In his Christianity: An Introduction, Alister E. McGrath states, “If Christianity has a center, it is Jesus Christ”. Christians believe that Jesus is the God incarnate, the son of God who died on the cross and was raised again to deliver humanity from its sins, McGrath states. These are the main themes that constitute the Christians’ perception of and belief in Jesus.
For their part, Muslims differ with Christians regarding these designations of Jesus. However, there are some points of similarity and common grounds between both of them in this regard. In order to investigate Muslims’ perception of Jesus, we refer to the Glorious Qur’an, the first and primary source of legislation for Muslims.
The word ‘Isa (or Jesus) is mentioned in the Qur’an 25 times and his designation as Messiah ibn Maryam (or Christ son of Mary) is stated 5 times. The Qur’an also described Jesus as son of Mary and messenger of God 3 times “Messiah ‘Isa ibn Maryam rasul Allah.” This indicates that the Qur’an greatly emphasizes on Jesus and orders Muslim to pay him due reverence. Moreover, Muslims are religiously obliged to believe in Jesus as well as all other messengers and prophets of God, peace be upon them all, exactly as they believe in Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), without making any distinction between any of them (the Qur’an 2:136).
According to the verses of the Qur’an, Muslims believe that Jesus (PBUH) was miraculously born by Mary without a father and he spoke in the cradle. These two miracles were made in order to show Allah’s absolute Power and Will and to prove the innocence of Mary, as people exclaimed how she bore a child without a husband. (The Quran, 19: 21 and 27) He was also given a divine Scripture with which he affirmed the teachings of the Torah and gave glad-tidings of the advent of the last messenger, i.e. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
Along with Injil (or the Gospel), Allah supported Jesus with many other miracles. He was able to from the clay in the image of a bird and with Allah’s permission, he breathed into it, and it became a bird, heal the blind and the leper with Allah’s permission and bring forth the dead with Allah’s permission. On the contrary to the Christian belief that Jesus was crucified and died on the cross for the salvation of humankind, Muslims believe that he was not crucified or killed, but rather Allah protected and saved him and elevated him to heaven (The Quran, 4:158).
These Qur’anic verses constitute the Muslim conception of Jesus. In Islam, Jesus is a messenger of Allah who was miraculously born and was sent to the Children of Israel to revive the teachings of Torah and guide people to the right path. He was supported with many miracles which prove his prophethood. Despite all these points of agreement between Muslims and Christians with regard to the nature of Jesus, Muslims do not believe that Jesus is incarnate God or son of God, nor do they believe that he died on the cross.
Each religion has its own principles and articles of faith which distinguishes it from any other religion or faith. It is natural for the followers of a certain religion to believe in the tenants of their own religion and also believe that followers of other religions are not following the right path. They may, therefore, try to present their own faith or share it with followers of other religions, seeing that they are trying to save them from the terrible fate awaiting them in case of disbelief. Yet, it is not acceptable that a follower of any religion tries to force a follower of another faith to adopt his own belief. Rather, believers should search for common grounds to build on and windows for cooperation to promote.
Another important point in this regard is that people at the social level should cooperate and peacefully coexist, regardless of their religions as long as freedom of religion is protected. In order to promote global peace, followers of different religion should work together, bridge gaps and end all religious disputes.