The Qur’anic View of Jesus Christ


Southern Evangelical Seminary

Tricia Scribner 2009

            Historically orthodox Christianity has viewed Jesus Christ as God in the flesh (John 1:14). Conversely, Islam has historically viewed Jesus as merely a human, albeit unique, prophet of Allah. While the chasm between the two views cannot be bridged, understanding the Qur’anic view of Christ can help us as Christians to understand the context of the Muslim mindset and bring clarity to dialogue between Muslims and Christians.

            This paper examines the Islamic view of Christ as portrayed in Muhammad’s writings, the Qur’an, the sacred book of Islam. The Qur’anic portrayal of Jesus as a human prophet will first be discussed, followed by an examination of Jesus’ ministry and mission as presented in the Qur’an. Qur’anic descriptions of Christ’s virgin birth will follow, with an exploration of issues surrounding his crucifixion and anticipated future return completing the discussion.

                                                                        Human Prophet

Norman Geisler and Abdul Saleem, authors of Answering Islam note that the Qur’an describes Jesus as a significant and unique prophet, mentioning him in ninety-three verses within fifteen suras, for a total of ninety-seven mentions. The import of this fact, however, should be weighed against the fact that most mentions are brief or consist merely of his name being listed.[1]  Further, Michael G. Fonner of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and a doctoral candidate at Harvard Divinity School at the time of this writing, makes the astute observation that the Qur’an does not seek to reconstruct the “historical Jesus,” rather it recounts episodes about him “in order to inspire piety.”[2]

In the Qur’an, Muhammad clearly portrays Jesus as a human prophet—one among many—sura 5:46 asserting that Christ was sent as one “in the train (of the prophets),”[3] and in sura 5:75 describing him as an apostle: “The Christ, son of Mary, was but an apostle, and many apostles had (come and) gone before him.” In fact, Jesus is only one of twenty-eight prophets mentioned in the Qur’an, six of which are given special titles: “Adam the Chosen of God,” “Noah the Prophet of God,” “Abraham the Friend of God,” “Moses the Converser with God,” “Jesus the Spirit of God,” and “Muhammad the Apostle of God.”[4] According to Roelf S. Kuitse, Professor of Missions and World Religions at Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminaries in Elkhart, Indiana, in 1992, both Abraham and Moses receive more attention in terms of the amount of content devoted to them in the Qur’an.[5]

The Qur’an does describe Jesus in glowing terms of great import in Christian thinking, employing such descriptive titles as “Messiah, Word of God, Spirit of God, Speech of Truth, and Sign unto men,” to name a few.[6] Geoffrey Parrinder, author of Jesus in the Qur’an warns, however, that Christians must be careful not to read into these titles any implication of divine identity since the terms do not hold such significance in Muslim theology. The title “Messiah,” for instance, in the Qur’an is not intended to evoke the idea of the prophesied Messiah-God Who would come (Isaiah 9:6) and with Whom Jesus identified Himself in conversation with the Samaritan woman (John 4). Rather, in Muslim thought the title conveys the sense of being “anointed with honor.”[7]

The first rejection of Christ’s deity occurs in Sura 5:17:[8] “Verily they are unbelievers who say: ‘The Messiah, son of Mary, is God.’ You ask them: ‘Who could prevail against God if He had chosen to destroy the Messiah, son of Mary, and his mother, and the rest of mankind?’”

In this passage, those who believe that Jesus is God are called “unbelievers.” Later, in sura 5:72 the wording is even stronger: “They are surely infidels who say: ‘God is the Christ, son of Mary.’” Finally, Sura 43:59 states, “(Jesus) was only a creature whom We favored and made an example for the children of Israel.”

Not only is Jesus a mere human according to the Qur’an, but the text also asserts that Jesus did not view himself as God, stating that Christ urged the worship of only the One True God: “But the Christ had only said: ‘O children of Israel, worship God who is my Lord and your Lord.’ (5:72b).” In sura 5:116-17, Jesus Christ acknowledges he is but a human in his humble response to Allah’s question:

“O Jesus, son of Mary, did you say to mankind: ‘Worship me and my mother as two deities apart from God?’ (Jesus) will answer: ‘Halleluja. Could I say what I knew I had no    right (to say)? Had I said it You would surely have known, for You know what is in my        heart though I know not what You have. You alone know the secrets unknown. I said         nought to them but what You commanded me: Worship God, my Lord and your Lord.’”

Jesus is also likened unto Adam, and in fact, the connection is clearly intentional with a goal of accentuating Jesus’ humanity. In fact, a parallel is drawn in sura 3:59 between the creation of Adam and Jesus’ birth. “The similitude of Jesus before Allah is like that of Adam. He created him from dust, then said to him, ‘Be’ and he was.” Both Adam and Jesus are created from dust and both are “born through the creative Word of God.”[9] In fact, many Muslims assert that Adam’s creation was the greater miracle since Adam did not have parents at all.[10]

What are the theological underpinnings of these assertions? First, in Muslim thinking the doctrine of one God prohibits the orthodox Christian tenet of the Trinity, thus negating any possibility that the Person of Jesus Christ could be one of the Triune Godhead. Sura 5:73 says, “Disbelievers are they surely who say: ‘God is the third of the trinity;’ but there is no god other than God the one. And if they do not desist from saying what they say, then indeed those among them who persist in disbelief will suffer painful punishment.”

Second, the doctrine of grace is completely absent in Islamic theology in favor of the doctrine of works.[11] Thus, there exists no need for Christ’s substitutionary and propitiatory role, since only repentance and obedience engenders God’s grace and forgiveness. Moreover, since the Qur’an has no theology of original sin,[12] there is no need for redemption or a redeemer. J. Dudley Woodberry, Dean of the School of World Mission and Associate Professor of Islamic Studies at Fuller Theological Seminary, points out, “The Qur’an portrays the human predicament as primarily ignorance rather than evil,” necessitating, at least in the Muslim view, guidance, rather than salvation.[13]

Third, the Qur’an’s negative view of the Incarnation doctrine reflects a conviction that the Christian scriptures on which the doctrine is based are corrupted.[14] Muhammed, in fact, according to sura 5:12-16, was sent to the Jews as well as to the Christians to reveal the hidden truth of their own Scriptures that they had distorted through repeated translations over time, one distortion being that Jesus was God. “O people of the Book, Our Apostle has come to you, announcing many things of the Scriptures that you have suppressed, passing over some others. To you has come light and a clear Book from God” (5:15).

Fourth, since God blesses only those whom He loves, specifically, those who have obeyed Him, the Jewish people’s loss of their homeland due to disobedience proves that God has removed His favor from them and turned His smile elsewhere. Thus, the evidence that Christians cite to support Jesus Christ’s fulfillment of prophecy about the coming of Messiah is of no consequence in Islamic theology.[15]                                              

                                                            The Prophet Jesus’ Mission

The Qur’an allots relatively little space to Christ’s mission. “Of the actual content of Jesus’ life and message we are given little information in the Qur’an.”[16] Moreover, the Islamic view of Jesus Christ’s ministry and mission conveys a much more narrow scope than that of Muhammed’s mission and ministry. As Geisler notes, “Many Muslims believe that Jesus’ ministry was limited to the nation of Israel, and his revelation was basically one of confirmation and revision of the Mosaic covenant.”[17] Sura 3:49 confirms his role to Israel, stating, “And he will be Apostle to the children of Israel.”

Sura 5:46 clarifies that Jesus’ ministry included affirming the Torah: “We sent Jesus, son of Mary, confirming the Torah which had been (Sent down) before him.” Jesus was also given the Gospel “which corroborated the earlier Torah, a guidance and warning for those who preserve themselves from evil and follow the straight path” (5:46). Thus, Jesus is portrayed not only as following the Mosaic Torah but also as receiving a new book called the Injil or Evangel, which Christians know as the Gospel. “Moses had brought the Torah for the Jews, but Jesus brought the Gospel and the Evidence, his teaching and the miracles and grace of his life.”[18] Thus, “the revelation of God is said to be continuous, from Law to Gospel to Qur’an.”[19]

In addition to affirming the Torah and bringing the light of the Gospel, Jesus’ ministry also included serving as forerunner to the coming prophet Muhammed, reminiscent of John the Baptist’s role as forerunner of Christ. Jesus came to point people “to the future, to the coming of a new prophet, whose name is Ahmad.”[20] In the Muslim view, then, Jesus performed a linking role between the teachings of the Torah through Moses and the teachings to come in the future through Muhammed.

According to Kuitse, Jesus fully understood and embraced this role of preparing the way for Muhammed,[21] as revealed in his comment in sura 61:6: “O children of Israel, I am sent to you by God to confirm the Torah (sent) before me, and to give you good tidings of an apostle who will come after me, whose name is Ahmad (the praised one).”

While messengers came and went, the message remained the same: “It is the message about the one supreme, transcendent God, whose power and goodness require obedience and gratitude.”[22] Christ was given the Gospel by God as guidance for his people, and to remind people to worship one God.[23]

The “evidences” attributed to Christ’s ministry also include the miracles that surrounded his life and that He performed. Unlike western religious scholars who debate endlessly about the veracity of Jesus’ miracles and the historicity of the biblical record regarding them, most Muslim religious scholars readily accept the possibility of miracles, as well as the Qur’anic record of Jesus’ miraculous ministry. In their way of thinking miracles are an expected manifestation of God’s omnipotence. Kate Zebiri of the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London goes so far as to assert, “In fact, there can be little doubt that a higher proportion of Muslims than Christians believe in the virgin birth.”[24]

The Quran presents only two persons as performing miracles: Moses and Jesus.[25] Though there exists some differences of opinion among Muslim scholars regarding the exact number of Jesus’ miracles recorded in the Qur’an, most agree that Jesus breathed life into (a) clay bird(s), healed the blind and leprous, and raised the dead.[26] Further, most also believe that Jesus spoke as an infant from the cradle and possessed “the ability to foretell things not immediately visible.”[27]

The difficulty in determining the exact number of Jesus’ miracles recorded in the Qur’an may stem from variations in translation texts. For example, in one of the most significant passages dealing with Jesus’ miracles, sura 5:110, Ahmed Ali’s translation (used throughout except where noted) renders the passage about breathing life into a clay bird figuratively:

And when God will say: “O Jesus, son of Mary, remember the favours I bestowed on you and your mother, and reinforced you with divine grace that you spoke to men when in the cradle, and when in the prime of life; when I taught you the law and the judgement [sic] and the Torah and the Gospel; when you formed the state of your people’s destiny out of mire and you breathed (a new spirit) into it, and they rose by My leave; when you healed the blind by My leave, and the leper; when you put life into the dead by My will; and when I held back the children of Israel from you when you brought to them My signs, and the disbelievers among them said: “Surely these are nothing but pure magic.” (sura 5:110). [italics mine]

In contrast, Yusuf Ali’s translation[28] renders sura 5:110 as follows:

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. Behold! I taught thee the Book and Wisdom, the        Law and the Gospel and behold! thou makest out of clay, as it were, the figure of a bird,   by My leave, and thou breathest into it and it becometh a bird by My leave, and thou      healest those born blind, and the lepers, by My leave. And behold! thou bringest forth     the dead by My leave. And behold! I did restrain the Children of Israel from (violence to)  thee when thou didst show them the clear Signs, and the unbelievers among them said:      ‘This is nothing but evident magic.’” [italics mine]

In the preceding quotations, Ahmed Ali’s translation makes clear that Jesus spoke as an infant from the cradle, while Yusuf Ali’s simply says He spoke “in childhood.” Next, in contrast to Ahmed Ali’s translation that says Jesus breathed life into his people’s destiny, Yusuf Ali’s description clearly says Jesus made a bird from clay and breathed life into it. Both translations agree that Jesus healed the blind and leprous, and raised the dead.

A companion account of Jesus’ miracles occurs in sura 3:49. Ahmed Ali’s translation of this passage presents Jesus as saying, “I have come to you with a prodigy from your Lord that I will fashion the state of destiny out of mire for you, and breathe (a new spirit) into it, and (you) will rise by the will of God. I will heal the blind and the leper, and infuse life into the dead, by the leave of God. I will tell you what you devour and what you hoard in your homes.”

Yusuf Ali’s translation of the same passage more clearly reveals the miracle of making and breathing life into a clay bird. “I have come to you, with a Sign from your Lord, in that I make for you out of clay, as it were, the figure of a bird, and breathe into it, and it becomes a bird by Allah’s leave: And I heal those born blind, and the lepers, and I quicken the dead, by Allah’s leave; and I declare to you what ye eat, and what ye store in your houses.”[29]

The purpose of Jesus’ miracles as recorded in the Qur’an, rather than serving as authenticating signs of Jesus’ deity as Christians believe, served only to authenticate His role as a messenger of God and in no way affirm His diety. Zebiri points out that “a prominent element in the Qur’anic accounts is the repeated mention of God’s permission,” which can be noted in the preceding quotation of sura 5:110 in which Allah is said to teach, protect, and show favor to Jesus, enabling him to do Allah’s will. This view stands in stark contrast to the biblical accounts of Jesus’ miracles, in which “he seems to do them in his own authority” and “the healing power seems somehow to have inhered in Jesus,” without his having to consciously summon it from God.[30]

Problematic for Christian thinkers is the fact that Muhammed did not perform miracles to authenticate his message or to verify his divine mission. As Zebiri points out, “There is no consensus on Muhammad having performed any [miracles].”[31] The Qur’an does not clearly attribute even one miracle to Muhammed, although Geisler and Saleeb observe that several suras are reportedly cited as referring to Muhammed’s miracles or miracles surrounding his life: sura 54:1-2, which speaks of the moon being split; sura 17:1, which some have said speaks of Muhammed’s trip to heaven; and suras 3:123 and 8:17, which describe Muhammed’s victory at Badr. But as Geisler and Saleeb note, “Many Muslim apologists claim that his only miracles were the suras of the Qur’an. Indeed, in the Qur’an Muhammad himself never offered any other proof, even when challenged by unbelievers to do so (3:181-184).”[32]

Zebiri proposes several possible reasons for the absence of miracles in Muhammed’s life, according to the Qur’anic record. First, Allah “declines to effect such miracles through Muhammad,” perhaps because the receivers of the miracle still would not believe. Second, Allah may not will that Muhammed performs miracles to emphasize that Muhammad was merely a human. Third, people should not need miracles because the Qur’an is “sufficient for them.”[33]Despite the lack of miracles in Muhammed’s ministry, he is still viewed by Muslims as the final prophet, whose ministry scope included bringing God’s message not only to Israel but also to Christians, and to humankind, in general.[34] Whereas Christians view Jesus as the end all of prophecy as God in the flesh, to Muslims “Muhammad was called the last and Seal . . . , the end of prophecy.[35] “Muhammad is the final and chronologically the last confirmer of the truth revealed earlier to other prophets mentioned in the Qur’an.”[36] Jesus is demoted to the level of “a creature whom We favoured and made an example for the children of Israel,” (43:59), both missiologically and chronologically inferior to Muhammad.

Jesus’ Virgin Birth

Though Christians and Muslims do hold in common the doctrine of Jesus Christ’s virgin birth, the Muslim context and purpose for the virgin birth is quite different than that of the Christian view. One Muslim commentator expresses the Muslim perspective that instead of the virgin birth connoting Christ’s full deity as well as humanity, it simply bears witness to God’s great power. Since God “can create from nothing, we can’t doubt that G-d can bring forth life from . . . an untouched and virgin womb.”[37]

Also, in contrast to the Christian theological meaning of the virgin birth, historically the Muslim view of the virgin birth proceeded from a concrete worldview that anthropomorphized God in a way evocative of the idea that Christ was the product of a physical union between God and Mary.[38] This concrete view may have been contributed to the Muslim rejection of the idea of God “begetting” a son since “it is not befitting to (the Majesty of Allah) that He should beget a son.”[39] Thus, “the idea of biological begetting of Jesus involving God and a woman was not only considered illogical because the eternal could not be born in time but also blasphemous as begetting presupposes sexual intercourse.”[40]

Jesus’ birth is recounted in suras 3:35-64 and 19:1-40, beginning with his mother Mary’s own unusual birth circumstances and with a focus on her exquisite purity. The similarity between the gospel accounts of Christ’s conception and birth and the Qur’anic account is unmistakable. In sura 3:47, when her pregnancy is announced Mary questions, “O my Lord, how shall I have a son when no man has touched me?” Unlike the gospel accounts, however, in which Jesus’ conception is attributed to the power of the Holy Spirit, in the Qur’an Allah’s creative power is lauded in His response to Mary’s incredulity: “That is how God creates what He wills. When He decrees a thing, He says ‘Be’, and it is.”

In sura 19:1-40 Mary is questioned about the Christ child. In response, Mary points to infant Jesus in the cradle and He speaks, “I am indeed a servant of Allah. He has given me revelation and made me a prophet.” In sura 5:110 also mentions Jesus’ speaking from the cradle by God’s power. “O Jesus, son of Mary, remember the favours I bestowed on you and your mother, and reinforced you with divine grace that you spoke to men when in the cradle.”

Jesus’ Death

The most controversial and divisive aspect of the Islamic view of Christ is the denial of his crucifixion. Only sura 4:155-158 comments on the crucifixion of Christ. It states that Jesus did not die upon the cross; it only appeared that he died to the deluded Jews: “‘We killed the Christ, Jesus, son of Mary, who was an apostle of God;’ but they neither killed nor crucified him, though it so appeared to them. . . . They have no knowledge about it other than conjecture, for surely they did not kill him. But God raised him up (in position) and closer to Himself; and God is all-mighty and all-wise.”

Muslims find the idea that God would subject His servant to the humiliation of the cross to be blasphemous.[41] As Fonner notes, to the Muslim “God’s honor is premised on His taking care of His messengers and on the defeat of His opponents.”[42] Since God is merciful, He would not allow His servant to “be subjected to unreasonable suffering and certainly not death.[43] Further, if Christ were God, all the more reason that He could not die since God cannot die.[44]

Several possibilities have been proposed among Muslims as to what exactly happened during the crucifixion experience. The first and most common view according to Woodberry is that “a substitute that was made to look like Jesus was crucified in his place.”[45] Some believe “that a passing Jew, one of the Roman soldiers, Judas, Simon of Cyrene or even one of the disciples, usually Peter, had his features transformed by God.”[46] One scenario involves “Jesus hiding in a niche in the wall and one of his companions being killed in his place.[47]

The second view is that Jesus died but not in his own real body, or “in his body and not is soul.”[48] This view dovetails neatly with the docetic belief that Jesus did not possess a real, human body. His suffering then was not real since it occurred in a “false body.”[49]

The third view is that Jesus did indeed die upon the cross, but not at the hands of the Jews. Rather, Allah caused him to die and raised him up to himself.[50] Allah’s wielding the power of death thus stripped the Jews of the power they thought they held over Jesus’ life.[51]

The scenarios that leave Jesus alive after the crucifixion still raise a question about what happened to him subsequent to the crucifixion episode. Unfortunately, the phrase in sura 4:155-157, “God raised him up” stands alone without further clarification. The result has been diverse and sometimes contradictory suggestions among Islamic scholars about what happened to Jesus.

Woodberry says “most Muslims interpret sura 4:157-59 as meaning Jesus was taken to heaven without a crucifixion, [and] they expect him to come again and die before the final Resurrection Day.”[52] Kuitse agrees that most Muslims believe that Jesus was never crucified. Rather, “Jesus was rescued by an intervening act of God . . . [and] was taken into heaven, from where he will return to the earth complete his work as a messenger of God, shortly before the day of judgment. After he has completed his work, he will die a natural death.”[53]

In contrast to the preceding views that Jesus was not hanged on the cross at all, one contemporary Muslim view (specifically among the Ahmadiyyas of Pakistan) suggests that Jesus was crucified, but he did not die on the cross. Instead, he swooned and was later revived.[54] Consistent with this theory is that Jesus later died a natural death at a ripe old age.[55] In fact, the Ahmadiyyas actually identify his grave location as being in India.[56]

It is noteworthy that the Qur’an itself makes no assertion or implicit suggestion that an imposter was crucified or that “Jesus suffered in a false body.”[57] Instead, sura 19:33 clearly points toward Jesus dying at some point: “There was peace on me the day I was born, and will be the day I die, and on the day I will be raised from the dead.”

Interestingly, although Allah’s claim to omnipotence is purportedly impugned by allowing his prophet to suffer a horrendous death at the hands of enemies, the Qur’an openly states that other prophets had died, some even being slain by disbelievers: “So they were disgraced and became indigent, earning the anger of God, for they disbelieved the word of God, and slayed the prophets unjustly, for they transgressed and rebelled.” (2:61)

               Jesus’ Return

On a missions trip to Dakar, Senegal in 2000, I was surprised to hear a missionary’s explanation of a mural painted on an open wall near the ocean. The mural portrayed the return of Jesus, specifically from a location over the ocean that was visible from the shoreline where the mural stood. I was stunned to learn that Muslims anticipated the visible “second coming” of Jesus Christ to earth. Woodberry notes that though the Qur’an is not clear about Jesus’ returning, many Muslims interpret two verses to refer to His coming: suras 43:61 and 4:159.[58]

First, sura 43:61, following a reference to Jesus in verse 59, says, “He is certainly the sign of the Hour (of change).” Then, after saying that the Jews did not kill Jesus, 4:159 says, “He will be a witness over them [the People of the Book] on the Day of Resurrection.” The identity of “he,” however, is not clear due to ambiguous wording of the rest of the verse. In the view of Muslim scholars who believe that the Qur’an’s message of God raising Jesus up refers to the general resurrection at the end of time, Jesus will return and then die, although this intimation seems to be absent in the Qur’an itself.[59]

In Muslim tradition a common scenario of Jesus’ return includes His descending as a judge. “He would break the crosses, kill the swine, suppress the poll-tax, and make wealth so abundant that nobody would wish for any more.”[60] Even in this portrayal of Jesus as judge, however, his power is derived and only Allah should receive praise for the victory.


            This paper has presented a brief examination of the Quran’ic view of Jesus Christ in relation to several significant and common areas of debate, such as Jesus’ identity as a human prophet, Jesus’ mission, and Jesus’ virgin birth, death, and return. One seeking to study the Qur’an for historic verification of Jesus’ identity and mission will be disappointed. Passages dealing with Jesus generally do not set the events in any time or place context, preferring to simply state what happened or what was said and then proceed to other points. Readers of the Qur’an are expected to be inspired by Jesus and his life, but more so to be awed by God and his power, of which Jesus was simply a conduit without any intrinsic right to honor.

The Qur’an is uncompromising in its insistence that Jesus was a human prophet, albeit a prophet well respected for his virtue and submission to God. While vested with honorary titles in the Qur’an, Jesus was still human and all honorary designations must be understood in the context of Jesus’ humanity.

Jesus filled a mediatory link between Moses and the Torah and Muhammed and the Qur’an. In the Qur’an Jesus himself recognized his humanity and humbly submitted to Allah’s direction in ministry, his mission being to remind the Jewish people of the Torah’s teachings, and to share the Gospel he was given, which, in its original undistorted state reiterated the Torah’s mandates. Jesus also was aware that he served as a forerunner to the final prophet who would later come, now known as Muhammed. Muhammed is actually viewed as possessing a broader mission and holds the premier position in Muslim thinking. Whereas Jesus was called primarily to the Jews, Muhammed’s call was to Jews, Christians, and the world in general.

In the Qur’an Jesus’ life is characterized by miracles. He is born of a virgin and his virgin birth is held in high esteem as evidence of God’s power. Even as a baby he is miraculously empowered to declare from the cradle his mission from God. His virgin birth is compared to Adam’s creation, and in some sense Adam’s creation is viewed as an even greater miracle since Adam had neither earthly mother nor father.

Several miracles of Jesus are recorded in the Qur’an, but not the same miracles as are recorded in the New Testament gospels. In the Qur’an Jesus not only speaks from the cradle, but also fashions and breathes life into clay birds. Jesus also heals the blind and leprous, as well as raising the dead, though details regarding these events are sketchy at best.

While Jesus’ life is marked by miracles, his death is shrouded in mystery. The Qur’an is adamant that Jesus did not die on the cross. Yet, for all its assertion that Jesus did not die, it is not clear what did happen, leaving the door open for speculation by Muslim theologians throughout the ages. A passage indicates that God raised him up but does not tell much more detail. Many Muslims believe that Jesus was rescued and another person was miraculously made to appear as Jesus and was crucified in his place. No information is contained in the Qur’an itself about Jesus’ life after the crucifixion episode. Another scenario often put forward is that instead of dying or escaping to live a long life until his natural death, Jesus was taken up alive at some point during the crucifixion process. Muslims who suggest this sequence of events also believe that Jesus will return one day and then later die.

Though the Muslim and Christian view of Jesus Christ are eternities apart in many ways, it is helpful to understand what the Muslims’ sacred writings actually say about Jesus Christ. Possessing a working knowledge of what the Qur’an teaches enables Christians to speak about Jesus in a way familiar to Muslims. Even though Muslims may assert that once the Qur’an is translated it is no longer the words of Allah, in everyday settings Muslims will appreciate the effort that Christians have put into understanding their sacred book. Further, whether reading in Arabic or in English, Muslims and Christians will agree on at least some of the Qur’an’s basic teachings about Jesus, providing a common ground from which to initiate dialogue.


1. Norman L. Geisler and Abdul Saleeb. Answering Islam: The Crescent in Light of the Cross (Grand Rapids,Michigan: Baker Books, 2002), 63.

2. Michael G. Fonner, “Jesus’ Death by Crucifixion in the Qur’an: An Issue for interpretation and Muslim-Christian Relations,” Journal of Ecumenical Studies 29, no. 3 (Summer-Fall 1992): 436.

3.  Ahmed Ali, trans. Al-Qur’an, The Koran. (accessed November 18, 2008). This translation is used throughout the paper except where otherwise noted.

4. Geoffrey Parrinder, Jesus in the Qur’an (Rockport, Massachusetts: Oneworld Publications.

5. Roelf S.Kuitze, “Christology in the Qur’an” Missiology 20, no. 3 (1992): 357.

6. Geisler and Saleeb, 63.

7. Parrinder, 31.

8. Imad N.Shehadeh, “Reasons for Islam’s Rejection of Biblical Christianity,” Bibliotheca sacra 161, no. 643 (2004): 276.

9. Kuitse, 357.

10. Anthony McRoy, “The Christ of Shia Islam,” Evangelical Review of Theology 30, no. 4 (2006): 340

11. Shehadeh, 276.

12.  McRoy, 340.

13. J. Dudley Woodberry. “The Muslim Understanding of Jesus,” Word & World 16 (Spring 1996): 177.

 14. Shehadeh, 277.

 15. Ibid, 278.

 16. Geisler, 65.

17. Ibid.

 18. Parrinder, 39.

19. Ibid, 90.

20. Kuitse, 359.

21. Ibid.

22. Ibid.

23. Geisler, 65.

24. Kate Zebiri, “Contemporary Muslim Understanding of the Miracles of Jesus,” The Muslim World  90 (Spring 2000): 71.

25. Ibid.

26. Zebiri, 75.

27. Ibid.

28. Yusuf Ali, trans., The Qur’an, Compendium of Muslim Texts. University of Southern California. (accessed 11-22-08).

29. Yusuf Ali, 3:49.

30. Zebiri, 73.

31.  Ibid.

32. Geisler and Saleeb, 163-165.

33. Zebiri, 76.

34. Geisler and Saleeb, 85.

35. Parrinder, 40.

36. Muhammad Daud Rahbar, “Muslims and the Finality of Jesus Christ in the Age of Universal History,” Ecumenical Review 17, no. 4 (1965): 362.

37. Plemon T. El-Amin, “The Birth of Jesus in the Qur’an,” Review & Expositor 104, no. 1 (Winter 2007): 78.

38. David Emmauel Singh, “Rethinking Jesus and the Cross in Islam” Mission Studies 23, no. 2 (2006): 248.

39. Plemon T. El-Amin, “The Birth of Jesus in the Qur’an,” Review & Expositor 104, no. 1 (Winter 2007): 78.

40. Singh, 248.

41. Singh, 240.

42. Fonner, 443.

43. Singh, 248.

44. Ibid.

45. Woodberry, 174.

46. McRoy, 341.

47. Parrinder, 109.

 48. Woodberry, 175.

 49. Parrinder, 112.

50. Woodberry, 175.

51. McRoy, 341.

52. Woodberry, 175.

53. Kuitse, 361.

54. Geisler, 68.

55. Kuitse, 360.

56. Geisler, 68.

57. Parrinder, 112.

58. Woodberry, 176.

59. Parrinder, 105.

60. Ibid, 124.