Contrary to popular perception, Jesus is not an exclusive figure to Christianity; he is also a revered personality in Islam. It is imperative to unveil the fabric of Islamic belief to truly appreciate the tapestry that holds Jesus as an integral thread. This article endeavours to unravel the layered understanding of Jesus in Islam, and through this exploration, foster an atmosphere of interfaith dialogue and appreciation.
The prophetic lineage
The embrace of Jesus in Islamic scripture
In Islam, Jesus, or ‘Isa’ in Arabic, is considered one of the great Prophets. The Qur’an, which is the holy book of Islam, reveres Jesus as a messenger who was born to the Virgin Mary. His birth is seen as a miracle and he is often associated with performing miracles such as healing the sick and raising the dead. The Qur’an speaks of Jesus in more than ninety verses spread over fifteen chapters.
A conduit of God’s message
In the Islamic tradition, Jesus is perceived as a conduit of God’s message, similar to other Prophets like Moses and Muhammad. Muslims believe that Jesus was sent to guide the Children of Israel and that he preached the same monotheistic faith that was taught by the preceding Prophets. His core message in Islamic theology is one of peace, submission to God’s will, and adherence to piety and righteousness.
Crucifixion and ascension: an alternate perspective
One of the most profound differences between Islamic and Christian narratives revolves around the crucifixion. In Islam, it is widely believed that Jesus was not crucified but rather, he was raised to heaven. The Qur’an states that it only appeared to people as if he was crucified. This ascension is deemed to protect Jesus, who is believed to return near the Day of Judgment.
The return of Jesus: the eschatological Messiah
The eschatological beliefs concerning Jesus in Islam are particularly captivating. He is considered the Messiah who will return in the end times to restore justice and defeat the false messiah, known as the Antichrist or ‘Dajjal’ in Islamic eschatology. This belief reflects the revered and central role Jesus has in the culmination of human history in Islamic thought.
Cultural Enrichment and Interfaith Dialogue
An icon across faiths: building bridges
Understanding Jesus in Islam is not only essential for a comprehensive knowledge of Islamic theology but also acts as a bridge in interfaith dialogue. Recognising the shared reverence for figures like Jesus can foster an environment of mutual respect and cooperation among different religious communities.
A cultural tapestry: Jesus in Muslim heritage
The portrayal of Jesus in Islamic poetry, literature, and art reflects a rich tradition that often intersects with Christian narratives. This cultural tapestry is indicative of the deep-rooted respect and love that Muslims hold for Jesus. His image is used to symbolise piety, devotion, and an unwavering commitment to justice and truth.
Delving into the multifaceted role of Jesus in Islam, we uncover a figure who is deeply rooted in the religious and cultural fabric of the Muslim world. By engaging with this nuanced understanding, we can foster a deeper sense of interfaith solidarity and appreciate the shared values and beliefs that exist across religious divides. Jesus, as a revered prophet in Islam, serves as an ambassador of peace, justice, and spiritual uplifting.
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