesus, honour him, and believe in him.

“No Muslim can be a Muslim unless he or she believes in Jesus.”

But who exactly do Muslims think Jesus is?

“The Qur’an confirms his virgin birth, and a chapter of the Qur’an is entitled Maryam (Chapter 19: Mary) and is dedicated to his noble and chaste mother, and his sublime status,” said Dr Abdalla. “The Qur’an states that Jesus was born miraculously by the command of God, the same command that had brought Adam into being with neither a father nor a mother, that he spoke while he was still a baby, that he healed the blind and the leper, and that he raised the dead by God’s leave.”

One of the biggest differences in belief between the Islamic and Christian views of Jesus is that Muslims do not believe that Jesus is the son of God. They also do not believe that Jesus was crucified.

“Muslims believe that these (Jesus’) miracles testify to God’s greatness and majesty, not to the divinity of Jesus. Nor do they mean that Jesus is the son of God,” said Dr Abdalla.

“Jesus came to teach the same fundamental message which was taught by previous prophets from God, to shun every false god and worship only the one true God.  

“Jesus taught that he is the servant and messenger of the God of Abraham.”

Dr Abdalla said these teachings in the Qur’an can be compared with accounts of Jesus in the Gospels of Mathew (26:39), Mark (10:18) and John (14:28, 17:3, and 20:17).

“Islam teaches that Jesus is the Messiah who will return.

“He is a word from God and a spirit from Him.

“The Qur’an says that Jesus is honoured in this world and in the hereafter, and he is one of those brought nearest to God.”

Photo : The Tribute Money c.1625 by Anthony Van Dyke (1599-1641). Oil on canvas.