The Bible, the Qur’an and Jesus (as), the Son of God


In the previous article (refer to the September 2021 edition), a monotheistic interpretation of the term ‘son of God’ was laid out according to Judean-Christian sources. It was shown that the term ‘son of God’ has its origin in the Old Testament and means one who is affiliated with God or godliness. Regarding its use with Jesus (as), he himself explained that it only meant that he was a metaphorical and not a divine and literal son of God (John 10:34-36).

Nevertheless, most Christians are uninformed or opposed to this purely monotheistic interpretation. It is partly for the reason of clarifying this misunderstanding that the Holy Qur’an was sent by God. The Qur’an states:

إِنَّ هٰذَا الْقُرْآنَ يَقُصُّ عَلٰى بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ أَكْثَرَ الَّذِي هُمْ فِيهِ يَخْتَلِفُونَ * وَإِنَّهُ لَهُدًى وَّرَحْمَةٌ لِّلْمُؤْمِنِينَ

‘Verily, this Qur’an explains to the children of Israel most of that concerning which they differ. And verily, it is a guidance and a mercy to the believers.’ [1]

Whenever a people lose their way, a prophet is sent by God to reiterate the forgotten or ignored teachings of God found in their revealed scriptures and to guide them further along in their understanding of divine matters. The Qur’an states:

كَانَ النَّاسُ أُمَّةً وَّاحِدَةً فَبَعَثَ اللهُ النَّبِيِّينَ مُبَشِّرِينَ وَمُنذِرِينَ وَأَنزَلَ مَعَهُمُ الْكِتَابَ بِالْحَقِّ لِيَحْكُمَ بَيْنَ النَّاسِ فِيمَا اخْتَلَفُوا فِيهِ ۚ وَمَا اخْتَلَفَ فِيهِ إِلَّا الَّذِينَ أُوتُوهُ مِن بَعْدِ مَا جَاءَتْهُمُ الْبَيِّنَاتُ بَغْيًا بَيْنَهُمْ ۖ فَهَدَى اللهُ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لِمَا اخْتَلَفُوا فِيهِ مِنَ الْحَقِّ بِإِذْنِهِ ۗ وَاللهُ يَهْدِي مَن يَشَاءُ إِلٰى صِرَاطٍ مُّسْتَقِيمٍ

‘Mankind were one community, then they differed among themselves, so Allah raised Prophets as bearers of good tidings and as warners, and sent down with them the Book containing the truth that He might judge between the people wherein they differed. But now they began to differ about the Book, and none differed about it except those to whom it was given, after clear Signs had come to them, out of envy towards one another. Now has Allah, by His command, guided the believers to the truth in regard to which they (the unbelievers) differed; and Allah guides whomsoever He pleases to the right path.’[2]

That pure monotheism which was understood only after a careful analysis of the core teachings of the Bible and an evasion of the many incorrect interpretations popularised in the Christian world, was expressed in a crystal-clear fashion by God through Islam.

The Meaning of ‘Son of God’ According to Islam

Jesus (as) is a revered prophet in Islam. The Qur’an mentions his history starting from his grandmother, who dedicated the life of her daughter, Mary (as), in the path of God. Jesus (as) was miraculously born to the virgin Mary (as). He was the awaited Messiah to the Jews, and his message was one that was fundamentally monotheistic and based on the Torah. He showed many miracles, was rejected by the Jewish clergy and crucified by the authorities. Nevertheless, he survived the crucifixion, and thereafter left the area of Judea to preach his message amongst the lost tribes of the House of Israel. He eventually reached and settled in Kashmir, where was ultimately buried.

Even though the Qur’an does not refer to Jesus (as) as the son of God, it nonetheless does not deny that the term can legitimately be used in a metaphorical manner for servants of Allah.

In one verse, the Qur’an declares that those people who are thought of as the sons of the God are not to be understood as being divine – they are merely His honoured servants:

وَقَالُوا اتَّخَذَ الرَّحْمٰنُ وَلَدًا ۗ سُبْحَانَهُ ۚ بَلْ عِبَادٌ مُّكْرَمُونَ 

‘And they say, “The Gracious God has taken to Himself a son.” Holy is He. Nay, they are only honoured servants.’ [3]

In another place, it tells Muslims to remember Allah like they do their fathers, or even more so:

 فَاذۡکُرُوا اللّٰہَ کَذِکۡرِکُمۡ اٰبَآءَکُمۡ اَوۡ اَشَدَّ ذِکۡرًا

‘…celebrate the praises of Allah as you celebrated the praises of your fathers, or even more than that…’ [4]

The Holy Prophet (sa) once referred to the creation of God as God’s children, in the sense that God cares for them as a parent would their child. Hazrat Anas (ra) relates that the Messenger (sa) of Allah stated:

‘The creation of Allah is His progeny, and the most beloved of them to Allah are those that are most useful to His progeny.’ [5]

Thus, the Qur’an and ahadith do not reject outright the use of the term ‘son of God’ in a metaphorical, monotheistic fashion. Nevertheless, it is not a commonly used term as compared to others, such as servant and slave (عبد abd) of Allah. This is perhaps owing to the many misunderstandings that could arise through a liberal use of the term ‘son of God’, as Christianity clearly demonstrates.

Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as) (1835-1908) was the divinely appointed Messiah and reformer of the age. One of his responsibilities was to explain the truth surrounding the person of Jesus (as), to which end he wrote hundreds of pages and penned many profound insights. In his book Haqiqatul Wahi he explains the metaphorical, monotheistic usage of the term ‘son’ or ‘children’ of God:

‘…those who lose themselves in God are called the children of God. However, this does not mean that they are literally God’s sons. It would be sheer blasphemy to say so; for, God is Holy and has no sons. But they have been called “children of God” only as a figure of speech since, like an innocent child, they keep on remembering God with utmost zeal. Indicating the same spiritual station, the Holy Quran says:

 فَاذۡکُرُوا اللّٰہَ کَذِکۡرِکُمۡ اٰبَآءَکُمۡ اَوۡ اَشَدَّ ذِکۡرًا

Meaning that, remember God with such love and heartfelt compassion as a child remembers its father. This is why God has been addressed as Ab or Pita [meaning “Father”] in the scriptures of every people. Figuratively speaking, God has a resemblance to a mother also and just as a mother rears her child in the womb, so are the beloveds of God nourished in the lap of God’s love. They are granted a holy body out of a filthy origin. This is why the auliya’ [friends of Allah] are called “children of God” by the mystics. It is only a figure of speech. Otherwise, God has no children, and God is:

لَمْ يَلِدْ وَلَمْ يُولَدْ

[“He begets not, nor is He begotten”].’ [6]

In his book Taudih-e-Maram, he explains the spiritual process by which one becomes part of the ‘progeny’ of God through the Holy Spirit:

‘If you ask what exactly is the quality and spiritual power in which the two of us – the Messiah son of Mary and my own humble self ­– resemble, the answer is that it is an overall quality with which the spiritual sensibilities of the two of us have been endowed. At one end, the chain stretches deep down below, and at the other, reaches high above. The descent signifies the extreme anguish and concern for the good of God’s creatures. It reinforces the already close and strong ties that exist between the Messenger of God and his devoted disciples, and transmits the spiritual vitality inherent in the holy person of the Messenger to all the green and vibrant branches. The upward journey symbolises the superior love, which is rooted in strong faith. God so wills that love at first sprouts in the heart of the worshipper and then attracts the love of the Almighty Himself. When the two loves meet ­– each functioning as the male and female counterpart – they give birth to a strong communion and intense affinity between the Creator and the created. The blazing flames of divine love set afire the tinder dry firewood of human love, giving birth to a third phenomenon known as Ruhul Qudus. The spiritual birth of man at this level is deemed to take place when God Almighty especially wills such love to be born. Figuratively speaking, it would not be wrong to say that this spirit, saturated as it is with the love of God, grants a new birth to the human soul which, through God’s will, is now filled with His love. That is why this love-laden spirit, again figuratively speaking, is like an offspring to the divine spirit, the author of this love. Since Ruhul Qudus is born in the human heart as a result of the union of the two souls, we can say that it is like a son to both. This indeed is the holy trinity which is the necessary accompaniment of love at this level and which the impure of heart have misconstrued polytheistically. They have tried to equate a miniscule particle of mere possibility which is so self-negating and unreal, with the Supreme Self-Existent God.’ [7]

Meaning, once one receives the Holy Spirit, they can be termed a ‘son of God’.

In 5:19 of the Qur’an, Allah states that the Jews and Christians claim they are the sons of God, but rejects the application of the term in their case, stating instead that they are under His punishment:

وَ قَالَتِ الۡیَھُوۡدُ وَ النَّصٰرٰی نَحۡنُ اَبۡنٰؤُا اللّٰہِ وَ اَحِبَّآؤُہٗ ؕ قُلۡ فَلِمَ یُعَذِّبُکُمۡ بِذُنُوۡبِکُمۡ ؕ بَلۡ اَنۡتُمۡ بَشَرٌ مِّمَّنۡ خَلَقَ ؕ یَغۡفِرُ لِمَنۡ یَّشَآءُ وَ یُعَذِّبُ مَنۡ یَّشَآءُ ؕ وَ لِلّٰہِ مُلۡکُ السَّمٰوٰتِ وَ الۡاَرۡضِ وَ مَا بَیۡنَھُمَا ۫ وَ اِلَیۡہِ الۡمَصِیۡرُ

‘The Jews and the Christians say that we are the sons of Allah and his loved ones. Say, “Why then does He punish you for your sins? Nay, you are only human beings from among those he has created.” He forgives whom He pleases and punishes whom He pleases. And to Allah belongs the kingdom of the heavens and the earth and what is between them, and to him shall be the return.’ [8]

Here the Qur’an does not state that their claim of being the ‘sons of God’ is inherently blasphemous, but only rejects that the term can be applied to them. Allah states that if they were truly the sons of God, then they would not be suffering under His punishment. In this case, the term has been used symbolically to denote those that do the will of Allah and thus in a sense become His adopted, beloved children and thereafter enjoying His blessings. Those who are under the punishment of Allah can in no way be referred to as His children. 

The Promised Messiah (as) states in his book Haqiqatul Wahi:

‘The Jews have also been quoted in the Holy Qur’an as saying…we are sons of God and His loved ones. In response, God does not give any refutation of the word “sons” as being a blasphemous foul talk. Instead, He retorts that if they are indeed beloved of God then why does God chastise them? And “sons” is not even mentioned again. This shows that the beloved of God were, in the language of the Jewish Scriptures, referred to as His sons also.’[9]

The Holy Qur’an – Jesus (as) as the ‘Servant of God’

The Holy Qur’an and other Islamic literature provide us with a foundation for understanding the various titles and words of Jesus (as) within a monotheistic framework.

The Holy Qur’an in 19:31 declares that Jesus (as) referred to himself as عبد الللّہ Abdullah, meaning a servant of God:

قَالَ إِنِّي عَبْدُ اللهِ آتَانِيَ الْكِتَابَ وَجَعَلَنِي نَبِيًّا

‘He said, “I am a servant of Allah. He has given me the Book, and made me a Prophet;”’[10]

In 21:27 of the Holy Qur’an it is stated:

وَقَالُوا اتَّخَذَ الرَّحْمٰنُ وَلَدًا ۗ سُبْحَانَهُ ۚ بَلْ عِبَادٌ مُّكْرَمُونَ

‘And they say, “The Gracious God has taken to Himself a son.” Holy is He. Nay, they are only honoured servants.’[11]

All of the prophets, indeed all of mankind, are referred to as servants of God (5:119). This highlights the superiority of God to His creation. All others are His servants and part of His creation, whereas He is the only one who is divine. In line with this general principle, the Qur’an does not reference Jesus (as) stating that he was a ‘son of God’, or of others referring to him as such. Therefore, the Qur’an strongly supports the claim that Jesus (as) fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies about the coming of a Messiah who would be a servant of God (Psalms 2:6-7), and supports the idea that he did not use the term ‘son of God’ for himself.

Apart from the title of servant, the Qur’an also grants him other titles, such as Ruhullah (a spirit of God) and Kalimatullah (a word of God)(2:254). The Qur’an mentions many titles granted to different prophets over the ages. The Prophet Muhammad (sa) for example, was granted many titles, such as Khatam-un-Nabiyyin (The Chief of the Prophets) (33:41), Muhammad (the praised one) (48:30), Ahmad (the one who praises) (61:7), Nur (light) (5:16), etc.

No matter the titles granted to the prophets of God, they are never interpreted in a way that run contrary to the concept of tauhid, or unity of God.


According to Islam, Jesus (as) was a prophet of God and primarily designated as His servant, not His son. The Qur’an does not deny that the term son of God can be used for God’s servants in a monotheistic fashion, but it is not one that is commonly used owing to how it can easily be, and historically has been misunderstood as promoting polytheistic ideas. 

About the Author: Azhar Gorya is a graduate from the Ahmadiyya Institute of Language and Theology in Canada. He is currently serving as an Imam of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Mexico. He is also the Central American Coordinator for the Review of Religions en Español.


[1] The Holy Qur’an, 27:77-78.

[2] The Holy Qur’an, 2:214.

[3] The Holy Qur’an, 21:27.

[4] The Holy Qur’an, 2:201.

[5] Musnad Abi Ya’la, Musnad of Anas bin Malik, Thabit al-Bunani from Anas, Hadith No. 3315.

[6] Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as), The Philosophy of Divine Revelation (Farnham, Surrey: Islam International Publications Ltd., 2018), 729.

[7] Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as), Elucidation of Objectives (Tilford, Surrey: Islam International Publications Ltd., 2004), 18-20.

[8] The Holy Qur’an, 5:19.

[9] Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as), The Philosophy of Divine Revelation (Farnham, Surrey: Islam International Publications Ltd., 2018), 81.

[10] The Holy Qur’an,19:31.

[11]The Holy Qur’an, 21:27.