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'Isa - Jesus

Posted on 30th April, 2021

18 ‘Isa – Jesus


A short word of explanation before tackling today’s subject.

The Arabic alphabet does not include the three vowels that are used: ‘a’ ‘i’ and ‘o’. These are not normally written (the reader has to know which vowel to supply). The apostrophe in the name ‘Îsâ represents the consonant ‘ayn, a guttural sound that does not exist in English.


The story of the Annunciation to Mary (maryam), that while remaining a virgin she is to bear a son, Jesus, and the account of his birth, are given in chapter (sûra) 19 of the Qur’an, a chapter entitled ‘Mary’ (maryam) (See AR no.8 and no.24).  There is another version of the Annunciation in sûra 3 (‘The Family of ‘Imran). Here Jesus is described in the following manner:

The angels said, “Mary, God gives you the news of a Word from Him, whose name will be the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, who will be held in honour in this world and the next, who will be one of those brought near to God (Q 3:45).

So Jesus is called a ‘Word (kalima) from God’. Now while kalima is feminine in form, the pronoun referring to it in ‘whose name’ is masculine (‘the name of him’). But Christians should not jump to the conclusion that we have here the Logos, the Word of God as understood by the Gospel of John where we find: In the beginning was the Word: the Word was with God and the Word was God (Jn 1:1).The Word (kalima) here in the Qur’an would seem to indicate the creative word of God, for the angel says to Mary: “This is how God creates what He will: when He has ordained something, He only says ‘Be’ and it is” (Q 3:47). So for Muslims Jesus is the son of Mary, but not the Son of God.

Yet, as the passage from the Qur’an quoted above states, Jesus is ‘held in honour’, he is one of the prophets, and he is ‘brought near to God’. This latter phrase may be a reference to the Islamic understanding of the Passion of Jesus. This is found in the following passage of the Qur’an:

[The Jews said] “We have killed the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary.” (They did not kill him, nor did they crucify him, though it was made to appear like that to them….they certainly did not kill him – No! God raised him up to Himself). (Q 4:137-138).

This leads the Second Vatican Council to declare:

Although not acknowledging him as God, they [the Muslims] venerate Jesus as a prophet, his virgin Mother they also honour, and even at times devoutly invoke.

Despite these fundamental differences in belief, the same document says:

Let them [Christians and Muslims] together preserve and promote peace, liberty, social justice and moral values (Nostra Aetate 3).

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