Category Archives: Jesus The Messiah(PBUH)

Facts about Jesus (peace be upon him) and his Mother (Mary) in the Islamic Teachings

The Qur’an does not present a detailed biography of Jesus (peace be upon him). However, it does highlight the important aspects of his birth along with his miracles, his mission and his ascension. The Qur’anic account of Jesus’ ministry confirms most of his miracles mentioned in the Bible; it even identifies some which are not mentioned in the Bible. What we know about Prophet Jesus Christ (peace be upon him) can be divided into two topics: his personality and his message. Eleven facts have been detailed below. What you should know about Jesus (peace be upon him)


1. The status of Jesus (peace be upon him) in Islam Islam teaches that Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) is one of the most respected prophets because of his efforts in spreading the word of Allah. It displays a true spirit of love towards him and his mother, Mary. There is not a single disparaging remark against Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) or any other prophet in the entire Qur’an or other Islamic literature or Islamic history books. An evidence of praise for Jesus (peace be upon him) is the fact that his story along with that of his mother’s has been mentioned in three places in the Qur’an: chapters 3, 4 and 19.

In fact, an entire chapter of the Qur’an, (chapter 19), is named after ‘Maryam’ (Mary) in her honour.2 Another evidence of praise is that the name of Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) has been mentioned 25 times in the Qur’an; this is in contrast to the mention of Prophet Muhammad (blessings and peace be upon him), whose name is mentioned only four times. This proves that Islam honours all prophets for the message they have in common; it did not discard one prophet with the advent of another.

Jesus (peace be upon him) has been referred to in the Qur’an with many titles, Ibn Maryam (son of Mary), the Messiah (the anointed one), ‘Abdullâh (slave of Allah),3 and Rasool Allâh (the messenger of Allah). This praise and glorification agrees with what Jesus (peace be upon him) is reported to have said in John 16:144 describing the prophet who would succeed him: “He will glorify me.

2. The beginning of his lineage

The Qur’anic account of Jesus (peace be upon him) starts with the story of his mother, Mary. When she conceived her, Mary’s mother vowed to dedicate her unborn child to the worship of Allah and service to Jerusalem Mary grew up to be very righteous. She dedicated herself to the worship of Allah and was supplied with provision from Him. Therefore, it is no mystery as to why she was chosen to be the mother of Jesus (peace be upon him). The Qur’anic verses inform us: {[Mention, O Muhammad], when the wife of ‘Imrân said: My Lord, indeed I have pledged to You what is in my womb, consecrated [for Your service5 ], so accept this from me. Indeed, You are the Hearing, the Knowing. But when she delivered her, she said: My Lord, I have delivered a female – and Allah was most knowing of what she delivered – and the male is not like the female; I have named her Mary, and I seek refuge for her in You and [for] her descendants from Satan, the expelled [from the mercy of Allah]. So her Lord accepted her with good acceptance and caused her to grow in a good manner and put her in the care of Zechariah. Every time Zechariah entered upon her in the prayer chamber, he found with her provision. He said: O Mary, from where is this [coming] to you? She said: It is from Allah. Indeed, Allah provides for whom He wills without account.} (Qur’an 3: 35-37)

It is interesting to note that when the mother of Mary delivered her child, she was a bit disappointed to discover that she did not have a son. This was because she had always wished for her child to be dedicated to the worship of Allah. However, little did she know that this very child would be extremely righteous, and end up being the mother of Jesus himself. This was better for her than a son, hence, Allah’s words: {…and Allah was most knowing of what she delivered…}


3. The status of Mary Mary, mother of Jesus, is very highly respected in Islam. Her story is an important one that is mentioned several times in the Qur’an. Mary is mentioned by name 31 times in the Qur’an, and in fact an entire chapter of the Qur’an is named after her.

This is an honor that not even the women in Prophet Muhammad’s family were accorded. Although there are stories and anecdotes in the Qur’an about other women of strong faith, and others of importance in the history of the three Abrahamic religions, none other than Mary is actually mentioned by name. Allah has said: {And [mention] when the angels said: O Mary, indeed Allah has chosen you and purified you and chosen you above the women of the worlds. O Mary, be devoutly obedient to you Lord and prostrate and bow with those who bow [in prayer]. That is from the news of the unseen which We reveal to you, [O Muhammad]…} (Qur’an 3: 42-44)

4. The news about Jesus (peace be upon him) When Mary approached adulthood, she was informed about the honour of bearing this noble son well before his birth. It was the angel Gabriel (peace be upon him), who appeared in front of her with this news. The following verses in the Qur’an describe the dialogue between Mary and the angel: {[And mention] when the angels said: O Mary, indeed Allah gives you good tidings of a word from Him, whose name will be the Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary – distinguished in this world and the hereafter and among those brought near [to Allah].

He will speak to the people in the cradle and in maturity and will be of the righteous. She said: My Lord, how will I have a child when no man has touched me? [The angel] said: Such is Allah; He creates what He wills. When He decrees a matter, He only says to it: Be, and it is.} (Qur’an 3: 45-47)

5. The birth of Jesus (peace be upon him) Mary conceived this child miraculously (the first miracle) and retired to a distant place where she waited for the birth of her child. This amazing story has been related to us in chapter 19 of the Qur’an, titled Maryam (Mary):

{So she conceived him, and she withdrew with him to a remote place. And the pains of childbirth drove her to the trunk of a palm tree. She said: O, I wish I had died before this and was in oblivion, forgotten. But he called her from below her: Do not grieve; your Lord has provided beneath you a stream. And shake toward you the trunk of the palm tree; it will drop upon you ripe, fresh dates. So eat and drink and be contented. And if you see from among humanity anyone, say: Indeed, I have vowed to the Most Merciful abstention, so I will not speak today to [any] man.} (Qur’an 19: 22-26)


Muslims and Christians agree that Jesus was born of a virgin, that he performed mighty miracles, and that he is now alive. We believe that he was the Messiah, a prophet of God, and his righteous Servant.

But we also disagree on some things. Can a historical study help us to decide who has the true account of Jesus? I believe so.

Christians believe that Jesus was the divine Son of God, that he is the second person of the Holy Trinity, and that he is our personal savior who died for the sins of the world. On these points Christianity diverges from Islam. But on these points Christianity also diverges from the true historical Jesus, as I will now demonstrate.

The four gospels in the Christian Bible are the primary materials available for a historical study of Jesus. When we compare the gospels one to another we can see how the stories about Jesus were changed to reflect a higher view of Jesus. You can conduct this type of study yourself if you have a cross-reference Bible. Refer to an episode in one gospel, then cross-reference it to another gospel where you will find the same episode. Note the similarities and the dissimilarities.

When we compare Mark to Matthew, we can see how the later gospel changed individual reports to raise the view of Jesus in the following ways:

1. To have people call Jesus “Lord.” For example, on the occasion when Jesus was transfigured, in Mark Peter called him “Rabbi”; in Matthew Peter called him “Lord.” (Mark 9:5 cf. Matthew 17:4)

2. To have Jesus refer to himself as Lord. When Jesus directed his disciples to wait and watch for his imminent return, in Mark he called himself “the master of the house”; in Matthew he called himself “your Lord”. (Mark 13:35 cf. Matthew 24:42)

3. To have Jesus called “the Son of God”. At a place called Caesarea Philippi, Jesus asked Peter who he thought Jesus was. In Mark Peter replied: “You are the Messiah.” But in Matthew Peter replied: “You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.” Matthew has added the title “the Son of the Living God.” (Mark 8:27-29 cf. Matthew 16:13-16)

4. To have Jesus refer to God as his Father. When Jesus’s mother and siblings came looking for him, in Mark he said: “Whoever does the will of God is my mother and brother and sister”. But in Matthew he said: “Whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my mother and brother and sister.” In Mark he called God God. But in Matthew he called God his father. (Mark 3:35 cf. Matthew 12:50)

5. To have people pray to Jesus. While Jesus was asleep in a boat a storm rocked the boat. In Mark the disciples awoke Jesus with this mild rebuke: “Teacher, do you not care if we drown?” But in Matthew they pray to him: “Lord, save us! We are perishing.” The rebuke was changed to a prayer. (Mark 6:51-52 cf. 14:32-33)

Comparing Mark to Matthew in this way, we have seen how Matthew has reworked the material to bring out later Christian teachings.

The difference is further pronounced as we go from Mark, the first gospel, to John, the last gospel. The image of Jesus in John is much larger than in Mark. Here Jesus takes on cosmic dimensions. In John’s gospel Jesus makes the most significant and far-reaching claims about himself. There are many statements in this Gospel where Jesus asserts his own identity. He says:
I am the light of the world.
I am the resurrection and the life.
I am the way, the truth, and the life.
I and the Father are one.
Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.
If Jesus had said these things, the other gospels would have surely recorded them. But they did not, because he did not say these things. John recorded them because this was part of the later evolved story about Jesus.

Later Christians would focus more on the Gospel of John, and less on the Gospel of Mark. It is often the Gospel of John that is quoted as proof of Jesus’s divine sonship. Although Mark also calls Jesus the son of God, the title here can be understood as meaning a righteous servant. But in John Jesus is the “only-begotten son” (John 3:16).

The manner in which Jesus approaches death has also been reworked in John. In Mark Jesus begs God to save him from the cross, though he submits to God’s decision. In John Jesus declares that he will not pray to be saved (12:27). On the contrary, he asks God to go ahead according to plan. Jesus in John obviously came to die for the sins of the world. Hence he declares that no one can take his life away from him since he has authority to lay down his own life and take it up again (10:18).

Jesus declared in John that no one can take his life from him. Since he gives it up of his own accord, even the scene of his arrest has been modified to reflect this. In Mark Judas the betrayer had arranged to mark Jesus out with a kiss. But in John Judas dares not draw close to the cosmic Jesus whose very breath blows the crowd away. Unless Jesus gives himself up he cannot be arrested (John 18:3-12).

We can in this way multiply the examples of how one after another the gospels went about modifying the image of Jesus for later readers. The writers did not intend for us to make these comparisons. Each gospel was initially circulated independently. Eventually, however, they were collected together and passed down to us in a single book, the Holy Bible.

Today in studying the gospels we can notice the trend to represent him as Lord and Savior. To find the real historical Jesus we have to retrace the trend from John back to Mark. But how about beyond Mark? When we compare Mark with the later gospels we notice the modifications in the later ones. If we could compare Mark with its predecessors we would find that Mark has also modified his story. But that has to remain for another study.

In the meantime, how can we find the real historical Jesus? I believe we can find him in the Qur’an. Since the Qur’an is demonstrably the word of God, what it reports about Jesus is true as told by God himself.
Shabir Ally