Jesus (peace be upon him) has a special status in Islam. He’s the servant of God and the bearer of the Gospels. Jesus is one of the 5 greatest messengers sent to man, and God mentioned him specifically 25 times in the Qur’an. God encouraged Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) to take inspiration from Jesus as he, too, was persecuted for his faith. His admirable virtues are universal guidelines for all people to learn from and practice.
So who is Jesus in Islam? Here are 8 things to know:
1. He comes from a lineage of prophets.
Even before birth, Jesus (pbuh) was destined for greatness. He came from a long line of prophets (including Jacob, David, and Solomon) and a family of priesthood. He was the son of Mary, who was the daughter of Imran. The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said,
“The best of women was Mary.”
Her righteousness, chastity, and faith make her a role model for all believers. Because of her mother’s prayer, Mary—and later, Jesus—were uniquely protected from Satan, untouched by him at birth.
2. His birth was miraculous.
Jesus’ birth from a mother who had never been unchaste was a sign of God’s greatness. Even his birth was a mercy. God said,
“It is easy for Me, and We will make him a sign to the people and a mercy from Us” [Qur’an, 19:21].
God sent the angel Gabriel with a message to Mary (peace be upon her) as she painfully gave birth,
“Do not be sad… eat, drink and be comforted” [Qur’an, 19:23-26].
And when Jesus was born, he spoke from the cradle,
“Verily, I am the servant of God. He has given me the book and made me a prophet” [Qur’an, 19:29-33].
3. He is the Messiah.
“Messiah” comes from a word that literally means “to wipe” or “the anointed one.” Classical Muslim commentators derived many characteristics to explain this role of Jesus. Being a Messiah meant he was sinless, blessed, a healer, a worker of miracles, and an heir to the kingdom and prophetic lineage of David (pbuh). As the Messiah, he is the king, dignified in both this world and the next.
4. He is the Word from God.
Jesus is called “The Word” for a few reasons. The word of God was delivered through him. Like Adam (pbuh), Jesus was created without a father by the word of God: “Be.”
He came into being as a result of God’s command.
5. He is the Spirit from God.
Jesus is also called “The Spirit.” God ‘blew’ His spirit into Jesus, just as He did for Adam. Therefore, Jesus was a spirit created by God and is under the ownership of God, but does not share in the essence of God.
6. He is the bearer of miracles.
The Holy Spirit (Ruh al-Qudus) is the angel Gabriel (pbuh). Through him, God enabled Jesus to perform many miracles, including speaking from the cradle as a baby, receiving the revelation of the Torah and the Gospel, bringing life to a bird formed of clay, healing the blind, the deaf, and the sick, bringing the dead back to life, and knowing what people revealed and concealed.
These miracles were given to a believing people to inspire faith and as signs so that they may be reassured that the message of Jesus was true.
7. He is the servant of God and the bearer of the Gospels.
Like all other prophets before and after him, Jesus preached monotheism: that God is One.
“Jesus said, ‘Verily, God is my Lord and your Lord, so worship Him; that is the straight path’” [Qur’an, 3:51].
He was known for his wise sayings. He said,
“Blessed is he whose speech is the remembrance of God, whose silence is reflection, and whose observation is a lesson; who controls his tongue, whose house is sufficient, who weeps for his sins, and from whose evil the people are safe.”
On the Day of Judgment, God will have a conversation with Jesus about the message he preached on Earth. The Qur’an narrates a portion of this conversation:
“God will say, ‘O Jesus, Son of Mary, did you say to the people, ‘Take me and my mother as deities besides Allah?’ He will say, ‘Exalted are You! It was not for me to say that to which I have no right. If I had said it, You would have known it. You know what is within myself, and I do not know what is within Yourself. Indeed, it is You who is Knower of the unseen’” [Qur’an, 5:116].
8. He will restore justice on Earth.
Although Muslim scholars have different theories of what exactly happened to Jesus (pbuh) in his final moments on Earth, they agree that he was not crucified. Rather, it was only made to appear that he was crucified, but God raised him, alive, into Heaven, where he resides to this day. When the time comes, he will return to Earth to defeat the Antichrist (the false Messiah, also known as the Dajjal) and will call people to the truth and oneness of God. He will revive peace and justice, live as the leader of believers, get married, and remain on Earth for another seven years. After restoring peace on Earth by the permission of God, Jesus (pbuh) will die naturally and be prayed for and buried.
So who is Jesus?
Jesus (peace be upon him) is a highly revered and unique messenger whom God sent to the world to guide mankind. Like all other prophets, he preached the oneness of God and called for mercy and justice.
Want to learn more about Jesus and Islam? Read Jesus: A Foundation for Dialogue Between Muslims and Christians by Justin Parrott.