Muhammad or Jesus?
If you were to ask someone to try and list the most influential public figures in world history, you will find they will probably come up with names such as Napoleon and Lenin, Ghandi and Mao, Plato and Aristotle, Alexander the Great and Luther, Buddha and Confucius, Jesus and Muhammad. If you ask which of those men has influenced the most people, you will eventually be led to those who founded religions and who shaped their cultures for long periods of time. Currently, Buddha influences 500 million people, Muhammad 1.3 billion, and Jesus 1.9 billion. After Jesus, Muhammad seems to be the second most influential person in world history.
Some believe that all prophets are equally important, apart from a few minor differences (Sura 2:253; 4:150,151; 17:55). But Muhammad claimed to be the seal of all prophets (Sura 33:40), the climax and final fulfillment of all revelations (Sura 4:80; 7:158; 10:57-58; 34:28). We will examine those opinions with the help of the Qur’an and the Bible.
Muhammad’s father, Abdallah, died before his son was born. Muhammad’s mother, Amina, died when her son was just six years old. During the years when his character was formed, the prophet of the Arabs was an orphan – raised by his grandfather, Abd al-Mutallib, and later by his uncle.
Muhammad was a human being like everybody else. Muhammad talks about himself a few times in the Qur’an, referring to himself as a person who had lost his way, until Allah found him (Sura 93:6-8). When Allah demanded him to ask for forgiveness of his sins, four times he confessed his transgressions (Sura 40:55; 47:19; 48:2; 110:3). He died in 632 AD, supposedly of natural causes.
Jesus, referred to as ‘Isa in the Qur’an, is different. Gabriel had blown a spirit of Allah into the Virgin Mary (Sura 21:91; 66:12), thus ‘Isa was created in her. Muslims adore Jesus Christ as a spirit from Allah who became a human being (Sura 4:171). By those statements the Qur’an marks a fundamental difference between Muhammad and Jesus Christ. The prophet of the Muslims was a man like everybody else. However, according to the Qur’an, Jesus is a spirit from Allah in the body of a human being. Some modern syncretists believe there is no great difference between the Qur’an and the Gospel regarding those statements in the Qur’an.
The church of the Middle East was torn for centuries (318–681 AD) by questions about the relationship of God’s spirit in Jesus with his human nature. Arius taught: “Jesus was created in Mary by God’s word, and then developed to perfection through insight and obedience.” However, Athanasius answered him: “No! Jesus was not created in Mary, but He lives forever. He is truly God who became a human being in Mary through the Holy Spirit. His real birth as God’s Son took place before all times.” In the year 325 AD, the Emperor Constantine called church princes and bishops to Nicaea, to have them formulate a common creed. Since then all Christian churches confess the Nicene Creed: Jesus is “God from God, light from light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one being with the Father!”
Islam maintains the opposite, ‘Isa is said to have been created by Allah, but not sired by him, nor was he born (Sura 3:47, 59; 112:3-4). Jesus Christ is said to be one of the numerous created spirits of Allah, which do not possess a divine nature. Therefore, the Muslims call him the Son of Mary, but never the Son of God! Although the Qur’an confirms that ‘Isa was created in a virgin, by the word of God, there is still an insurmountable difference between the ‘Isa of the Qur’an and the Jesus of the Gospel. In the book of the Muslims, ‘Isa remains a created being and a slave of Allah’s (Sura 19:30). In the New Testament, however, Jesus is God’s Son (Matthew 3:17; 16:16; John 3:16) and His likeness (John 14:9; Hebrews 1:3), born from God’s own Holy Spirit (Luke 1:35; John 3:6; 2 Corinthians 3:17-18). The Almighty is his Father and not his creator (John 17:1-5). If Jesus had been created in Mary, all people would merely be Allah’s slaves. But Jesus was born by her through God’s Spirit, therefore we are rightly called sons and daughters of our Father in Heaven (Matthew 6:9-13; 1 John 3:1-3).
In the Qur’an, ‘Isa is not regarded as a sinner, because of his being sired by Allah’s spirit (Sura 19:19). According to Islam, he never had to ask for His sins to be forgiven. He lived in a meek, humble and upright way (Sura 19:32). Therefore, Allah is said to have lifted him up to himself (Sura 3:55; 4:158) where he is living today as one of the ones brought close. He is said to be entitled to intercede, because of his strong alliance with Allah (Sura 5:114, 118; 19:85-87; 20:109; 21:28; 33:7; 34:23; 43:86). Moreover another difference between Muhammad and Jesus becomes visible; Jesus lives! – Muhammad is dead! The Arab prophet is waiting for the day of justice in the intermediate stage (Barzach). Therefore, all Muslims must pray for Muhammad each time they mention his name (Sura 33:56).
The Qur’an confirms nine of Jesus’ miracles. Five of them represent the Islamic version of reports in the four books of the Gospel, which Muhammad borrowed from Christian informants. He wove them into his so-called revelations in order to win the Christians over for Islam and to prove to them that Islam was a religion that was close to Christianity.
· Twice Muhammad mentions that ‘Isa opened the eyes of blind people through the power of his word. Thus he wanted to demonstrate that Christ was the word of Allah become flesh and that he possessed healing power (Sura 3:45, 49; 5:110).
· Also, the Qur’an twice reports that the Son of Mary healed lepers. In Muhammad’s day, leprosy seemed to be incurable and was regarded as Allah’s judgment for hidden sins. Thus, ‘Isa appears as the most important physician in history who could heal all illnesses, including their causes (Sura 3:49; 5:110).
· Twice we read in the Qur’an that ‘Isa even awakened dead people. But both times Muhammad stressed that Christ was not able to complete these divine deeds by himself, but depended on Allah’s spiritual help each time (Sura 3:49; 5:110; see John 5:19-30!).
· The fifth Sura speaks about a table from heaven, which Christ asked Allah for at the request of his hungry listeners. At first, the Islamic interpreters are interested in the variety of the food and drinks on the table because they believe this represents the future display of nourishment in paradise. The fact that the Son of Mary was authorized to plead for his followers is hardly mentioned (Sura 5:112-116; see Matthew 14:13-21; John 6:1-13).
· The most prominent of Jesus Christ’s miracles in the Qur’an is the fact that he could alter the character of his followers. They were no longer arrogant, they now loved their adversaries, were full of pity and mercy for the needy, and did not make money out of God’s word. In them, Muhammad recognized a higher class of men than the unbelieving people (Sura 3:55, 199; 5:82; 57:27).
Two of ‘Isa’s miracles in the Qur’an are questionable, because they come from apocryphal papers of the Syrian and Coptic Christians, which are not included in the canon of the New Testament. The founding fathers of the church saw in them fables and imaginative childhood stories, which had nothing to do with the reality of the Son of Mary:
· The Qur’an reports twice that ‘Isa was able to talk immediately after being born. He is said not to have needed any time for the development of his intellect and his ability to speak, like other children. Mary, his mother, never told nor confirmed such fairy tales to Luke, the Greek physician (Sura 3:46; 19:24-33).
· Muhammad says that when the Son of Mary was a boy, he formed a bird out of clay and blew into it. Then the bird flew away alive. With this story, Muslims testify that Jesus Christ had received creative power from Allah. He possessed a breath that could create life (Sura 3:46; 5: 110)!
The fact that those stories of Jesus, the child, were included in the Qur’an shows that Muhammad was not a prophet, for he could not differentiate between fantasy and reality. He believed “more” than the Christians did. He even thought that fables were true and used them to win the Christians in the Middle East over to Islam.
· Further, the Qur’an attributes to ‘Isa the right of a legislator who allowed his followers what was forbidden to Jews (Sura 3:50; see Matthew 5:21-48; 15:16-20). Therefore he could demand obedience of everybody! ‘Isa belonged to the divine legislative, not to the human executive.
· Muhammad warned his Muslims that Jesus Christ would come back and tell them what they hid in their cupboards and ate in secret without sharing it with the refugees from Mecca. The Qur’an says that ‘Isa had X-ray eyes that discovered everything hidden (Sura 3:49).
· But the miracle of all miracles in the Qur’an is Jesus Christ himself, who is called “a sign for all men and a mercy from Allah” (Sura 9:21). The word sign is “Ayatun” in Arabic and means miracle. Read together with the word “Allah,” ‘Isa is given prominence as an “Ayatollah.” He is said to be the only male Ayatollah created and appointed by Allah himself. He did not have to acquire his title with the help of examinations like the Shiite Ayatollahs.
Muhammad deeply wished to work such miracles as Moses and Jesus, but no miracles were ever granted to him. Therefore, he called each one of his verses in the Qur’an a miraculous sign (Ayatun) and maintained, “Even if all men and spirits came together they would not be able to produce such a Qur’an” (Sura 17:88). But Muhammad’s signs were words only, whereas Jesus Christ’s miracles were deeds. The Qur’an calls ‘Isa’s miracles proof (Beijinat) of his divine mission (Sura 2:87, 253; 5:110; 43:63).
The prophet of the Arabs was ridiculed, boycotted, and persecuted in Mecca. He had declared that all gods and idols in the ancient cultural center were nothing, and had stressed that Allah was the only true god among them. Muhammad’s family was obligated to defend him according to customary social order. But slaves that had adopted Islam and followers of Muhammad from weak families were beaten and often killed.
Muhammad advised 83 persecuted Muslims to flee to Ethiopia to survive there until Islam became stronger. The Christians there gave asylum to the Muslim refugees, but did not preach to them. After several years, only one Muslim had become a Christian, but 230 Christians had become Muslims! The Ethiopian Christians viewed Islam as a religion similar to Christianity when they once had to defend their faith in public. Thus, the Muslims were treated with compassion and gained ground for their development. Today, about 40 percent of the Ethiopians are Muslims.
After the deaths of his paternal uncle, Abu Talib, and his first wife, Khadidja, Muhammad fled to the mountain town of Taif to seek shelter from his pursuers, but was driven into the desert by its inhabitants. There Allah is said to have brought to him a group of spirits (jinn), to whom he recited the Qur’an. At once they adopted Islam. Since then, Muslims are not only human beings, but also spirits, who assist in spreading Islam (Sura 46:29-32; 72:1-15; see Ephesians 6:10-20).
Following these events some inhabitants of the town of Yathrib, which is Medina today, adopted Islam before Muhammad had preached there. In three secret meetings with representatives of that town he negotiated several agreements that culminated in a commitment to protect him and his Muslims if he and all his followers emigrated from Mecca to the neighboring town, 200 km north. That “Hidjra” took place in September 622 AD. This is the date the Islamic calendar begins. It is important to note that on this date Islam became a state in Medina – prior it had only been a religion. The aim of Islam is a religious state. Its law, the Shari’a, only works if a state executive ensures its implementation.
Jesus was also hated and persecuted more and more by the religious fanatics of his country. He performed healing miracles on a Sabbath (Matthew 12:9-14; Luke 14:1-5; John 5:10-18), called self-righteous pious people to repentance (Luke 5:32), and would not deny his divinity (Matthew 11:27; 16:16-17; 26:63-64; John 10:34-36). With his disciples he escaped to the neighboring Lebanon and to what today is Jordan (Matthew 15:21-31; Mark 7:24-30; Luke 8:26-39), but He always returned to Galilee. The jealousy of the religious leaders grew (Matthew 27:18; Mark 15:10; John 12:19) when thousands followed the man from Nazareth who healed all the sick that came to him, who did not teach about demons but exorcised them, and who raised three people from the dead (Luke 8:40-56; 7:11-17; John 11:1-45). Christ’s life and teachings were the Gospel for the masses.
Jesus knew in advance what was awaiting him in Jerusalem (Matthew 20:17-19). He did not flee like Muhammad, but consciously met death. He was born to die (John 1:27; 3:15-16). As the Lamb of God, He followed the straight path of righteousness to the end.
The religious accusations against Jesus centered on the question of His being the Son of the Living God. Yet he did not avoid that question but confessed his everlasting existence with his heavenly Father. He proclaimed His coming return as the judge of the world then was spit upon and beaten for blasphemy as a seducer of the people, and was sentenced to death (Matthew 26:63-68).
The procurator of the Roman occupying forces asked Jesus straight out if he was the king of the Jews. When Jesus said yes and proclaimed his spiritual kingdom, without taxes or weapons, the experienced official wanted to let this harmless, falsely accused man go. Jesus openly confessed the aim of his mission, which was to build the spiritual kingdom of God on earth. Muhammad, on the other hand, starting from Medina, pushed through his earthly religious state with armed forces (Sura 2:191-193; 9:5,29).
As Jesus, who was unjustly condemned and crucified, was hanging on the cross He pleaded to God to forgive his friends and foes (Luke 23:34). He wrestled with the judging God like Jacob did on the Jabbok River and did not give up until He had completed His expiatory sacrifice for all (Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34). Muhammad, however, does not only deny the fact that Jesus was crucified (Sura 4:157), but also that he bore our sin (Sura 17:15; 35:18; 39:7; 53:38) and that he completed salvation for all. He made Allah lift ‘Isa up after a gentle death (Sura 3:55; 4:158; 5:116-118).
The cross was an outrage for the prophet of the Arabs (Sura 4:157; 1 Corinthians 1:18,23). He could not comprehend that Jesus was victorious in His seemingly greatest weakness. Muhammad fled from his pursuers and founded an earthly religious state. But Jesus overcame the world, Satan and the wrath of God when he died, nailed to the cross, in his faith, his love and in hope (John 16:33; 19:30).
Islam means “devotion and submission” to Allah – and to Muhammad! This total dedication is practically realized and implemented by the law of the Shari’a. Islam is a religion of law, where all sections of belief and life are ruled by regulations. The Shari’a itself does not exist as a book or as a written canon. It consists of about 500 verses scattered throughout the Qur’an and of orally transmitted accounts of the way Muhammad lived. The representatives of the five Islamic schools of law compiled their law books from those main sources. According to their laws, each Muslim should live like Muhammad did. His way of living became the Islamic standard of measure. The Islamic law contains regulations to be carried out by every single Muslim, as well as laws to be carried out by the state.
Praying five times a day, fasting in the month of Ramadan, paying the religious tax, and, if able, going on the pilgrimage to Mecca is the main part of the Islamic service in which every Muslim must take part. Though all believing Muslims must participate in jihad for the cause of Allah, the Holy War shall only be proclaimed by the ruler of the respective religious state.
Everyday issues such as marriage and divorce, caring for orphans, laws concerning trade, the ban of interest, contracts, inheritance, material witnesses, oaths and the ban of certain foods and drinks, all fall under the obligations of every Muslim. However, carrying out the medieval punishments for murder, adultery, theft, attacks on Islam, and apostasy from Islam are the responsibilities of officers of the religious state.
All these laws are a reflection of Muhammad’s life. The way he lived and judged is to be the way of living and judging in Islam. Each Muslim shall become a little Muhammad. That is seen as the only way to ensure the welfare of the Islamic state of Allah. Therefore Muhammad is called in the Qur’an “a grace of Allah” for all countries on earth (Sura 21:107).
He who observes these laws hopes to collect credits in his account of good deeds for the final judgment (Sura 35:29-30; 9:111). More than 50 times the Qur’an says that Islamic belief and good deeds, which come from the observation of the Shari’a, make possible the entry to paradise (Sura 2:25,82; 4:57,122, 124; 11:23). Islam is founded on righteousness through deeds, and belief appears merely as a good deed (Sura 11:114; 49:14-15).
But Muhammad and his Shari’a do not prove to be a grace of Allah for our world – but a curse! Nobody becomes righteous by observing the law. No Muslim has ever prayed enough, fasted enough, paid enough or led a life of sufficient integrity to be righteous before God. The Shari’a, which so many Muslims put their hope in, will not yield paradise but will yield God's judgement and condemnation. It was not in vain that Muhammad openly confessed in the Qur’an that all Muslims will go to the fire of hell! (Sura 19:70-72).
Muhammad did not see himself as a savior, but as a warner (Sura 16:2; 13:17; 38:65; 75:45). The word salvation, as it is used in the New Testament, is nowhere to be found in the Qur’an. Salvation does not fit into Islam. Muhammad rather stands behind every Muslim with the whip of his law and tries to drive them into paradise through fear of god and fear of hell. If Muhammad had died for the Muslims, his death would not have been of any use, for he was a sinner like everyone else. He did not possess any divine nature or holiness to be able to do penitence for his followers.
Jesus also gave a new law to his followers that comprises all parts of faith and life. They are to love each other as he loved them! (John 13:34-35). Love is the summary of more than 500 of Jesus' commands of how His followers are to believe, pray, fast, sacrifice and go on pilgrimages. He not only ordered their worship of God, but also provided guidance to everyday questions of leading a marriage and how to use money. He explained the laws of cleanliness and showed what punishment awaited those who were not ready to repent and did not want to forgive. All these commandments He summed up in the one single order: Love as I love! By that fundamental commandment He not only directs deeds, duties and bans, but He also directs intentions and attitudes toward God and men to be pure and holy. A list of good deeds is not enough for Jesus – the heart and mind must be renewed. A new spirit fills and moves the followers of Jesus forward. His very own love wants to change us into loving human beings.
By his new commandment Jesus made himself the standard of measure for his disciples. They were to love God and every human being as deeply and truly as He loved them. They were to forgive all their adversaries as completely as God forgave them (Matthew 6:14-15). Jesus Himself is our law. He ordered us to do the impossible, to become perfectly holy and merciful, just as our Heavenly Father is perfect and holy in His love (Matthew 5:48; Leviticus 19:2; 11:44-45; Luke 6:36). This challenge leads even the holiest of Jesus’ followers to fall short. Even the humblest appears as a rebel (Psalm 51:1-5).
After establishing his new law, Jesus revealed his love on the cross (Ephesians 3:18-19) by completing a justification free of charge and valid for all sinners (Romans 3:22-24; 5:1; Ephesians 2:17-22; et al.). Thus he created the legal basis for the citizens of his spiritual kingdom. By one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy (Hebrews 10:14).
On the basis of His atoning death for everybody, He poured out the Holy Spirit on His praying followers. Those who were born again of the Spirit, He added to His kingdom and made them His own possession (John 3:5; 1 Peter 2:9-10; Revelation 1:6). His spirit gives us His life, His strength, His love, His joy, His peace, and His hope. Those who love Him belong to His kingdom. Muslims must live “in Muhammad,” but we have the privilege to put on Jesus, becoming a new man, and remaining “in Jesus Christ” (John 15:5; Ephesians 4:17-5:2)! Thus the basic difference between Islam and Christianity is the difference between Muhammad and Jesus!
In Islam there is no Holy Spirit, just created spirits. Therefore, there can’t be any recognition of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit in Islam. The fruit of the Spirit does not exist, just the acts of the flesh. The certain hope for everlasting life is unknown among the Muslims. Islam remains a hopeless religion in spite of all promises. The curse of the law weighs them down. But the gospel justifies the believer free of charge and gives the power of Jesus’ Spirit to fulfill the law (Acts 1:8; Romans 1:16; 8:1-17). Christians do not live without a law, for Jesus’ Spirit is His law in us (Romans 8:2; Hebrews 8:10-12).
Our hope is not grounded on the flawless observance of the commandments of the Old and New Testaments, nor on our own achievements, but on Jesus Christ’s mercy alone (Ephesians 2:8-9). By nature, we are not any better than the Muslims. But the blood of Jesus, God’s Son, purifies us from all sin (1 John 1:7; Hebrews 9:14; 10:14). It is the Spirit that gives life; the flesh counts for nothing (John 6:63). Christ in us is the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27). We do not desire the false Islamic paradisiacal pleasures of eternity, but we desire to go home and spend eternity with our Father (Luke 15:21-24)! Jesus Christ is our only hope. In the paradise of Islam, Allah is not present; he remains the uplifted, far-away, invisible despot. But our Father will wipe away every tear from our eyes (Revelation 7:17; 21:3-7).
Christianity and Islam are two world religions that claim the entire world. Muhammad ordered his followers: “Fight (with the weapon in your hand) against them until they are no longer tempted (to break away) and Allah’s religion (Islam) reigns everywhere (Sura 2:193; 8:39)”! Wherever Muslims represent the majority in a country, and when they are strong enough economically and militarily, the Qur’an and the Shari’a call them to Holy War to subjugate the non-believers, semi-believers, and the book-owners with weapons in their hands (Sura 2:191-193; 4:89-91; 9:5,28-29; et al.).
These verses not only drive the extremists and terrorists in Islam, but it is Allah’s order to all Muslims. Just as Muhammad personally took part in 29 assaults, attacks and wars, Muslims, who are to follow Muhammad's example, shall take part in the conquering of the world. He, who does not do so or interprets it in an idealistic way, wrongs Allah. Many humanists and mystics do not want to accept this fact. But if you read the laws and orders concerning Holy War in the books of the Shari’a scientists, you can find more than 125 verses of the Qur’an that prompt every Muslim to fight for Allah.
The Lord Jesus ordered his disciples to preach to all nations on the earth (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16; Acts 1:8). He did not train his followers in close combat, nor did he buy them modern arms for attacking and defending as Muhammad did, but he ordered Peter, “Put your sword back in its place, for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.” (Matthew 26:52). Since then, all religious wars have been anti-Christian crimes.
Jesus calls us to a spiritual battle against our immorality, impurity, covetousness, jealousy, outbursts of anger, envy, arrogance, and greed (Hebrews 12:1-2). He calls us to obedience in faith, and He commissions us to offer to all Non-Christians, including Muslims, the salvation that is prepared for them. This requires prayer and His spiritual guidance. The risen crucified Christ is the lord of the mission. No one can come to Him unless the Father has enabled him (John 6:65).
The spiritual guidance and counsel that the Almighty gives to Muslims gives us calmness, peace and faith in His acting. Let us proclaim together his complete victory over the world and over sin and death, so that his Holy Spirit can complete His salvation in those who believe (1 John 5:4-5).
Mission means giving thanks for Golgotha and at the same time preparing the way for the coming Lord. Jesus, our savior, is the judge of the world and the judge of Muhammad. The Lamb of God will take the rebel to task and will call millions of Muslims from Islam's darkness (Philippians 2:9-11). All authority has been given to Him in heaven and on earth; go therefore and make disciples (Matthew 28:18-19).