Jesus in Islam’s Quran?


The purpose of this article will be to discuss the presentation of Jesus Christ in Islam’s holy book, the Quran, to compare the Quran’s depiction of Christ with the Bible, and then to argue in defense of the biblical view of Christ, with particular emphasis on His deity and post-death resurrection.  The Quran teaches a number of significant truths about the person of Jesus, and yet denies the most crucial truths, His deity and resurrection from the dead.  If Jesus is truly God, and was vindicated by actual resurrection from the dead, this will have fatal consequences for Islam.  If not, the consequences will fall upon Christianity.  If Jesus is not who He claimed to be, then Christians, “are of all men are most to be pitied.”  1 Corinthians 15:19

Islam and the Quran’s View of Christ

Islam is “the second largest religion in the world, with over one billion adherents”.[1]  It was founded by Muhammad in 622 A.D. in the city of Medina (in modern-day Saudi Arabia).[2]  Islam is the Arabic term for “submission”, and followers of Islam are known as Muslims, which means “ones who submit”.[3]  The Muslim god is called Allah, which means “the Divinity” [4]  A Muslim is one who submits to Allah as he is revealed by his prophet, Muhammad.[5]  There are five core doctrines of Islam:  1). there is only one god, 2). Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad are prophets, 3). god created angels; some good, some evil, 4). the Quran is the full and final revelation of god, and 5). the judgment is coming with reward (heaven) and punishment (hell).[6]  There are five central tenets of Islam.  To become a Muslim, one must 1). confess the shahadah: There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is his prophet, 2). pray the salat (ritual prayer) five times a day, 3). fast during the month of Ramadan, 4). give alms to the needy and 1/40th of one’s income, and 5). make a pilgrimage to Mecca during one’s lifetime. [7]

The Quran is a collection of sayings by the prophet Muhammad that were gathered by his followers shortly after his death.[8]  Islam claims that many of his sayings were given to him “verbatim by the angel Gabriel over a period of twenty-three years”.[9]  The Quran is approximately the size of the New Testament, with 114 chapters (suras) that are not arranged in any particularly apparent logical or chronological order.

Jesus is called “Isa” in the Quran, which is the Arabic word for Jesus.[10]  The Quran teaches an astonishing number of significant facts about Jesus that are consistent with the Bible’s claims about Him.   These include:

Virgin Birth to Mary

[And mention] when the angels said, “O Mary, indeed Allah gives you good tidings of a word from Him, whose name will be the Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary – distinguished in this world and the Hereafter and among those brought near [to Allah ].    He will speak to the people in the cradle and in maturity and will be of the righteous.”  She said, “My Lord, how will I have a child when no man has touched me?” [The angel] said, “Such is Allah ; He creates what He wills. When He decrees a matter, He only says to it, ‘Be,’ and it is. (Sura 3:45-47)


And she took, in seclusion from them, a screen. Then We sent to her Our Angel, and he represented himself to her as a well-proportioned man. She said, “Indeed, I seek refuge in the Most Merciful from you, [so leave me], if you should be fearing of Allah .”  He said, “I am only the messenger of your Lord to give you [news of] a pure boy.”  She said, “How can I have a boy while no man has touched me and I have not been unchaste?”  He said, “Thus [it will be]; your Lord says, ‘It is easy for Me, and We will make him a sign to the people and a mercy from Us. And it is a matter [already] decreed.'” (Sura 19:17-22)

Miracle Ministry

And [make him] a messenger to the Children of Israel, [who will say], ‘Indeed I have come to you with a sign from your Lord in that I design for you from clay [that which is] like the form of a bird, then I breathe into it and it becomes a bird by permission of Allah . And I cure the blind and the leper, and I give life to the dead – by permission of Allah. And I inform you of what you eat and what you store in your houses. Indeed in that is a sign for you, if you are believers. (Sura 3:49)

Status as Prophet

[Jesus] said, “Indeed, I am the servant of Allah. He has given me the Scripture and made me a prophet. (Sura 19:30)


[And mention] when the angels said, “O Mary, indeed Allah gives you good tidings of a word from Him, whose name will be the Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary – distinguished in this world and the Hereafter and among those brought near [to Allah]. (Sura 3:45)

Ascension to Heaven

[Mention] when Allah said, “O Jesus, indeed I will take you and raise you to Myself and purify you from those who disbelieve and make those who follow you [in submission to Allah alone] superior to those who disbelieve until the Day of Resurrection. Then to Me is your return, and I will judge between you concerning that in which you used to differ. (Sura 3:55)

Second Coming

And indeed, Jesus will be [a sign for] knowledge of the Hour, so be not in doubt of it, and follow Me. This is a straight path. (Sura 43:61)

Jesus’ deity is rejected on the ground that Allah is one, and thus could neither exist in Trinitarian form nor have a son.

O People of the Scripture, do not commit excess in your religion or say about Allah except the truth. The Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary, was but a messenger of Allah and His word which He directed to Mary and a soul [created at a command] from Him. So believe in Allah and His messengers. And do not say, “Three”; desist – it is better for you. Indeed, Allah is but one God. Exalted is He above having a son. To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth. And sufficient is Allah as Disposer of affairs. (Sura 4:171)

His resurrection is rejected on the claim that He was not actually crucified and that a substitute died in His place. The Quran allows that Jesus was taken up into heaven by Allah, but denies that He was raised from the dead.

And [for] their saying, “Indeed, we have killed the Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary, the messenger of Allah.” And they did not kill him, nor did they crucify him; but [another] was made to resemble him to them. And indeed, those who differ over it are in doubt about it. They have no knowledge of it except the following of assumption. And they did not kill him, for certain.  Rather, Allah raised him to Himself. And ever is Allah Exalted in Might and Wise.  And there is none from the People of the Scripture but that he will surely believe in Jesus before his death. And on the Day of Resurrection he will be against them a witness.  (Sura 4:157-59)

Beyond these verses in the Quran which were written more than six centuries after the events occurred, Islam offers no proof of these claims.

In Defense of the Biblical View of Christ

The Questionable Canonization of the Quran

The current version of the Quran in use today is traced back to the third Caliph (supreme ruler) [11] of Islam, Uthman, who undertook to compile a complete and official version of the Quran after the death of Muhammad. [12]  Uthman, who was the son-in-law of Muhammad, was prompted to do so in the midst of great infighting within Islam over which texts extant at the time of Muhammad’s death were truly authentic. [13]  A major conflict arose among many prominent Muslims who claimed they had their own authentic versions of the Quran, so Uthman employed Zaid, “a companion of Muhammad, who was capable and knowledgeable of the Quran” to determine which texts were correct and to assemble them together in a single volume.[14]  Upon completion of the project, and to put a final end to the controversy, Uthman ordered the destruction of all other competing versions.  However, before they were destroyed, Muslim leaders compared them to the “official version” and found that verses were missing in the official version, that some of the competing versions had more and others fewer suras (chapters) than the official version, and that the official version may have included sayings that were not authentic. [15]  Arthur Jeffery, a leading Quran scholar stated that “the text which Uthman canonized was only one out of many rival texts and…Uthman may have seriously edited the text that he canonized.” [16]  Further, German scholar, Dr. Gerd Puin, has “noted that the omission of diacritical marks, which helped to determine vowels and consonants, rendered the original Quran vague.” [17]  The conclusion must be that the version in use today cannot be regarded as a complete and accurate record of Muhammad’s sayings.  This leaves significant room for doubt as to whether the Quran’s claims about Jesus were actually uttered by Muhammad.

The Bible’s Eyewitness Testimony

The most reliable documents of antiquity detailing historical events are those which are comprised of eyewitness accounts, or that are based on eyewitness accounts.  Documents of less weight are those which have no claim of eyewitness reporting.  The Gospel of Luke was based upon eyewitness accounts (Luke 1:1-4).  The Book of Acts (considered 2 Luke) was written in the same manner (Acts 1:1).  Mark and Matthew’s gospels were written from the perspective of eyewitnesses.  John’s gospel was an eyewitness account (John 21:24). The Apostle Paul was an eyewitness of his own accounts of Christ, his own missionary journeys, and the growth of the early church (1 Corinthians 15:8).

The Bibliographical Test Applied to the Bible

The bibliographical test is the examination of the transmission of ancient texts from their original autographs to the present age.  Over long periods of time, falsehood can creep into the details of certain writings, corrupting them.  To ensure that ancient texts have remained unaltered through the ages, one must establish a “chain of custody”[18] of the original texts.  One must show that the original autographs have been faithfully transmitted.  This is done by demonstrating that the original autographs were written shortly after the events which they portray and that their extant manuscript copies are consistent from generation to generation.  Moreover, it is important to give weight to the actual number of copies extant today, as the more copies that have been preserved through the centuries, the easier it is to see whether there has been legendary accretion or significant error.  While we do not the original autographs of the books of the New Testament, we do have a significant number of ancient copies.  The New Testament is the most attested document of antiquity.[19]  The current number of ancient manuscript copies total more than 20,000, with the earliest within 40 years of their original writing, and are as follows: 5,795 Greek manuscript copies, 2,587 Armenian manuscript copies, 975 Coptic manuscript copies, 6 Gothic manuscript copies 600 Ethiopian manuscript copies 10,000 Latin translation copies, and 350 Syriac manuscript copies.  The next most ancient document manuscript copies we have today are Homer’s Iliad, which was written around 800 B.C.  The most ancient manuscript copy was made about 4 centuries later.  There are a total of 1,757 copies in existence.  By comparison, the New Testament boasts over 20,000 copies, with the oldest being made within 40 years of the original autograph. [20]

The Deity of Jesus and His Resurrection from the Dead

Successful defenses of the deity of Jesus will rest in large part upon the reality of His resurrection from the dead.  However, before addressing His resurrection, it will be necessary to briefly consider other evidences of His deity.  As previously argued, the New Testament Gospels are reliable eyewitness accounts (or accounts based upon eyewitness testimony) of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.  These documents show that Jesus claimed to be the Son of God (Matthew 16:15-17, Mark 14:61-62, John 10:36, John 5:25, 11:4), was called the Son of God by others (Matthew 27:54, Mark 3:11, Luke 1:35, 22:70, John 1:34, 49), and was attested by miracles including changing water into wine (John 2:1-11), healing a leper (Mark 1:40-45), raising someone from the dead (Luke 7:11-18), curing a paralytic (Matthew 9:1-8), healing two blind men (Matthew 9:27-31), and was born of the Virgin Mary (Matthew 1:18, Luke 1:26-35).  Moreover, as previously mentioned, the Quran attests to Jesus’ virgin birth, miracle ministry (Sura 3:49), and sinless life (Sura 19:17-22), which itself was a great miracle.

The Gospels, His claims of deity, the witness of others to His deity, His miracles, and His sinless life on their own are sufficient to warrant reasonable confidence in the deity of Jesus.  This is especially true for Muslims whose own Quran attests to virgin birth, miracles, and sinless life.  However, the Quran claims that Jesus did not die by crucifixion, and thus, was not resurrected from the dead.  This claim will now be addressed.  There is no evidence to support this claim.  On the contrary, there is overwhelming evidence that Jesus died by Roman crucifixion was buried, and rose again on the third day.

Jesus’ Death by Roman Crucifixion

The Bible reports that Jesus died of Roman crucifixion (1 Corinthians 15:3, Acts 13:28, Mark 15:37).  No one could have survived the experience of Jesus in the final hours of His life.  He was exhausted in prayer (Luke 22:44), up all night (Matthew 26), beaten and scourged (John 19:1), and crucified the following morning by Roman soldiers (Mark 15:25).  Moreover, His post resurrection appearances eliminated the possibility of an imposter, as claimed by the Quran.

Jesus’ Empty Tomb

There is significant and compelling evidence supporting the resurrection of Jesus.  First, His tomb was empty.  While the empty tomb of Christ, on its own, does not suffice as compelling evidence for His resurrection, it is a requirement.  Without an empty tomb the question of the resurrection of Christ easily could have been put to rest.  The Jewish authorities needed only to open the tomb and put the dead body of Jesus on display for all to see.  Instead of arguing that His body was still there and demonstrating it to the public, the Jews attempted to cover up the fact of its absence.  They bribed the Roman guards that had been placed at the tomb and pleaded with them to accuse His disciples of stealing His body in the night (Matthew 28:11-15). No one at the time disputed the fact of the empty tomb. A careful study of the New Testament shows that the empty tomb is not even mentioned outside the Gospels, which were essentially historical accounts of the life of Jesus. But, elsewhere in the Bible where mention of the resurrection occurs, there is no reference to the tomb being empty. The obvious reason for this is that, by this time, the empty tomb was not in dispute by believers, unbelievers, or zealous opponents. There would have been no cause to argue over matters that were not in dispute.

The Eyewitness Accounts of Jesus’ Post-Resurrection Appearances

Among the criteria used to determine to the veracity of ancient documents, eyewitness accounts should be given significant weight.  John (John 20:3-9, 21:15-17), Mark (16:7), and Paul (1 Corinthians 15:5) all mention Christ’s post-resurrection appearance to Peter.  Peter was also one of the two male disciples who first saw the empty tomb. The other was John.  In rushing into the tomb ahead of John, who had arrived there first, Peter not only discovered the body of Jesus to be missing, but he saw Jesus’ burial clothes, which had apparently been left behind by Jesus.  Three different and independent sources report these events.

After Jesus appeared to ten of His disciples, they related the event to the eleventh, Thomas (Judas Iscariot was the twelfth).  So incredulous was Thomas that he stated he would not believe in the resurrection of Jesus unless he could touch Jesus’ wounds.  Eight days later, Jesus appeared to the apostles again. At this appearance, Thomas was present and was fully persuaded of Jesus’ resurrection, calling Him, “my Lord and my God” (John 20:24-31).

Paul mentions the appearance of Christ to “more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep” (1 Corinthians 15:6).  This was written by Paul about twenty years after the resurrection.  Paul offers a challenge to his reader to check out his claim.  Many of those who were eyewitnesses among the five hundred he mentions would have still be alive and easily could have been consulted to verify his claim.  In the same passage (1 Corinthians 15:7), Paul notes that Jesus’ own brother, James, who was once a serious skeptic about his brother, Jesus’, Messiahship, became a convert because he had met the resurrected Christ.  John wrote, “even His own brothers did not believe in Him” (John 7:5).  So convinced was James of the experience with his resurrected brother that he became the pastor of the church at Jerusalem and wrote the epistle that bears his name.

Paul’s Conversion to Christianity

Paul’s encounter with the risen Christ and his conversion experience on the Damascus Road (Acts 9) is remarkable and has enormous apologetic value.  Paul was a chief persecutor of the church, a fact attested to by even non-biblical sources of the period, including Ignatius of Antioch and Polycarp of Smyrna.  As an enemy of Christianity, mere legend about Paul’s conversion would have been interesting.  But, Paul redirects in the church’s expansion, health, and spiritual growth, the zeal he once had for its destruction.  So committed was Paul to his new found belief in the resurrected Christ that he spent the rest of his life devoted to the singular task of bringing the message of Christianity and its risen Christ to the gentile world, and he willingly suffered imprisonment and a martyr’s death for the cause of Christ (Philippians 3:8).  Nothing else could account for Paul’s conversion.  He had formerly despised everything about Christianity and was convinced that he was in the service of God by persecuting it (Acts 22).  Only God Himself could have convinced Paul that he was God’s enemy.  This God did when the second person of the Godhead, the risen Jesus demanded, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” (Acts 9:4)  After the gospels, Paul, the former chief persecutor of the church, wrote two-thirds of the New Testament, and in doing so, explained the majority of Christian doctrine.

Alternate Theories of the Resurrection

For centuries, scholars, skeptics, and those committed to naturalism, have offered alternatives to the biblical accounts of the resurrection of Christ.  These alternate theories do not deal with the known facts of the biblical resurrection accounts and, not surprisingly, lack the credibility of any actual evidence.  They are merely theories.  For any of these alternate theories to work, they must be plausible (present a reasonable alternative to the biblical accounts), credible (be supported by actual evidence), and damaging (able to undermine or refute the biblical accounts).  Among the more prominent alternate theories are the Muslim Impersonation Theory (as put forth in the Quran), the Hallucination Theory, the Swoon Theory, the Theft Theory, and the Wrong Tomb Theory.  None of these alternatives are plausible or supported by any evidence, nor do they have the power to undermine or dismantle the biblical accounts.  They are simply theories designed to give skeptics, critics, and those with a prior commitment to naturalism, an intellectual “way out” of believing in the resurrection.

Muslim Impersonation Theory: Muslims believe that Jesus ascended into heaven, but never actually died on the cross (Sura 3:55).  They believe that another person died in His place (Sura 4:157-59).  Doctrinally, the crucifixion of Christ offends Islamic beliefs concerning the sovereignty of Allah, and Allah’s desire and ability to protect his messengers.  Unfortunately, there is no supporting evidence for the claim that an imposter was crucified in Christ’s stead.  However, the Bible offers two solid evidences for the death of Christ: Old Testament prophecies (Isaiah 53:5-10, Psalm 22:16, Daniel 9:26, Zechariah 12:10) and New Testament eyewitness testimony (Matthew 27:41, Mark 14:54, 15:31, Luke 23:27, 47, John 19:18, 23, 26-27).  These are both convincing and compelling.

Hallucination Theory: Biblical accounts of the resurrection include not only sightings (sight), but physical encounters (touch), and interactive conversations (hearing).  It is hard to accept that experiences of sight, touch, and hearing were, in actuality, mass hallucinations.  Moreover, it is unreasonable to believe that people of different backgrounds, at various times, and in multiple locations, all shared the same hallucination of the resurrected Jesus.  Hallucinations are not transient events that grip different groups of people in different places and at different times.  Rather, they are individual experiences.  But, Jesus’ disciples believed all was lost and gave up when He was crucified.  When the disciples heard of His resurrection, they were shocked.  It was unexpected.  Finally, so fantastic is the claim of a mass hallucination that it would have been a miracle on par with the resurrection itself.  People experiencing such a hallucination could easily have been brought to their senses by visiting Jesus’ tomb and examining His dead body.

Swoon Theory: Jesus died.  Jesus could not have survived his horrendous crucifixion and revived Himself inside a cold, dark, sealed tomb without medical attention.  Much less could He have had the strength to roll the multi-ton stone away from the inside of His tomb.

Theft Theory: If Jesus’ body had been stolen by His disciples or even pranksters or others, there would still have been the problem of the disciples’ insistence on His resurrection and their subsequent martyrdoms.  They would not have died for a lie they knew to be a lie, nor would they have devoted their lives to proclaiming a false resurrection.  There simply would have been nothing to gain.

Wrong Tomb Theory: Jesus was not an obscure, irrelevant, fringe character with no following.  He had tens of thousands of followers, and His preaching and miracles ministry and His crucifixion were the biggest news of His day.  False claims of a resurrection would not have stopped any number people (especially the Roman guards and the Jewish leadership, not to mention His rabble detractors) from pointing out the error and exposing his dead body.

It is important to note that these theories are not themselves arguments, are not complimentary and cannot be taken as a whole, and thus are not compelling and do not carry apologetic weight.  There are no credible alternative theories.  The biblical accounts should be given the most credibility since they are attended by ample evidence and cogent argumentation.  The ridiculousness of these alternate theories exposes the greater fallacy of the skeptics: they fail to acknowledge that the simplest and most well-documented option is usually right.


The Quran’s truthful assertions about Jesus are remarkable.  But, its claims that Jesus was not God and was not raised from the dead are just that, claims.  They are not supported by any credible evidence.  Moreover, the Quran’s dubious canonization process raises serious questions about its trustworthiness.  Conversely, the Bible is the most attested, well documented, and reliable writing of antiquity.  It reports that Jesus was the Son of God, lived a sinless life, was crucified by the Romans, and was resurrected from the dead.  The Quran’s denial of His deity is without merit.  Alternate theories about His resurrection fall short.  The Biblical account of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus is convincing and compelling and should be accepted by all those who honestly and thoroughly investigate its claims.


Geisler, Norman L., and Abdul Saleeb. Answering Islam: The Crescent in Light of the Cross. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 2002.

Geisler, Norman L. Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 1999.

Wallace, J. Warner. Cold Case Christianity: A Homicide Detective Investigates the Claims of the Gospels. Colorado Springs, Colorado: David C. Cook, 2013.

Martin, Walter. The Kingdom of the Cults. Minneapolis, Minnesota: Bethany House Publishers, 1985.

McDowell, Josh, and Jim Walker. Understanding Islam and Christianity: Beliefs that Separate Us and How to Talk About Them. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2013.

[1] Norman L. Geisler and Abdul Saleeb, Answering Islam: The Crescent in Light of the Cross (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 2002), 11.

[2] Norman L. Geisler, Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 1999), 368.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Norman L. Geisler and Abdul Saleeb, Answering Islam: The Crescent in Light of the Cross (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 2002), 16.

[5] Walter Martin, The Kingdom of the Cults (Minneapolis, Minnesota: Bethany House Publishers, 1985), 365.

[6] Norman L. Geisler, Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 1999), 368-369.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Norman L. Geisler and Abdul Saleeb, Answering Islam: The Crescent in Light of the Cross (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 2002), 91.

[9] Ibid., 91-92.

[10] McDowell, Josh, and Jim Walker, Understanding Islam and Christianity: Beliefs that Separate Us and How to Talk About Them (Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2013), 284.

[11] McDowell, Josh, and Jim Walker, Understanding Islam and Christianity: Beliefs that Separate Us and How to Talk About Them (Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2013), 283.

[12] Ibid., 237-238.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Ibid.

[15] Ibid.

[16] Ibid., 239.

[17] Ibid., 240.

[18] Wallace, J. Warner, Cold Case Christianity: A Homicide Detective Investigates the Claims of the Gospels (Colorado Springs, Colorado: David C. Cook, 2013), 119.

[19] Jones and Clay, “The Bibliographical Test Updated,” Christian Research Journal 5, no. 3 (2012, January 01).

[20] Ibid.

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