Jesus: The Quest for Answers

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By Babatunde Jose

It is Easter once again and the media is awash with Jesus literature; from Time magazine to the Village Chronicle, there is so much literature on Jesus to compile an Encyclopedia. But we will not concern ourselves with the mountain of resources, rather we will look at some questions that have been agitating our minds, especially as Jesus is a prophet of the twin faiths of Christianity and Islam and also have a bearing on Judaism too. The personality of Jesus is so great that any discussion on that mighty miracle worker can never be ignored. Who was Jesus and how does he relate to Islam? What bearing does he have on other Abrahamic religions and how did he die? Is he coming back and when?

What is the central message of Jesus’ gospel?

Who was Jesus? Jesus or Yeshua also referred to as Jesus of Nazareth or Jesus Christ, was a Jewish preacher and religious leader who became the central figure of Christianity. The name Jesus is derived from the Latin translation of the Greek lesous. This too is a rendering of the Hebrew Yeshua, a variant of the earlier name Yehoshua, which in English is Joshua. The name Yeshua seems to have been in use in Judea at the time of his birth. The name Yeshua actually means salvation.  Christians believe him to be the Son of God and the awaited Messiah (Christ) prophesied in the Old Testament. Some even make no distinction between Jesus and God and increasingly, have come to equate him with God: This is where Islam differ; Quran 112, Al-Ikhlas is very emphatic, it says: Allah is one and alone in His Being . . . . . . Independent. . Besought of all and unique in His attributes. . . . . He begets none and is begotten by none. . . . To the Moslems, his Arabic name is Isa.

Is Jesus mentioned in the Quran? In the 114 chapters of the Quran Mohammed’s name is mentioned in 4 places, however Jesus is mentioned in 25 places. In Surah Al-Imran the Quran 3:45-55 calls Jesus “Word of God”, “Spirit of God” “Jesus Christ”. … The Quran says that Jesus went to Heaven and is   still alive and that He will come again at the end of time. Both the words Dunia (this life, existing world), and Akhirah (afterlife) are exactly mentioned 115 times.

How did Jesus die according to Islam?  While most Western scholars, Jews, and Christians believe Jesus died, most Muslims believe he was raised to Heaven without being put on the cross and God transformed another person to appear exactly like Jesus who was crucified instead of Jesus. … One proposal is that God used one of Jesus’ enemies. However, the founder of the Ahmadiyya sect, Ghulam Ahmad, the self-proclaimed ‘Promised Messiah’, believe that Jesus did not die but survived the crucifixion: The theme is the escape of Jesus from death on the cross and his journey to India in search of the lost tribes of Israel. Christian as well as Muslim scriptures, and old medical and historical books including ancient Buddhist records, provide evidence about this journey. Jesus is shown to have reached Afghanistan, and to have met the Jews who had settled there after deliverance from the bondage of Nebuchadnezzar. From Afghanistan Jesus went on to Kashmir, where other Israelite tribes had settled. There he made his home, and there in time he died; his tomb has been found in Srinagar, and is today a tourist attraction.

Do Muslims believe Jesus is the Messiah?  Although Muslims do not believe that he was divine or that he is the redeemer of our sins; every soul is responsible for their actions in Islam. Yes, Jesus is the Messiah and this is mentioned in the Quran several times. However, being the Messiah has nothing to do with divinity at all. What then do Muslims believe in? Muslims believe that Allah’s message was given to numerous prophets, including Noah, Abraham, Moses, Elijah, and Jesus, and other prophets common to Christianity and Judaism, as well as Muhammad. Hence the Quran enjoins Moslems not only to believe in the books but also in the prophets.

Jesus and Conception of God? Muslims believe that there is only one God, indivisible and He is God” Saritoprak says. “So this God that Jacob worshipped, this God that Abraham, Isaac worshipped, is the same God that Muslims worship today.” Christians, however, believe in a triune God: God the father, God the son (Jesus Christ) and the Holy Spirit. But in the same Bible we read’ “Shama Israelu Adonai Ila Hayno Adna Ikhad”. It is a Hebrew quotation which means: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord” – Deuteronomy 6:4 

Is Jesus a prophet in Islam? Īsa ibn Maryam, (‘Jesus, son of Mary’‎), or Jesus, is understood to be the penultimate prophet and messenger of Allah and al-Masih, the Arabic term for Messiah, the “Christ”, sent to guide the Children of Israel (Bani Isrā’īl in Arabic) with a new revelation: al-Injil (Arabic for “the Gospel”). This also raises the question, Was Jesus a Muslim? Like all prophets in Islam, Jesus is considered a Muslim, in the etymological meaning of the word; (i.e., one who submits to the will of God), as he preached that his followers should adopt the “straight path” as commanded by God. Traditionally, Islam teaches the rejection of the Trinitarian view that Jesus was God incarnate or the son of God. A corollary of this therefore, is the question: Who is the Messiah? In Jewish eschatology, the term came to refer to a future Jewish king from the Davidic line, who will be “anointed” with holy anointing oil, to be king of God’s kingdom, and rule the Jewish people during the Messianic Age. In Judaism, the Messiah is not considered to be God or a pre-existent divine Son of God. The name Messiah, from the Hebrew word “Moshiach” means “Anointed One.” In the Hebrew Scriptures, Moshiach was used for priests and kings, as well as a future leader who would be both priest and king. The Jews are still expecting the Messiah.

Do Muslims believe in the New Testament? Yes, most Muslims believe that all the miracles attributed to Jesus are true: As they were performed with the permission of God … Muslims believe in the Gospels (Injil); that is, the original ones that were sent to Prophet Jesus (Eesa, a.s). There are various Gospels in the New Testament, in the Bible, giving varied accounts of the life and teachings of Jesus; sometimes seemingly contradictory. There is no doubt that tradition is at play. However, the writers of the synoptic gospels agree in most parts, but for John, who is more learned than the others and perhaps closer to Jesus, wrote a different version. According to a brother researcher, John was more scholarly and more detailed than the others. They are not regarded by Moslems as the true Injil or the Gospels of Jesus. The Gospel of Barnabas seems to be more attuned and agreeable to mainstream Islamic scholars.

How many prophets do we have in Islam?

From Adam to Muhammad, there are a total of 124,000 Prophets (Nabi). Out of 124,000 Prophets, only 313 are Messengers (Rasul). Out of 313 Messengers, only 26 are mentioned. Note that every Messenger is a Prophet, but not every Prophet is a Messenger.  In the Holy Quran, twenty-six prophets are mentioned by names: Adam, Nuh, Idris, Hud, Salih, Ibrahim, Lut, Ismail, Al-Yasa, Zulkifl, Ilyas, Ayyub, Yunus, Ishaq, Yaqub, Yusuf, Shuaib, Musa, Harun, Dawood, Sulayman, Zakariya, Yahya, Ismail the keeper of his word, Isa (Jesus) and Muhammad. Prophet Musa (pbuh) is mentioned most in the Quran: He is mentioned 135 times.  Prophet Ibrahim (pbuh) is mentioned 67 times in the Quran. Jesus is mentioned 25 times and Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is mentioned 6 times in the Quran. God Almighty’s name ”Allah” is mentioned 2584 times in the Quran.

Is Christianity and Islam the same?

Christianity and Islam both consider Jesus to have been sent by God. Christians generally consider Jesus to be the Son of God, while Muslims consider the Trinity to be a division of God’s Oneness and a grave sin (shirk). The Trinity and sonship are the main points of departure.

Who is the Mahdi?

In Islamic eschatology, the Mahdi (Mahdi “guided one”) is the prophesied redeemer of Islam who will rule for five, seven, nine, or nineteen years (according to differing interpretations) before the Day of Judgement (yaum al-qiyamah / literally, the Day of Resurrection) and will rid the world of the Antichrist. Despite some major differences, the Quran and New Testament overlap in other aspects of Jesus’ life; both Muslims and orthodox Christians believe that Jesus was miraculously born without a human biological father by the will of God, and that his mother, Mary (Maryam in Arabic), is among the most saintly, pious, chaste …

Do the Jews believe that Jesus is a prophet?

Maimonides states, ‘but if he did not succeed in all this or was killed, he is definitely not the Moshiach promised in the Torah… and God only appointed him in order to test the masses. Jews believe that the messiah will fulfill the messianic prophecies of the prophets Isaiah and Ezekiel.  Orthodox views have generally held that the Messiah will be descended from his father through the line of King David, and will gather the Jews back into the Land of Israel, usher in an era of peace, build the Third Temple, father a male heir, re-institute the Sanhedrin, and so on.

Is Allah God?

The Aramaic word for “God” in the language of Assyrian Christians is ʼĔlāhā, or Alaha. Arabic-speakers of all Abrahamic faiths, including Christians and Jews, use the word “Allah” to mean “God”. The Christian Arabs of today have no other word for “God” than “Allah”. All of the Christianity, Islam, and Judaism refer the word “Allah” or “God” for the same meaning. There is a perception that these words have different meanings and represent different gods by different religions. And that’s not true. … The name “Allah” is used by Arabic-speaking Muslims, Jews, and Christians alike. Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are monotheistic religions, namely they believe that there is only one God. Jews and Muslims greatly stress the oneness and unity of God.

Do you have to believe in God to be a Unitarian?

They believe Jesus did not claim to be God and that his teachings did not suggest the existence of a triune God. Unitarians believe in the moral authority but not necessarily the divinity of Jesus. Their theology is thus opposed to the trinitarian theology of other Christian denominations.

Why do they call Jesus, Christ?

After his death, he came to be called Jesus Christ. Christ was not originally a name but a title derived from the Greek word Christos, which translates the Hebrew term meshiah (Messiah), meaning “the anointed one.”

What is the difference between Christians and Jews?

The biggest difference between the Jewish and Christian religions is their perception of Jesus. While Christians believe that Jesus is the Messiah, Jewish people believe he was a teacher or possibly a prophet. Traditionally, both Judaism and Christianity believe in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, for Jews the God of the Tanakh, for Christians the God of the Old Testament, the creator of the universe. … Both religions agree that God shares both transcendent and immanent qualities. The myriad of churches that make up Christianity profess that their religion is based on Jesus Christ. Nearly all claim Him as their founder and say that their teachings are based on what He said and did 2,000 years ago. But, sadly, there are many doctrines where mainstream Christianity ignores or actually rejects the teachings of Jesus Christ.

Jesus had a central message that formed the basis for His entire ministry and teachings.

He pinpointed this central message in the heart of His most famous sermon—the Sermon on the Mount. He made a statement about what should be the highest priority for His followers: “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33, emphasis added).

Are we seeking the ‘Kingdom’? Are we walking the path of righteousness? Are we sincere in our relationship with God? Have we given to Caesar that which belongs to Caesar and to God that which belongs to Him? Have we kept the faith and the ‘Commandments’? Have we refrained from taking what does not belong to us? Have we committed looting of the common treasury? Have we dispossessed our fellow men?

If we have not kept the faith and followed the commandments, then Jesus had died in vain: And we have no justification for celebrating his resurrection and Easter!

To those who have kept to the Commandments, I wish you Barka Juma’at and a Happy Easter.

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