MOHAMED KOHIA, professor, Rockhurst University: Jesus holds a significant and unique status in Islam. This is clearly reflected in the Qur’an, appearing in 59 verses (the Prophet Muhammad was mentioned only five times).
The Qur’an confirms Jesus’ virgin birth, and a chapter of the Qur’an is titled “Mary,” whom the Qur’an states was chosen by God over the women of all the world.
“Remember, when the angels said: ‘O Mary, God gives you good news of a word from Him, whose name is the Messiah Jesus, son of Mary, revered in this world and the Hereafter, and one of those brought near (to God). He will speak to the people from his cradle and as a man, and he is of the righteous.’
“She said, ‘My Lord, how can I have a child when no mortal has touched me?’ He said, ‘So (it will be). God creates what He wills. If He decrees a thing, He says to it only, “Be!” and it is.’ ” (3:45-47)
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Jesus was born miraculously by the command of God, the same command that had brought Adam into being with neither a father nor a mother.
“The case of Jesus with God is like the case of Adam. He created him from dust, and then He said to him, ‘Be!’ and he came into being.” (3:59)
To help in his ministry, Jesus was given the ability to perform miracles (speaking from the cradle, creating birds from clay, healing the blind, raising the dead to life, casting out demons), all according to God’s will. All prophets were sent with different miracles to assist in further convincing their people.
Neither Muhammad nor Jesus came to change the basic doctrine of the belief in one God, brought by earlier messengers, but rather to confirm and renew it. “And in their footsteps We sent Isa (Jesus) the son of Mary, confirming the Law that had come before him: We revealed to him the Gospel: therein was guidance and light, and confirmation of the Law that had come before him: a guidance and an admonition to those who fear God” (5:46).
Muslims believe that Jesus was not crucified. It was the plan of Jesus’ enemies to crucify him, but God saved him.
“And because of their saying, we killed the Messiah Isa (Jesus), son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah, but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but it appeared as that to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubts. They have no (certain) knowledge, they follow nothing but conjecture. For surely; they killed him not. But Allah raised him up unto Himself. And Allah is Ever All-Powerful, All-Wise” (4:157-158).
In Islam, Jesus is unique for being the only messenger who neither married nor had children. Muslims believe that Jesus will return to Earth near the Day of Judgment to restore justice and to defeat the false messiah.
Jesus will not return as a new prophet but will continue from where he left off at the time of his ascension. He will live for another 40 years before dying a natural death.