Isa (Jesus) in IslamAssima Alam
According to Christian doctrine, Isa, Jesus (peace be upon him) died for the sins of mankind and then three days after his death, he was supposedly resurrected. This sacrificial death and subsequent resurrection is what Christians commemorate during the Easter period. Many Christians in the modern era believe that this sacrifice, otherwise known as ‘atonement’, is all that one needs to believe in for salvation in the afterlife. Additionally, Christians maintain that it was God who sacrificed His ‘son’ for the sake of humanity and for their sins.
The status of Isa (Jesus) in Islam
Isa (peace be upon him) is one of the most influential figures in Islam. The Qur’an refers to Isa as the Messenger of Allah, the fulfilment of His Word and a spirit (created by a command) from Him (4:171). Isa is also one of the five most prominent Prophets of Islam and is considered to be a brother to Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him). Muslims believe in Isa (peace be upon him) and highly revere him, but do not place him at the same level that Christians do, i.e., on par with Allah.
Did Isa (Jesus) die for our sins?
Muslims do not believe that Isa (peace be upon him) died for the sins of humanity or that he was killed. Allah says, ‘they neither killed nor crucified him—it was only made to appear so. Even those who argue for this (crucifixion) are in doubt. They have no knowledge whatsoever—only making assumptions. They certainly did not kill him.’ (4:157)
Was Isa (Jesus) killed?
In the verse above, Allah mentions, ‘it was only made to appear so’. This part of the verse has been subject to much discussion and debate in Islamic scholarship. There are two predominant views regarding the commentary of the above words. The majority of commentators hold the position that Isa (peace be upon him) was replaced with someone else and it was this other person who was killed instead of Isa. Some scholars say that person was Judas and others say it was a disciple of Isa who voluntarily sacrificed himself due to his love for Isa (peace be upon him).
The other view is that the whole occurrence of the crucifixion did not take place at all and that the subsequent reports regarding it were fabricated. Whether Isa (peace be upon him) was replaced with another person, or if the crucifixion even took place, Muslims still agree that Isa (peace be upon him) is alive in Heaven, and will be sent down to us near the end of times (3:55).
The return of Isa (Jesus)
The Prophet Muhammad is authentically reported to have said that Isa (peace be upon him) will descend as a just ruler and will break the cross (Sahih Muslim). Scholars say that the reason Isa will break the cross is because he will correct the beliefs that people have concerning him by negating all notions and symbols of disbelief. This does not mean Muslims can break the cross – it will be done by Isa (peace be upon him) as he has the primary right to correct the false beliefs associated with him. He will return as a follower of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him), i.e., a Muslim and not as a new Prophet. The Prophet Muhammad will always be the final Messenger to mankind. Isa (peace be upon him) will reaffirm the message and law given to Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) by Allah.
A call to worship One God
To sum up, Muslims highly revere and respect Isa (peace be upon him) as a Prophet and Messenger of Allah. Muslims do not believe that he was crucified or killed. In fact, Muslims believe that Isa (peace be upon him) is still alive in Heaven and will be sent down to Earth near the end of times. Muslims do not believe Isa (peace be upon him) to be divine in nature, or that he died for our sins.
Our call to the Christians is what Allah says in the Qur’an:
‘Say, (O Prophet), “O People of the Book! Let us come to common terms: that we will worship none but Allah, associate none with Him, nor take one another as lords instead of Allah.” But if they turn away, then say, “Bear witness that we have submitted (to Allah alone).’ (3:64)