Was Jesus a Prophet of Islam?
Obviously, for Muslims, the answer is yes.
This question was actually a topic of the debate between David Wood, a Christian, and Shabir Ally, a Muslim. Take note though that neither David nor Shabir are passive religion adherents. Shabir is a Muslim academic and public speaker.
David, on the other hand, is an American evangelical missionary and a Christian apologist (someone who presents rational bases for Christianity, defending it against objections). What is interesting about his life is that he was a former atheist who converted to Christianity while in prison. But even as a Christian, he explored converting to Islam but did not pursue it upon discovering that there was a wide gap between Islamic beliefs and his own personal values.
The main arguments in the debate revolved around Jesus’ death, resurrection, and divinity, with David concluding that, “God is victorious from beginning to end.”
Christians, as you know, believe that Jesus died on the cross but resurrected on the third day thereby affirming his divinity as being one with God, together with the Holy Spirit.
In contrast, what do Muslims believe about Jesus?
Muslims believe that Jesus was neither killed nor died of a natural cause. Muslims believe that he ascended alive into heaven.
And this is where the point of contention lies.
The red flag is that Muslims believe that Jesus was not crucified. It was the plan of Jesus’ enemies to crucify him, but God saved him and raised him up to Him. And the likeness of Jesus was put over another man. Jesus’ enemies took this man and crucified him, thinking that he was Jesus.
“And because of their saying (in boast), “We killed Messiah ‘Īsā (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary), the Messenger of Allâh,” – but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but the resemblance of ‘Īsā (Jesus) was put over another man (and they killed that man), and those who differ therein are full of doubts. They have no (certain) knowledge, they follow nothing but conjecture. For surely; they killed him not.” (Quran, 4:157)
Whatever the arguments, it is sufficient to know that the Muslims hold Jesus in high regard, though second only to Muhammad. And even if the two religions do not agree on his death, they at least agree on his birth as the Quran also confirms his virgin conception:
“Remember the time when the angels said: “O Maryam, Allah gives you the good news of a Word from Him whose name is Masih ‘Isa, the son of Maryam (the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary) a man of status in this world and in the Hereafter, and one of those who are near (to Allah). He shall speak to people while (he is still) in the cradle, and also later, when he is of mature age; and he shall be one of the righteous.” She said: “O my Lord, how shall I have a son while no human has ever touched me?” Said He: “That is how Allah creates what He wills. When He decides a matter, He simply says to it ‘Be’, and it comes to be. (Quran, 3:45-47)
The case of Jesus with God is like the case of Adam. The Quran states: “Surely, the case of ‘Isa, in the sight of Allah, is like the case of ’Adam. He created him from dust, then He said to him, “Be”, and he came to be. (Quran, 3:59). And this is why the Muslims recognize Jesus as a prophet just like how they consider Adam.
So, was Jesus a prophet of Islam?
With adherents such as David and Shabir passionately defending their respective beliefs, it is really difficult to settle this one. Sometimes, it even comes to the point where one wonders the very purpose of these debates. It is not even to come to an agreement because the thing about Christian versus Muslim debates is that the arguments will always run parallel but will never meet. As the literary writer Rudyard Kipling once wrote, “East is East and West is West and never the twain shall meet.”
Does one ever really “win” in a debate? Watch and find out. And here’s hoping that this serves to clarify, rather than confuse. At the very least, this is a good medium to champion one’s beliefs without resorting to violence.
Shabir actually closes the debate by saying that, “Jesus is a prophet and true messiah of God.”
And there you have it. Let’s leave it at that.
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