“We gave Moses the Book and followed him up with a succession of Messengers; We gave Jesus the son of Mary Clear (Signs) and strengthened him with the Holy Spirit. Is it that whenever there comes to you a messenger with what ye yourselves desire not, ye are puffed up with pride? — Some ye called impostors, and others ye slay!” (Qur’an chapter 2: verse 87)
Recently I was asked by a Christian, “Do Muslims believe in Jesus and the Holy Spirit?” I delightfully replied, “Yes!” as I clarified stating, “We also believe in the Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus the Christ.”
As with most similar exchanges and sharing we immediately — out of mutual respect — clarify the distinguishing characteristics between the Islamic understanding of Jesus the Christ and the Holy Spirit comparative to the understanding of most Christians. I added, but in Islam (properly Al-Islam) we do not see Jesus or the Holy Spirit as G_d, or a partner of G_d, or the “son of G_d.”
The Qur’an speaks highly of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit and the virgin mother Mary. She is revered so much in Al-Islam until Prophet Muhammed, prayers and peace be upon him, said that Mary, the mother of Jesus, is the most respected and honored woman ever in the life of humanity. Even chapter 19 of the Qur’an is titled “Mary.”
Christ Jesus is given high honor in Al-Islam and in the Qur’an as a special prophet and messenger of G_d. There are over 70 verses in the Qur’an that speaks about Jesus; his birth and miracles and how G_d saved him from his enemies.
A portion of the Qur’an says the following about Christ Jesus. “He [Jesus] said: ‘I am indeed a servant of God. He has given me revelation and made me a prophet; He has made me blessed wheresoever I be; and He has enjoined on me prayer and charity as long as I live. He has made me kind to my mother and not overbearing or miserable. So peace is on me the day I was born, the day that I die, and the day that I shall be raised up to life (again)!’
I further explained to my Christian friend, at no time did Jesus Christ or the Holy Spirit order G_d or send G_d on a mission; however, on the other hand we see where G_d, the Creator, did send Jesus and the Holy Spirit on many missions. The Bible in John 20:21 quotes Jesus saying, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”
The Qur’an in chapter 5, verse 46 similarly states, “And in their footsteps, We sent Jesus the son of Mary, confirming the Law that had come before him”.
The connections between Muslims and Christians are far greater in number than our differences; howbeit, some of those few differences can be quite stark. That is where interfaith and dialogue is important. The Qur’an encourages different groups to come together on common terms.
As our conversation continued I further explained that many of the great figures in the Bible are also mentioned in the Qur’an, individuals such as Jonah, Noah and Adam and many other leading personalities. She seemed to be happily surprise. When I give her a Qur’an – as I promised to her – I’m sure our healthy conversations will continue.
The purpose of this writing here is to give clarity in an area of discussion that is often difficult to navigate without one side trying to outdo or out shine the other. Our Creator will guide the sincere ones among us and give us the best and ultimate determination. We all are judged by our intentions, which is a mercy to us from the Creator of heaven and earth.
In closing the Muslim community sends to our Christian family and friends a warm “Seasons Greetings!” This is the time of the year when families strive to get closer as we close out one year in preparation for a new year.
So, yes, Muslims believe in the Virgin Mary, the Holy Spirit and Jesus Christ as given to us in the Qur’an and as exemplified in the life model of Prophet Muhammed. If we did not believe in them then were do not qualify to be Muslims.
Michael “Mikal” Saahir is the resident Imam of Nur-Allah Islamic Center. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 317 753-3754.