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December 2005
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Quran & Science

What Do Muslims Believe About Mary and Jesus (Pbuh)?
By Prof John L. Esposito


An entire chapter, Surah 19 in the Quran is dedicated to Mary and her history.


Mary, the mother of Jesus (Pbuh), is a prominent figure in Islam and the only woman mentioned by name in the Quran. The holy Quran upholds Mary as one of the four perfect examples of womanhood (66:12). An entire chapter, Surah 19, is dedicated to her and her history. Mary is mentioned more times in the Quran than in the entire New Testament, and more biographical information about her is contained in the Quran than in the New Testament.


Jesus is an important figure in the Quran, which affirms the truth of the teachings of Jesus as found in the Gospels. Like Christians, Muslims believe in the virgin conception of Jesus by God’s Spirit.


The Quran also records some of Jesus’ miracles, including giving sight to the blind, healing lepers, raising the dead, and breathing life into clay birds (5:110). This last miracle is not recorded in the canonical New Testament, but does appear in the non-canonical Gospel of Thomas.


Muslim and Christian beliefs about Jesus differ in two areas. First, although Muslims believe in the virgin conception and birth of Jesus through an act of God’s Spirit, they do not believe that Jesus is the Son of God. They believe that he is one of the long line of righteous prophets and second only to Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) in importance (6:83–87).


For Muslims, the Christian doctrine of the Trinity represents a form of polytheism, proclaiming belief in three gods rather than one God alone (4:171, 5:17, 5:72–77).


Second, Muslims do not believe in the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus (4:157–158). They believe that, although it appeared that Jesus was crucified, instead God took Jesus to Himself in a manner similar to what happened to Elijah (3:55, 4:157–159).


Muslims do not believe in the Christian doctrine of Original Sin, so there is no theological need for the all-atoning sacrifice of Jesus through his crucifixion and resurrection.


(Professor John L. Esposito is University Professor Religion and International Affairs and Founding Director of the Centre for Muslim-Christian Understanding, Walsh School for Foreign Service, Georgetown University. Among his more than 25 books, is What Everyone Should Know about Islam, on which this article is based)

(www.gulf-news.com/Articles/opinion)