A Comparison of the Biblical and Islamic Views of the States of Christ

Part 1: The State of Humiliation (i)

Gerry Redman


As with the doctrine of God, so with the doctrine of Christ, there is great difference and misunderstanding between Muslims and Christians. Obviously, the main point of disagreement is over the deity of Christ, but that question will not be the principal focus of this paper and its companions. Rather, in these series of papers, I wish to explore the distinct views of Islam and the Bible about the states of Christ. By doing so, we will be able to judge which system better meets the challenge of consistency and credibility. We will also be able to clear up any misconceptions held by either side. Necessarily, we will be employing theological terms native to Christian dogmatics, which some Muslims might find objectionable, but they allow for a better contrast of the two systems of belief. The conclusion will be given at the end of the last paper in this series.

A. The Biblical view

1. The Incarnation

(a) The Subject

Not the entire Godhead, but rather the Second Person of the Trinity is incarnated. We see evidence of communication between Father and Son in John 12:27-28 – ‘27 Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour. But for this cause came I unto this hour. 28 Father, glorify thy name. There came therefore a voice out of heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.’ Upon the baptism of Jesus the Spirit descends from heaven to rest on Him, and the voice of the Father in heaven speaks with respect to His son - Matthew 3:16-17, which verses indicate that the other two divine Persons are distinguished from the Son, so are not incarnated with Him.

However, all three persons collaborate in effecting the incarnation - Matthew 1:20; Luke 1:35; John 1:14, Acts 2:30; Romans 8:3; Galatians 4:4; Philippians 2:7. The great theologian of Christian dogmatics, Louis Berkhof made the vital point that since the Son was active in this process, this points to His pre-existence. 1 These points are amplified when looking at the pre-existent Mediator and His activity. By this we can understand why it was the Son rather than the Father or Spirit who is incarnated.

John 1:1 speaks not only of the Logos as being pre-existent, but goes on in v3 to identify Him as the Agent of Creation – ‘All things were made through him; and without him nothing was made that has been made.’ John 8:56 identifies Him as the Agent of Revelation to Abraham – ‘Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day; and he saw it, and was glad’, and 1:18 indicates that this remains his work – ‘no man has seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made Him known’. Since it was the angel of YHWH who appeared to Abraham, and since this figure is represented as an agent of revelation and redemption in the Old Testament, e.g. Genesis 48:16 – ‘the angel who redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads...’, He is to be identified with the pre-incarnate Son. The Son is the Agent of Revelation and Redemption, so it had to be the Son who was incarnated.

Other texts which indicate His pre-existence are John 6:38 – ‘For I came down from heaven...’; 2 Corinthians 8:9 – ‘For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor...’; Galatians 4:4 – ‘but when the fullness of the time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law...’; Philippians 2:6-8 – ‘6 who, existing in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men; 8 and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death, even death on the cross.’ The essential element is that the Second Person of the Trinity, without diminution of His deity, divests Himself of heavenly glory to enter the realm of Mankind as a man, and subject to the limitations and obligations thereof - Galatians 4:4 stresses His birth into a Jewish family and thus His obligation to adhere to the Torah. The Giver of the Law became subject to it.

(b) Necessity of the Incarnation

There has been a debate among Christian theologians as to whether the Incarnation was conditioned by human sin.

(i) Pro: Berkhof refers to several texts in support of this - John 3:16; Luke 19:10; Galatians 4:4; Philippians 2:5-11; 1 John 3:8. 2 Jesus came to put an end to spiritual darkness, occasioned by the Fall - He came to die on Calvary. The aim was to reverse the effects of the Fall and to restore divine-human fellowship. Hence, His coming was occasioned by the Fall.

(ii) Con: The danger with (i) is that it could suggest that the action of God was contingent, responsive and secondary, whereas the principle of Grace underlines that divine action is primary, unconditional (in the sense of not being dependent) - God always takes the first step. If God intended to incarnate, then He must always have planned such, since he is immutable.

Further, since the Son is the Mediator, and since God has always desired divine-human fellowship, the latter is only fully realised if the Son is incarnated.

The Church is Humanity in- fellowship with-God, Romans 5:17, and was in the eternal purposes of God, Ephesians 1:4-5 ‘4 as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blemish before him in love: 5 having foreordained us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ unto himself, according to the good pleasure of his will’; verses 10, 20-23 also underline this - that it was the eternal divine plan to position the Son as the fulcrum of the cosmos, which seems to hold true irrespective of the Fall. Since the Church is the Body of Christ, 5:31-32, and is the means of displaying the divine wisdom, it must have always been in the purposes of God for the Son to become incarnate to perform this function. The Fall simply necessitates a particular action of the Son (i.e. the Cross) to realise this.

(c) The Nature of the Incarnation

John 1:14 ‘And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us (and we beheld his glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father), full of grace and truth.’ indicates that the Son became a true human being, and entered the human scene, but He is not thereby metamorphosed – as John Murray explains,

In John 1:14 there is no hint that the Word in becoming flesh ceased to be that which he is defined to be as the eternally subsistent one, eternally co-ordinate with God, and eternally identified with God in John 1:1. And lest we should interpret the incarnation in terms of transmutation or divestiture, John hastens to inform us that, in beholding the incarnate Word, they beheld his glory as the glory of the only-begotten from the Father (John 1:14). And then he proceeds to identify the only-begotten in his unabridged character as ‘God only-begotten who is in the bosom of the Father’ (v.18)... So the only construction that satisfies the terms of john’s prologue is that the incarnation means addition and conjunction, not subtraction. Other statements of Scripture are to the same effect (cf. Phil. 2:6,7; Col. 2:9; Heb. 1:1-3).

The incarnation, therefore, means that the Son of God took human nature in its integrity into his person with the result that he is both divine and human, without any impairment of the fulness of either the divine or the human. He is God-man. 3

A. A. Hodge, one of the great Princeton theologians of the 19th century, echoes this analysis about the unchanged deity of the eternal Son:

Again: the Scriptures teach us that this amazing personality does not centre in his humanity, and that it is not a composite one originated by the power of the Spirit when he brought the two natures together in the womb of the Virgin Mary. It was not made by adding manhood to Godhead. The Trinity is eternal and unchangeable. A new Person is not substituted for the second Person of the Trinity, neither is a fourth Person added to the Trinity. But the Person of Christ is just the one eternal Word, the second Person of the Trinity, which in time, by the power of the Holy Ghost, through the instrumentality of the womb of the Virgin, took a human nature (not a man, but the seed of man, humanity in the germ) into personal union with himself. The Person is eternal and divine. The humanity is introduced into it. The centre of the personality always continues in the eternal personal Word or Son of God. 4

As opposed to being metamorphosed, the Son is theanthropic: simultaneously divine and human. It is this fact that often eludes Muslims, who often point to Biblical texts evidencing His humanity to disprove His deity (see Ahmed Deedat’s ‘The God that never was’, Christians never dispute that there are verses emphasising the truth of Christ’s humanity; equally, there are texts demonstrating His deity. The upshot of this is that Jesus is both God and Man.

(d) The Virginal Conception and Birth

The Seed of Promise in Genesis 3:15 is specifically stated to be the seed of the woman. This should not be overemphasised as evidence for the virgin birth, but it is an indication. The birth of Isaac, although not virginal, provides some clue to the unique supernatural character of Jesus’ birth. Obviously, the principal text is Isaiah 7:14, which predicts the birth of One who would be the fulfilment of the covenantal promise of divine presence - ‘I will dwell in the midst of you’ - Immanuel, ‘God with us’. The Hebrew word almah is often broadened to include any young woman, specifically of marriageable age, though it should be pointed out that the word is usually translated as ‘maiden’, as in Proverbs 3:19. The Septuagint (LXX), the Greek translation of the Old Testament translated the word by parthenos, and this term seems restricted in meaning to ‘virgin’ - cf. Matthew 25:1, 7, 11; Acts 21:9. Thus Matthew 1:23 and Luke 1:27 do fulfil Isaiah 7:14 in exactitude - Christ was born of a virgin.

It is more exact to speak of virginal conception, rather than birth, for the latter, together with gestation, was normal, save in respect that Jesus was preserved from defilement. The conception of Jesus was miraculous in that no man was involved in this act - it occurred through the power of the Holy Spirit ‘overshadowing’ Mary, Luke 1:35. In passing, it must be stated that this does not imply marital intimacy between God and Mary and the production of a demigod: it is simply that the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit miraculously caused the implantation of life in the womb of Mary. (See also Matthew 1:18, 20; Galatians 4:4.)

(e) The Significance of the Dogma

(i) Usually, it is held that the virgin conception safeguarded the moral integrity - it sinlessness of Jesus, especially as Luke 1:35 speaks of the one conceived as ‘holy: Jesus was thus preserved from sharing in the defilement of Adam. It should be stated that this should not be necessarily understood that Adamic defilement is transmitted only through the father, which indeed some hold, but is probably not valid. John Murray makes an interesting point when he states that ‘natural generation would have entailed depravity (John 3:6).’ 5 On this basis, being born in a natural way (with two parents providing the generation) following the Fall is how sin is imputed. By being born otherwise, Jesus is spared this pollution.

(ii) Certainly, the event is significant in regard to the identity of Jesus as the Son of God - verses 32, 35.Such points to the native paternity of Jesus by God. Perhaps the best modern expression of the significance of the virgin birth is provided by Bruce Milne:

1. It proclaimed the unique character of the babe to be born. In Scripture special children often have special births (Genesis 21:1-7; Luke 1:5-23).

2. It demonstrates the operation of the supernatural in the incarnation. For this reason biological objections are entirely beside the point. On the presupposition of an omnipotent God, the virginal conception was wholly possible.

3. The coming of the Spirit upon Mary declared that in Christ God entered completely and fully into our human experience from the very moment of conception.

4. It wholly agrees with Paul’s teaching (Romans 5:12f; 15 22) that Christ is the second Adam in whom there takes a new beginning to the moral history of the human race. There is no suggestion that original sin was avoided by the absence of sexual intercourse, as though sin were a genetical contagion, which in any would have been as surely inherited from Mary as from Joseph; a view logically requires the impeccability of Mary on the principle that a sinless child requires a sinless mother.

5. It is consistent with our Lord’s pre-existence. In our case the conception is the coming into existence of a new person; in his case the eternal Word pre-existed conception. This is expressed in the biblical words ‘the Holy Spirit will come upon’ and ‘overshadow’ Mary ( Luke 1:35).

6. It provides an analogy of redemption elsewhere described as a ‘new birth’ (Jn. 1:12; 3:3ff.; 1 Pet. 2:2; Tit. 3:5). The setting aside of Joseph expresses in vivid fashion the helplessness, and in this sense the judgment of man in face of God’s work of redemption. 6

B. The Islamic View

1. Muslim objections to the Incarnation

It is fascinating that Islamic theology is so negatory in character, especially when it comes to assertions about Jesus. We learn far more about what He is not than what He is. This demonstrates the historical and theological priority of Christianity – that the Qur’an was partly framed to engage in polemics against Christian dogmas. Obviously, its starting point with the Incarnation is its denial of the deity of Christ:

Surah Maida 5:73

They surely disbelieve who say: Lo! Allah is the third of three; when there is no God save the One God. If they desist not from so saying a painful doom will fall on those of them who disbelieve.

Surah An-Nisaa 4:171

171. O people of the Book! commit no excesses in your religion: nor say of Allah aught but truth. Christ Jesus the son of Mary was (no more than) an Apostle of an Apostle of Allah and His Word which He bestowed on Mary and a Spirit proceeding from Him...

Surah Al-Baqarah 2:116

116 They say: ‘Allah hath begotten a son’; Glory be to Him. Nay to Him belongs all that is in the heavens and on earth; everything renders worship to Him.

Surah Maryam 19:88

88 They say: ‘(Allah) Most Gracious has begotten a son!’

89 Indeed ye have put forth a thing most monstrous!

The comments of Yusuf Ali in regard to Surah Maryam 19:88 demonstrate that Islam has the wrong idea of the Biblical concept of the incarnation:

Just as a foolish servant may go wrong by excess of zeal for his master, so in religion people’s excesses may lead them to blasphemy or a spirit the very opposite of religion. The Jewish excesses in the direction of formalism, racialism, exclusiveness, and rejection of Christ Jesus have been denounced in many places. Here the Christian attitude is condemned, which raises Jesus to an equality with Allah: in some cases venerates Mary almost to idolatry: attributes a physical son to Allah: and invents the doctrine of the Trinity, opposed to all reason, which according to the Athanasian Creed, unless a man believes, he is doomed to hell for ever.

Clearly, the Qur’an misconceives Christian dogma by presenting Trinitarianism as a question of is Tritheism, belief in three Gods, whilst the historic Christian position is belief in the Triune nature of the Godhead - that there are three hypostases (‘Persons’) commonly possessing the unique divine essence, inseparable and eternal. Moreover, the texts, as well as the misunderstanding by Yusuf Ali, appear to accuse Christians of divinising a mere human being - Jesus, viewed by Islam merely as a prophet - to the status of deity. However, this is the reverse of the Christian position. Rather than Man becoming God, God took human nature alongside His divine nature without ceasing to be God. As I stated in my paper on the Trinity, ‘Deity and humanity are not confused in the One Person of Christ. Deity is not diluted, nor humanity elevated.’ It is clear that Islam holds that Christians believe that Jesus had a naturalistic divine Sonship, in the same sense as pagan gods who slept with human women:

Rather, the Islamic Jesus is purely human, just like Adam. There is nothing unique about Him in this respect: Surah Al-i-Imran 3:59 – ‘This similitude of Jesus before Allah is as that of Adam: He created him from dust then said to him: "Be" and he was.’ Yusuf Ali employs this ayah to attack the Biblical view of Jesus as divine:

After a description of the high position which Jesus occupies as a prophet, we have a repudiation of the dogma that he was Allah, or the son of Allah, or anything more than a man. If it is said that he was born without a human father, Adam was also so born. Indeed Adam was born without either a human father or mother. As far as our physical bodies are concerned they are mere dust. In Allah’s sight Jesus was as dust just as Adam was or humanity is. The greatness of Jesus arose from the divine command ‘Be’: for after that he was-more than dust - a great Prophet and teacher.

2. Islam and the Virgin Birth

Islam believes in the Virgin Birth of Jesus, but no special emphasis is given to it, save the fact that it was a miracle indicating the prophethood of Jesus, and there is nothing to indicate it was necessary to preserve Him from original sin, a concept denied by Islam, nor that it demonstrated His divine paternity, also denied. In commentating on Surah 66:12 Yusuf Ali says the following:

...As a virgin she gave birth to Jesus: xix. 16-29. In xxxii. 9, it is said of Adam’s progeny, man, that Allah ‘fashioned him in due proportion, and breathed into him something of His spirit’. In xv. 29, similar words are used with reference to Adam. The virgin birth should not therefore be supposed to imply that Allah was the father of Jesus in the sense in which Greek mythology makes Zeus the father of Apollo by Latona or of Minos by Europa. And yet that is the doctrine to which the Christian idea of ‘the only begotten Son of God’ leads.

Other texts speak of the virgin birth, but rather than emphasising the person of Jesus, they give at least equal weight, and in the case of S. 21:91, special emphasis to Mary, so much so that the virgin birth as Islam presents it is as much about her as it is about Jesus – they are jointly signs:

Surah An-Anbiyaa 21:91

And (remember) her who guarded her chastity: We breathed into her of Our Spirit and We made her and her son a Sign for all peoples.

Surah An-Muminun 23:50

And We made the son of Mary and his mother as a Sign: We gave them both shelter on high ground affording rest and security and furnished with springs.

Yusuf Ali comments about this (21:91), and the concept is strange to Christian ears, in that it implies that Mary was herself a sign. What is missing in all these accounts is any special reason for Jesus to be virgin-born, and the elevation of Mary herself to being a sign is perhaps an attempt to compensate for any pressing need for Jesus to be born in this way:

The virgin birth of Jesus was a miracle both for him and his mother. She was falsely accused of unchastity, but the child Jesus triumphantly vindicated her by his own miracles (xix. 27-33), and showed by his life the meanness of the calumny against his mother.

Strangely, in the Hadith, there is an indication that the birth of Jesus was unique in other ways, and perhaps represents an echo of Christian teaching on the virgin birth, in that although every other human being, including presumably Muhammad, was touched as an infant by Satan, Jesus was preserved from this. 7 There is a tension, if not contradiction, between the accounts of the virgin birth in the Qur’an; in that S. 3:45 speaks of a plurality of angels, whereas S. 19:17 speaks of only one:

Surah Al-i-Imran 3:45ff

45 Behold! the angels said ‘O Mary! Allah giveth thee glad tidings of a Word from Him: his name will be Christ Jesus the son of Mary held in honour in this world and the Hereafter and of (the company of) those nearest to Allah.

46 ‘He shall speak to the people in childhood and in maturity and he shall be (of the company) of the righteous.’

47 She said: ‘O my Lord! how shall I have a son when no man hath touched me?’ He said: ‘Even so: Allah createth what He willeth; when He hath decreed a plan He but saith to it ‘Be’ and it is!


Surah Maryam 19:16ff

16 Relate in the Book (the story of) Mary when she withdrew from her family to a place in the East.

17 She placed a screen (to screen herself) from them: then We sent to her Our angel and he appeared before her as a man in all respects.

18 She said: ‘I seek refuge from thee to (Allah) Most Gracious: (come not near) if thou dost fear Allah.’

19 He said: ‘Nay I am only a messenger from thy Lord (to announce) to thee the gift of a holy son.’

20 She said: ‘How shall I have a son seeing that no man has touched me and I am not unchaste?’

21 He said: ‘So (it will be): thy Lord saith `That is easy for Me: and (We wish) to appoint him as a Sign unto men and a Mercy from Us’: it is a matter (so) decreed.’

22 So she conceived him and she retired with him to a remote place.

23 And the pains of childbirth drove her to the trunk of a palm-tree: she cried (in her anguish): ‘Ah! would that I had died before this! Would that I had been a thing forgotten and out of sight!’

24 But (a voice) cried to her from beneath the (palm-free): ‘Grieve not! for thy Lord hath provided a rivulet beneath thee;

25 ‘And shake towards thyself the trunk of the palm-tree: it will let fall fresh ripe dates upon thee.

26 ‘So eat and drink and cool (thine) eye. And if thou dost see any man say ‘I have vowed a fast to (Allah) Most Gracious and this day will I enter into no talk with any human being.’ ‘

27 At length she brought the (babe) to her people carrying him (in her arms). They said: ‘O Mary! truly an amazing thing hast thou brought!

28 ‘O sister of Aaron! thy father was not a man of evil nor thy mother a woman unchaste!’

29 But she pointed to the babe. They said: ‘How can we talk to one who is a child in the cradle?’

30 He said: ‘I am indeed a servant of Allah: He hath given me revelation and made me a prophet;

31 ‘And He hath made me Blessed wheresoever I be and hath enjoined on me Prayer and Charity as long as I live;

32 ‘(He) hath made me kind to my mother and not overbearing or miserable;

33 ‘So Peace is on me the day I was born the day that I die and the Day that I shall be raised up to life (again)’!

34 Such (was) Jesus the son of Mary: (it is) a statement of truth about which they (vainly) dispute.

35 It is not befitting to (the majesty of) Allah that He should beget a son. Glory be to Him!

The text bears a striking resemblance to the Biblical story of Hagar after she was cast out from Abraham’s household, Genesis 21:14ff, suggesting a case of borrowing and adaptation. The story of Jesus talking whilst yet a babe is absent from the canonical gospels, but is rather found in the Apocryphal writings. The denial of the eternal sonship of Jesus at the climax of this passage in v35 is quite inexplicable, being not related in any way to what preceded it. This emphasises the negatory character of Islamic Christology mentioned earlier. It is interesting that v19 of the Surah Maryam describes Jesus as ‘a holy son’, but then, Islam holds that all children are born thus. 8 Further more, Islam holds that all prophets are sinless, leaving little purpose in the virgin birth as understand by Christians. 9 Realistically, the virgin birth as Islam presents it is a superfluous divine act. Effectively, it has merely re-worked and reduced the concept to fit its theological presuppositions and polemics.

2. The Baptism

A. The Biblical View

The baptism of Jesus is often problematic for Muslims, as Deedat’s tract, The God that never was, demonstrates: ‘The Confession and Repentance of "God": before the beginning of his public ministry: "Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist" (Matthew, 3:13), "which signified the confession of sins" (Matthew, 3:6), "and repentance from sins (Matthew, 3:11).’ 10

To explain why Jesus was baptised, we must consider the whole nature of the plan of salvation. The Old Testament prophets predicted a Restoration of Israel after the Babylonian Exile which would possess the character of a Second Exodus, Isaiah 11:11ff, and will reflect the divine requirement of faith in that only a purified Remnant will return - Isaiah 10:22; Ezekiel 11:18-21; 20:34-38. The latter text, together with Isaiah 40:3-5 emphasises the importance of the desert in this process - as the avenue by which the Restoration will be accomplished and the Judgement essential to this act effected. (In this respect it is a pattern of the Final Judgement that effects the entry of the Righteous into their inheritance, the Kingdom.)

Isaiah 52:7 builds on 40:3 by stating that God will return with the exiles as their King. Other texts, e.g. Ezekiel 37:24 indicate that the Reign of God will be mediated through the Davidic King - the Messiah, whose reign will be over a righteous people who adhere to the New Covenant, cf. 36:25-27; Jeremiah 31:33-34. Jeremiah 31:2, 7 underline this, as 23:6 and 33:15-16, which identify the King with the People - specifically Jerusalem. Although a Remnant did return from Babylon, the Reign of God through Messiah was as yet unrealised.

Mark 1:2-5 (and parallels in Matthew 3:1-11; Luke 3:2-16) reveal the fulfilment of these texts, specifically represented by Malachi 3:1 and Isaiah 40:3 - the preparation for the arrival of God in Canaan. This occurs through the ministry of John Baptist in the desert, v 4, where a purging takes place - only those confessing their sins will share in the End of the Exile (cf. also Matthew 3:3 ‘For this is the one spoken of through Isaiah the prophet, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight’). The rest will suffer the Judgement - Matthew 3:7, 10, 12. John was preparing a refined people for the One who would effect the Return from Exile under the Reign of God, which will see the Baptism of the Spirit, Matthew 3:11. The Bestowal of the Spirit is the evidence that Jesus is the Davidic King, Acts 2:30, 33, 36. So with the manifestation of Jesus, the Exile has ended and the Reign of God has arrived - Mark 1:15/Isaiah 52:7.

This sets the scene for understanding the Baptism of Jesus.

(a) Jesus had no need to repent - note how John was reluctant to baptise Him, and Jesus had to tell him to ‘permit’ it - Matthew 3:15.

(b) In saying this, John recognised that the One whom he was to baptise in water was the One who would baptise in the Spirit, v 14. That is, Jesus was the Messiah.

(c) The fact that Jesus does not contradict John’s assertion is evidence of His own belief in His sinlessness.

(d) Jesus gives as His reason for submission to baptism as being right to ‘fulfil all righteousness’. ‘Fulfil’ in Matthew is used mainly of Jesus’ relation to the predictions and patterns of the Old Testament’ e.g. 5:17. Thus Jesus was accomplishing fulfilment of Old Testament prophecy, which ties in with John’s own ministry. ‘Righteousness’ in Matthew is linked to the idea of the Kingdom, e.g. 5:10, 20; 6:33; 21:31-32. It has the sense of ‘obedience to the will of God’ and thus of ‘submission to the Reign of God’ - cf. Romans 14:17.

Jesus, by being baptised, is thus identifying with the people who are preparing for the reception of the Reign of God and probably there is a reflection here of Isaiah 53:11, where the Servant represents the people. We should also note the ‘Moses’ typology theme in Matthew, and the fact that Israel was ‘baptised’ into Moses, so the Spirit will ‘baptise’ the people into Christ - i.e. identifying them with Him. The idea is that the fulfilment of the Old Testament Hope, with which the people are identifying, is realised in Jesus.

(e) Unlike Pentecost, the Spirit is not represented by fire, which would imply cleansing, but by a dove, indicating purity and the creation of something new - cf. Genesis 1:2. John 1:33 seems to imply that the One on Whom the Spirit abides is the bestower of the Spirit, and v 34 indicates that this evidences that Jesus is the Son of God. Cf. also Ezekiel 1:1; 2:2.

(f) The heavenly voice calls Jesus ‘beloved Son’, reflecting Psalm 2:7 and Isaiah 42:1 (and possibly Genesis 22:2 LXX) - He is the Davidic King, Servant and true Israel - cf. Mark 1:11 with 12:1-11. He is the embodiment of the Old Testament Messianic Hope, of the Kingdom of God and of the New Covenant. All these things help us to understand the significance of the Temptations by Satan in the desert, Matthew 4:3-11, climaxing in the attempt to get Jesus to avoid the cross by accepting the offer of the kingdoms of this world by worshipping Satan, vv. 8-9 – ‘8 Again, the devil took him up to a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; 9 and he said to him, All these things I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me. 10 Then Jesus said to him, Away with you, Satan: for it is written, you shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.’ These reproduce the Tests of Israel, the Old Testament ‘Son’ of God in the desert of Sinai, in Deuteronomy chapters 6-8, tests the old son failed, but which the ultimate Son passes with flying colours.

(g) As Jesus begins his ministry after this, we can see that the bestowal of the Spirit was the divine ‘call’ or ‘ordination’ - the King and the Servant were to characterised by the anointing with the Spirit. John 1:33 and 3:34 seem to underline this.

We should also note the Trinitarian aspect to the Baptism - the voice of the Father, descent of the spirit upon the Son, and the revelatory miracle as to the identity of Jesus.

2. The Islamic View

The ‘baptism of God’ is mentioned in S. 2:138, but it is the only reference to the subject, and it is clear that this ‘divine baptism’ is purely metaphorical: ‘(Our religion is) the baptism of Allah; and who can baptize better than Allah? and it is He whom we worship.’ Pickthall renders this ‘(We take our) colour from Allah, and who is better than Allah at colouring. We are His worshippers.’ Yusuf Ali comments on this verse as follows:

Sibgat: baptism: the root-meaning implies a dye or colour; apparently the Arab Christians mixed a dye or colour in the baptismal water, signifying that the baptized person got a new colour in life. We do not believe that it is necessary to be baptized to be saved. Our higher baptism is the ‘Baptism’ of God, by which we take on a colour (symbolically) of God, and absorb His goodness in us.

Interestingly, whilst Muslims like Yusuf Ali refer to ‘John the Baptist’, as with his comments on S. 19:12, it is significant that neither the Qur’an nor the Hadith ever present him with this full title, or actually practising this function:

In this section of the Sura the centre of interest is Yahya, and the instruction is now given to him. ‘Keep fast hold of Allah’s revelation with all your might’: for an unbelieving world had either corrupted or neglected it, and Yahya (John the Baptist) was to prepare the way for Jesus, who was coming to renew and re-interpret it.

Given that Islam regards John as a prophet, the paucity of references to him is significant – especially when we consider that he is never presented as baptising! There are only passing references to him in narrations about the Ascension of Muhammad to the heavens. 11 It is also notable that when the prediction of judgment and resurrection is given in the Hadith, and it is claimed that people will try out all former prophets for intercession before finally finding help from Muhammad, the text jumps right from Moses to Jesus, ignoring John. 12 S. 19:12 is the only text which presents any indication of the ministry of the Islamic John: ‘(To his son came the command): ‘O Yahya! take hold of the Book with might’: and We gave him wisdom even as a youth.’ Nowhere is John clearly presented as preparing the way for Jesus, although Yusuf Ali seems to interpret S. 3:39 in this way ‘While he was standing in prayer in the chamber the angels called unto him: "Allah doth give thee glad tidings of Yahya witnessing the truth of a Word from Allah and (be besides) noble chaste and a Prophet of the (goodly) company of the righteous."’

380 The birth of Mary, the mother of Jesus, of John the Baptist, the precursor of Jesus, and of Jesus, the prophet of Israel, whom Israel rejected, occurred in that order chronologically, and are told in that order. They are all inter-connected. Zakariya prayed for no ordinary son. He and his wife were past the age of parenthood. Seeing the growth of Mary, he prayed for some child from Allah,- "from Thee, a progeny that is pure". To his surprise, he is given a son in the flesh, ushered in by a special Sign. (3.38)

381 Notice: "a Word from Allah", not "the Word of Allah", the epithet that mystical Christianity uses for Jesus. As stated in iii. 59 below, Jesus was created by a miracle, by Allah’s word "Be", and he was. (3.39)

Pickthall renders the same text as follows: ‘And the angels called to him as he stood praying in the sanctuary: Allah giveth thee glad tidings of (a son whose name is) John, (who cometh) to confirm a word from Allah, lordly, chaste, a Prophet of the righteous.’ Arberry translates it similarly. In view of the lack of an explicit reference to Jesus, it would seem more likely that the verse parallels 19:12 – the kalima in question being synonymous with the kitab or at least its message. Never are we presented with John preaching about the coming of Jesus, or in any way aiding His ministry. Indeed, we learn virtually nothing about John’s ministry whatsoever. This is despite Yusuf Ali comments on S. 19:7 ‘(His prayer was answered): "O Zakariya! We give thee good news of a son: his name shall be Yahya: on none by that name have We conferred distinction before."’:

This was John the Baptist, the forerunner of Jesus. In accordance with his father’s prayer he, and Jesus for whom he prepared the way, renewed the Message of Allah, which had been corrupted and lost among the Israelites. The Arabic form Yahya suggests ‘Life’. The Hebrew form is Johanan, which means ‘Jehovah has been Gracious’... It does not mean that the name was given for the first time, for we read of a Johanan the son of Careah in II Kings, xxv. 23, an otherwise obscure man. It means that Allah had, for the first time, called one of His elect by that name.

This parallels the lack of definition of Al-Masih with respect to Jesus, indicating that in both cases the Qur’an is dependent upon the Bible for elaboration. Again, it is significant that Yusuf Ali has to refer to the Biblical account, without acknowledging that he is so-doing, to illustrate the history of John the Baptist, again pointing to the historical and theological priority of the Bible:

John the Baptist did not live long. He was imprisoned by Herod, the tetrarch (provincial ruler under the Roman Empire), whom he had reproved for his sins, and eventually beheaded at the instigation of the woman with whom Herod was infatuated. But even in his young life, he was granted (1) wisdom by Allah, for he boldly denounced sin; (2) gentle pity and love for all Allah’s creatures, for he moved among the humble and lowly, and despised ‘soft raiment’; and (3) purity of life, for he renounced the world and lived in the wilderness. All his work he did in his youth. These things showed themselves in his conduct, for he was devout, showing love to Allah and to Allah’s creatures, and more particularly to his parents (for we are considering that aspect of his life): this was also shown by the fact that he never used violence, from an attitude of arrogance, nor entertained a spirit of rebellion against divine Law. (19.13)

The other question that this raises is what is the actual function of John’s ministry? Abadalati summarises what Muslims usually believe about the ministry of Jesus: ‘It was to install the true religion of God and restore His revelations which had been misinterpreted and abused.’ 13 The Qur’an teaches that several messengers/prophets were given scriptures: Abraham, Moses, David, Jesus and Muhammad. Jesus, of course, was given the Injil, S. 57:27 – ‘Then in their wake We followed them up with (others of) Our apostles: We sent after them Jesus the son of Mary and bestowed on him the Gospel...’ S. 5:46 - ‘And in their footsteps We sent Jesus the son of Mary confirming the law that had come before him: We sent him the Gospel: therein was guidance and light and confirmation of the law that had come before him: a guidance and an admonition to those who fear Allah.’ S. 3:48 ‘And Allah will teach him the Book and Wisdom the Law and the Gospel.’ Yet even according to the Islamic view, the ministries of John and Jesus were virtually simultaneous, which leaves open the question of the purpose and content of the message of John. What was deficient in his message that Jesus had to come to correct it? After all, Muslims believe all prophets brought the same message.

Nor does the Qur’an ever present John as predicting the coming of Jesus, in the way Jesus supposedly predicts the coming of ‘Ahmed’, nor performing any particular act that actually does prepare the way for Jesus. John is virtually a footnote in the Qur’anic life of Jesus, in contrast to the crucial eschatological role he plays in the Biblical narrative. It need hardly be noted that the Qur’anic accounts of the relationship of John to Jesus do not present anything like the Biblical narrative, with Jesus being the climax of the Old Testament hope of the Restoration of the True Israel and the Return from Exile. This is partly conditioned by Islam’s belief in Muhammad as the seal of the prophets, and by its rejection of the soteriological work of Christ on the cross.

A further question that must be asked concerns what actually was the kitab that John had to hold? Was it the Tawrah, or the Zabur (Psalms)? If so why is this not stated? It may be the case that it refers to a special Scripture uniquely given to John. However, this contradicts the traditional Muslim belief that there was no scripture between David and Jesus, especially as S. 5:46 presents the Injil’s confirming the Tawrah, rather than any supposed intervening book (though this also causes problems for Muslims; why is Jesus not presented as confirming the Zabur? Cf. also S. 3:50). The issue becomes even more problematic when we consider how parallel S. 3:48 is to S. 19:12; the kitab there appears to be distinguished from both the Law and the Gospel. Both these texts given the impression of hurried borrowing from Christian scriptures.

The Qur’an does not appear to have any parallel to the desert temptations of Jesus, and there only appears to be one tradition that in any ways parallels the Biblical account:

Makhul Abu ’Uthman said that once when ’Isa, peace be upon him, was praying at the top of a mountain, Iblis came to him and said, ‘Don’t you believe in the determination and the decree?’ ’Isa said, ‘Indeed I do.’ So he said to ’Isa, ‘Then throw yourself over the edge and only what Allah has decreed for you will befall you.’ ’Isa retorted, ‘The Lord puts His slave to the test and tries him. It is not proper for the slave to test his Lord.’ (Ibn Abi’d-Dunya transmits it.) 14

As Islam denies the need for Representative/Substitutionary atonement/reconciliation, Jesus cannot be the Suffering Servant, as the Baptism attests. Although Jesus is called Al-Masih (e.g. S. 5:72), no description of the term is given, and nothing indicating that Jesus is King is ever presented in either the Qur’an or the Hadith. The latter does indicate He will return to rule for forty years, but not as King; rather, He rules as Amir or Imam of the Muslims. 15 The Qur’an holds that He was ‘strengthened’, though not necessarily anointed with ‘the holy spirit’, but the latter in Islam is of course Gabriel - S. 2:87 – ‘We gave Moses the Book and followed him up with a succession of Apostles; We gave Jesus the son of Mary clear (Signs) and strengthened him with the holy spirit...’; S. 2:253 – ‘Those apostles We endowed with gifts some above others: to one of them Allah spoke; others He raised to degrees (of honor); to Jesus the son of Mary We gave clear (Signs) and strengthened him with the Holy Spirit....’. Jamal Badawi writes in Jesus (peace be upon him) in the Qur’an and the Bible that Holy Spirit means Gabriel the Angel of Revelation (16:102).’ 16

In this Badawi is no doubt influenced by the traditional beliefs of Islam that Gabriel was the medium of revelation with respect to the Qur’an, as the verse he mentions indicates – ‘Say the Holy Spirit has brought the revelation from thy Lord in truth in order to strengthen those who believe and as a guide and Glad Tidings to Muslims.’ However, whilst there is nothing to indicate that the Holy Spirit anoints Jesus for His kingly and priestly ministries, as the Biblical account indicates, the Qur’an, perhaps as a result of careless borrowing from apocryphal books like Gospel of the Infancy, does indeed present the work of the ‘holy spirit’ as aiding the ministry of the Islamic Jesus:

S. 5:110 - ‘Then will Allah say: "O Jesus the son of Mary! recount my favour to thee and to thy mother. Behold! I strengthened thee with the holy spirit so that thou didst speak to the people in childhood and in maturity..."’ {Yusuf Ali)

‘When Allah saith: O Jesus, son of Mary! Remember My favour unto thee and unto thy mother; how I strengthened thee with the holy Spirit, so that thou spakest unto mankind in the cradle as in maturity;...’ {Pickthall)

Compare this with the apocryphal Gospel of the Infancy:

1) ...Jesus spoke, and, indeed, when He was lying in His cradle said to Mary His mother: I am Jesus, the Son of God, the Logos, whom thou hast brought forth, as the Angel Gabriel announced to thee; and my Father has sent me for the salvation of the world.

Similarly, S. 19:27-30 betrays the influence of this apocryphal work:

27 At length she brought the (babe) to her people carrying him (in her arms). They said: ‘O Mary! Truly an amazing thing hast thou brought!

28 ‘O sister of Aaron! thy father was not a man of evil nor thy mother a woman unchaste!’

29 But she pointed to the babe. They said: ‘How can we talk to one who is a child in the cradle?’

30 He said: ‘I am indeed a servant of Allah: He hath given me revelation and made me a prophet...

The evidence suggests a re-working and conflation of the Infancy pseudo-gospel as well as the references in the canonical gospels with relation to the descent of the Holy Spirit on Jesus to bring them in line with Islamic presuppositions. The reference to the ‘holy spirit’ in S. 5:110, reflecting the reference to Gabriel in the Infancy pseudo-gospel, the commission of Jesus to speak to ‘mankind’, rather than just Israel as Badawi claims [MISSION specifically TO THE ISRAELITES (3:49, 5:75, 61:6)], and the reduction of ‘the Son of God, the Logos’, to ‘servant of Allah’ and ‘prophet’ all indicate this. S. 5:110 indicates that the effect of the presence of the ‘holy spirit’ in Jesus’ life was to enable Him to speak the words of God, and possibly perform the miracle of infant speech, rather than to be inspired with the Injil. Inasmuch as the anointing with the Holy Spirit in the Bible is the ‘ordination’ of Jesus to begin His public ministry, there is some analogy between the Biblical and Islamic systems. The differences, however, are marked.

3. The Transfiguration

A. The Biblical view

The Transfiguration follows the confession by the disciples of the Messiahship of Jesus at Caesarea Philippi, Matthew 16:13ff; Mark 8:27ff. Jesus then indicated that His Messianic ministry involved His being subject to rejection and murder. Probably His trip to the Mountain should be seen in this light - His reflecting these things, so needs to pray with a few close associates. He is then ‘transfigured’ - metamorphosed. The meaning thereof is seen in the clauses following. The reference to ‘His face shone like the sun’ recalls Moses in Exodus 34:29:35, and ‘the garments white as light’ suggest a heavenly being (cf. 28:3; Luke 24:4); cf. the ultimate glory of the ‘righteous’ in 13:32’.

(a) It would seem to be an intervention of the Heavenly state into the earthly - Jesus appears, like Moses and Elijah ‘in glory’ - a reference to the shekinah, the Presence of God in the Temple, and God speaks to them out of a ‘Cloud’ - cf. Exodus 19:9; 2 Chronicles 5:13-14; 6:1-2. Also, the Moses-typology is indicated by the Cloud - Ex 24:16: By ‘listen to him’ - cf. Deuteronomy 18:15, 19; and by Luke 9:31 which speaks of Jesus’ exodos, which connects the scene with His revelation to His disciples of His death, q v.

(b) It was common Jewish belief that the Messianic Age - i.e. the Restoration of Israel - would be presaged by the coming of these two figures in some way (cf. Matthew 11:14). Their manifestation here suggests its arrival.

(c) Inasmuch as we are presented with a ‘coming’ of heaven to earth, and notably of two men whose departure from the earth was unusual, as Elijah was translated and Moses was buried by God, but by this time it was believed he had to ‘assumed’ into heaven, the event looks to the Resurrection Age, where the dwelling of God is with men, where heaven comes to earth - Revelation 21:1-4.

The Messianic Age is synonymous with the Kingdom of God, and the Kingdom of God is synonymous with the Age to Come, the resurrection Age - Luke 20:34-35: 1 Corinthians 15:50. Since the two speak of Jesus’ exodos, the point is that the end of the Exile, the Restoration of Israel, the Kingdom is established through the death of Jesus: the very idea of ‘resurrection’ in itself presupposes death. This event points to the ‘glory’ that will follow the Passion - Luke 24:21, 25-26.

(d) At Caesarea Philippi, Jesus had to rebuke Peter for his aversion to the necessity of the Passion. Here again it is the case in all likelihood that Peter’s actions were motivated by a desire to ‘institutionalise’ the event by constructing ‘booths’ for the three - allowing for a permanent experience of the Glory now revealed. The word skene used in Mark 9:6 reflects Hebrew terms used for the Tabernacle or Temple, which indicates that the function of the latter was realised in Jesus, but also the fact that Peter was suggesting that the experience of permanent glory could be realised without resort and submission to death. Further, it would have been an attempt to pre-empt the Final State, the time of which is withheld from Man - Matthew 24:36; Acts 1:6.

(e) In an action which recalls the Baptism, the Voice from the heavens sounds, directing them to act upon the words of Jesus, identifying Him as the Son of God in terms of Isaiah 42:1 (The Servant) and Deuteronomy 18. This stresses that as Servant, Jesus must suffer first.

Jesus links that incident to His future glory by His self-designation as ‘Son of Man’, Matthew 17:9, who receives divine authority over all nations in association with the Saints of the Most High, Daniel 7:13ff, in the context of the heavenly court, and by saying He will rise from the dead - indicating that His glory will follow His death and be identified with His resurrection.

B. The Islamic view

There appears to be nothing that remotely resembles the narrative of the Transfiguration. Yusuf Ali, commenting on S. 6:85 ‘And Zakariya and John and Jesus and Elias: all in the ranks of the righteous’, does refer to the Biblical account:

The third group consists not of men of action, but Preachers of Truth, who led solitary lives. Their epithet is: ‘the Righteous.’ They form a connected group round Jesus. Zakariya was the father of John the Baptist, the precursor of Jesus (iii. 37-41); and Jesus referred to John the Baptist as Elias, ‘this is Elias, which was to come’ (Matt xi. 14); and Elias is said to have been present and talked to Jesus at the Transfiguration on the Mount (Matt. xvii. 3). Elias is the same as Elijah.

There is very little else about Elijah in the Qur’an, save S. 37:123 -132:

123 So also was Elias among those sent (by us)...

124 Behold he said to his people "Will ye not fear (Allah)?

125 "Will ye call upon Baal and forsake the Best of Creators

126 "Allah your Lord and Cherisher and the Lord and Cherisher of your fathers of old?"

127 But they rejected him and they will certainly be called up (for punishment)

128 Except the sincere and devoted Servants of Allah (among them).

129 And We left (this blessing) for him among generations (to come) in later times

130 "Peace and salutation to such as Elias!"

131 Thus indeed do We reward those who do right.

132 For He was one of Our believing Servants.’

Interestingly, Yusuf Ali once again has to make recourse to the Bible to explain the nature of Elijah’s ministry:

See n. 905 to vi. 85. Elias is the same as Elijah, whose story will be found in the Old Testament in I Kings xvii-xix. and 2 Kings i-ii. Elijah lived in the reign of Ahab (B.C. 896-874) and Ahaziah (B.C. 874-872), kings of the (northern) kingdom of Israel or Samaria. He was a prophet of the desert, like John the Baptist,-unlike our holy Prophet, who took part in, controlled, and guided all the affairs of his people. Both Ahab and Azariah were prone to lapse into the worship of Baal, the sun-god worshipped in Syria. That worship also included the worship of nature-powers and procreative powers, as in the Hindu worship of the Lingam, and led to many abuses. King Ahab had married a princess of Sidon, Jezebel, a wicked woman who led her husband to forsake Allah and adopt Baal-worship. Elijah denounced all Ahab’s sins as well as the sins of Ahaziah and had to flee for his life. Eventually, according to the Old Testament (2 Kings, ii-11) he was taken up in a whirlwind to heaven in a chariot of fire after he had left his mantle with Elisha the prophet. (37.123)

There are probably two major reasons for the absence of the Transfiguration from the Qur’an. Firstly, the particular theology associated with the event in the Bible is incompatible with Islam – the idea that Jesus was going to die, for example. The eschatological emphasis, both in terms of fulfilment of Old Testament hope and presaging of the eternal state also contradict Islam. Another reason is that there is an Islamic equivalent, specifically the Isra and the Miraj – the Night Journey to Jerusalem, and the Ascension to the heavens by Muhammad, where he meets the prophets, and receives revelation about the daily prayers (Mawdudi makes this point in his introduction to the Surah in Yusuf Ali’s translation ‘Incidentally, we learn from Traditions that Mi’raj was the first occasion on which the five daily Prayers were prescribed to be offered at fixed times.’):

S. Al-Isra 17:1

Glory to (Allah) Who did take His Servant for Journey by night from the Sacred Mosque to the Farthest Mosque whose precincts We did Bless in order that We might show him some of Our Signs: for He is the one Who heareth and seeth (all things).

S. 53:13 – ‘For indeed he saw him at a second descent.’

Yusuf Ali explains the significance of the latter verse: ‘The first occasion when Gabriel appeared in a visible form was at the Mountain of Light, when he brought his first revelation beginning with Iqraa:. The second was at the Prophet’s Miraj or Ascension: see Introduction to S. xvii. (53.13)’ The Hadith is more fulsome in its references to the Miraj:

Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith 4.462

Narrated by Ibn Abbas

The Prophet said, "On the night of my Ascent to the Heaven, I saw Moses who was a tall brown curly-haired man as if he was one of the men of Shan’awa tribe, and I saw Jesus, a man of medium height and moderate complexion inclined to the red and white colors and of lank hair. I also saw Malik, the gate-keeper of the (Hell) Fire and Ad-Dajjal amongst the signs which Allah showed me." (The Prophet then recited the Holy Verse): "So be not you in doubt of meeting him when you met Moses during the night of Mi’raj over the heavens." (32.23)

Narrated Anas and Abu Bakra: "The Prophet said, ‘The angels will guard Medina from Ad-Dajjal (who will not be able to enter the city of Medina).’"

Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith 4.648

Narrated by Ibn Umar

The Prophet said, ‘I saw Moses, Jesus and Abraham (on the night of my Ascension to the heavens). Jesus was of red complexion, curly hair and a broad chest. Moses was of brown complexion, straight hair and tall stature as if he was from the people of Az-Zutt.’

Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith 4.640

Narrated by Malik bin Sasaa

That the Prophet talked to them about the night of his Ascension to the Heavens. He said, "(Then Gabriel took me) and ascended up till he reached the second heaven where he asked for the gate to be opened, but it was asked, ‘Who is it?’ Gabriel replied, ‘I am Gabriel.’ It was asked, ‘Who is accompanying you?’ He replied, ‘Muhammad.’ It was asked, ‘Has he been called?’ He said, ‘Yes.’ When we reached over the second heaven, I saw Yahya (i.e. John) and Jesus who were cousins. Gabriel said, ‘These are John (Yahya) and Jesus, so greet them.’ I greeted them and they returned the greeting saying, ‘Welcome, O Pious Brother and Pious Prophet!’" 17


  1. Berkhof, Louis, Systematic Theology, (Banner of Truth Trust, Edinburgh, 1958 edition, 1981 reprint), p. 333.

  2. Berkhof, Systematic Theology, p. 334.

  3. Hodge, A. A., Evangelical Theology: Lectures on Doctrine, (First edition 1890; Banner of Truth Trust edition, 1976, Edinburgh), p. 189.

  4. Murray, John, ‘The Person of Christ’, in Collected Writings, Vol. 2, Systematic Theology, p. 136.

  5. Ibid., p. 135.

  6. Milne, Bruce, Know the Truth, (IVP, Leicester, 1982), p. 139.

  7. Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith 6.71

    Narrated by Said bin Al Musaiyab

    Abu Huraira said, "The Prophet said, ‘No child is born but that, Satan touches it when it is born where upon it starts crying loudly because of being touched by Satan, except Mary and her Son.’ "Abu Huraira then said, "Recite, if you wish: ‘And I seek Refuge with You (Allah) for her and her offspring from Satan, the outcast.’" (3.36)

    Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith 4.641

    Narrated by Said bin Al Musaiyab

    Abu Huraira said, "I heard Allah’s Apostle saying, ‘There is none born among the offspring of Adam, but Satan touches it. A child therefore, cries loudly at the time of birth because of the touch of Satan, except Mary and her child." Then Abu Huraira recited: "And I seek refuge with You for her and for her offspring from the outcast Satan" (3.36)

    Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith 4.506

    Narrated by Abu Huraira

    The Prophet said, ‘When any human being is born, Satan touches him at both sides of the body with his two fingers, except Jesus, the son of Mary, whom Satan tried to touch but failed, for he touched the placenta-cover instead.’

  8. Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith 8.597

    Narrated by Abu Huraira

    ... Allah’s Apostle said, ‘No child is born but has the Islamic Faith, but its parents turn it into a Jew or a Christian.’
  9. Surah Al-i-Imran 3:161

    No prophet could (ever) be false to his trust. If any person is so false He shall on the Day of Judgment restore what he misappropriated; then shall every soul receive its due whatever it earned and none shall be dealt with unjustly.

    The Hadith echoes this assertion:

    Sunan of Abu-Dawood Hadith 3960

    Narrated by Abdullah ibn Abbas

    The verse ‘And no Prophet could (ever) be false to his trust’ was revealed about a red velvet. When it was found missing on the day of Badr, some people said; Perhaps the Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him) has taken it. So Allah, the Exalted, sent down ‘And no prophet could (ever) be false to his trust’ to the end of the verse.

  10. Deedat, Ahmed, The God that never was,

  11. Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith 4.640 [cf. 4:429; 5:227]

    Narrated by Malik bin Sasaa

    That the Prophet talked to them about the night of his Ascension to the Heavens. He said, "(Then Gabriel took me) and ascended up till he reached the second heaven where he asked for the gate to be opened, but it was asked, ‘Who is it?’ Gabriel replied, ‘I am Gabriel.’ It was asked, ‘Who is accompanying you?’ He replied, ‘Muhammad.’ It was asked, ‘Has he been called?’ He said, ‘Yes.’ When we reached over the second heaven, I saw Yahya (i.e. John) and Jesus who were cousins. Gabriel said, ‘These are John (Yahya) and Jesus, so greet them.’ I greeted them and they returned the greeting saying, ‘Welcome, O Pious Brother and Pious Prophet!’"

  12. Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith 6.236

    Narrated by Abu Huraira

    Some (cooked) meat was brought to Allah’s Apostle and the meat of a forearm was presented to him as he used to like it. He ate a morsel of it and said, "I will be the chief of all the people on the Day of Resurrection. Do you know the reason for it? Allah will gather all the human beings of early generations as well as late generations on one plain so that the announcer will be able to make them all hear his voice and the watcher will be able to see all of them. The sun will come so close to the people that they will suffer such distress and trouble as they will not be able to bear or stand. Then the people will say, ‘Don’t you see to what state you have reached? Won’t you look for someone who can intercede for you with your Lord?’ Some people will say to some others, ‘Go to Adam.’ So they will go to Adam and say to him, ‘You are the father of mankind; Allah created you with His Own Hand, and breathed into you of His Spirit (meaning the spirit which he created for you); and ordered the angels to prostrate before you; so (please) intercede for us with your Lord. Don’t you see in what state we are? Don’t you see what condition we have reached?’ Adam will say, ‘Today my Lord has become angry as He has never become before, nor will ever become thereafter. He forbade me (to eat of the fruit of) the tree, but I disobeyed Him. Myself! Myself! Myself! (has more need for intercession). Go to someone else; go to Noah.’ So they will go to Noah and say (to him), ‘O Noah! You are the first (of Allah’s Messengers) to the people of the earth, and Allah has named you a thankful slave; please intercede for us with your Lord. Don’t you see in what state we are?’ He will say, ‘Today my Lord has become angry as He has never become nor will ever become thereafter. I had (in the world) the right to make one definitely accepted invocation, and I made it against my nation. Myself! Myself! Myself! Go to someone else; go to Abraham.’ They will go to Abraham and say, ‘O Abraham! You are Allah’s Apostle and His Khalil from among the people of the earth; so please intercede for us with your Lord. Don’t you see in what state we are?’ He will say to them, ‘My Lord has today become angry as He has never become before, nor will ever become thereafter. I had told three lies (Abu Haiyan (the sub-narrator) mentioned them in the Hadith. Myself! Myself! Myself! Go to someone else; go to Moses.’ The people will then go to Moses and say, ‘O Moses! You art Allah’s Apostle and Allah gave you superiority above the others with this message and with His direct Talk to you; (please) intercede for us with your Lord! Don’t you see in what state we are?’ Moses will say, ‘My Lord has today become angry as He has never become before, nor will become thereafter, I killed a person whom I had not been ordered to kill. Myself! Myself! Myself! Go to someone else; go to Jesus.’ So they will go to Jesus and say, ‘O Jesus! You are Allah’s Apostle and His Word which He sent to Mary, and a superior soul created by Him, and you talked to the people while still young in the cradle. Please intercede for us with your Lord. Don’t you see in what state we are?’ Jesus will say, ‘My Lord has today become angry as He has never become before nor will ever become thereafter. Jesus will not mention any sin, but will say, ‘Myself! Myself! Myself! Go to someone else; go to Muhammad.’ So they will come to me and say, ‘O Muhammad ! You are Allah’s Apostle and the last of the prophets, and Allah forgave your early and late sins. (Please) intercede for us with your Lord. Don’t you see in what state we are?’" The Prophet added, "Then I will go beneath Allah’s Throne and fall in prostration before my Lord. And then Allah will guide me to such praises and glorification to Him as He has never guided anybody else before me. Then it will be said, ‘O Muhammad! Raise your head. Ask, and it will be granted. Intercede! It (your intercession) will be accepted.’ So I will raise my head and say, ‘My followers, O my Lord! My followers, O my Lord’. It will be said, ‘O Muhammad! Let those of your followers who have no accounts, enter through such a gate of the gates of Paradise as lies on the right; and they will share the other gates with the people.’" The Prophet further said, "By Him in Whose Hand my soul is, the distance between every two gate-posts of Paradise is like the distance between Mecca and Busra (in Sham)."

  13. Abdalati, Hammudah, Islam in Focus, (American Trust Publications, 1975), p. 156.

  14. Ashour, Mustafa, The Jinn in the Qur’an and the Sunna, (Dar Al Taqwa, London, 1989), p. 33.

  15. Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith 4.657

    Narrated by Abu Huraira

    Allah’s Apostle said, "By Him in Whose Hands my soul is, surely (Jesus,) the son of Mary will soon descend amongst you and will judge mankind justly (as a Just Ruler); he will break the Cross and kill the pigs and there will be no Jizya (i.e. taxation taken from non-Muslims). Money will be in abundance so that nobody will accept it, and a single prostration to Allah (in prayer) will be better than the whole world and whatever is in it." Abu Huraira added "If you wish, you can recite (this verse of the Holy Book): ‘And there is none Of the people of the Scriptures (Jews and Christians) But must believe in him (i.e. Jesus as an Apostle of Allah and a human being) Before his death. And on the Day of Judgment He will be a witness against them." (4.159)

  16. Badawi, Jamal, Jesus (peace be upon him) in the Qur’an and the Bible, 2000.

  17. Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith 1.345

    Narrated by Abu Dhar

    Allah’s Apostle said, "While I was at Mecca the roof of my house was opened and Gabriel descended, opened my chest, and washed it with Zamzam water. Then he brought a golden tray full of wisdom and faith and having poured its contents into my chest, he closed it. Then he took my hand and ascended with me to the nearest heaven, when I reached the nearest heaven, Gabriel said to the gatekeeper of the heaven, ‘Open (the gate).’ The gatekeeper asked, ‘Who is it?’ Gabriel answered: ‘Gabriel.’ He asked, ‘Is there anyone with you?’ Gabriel replied, ‘Yes, Muhammad is with me.’ He asked, ‘Has he been called?’ Gabriel said, ‘Yes.’ So the gate was opened and we went over the nearest heaven and there we saw a man sitting with some people on his right and some on his left. When he looked towards his right, he laughed and when he looked toward his left he wept. Then he said, ‘Welcome! O pious Prophet and pious son.’ I asked Gabriel, ‘Who is he?’ He replied, ‘He is Adam and the people on his right and left are the souls of his offspring. Those on his right are the people of Paradise and those on his left are the people of Hell and when he looks towards his right he laughs and when he looks towards his left he weeps.’

    Then he ascended with me till he reached the second heaven and he (Gabriel) said to its gatekeeper, ‘Open (the gate).’ The gatekeeper said to him the same as the gatekeeper of the first heaven had said and he opened the gate. Anas said: "Abu Dhar added that the Prophet met Adam, Idris, Moses, Jesus and Abraham, he (Abu Dhar) did not mention on which heaven they were but he mentioned that he (the Prophet) met Adam on the nearest heaven and Abraham on the sixth heaven. Anas said, "When Gabriel along with the Prophet passed by Idris, the latter said, ‘Welcome! O pious Prophet and pious brother.’ The Prophet asked, ‘Who is he?’ Gabriel replied, ‘He is Idris.’ The Prophet added, ‘I passed by Moses and he said, "Welcome! O pious Prophet and pious brother.’"I asked Gabriel, "Who is he?"Gabriel replied, "He is Moses." Then I passed by Jesus and he said, "Welcome! O pious brother and pious Prophet."I asked, "Who is he?" Gabriel replied, "He is Jesus."

    Then I passed by Abraham and he said, "Welcome! O pious Prophet and pious son."I asked Gabriel, "Who is he?"Gabriel replied, "He is Abraham." The Prophet added, "Then Gabriel ascended with me to a place where I heard the creaking of the pens." Ibn Hazm and Anas bin Malik said: The Prophet said, "Then Allah enjoined fifty prayers on my followers. When I returned with this order of Allah, I passed by Moses who asked me, ‘What has Allah enjoined on your followers?’ I replied, ‘He has enjoined fifty prayers on them.’ Moses said, ‘Go back to your Lord (and appeal for reduction) for your followers will not be able to bear it.’ (So I went back to Allah and requested for reduction) and He reduced it to half. When I passed by Moses again and informed him about it, he said, ‘Go back to your Lord as your followers will not be able to bear it.’ So I returned to Allah and requested for further reduction and half of it was reduced. I again passed by Moses and he said to me: ‘Return to your Lord, for your followers will not be able to bear it. So I returned to Allah and He said, ‘These are five prayers and they are all (equal to) fifty (in reward) for My Word does not change.’ I returned to Moses and he told me to go back once again. I replied, ‘Now I feel shy of asking my Lord again.’ Then Gabriel took me till we reached Sidrat-il-Muntaha (Lote tree of the utmost boundary) which was shrouded in colours, indescribable. Then I was admitted into Paradise where I found small (tents or) walls (made) of pearls and its earth was of musk."

    Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith 5.227

    Narrated by Abbas bin Malik

    Malik bin Sasaa said that Allah’s Apostle described to them his Night Journey saying, "While I was lying in Al-Hatim or Al-Hijr, suddenly someone came to me and cut my body open from here to here." I asked Al-Jarud who was by my side, "What does he mean?" He said, "It means from his throat to his pubic area," or said, "From the top of the chest." The Prophet further said, "He then took out my heart. Then a gold tray of Belief was brought to me and my heart was washed and was filled (with Belief) and then returned to its original place. Then a white animal which was smaller than a mule and bigger than a donkey was brought to me." (On this Al-Jarud asked, "Was it the Buraq, O Abu Hamza?" I (i.e. Anas) replied in the affirmative). The Prophet said, "The animal’s step (was so wide that it) reached the farthest point within the reach of the animal’s sight. I was carried on it, and Gabriel set out with me till we reached the nearest heaven.

    When he asked for the gate to be opened, it was asked, ‘Who is it?’ Gabriel answered, ‘Gabriel.’ It was asked, ‘Who is accompanying you?’ Gabriel replied, ‘Muhammad.’ It was asked, ‘Has Muhammad been called?’ Gabriel replied in the affirmative. Then it was said, ‘He is welcomed. What an excellent visit his is!’ The gate was opened, and when I went over the first heaven, I saw Adam there. Gabriel said (to me). ‘This is your father, Adam; pay him your greetings.’ So I greeted him and he returned the greeting to me and said, ‘You are welcomed, O pious son and pious Prophet.’ Then Gabriel ascended with me till we reached the second heaven. Gabriel asked for the gate to be opened. It was asked, ‘Who is it?’ Gabriel answered, ‘Gabriel.’ It was asked, ‘Who is accompanying you?’ Gabriel replied, ‘Muhammad.’ It was asked, ‘Has he been called?’ Gabriel answered in the affirmative. Then it was said, ‘He is welcomed. What an excellent visit his is!’ The gate was opened.

    When I went over the second heaven, there I saw Yahya (i.e. John) and ’Isa (i.e. Jesus) who were cousins of each other. Gabriel said (to me), ‘These are John and Jesus; pay them your greetings.’ So I greeted them and both of them returned my greetings to me and said, ‘You are welcomed, O pious brother and pious Prophet.’ Then Gabriel ascended with me to the third heaven and asked for its gate to be opened. It was asked, ‘Who is it?’ Gabriel replied, ‘Gabriel.’ It was asked, ‘Who is accompanying you?’ Gabriel replied, ‘Muhammad.’ It was asked, ‘Has he been called?’ Gabriel replied in the affirmative. Then it was said, ‘He is welcomed, what an excellent visit his is!’ The gate was opened, and when I went over the third heaven there I saw Joseph. Gabriel said (to me), ‘This is Joseph; pay him your greetings.’ So I greeted him and he returned the greeting to me and said, ‘You are welcomed, O pious brother and pious Prophet.’ Then Gabriel ascended with me to the fourth heaven and asked for its gate to be opened. It was asked, ‘Who is it?’ Gabriel replied, ‘Gabriel.’ It was asked, ‘Who is accompanying you?’ Gabriel replied, ‘Muhammad.’ It was asked, ‘Has he been called?’ Gabriel replied in the affirmative. Then it was said, ‘He is welcomed, what an excellent visit his is!’

    The gate was opened, and when I went over the fourth heaven, there I saw Idris. Gabriel said (to me), ‘This is Idris; pay him your greetings.’ So I greeted him and he returned the greeting to me and said, ‘You are welcomed, O pious brother and pious Prophet.’ Then Gabriel ascended with me to the fifth heaven and asked for its gate to be opened. It was asked, ‘Who is it?’ Gabriel replied, ‘Gabriel.’ It was asked. ‘Who is accompanying you?’ Gabriel replied, ‘Muhammad.’ It was asked, ‘Has he been called?’ Gabriel replied in the affirmative. Then it was said, ‘He is welcomed, what an excellent visit his is!’ So when I went over the fifth heaven, there I saw Harun (i.e. Aaron), Gabriel said, (to me). This is Aaron; pay him your greetings.’ I greeted him and he returned the greeting to me and said, ‘You are welcomed, O pious brother and pious Prophet.’ Then Gabriel ascended with me to the sixth heaven and asked for its gate to be opened. It was asked,’Who is it?’ Gabriel replied, ‘Gabriel.’ It was asked, ‘Who is accompanying you?’ Gabriel replied, ‘Muhammad.’ It was asked, ‘Has he been called?’ Gabriel replied in the affirmative. It was said, ‘He is welcomed. What an excellent visit his is!’

    When I went (over the sixth heaven), there I saw Moses. Gabriel said (to me),’ This is Moses; pay him your greeting. So I greeted him and he returned the greetings to me and said, ‘You are welcomed, O pious brother and pious Prophet.’ When I left him (i.e. Moses) he wept. Someone asked him, ‘What makes you weep?’ Moses said, ‘I weep beCause after me there has been sent (as Prophet) a young man whose followers will enter Paradise in greater numbers than my followers.’ Then Gabriel ascended with me to the seventh heaven and asked for its gate to be opened. It was asked, ‘Who is it?’ Gabriel replied, ‘Gabriel.’ It was asked,’ Who is accompanying you?’ Gabriel replied, ‘Muhammad.’ It was asked, ‘Has he been called?’ Gabriel replied in the affirmative. Then it was said, ‘He is welcomed. What an excellent visit his is!’

    So when I went (over the seventh heaven), there I saw Abraham. Gabriel said (to me), ‘This is your father; pay your greetings to him.’ So I greeted him and he returned the greetings to me and said, ‘You are welcomed, O pious son and pious Prophet.’ Then I was made to ascend to Sidrat-ul-Muntaha (i.e. the Lote Tree of the utmost boundary) Behold! Its fruits were like the jars of Hajr (i.e. a place near Medina) and its leaves were as big as the ears of elephants. Gabriel said, ‘This is the Lote Tree of the utmost boundary.’ Behold! There ran four rivers; two were hidden and two were visible. I asked, ‘What are these two kinds of rivers, O Gabriel?’ He replied, ‘As for the hidden rivers, they are two rivers in Paradise and the visible rivers are the Nile and the Euphrates.’

    Then Al-Bait-ul-Ma’mur (i.e. the Sacred House) was shown to me and a container full of wine and another full of milk and a third full of honey were brought to me. I took the milk. Gabriel remarked, ‘This is the Islamic religion which you and your followers are following.’ Then the prayers were enjoined on me: They were fifty prayers a day. When I returned, I passed by Moses who asked (me), ‘What have you been ordered to do?’ I replied, ‘I have been ordered to offer fifty prayers a day.’ Moses said, ‘Your followers cannot bear fifty prayers a day, and by Allah, I have tested people before you, and I have tried my level best with Bani Israel (in vain). Go back to your Lord and ask for reduction to lessen your followers’ burden.’ So I went back, and Allah reduced ten prayers for me. Then again I came to Moses, but he repeated the same as he had said before. Then again I went back to Allah and He reduced ten more prayers. When I came back to Moses he said the same, I went back to Allah and He ordered me to observe ten prayers a day. When I came back to Moses, he repeated the same advice, so I went back to Allah and was ordered to observe five prayers a day.

    When I came back to Moses, he said, ‘What have you been ordered?’ I replied, ‘I have been ordered to observe five prayers a day.’ He said, ‘Your followers cannot bear five prayers a day, and no doubt, I have got an experience of the people before you, and I have tried my level best with Bani Israel, so go back to your Lord and ask for reduction to lessen your follower’s burden.’ I said, ‘I have requested so much of my Lord that I feel ashamed, but I am satisfied now and surrender to Allah’s Order.’ When I left, I heard a voice saying, ‘I have passed My Order and have lessened the burden of My Worshippers."

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