Christ in Islam

By • Feb 7th, 2011 • Category: Articles


 The Monotheistic religious tradition is dominated by the trio of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. All three religions trace their lineage to Abraham[1]. This common root inevitably leads to adoption of a common general framework for spirituality. Not surprisingly, we find substantial commonality among Judaism, Christianity, and Islam; nonetheless, we still have three distinct religions, not one. Their differences primarily stem from their focus. 

Judaism revolves around the evolution and historical destiny of a tribe, founded by Abraham and Sarah. Christianity is centered around the person of Jesus Christ. The story of his life, death, and resurrection, forms the cornerstone of Christianity. Islam, on the other hand, is neither about a person nor a tribe; rather, it is about a universal message

The religion of Islam derives its name not from an affiliation with a specific prophet or a nation, but rather from promotion of the idea of existential submission to One God. This universal message has had many carriers. Throughout history, a succession of God’s messengers invited people to embrace this idea, to incorporate it in their daily livers. The messenger most closely associated with this idea in the Quran is Abraham. A watershed in human spirituality, Abraham is the central figure that connects Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The Holy Quran calls him the ‘ideal man’- a model of singular devotion to One God. He managed to establish a tradition in religiosity. 

All subsequent Semitic prophets aspired to follow Abraham’s footsteps. Commonly known as Abrahamic prophets, their fundamental mission was to revive the core of Abraham’s teachings. The Quran introduces all the great Semitic prophets as messengers of Islam.[2] It repeatedly mentions that Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Mohammad were all Muslims- they all submitted to the One God[3]. 

In the long chain of Islamic prophecy, Jesus occupies a special place. If we paint a portrait for Jesus Christ through the verses of the Holy Quran, we would have to conclude that he was an extraordinary person by any standards. His birth circumstances, prophecy, and death make him quite unique and exceptional among the prophets of Islam. 

Overall, the accounts of the Bible and the Quran regarding Jesus are remarkably similar. There are slight differences on some details. There is, however, one irreconcilable difference in the two books: divinity of Christ. The Quran repudiates the notion that God can “beget” a son; thus, it flatly rejects the Christian doctrine of Trinity[4]. 

In this article, we will explore how Jesus Christ is portrayed in the Quran. First, we will briefly review the verses that deal with his life, prophecy, and crucifixion. Next, we will discuss two unique ways he is described as ‘Word’ and ‘Spirit’ of God. Finally, we will examine Quran’s view on the Christian doctrine of Trinity. 

The Birth of Christ 

The Quran mentions the story of Jesus in several chapters. Specifically, chapter 19, titled ‘Mary’, is mostly dedicated to the story of Mary and her son, Jesus Christ[5]. 

Quran’s narration begins with angels descending on Mary to prepare her for what was coming: 

‘The angels said, “O Mary, God has chosen you and purified you. He has chosen you from all the women. O Mary, you shall submit to your Lord, and prostrate and bow down with those who bow down.”’ (3:42-43) 

The angels gave her the good news that soon she would have a son, the Messiah Jesus. Thus, Mary was under the divine protection and supervision before she conceived. In several references, the Quran clearly states that Mary was a virgin when she gave birth to Jesus. Both the New Testament and the Quran speak of the virgin birth of Jesus. There is, however, a minor difference where the New Testament refers to Joseph as Mary’s fiancé[6]- the Quran does not mention Mary having a fiancé. 

Mary’s pregnancy was a miracle[7] performed through the agency of the Holy Spirit: 

‘ Mention in the scripture the story of Mary. She withdrew from her family to a place in the East[8]. While a barrier separated her from them, then We sent to her our Spirit. He went to her in the form of a human being. She said, “I seek refuge from you to the Most Gracious, that you may be righteous. He said, “I am the messenger of your Lord, to grant you a pure son. She said, “How can I have a son, when no man has touched me; I have never been unchaste.” He said, “Thus said your Lord, it is easy for Me, and we wish to render him a sign for the people, and mercy from us. It is a matter so decreed’ (19:16-21) 

Unlike the New Testament, the specifics of the date, place, and circumstances of Jesus’ birth are not mentioned in the Quran[9]. The Islamic tradition, however, holds that the conception of Jesus took place in Nazareth, north of Jerusalem, while the delivery took place in Bethlehem, south of Jerusalem. 

A Prophet in the Crib 

The uniqueness of Jesus becomes even more apparent when we compare the circumstances surrounding his appointment as a Messenger of God to those of his peers in the Abrahamic tradition. 

It seems as though all messengers had to go through a rigorous process of soul searching, contemplation, and self-making exercises to build a strong character worthy of a prophet. They had to endure a great deal of hardships in their personal lives to prepare them for what was coming. Consider Moses (PBUH). He was separated from his family when he was an infant. When he grew up, he was in a fist fight with an Egyptian- he had to flee and wandered around for a while. He subsequently got married in exile and spent 8 to 10 years in hiding. Then he left his in-laws with his wife and child to an unknown location. Confronted with the elements, he looked for wood to build a fire. Then, he suddenly saw a burning bush in the distance. He walked towards it, and was addressed by a voice coming from the direction of the bush: 

“O Moses! I am your Lord; remove your shoes. You are in the sacred valley, Tuwa. I have chosen you, so listen to what is being revealed: ‘I am God. There is no god beside Me. You shall worship Me alone, and observe regular prayer (ﺓﻮﻠﺻﻠﺍ) to remember Me.’” (20:11-14) 

Mohammad (PBUH) had a harder upbringing. He lost his father before birth. He did not get to see much of his mother. An Arab custom of his day that would send off newborns to surrounding deserts outside Mecca, separated him from his mother for a couple of years. After he was brought back to Mecca, a plague was ravaging the town. As destiny would have it, he was sent back to the desert- more separation from his mother. Shortly after he finally reunited with his mother, she decided to take her son to Medina to visit her relatives. She passed away during her journey. Mohammad was then raised by his relatives. 

As an adult, Mohammad (PBUH) had to work for a living. He was a merchant dealing with the most tempting instrument of corruption: money! He also went through long periods of seclusion and meditation annually. Finally, when he was a mature family man at the ripe age of 40, he was called up to be a Messenger of God. 

Jesus (PBUH) was different- he did not have to go through the intense preparatory work required. He was blessed with extra ordinary capabilities: 

‘O Jesus, son of Mary, remember My blessings upon you and your mother. I supported you with the Holy Spirit, to enable you to speak to the people from the crib…’ (5:110).

The verse is referring to an event which took place after Mary delivered Jesus. Apprehensive of a scandal, she had managed to keep her pregnancy a secret. So, after she came back home with a baby, her family was understandably shocked and dismayed. They unleashed a barrage of questions and denunciation on her: 

‘O Mary, you have committed something that is totally unexpected. O descendant of Aaron, your father was not a bad man, nor was your mother unchaste.’ (19:27-28)

 What does Marry do to respond? 

‘She pointed to the baby. The people said, “How can we talk with an infant in the crib?”’ (19:29)

And then suddenly the baby makes a statement: 

‘I am a servant of God. He has given me the scripture, and has appointed me a prophet. He made me blessed wherever I go, and enjoined me to observe prayers (ﺓﻮﻠﺻﻠﺍ) and the obligatory charity (ﺓﻮﻜﺰﻠﺍ) for as long as I live.’ (19:30-31)

Thus, Jesus (PBUH) was appointed a prophet while he was still an infant in the crib- quite extraordinary by any standards. 

The Final Act of Christ 

According to the New Testament, Jesus was arrested by the Roman authorities, and put on trial presided over by Hebrew priests: 

“The high priest said to him, “ I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.” “Yes, it is as you say,” Jesus replied. “… Then, the high priest tore his clothes and said, “He has spoken blasphemy!”.[10] 

He was sentenced to death by crucifixion. He died on the cross and was buried. Three days later, he rose from the dead and resurrected. For a period of time, he ate and conversed with his disciples. Finally, after meeting his disciples one last time, he ascended to heavens[11]. 

The Quran does not mention any of these details. There are two verses related to the ending phase of Jesus’ life on earth. 

Thus, God said, “O Jesus, I am putting you to death, and raising you to Me; I will save you from the disbelievers”’ (3:55) 

Quran commentators have cited two meanings for the root word of ﮎﻳﻓﻮﺘﻤ.: ‘putting to death’ and  taking away’. In fact, there has been a debate among Quran commentators as to what to make of this verse. Some commentators have concluded that Jesus actually died; others have concluded that he did not die in the ordinary sense of the term- he was simply taken away to heavens by an act of God. 

The second verse clearly states that Jesus was neither crucified nor killed on the cross: 

‘They claimed that they killed the Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary, the messenger of God! In fact, they never killed him; they never crucified him; they were led to believe that they did. All those who dispute this matter are full of doubts concerning this issue. They posses no knowledge; they only conjecture. For certain, they never killed him. Instead, God raised him unto Himself. And God is Almighty, Most Wise ‘ (4:157-158) 

God raised Jesus unto Himself[12]. Again, the exact meaning of ‘raising up is a subject of controversy among Quran commentators. The general belief in Islamic tradition is that Jesus did not die the normal way all men die. Rather, he just disappeared, which coincided with his departure from the earth and ascendance up high. 

The Quran is silent on the exact details of his disappearance. There are two stories often cited by commentators. According to one, when Roman authorities went into the house Jesus was staying at, all the disciples suddenly appeared like Jesus to the authorities. One of the disciples sacrificed and stepped forward to say he was Jesus. They took him in and ultimately crucified him. The angels took Jesus to heavens from that location. The other story indicates that Yahōdā, the disciple, betrayed and turned Jesus in to the authorities. The traitor who accompanied the authorities to Jesus’ hideout is the one who appeared like Jesus to them. It was Yahōdā who was arrested and ultimately crucified. 

The end of Jesus’ life on earth is just as much a mystery as his birth. However, we can draw two broad conclusions regarding the Quran’s account: 1) he was not killed on the cross, and 2) Jesus is not on earth among us. 

Portrait of Christ in the Quran 

 The Quran portrays Jesus in extra-ordinary terms: 

‘The Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary, was a messenger of God, and His word that He had bestowed on Mary, and a Spirit proceeding from Him…’ (4:171) 

The verse ascribes 3 characteristics to Jesus; namely, he was: 

  1. Messenger of God (ﷲﺍ ﻞﻮﺴﺮ)
  2. Word of God (ﷲﺍ ﻪﺗﻤﻠﮐ)
  3. Spirit of God (ﷲﺍ ﺡﻮﺮ)

The first attribute, messenger of God, is fairly straightforward. In the Abrahamic tradition, prophets preached God’s message enjoining humanity to: 

  1. submit to the One God
  2. live righteously
  3. make spirituality the centerpiece of life
  4. do Good Deeds
  5. embrace moral behavior

Essentially, the core of Jesus’ teachings revolved around these principles. The other two attributes, Word and Spirit of God[13], are exclusively reserved for Jesus. The Quran does not portray any other messenger, including Mohammad (PBUH), in these terms. It is imperative to have a good grasp of what ‘Word’ and ‘Spirit’ of God mean if one wishes to fully comprehend Jesus’ status in Islam. 

The Meaning of ‘Word’ 

As humans, we communicate using words- combination of sounds or their representation in written format. A ‘word’ is a linguistic construct that conveys a meaning in human communication. We express our thoughts, ideas, feelings, and desires in words found in human languages such as English, Spanish, or Farsi. Now, what does ‘word’ entail in the Divine realm? How does God communicate with outside Himself? For example, when the Quran pronounces: 

‘God said to the angels: Bow down to Adam! And they bowed down except Satan, who was so arrogant, and a disbeliever’ (2:34)

How did God talk to the angels? In a common language such as Arabic? What languages are the angels familiar with? God’s discourse has been one of the most difficult problems to tackle in all of theology[14]. 

 Muslim philosophers and Quran commentators have suggested that in the realm of God, ‘Word’ refers to any phenomenon created by Him. Thus, anything that exists, represents a Word of God. As if God delivered a long speech, and every phenomenon is a word forming the sentences of His speech. Every thing that exists, is a word coming out of His mouth[15]. 

Jesus was also a ‘Word of God’- as if God wrote this word with His own hand; no one else had a hand in this dictation. Jesus became a Word directly written by God. Jesus became a Word containing the message that God had for humanity. In this context, Islamic and Christian theologies come very close to their descriptions of Jesus. 

The Meaning of ‘Spirit’

The Arabic for ‘spirit’ is rooh[16] (ﺡﻮﺭ ). In the Quran, rooh is usually used in conjunction with nafakh (ﺦﻔﻨ), which means ‘breathing into’, as in a verse describing the conception of Jesus: 

‘Remember Mary, who guarded her chastity. We breathed into her from our Spirit, and we made her and her son a sign for all peoples’ (21:91) 

When God says, ‘I blew my spirit into her’, it is not to be understood in the ordinary usage of blowing (i.e., transfer of air from one place into another). Rather, it means giving form to a person according to His own design and making. This implies direct Divine intervention. 

Biology teaches us the mechanism for the conception of the human form of life, starting with a sperm and an egg forming a fetus that gradually grows in the womb for 9 months. Yet, the Quran reports two cases where the ordinary formation of life according to Biology was circumvented: creation of Adam and Jesus! 

‘The example of Jesus, as far as Allah is concerned, is the same as that of Adam; God created him from dust[17], then said to him: “Be”, and he was’ (3:59) 

There is a remarkable parallel between Jesus and Adam in the Quran[18]: the term ‘Breathing His Spirit into’ is used with reference to the creation of both of them. Adam was born without either a human father or mother. Jesus had a mother, but not a biological father. In general, life is a miracle; yet, in these two special cases, another dimension is added to the miracle of life: Its conception transcends Biology. 

What should we make of Jesus having no human father? Christian theology responds by stating that Jesus was the only begotten Son of God. Islamic theology, however, utterly rejects any notion of God begetting children. God’s ‘breathing His spirit into Mary’ and the virgin birth of Jesus should not be taken as an argument for the idea that God was literally his father. If ‘breathing spirit’ would make one a son of God, then by extension all men are children of God- because, that is what happened with the original man, Adam. 

Rejection of the Doctrine of Trinity

Historians often point out that Islam’s prophet, Mohammad (PBUH), was a pragmatic man. He would make a concession on what he deemed to be inessential. He was very accommodating with regards to rituals, religious observances, and social traditions[19].  Yet, when it came to idolatry (ﮎﺮﺸ), he was absolutely uncompromising. He spent most of his prophetic capital on promoting the notion of Unity (ﺪﻳﺤﻮﺘ).In fact, Islam is a purist when it comes to the idea of the One God. 

Even though Christianity is classified as a Monotheistic faith, when it comes to the deity, Christian theology essentially portrays the Divine as having three forms: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Even though the deity manifests Himself in three distinct forms, yet there is an underlying unity among them. In other words, there is one essence that manifest itself in three forms. Having said that, the Unity of God tend to recede in Christianity as compared to its other two siblings, Judaism and Islam. The Unity of God is somewhat overshadowed by the person of Christ; it is not as unequivocal, clear, and crisp as one would find in Islam. Thus, Mohammad’s mission was partly to restore clarity to Abraham’s religion of One God, which was compromised by the Christian doctrine of Trinity. 

Chapter 112 in the Quran sums up the basic tenets of Islam’s conception of God[20]. More significantly, it constitutes Islam’s rebuttal to the Christian doctrine of Trinity: 

‘Proclaim: Allah is the One and only God. Allah is The Absolute. Never He beget, nor was He begotten. And none equals Him[21].’ (112: 1-4)

 God is One (ﺪﺤﺍ)- He has an existence all unto Himself. This is a direct rejection of Polytheism, in which deities and Lords form a pantheon. The chapter also negates the idea of Jesus as the ‘Begotten Son’ of God. God does not have familial relationship with anyone including Adam, Jesus or  Mohammad . In fact, the Quran returns to a Semitic idea of the divine unity and refuses to imagine that God can ‘beget’ a son. There is no deity but al-Lah (ﷲ) the creator of heaven and earth, who alone can save man, and send him the spiritual and physical sustenance that he needs. 

 The Quran criticizes the idea of Jesus as the ‘Son of God’ : 

‘Christ did not disdain from being a servant of God, and worship Him.’ (4:172)

The Quran’s choice of word is illuminating. Jesus was a servant or Ābd (ﺪﺒﻋ) of God. Ābd is a term borrowed from the prevailing slavery system of the time. Slave was called Ābd and the master was called Moula (ﻻﻮﻤ). Slaves used to be in the service of another man. Islam, however, forbid that altogether by requiring it only to God. This was a negation of the slavery system. 

 Jesus is deliberately called an Ābd of God, denoting that he is not equal in status to God. In fact, when we define man in relation to God, the only possible relationship is one of Ābd. The verse emphasizes that Jesus never shied away from admitting that he was an Ābd of God; in other words, he never claimed to have been fathered or begotten by God. It is not coincidental that anytime Jesus is referred to in the Quran, his name is usually followed by ‘ Son of Mary’. 

The verse also proclaims that Jesus worshiped God[22]. If Jesus was God, it certainly would not make sense for God to worship Himself. 

Islamic theology rejects the Trinitarian conception of God altogether. In fact, the Quran unequivocally refutes the notion that ‘The One’ could have partners in His divinity or Lordship, an idea that is tantamount to Polytheism: 

‘Disbelievers indeed are those who say that God is a third of a Trinity. For, there is no god except the One God. Unless they refrain from saying this, those who disbelieve among them will incur a painful retribution’ (5:73) 

In fact, the gravest sin in Islam is Shīrk, that is, holding deities besides the One God. This is the only unforgivable sin: 

 ‘God does not forgive joining other gods with Him (idol worshiping), and He forgives lesser sins for whomever He wills. Anyone who joins other gods with Allah, has strayed far from the Right Path’ (4:116). 

It should be noted that God is not offended by men elevating other men to the rank and status of God. Accepting ‘Lordships lower than God’[23] can have negative consequences for human relationships. It is as though the Quran warns of a clear and present danger in establishing special and exclusive human relationships with God. When man compromises on the idea of One God, soon he has to deal with Lordships lesser than God in his life. Such Lordships often assume the form of men playing like God, or claiming to possess His exclusive powers and rights.  The Quran cleverly points out how through such openings in theologies, evil acts can be committed in the name of representing God on earth: 

‘The Jews said, “Ezra is the son of God”, while the Christians said, “Jesus is the son God”’ (9:30) 

There was apparently a Jewish sect that considered Ezra as the son of God. These two groups established a special and exclusive familial relationship between their prophets and God. 

It is always the case that such special relationships do not end with prophets. The circle slowly enlarges to include others: from one person to a group of people. Gradually, it takes on a collective form: 

‘The Jews and Christians say, “we are God’s children and His beloved”’ (5:18) 

First, it was the prophet who was ‘the Son of God’, now the community of his followers are viewed as children of God. What is the function of such ‘special’ relationships to God? When a group claims a ‘special’ relationship with God, they can always claim to speak for God. They can dictate their will and laws on other people as those of God. They will become the final authority and the ultimate judge: 

‘They have set up their religious leaders and scholars as lords, instead of God. Others deified the Messiah, son of Mary. They were all commanded to worship only one god. There is no god except He. Be He glorified, high above having any partners’ (9:31) 

In his commentary to this verse, Imam Sadegh[24] argues that ‘the religious leaders and scholars did not invite people to literally worship them. Even if they had, no one would have submitted to their worship. However, what they did was to declare forbidden something allowed, and allowed something forbidden. Thus, the people worshiped them without knowing it’. In other words, the people treated their leaders’ words as sacred- beyond critique and questioning. This is tantamount to taking lords beside God. 

A Divine Call to Unity

The Quran has an inclusivist approach to religion; it states that a succession of God’s messengers throughout history have guided the human kind towards the Divine. It maintain that there is no human community on earth in which a God’s messenger has not visited. Even though the Quran does not catalog the names of all the rightly-guided messengers, it does mention a few including Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Mohammad. The Quran acknowledges that their prophecy was authentic and their mission was blessed by God. 

Every messenger would arise in a unique cultural setting and historical era. His language, discourse, and religious edicts would take account of historical circumstances and stage of societal development of his community[25].The Quran invites humanity to focus on the core teachings and the essentials of God’s messengers, and not the incidentals. We mortals have a tendency to exaggerate both in our affection and disgust. So, the Quran calls on the people of faith to refrain from making exaggerations in their religion: 

‘O People of the scripture, do not transgress the limits of your religion, and do not say about God except the Truth’ (4:171).

The Arabic phrase utilized in the verse is ‘ﻢﻜﻨﻳﺪ ﻰﻔ ﺍﻮﻠﻐﺘﻻ’ literally meaning ‘do not exaggerate in your religion’. The context for this revelation was apparently the Christians whom elevated a man to Divine status out of their genuine affection and admiration for Christ. Needless to say, the verse equally applies to Muslims, Jews, and other peoples of faith, who cannot escape from the human tendency of exaggeration[26]. 

 Finally, guided by the fundamental principle of Unity (One), the Quran declares: 

‘Say: O followers of the scripture, let us come to an agreement between us and you, that we shall not worship except God, that we never set up idols beside God (or associate partners with Him), nor set up any human beings as lords beside God. If they turn away[27], say: “Bear witness that we are Muslims (submitters to One God)”’ (3:64) 


[1] While Jews and Christians trace their lineage through Isaac to Abraham, Muslims do so through Ishmael, the first-born son of Abraham and his Egyptian maidservant Hagar. 

[2] The Quran instructs Mohammad (PBUH) to declare: “We believe in GOD, and in what was sent down to us, and in what was sent down to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, and the Patriarchs; and in what was given to Moses and Jesus, and all the prophets from their Lord. We make no distinction among them. To Him alone we are submitters (Muslims)” (2:136) Thus, Mohammad did not claim to bring a new religion but to purify and restore the one true religion of Abraham. This verse also forms a solid theoretical foundation for the unity of all believers in One God. 

[3] Casual readers find it bewildering that the Quran considers these men as equally prophets of Islam. This is partly due to the fact that ‘Islam’ has dual meaning and usage: Defined narrowly, Islam commonly refers to the religion of Mohammad (PBUH) that originated in Arabia during the 7th century A.D. The Quran also adopts a broader definition for Islam- it is the one religion God has blessed for humanity since Adam (i.e., the religion of submission to One God). Mohammad is, therefore, only one link in the long chain of Islam’s messengers, essentially promoting the same message as the rest of them: salvation through submission to One God. 

[4] It is perhaps worth mentioning that the Christian conception of God evolved over time. Trinity, as a doctrine, was developed and formulated by theologians some 400 years after the crucifixion of Jesus. 

[5] The Arabic form of Jesus is Esā (ﻰﺴﻳﻋ), while Christ is Masīh (ﺢﻳﺴﻤﻠﺍ). The New Testament sometimes refers to Jesus as ‘Son of  God’. The Quran, however, always refers to him as ‘Son of Mary’ (ﻢﻳﺮﻤﻥﺑﺍ ﻰﺴﻳﻋ ﺢﻳﺴﻤﻠﺍ). 

[6] The Gospel of Matthew 1:18. 

[7] In the Abrahamic tradition, miracles constitute a requirement for establishing the authenticity of a messengers’ prophecies and claim to have been sent by God. Virgin birth attributes a measure of extraordinaire to Jesus and reveals God’s design for him. 

[8] To a private eastern chamber, perhaps in the Temple. She went for prayer and devotion. It was in this state of purity that the angel appeared to her in the shape of a man. 

[9] Rather than being a history book, the Quran is keen on imparting wisdom to its readers. The narration style is quite unique in that details are intentionally left out of the stories of past communities and prophets. This gives a trans-historical perspective to the story line, as if is unfolding in the present time and the reader is an active player in it. Perhaps, it was the Quranic style of storytelling that provided insight to Muslim mystics such as Rumi to argue that Moses and Pharaoh are not historical characters; rather, they constitute two contradictory dimensions our character can take. Thus, there is a Moses and a Pharaoh present in each and everyone of us. 

[10] Mathew (26:63-65). 

[11] For a full account of Jesus’ arrest, crucifixion, burial, and resurrection, see the Gospel of Matthew, chapters 26 through 28. 

[12]   The Arabic phrase in the Quran is ‘ﻪﻴﻠﺍ ﷲﺍﻪﻌﻔﺮ ﻞﺒ’. 

[13] Interestingly enough, Christian Theology also uses the same attributes to describe Jesus Christ. For example, we read in the Gospel of John: ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.’ (John 1:1-2). When Christian Theology incorporated Greek philosophy in its discourse, Word of God became synonymous with logos(reason): Jesus was the incarnation of Divine Reason. In other words, he was Divine Reason made flesh. 

[14] In fact, a renowned Islamic discipline called Kalam or ‘Discourse’ (ﻡﻼﮐﻡﻠﻋ) started when Muslims pondered how exactly the Divine communicates with the world at large. 

[15] Rumi, the great Muslim mystic, provides many insights into how God breaks out of His isolation as One (ﺪﺤﺍ), to reveal Himself in the world. Essentially, the distinguishing character of the natural from the supernatural world is the presence of ‘forms’. The natural world is marked by ‘forms’ (e.g., trees, rocks, birds, humans, etc.). In the supernatural world, however, there are no forms- a state of absolute formlessness. To aid us envision what the supernatural world is like, Rumi routinely draws upon symbols. Whenever we come across something that is inherently formless, but is capable of taking on forms, it would be a good symbol for the supernatural. For Rumi, air, water, and light are such symbols. Air does not have any form of its own, but can assume many forms. For example, when the air is blown into a flute, the sound that leaves the flute is the form air is taking. Blowing is formless; yet, when it goes through an instrument (the flute), it takes on form: sound. Different flutes sound differently: one essence (air) that adjusts itself to the medium (the flute). 

Metaphorically, we are all like flutes on God’s mouth. He blows in us, and we come to life. His blowing takes on distinct forms as it transforms in natural medium. 

[16] It comes from the same root word as reeh (ﺢﻳﺮ), meaning wind

[17] From the religious perspective, the body is inconsequential to life- it is the spirit that matters. The body is like dust; it is lifeless. What gives it life is the spirit. This view is not unique to Theistic religions. The Buddhist notion of the body-soul paradigm basically points out the same notion. The soul lives eternally, and migrates from one body form into another. When one body form’s usefulness expires, the soul simply moves on to another physical body. The theory of reincarnation (i.e., transmigration of soul from one body form to another) essentially captures, and elaborate on, this idea. 

[18] The equality of Adam and Jesus is demonstrated mathematically in the Quran: both names appear 25 times each in the Quran. 

[19] Scholars have noted that Islam’s jurisprudential edicts (ﻢﺎﮐﺣﺍ) mostly predate Mohammad in Arabia. Examples include marriage (ﺡﺎﻜﻧ), divorce (ﻖﻼﻄ), and annual pilgrimage (ﺞﺤ). Islam did not found them; it simply endorsed them since they were in line with Islam’s overall  message and worldview. Stated differently, Islam opted to preserve the forms, but filled them with new contents; it gave them a new meaning that revolved around the Unity of God and Islamic value system. 

[20] Perhaps to underscore its significance, Muslims typically recite this chapter during every prayer (ﺓﻼﺼﻠﺍ) five times a day. 

[21] The Quran is warning guards against anthropomorphism, i.e., the tendency to conceive of God in human terms. We should not attribute human qualities, characteristics or behavior to God. God should not be viewed the Prefect Man

It is true that the Quran sometimes uses an imaginative portrayal of God in human terms: ‘God’s hands are above all hands’. This, however, is a metaphor declaring that God’s power surpasses all; no one can challenge His authority. This sort of anthropomorphism simply prevents Allah from being understood as a purely abstract philosophical concept such as Aristotle’s Prime Mover. Such abstraction cannot inspire a spiritual quest- man can never relate to such a God on a personal level. Man can never experiences affinity and closeness to ‘Primer Mover’ or pure energy. The abstractions do not aid humanity in their quest towards the divine. Yet, we are often reminded by the Quran not to literally project ourselves unto God- what is known as Tanzieh (ﻪﻳﺰﻨﺗ), or transcendence. For example, the Quran vividly reminds us that ‘Nothing is like Him’ (reference here). Islamic Theology simultaneously emphasizes between anthropomorphism and transcendence in an attempt to craft a balance between the two essential tendencies. 

[22] The New Testament also states that Jesus worshiped and prayed to God. See for example, Matthew 26:36. 

[23] The Arabic phrase often used in the Quran is ‘ﷲﺍ ﻥﻮﺪ ﻦﻤ ﺂﺑﺎﺒﺮﺍ’ 

[24] He was the 6th Shii saint. 

[25] The portion of a religion’s teachings directly impacted by culture and history of its birthplace is commonly know as ‘incidentals’ of the religion. By definition, incidentals could be different without impacting the core teachings of the religion. For example, Arabic language is incidental to Islam. God could have employed another language to essentially deliver the same message. 

[26] If unchecked, exaggeration can lead to awful acts. Religious extremists suffer more from this human flaw. We should not forget that harm is sometimes done when we genuinely, yet zealously, advocate a good cause

[27] The verse clearly forbids religious persecution and earthly punishment for those who hold deities besides God. If people choose to submit to other than One God, Muslims are instructed to simply say, “Bear witness that we are submitters to One God”. No one should be punished for his or her belief. Deeds, not beliefs, are subject to reward and punishment.

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