Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Jesus, the prophet of Islam


God, the only Creator, named Allah in Arabic, sent many messengers to humankind as a mercy. He sent them all to teach people the correct and acceptable way to worship Him. All the prophets of Allah, the first of whom was Adam and the last of whom is Muhammad, came with one Religion--Islam, one creed--the belief in the Oneness of Allah. They all taught that Allah is attributed with attributes of completeness and perfection and that He does not resemble any of His creations. They taught humankind what Allah orders us to do and what to refrain from in this life. They taught that there is a Judgment Day in which each one of us will be judged according how we performed our obligations and avoided prohibitions. None of them taught their followers what contradicts the belief in the Oneness of Allah. Each one of them ordered their followers to believe in the rest of the prophets.

Imam al-Bukhariyy related that Prophet Muhammad, may Allah raise his rank, said:


أنا أولى الناس ‏بابن مريم ‏والأنبياء أولاد ‏علات ‏ليس بيني وبينه نبي

It means: “I am the closest to the Son of Maryam. The prophets are like brothers from the same father (i.e. belief system) with different mothers (i.e. rules and practices). There was no other prophet between us.”

Allah sent Prophet Jesus as the last messenger before Prophet Muhammad. He was one of the five highest-ranking messengers of Allah - those most patient. He was Jesus, the son of Maryam, the daughter of ^Imran, from the "Sons of Israel" (Prophet Jacob). Prophet Jesus, as all the prophets, was truthful in what he conveyed from Allah. Today we follow the religious rules revealed to Prophet Muhammad, however, Muslims respect, love, and believe in Jesus and in his prophethood. To disbelieve in or disrespect Jesus in any way is blasphemy.

Mary, the mother of Jesus

Mary (Maryam in Arabic), the mother of Jesus, was a pious Muslim woman from the offspring of Israel during the time of Prophet Zakariyya. Prophet Zakariyya was a prophet of Allah that taught people to follow the religious rules revealed to Prophet Moses. In the Qur'an there is a block of text (called suurah in Arabic) named Maryam (Mary). This suurah talks about Mary: her birth, her pregnancy, the birth of Prophet Jesus, and other events of her life.

Mary’s mother conceived and delivered Mary when she was an old woman, at an age when women are usually unable to have babies. One-day Mary's mother saw a bird feeding its young and she longed for a baby herself. She asked Allah to bless her with a child and vowed that she would make him a servant for the Holy House in Jerusalem, dedicated to worship, because she thought the child would be male. Allah answered her supplication and Mary's mother conceived and delivered a baby girl. She named her "Maryam" and asked Allah to protect her and her offspring from evil.

Since Mary's father had died, Prophet Zakariyya (who was the husband of Mary's sister) became Mary's guardian. Maryam learned her religious knowledge from him. She grew up as a righteous, pure, and pious Muslim woman, worshipping Allah and making great efforts to obey Him. Before she turned fourteen (14) years old, Maryam was a waliyyah (a very pious woman with a special status - a muslim saint). She became the best of the women in the world. It is mentioned in the Qur'an that the angels said Allah chose Mary and preferred her over the other women of the world. (Al ^Imran, 42-43).

The birth of Jesus

Ibn Jareer al-Tabaree and other narrators told that Mary once ran out of water. She asked her cousin to go with her to get some. He declined, saying he had what he needed for that day, so Mary went to get water alone. There, she found Gabriel (Jibriil), whom Allah had sent to her in the shape of a man. Thinking he was a human who might harm her, she asked Allah for protection from him. Gabriel told her, "I am the Messenger of your Lord to you. I was sent to give you a pious child who is free of sin." Mary told him, "How could I have a son? I have no husband, and I am neither an adulteress nor a fornicator." Gabriel told her, "Creating a son without a father is an easy matter to Allah. Allah will make him a sign for humans and an indication of the Power of Allah. He will send him as a mercy from Him and an endowment to the one who follows him and believes in him. Creating him is a matter that Allah has willed and destined, so it will not be prevented or changed."

Gabriel blew the soul of Jesus into Mary. The soul entered her womb, and she became pregnant with Jesus, peace be upon him. There is a difference of opinion as to the term of her pregnancy, some said nine months, some said eight, and some said other than that.

Whatever the period, when the signs of pregnancy became apparent on her, her cousin Yusuf, the carpenter, was disturbed. He did not know how to interpret this matter; he knew how pious she was, yet he could see the signs of pregnancy. So he decided to open the subject with her. He asked her, "Tell me, would plants grow without seeds? Would trees grow without rainfall? Would there be a child without a male?" To all these questions Mary answered, "Yes." Then she asked him, "Did you not know that Allah made the plants emerge without seeds the day He created them? Did you not know Allah created the trees the first time without rain? Did you not know Allah created Adam and Eve (Hawwaa’) without a father or a mother?" Yusuf knew all these things, and when she responded in this way, he felt assured of her innocence and that this was an extraordinary event given to her by Allah.

When the signs of her pregnancy became apparent, Mary left her people. The pangs of birth led her to the trunk of a dead palm tree. Out of her shyness, and fearing that people would accuse her of having done something wrong, she wished she was dead and forgotten. Gabriel called her to comfort her, and said that Allah made a small river run under her from which she could drink, and that if she would shake the trunk of the dead palm tree next to her, it would turn green and moist dates would fall down from which she could eat and take nourishment. Gabriel also told her that when she faces her people with her newborn son, she should tell anyone who questions her about him, that she had made a vow not to talk to any human that day. That day, Maryam gave birth to her son, Jesus, peace be upon him.

Forty (40) days later she carried Jesus back to her people. They accused her of fornication. In response, Maryam pointed to her son, meaning that they should talk to him. They were angered by this and thought she was mocking them by asking them to address a 40-day old baby in a cradle. At that moment, Allah made Jesus speak. He said: ‏‏

قَالَ إِنِّي عَبْدُ اللَّهِ آتَانِيَ الْكِتَابَ وَجَعَلَنِي نَبِيًّا 30 وَجَعَلَنِي مُبارَكًا أَيْنَ مَا كُنتُ وَأَوْصانِي بِالصَّلاةِ وَالزَّكاةِ مَا دُمْتُ حَيًّا 31 وَبَرًّا بِوالِدَتِي وَلَمْ يَجْعَلْنِي جَبَّارًا شَقِيًّا 32 وَالسَّلامُ عَلَيَّ يَوْمَ وُلِدتُّ وَيَوْمَ أَمُوتُ وَيَوْمَ أُبْعَثُ حَيًّا33

which are verses 30-33 of Surat Maryam and mean: [I am a slave of Allah. He will reveal the Book to me and make me a prophet. He blessed me wherever I am. In the rules revealed to me there will be a special attention given to Prayers and Zakat. Allah predestined that I will be kind to my mother and not a tyrant with a bad ending. Peace was upon me the day I was born. Peace will be upon me on the day I will die and on the day I am raised alive again.]

When Mary’s people heard that, they refrained from harming her or Prophet Zakariyya, to whom they had made ugly accusations. After Jesus spoke these words, he did not speak again until he became at an age when children normally speak. Jesus’ speech from the cradle was a preparation and a sign of his coming prophethood, when he would call the people to believe in only one god and that Jesus is His the prophet and messenger. Note that the first words he spoke were, "I am a slave of Allah."

The early life of Prophet Jesus

Lady Mary took Jesus to Egypt where they stayed for a period of time. Then they returned to the countries of Levant--to a city known as an-Nasirah. Jesus, peace be upon him, studied the Torah and memorized it. He spoke Syriac, the language of the people of Palestine at that time, and the language in which the Heavenly Book, called the Injeel, was revealed to him. He was a pious worshipper of Allah, following the rules of the Torah revealed to Prophet Moses.

Jesus' revelation and entry into prophethood

Allah sent the Revelation of Prophethood to Jesus when he was thirty years old. Allah revealed to him new laws that unprescribed some of the laws revealed to Prophet Moses. Prophet Jesus conveyed the revelation to the people and called them to believe in his message.

Prophet Jesus, like all the prophets of Allah, performed miracles as a proof to his prophethood. Many of Prophet Jesus’ miracles were in curing illnesses, since the people he addressed were famous for being knowledgeable in the field of medicine. Prophet Jesus cured those with seemingly incurable illnesses. Prophet Jesus once cured a man inflicted with leprosy. In another incident, he put his noble hand on the face of a man who was born blind and cured his sight. In yet another instance, Prophet Jesus supplicated to Allah to bring back to life a dead person who was being carried to the burial place, and Allah brought him back to life.

Prophet Jesus had other kinds of miracles also, such as when he formed the shape of bats from clay and they would fly away. One of the miracles of Jesus is mentioned in the Qur'an in Surat al-Ma'idah, Verses 112-114, which tells us that Prophet Jesus and his followers once reached a place where there was not enough food for them all. The students of Jesus requested him to ask Allah for food that would come down to them from the sky. Jesus made supplication to Allah and the angels brought down food in front of the eyes of the people. Hundreds of people ate from that food, and there was no sign that the food had diminished in quantity. This miracle increased the belief of the believers. The blasphemers however, claimed that Jesus had performer sorcery on their eyes.

After his revelation, Prophet Jesus lived on earth for about three years. He used to travel to different places calling people to the proper worship of Allah. He was so detached from worldly matters that he did not worry about not having a house to return to at night. He used to sleep wherever the night fell upon him; whether he was in an open field or in a sheltered place. He wore clothing made out of unwoven wool. He ate raw plants, without desiring to cook them. He neither married nor had children.

The Injiil

Jesus received a Heavenly Book, the Injiil, which contained the Shari^ah, (rules of the Religion) revealed to him. In it was the prohibition from associating partners with Allah, and from consuming usurious gain (riba), pig meat, blood, or meat of animals not slaughtered properly. It contained the order to perform the Prayer (with bowing and prostration) twice a day. It had the order to fast (but in another month than Ramadan), and the order to perform ritual purification (taharah). Prophet Jesus came with a Shari^ah that permitted some of the things which had been forbidden upon the children of Israel in the Torah. Although what is called "The Bible" today contains some true stories of Prophet Jesus, it does not contain the true Injiil which was revealed to him.

The ascension of Prophet Jesus

When Prophet Jesus was 33 years old, the blasphemers among the offspring of Israel plotted to kill him, but Allah saved him from their harm. Ibn Abi Hatim and an-Nasa'iyy narrated from the route of Ibn ^Abbas that he said:

Prophet Jesus was in session with twelve of his elite companions in a house. He told them that among them were those who would blaspheme in the future. Then he asked them, "Who among you would want to be made to look like me, be killed in my place, and be my companion in Paradise." The youngest among them stood up and said, "Me." Prophet Jesus told him to sit, then repeated the same question. Again, the same young man said, "Me." Again, Prophet Jesus told him to sit, and again he asked the same question. When the same young man volunteered for the third time, Prophet Jesus received the Revelation that this young man was the one who would be made to look like him and killed in his place. Prophet Jesus was raised to the sky from an opening in the ceiling of the house. When the Jews came after Prophet Jesus, they saw the young man that Allah had made look like Jesus. They took him, thinking he was Prophet Jesus, and crucified him.

It should be noted here that there are two widespread false stories about this matter. In one, it is claimed that one of Jesus’ students was paid a great sum of money to lead the Jews to him, however Allah made this person look like Jesus so he was taken instead and crucified. In another, it is said that the person killed in place of Jesus was the leader of the Jews. Both of these stories are false. After Prophet Jesus was raised to the sky, his nation lived following his guidance, teaching, and methodology for two hundred (200) years. However, the nation of Prophet Jesus did not remain steadfast to Islam. Three hundred (300) years after Prophet Jesus was raised to the sky, the followers of those who had perverted his teachings became very numerous. At the same time, those who were truly following the Religion of Islam were few and weak. After some five hundred (500) years, none of the believing Muslims of Jesus’ nation were left. When Prophet Muhammad received his revelation, he was the only Muslim among the people on earth.

Prophet Jesus' future descent to earth

Prophet Jesus, peace be upon him, is still alive and residing in the second of the seven skies, preoccupied with worship. He will descend to earth before the Day of Judgment and his descent will be one of the great signs of the last days. Prophet Muhammad informed us that Jesus will descend to earth at a place on the eastern side of Damascus, with his hands on the wings of two angels. He will meet a group of Muslims getting ready to perform the Prayer, with the Mahdiyy as their Imam. The Mahdiyy will ask Prophet Jesus to lead them in that prayer, however, Jesus will ask the Mahdiyy to lead them--as a sign that Prophet Jesus will rule according to the rules revealed to Prophet Muhammad. After this one time, Jesus will lead the people in prayers because he has a higher status than the Mahdiyy.

After he descends, Prophet Jesus will rule the earth with the Shari^ah of Prophet Muhammad, the Shari^ah Muslims are ordered to follow until the Judgment Day. He will break the crosses, kill the pigs, and abolish the jizyah (compulsory payment by the People of the Book to the Muslim state), because in the rules of Prophet Muhammad the jizyah is only applicable until the descent of Jesus. He will kill the Dajjal, an ugly, evil blasphemer who claims to be God, and who misleads many people into blasphemy. Prophet Jesus will perform Hajj-pilgrimage and travel to visit the grave of the Prophet to salute him, and to greet him by saying, "As-salamu ^alaykum ya rasul Allah", as narrated by Abu Dawud at-Tayalisiyy and others.

During his time, the people of Ya'juj and Ma'juj will appear and cause great destruction to the earth and devastation to the Muslims. Prophet Jesus will take the believers to Mount at-Tur to ask Allah to relieve them from those people. Allah will answer their supplication and destroy the people of Ya'juj and Ma'juj. After that, Prophet Jesus will rule the Muslims and there will be a time when peace, comfort, and safety will prevail. Prophet Jesus will live for forty (40) years on earth after his return. He will marry and have children. He will die and be buried. ^Adullah Ibn Salam said, "It is written in the original Torah that Prophet Jesus will be buried next to Prophet Muhammad" (in the chamber of Lady ^A'ishah.)

Final remarks

Prophet Jesus was a messenger of Allah. He had a revelation to teach the religion of Islam and to call people to worship Allah, their Creator. Muslims believe in his prophethood and in his truthfulness in conveying that message. Prophet Jesus is alive now, living in the second heaven, worshipping Allah. He will return to earth before the Day of Judgment and will rule the Muslims with the Shari^ah of Prophet Muhammad. May peace be upon this respected, honored and beloved Messenger of Allah.

Praise be to Allah, and Allah knows best. ‏‏

وَالسَّلامُ عَلَيَّ يَوْمَ وُلِدتُّ وَيَوْمَ أَمُوتُ وَيَوْمَ أُبْعَثُ حَيًّا 33

Verse #33 of Surat Maryam means: [Peace was on me the day I was born. Peace will be on me on the day I will die and on the day I am raised alive again.]

Commentary on why it is blasphemy to say that Allah has a son

The essential meaning of the word "son" is something begotten - something that is generated out of something else. In other words, if someone said that Allah has a son, then he is saying that Allah multiplies or divides, and this contradicts the belief that Allah is one. This again leads to worshipping other than Allah.

The word "son" also contradicts the concept of ownership; it would be absurd to say that someone "owns" his "son". Something can't be someone's son and personal property at the same time. In other words, to say that Allah has a son is to deny that he has absolute ownership of all created things. That is why it is blasphemous to say that Allah has a son, even as a figure of speech. Muslims must believe that Allah is the true owner of everything, because He is their Creator.

As shown above, the concept of having a son is incompatible with the concept of believing in one Creator. That is why one cannot logically claim that the Creator has a son. It is like saying 2+2=5, which is a lie and has no possible meaning. That is why muslims must believe that it is impossible that Allah should have a son; it has nothing to do with ability, because it is nonsensical and illogical. If someone asks, "Can Allah have a son?" it is as if they are saying "can the number 3 be 4?", thus the correct way of answering this is to say that "It is impossible that Allah should have a son."

Note that it is blashpemy to say that Allah "can" have a son, because this is to deny Allah's attribute of godhood - being the Creator and absolute owner of everything. However, it is also blashpemy to say that He is "unable" to have a son, because this is to insult Allah's power. The correct expression is to say that it is "impossible that Allah should have a son" or "absurd to claim that Allah could have a son". Having a son has nothing to do with being the Creator, and therefore is not related to Allah's attribute of power.