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The Glad Tidings of the Messiah - Harun Yahya

THE GLAD TIDINGS OF THE MESSIAH

 



JESUS' LIFE

According to the historical sources, Mary was born at a time when the chaos mentioned earlier in the book was happening, when Roman oppression was real, and the Jews were impatiently awaiting the Messiah's arrival. She was a descendent of `Imran, whose family had been made superior by God (Qur'an, 3:33). God chose her from among them, purified her, and placed her above all other women, for as the Qur'an reveals:

And when the angels said: "Mary, God has chosen you and purified you. He has chosen you over all other women. Mary, obey your Lord and prostrate and bow with those who bow." (Qur'an, 3:42-43)


One of Giovanni Bellini's masterworks depicting Mary (1481) on display in the Frari church.

The family of `Imran was known to believe in God, to seek His good pleasure in whatever they do, and to always respect the limits that He has established. When Imran's wife learned of her pregnancy, she immediately turned to God in prayer and dedicated her unborn child to God. It is a sign of her true submission to God that she named her child Maryam (Mary in English), meaning "someone who is always worshipping God." This subject is revealed in the Qur'an:

Remember when the wife of 'Imran said: "My Lord, I have pledged to You what is in my womb, consecrated [for Your service]. Please accept my prayer. You are the All-Hearing, the All-Knowing." When she gave birth, she said: "My Lord! I have given birth to a girl"-and God knew very well what she had given birth to, male and female are not the same-"and I have named her Mary and placed her and her children in Your safekeeping from the accursed Satan." (Qur'an, 3:35-36)

God reveals that Mary's mother dedicated her to God, "consecrated for His service." The Arabic word used here, i.e., muharraran, means "one who is wholly preoccupied with the Hereafter, who has no business with the world, who worships God at all times, who is in the service of the House of God, who is sincere in his or her worship and, who has no worldly intentions in his or her worship." Imran's wife asked God to allow Mary to serve only Him, and for her to become totally devoted to His good pleasure rather than other people's.

When Mary was born, Imran's wife asked God to protect Mary and her descendents from the evil of Satan. God answered her sincere prayer and gave Mary a superior morality. The Qur'an reveals how carefully Mary was raised under God's protection:

Her Lord accepted her with approval and made her grow in health and beauty. And Zechariah became her guardian. (Qur'an, 3:37)


A view of the Sea of Galilee

O People of the Book! Commit no excesses in your religion: Nor say of Allah aught but the truth. Christ Jesus the son of Mary was (no more than) an apostle of Allah, and His Word, which He bestowed on Mary, and a spirit proceeding from Him: so believe in Allah and His apostles. Say not "Trinity" : desist: it will be better for you: for Allah is one Allah. Glory be to Him: (far exalted is He) above having a son. To Him belong all things in the heavens and on earth. And enough is Allah as a Disposer of affairs. (Qur'an, 4:171)

God states that Zechariah was a righteous servant who was favored over all beings, and one guided to a straight path as a Prophet. God praises him in the Qur'an and points out his impeccable character (Qur'an, 6:85-87). Zechariah, who took on the responsibility of caring for Mary and thus witnessed many of her miracles, realized that she was God's chosen one.

For instance, whenever Zechariah entered the presence of Mary, who always worshipped by herself, he found food with her. The Qur'an says:

Every time Zechariah visited her in the praying chamber, he found food with her. He said: "Mary, how did you come by this?" She said: "It is from God. God provides for whoever He wills without any reckoning." (Qur'an, 3:37)

Mary became well known in her community as a member of her family who was dedicated wholeheartedly to God. The Qur'an speaks of her chastity in particular, as follows:

And Mary, the daughter of 'Imran, who guarded her chastity-We breathed Our Spirit into her, and she confirmed the Words of her Lord and His Book and was one of the obedient. (Qur'an, 66:12)

Mary's Encounter with Gabriel

Mary's life was full of miracles, one of which was her encounter with Gabriel. At a particular stage in her life, Mary left her community and family and secluded herself somewhere in the east. There, the Qur'an mentions that Gabriel appeared to her in the form of a man:

Mention Mary in the Book, how she withdrew from her people to an eastern place and veiled herself from them. Then We sent Our Spirit to her, and it took on for her the form of a handsome, well-built man. She [Mary] said: "I seek refuge from you with the All-Merciful if you guard against evil." (Qur'an, 19:16-18)


Van de Velde's (1851-52) Nazareth water painting, Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

And We sent Jesus son of Mary following in their footsteps, confirming the Torah that came before him. We gave him the Gospel containing guidance and light confirming the Torah that came before it, and as guidance and admonition for those who guard against evil. (Qur’an, 5: 46)

At first, she did not know that the unknown person was Gabriel. Thus, she immediately sought refuge with God when he approached and said that she was a God-fearing believer. Her words make it clear that she was a God-fearing and chaste servant. Gabriel introduced himself by stating that he was sent by God to give her the following good news:

He said [to Mary]: "I am only your Lord's messenger so that He can give you a pure boy." (Qur'an, 19:19)

When the angels said: "Mary, your Lord gives you good news of a Word from Him. His name is the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, of high esteem in this world and the Hereafter, one of those brought near." (Qur'an, 3:45)

Mary received this important news and asked Gabriel how she could have a child while she was still a virgin:

She said: "How can I have a boy when no man has touched me and I am not an unchaste woman?" He said: "It will be so, for your Lord says: 'That is easy for Me. It is so that We can make him a Sign for mankind and a mercy from Us.' It is a matter already decreed." So she conceived him and withdrew with him to a distant place. (Qur'an, 19:20-22)

She said: "My Lord, how can I have a son when no man has yet touched me?" He said: "It will be so." God creates whatever He wills. When He decides on something, He just says to it "Be!" and it is. (Qur'an, 3:47)

Gabriel replied that God has the power to do anything and that He needs only to say "Be!" and it is. This is how Mary conceived Jesus-by the will of God and without ever being touched by a man. Her pregnancy was created independent of the worldly order in a miraculous way. As our Lord reveals, after receiving this good news, Mary withdrew to somewhere quiet. God supported her during that time in every way and provided all that a pregnant woman could wish for psychologically as well as materially. He made her withdraw from her people, who would not have been able to comprehend her situation, and thereby prevented the physical or spiritual damage that they could have caused her.

JESUS' BIRTH

In the Qur'an, God draws the attention to the fact that Jesus was unique in every respect. First of all, he was born without a father. Through His angels, God revealed to Mary before Jesus' birth that her son would be the Messiah and have many other God-given qualities as well. In fact, Jesus had the honor of being called "God's Word":


( A voice called out to Mary:)
“Shake the trunk of the palm toward you and fresh, ripe dates will drop down onto you. Eat and drink and delight your eyes…” (Qur’an, 19:25-26)

The Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, was only the Messenger of God and His Word, which He cast into Mary, and a Spirit from Him. (Qur'an, 4:171)

When the angels said: "Mary, your Lord gives you good news of a Word from Him. His name is the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, of high esteem in this world and the Hereafter, and one of those brought near." (Qur'an, 3:45)

In the Qur'an, the expression "God's Word" is only used for Jesus. God revealed his name before his birth and named him "Messiah Jesus," as a Word from Him. This is another sign that Jesus' creation differs from that of all other people.

God sustained Mary in the best way during her pregnancy and Jesus' birth, and also guided her. He made the environmental conditions favorable for her, for since she had removed herself from her family and community, she was all alone. With the help of God, Mary managed this difficult situation by herself and gave birth to her son without any complications. God reveals His grace for Mary in the following verses:


And (remember) her who guarded her chastity: We breathed into her of Our spirit, and We made her and her son a sign for all peoples. (Qur'an, 21:91)

The pains of labor drove her to the trunk of a date-palm. She exclaimed: "Oh if only I had died before this time and was something discarded and forgotten!" A voice called out to her from under her: "Do not grieve. Your Lord has placed a small stream at your feet. Shake the trunk of the palm toward you, and fresh, ripe dates will drop down to you. Eat and drink and delight your eyes. If you should see anyone at all, just say: 'I have made a vow of abstinence to the All-Merciful, and today I will not speak to any human being.'" (Qur'an, 19:23-26)

As the verses tell, God helped Mary with revelation and told her not to lose heart. He revealed to her everything that she needed to know, and ensured that she would have an easy birth. God's grace and protection for her are shown in this event.

When Mary returned to her people together with Jesus, her people slandered her with ugly accusations based on speculation, even though they knew her and her dedication, as well as that of her family, to God, and her chastity. The circumstances of Jesus' birth are, in reality, a miracle that God granted to Mary's people and proof of His existence. However, her people failed to understand this, and so made unfounded allegations against her and tried to make their slander stick:


A Peter Paul Rubens oil painting (1624) depicting people paying their respects to Mary following the birth of Jesus. Royal Museum of Fine Arts, Antwerp, Belgium.

She brought him to her people, carrying him. They exclaimed: "Mary! You have done an unthinkable thing! Sister of Aaron, your father was not an evil man nor was your mother an unchaste woman!" (Qur'an, 19:27-28)

In reality, Mary was being tried with these ugly allegations. For such a devout and chaste person to be slandered in this way is a test from God. When confronted this situation, she turned to God and placed her trust in Him, knowing that He would help her against her people's accusations. She sought only His help and support and received His favor and mercy.

God helped His chosen servant in her time of trouble with another miracle: He revealed to her that she should not speak when her people wanted her to, but to point to Jesus when they accuse her. The Qur'an reveals this order in the following way:

"If you should see anyone at all, just say: 'I have made a vow of abstinence to the All-Merciful, and today I will not speak to any human being'." (Qur'an, 19:26)

When God gave her the good news of Jesus' birth, He also revealed that Jesus would speak as a baby in the cradle. This miracle became a big help for Mary from the Lord:


Lorenzo Lotto's (1505-06) painting depicting Mary and the Disciples. This work is on display at the Church of Santa Cristina near Treviso, Italy.

"He will speak to people in the cradle, and also when fully grown, and will be one of the righteous." (Qur'an, 3:46)

In a miraculous way, God made Jesus give the explanation that was expected of Mary. By this miracle, He restored her good reputation and informed the Children of Israel of Jesus' appointment as His Messenger to them:

She pointed toward him. They asked: "How can a baby in the cradle speak?" He [Jesus] said: "I am the servant of God. He has given me the Book and made me a Prophet. He has made me blessed wherever I am, [has] directed me to perform prayer and give alms as long as I live, and to show devotion to my mother. He has not made me insolent or arrogant. Peace be upon me the day I was born, the day I die, and the day I am raised up again alive." (Qur'an, 19:29-33)

Jesus declares that he is God's servant, that he has been given revelation, that he is a Prophet expected to call to faith when he reaches adulthood, that he must perform the prescribed prayers (salat) and give alms (zakat), that he must respect his mother's word, and that he will die and be resurrected on the Day of Judgment.

This situation proved to the Children of Israel that they had encountered an extraordinary event: the birth of the Messiah for whom they had been waiting. God reveals:

and she [Mary], who protected her chastity. We breathed into her some of Our Spirit and made her and her son a Sign for all the worlds. (Qur'an, 21:91)

The verses also reveal that those people who continue to slander Mary will be punished (Qur'an, 4:156-57).

Jesus' Life


Alessandro Boticelli's painting (1470-74) depicting respects being paid to Jesus and Mary. The painting is on display in London's National Gallery.

According to the historical records of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, Jesus lived approximately 2,000 years ago. He was a chosen messenger of God and is held in honor both in the world and the Hereafter. The Gospel of Mathew states that he was born either during the reign of Herod l or in a period of the regime change (4 BCE). According to the Gospel of Luke, he was born during the reign of Emperor Augustus (27 BCE-14 CE) when a census was being conducted in Judea (6 CE). Such information cannot be verified. However, experts analyzing various sources believe that Jesus was born around 7-6 BCE.

The true religion brought by Jesus, God's chosen Messenger who was rewarded with Paradise and special gifts, exists today. However, it does so in name only, for it has been corrupted. Likewise, the revelation given to Jesus by God exists only in name and certainly not in its original, for the Christian scriptures have been tampered with and altered. As we cannot acquire any true knowledge about Jesus from this source, we turn to the only source that can provide true information: the Qur'an, which God promised to protect until the Last Day. The Qur'an reveals much about Jesus' birth, life, examples of his encounters with other people, the situation of those living around him, and many other subjects. It also provides many examples of his efforts to invite the Jewish people to faith. The Qur'an relates the following words of Jesus:

"I come confirming the Torah I find already there, and to make lawful for you some of what was previously forbidden to you. I have brought you a Sign from your Lord. So heed God and obey me. God is my Lord and your Lord so worship Him. That is a straight path." (Qur'an, 3:50-51)

Only a few Jews answered his call and became his followers. The Qur'an reveals the existence of these devout believers as follows:

When Jesus sensed unbelief on their part, he asked: "Who will be my helpers for [the cause of] God?" The disciples said: "We are God's helpers. We believe in God. Bear witness that we are Muslims. Our Lord, we believe in what You have sent down and have followed the Messenger, so write us down among the witnesses." (Qur'an, 3:52-53)

According to the New Testament, Jesus traveled to all corners of Palestine with his 12 disciples to call people to faith. On this journey, God allowed him to perform many miracles. He healed the sick and disabled, cured people suffering from leprosy, brought sight to those who had been blind from birth, and raised the dead. The Qur'an reveals these miracles in the verses below:

"I have brought you a Sign from your Lord. I will create the shape of a bird out of clay for you and then breathe into it, and it will be a bird by God's permission. I will heal the blind and the leper and bring the dead to life, by God's permission. I will tell you what you eat and what you store up in your homes. There is a Sign for you in that if you believe." (Qur'an, 3:49)

Remember when God said: "Jesus, son of Mary, remember My blessing to you and to your mother when I reinforced you with the Purest Spirit so that you could speak to people in the cradle and when you were fully grown; and when I taught you the Book and Wisdom, and the Torah and the Gospel; and when you created a bird-shape out of clay by My permission, and then breathed into it and it became a bird by My permission; and healed the blind and the leper by My permission; when you brought forth the dead by My permission; and when I held back the Children of Israel from you, when you brought them the Clear Signs and those who did not believe said: 'This is nothing but downright magic.'" (Qur'an, 5:110)

Jesus performed great miracles, and many people were impressed by them. However, he always stated that these miracles happened only by the will of God and, according to the Bible, he always told the people he healed: "Your faith has saved you." In response, the people praised the Lord when they saw his miracles:

Jesus left there and went along the Sea of Galilee. Then he went up on a mountainside and sat down. Great crowds came to him, bringing the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute, and many others, and laid them at his feet. And he healed them. The people were amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled made well, the lame walking, and the blind seeing. And they praised the God of Israel. (Matthew 15:29-31)

Despite the increasing obstacles and, in particular among the people who suffered from oppression and cruelty, the number of believers began to rise. At the time, Jesus and his disciples had wandered through all of the towns and cities in the land. Meanwhile, the priests and teachers of the law (scribes) began to scheme and plot against Jesus, who had been telling them of the wrongs inherent in the traditions that they had promoted for years, reminding them of the deviations in the order they had established and calling them to believe only in God and to live only for Him. (Luke 22:1-2, John 11:47-53)

Like all other Prophets, Jesus called his people to believe in God, to submit wholeheartedly to Him, to live for His good pleasure, to refrain from sin and evil, and to do good. He reminded them of life's impermanence and of death's proximity, and told them that they would have to answer for all of their deeds in the Hereafter. He called them to worship God alone and to fear and mind only Him. The Bible also contains much advice and educational material (mashal) in this respect. According to the New Testament, Jesus advised those who had "little faith" (Matthew 8:26), brought them the good news that "the kingdom of God is near" (Mark 1:15) and asked them to seek God's forgiveness. This dominion is the rule which the Jews expected to be established when the Messiah arrived, a rule that would bring them renewed faith and deliverance.

Jesus remained true to the Mosaic law (the commandments of the Torah) and reprimanded the Jews for straying from them or their hypocritical practice. According to the New Testament, he told them: "If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me" (John 5:46). Jesus called people to return to the Torah. The Gospel of Matthew records his order to abide by the Mosaic law ("the holy law"):

I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. (Matthew 5:17)

Ayone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of Heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of Heaven. (Matthew 5:19)

The Qur'an says the following about Jesus:

[Jesus said,] "I come confirming the Torah I find already there, and to make lawful for you some of what was previously forbidden to you. I have brought you a Sign from your Lord. So heed God and obey me." (Qur'an, 3:50)

Jesus' Struggle

As we saw earlier, during Jesus' lifetime there were a number of Jewish sects, each of which interpreted religion in its own way. The Jews had strayed from the true religion brought by Moses, and therefore false beliefs and superstitious traditions had taken root. Furthermore, the pagan Hellenistic culture was being promoted and encouraged, and some Jewish sects had forsaken their monotheistic faith for the symbols and statues of this false belief.


Giotto di Bondone's fresco, "Christ Disputing with the Elders" (1302-1305) in the Scrovegni Chapel, Padua, Italy. This famous painting depicts the respect of the elders for Jesus.

Jesus was sent to his people as aguide, and so had to fight many groups to realize the ultimate goal of bringing his people back to God. We can deduce from the Qur'an that he was providing guidance to people who were engaged in disputes over religion. From the New Testament, we gather that he primarily called upon false priests, those who denied God by ascribing partners to Him and who misled people by religious pretence, to abandon their wrongdoing and believe wholeheartedly in God. The Pharisees and the Sadducees, who are often mentioned in the New Testament, are therefore of relevance in this respect. These two opposing sects agreed on one thing only: Their strong discontent with the revelation with which God had entrusted to Jesus for his people. According to Jesus' true religion, the Sadducees had gone astray because of their materialistic worldview, and the Pharisees were on the wrong path because they had lost their faith by getting bogged down in myths and pretence. These groups turned against Jesus as soon as they realized where they stood with him. God says in the Qur'an:

And when Jesus came with the Clear Signs, he said: "I have come to you with Wisdom and to clarify for you some of the things about which you have differed. Therefore, heed God and obey me."(Qur'an, 43:63)

As both the Pharisees and the Sadducees had a vested interest in the existing system, and so would not obey Jesus. They had great authority over the Jewish people and, as priests, enjoyed great respect among them. The false religion that they had created had become an institution that was making them rich. They had entered into a close working relationship with the Roman governor, and the Sadducees in particular sought to reduce the tensions between Rome and the people of Judea, and thus were granted many privileges in return. Bearing these circumstances in mind, it becomes quite understandable why Jesus' teachings caused these priests such discomfort: Jesus, like all other Prophets, targeted the wrongness of the established order, which considered all kinds of evil legitimate. He wanted people to abandon injustice, unfairness, immorality, and idolatrous religious beliefs and to replace them with a life dedicated to serving God. He advised people to fear and love God in equal measures, to submit to Him, to distance themselves from superstitious rules and dogmatic practices, to worship God alone, and to turn only to Him for success in their undertakings. The miracles he performed by God's will showed clearly that he was a valued Prophet chosen above all people by God, Who supported him with power and superior knowledge. His depth of faith, high morality, superior awareness, and explanations full of insight were greatly admired by the people.

According to the New Testament, Jesus was teaching and rekindling people's faith at the same time by saying that deliverance was nigh for the people and that God's rule was imminent. Meanwhile, the news of his descent from David spread among the people, and the belief that he was the Messiah began to spread like wildfire (Matthew 9:27-35). All of this was disturbing news for those who had adopted the pagan culture introduced by Rome and the priests, who had a vested interest in the established order.

The New Testament says that these circles never missed an opportunity to hinder Jesus' message, but that they were disappointed each time. The priests became increasingly irritated by his subtle answers, which invalidated their claims, and also by his insightful teachings. His statements about them were their biggest concern, and this became one of the decisive factors that led them to scheme against him. According the Gospel of Luke, Jesus exposed their frauds to the public:

"Beware of the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and love to be greeted in the marketplaces and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. They devour widows' houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. Such men will be punished most severely." (Luke 20:46-47)

Some Jewish priests in the past had altered Torah's commandments and added new ones to serve their own interest. Jesus invalidated these false commandments in his quest to eradicate the erroneous traditions, myths, and man-made rules and laws that had, in effect, caused Moses' commandments to be ignored. According to the Gospel of Mark, Jesus specifically mentioned this to the Pharisees:

He replied [to the Pharisees and the teachers of the law]: "You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men. Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that." (Mark 7:6-13)

The Pharisees believed that they had to pledge one-tenth of their income to God and abided by this rule. But it had become a tradition, whereas before it had been an act of worship. The Gospel of Luke records Jesus' reprimand:

"Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone. Woe to you Pharisees, because you love the most important seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces. Woe to you, because you are like unmarked graves, which men walk over without knowing it." (Luke 11:42-44)

"... And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them." (Luke 11:46)

"Woe to you experts in law, because you have taken away the key to knowledge. You yourselves have not entered, and you have hindered those who were entering." (Luke 11:52)

Such public warnings and the priests' public humiliation because of their immorality increased their hostility toward Jesus. According to Luke, the Pharisees and the religious scholars began to oppose him fiercely after Jesus said the words recorded above (Luke 11:53-54).

As the Qur'an also makes clear, Jesus called the Children of Israel to return to the Mosaic law and to believe in God wholeheartedly. The Gospel of Matthew and the Qur'an contain some strikingly similar words about the unbelievers, "They have hearts with which they do not understand. They have eyes with which they do not see. They have ears with which they do not hear" (Qur'an, 7:179). In the Gospel of Matthew, we read the following words that Jesus said about the Jews:

"You will be ever hearing but never understanding;you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. For this people's heart has become calloused;they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them." (Matthew 13:14-15)


The Bible mentions many towns and regions, from the Mediterranean to western Europe, as illustrated on this map.

Prophets fulfilled their God-given duty in the best possible way and used all of their resources and energy to invite their people to the path of guidance. Jesus displayed extraordinary patience in the face of all the conspiracies and attacks directed against him. He merely trusted in God and continued communicating His message and, even though he had only a few supporters, he defeated his opponents every time. He tried many things in order to return religion to its original purity, to rid it of all the myths and false practices that had entered it over time. Thanks to his God-given insight and superior understanding, he was a very effective public speaker and was able to give guiding examples.

Jesus called his people to worship God alone; brought the good news of the rule of religious morality; fought against false beliefs, myths, and idolatry; and explained that this worldly life is a test. He made every conceivable effort to correct his people's flawed sense of morality and was himself a role model of high character. However, these activities only made his enemies fiercer and led them to plot his death.

Jesus' Superior Character

The hadith literature reveals many important truths about Jesus. Some hadiths inform us that he was of medium height, had white skin with a hue of red, straight hair, and was very handsome. He had shoulder-length hair and wore a woolen cloak and sandals made of bark. He often removed himself from this world, had a strong desire for the Hereafter, and spent much time worshipping God.6 Other hadiths describe this astonishingly handsome and holy man as follows:


We purified their sincerity through sincere remembrance of the Abode
In Our eyes they are among the best of chosen men. (Qur’an, 38:46-47)

While I was asleep, I saw myself (in a dream) making tawaf (circling) around the Ka`bah. I saw a brown-skinned man with straight hair being supported by two men, and with water dripping from his head. I asked: "Who is this?" They said: "The son of Mary." (Sahih Bukhari)

When you see him, you will recognize him. He is of medium height, and his coloring is reddish-white. He will be wearing two garments, and his hair will look wet although no water will have wet it. (Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Musnad)

Like every chosen and sent Prophet, Jesus had the highest form of character. One of his most distinguishing features was his high standard of morals and noble personality, which had an immediate effect on people. In addition, he had a strong personality due to his complete trust, reliance, and faith in God; was decisive and courageous; and could not be manipulated by society. The following verses reveal his superiority:

This is the argument We gave to Abraham against his people. We raise in rank anyone We will. Your Lord is All-Wise, All-Knowing. We gave him Isaac and Jacob, each of whom We guided. And before him We had guided Noah. And among his descendants were David, Solomon, Job, Joseph, Moses, and Aaron. That is how We recompense the good-doers. And Zechariah, John, Jesus, and Elias. All of them were among the righteous. And Ishmael, Elisha, Jonah, and Lot. All of them We favored over all beings. And some of their forebears, descendants, and brothers; We chose them and guided them to a straight path. That is God's guidance. He guides by it those of His servants He wills ... (Qur'an, 6:83-88)

Jesus was also a just, modest, compassionate, sincere, honest, selfless person and a chosen Prophet. In one verse, God says the following about him:

These Messengers: We favored some of them over others. God spoke directly to some of them and raised up some of them in rank. We gave Clear Signs to Jesus, son of Mary, and reinforced him with the Purest Spirit. (Qur'an, 2:253)

When we look at Jesus' life, we can see his high morality. First of all, he was a discerning leader who taught the true religion to his people. He was the most obedient to God's commandments and recommendations, and was a guide who rid people of myths. The Qur'an reveals that Jesus was diligently fulfilling all of the requirements of worship and morality:

He [Jesus] said: "I am the servant of God. He has given me the Book and made me a Prophet. He has made me blessed wherever I am, directed me to perform prayer and give alms as long as I live, and to show devotion to my mother." (Qur'an, 19:30-32)

Throughout his life, Jesus spoke wisely and effectively and knew right from wrong. He replied with insight and reason to all of his enemies' questions posed to catch him and defeated all of their attempts. He remained true to God, irrespective of his people's attitude toward him, drew strength from his strong faith and devotion, and explained God's existence in the most effective way.

Like all other Prophets, Jesus used plain, clear, and intelligible language when preaching. His allegories moved people's conscience, and encouraged them to reflect deeply and to behave according to God's good pleasure. Jesus' love for God, as well as his exuberant faith and diligence in following God's orders, is evident from his teachings. His method of preaching shows clearly that God chose him above all other people.

Jesus' Ministry

Jesus' life was full of miracles from the moment of his birth until the day he was raised to God's presence. The Qur'an reveals some of the miracles, all of which he performed by the will of God:

Remember when God said: "Jesus, son of Mary, remember My blessing to you and to your mother when I reinforced you with the Purest Spirit so that you could speak to people in the cradle and when you were fully grown; and when I taught you the Book and Wisdom, and the Torah and the Gospel." (Qur'an, 5:110)

As a Messenger to the Children of Israel, saying: "I have brought you a Sign from your Lord. I will create the shape of a bird out of clay for you and then breathe into it, and it will be a bird by God's permission. I will heal the blind and the leper, and bring the dead to life, by God's permission. I will tell you what you eat and what you store up in your homes. There is a Sign for you in that if you are believers." (Qur'an, 3:49)


And when Jesus came with the Clear Signs, he said: “I have come to you with Wisdom and to clarify for you some of the things about which you have differend. Therefore, fear God and obey me”. (Qur’an, 43:63)

The Qur'an reveals several of the miracles associated with Jesus: He was conceived without a father, spoke in the cradle, had full knowledge of God's holy books (the Torah, the Gospel, and the Qur'an), made a likeness of a bird out of mud and enabled it to fly away by breathing into it, healed the blind from birth and the leper, raised the dead, knew what people ate and what they saved, and foretold our Prophet by the name "Ahmad."

Despite these miracles and his efforts to teach God's revelation, most of his people continued to deny him. Like the other nations mentioned in the Qur'an, these unbelievers simply said that he was only doing magic tricks because he was no more than a magician:

And when Jesus son of Mary said: "O Children of Israel, I am the Messenger of God to you, confirming the Torah that came before me and giving you the good news of a Messenger after me, whose name is Ahmad." When he brought them the Clear Signs, they said: "This is downright magic." (Qur'an, 61:6)

The Qur'an reveals that Jesus did not come to wipe out Judaism, but to affirm and purify religion of the myths that had crept in over the centuries and to return it to its original purity. God also sent him to resolve the issues disputed over by the various Jewish sects, which we examined earlier in the book. The Qur'an says:

[Jesus said:] "I come confirming the Torah I find already here, and to make lawful for you some of what was previously forbidden to you. I have brought you a Sign from your Lord. So have fear [and awe] of God and obey me." (Qur'an, 3:50)

And when Jesus came with the Clear Signs, he said: "I have come to you with Wisdom and to clarify for you some of the things about which you have differed. Therefore, heed God and obey me." (Qur'an, 43:63)

Jesus confirmed the matters of faith mentioned in the Torah and also brought the Gospel, God's last revelation to humanity, to guide and advise his people.

And We sent Jesus son of Mary following in their [the Prophets'] footsteps, confirming the Torah that came before him. We gave him the Gospel containing guidance and light, confirming the Torah that came before it, and as guidance and admonition for those who guard against evil. The people of the Gospel should judge by what God sent down in it. Those who do not judge by what God has sent down, such people are deviators. (Qur'an, 5:46-47)

Very few people answered Jesus' call at the beginning, for his call sought to abolish the privileges of the priestly class, which profited from the myths and traditions that had been established many years ago, and also those members of the ruling class who did not recognize God's sovereignty. The pressure they applied, when combined with their threats, scared the common people and prevented them from approaching Jesus. When Jesus' teachings began to spread and the number of his followers increased, the number of his opponents increased accordingly. More cowardly traps were prepared and more plans were made to discredit and defeat him. Such plots were nothing new, for all Prophets encountered such hostility. The Qur'an reveals the unbelievers' maliciousness toward the Messengers in the following terms:

Why then, whenever a Messenger came to you with something your lower selves did not desire, did you grow arrogant and deny some of them and murder others? (Qur'an, 2:87)


Did they then feel secure against the plan of Allah.- but no one can feel secure from the Plan of Allah, except those (doomed) to ruin! (Qur'an, 7:99)

Society began to be divided by those who believed in Jesus and those who denied him, and the difference between the two groups became more and more apparent. On the one side was God's Messenger, who was teaching the true religion and calling people to believe in the one and only God, and on the other side was a group of people who had decided not to believe in him regardless of his miracles or proofs, even if they saw them with their own eyes. His enemies revealed themselves clearly. Probably there were people who were with him and heard him, but who later denied him. God reveals such a situation in the following verse: "The various factions among them differed..." (Qur'an, 43:65)

For this reason, Jesus chose his disciples from those believers whom he could really trust. The Qur'an reveals:

When Jesus sensed unbelief on their part, he asked: "Who will be my helpers for [the cause of] God?" The disciples said: "We are God's helpers. We believe in God. Bear witness that we are Muslims." (Qur'an, 3:52)

The Qur'an reveals that the unbelievers devised a plot to take Jesus' life. According to some sources, a group of bigoted priests bribed Judas Iscariot, one of the disciples, to betray him, after which they would arrest Jesus and hand him over to the Romans. According to the same sources, the priests did not have the power to sentence someone to death and so had to make another plan to agitate the Roman regime. Thus, they portrayed Jesus as being hostile to the Roman leadership, for the Romans were highly sensitive and ruthless when confronted with dissidents. But these priests failed, for the Qur'an relates:

They [unbelievers] planned and God planned. But God is the best of planners. (Qur'an, 3:54)


And (the unbelievers) plotted and planned, and Allah too planned, and the best of planners is Allah. (Qur'an, 3:54)

As the verses reveal, they plotted and moved to kill Jesus. However, their plot failed and they ended up killing a look-alike. During this event, God raised Jesus up to His presence:

And [on account of] their saying: "We killed the Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, Messenger of God." They did not kill him and they did not crucify him, but it was made to seem so to them. Those who argue about him are in doubt about it. They have no real knowledge of it, just conjecture. But they certainly did not kill him. (Qur'an, 4:157)

Many people believe in the widespread hypothesis that the Romans crucified Jesus. The Roman soldiers and Jewish priests who arrested Jesus are said to have killed him on the cross. The majority of Christians believes this, as well as that he was resurrected three days later and, after several brief meetings with his disciples and others, ascended into the heavens.

The Qur'an, however, says otherwise. The reality revealed in the verses is clear. The Romans, abetted by Jewish agitation, attempted to kill Jesus but did not succeed. The expression "but it was made to seem so to them" reveals this fact. God showed them a look-alike and raised Jesus up to His presence. Our Lord also reveals that those who made that claim had no knowledge of the truth.

In the early years of Christianity, several views on Jesus' fate emerged. In the subsequent centuries and until the articles of faith were fully formulated at the Council of Nicea (325), these ideological differences continued to persist, and movements that claimed that Jesus had not been crucified were accused of heresy and its members were persecuted.

 
 

     
6- M. Asim Koksal, Peygamberler Tarihi (The History of Prophets), (Ankara:Koksal Yayincilik, 1990), pp. 334-35.