Jesus was sent not only to reform the Jewish people from their deviation from the path of Allah but also to bring back the universal message of the unity of mankind and this particular feature of his preaching made the Jewish people antagonistic to Jesus. It was their firm belief that they were the favoured people of Allah and that their Scripture, the Torah, confirmed it.
Allah sent the Gospel (Injil) through Jesus to put mankind back on the true path. The writings we have which appeared from 70 (C.E. Christian Era) onwards were based on oral traditions and were written by several people at different periods of time. Enevitably, given their distance in time from the real Jesus, the personal bias of each writer came into their writings. Many works with many countless contradictions between them were in circulation. Eventually, four works from this number were arbitrarily canonised, which today are known as the Gospels. These four works are certainly not the same Gospel (Injil) of Jesus as mentioned in the Qur’an.
Modern biblical scholars are also of the opinion that Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are not the authors of the four Gospels but rather titles attributed to compilations of diverse materials already collected by others. Obviously, the possibility clearly exists that in the process of compiling these doubtful works, ideas directly repugnant to the preaching of Jesus entered the text (see chapter 18). The so-called Gospels contain many contradictions, one prime example being the purported ascension of Jesus. Neither ‘Matthew’ nor ‘John’ speak of Jesus’ ascension. ‘Luke’ mentions the ascension with reference to time, whereas ‘Mark’ does not give any clue as to when this occurrence was supposed to have happened.
Considered literally, the birth of Jesus without his mother Mary having had any physical relationship with a man appears to be a miracle. However, to explain further we need to consider the circumstances in which Mary grew up. From her very childhood she was living in a sanctuary under the guardianship of Zacharias (3:37). Below, I quote from The Holy Qur’an by Maulana Muhammad Ali, who in his commentary on his translation, says the following:
‘Verse 3:45 clearly gives her news of the birth of a child and therefore the particular incident referred to in 3:44 is the incident of her marriage. The casting of lots and the contention as to who would have her in his charge could not mean anything but her charge as a wife. Lots were evidently cast because as a child she had been dedicated to the sanctuary (temple), and it is now by a lot only that she could be given away in marriage.6
‘Thus in verse (3:45) quoted below, when she was given the good news of a son being born to her, she was perhaps not informed that her marriage had been decided. Hence, she says that man had not touched her yet. And she was told in reply, ‘Even so’; i.e., the child will be born by Allah bringing about the circumstances which result in the birth of a child. The words do not show that she would conceive out of the ordinary course of nature. Nor do the words that follow prove anything beyond the simple fact that Mary must give birth to a son in accordance with the prophecy. The whole of creation is brought about, we are told again and again, by the divine word Kun (Be), yet no one supposes that creation is not brought about according to the laws of nature.7
(3:45-47) (And remember) when the angels said: O Mary! Lo! Allah giveth thee glad tidings of a word from Him, whose name is the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, illustrious in the world and the Hereafter, and one of those brought near (unto Allah). He will speak unto mankind in his cradle and in his manhood, and he is of the righteous. She said: O my Sustainer! How can I have a son when no man has ever touched me? (The angel) answered: Thus it is: Allah creates what He wills: when He wills a thing to be, He but says unto it, ‘Be’ — and it is.
‘It is remarkable that the Qur’an makes no mention at all of Mary’s husband, and in this respect, these circumstances bear a strong resemblance to those connected with Moses’ birth, for there, too, no mention at all is made of Moses’ father. The mere fact, therefore, that there is no mention of Jesus’ father is not sufficient to show that Jesus had no father.’8
Note: ‘Speak unto mankind from cradle’ could be an allegorical way of saying that Jesus would preach from an early age (see also 19:29-34). As far as his birth is concerned, the verses remain allegorical as with our present state of knowledge we cannot fully explain them. The following verses fall into the same category:
(3:48, 49) And He will teach him the Scripture and wisdom, and the Torah and the Gospel (Injil). And will make him a messenger unto the children of Israel, (saying) Lo! I come unto you with a sign from your Sustainer. Lo! I fashion for you out of clay the likeness of a bird, and I breathe into it and it is a bird, by Allah’s leave. I heal him who was born blind, and the leper, and I raise the dead, by Allah’s leave. And I announce unto you what ye eat and what ye store up in your houses. Lo! herein verily is a portent for you, if ye are to be believers.
Muhammad Asad in his translation of the Qur’an gives some explanation of these from which I quote his footnote 38.
It is probable that the ‘raising of the dead’ by Jesus is a metaphorical description of his giving new life to people who were spiritually dead; cf. (6:122) – ‘Is then he who is dead [in spirit], and whom We thereupon gave life, and for whom We set up a light whereby he can see his way among men – [is he then] like unto one [who is lost] in darkness deep, out of which he cannot emerge?’ If this interpretation is — as I believe — correct, then the ‘healing of the blind and the leper’ has a similar significance: namely, an inner regeneration of people who were spiritually diseased and blind to the truth.9
The Qur’an contains many verses on the prophethood of Jesus.
(3:50,51) And (I come) confirming that which was before me of the Torah, and to make lawful some of that which was forbidden unto you. I come unto you with a sign from your Sustainer, so keep your duty to Allah and obey me. Lo! Allah is my Sustainer and your Sustainer, so worship Him. That is a straight path.
(61:14) O ye who believe! Be Allah’s helpers, even as Jesus, son of Mary, said unto the disciples: Who are my helpers for Allah? They said: We are Allah’s helpers. And a party of the Children of Israel believed, while a party disbelieved. Then We strengthened those who believed against their foe, and they became the uppermost.
(3:52) But when Jesus became conscious of their disbelief, he cried: Who will be my helpers in the cause of Allah? The disciples said: We will be Allah’s helpers. We believe in Allah, and bear thou witness that we have surrendered (unto Him).
(3:54,55) And they (the disbelievers) schemed and Allah schemed (against them): and Allah is the best of the schemers. Lo! Allah said: O Jesus! Verily, I shall cause thee to die, and shall exalt thee unto Me, and cleanse thee of (the presence of) those who are bent on denying the truth, and am setting those who follow thee above those who disbelieve until the Day of Resurrection. In the end, unto Me you all must return, and I shall judge between you with regard to all on which you were wont to differ.
‘The disbelievers schemed’ — here referring to those among the Jews who refused to acknowledge Jesus as a prophet and secretly plotted to crucify him. Allah on the other hand, devised the means to protect him. He assured Jesus that he would fulfil his mission and die a natural death. His followers were weak, but eventually they were to overcome their enemies and become victorious. In fact, verse 61:14 above confirms that Jesus completed his mission. In other words he established the Deen and his followers were Muslims. But with time, the message again became corrupted due to human interference, and the followers not only deviated from the true path but became divided into sects.
(5:46) And We caused Jesus, son of Mary, to follow in their footsteps, confirming that which was (revealed) before him in the Torah, and We bestowed on him the Gospel (Injil) wherein is guidance and a light, confirming that which was (revealed) before it in the Torah – a guidance and an admonition unto those who ward off (evil).
(4:171) O People of the Scripture! Do not exaggerate in your religion nor utter aught concerning Allah save the truth. The Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, was only a messenger of Allah, and His word which He conveyed unto Mary, and a spirit from Him. So believe in Allah and His messengers, and say not ‘Three’ – Cease! (it is) better for you! — Allah is only One God. Far is it removed from His Transcendent Majesty that He should have a son. His is all that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth. And Allah is sufficient as Defender.
(5:72) They surely disbelieve who say: Lo! Allah is the Messiah, son of Mary. The Messiah (himself) said: O Children of Israel, worship Allah, my Sustainer and your Sustainer. Lo! whoso ascribeth partners unto Allah, for him Allah hath forbidden paradise. His abode is the Fire. For evil-doers there will be no helpers.
(5:75) The Messiah, son of Mary, was none other than a messenger, messengers (the like of whom) had passed away before him. And his mother was a saintly woman. And they both used to eat (earthly) food. See how We make the revelations clear for them, and see how they are turned away!
(5:116) And when Allah saith: O Jesus, son of Mary! Didst thou say unto mankind: Take me and my mother for two gods beside Allah? he saith: Be glorified! It was not mine to utter that to which I had no right. If I used to say it, then Thou knewest it. Thou knowest what is in my mind, and I know not what is in Thy Mind. Lo! Thou, only Thou, art the Knower of Things Hidden.
(61:6) And when Jesus, son of Mary, said: O Children of Israel! Lo! I am the messenger of Allah unto you, confirming that which was (revealed) before me in the Torah, and bringing good tidings of a messenger who cometh after me, whose name shall be Ahmad (the Praised One). Yet when he hath come unto them with clear proofs, they say: This is mere magic.
In the above verse the name Ahmad refers to the coming of Prophet Muhammad. I quote: ‘This prediction is supported by several references in the Gospel of St. John to the Parakletos (usually rendered as ‘Comforter’) who was to come after Jesus. This designation is almost certainly a corruption of Periklytos (the much Praised, an exact Greek translation of the Aramaic term or name Mawhamana […]10
Jesus’ ministry lasted about three years. The end of his life on earth is as much a mystery as his birth. The Qur’an (in verse 4: 157 given below) says categorically that Jesus was not crucified nor killed by the Jews, in spite of certain apparent circumstances which produced that illusion. The Christian Churches make it a cardinal point of their doctrine that Jesus died on the Cross and was buried, but on the third day he rose in the body with his wounds intact, and walked about and conversed, and ate with his disciples, and was afterwards taken up bodily to heaven. Also, in the course of time a legend grew up that Jesus had died on the cross in order to atone for the ‘Original Sin’ with which mankind is allegedly burdened. The Qur’an does not agree with any of these points.
(4:157) And because of their (i.e. Jews’) saying: We slew the Messiah Jesus son of Mary, Allah’s messenger – They slew him not nor crucified, but it appeared so unto them; and lo! those who disagree concerning it (i.e. Christians) are in doubt thereof; they have no knowledge save pursuit of conjecture; they (i.e. Jews) slew him not for certain.