The first entry in this series can be found here.
[Mary] said, “My Lord, how can I have a son when no man has touched me?” [The angel] said, “This is how God creates what He will: when He has ordained something, He only says, ‘Be’, and it is.” . . . In God’s eyes Jesus is just like Adam: He created him from dust, said to him, “Be”, and he was.”— Al-‘Imran 47, 591
This text is theologically loaded, no matter what your preferred religion is. Even atheists have to deal with this text. In a word, this is the Muslim explanation for Jesus’ birth. And it would have been so easy for Muhammad to say, “Mary was impregnated by Joseph, or even Pantera,”2 but he didn’t do that. Muhammad has some form of revelation coming to him, because the most natural explanation for Jesus’ birth would be the most likely, wouldn’t it?
But what do Muslim scholars have to say about this text?
Christians reportedly argued that since Jesus had no human father, he was truly God’s son. This verse constitutes one of the central arguments in the Quran against the divinity of Christ. It acknowledges the miraculous nature of his birth, but rejects the implication that this makes him Divine. If God could create Adam, who had neither earthly father nor mother, from dust, he could also create Jesus from the “blood” of Mary.3
This is admittedly a very high view of Jesus. Christian theology–of course–would teach that it is not high enough, but at the outset, this is certainly on the right track. Though I must ask: Why are Adam and Jesus the only two human beings in history (Eve was formed from Adam, e.g. “humanity”) to not be born of natural sexual relations? Obviously, Adam–as the first man–couldn’t be formed via a sexual union, but what about Jesus? Why was Jesus created in this special way, but not Muhammad? Wouldn’t this seem to indicate that even God holds Jesus on a higher level than Muhammad? (I’m genuinely curious. I’m not trying to throw dirt for the fun of it.)
But let’s look at that quote again.
Christians reportedly argued that since Jesus had no human father, he was truly God’s son. This verse constitutes one of the central arguments in the Quran against the divinity of Christ. It acknowledges the miraculous nature of his birth, but rejects the implication that this makes him Divine. If God could create Adam, who had neither earthly father nor mother, from dust, he could also create Jesus from the “blood” of Mary.4
“Christians reportedly argued that since Jesus had no human father, he was truly God’s son.”
This would be a logical statement to make. If a person doesn’t have a father, who else could be the father? This is even more clear when we consider God as the Creator (see below: “If God could create Adam”). In a way, the One who creates something is the father of that thing. When I write a novel, the novel is my “baby”; in other words, I am the father of the book. Even if God created Jesus, then God would still be his Father.
“This verse constitutes one of the central arguments in the Quran against the divinity of Christ. It acknowledges the miraculous nature of his birth, but rejects the implication that this makes him Divine.”
Jesus is born miraculously, just like Adam–though clearly in different ways–and as I just demonstrated, there is a sense in which God could be called Jesus’ father. And as the text above “truly God’s son,” and the text just quoted, “this makes him divine,” show, if we could show that Jesus actually is God’s son, then it would make him divine.
“If God could create Adam, who had neither earthly father nor mother, from dust, he could also create Jesus from the ‘blood’ of Mary.”
Jesus and Adam are on the same level here. The Qur’an itself places Jesus and Adam on the same level: “Jesus is just like Adam: He created him from dust, said to him, ‘Be’, and he was” (Al-‘Imran 59).
The Gospel of Luke traces a genealogy from Joseph, the husband of Mary, all the way back to Adam. As it wraps up, we read this: “Enos, son of Seth, son of Adam, son of God” (Luke 3:38). Therefore, Adam was the son of God.
And if “Jesus is just like Adam,” then it follows that Jesus is also “the Son of God.” And Luke’s Gospel records this for us as well:
When all the people were baptized, Jesus also was baptized. As He was praying, heaven opened, and the Holy Spirit descended on Him in a physical appearance like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are My beloved Son. I take delight in You!”Luke 3:21-22
The Qur’an has more to say about Jesus also.
God said, “Jesus, I will take your soul back and raise you up to Me. I will purify you of the disbelievers. To the Day of Resurrection I will make those who followed you superior to those who disbelieved. Then you will all return to Me and I will judge between you regarding your differences.”— Al-‘Imran 55
Let’s look at what the Islamic scholars have to say.
“Take” in “I shall take thee” translates mutawaffī, which is usually understood to mean that God takes one unto Himself, that is, in death. In the context of this verse, most assert, however, that it does not refer to being taken in death, but rather to being taken from the world, although others believe this does refer to God causing Jesus to die.5
Scholars are not agreed on what this text means. Some say it refers to death; others do not. However, if it “is usually understood to mean that God takes one unto Himself, that is, in death” (emphasis added), then it likely refers to death here too.
But Jesus didn’t stay dead. How does the text continue?
“[I will] raise you up to Me.”
Interesting. And then there’s an even more interesting phrase: “To the Day of Resurrection I will make those who followed you superior to those who disbelieved.”
Muhammad is calling Muslims to follow Jesus. He says that those who do will be superior to the ones who don’t.
Are you following Jesus?
He is the Son of God.6 He is actually divine. He died an rose again so you need not fear death. Those who believe are seated with Him in the heavenly places–even now.
But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love that He had for us, made us alive with the Messiah even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace! Together with Christ Jesus He also raised us up and seated us in the heavens, so that in the coming ages He might display the immeasurable riches of His grace through His kindness to us in Christ Jesus.Ephesians 2:4-7
Trust Him today!
In this with you.
Thanks for reading.
- All references from the Qur’an are pulled from M.A.S. Abdel Haleem, The Qur’an, Oxford World Classics (New York: Oxford University Press, 2016). Emphasis in original.
- See Origen, “Origen against Celsus,” in The Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 4, trans. Frederick Crombie (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company, 1885), I.32. Origen penned this work c. C.E. 248 against Celsus, who had started spreading these kinds of teachings c. C.E. 170-180.
- Seyyed Hossein Nasr, ed., The Study Quran (New York: HarperOne, 2021), Kindle Edition, 147.
- Ibid., 147.
- Ibid., 146.
- I am aware that I have made some very large claims here. I realize that I could be squarely falling into the description found in Al-‘Imran 69-71, but I would just reiterate that I’m trying to learn. I would love any feedback anyone can provide. Additionally, looking at the topic of Jesus as both God’s Son and Divine will probably become an appendix to this study at the end of Ramadan. (Note: Christian theology does not teach that Jesus is created. This doctrine is the Arian heresy.)