Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that He may have compassion on him, and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon. (Isaiah 55:6-7)

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The Islamic View of Jesus

For inter-faith dialogues, Christians need to know what does Islam teach about Jesus. We need to understand whether Islam is indeed as antithetical as we suppose to Jesus and His teachings, or whether it is antithetical to "Christian doctrines" never taught by Christ.

I asked Ms. Zainab, an Islamic scholar on inter-faith issues who proved herself kind and noble to me to comment briefly on this question. She wrote me the email below, based upon a book she wrote to promote interfaith understanding -- You Will Know the Truth and The Truth Will Set You Free available at this Amazon link.

 

It appears to me from what Ms. Zainab writes below that Islam does not dispute any characteristics about Jesus that Jesus taught about Himself. It also teaches that Jesus was the "Word of God." Because Jesus said the "Word (Logos) is not mine, but the Father's who sent me" (John 14:24), this explains how Jesus can be the Word of God, as Islam concedes, but Jesus is not God apart from the Father. The answer is simple. When Jesus says "before Abraham, I am" (John 8:58), it is God, the Father, speaking through Jesus. Jesus is not claiming He is I AM. Rather, it is I AM speaking through Jesus identifying Himself as I AM. Jesus is only the Word of I AM; Jesus is not I AM. 

Islam completely agrees that Jesus is the Word but Jesus is not God, as Ms. Zainab lays out the 6 points Islam believes about Jesus. This is how both propositions are true simultaneously. We would need to make this change even if we were not prodded by Islam to do so. But it is good to know Islam is not an enemy of a true Christian who follows only what Jesus teaches. Islam is an enemy instead of the false view in Christianity that Jesus is God which Jesus never claimed to be true. To listen to an Islamic appeal using our own Scripture on this issue does the true Christian no harm. Our Scripture helps cleanse from our hearts a false impression that misreading a verse like John 8:58 has caused. 

I am sure there are differences too between Islam and Christianity. I have not fully examined what those are. I have a dispute over the crucifixion issue, which may not be material enough to dispute a true Ebionite Christian root exists within Islam. See at the end of this article.

Regardless, let's not judge a book by its cover, any more than we want Islamic believers to judge Christians by the covers we have worn at various times, e.g., the Inquisition against even our own, as well as Jews and 'infidels,' etc.

I sense that the most important divide between Islam and Christianity is over our ill-conceived Church-view of Jesus as God apart from the Father that emerged under the pagan Emperor Constantine in the 300s. I anticipate in further study I will not find we are divided over some legal dispute between a Sharia principle and a Mosaic-Jesus principle. I bet you they are very similar to one another.

All I know we certainly will find is that Islam disputes that Paul had any right to throw out the Mosaic law. I independently found the same thing studying only our Holy Scripture and by examining Christian-source material. I found Paul erroneously did so despite my having no knowledge on the Islamic view of Paul.

Here now is Ms. Zainab's succinct synopsis:

 

Email from Ms. Zainab How Jesus Is Accepted and Viewed by Islam

There are many similarities between Islam and the original message of Jesus (peace be upon him).

1. Jesus is Messiah

2. Jesus is a Messenger of God

3. Jesus is the Word of God

4. Jesus is not God 

5. Jesus is God's Servant

6. Jesus is not part of a tri-une god

Just a few verses from the Qurán on the above points (and there are many more through out the Qurán):

O People of the Scripture (Jews and Christians), do not commit excess in your religion or say about Allah except the truth. The Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary, was but a messenger of Allah and His word which He directed to Mary and a soul [created at a command] from Him. So believe in Allah and His messengers. And do not say, "Three"; desist - it is better for you. Indeed, Allah is but one God. Exalted is He above having a son. To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth. And sufficient is Allah as Disposer of affairs.
Never would the Messiah disdain to be a servant of Allah, nor would the angels near [to Him]. And whoever disdains His worship and is arrogant - He will gather them to Himself all together. (Qurán 4:171-172)

They do blaspheme who say: "Allah is Christ the son of Mary." But said Christ: "O children of Israel! worship Allah, my Lord, and your Lord." Whoever joins other gods with Allah?Allah will forbid him the Garden and the Fire will be his abode. There will for the wrong-doers be no one to help. They disbelieve who say: Allah is one of three in a Trinity: for there is no god except One God. If they desist not from their word (of blasphemy), verily a grievous penalty will befall the blasphemers among them. Why turn they not to Allah and seek His forgiveness? For Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. Christ the son of Mary was no more than an Messenger; many were the Messengers that passed away before him. His mother was a woman of truth. They had both to eat their (daily) food. See how Allah doth makes His Signs clear to them; yet see in what ways they are deluded away from the truth! (Qurán 5:72-74)

My first (& second) book discusses many of these important points in detail.

Regards,

Zainab

My Comment On Where This Dialogue May Become Important 

As far as I can see ahead, Islam's positions sound virtually identical to Ebionite Christianity: God is One, Jesus is a man; Jesus is Messiah and Word of God; and Paul's view on the Mosaic law's abrogation is wrong.

Beyond that, there may be disputes on the name of God (Allah? Eloha? Yahweh?); how many times a day to formally pray, etc. I have no idea. I will study and report back on the differences.

But what unites us may in the end be more important to inter-faith understanding to nurture, and yet without either Islam or Christians having to compromise their core scriptures. This in turn can have more impact to end by peaceful dialogue what today is thought to be only capable of resolution by violent terror on one side, and on the other by drone strikes. It is hard to resolve a dispute over religious views by bombs and killings.

What would Jesus tell us to day in this crisis, given these facts? Would he perhaps say "first take the beam out of your own eye before you try to take the speck out of your brother's eye?"(Matt 7:5.) Then once you take the beam out of your own eye, you will be able to remove the speck out of your brother's eye. Id.

I hate seeing innocent Christians being killed, who barely give any importance to believing in Trinitarianism any more any way. Many of us have repeated Jesus is God as a non-thinking thought because of how we were raised as Children. The terrorists don't know we don't typically give this idea much vitality. We tolerate those Christians who simply say Jesus is "God's Son," and "He did the will of His Father." We frequently talk of the Father as God more than we ever do talk about Jesus as God the Son. But the terrorists think Jesus as God is fundamental to all of us, and they abhor this plural-God idea.

Yet, if it is truly wrong to say Jesus is God, as the Unitarians and Oneness Christians say, then we are idolaters, right? We have made a man "God" independent of the true God known in scripture as Eloha, Yahweh, and the Father. Then the terrorists are inspired to believe such Christians are idolaters the way those Christians view Jesus as God. We all know God hates idolaters, right? They are subject to a death penalty after a trial under the Mosaic law. Is it possible this is how the terrorists perceive those among us who speak thusly? Do you think they perceive standard Christians as likely all idolaters? Thus, these fellows, rather than being kind and sensitive as Ms. Zainab, they take up both weapons and the law into their own hands.

If we are in the wrong on this, what do you think is the solution to resolve this sectarian violence on one side, and these drone strikes on the other?

First, we could convince the terrorists it is wrong to take up the law into their own hands. We need to remind them that killing the innocent without any justification is murder. This is why there are courts of law in Islamic lands and non-Islamic lands.

Second, we must give educational-time to Christians to understand that our own Scripture does not support the Constantinian-inspired Trinity doctrine to make Jesus the God-Son who Constantine knew as Sol Invictus. See our article: In 300s, Constantine as Pontifex Maximus of Roman Catholicism Imposes Pagan Faith in Sol Invictus With A Thin Veneer of Christianity.

So the solution is for us to study our Holy Scriptures, and see if what Islamists who accept Jesus as Messiah and the Word of God, etc., as does Ms. Zainab, contend we would find in our own Holy Scripture on the nature of Jesus Christ. Ms. Zainab does a thorough job in parts of chapter one on that score to prove Jesus was not insisting He was God, but to the contrary kept saying He was "son of man," i.e., a man.

One Dispute I Do Have With Muslims Is Over The Crucifixion Issue

I know I do disagree with Muslims on at least on one point. This is the notion of a crucifixion conspiracy. In the 1600s, the Caliphate of Turkey published a version of the New Testament called the Gospel of Barnabas with all of Jesus' words, but with one major change over the crucifixion of Jesus. It portrays Judas as crucified, not Jesus. See this link. See the so-called Gospel of Barnabas at this link.

This Gospel of Barnabas is not the Q'uran. However, Muslims view it as a valuable text to defend, as it is taught in Muslim courses. So they should realize that this can be a non-reliable scripture, and one not fundamental to their Muslim faith. 

Regardless, because of the existence of that "Gospel of Barnabas," Muslim scholars latched onto an argument based upon Isaiah 53:8 as it read in all Christian Bibles since the 800s to support the view that Jesus was not crucified. This is supported by words "to them" in the Masoretic version of Isaiah 53:8 since the 800 AD period. 

However, the Masoretes were Jewish scribes. Christians trusted them not to tamper with Isaiah 53. Christians did not keep the original testament of Law & Prophets adequately in any archives. Thus, Christians were totally vulnerable to manipulation by the Masoretes if they altered the original texts by means of copying. Thus, Christians relied 100% upon those Masorete scriptures as the most reliable. The Christians since the 800s have accepted without questioning that Jewish scribes would in the 800s provide a reliable text rather than try to alter the original texts to undermine Jesus as Messiah.

However, the Masoretes did do so in two respects in Isaiah 53. We now know these were false additions due to the Dead Sea Scrolls from 247 BC. These scrolls were discovered in the 1950s. The contained seven complete copies of Isaiah from which a uniform version has now been restored. This version can be found in Abegg's The Dead Sea Scroll Bible. The world found many Masorete corruptions with an evident purpose to undermine Jesus as Messiah. The Dead Sea Scrolls restored these Messianic proofs.

Two such major corruptions to Isaiah 53 are: first, the addition of the words "to them" (which Muslims rely upon to argue against a crucifixion) and second, the removal of the words that the suffering servant would see "light" again despite death.  

I discuss the "to them" addition-controversy (that Muslim scholars have erroneously relied upon to deny a crucifixion) in my article Isaiah 53:8.

The other controversy over Isaiah 53 is only with Jews on whether Jesus was resurrected. So to deny the Messiah had a resurrection, and that is a supposedly needless invention by Christians, the Masoretes also removed that the suffering servant would after death "see light." The Masoretes left it oddly to read that he will "see...." and that's it. This and many other changes the Masoretes made to undermine proofs that Jesus was Messiah = all edits done after 800 AD.  See this link (generally) and this link (Masoretes removed see "life" [again].)

But you see that although I disagree with Muslims, including Ms. Zainab, on this issue over the crucifixion, this is one that in time can be resolved by mutual dialogue and discussion, not by bombs and bulletts. 

What if Islamists refuse to believe Jesus was crucified, relying upon Isaiah 53:8 despite the Dead Sea Scrolls proving conclusively the words involved were not present originally?  

Then we might have to ask ourselves about those in Islam who believe Jesus is Messiah, and God's Servant, Prophet, etc., but reject Jesus was crucified based upon the Masoretes 800 version and the "Gospel of Barnabas," not the Q'uran itself? Does that make them not an Ebionite Christian at their core whom we must treat as a brother or sister?

First, as a Christian, we have to recognize that such a Muslim is not relying upon the Q'uran for this position. They, like many of us who have included Paul beyond our core scripture, are influenced by non-Q'uranic sources. Then it requires them to suppose Mohammed knew and approved of the Gospel of Barnabas of which nothing in the Q'uran supports that is the case. Instead, the quotes from the gospels by contemporaries of Mohammed, and by early Islamic scholars, have qutoes that relate to the Hebrew Gospel of Matthew of which the Ebionites had custody. (See Tarif Khalidi, The Muslim Jesus: Sayings and Stories in Islamic Literature (2001) (Amazon link). Compare these quotes to Standford Rives' reconstruction of the Hebrew Gospel of Matthew quoted 49 times in the early church in his 3 volume work entitled The Original Gospel of Matthew.)

You can see the symmetry of the early Muslim Jesus' quotations is with the Hebrew Matthew, not the Gospel of Barnabas.

As to the latter Gospel of Barnabas, no manuscript evidence predating the 1600s to support an earlier existence has ever been found. But a complete reconstruction of the Hebrew Gospel written by Matthew that preceded Mohammed appears on our website at this link.

So is someone a Christian who confesses everything about Christ that Jesus taught but does not accept the Gospel account of a crucifixion? Are they not saved by Christ's sacrifice merely because they don't believe it happened based upon non-Q'uranic sources as long as they follow Ebionite Christian principles, i.e., the law is still to be followed and enforced, Paul is invalid, etc.

John the Baptist said Jesus' sacrifice covers all the sins of the "world," including those who died before Jesus came. None of those people knew Jesus would be crucified. So if you love Jesus, and you follow his teachings, which is perfectly acceptable for a Muslim to do, but you don't believe in the crucifixion of Jesus, that cannot affect your salvation with God. In the confession Jesus approved from Peter, you merely must start with a confession that Jesus is Messiah -- "Annointed One" -- which annointing was given a prince when elevated to be a king. Muslims believe this. That Messiah-title means Jesus came as the Prince of Peace -- his title of Shiloh (Prince of Peace) in Genesis 49. This implies further that the Muslim who confesses Jesus as Messiah, the Prince of Peace, recognizes that Jesus is a peacemaker. As a result, such a confession implies one more honor -- the same honor that any one of us who is a peacemaker is entitled to claim -- "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God." (Matt 5:8.) If a Muslim accepts Jesus to the point the Q'uran permits, then they have embraced Ebionite Chrisitanity, even if they don't accept Jesus was crucified. 

Thus, the disagreements we may have are not insurmountable, and even if they are, they may not be material. 

STUDY NOTES. A scholarly book was recently published that studies the possible origin of Islam was influenced by Ebionite (Jewish) Christianity.  Here is the summary from Academia.Edu Weekly Digest (12/2018): 

 

Río Sánchex, Franciso del (ed.), Jewish Christianity and the Origins of Islam. Papers presented at the Colloquium held in Washington DC, October 29-31, 2015 (8th ASMEA1 Conference), Brepols: Turnhout 2018, 191 pp., ISBN 978-2-503-57017-4, € 85 (pb).—Fundamental studies on the still highly-debated theme of possible ‘Jewish Christian’ influences on the origins of the Islamic religion by eminent specialists:

1. Guillaume Dye, Jewish Christianity, the Qur??n, and Early Islam: Some methodological caveats;

2. Robert Hoyland, The Jewish and/or Christian Audience of the Qur??n and the Arabic Bible;

3. Simon C. Mimouni, Du Verus Propheta Chrétien (Ébionite?) au Sceau des Prophètes musulman;

4. Francisco del Río, Jewish-Christianity and Islamic Origins. The Transformation of a peripheral religious movement?;

5. Carlos A. Segovia, The Jews and Christians of Pre-Islamic Yemen (?imyar) and the Elusive Matrix of the Qur??n’s Christology;

6. Stephen Shoemaker, Jewish Christianity, Non-Trinitarianism, and the Beginnings of Islam;

7. Holger Zellentin, Judaeo-Christian Legal Culture and the Qur??n: The Case of Ritual Slaughter and the Consumption of Animal Blood.