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Monday, August 22, 2005

Jesus (peace be upon him)

The Christian belief about Jesus is that he is the only-begotten Son of God or God Himself, who died on the cross to save humans from Original Sin. Muslims hold that there is no such thing as Original Sin. So God had no reason to become a human and die on the cross. Even if there were something called Original Sin, Muslims do not see how God could be so helpless as to atone for that sin by dying on the cross. The Christians would answer:

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

Did God really love the world so much… so much that He decided to sacrifice even His son, His only begotten son, to save the world from Original Sin? Christians would say, Yes.

On the other hand, Muslims would insist in the first place, that God is One and One Only, and, therefore, He didn’t have a son. Second, as God is Just, He would not punish the innocent to save the sinners. Third, the so-called Original Sin cannot be such a problem for the Almighty God that He is compelled to sacrifice “His own Son.” He could very well cancel that sin or He could simply demand an atonement from the sinful or at least ask for sincere repentance from them. Indeed, there was no need for God to subject His Son to the "terrible torture" he is said to have undergone.

In fact, there were early Christians who did not believe in the crucifixion of Jesus. For instance, the Basilidians believed that someone else was crucified in his place. The names of Simon of Cyrene and even Judas Iscariot are heard in this context.

As for the Qur’an, it speaks of how Allah cleared Jesus of the disbelief of his people. It says what means:
*{[And remember] when Allah said: O Jesus! I will take you and raise you to Myself, and cleanse you of those who disbelieve; and I will make those who follow [you] superior to those who disbelieve until the Day of Resurrection. Then to me you will [all] return, and I will judge between you as to that wherein you used to differ. And as for those who disbelieve I will punish them with severe torment in this world and the Hereafter; and they will have no helpers.}* (Aal `Imran 3:55-56)

Thus, Allah raised Jesus up to Heaven, and so he was saved from an accursed death on the cross, in contrast to what his enemies and even his self-styled “followers” alleged. It was the plan of the enemies of Jesus to crucify him, but Allah foiled their plan. So to believe in his death by crucifixion means to believe that those unbelievers were successful against God’s plan. But assuredly they could not crucify Jesus the Messenger of Allah. The Qur’an says what means:
*{And their saying [is] ‘we slew the Messiah, Jesus Son of Mary, Allah’s messenger’ – They slew him not nor crucified him, but it appeared so to them. And those who disagree concerning it are in doubt thereof; they have no knowledge thereof save pursuit of a conjecture. For of a surety they slew him not; but Allah took him up to Himself. Allah is Almighty [and] All-Wise. And there is none of the people of the Book [the Jews and Christians] but will believe in him before his death, and on the Day of Resurrection he will be a witness against them.}* (An-Nisaa’ 4:157-159)

We Muslims believe in all the prophets of God and honor and respect them alike; we do not make any distinction between one and another of them. Muslims believe Jesus Christ to be one of the great prophets of God and hold that all prophets are brothers and that their religion is the same, namely, Islam (or unconditional submission to Allah). Allah says in the Qur’an what means:
*{He [Allah] has ordained for you the same religion as that which He ordained to Noah, and that which We inspired in you [Muhammad], and that which We ordained to Abraham and Moses and Jesus, saying: Establish the religion, and make no divisions therein. To those who worship other things than Allah, dreadful is that to which you call them. Allah chooses for Himself whom He will, and guides to Himself him who turns [in repentance to Him].}* (Az-Zukhruf 42:13)

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