Christmas Day is a holiday in the Western world observed to commemorate the birth of Jesus(as). Jesus Christ(as) is amongst the best known and most influential historical figures and yet there exist diametrically opposed interpretations of his status and message. The views range from the Orthodox Catholic belief that Jesus Christ(as) is part of a Divine Trinity and pre-existed before his birth on Earth to the belief that no such historical figure as Jesus Christ(as) existed at all and his story is pure myth.1
Despite so much being written about Jesus Christ(as), we still know little about him and his life. In recent times there has been an increasing number of scholars taking the stance that the historical figure of Jesus Christ(as) and the religious figure of Jesus Christ portrayed by the Catholic Church have very little in common.
One such scholar is Dr James Tabor, Chair of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina. In his book, The Jesus Dynasty, he analysed in great depth the historical facts surrounding the life of Jesus Christ. In his conclusion, Dr Tabor wrote:
‘There are some rather striking connections between the research I have presented in The Jesus Dynasty and the traditional beliefs of Islam. The Muslim emphasis on Jesus as a messianic prophet that we find in the Q source, in the book of James, and in the Didache…there is little about the views of Jesus presented in this book that conflicts with Islam’s basic perception.’2
The Qur’anic teaching on the person of Jesus Christ(as) is very clear and specific. Numerous verses specifically emphasise the human nature of Jesus Christ(as) and deny claims he was in any literal way the ‘Son of God’.3
Analysis of the sayings of Jesus Christ(as) in the Bible are often overly complicated with sayings in the four Gospels compared, different codices talked about and further analysis done in the original Greek text. One area of complexity for those studying the Bible is the sheer number of available translations. For example YouVersion, the #1 rated Bible application for mobile phones, offers 26 different versions and renderings of the same text in to English. Some of these translations are hundreds of years old, such as the popular King James Version, while others are new translations written within the last decade. A reader can often get lost in technicalities when in fact reading some passages with a simple and fresh perspective can render their message as clear as day. Jesus(as) did not teach that he had a unique lofty position, but taught that his disciples could perform the same miracles as he and reach the same status he had reached.4,5
When someone praised him and referred to him as ‘good’, as recorded in the Gospel of Mark, he was quick to point out that he was not worthy of this praise and that ‘No one is good but God alone.’6 When asked what was the greatest commandment he did not talk about belief in him or belief in his prophesised Resurrection, but simply stated the greatest commandment was that ‘the Lord our God, the Lord is one’.7
When talking about John the Baptist, the forerunner to the Messiah and second coming of Elijah, he highlighted his lofty status and clearly declared that among humans ‘no one has arisen greater’ than John.8sup>
When accused of blasphemy his eloquent answer, according to the Gospel of John, was to highlight that the figurative language he was using already existed in the scripture and that was applicable to us all.9 Jesus(as) was here referring to the following quote from Psalms that described all of us as children of God.
I say, ‘You are gods, children of the Most High, all of you… (Psalms 82:6)
This view of a humble and subservient Jesus(as) is fully in keeping with the picture of Jesus(as) we are given at the Crucifixion. He was willing to give up his life for the sake of his Lord, with full faith that God would deliver him from an ignominious death on the cross.
Again, it is only the Holy Qur’an that has explicitly highlighted this wonderful truth about God’s favour on Jesus Christ(as); of not only saving him from an accursed death, 10 but then elevating him greatly in stature as a successful prophet who continued his mission in foreign lands for many years until his last breath.
Our readers are invited to explore the Islamic perspective on Jesus Christ(as) and be assured that it will lead to a brand new love and respect for him as mortal human being whose faith in God elevated him to the station of Messiah.
Arif Khan, a special contributor to The Review of Religions, is Editor of the Tomb of Jesus website
- This viewpoint was brought to masses via the The Jesus Mysteries by Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy. This book was a Sunday Times bestseller and The Daily Telegraph’s Book of the Year, when published back in 1999
- Tabor, Dr James, The Jesus Dynasty, Harper Collins Publishers Limited, London, 2006, p.287
- Holy Qur’an Ch.2:V.117
- Luke 6:40
- John 14:12
- Mark 10: 17-18
- Mark 12: 28-30
- Matthew 11:11
- John 10:34
- Holy Qur’an – Ch.4:Vs.158-159