The life of Prophet Isa (AS), also known as ‘Jesus’, has stirred great debate across religions and continents for many years. His life not only holds significance in Islam, but it has deeply influenced Christianity and Judaism as well.

Isa ibn Maryam (AS) was one of the greatest prophets who walked this earth and was greatly beloved by Allah (SWT). He was sent as a messenger to the people of Israel, to deliver Allah‘s (SWT) message and guide them towards the right path. His elevated status in Islam is apparent in the fact that he was the last predecessor of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) and the last messenger for Bani Israel. There was no prophet between Isa (AS) and Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Allah (SWT) mentions the name of Isa (AS) twenty five times in the Holy Quran, which in itself pays ode to the importance of Isa (AS) in the eyes of Allah (SWT).

The Holy Quran recounts the stories of Isa’s (AS) life in multiple places and sheds light on the incidents in great detail, such as the birth of Isa (AS), which was in itself a miracle. By the will of Allah (SWT), Isa (AS) was born to Maryam (Mary), a deeply pious and God-fearing woman, who conceived without ever having touched another man – she was a virgin. Maryam (AS) remains, to this day, one of the purest and most righteous of women to have ever lived. Maryam received the glad tidings through the angel Jibrael that she had been chosen for the service of Allah (SWT) and was going to have a son, who was to be Allah’s (SWT) prophet in this world:

“(Remember) when the angels said: ‘O Maryam (Mary)! Verily, Allah gives you the glad tidings of a Word [‘Be!’ — and he was! i.e. ‘Isa (Jesus) the son of Maryam (Mary)] from Him, his name will be the Messiah ‘Isa (Jesus), the son of Maryam (Mary), held in honor in this world and in the Hereafter, and will be one of those who are near to Allah.” He will speak to the people, in the cradle and in manhood, and he will be one of the righteous.’ She said: ‘O my Lord! How shall I have a son when no man has touched me.’ He said: ‘So (it will be) for Allah creates what He wills. When He has decreed something, He says to it only: “Be!” and it is’” (Quran 3:45-47)

Maryam submitted to the Will of Allah (SWT) and secluded herself from society and gave birth to Isa (AS) under a date palm tree, which served as her source of nourishment during labor. When she returned to her people with a son in hand, she was denounced and condemned for supposedly falling in sin but that did not deter Maryam as her faith in Allah (SWT) was supreme and unrelenting. As the people were doubting Maryam (AS), Isa (AS) spoke from his cradle, thereby astonishing the people and confirming Maryam’s (AS) story.

Thereafter, when the children of Israel rejected Allah’s (SWT) commands, His reckoning and fell into corruption and sin instead, Allah (SWT) sent Isa (AS) to guide them out of that darkness by teaching Isa (AS) the Tawrat and Injil. From then on, Isa (AS) set on his mission to spread the word of Allah (SWT) and bring them back on the righteous path, where he faced immense backlash. However, Allah (SWT) equipped Isa (AS) with his own set of miracles to facilitate him on his mission of Allah (SWT). For example, by Allah’s (SWT) permission, Isa (AS) could bring a bird of clay to life by blowing on it, he could heal the blind and the injured etc. Subsequently, the Jews turned against Isa (AS).

Isa (AS) eventually started gaining the support of the weak and poor, which posed as a threat to the Jews and Romans alike. They conspired to kill Isa (AS) and turned the Roman governor against Isa (AS) by making him think Isa (AS) was a grave threat to the power of the Romans. Hence, the governor ordered the capture of Isa (AS) and ordered his men to crucify him. However, Allah (SWT) had different plans; they thought that the person they had killed and crucified was Isa (AS) but in reality, Allah (SWT) made the hypocrite who betrayed Isa (AS) look like him who was then put on the cross and crucified – Allah (SWT) saved Isa (AS) and raised him to the Heavens instead.

“And because of their saying (in boast), ‘We killed the Messiah ‘Isa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary), the Messenger of Allah,’ — but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but it appeared so to them the resemblance of ‘Isa (Jesus) was put over another man (and they killed that man), and those who differ therein are full of doubts. They have no (certain) knowledge, they follow nothing but conjecture. For surely; they killed him not [i.e. ‘Isa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary)]: But Allah raised him [‘Isa (Jesus)] up (with his body and soul) unto Himself (and he is in the heavens). And Allah is Ever All Powerful, All Wise” (Quran 4:157-158)

In reality, Isa (AS) did not die on the cross, he was raised up to the Heavens by Allah (SWT) and he shall descend before the Last Day and will follow Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Isa (AS) will then prove the Jews wrong in their claim that they killed him and also prove the Christians wrong on their blasphemous claims that he is a God, or the son of Allah (SWT) or part of the trinity.

The Prophet (PBUH) said: “By the One in Whose hand is my soul, the son of Maryam will descend among you as a just judge. He will break the cross, kill the pigs and abolish the jizyah (tax paid my non-Muslims in an Islamic state), and money will become so widespread that there will be no one who will accept it.” (Muslim, 155)

Isa (AS) was a mortal human being and messenger of Allah (SWT). He was a slave of Allah (SWT) just like the rest of us. Hence, as Muslims, we should learn by his example and follow in his blessed footsteps that he left behind, in order to reach a higher station in Paradise.

Narrated by ‘Ubaadah, the Prophet (PBUH) said: “Whoever bears witness that there is no God but Allah alone, with no partner or associate, and that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger, and that ‘Isa is His slave and Messenger, a word which Allah bestowed upon Maryam and a spirit created by Him, and that Paradise is real, and Hell is real, Allah will admit him through whichever of the eight gates of Paradise he wishes.” (Bukhari 3435)

The author

Amna Anwaar