“We Muslims believe in Jesus and we respect him even more than Christians.” These are Muslim dawah tropes. When we lay them off and compare the Isa (“Jesus”) of the Quran with the Jesus of the Bible, a very wide gulf between the two characters is seen, which no ecumenical dialogue can bridge.
Christians believe that eternal truth is a Person. He is “the way, the truth and the life” (Jn. 14:6) and it is what a book says about that Person that determines whether it contains the truth or not. Only the Bible contains the reliable record of what Jesus did or said. And since the authenticity and inspiration of the Bible is not disputed by the Quran, if the Jesus it presents is different from the Biblical Jesus, the logical conclusion is that the Quran is a false revelation.
The Quran refers to Jesus 97 times. It calls Him a Prophet, Messenger, Servant, Messiah, the “sign” and “mercy” who was born of a virgin – which all agree with the Bible. But the points where the Quran deviates from and opposes the Bible are quoted below. I have divided the Quran’s Christology into: what Allah/Muhammad said about Him and what its “Jesus” allegedly says.
I. What Allah/Muhammad Said
1. “The Messiah, Jesus son of Mary was only the Messenger of God, and His Word that He committed to Mary and a Spirit from Him. So believe in God and His Messenger and say not ‘Three’. Refrain: better is it for you God is only one God...” (4:171)
That Jesus is called the Word of God means that He is eternal like God. The Bible says Jesus is the Word of God made flesh (John 1:18), so He is not only a Messenger of God. Jesus, being the Word of God, is His Mouthpiece, and anyone who will know what God is saying must hear and obey Jesus or he will be lost eternally.
Some Muslims claim the “word of God” used there doesn’t refer to a person rather to a creative command (“Be”) of God, but this title is unique because there is nothing created by God that is given that title. The Quran calls Adam “the chosen one of Allah” (Safiullah), Noah “the saved by Allah” (Najiullah) and Abraham, “the friend of Allah” (Khalil). Only Jesus Christ has a title given to no other in the Quran: the Word of God (Khalimatullah).
Jesus is also called “the Spirit from God” and “Our Spirit” (21:91). The Bible agrees that Jesus was conceived by the Spirit of God inside Mary. Since the Spirit of God is God, and God is one, that means the Spirit of God that became the Son of Maryam is God.
2. “Verily, in the sight of God, the nature of Jesus is as the nature of Adam, whom He created out of dust and then said unto him, ‘Be’ and he is.” (Q 3:59)
The view espoused here is false and it contradicts the previous verse. Adam was created from dust, but Jesus, being the Word of God, is not dust. Adam was created, but Jesus was uncreated. The Bible clearly distinguishes between Adam who was “of the earth” and Jesus who “is the Lord from heaven” (1Cor. 15:47). Adam went back into the dust, but Jesus was taken to Heaven (even in the Quran) body, soul and spirit.
3. “O Jesus! I will make Thee die and take Thee up again to me and will clear thee of those who misbelieve and will make those who follow thee above those who misbelieve, at the day of Judgement, then to me is your return. I will decide between you concerning what wherein ye disagree.” (Q 3:55)
This refers to Jesus’ death which creates another problem for the Quran. It also says Christians will be exalted over all others until the day of judgement. Jesus has said “All power is given to me in heaven and [on] earth” (Mt. 28:18). No prophet can make such a claim. No the power to deliver men from sin and the devil as Jesus has (Mt. 1:21, Jn. 1:30). This supreme position marks Jesus out as greater than a prophet. Muhammad is inferior to Jesus because he had no power over death and the grave.
4. “They say: ‘[Allah] Most Gracious has begotten a son! Indeed ye have put forth a thing most monstrous!” (19:88)
Muhammad found this “most monstrous” because he confused the Sonship of Jesus Christ with the pagan (or physical) idea of a deity impregnating a woman to have a son. Such ignorance militates against the divine origin of the Quran. What the Bible means by ‘the Son of God’ is a spiritual, eternal relationship, not a carnal, earthly one as envisaged by Muhammad. Muhammad had difficulty considering the term “Sonship” in anything but human terms. But this is a strange logic even by Quranic standards. Abu Lahab was called the “father of flame” (111:1) and a traveller was called “son of the road” (2:177). Does this mean Abu Lahab gave birth to a flame or the traveler was born by the ground? No.
God the Father didn’t “take a son to Himself,” He has been a Father from eternity. The Son only took human form at a point in history and became the Man Jesus Christ. Both God and His Son share the same essence and hence are divine. God delegated His authority to the Son and men are to honour the Son as the Father (Jn. 5:22-23).
5. “And the Jews say Uzair (Ezra) is the son of Allah, and the Christians say Messiah is the Son of Allah…They imitate the saying of the disbelievers of old. Allah’s Curse be on them, how they are deluded away from the truth!” (9:30)
These are strong words, but they are based on strawman arguments. The Jews do not believe Ezra is the Son of God as Jesus was. Even the Concise Dictionary of Islam points out that: “There are many details regarding Judaism [in the Quran] which are in variance with Jewish belief.” (p. 2)
The name “Isa” used for Jesus in the Quran seems to be a corruption of the name “Esau” used by unbelieving Jews to derogatorily refer to Jesus. The Arabic name of Jesus is Yesu, not Isa. This also exposes the human origin of the Quran.
6. “They have certainly disbelieved who say ‘Allah is the Messiah, the Son of Mary’…They surely disbelieve who say: Lo! Allah is the third of three; when there is no God save the one God. If they desist not from saying a painful doom will fall on those of them who disbelieve” (5:72-73)
This is an error. Christians do not believe Allah is the Messiah or Christ. The Quran misrepresents the distinctions of Persons within the Godhead. The belief that “Allah is the third of three” is ludicrous. Christianity teaches that there is one God in three Persons, not that God is “a third of three.” Even the Encyclopedia Britannica states that there are “mistaken concepts of the Trinity in the Quran.”
The Biblical, historic Christian doctrine of the Trinity states that there is essentially One God revealed as Three distinct Persons (Mt. 28:19). Neither God nor Jesus is a “third of three.” The Holy Spirit is the third Person of the Godhead and God is not in three parts. What the Quran is attacking here is Tritheism, not the Christian Trinity.
II. The alleged statements of “Jesus”
1. “I am a servant of Allah; he has given me the book and he has appointed me a prophet, and he has made me blessed wherever I may be. He has enjoined me to offer salat and give zakat so long as I shall live.” (19:29-31)
This was allegedly said by baby Jesus from his cradle. Since these narratives are not based on eye witness accounts, they cannot be taken with any level of seriousness. Muhammad lived 6 centuries after Christ and can’t logically be taken as an authority on anything Christ said. The story about the speaking baby Jesus is not in the Bible, but was borrowed from an apocryphal legend, The Infancy Gospel of Christ, written centuries after Christ.
While the original material quotes baby Jesus saying: “Verily, I am Jesus, the Son of God, the Word which thou hast borne…” Muhammad alters the legend and the words of Jesus to suit his own teachings. Thus he makes Christ deny His deity, follow his own ideas of prophethood (“he has given me the book”) and Islamic rites (salat, zakat). Indeed, the “Jesus” of the Quran is a product of Muhammad’s wild imaginations.
2. “It is Allah who is my Lord and your Lord; Then worship Him. This is a Way that is straight.” (3:51)
Muhammad claimed to preach one God and receive a book from Him. He termed his brand of beliefs, ‘the straight path.’ His Quranic narratives attempt to put back these ideas into the mouths of Bible characters and the Lord Jesus. He changed Biblical patriarchs and prophets into Arabs and switched the scenery of Biblical events to Arabia!
The Quran says nothing about the old Jewish prophets’ prophecies of the coming Messiah, the sacrificial system of the Old Covenant and the New Covenant. By putting vague words like “straight path” into the mouths of Bible characters, Muhammad was redacting them into 7th century Muslims, but he missed a simple fact: Jesus is the Straight Path, not a set of beliefs, and Christians who have faith in Him are on the straight path (Jn. 14:6). They don’t have to pray daily to Allah to guide them to a “straight path” like Muslims do.
3. “When Jesus found unbelief on their part He said: ‘Who will be my helpers to [the work of] Allah? Said the Disciples: ‘We are Allah’s helpers we believe in Allah, and do you bear witness that we are Muslims.” (3:52)
Interestingly, this is about the only place Jesus’ disciples are mentioned in the Quran. Apart from its fraudulent statements, the book says nothing about Christ’s teachings or parables (while the Bible records over 43 parables). It says nothing about his verbal confrontation with the Jewish religious leaders and rather little about His miracles. It takes a level of blindness to say the Quranic account is superior to the Bible.
Sura 5:110 says the child Jesus made birds out of clay and “breathest into it and it becometh a bird.” This was also an apocryphal fairy tale stolen from the Gospel of Thomas the Israelite. It’s understandable why many Christians then didn’t accept Muhammad’s claims about Christ – because no Christian group believed the legends presented in the apocrypha or his Quran as facts. Islamic biographer, Ibn Ishaq claims that some Christians in Najran (Southern Arabia) cited a passage from their book about the boy Jesus making clay birds. While the dominant sect in Najran were the Abyssinian Monophysites, in the 6th century, all Eastern Orthodox groups held to the same canon of the Bible as the western church. So the possibility of these Christians quoting apocrypha writings as an authority is doubtful.
If Muslims maintain that Jesus did create live birds from clay, then they must also agree that He certainly has the power to create, which only God has. Life can only come from God, and since Jesus created the birds the same way God created Adam from dust, then Jesus is one with God.
4. “O children of Israel! I am the Messenger of Allah unto you, confirming the Taurat (Torah) which came before me, and giving glad tidings of a Messenger to come after me, whose name shall be Ahmad [Muhammad]…” (Q 61:6)
Like the other examples we have seen, this statement was made up by Muhammad to legitimize his prophethood because nowhere does such a statement appear in the Bible. Muslims evade this dilemma by claiming that:
(a) the Bible has been corrupted to expunge any reference to Muhammad. Yet for centuries, Muslims have sweated to “find” what they believe to be Muhammad in the “corrupted” Bible.
(b) Christians in Muhammad’s time agreed with what the Quran says. In fact, no true Christian – past or present – buys into Muhammad’s bogus claims. God spoke to the Israelites through the prophets and has spoken to us by His Son, Jesus Christ (Heb. 1:1). Why would He send “a last prophet” to finish up what the Lord Jesus had already completed? Even Muhammad’s messages to the Jews were those of hate, curses and death – hardly a vestige of “glad tidings” the Isa of the Quran promised.
5. “And behold Allah will say ‘O Jesus the son of Mary! Did you say to men, ‘Take me and my mother for two gods beside Allah’? He will say: ‘Glory to You! Never could I say what I had no right [to say]. Had I said such a thing, you would have indeed known it” (Q 5:116)
This query from Allah is hinged on a misrepresentation of Christian doctrine, and by implication, the answer given by this “Jesus” is also fictional. Christians do not take Mary and Jesus as “two gods” besides God. The Christian Trinity consists of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, not of God, Jesus and Mary. Christians didn’t “make” Jesus, a mere man, into God rather, He has always been God. Christians believe in His Deity as well as His humanity.
It’s possible Muhammad ran into a heretical sect (the Choloridians) who exalted Mary as a goddess and took their heresy as representative of what Christians believe. This in fact, proves the human authorship of the Quran. If Allah is all-knowing, he ought to know what Christians really believed.
The Concise Dictionary of Islam admits: “In some cases the ‘material’ which forms the substance of Quranic narrative, details of the creeds of Christianity and Judaism for example, does not correspond to those religion’s own understanding of their beliefs. This could be said, for example, of the notion of the Trinity found in the Quran…The Trinity ‘seen’ in the Quran is not the Trinity of the Apostle Creed, or of the Nicene creed” (pgs. 229-230).
Muslims maintain their belief in this false Jesus by:
1. Believing the abrogated recitations of one man above the consistent testimony of over 40 inspired writers of the Bible.
2. Taking the fraudulent speeches of a man 6 centuries after Christ over the record of eye-witnesses of Jesus in the Bible.
3. Superimposing the false Christ of the Quran on the true Jesus of the Bible and reinforcing their delusion with distorted Bible verses.
4. Believing in a “Jesus” that is neither Biblical nor historical. They reject Biblical and historical evidence, clinging instead to a fictional Jesus with a false message. This decision has tragic eternal consequences for the Muslim.