A study of the Quranic verses regarding Jesus reveals that the Quran refers to Jesus as I`sa most often. At times the names Masih and Ibn Maryam are employed. This primary epistemological source, the Quran, also attributes two titles to I`sa (Jesus) which are "RUH" and "KALIMAH".
Jesus’ maternal grandfather’s family, is mentioned in the Quran as regards the choice of Allah, along with the other great Prophets, i.e. Adam , Noah and the family of Abraham . This indicates that Jesus is the reason for the family of Imran being one of the "chosen ones".
The picture regarding Mary, Jesus’ mother’s birth in the Quran is very brief. That is to say, the Quran mentions the wife of Imran’s decision to dedicate unto her Lord that which was in her womb. We are then told of her consternation upon giving birth to a female, thinking the intention she made earlier would be difficult to carry out.
The Quran also informs us that Allah named the child Mary and that God commanded her and her child to be protected from Satan. Thereafter the Quran continues from the point in Mary’s life when lots were cast as to decide who was to take care of her, this resulting in the conferral of her care upon Zakariyah.
It is worthy of note that, the Quran only touches upon this aspect of Mary’s life - who is given care of her. Whereas in Tafsir, we have a much more detailed report of why Mary needed a guardian and exactly how Zakariya was chosen by Allah to be her guardian.
It centres upon Mary and gives a picture of a very pious woman, who due to her elevated status, was awarded provisions from God, as is stated in Verse 3/37 of the Quran. This verse discloses Zakariya’s surprise at seeing her supplied with sustenance, she could not have procured for herself. Her piety is once again evident in her answer to Zakariya’s query, as she takes the name of her Lord as her Provider.
Following this, the Quran points out the privilege awarded to Mary as being chosen above all other women to bear Jesus.
The Quran gives quite a clear picture of Mary’s character. She is frequently referred to as chaste and pious. Furthermore in the Quranic verse 5/75, she is also given the attribute of truthfulness together with her son.
The news of her son which she was to bear without the need of a man, was given through the Angels, states Verses 3/45-46. At the same time the name of her child and his status in the world, as well as one of his miracles was also revealed to her.
Mary’s chastity is once again evident from her amazement upon this news, as she states her purity and lack of contact with any man other than her guardian, Zakariya.
The Quran has given a detailed account of Jesus’ conception and birth. It tells of her withdrawal from her family and states the location of her chosen site.
The Quran has stated that it is Angel Gabriel who came to Mary in the form of a man, to announce to her that she was to conceive Jesus, but the exact manner in which Jesus was conceived has not been revealed. In the Quran it simply states, "So she conceived Him,"19/22, and in Quranic verse 66/12, "and we breathed into her body Our spirit". No clear definition is given as to how and in which way Jesus actually entered into Mary’s womb.
An account of Mary’s labour is given in the Quranic verse 19/23, where her pain is mentioned during the time of Jesus’ birth. It is evident from this that Mary suffered, like any other woman in childbirth, but was given provisions from her Lord, dates and water, to ease her anguish as is mentioned in the Quranic verse 19/25. In the Quranic verse 19/23, Mary wishes that she had died and "been a thing forgotten and of sight". This could also indicate her fear of what the people would say, and the damage to her reputation upon seeing her with a child.
But once again, she was given a way through, by being told, by her Lord, to indicate that she had kept a fast, which meant abstaining from speaking. This did not prevent people from accusing her of misdeed, but the first miracle of Jesus was beheld by the people, as is stated in Quranic verses 19/28-32, when Jesus spoke and told them of his reason for coming amongst them.
Now we come to the Quranic verses revealed by Allah pertaining to Jesus - his mission, his status, his character etc.
The image or picture derived of Jesus from these statements is quite clear in its expression.
Jesus has stated quite frequently, that he was a Prophet only and a worshipper of God. In Quranic verse 5/75, the Quran emphasizes that both Jesus and his mother were mere mortals, who ate like any other person. This signifies that they were not classed as anything other than human.
Jesus states the fact that he was given a book by the Lord, which is given the name of Injeel in the Quranic verse 5/110. This is regarded as a privilege from God, that Jesus was taught the Torah and Injeel, as Allah says in Quranic verse 5/110.
Jesus is portrayed as an honoured man, who was given the ability to perform miracles with the aid of his Lord. A messenger of Allah who was sent to set aright the people, with a book of guidance.
He has been called a "sign of mercy" for the people, but the latter, as is stated in Quranic verses 61/6 and 5/75, continued to deny his validity and accused him of consorting with magic.
The Quran also confirms that the Torah was a book of God and that the Injeel given to Jesus upheld the teachings of the previous book.
Jesus himself stated that God had made him obedient to his mother, and that he was not arrogant or unblessed, in the Quranic verse 19/32.
Jesus’ mission has been frequently referred to in many Quranic Verses. The fact that he was a messenger who came to the people of Israel with a book of God and to set them aright once more, is the reason for Jesus having been sent to the world.
He has also been given a further responsibility as is stated in Quranic verse 4/159, in that those who do not believe in him, he will be called on the Day of Judgement to bear witness against them.
But there were those (Quranic verses 3/52, 61/40, 3/54, 3/52 etc.) that Jesus would bear witness to be God’s helpers. These were the Hawariyyun, or disciples of Jesus.
Jesus seems, from the Quran, to be a man who inspired much faith in the hearts of his disciples (Quranic verse 57/27), but at times they asked him to perform miracles as evidence of his status, (Quranic verse 5/14). In Quranic verse 5/112, the well known incident of the table from Heaven is recounted. Again we are told of Jesus’ supplication to God, indicating that he conferred all the glory of his miracles upon his Lord, he did not wish his people to think he himself was causing such miraculous occurrences. This is a point, the Quran highlights often, as is evident from the Quranic verse 5/112-115, where Allah states that He will send down the table, but those who reject faith following its appearance will be severely punished.
The book given to Jesus from God is mentioned twelve times in the Quran as the Injeel. In Quranic verse 3/3 it is also stated that the Quran is confirmation of the Injeel which confirmed the Torah before it.
Quranic verse 3/48 also says that Jesus was taught the Injeel as well as the Torah by Allah, and the contents of the Injeel are said, in the Quranic verse 5/46, 3/3-4 and 48/29, to be a source guidance and an admonition to uphold the teachings of the Torah.
Not only was the Injeel given to Jesus to set aright the people, he was also given the ability to perform miracles as are stated in the Quran, to prove to the people that his mission was true and that he was sent by God.
The first miracle was his miraculous birth without the need of a father (as mentioned in detail previously). The second was soon after his birth, when he spoke to the people to relieve his mother of the false accusations made upon her.
Following this, later on in his life, Jesus made birds out of clay and breathed life into them (Quranic verse 5/110) and also mentioned in the same Quranic verse is his miraculous cure of the leper and the born blind and bringing the dead back to life again. The Quran mentions these miracles to be the bestowal of a favour from God upon Jesus, indicating that Jesus was just a man chosen as a "medium" of Allah. We are told by the Quran that Jesus was able to inform people of what they had eaten and stored. The Quran also states the final miracle of Jesus, in that era, to be his ascension to the skies.
The manner in which Jesus was raised up to God and another crucified in his place is not mentioned in much detail, the Quran suffices to state that this is what occurred and that Allah is the most Wise.
Jesus’ high rank in the eyes of God is portrayed in Quranic verse 3/55, where Allah states that those who rejected Jesus and His teachings will be punished and that Jesus will be cleared of all falsehood and raised up to Allah Himself.
We now come to the verses in the Quran, which deal with the eschatological role of Jesus. There are four Quranic verses which highlight the event of Jesus’ descent. Although the details of the minor events after Jesus’ reappearance is not indicated, the indication of his descent as an eschatological (near the end of the world) matter is very strongly asserted. Verses 43/60-61 indicate that Jesus will be a sign for the coming of the Hour of Judgement and Verses 3/46 and 5/110 in which his speech in manhood has been mentioned, throw light upon this second phase of Jesus’ life, as his speech in manhood will occur after a miraculous appearance. The people of the book will recognize him and follow him as elaborated in verse 4/159. These verses denote Jesus’ eschatological role.
As a whole the Quran gives a clear and coherent account of Jesus and all the different stages in his life, from birth until his return prior to the Day of Judgement- his Second Coming.
These stages in his life will now be assessed in the following chapters
in more detail, with the help of the Tafsirs and the Hadiths.
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