Prophet Jesus Christ, the son of Mary (peace be upon him), the last in the series of messengers for the children of Israel was miraculously born without father to the Virgin Mary in 5 B.C.E. The mission of Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) is summed up in Qur’an, Allah says: “And We caused Jesus, the son of Mary, to follow in the footsteps of those (earlier prophets), confirming the truth of what ever there still remained of the Torah; and We bestowed on him the Gospel wherein there was guidance and a light, confirming the truth of whatever there still remained of the Torah, and as a guidance and admonition unto the God conscious.”(Qur’an;5:46).
Gospel and Qur’an are unanimous on the apostolic mission of Jesus (peace be upon him): “Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know.”(Acts;2:22). Allah says: “The Messiah, son of Mary, was no other than a messenger, messengers (the like of whom) had passed away before him. And his mother was a saintly woman. And they both used to eat (earthly) food. See how we make the revelations clear for them, and see how they are turned away!”(Qur’an;5:75);“He was no more than a servant: We granted Our favor to him (miracles, wonders and signs) and We made him an example to the Children of Israel.” (Qur’an;43:59). Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) himself said: “I was not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”(Mathew;15:24). Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) strictly forbade preaching to Gentiles: “These twelve (disciples) Jesus sent forth, and charged them, saying, Go not into any way of the Gentiles, and enter not into any city of the Samaritans: but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”(Mathew;10:5-6).
Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) said:
“Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”(Mathew;5:17-20).
[Pharisees; was a Jewish sect, extremely accurate and minute in all matters appertaining to the Law of Moses]. After Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him), Paul, the self appointed 13th disciple of Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him), deviated from the prophetic mission and teaching of Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) by systematically canceling the Law of Moses, by declaring: “But now we are discharged from the law, dead to that which held us captive, so that we serve not under the old written code but in the new life of the Spirit.”(Romans; 7:6).
The message of Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) was altered, he was declared as son of God, part of divine, one of three in the doctrine of Trinity. The word Trinity does not exist in Bible, the only verse in the whole of Bible which, is interpreted by the supporters of Trinity is:
“For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one.”(The first Epistle of John;5:7,8).
(in some volumes this verse is changed as : “There are three witnesses, the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three agree”.
In the foot not of this verse in ‘New International Version Bible’ it is written; ‘not found in any Greek manuscript before the sixteen century. Dr C.I, Scofield, D.D. backed by eight other D.D.’s in a footnote to this verse opine: “It is generally agreed that this verse has no manuscript authority and has been inserted. “The fundamentalist Christians still retain this fabrication whereas; in all the modern translations including the Revised Standard Version (RSV) this pious deceit has been unceremoniously expunged.
The terms ‘Father’ and ‘son of God’ have been abhorrently misused to support the doctrine of Trinity and divinity of Jesus Christ. The Hebrews believed that God is One, and had neither wife nor children in any literal sense. The God has been addressed as Father because he is the Creator: “Do you thus requite the LORD, you foolish and senseless people? Is not he your father, who created you, who made you and established you?”(Deuteronomy;32:6);“Have we not all one father? Has not one God created us? Why then are we faithless to one another, profaning the covenant of our fathers?”(Malachi;2:10). Like the Father, He has a concern and care for His creatures: “As a father pities his children, so the LORD pities those who fear him.” (Psalms;103:13). Consequently it is obvious that the expression “son of God” frequently used in Bible (both in Old & New Testaments) merely meant to them “Servant of God”; one who, because of his faithful service, was close and dear to God, as a son is to a father, as used for Prophet Jacob, David & Solomon in the Bible. (2 Samuel 8:13-14, Psalms;2:7,89:26-27: Job;1:6, Psalms 2:7, Luke;3:38, 4:41, 9:22, Hosea;1:10, Jeremiah;31:9, Job;2:1,38:4-7, Genesis;6:2, Deuteronomy;14:1, Exodus;4:22-23). The Christians who came from Greek and Roman background, later misused this term. In their heritage, “son of God” signified an incarnation of a ‘god’ or someone born of a physical union between male and female gods. When the Church cast aside its Hebrew foundations, it adopted the pagan concept of “son of God”, which was entirely different from the Hebrew usage. Consequently, the use of the term “son of God” should not be understood in the pagan sense of a literal offspring of God, but from the Semitic symbolic sense of a “servant of God” or near to God, In the Gospels, Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) is recorded as saying: “Blessed are the peace-makers; they will be called sons of God.”(Mathew;5:9), “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.”(Romans;8:14). According to the Bible of King James Version of 1611 : “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only ‘begotten’ Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life”(John;3:16). The word ‘begotten’ used here (John;3:16) has been expunged in the Bible- Revised Standard Version, being wrongly added because word ‘begotten’ does not exist in the original Greek script. In the Gospels Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) is reported to have repeatedly called himself “Son of man”(Mathew;9:6, Luke;9:22). At eighty five places “Son of man” has been mentioned in New Testament. Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) even rejected being called “Son of God”: “And demons also came out of many, crying, ‘You are the Son of God!’ But he rebuked them, and would not allow them to speak, because they knew that he was the Christ.”(Luke;4:41). God says: “Further to warn those who say “God has begotten a son.” They have no knowledge, nor do their forefathers. Dreadful is the word that comes from their mouths. They speak nothing but a lie.”(Qur’an;18:4-5). Even according to the Christian scriptures Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) never claimed divinity. In fact there is not a single unambiguous statement in the entire Bible where Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) himself says, “I am God” or where he says, “worship me”. Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) preached supremacy, obedience and worship of God: (John;5:30, 10:29, 14:28, Mathew;12:28,19:16-17, Luke;11:20); “..Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.”(Mathew;4:10, Luke;4:8).
The Jews often persecuted their prophets: “But they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and misused his prophets, until the wrath of the LORD arose against his people, till there was no remedy.” (2 Chronicles; 36:16 also Mathew;5:12). They often imprisoned them (1Kings; 22:27, Jeremiah; 32:2,37, 15-16), put them to death (1Kings;8:13,19:10, Mathew;23:34-37) and repeatedly left without, on account of sin(1Sameul;3:1, Amos;8:11-12). Instead of following to the teachings of Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him), the Jews rejected and humiliated him. Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) continued preaching and performed numerous miracles, particularly the raising of Lazarus in Bethany (John;11:1-44).
During final days, he disputed with the chief priest. The scribes, the Pharisees, and the Sadducees (Jewish sects) questioned about his authority, tribute to Caesar, and the resurrection. Meanwhile, in Jerusalem, the Jewish priests and scribes were apprehensive that the activities of Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) would turn the Romans against them and the Jewish people. Hence they conspired with Judas Iscariot, one of disciples of Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him), to arrest and kill him by stealth, “for they feared the people”(John;11:47-53);“Then entered Satan into Judas surnamed Iscariot, being of the number of the twelve. And he went his way, and communed with the chief priests and captains, how he might betray him unto them. And they were glad, and covenanted to give him money.”(Luke;22:3-5). A crowd led by Judas Iscariot was sent by the religious authorities to arrest him in Gethsemane.
The supreme council of the Jews, the Sanhedrin condemned Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) to death for false accusation of blasphemy in 30 C.E. Pontius Pilate (the Roman governor of Judea who ordered Christ’s crucifixion) sent Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) for judgment to Herod Antipas, the tetrarch of Galilee (4 BC–AD 39).
The alleged crucifixion and resurrection of Prophet Jesus Christ (peace be upon him) is a mystery, with divergent views with in the disciples and the followers of Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him). Prophet Jesus Christ (peace be upon him) was neither killed nor was he crucified, as alleged by most of the Christians and the Jews, but that he was Alive. Ahmed Deedat, the renowned authority on Bible, in his book ‘Crucifixion or Cruci-Fiction’ has deliberated on this aspect through references and internal evidence from Bible. Jesus was reluctant to die! since he had worked out a strategy of defence to repel the Jews, because he wanted to remain Alive! (Matthew 26:37-38). He beseeched God for help: With strong crying and tears for God Almighty to keep him Alive!( Luke 22:44 Matthew 26: 37-39). God “Heard” his prayers: Which means that God accepted his prayers to keep him Alive! (Hebrews;5:7). An angel of God came to strengthen him: In the hope and belief that God will save him Alive!(Luk;22:43).
Jesus was supposed to be on the cross for only three hours: According to the system in vogue, no man could die by crucifixion in such a short time which means that even if he was fastened to the cross — he was Alive. The Jews doubted his death: They suspected that he had escaped death on the cross — that he was Alive!(Matthew;27:62-64). Jesus ate food again and again in his post ‘crucifixion’ appearances: Food is only necessary if he was Alive! (Luke;24:30), the spirit is not in need of food. Jesus had himself foretold that his miracle will be the miracle of Jonah: “Then some of the scribes and Pharisees said to him (Jesus), “Teacher, we wish to see a sign (miracle) from you. But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign; but no sign shall be given to it except the sign (miracle) of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale, so will the Son of man (Jesus) be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”(Mathew;38-40).
According to the ‘Book of Jonah’, Jonah was Alive, when we expected him to be ‘Dead’; similarly when we expect Jesus to be DEAD, he should be Alive. Hence the internal evidence from Bible conforms to the Qur’anic narrative. Allah says: “And (then Children of Israel) plotted and planned and Allah too planned and the best of planners is Allah.(Qur’an;3:54). “That they said (in boast) “We killed Jesus Christ the son of Mary the Messenger of God”; but they killed him not nor crucified him but so it was made to appear to them and those who differ therein are full of doubts with no (certain) knowledge but only conjecture to follow for of a surety they killed him not. Nay Allah raised him up unto Himself; and Allah is Exalted in Power Wise. (Qur’an;4:157,158).
Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) is the only messenger of God who has been raised to the level of divinity by most of his followers. The real message, which he preached, has been distorted and corrupted, the authenticity of the four Gospels (claimed to contain his teachings) remains questionable even among many Christians. Lot of mysteries and controversies exists about his life, preaching and departure. Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) was prophet for the Israelites and not gentiles. The new doctrines of Original Sin and Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Ghost, three, part of One God) were evolved much later and the Law of Moses was cancelled to make the new faith acceptable to the pagans of Greco-Roman world, a separate subject of detailed study.
Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) said; “I can of myself do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is righteous; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of Him that sent me.”(John;5:30); “Thy will be done”.(Mathew; 6:10,26:42). Hence Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) is a Muslim because by definition the; ‘Muslim is a person who submits his will to God’. Muslims worship the same one God, worshiped by Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him), they are required to offer obligatory prayers (salah), keep fast (saum) and spend on charity (zakah) practice humility which was also practiced and preached by Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him)(Mathew;17:21, 23:23-24, 26:36, 1 Peter;4:8). Muslims are circumcised as was Jesus (Luke;2:21-24), they greet in the same manner as Jesus (peace be upon him) greeted in Hebrew; ‘Sholam alay kum’(Luke;24:36), the Islamic greeting in Arabic is also same: “Assalaamu alai kum” both meaning ‘Peace be on you’. Muslims also do not eat pork nor indulge in intoxicants. Attire and appearance of Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) with a beard is same as of faithful Muslims.
Mary (Allah be pleased with her), the mother of Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) is highly respected by Muslims. Allah accords her highest status among women: “AND LO! The angels said: “O Mary! Behold, God has exalted you, purified you, and preferred you for His service over all the women of the world.”(Qura’n;3: 42); “We made her and her son a sign for the whole world.”(Qura’n;21:91). While she is cursorily mentioned in Bible, Qur’an names Chapter Number 19 after her and mentions her by name at least thirty three times. In the Christian iconology she is seen modestly dressed with her head covered, the Muslim women and Christian nuns are also dressed modestly like Mary. Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) was the last Hebrew prophet, who was sent by God to preach the implementation of the Law of Moses to the Jews (Mathew;5:17-20) and make lawful some of that which was forbidden to them(Qur’an;3:49,50).
Muslims believe in Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) as messenger of God (also mentioned in Acts;2:22), his miraculous birth without father (Qur’an;19:16-40, Matthew;1:18-25 & Luke;1:28-35) and the miracles performed by the will of God (Qur’an;3:49, Mathew;4:23,9:35, Luke; 4:22, 9:11, 3:8 and Acts:4:16). They further believe in the revelations (scripture) he received from God, who saved him and raised him up to Himself, to be sent back to this world before the end of time. Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) prophesized the advent of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him.(John;14:16, 15:26,16:7,12-14, Qur’an;6:20). According to Bible Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) said: “Not every one who says to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven (Islam: Surrender to will of God). On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord’, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you evildoers’.”(Methew;7:21-23).
If Christian is the one who follows the teachings of Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him), then Muslims are more Christians than those who call themselves Christian. Most of the present Christians have nothing to do with the teachings of Jesus Christ (peace be upon him), they follow the doctrines of Paul. Islamic and Christian traditions are synonymous that Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) will return in this world again before end of time. According to Islamic traditions, Prophet Jesus Christ (peace be upon him) will dispel all the controversies about him in his second coming. He will rule the world as just ruler according to Shari’a (Islamic law) and die natural death. Allah says: “Every human being is bound to taste death..”(Qura’n;3:185).
Christianity was originally a movement of Jews who accepted Prophet Jesus Christ (peace be upon him) as the prophet and messiah, but the movement quickly became predominantly Gentile (non-Jewish) with change in the doctrine acceptable to the Greco-Roman pagans. The early church was shaped by St. Paul and other Christian missionaries and theologians; who declared Prophet Jesus Christ (peace be upon him) to be the Son of God, the second person of the Holy Trinity, that God’s love for the world is the essential component of his being, and that Prophet Jesus Christ (peace be upon him) died to redeem humankind from the Original Sin (sin committed by Adam by disobeying God). Those who followed the teachings of Prophet Jesus Christ (peace be upon him) were persecuted and marginalized. The Christians were persecuted under the Roman Empire but by winning over Constantine I, the Emperor of Rome (306-337 C.E) who adopted the Christian faith and suspended the persecution of Christians the situation was reversed. In 313 C.E he issued, with Licinius, the Edict of Milan, granting tolerance to Christians; he also gave land for churches and granted the church special privileges. He opposed other groups, notably following Donatism (Fourth century C.E, North Africa sect, which believed in sanctity as requisite for church membership and administration of all sacraments) and Arianism (The doctrines of Arius, denying that Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) was of the same substance as God and holding instead that he was only the highest of created beings.), and convoked the important Council of Nicaea in 325 C.E. He rebuilt Constantinople (now Istanbul) as the new Rome (330 C.E).
After Pontius Pilate, Herod Agrippa I, the grandson of Herod I the Great was appointed the king of Judea (41-44 C.E) by Roman Emperor. He displayed great acumen in conciliating the Romans and Jews. Herod Agrippa II , a great-grandson of Herod I the Great, was the king of Chalcis in southern Lebanon and south Syria from 53 C.E, who unsuccessfully mediated with the rebels in the Jewish Revolt of 66-70 C.E. The entire kingdom passed under Roman rule in 44 C.E and was reconstituted as the procuratorial province of Judea. Disturbances were frequent, caused by maladministration. The incompetence and anti-Jewish posture led in 66 C.E to the decisive and final outbreak of revolt. The Greeks massacred the Jews in many towns of Palestine. In turn, the Jews responded by slaughtering Gentiles in Samaria, Galilee, and elsewhere. The Jews were successful in an early engagement against the governor of Syria, In 67 C.E, however, Vespasian, the future emperor, with his son Titus, arrived with force and the war became increasingly bitter. By the end of 67 C.E Galilee was captured, and Judea was reduced in three campaigns, which ended with the fall of Jerusalem in 70 C.E. The Temple was destroyed, and the city became the permanent garrison town of a Roman legion. By 73 C.E all the Jewish resistance had ceased.
After the destruction of Jerusalem, the Jews, deprived of the Temple, founded a new religious centre in the rabbinical school of Jamnia (Jabneh). The revolt in 115 C.E was put down. In 132 C.E the emperor Hadrian decided to build a Roman colony, Aelia Capitolina, on the site of Jerusalem. The announcement of his plan, as well as his ban on circumcision (revoked later, but only for the Jews), provoked a much more serious revolt, led by Bar Kokhba. It was ruthlessly repressed by Julius Severus, more than half a million people were killed. In Judea proper the Jews seem to have been virtually exterminated, but they survived in Galilee. Tiberias in Galilee became the seat of the Jewish patriarchs. No Jew was thenceforth allowed to set foot in Jerusalem or the surrounding districts. This prohibition apparently was relaxed some time later to permit Jews to enter Jerusalem once in an year, on the Day of Mourning.
While this ban was officially still in force as late as the 4th century C.E, there is some evidence that Jews visited the city at certain festival times. About the time the Bar Kokhba revolt was crushed (135 C.E), Hadrian (Emperor of Rome) proceeded to convert Jerusalem into a Greco-Roman city. He also erected temples dedicated to Jupiter and himself on the site of the destroyed Temple of Jerusalem. The Jewish presence however remained strong in Galilee. The Jews have flourished financially all over the Christendom for centuries, however they were ill treated as hated community branded as killers of Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) and money lenders. They were confined to ghettos. Jews enjoyed freedom in the Islamic world, especially in the Muslim Spain, till expelled by Christians only to be welcomed again by Muslims in Ottoman Turkey.
With the conversion of Constantine I to Christianity early in the 4th century C.E, a new era of prosperity began for Palestine. The emperor himself built a magnificent church on the site of the Holy Sepulcher, the most sacred of Christian holy places; his mother, Helena, built two others, at the place of the Nativity at Bethlehem and of the Ascension in Jerusalem and his mother-in-law, Eutropia, built a church at Mamre. Palestine began to attract floods of pilgrims from all parts of the empire. It also became a great centre of the eremitic life; men flocked from all quarters to become hermits in the Judaean wilderness, which was soon dotted with monasteries. Eventually, Juvenal, bishop of Jerusalem from 421 to 458 C.E, achieved his ambition and was recognized by the Council of Chalcedon (451 C.E) as patriarch of the three provinces of Palestine.
There was a revolt of the Jews in Galilee in 352 C.E, which was suppressed by the Caesar Gallus. Under Marcian (reigned 450-457 C.E) and again under Justinian I (reigned 527-565 C.E) the Samaritans revolted. Palestine, like Syria and Egypt, was also troubled by the Monophysite Controversy (a debate among Christians who disagreed with the Council of Chalcedon’s assertion that the person of Prophet Jesus Christ comprised two natures, human and divine). Gradually, however, the Chalcedonian doctrine gained ground, and Palestine became a stronghold of orthodoxy.
Apart from these disturbances the country enjoyed peace and prosperity until 611 C.E, when Khosrow II, king of Persia, launched an invasion. His troops captured Jerusalem (614 C.E), destroyed churches, and carried off the True Cross. Earlier Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), the descendent of Prophet Ishmael (peace be upon him) had already received the first revelation in 610 C.E at Mecca Arabia. In 615 C.E, when total destruction of Byzantine Empire seemed imminent, the victory of Christians over Persians in the coming years was prophesied in Qura’n;30:2-4. Accordingly in 628 C.E the Byzantine emperor Heracles recovered Palestine, and he subsequently restored the True Cross to Jerusalem, not knowing that 10 years later Jerusalem was to fall to the Muslim Arabs.
Under Muslims, Jerusalem became their second most holiest site being the first Qibla (prayer direction) for Muslims, and its connection with the Mairaj [Night journey of Prophet Muhammad, (peace be upon him), to heaven]. From 637 C.E Jerusalem was ruled by various Muslim dynasties, except for short periods during the Crusades, which left deep scars. Rule by the Ottoman Empire ended in 1917, and the city became the capital of the British mandate of Palestine. In 1948, the state of Israel, a homeland for Jews was created, after centuries of oppression of Jews by European Christians (lastly holocaust by Hitler). This was done at the cost of Palestinians through oppression, forced expulsion by terror which still continues unabated. Israel claimed the city as its capital after the Arab-Israeli War in 1948 and took the entire city during the Six-Day War of 1967. Its status as capital of independent state of Palestine or Israel is one of main points of contention.
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