Friday, April 15, 2016

Doctrine - Muhammad on Jesus - A prophet and nothing more

This is a continuation of a multi-post article. You can read the first post here. You can also find the previous post here. This is also part of a larger series called "The Koran from a Christian perspective." You can find other posts in this series here.
Muslims hold an interesting position on Jesus. They hold Him in honor as a prophet, but deny all of His divinity. To them, He is a prophet and a messenger, but nothing more. We previously looked at the history of Jesus as contained in the Koran, but now we shall consider what the Koran teaches about Jesus and especially about who He was. The Koran actually speaks a lot about Jesus, in fact, the English version of the Koran that I am reading mentions Him by name twenty five times while the name of Muhammad is mentioned only four times.

The Koran acknowledges that Jesus was a man sent by God and that He came forth with proofs of His ministry and calling.
"We gave Jesus son of Mary the clear signs, and confirmed him with the Holy Spirit;" (Koran 2:81)
The Koran only mentions the Holy Spirit four time. Three times in reference to Jesus being confirmed by the Holy Spirit and once referencing His role in sending down truth. Speaking of the sending down of the Koran, Muhammad says, "The Holy Spirit sent [brought] it down from thy Lord in truth, and to confirm [establish] those who believe, and to be a guidance and good tidings to those who surrender [Muslims]." (Koran 16:104) It is not clear who Muhammad understood the Holy Spirit to be. Some have conjectured that, because of this verse and because it was the angel Gabriel who brought down the Koran to Muhammad, Muhammad believe the Holy Spirit to be Gabriel.

It is also unclear what specifically Muhammad meant by "clear signs." Was he referring to the miracles that Jesus performed or the truth He taught? This confusion is further compounded by the following verse,
"And when Jesus came with the clear signs [manifest proof] he said, 'I have come to you with wisdom, and that I may make clear to you some of that whereon you are at variance; so fear you God and obey you me." (Koran 43:63)
Muhammad also claimed to come with "clear signs" yet he produced no miracles or sings and wonders as proof of his ministry. His "proofs" was the book be produced and the wisdom contained with in it. It seems reasonable to assume that Muhammad's view of "clear proofs" was the same for himself as for Jesus and that he did not intend to reference Jesus' miracles as being "clear proof" of Jesus' ministry. However, Jesus believed differently. Regarding His miracles, He said, "If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do them, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father." (John 10:37-38)

To Muhammad, Jesus was a prophet, and just a prophet, much like himself; a man sent from God like many prophets and apostle before him.
"Then We sent, following in their footsteps, Our Messengers [apostles]; and We sent, following [them], Jesus son of Mary, and gave unto him the Gospel [Evangel]. And We set in the hearts of those who followed him tenderness [kindness] and mercy [compassion]." (Koran 57:27)
There are two things of interest here. First, there is no mention of the miracles he was sent to do and to perform, only the Gospel He was given to preach. Secondly, it is interesting to consider Muhammad's view of those who were effected by Jesus' gospel. He found them to be tender hearted and full of mercy. This is something he never wrote about his own followers and the Muslims of his day.

While Muhammad believed Jesus was a prophet, he emphatically denied that He was anything else.
"The Messiah, son of Mary, was only a Messenger [Apostle]; Messengers [Apostles] before him passed away [have flourished]; his mother was a just woman; they both ate food." (Koran 5:79)
It is interesting that Muhammad not only reasserts that Jesus was merely a man, but that His mother, Mary, was only a woman. As we mentioned previously, the worship of Mary was growing in popularity and beginning to exceed all proper that theological bounds. Muhammad was right to call it for what it was, the elevation of a mere woman to the point of almost deification. In this, Muhammad was correct.

More to come...
David Robison

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