Was Jesus a Muslim? The short answer is “no” because Muslims follow the religion of Islam. Jesus lived on earth 600 years before the Islamic religion began.
Well, do Muslims believe in Jesus? Do they believe in the Holy Spirit? And, what was Jesus’ religion when He lived on earth? What do we know about Jesus?
Let’s explore these questions and more as we dive into the similarities and distinctions between Islam and Christianity.
What is a Muslim?
A Muslim is someone who accepts Islam as their religion. To become a Muslim, one must recite the Muslim creed (shahādah): “There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is his prophet.”
The core belief of all Muslims is that there is only one god: Allah. Muslims believe Allah is the creator and above all created things. They believe Allah is all-powerful and that everyone should worship only him. Muslims don’t think they can have a personal relationship with Allah, and they don’t call him “Father.”
Who is Muhammad? Muhammed lived in Saudi Arabia in the 7th century A.D. One day, he was meditating in a cave, and a spirit appeared to him. The spirit told Muhammed to read. But Muhammed didn’t know how to read. So, the spirit gave him some scriptures to memorize.
Initially, Muhammed believed that the spirit was a demon. But his wife and cousin said it must have been the angel Gabriel. They told Muhammed he was a prophet. This spirit appeared to Muhammed multiple times throughout his life.
Because he was illiterate, he couldn’t write down what the spirit told him. But he told his followers what the spirit told him. After he died, his disciples wrote it down in a book called the Quran. Muslims believe that Muhammed was God’s last prophet and that the Quran is God’s final revelation to human beings.
What do we know about Jesus?
Everything we need to know about Jesus is in the Bible – and there’s a lot there! The Bible makes it crystal clear that Jesus is God. The Bible teaches that there is only one God:
- “Hear, Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” (Deuteronomy 6:4-5)
- “For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus.” (1 Timothy 2:5).
- “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19)
The Bible tells us that the “Word” (Jesus) existed with God from infinity and was God. Jesus created everything!
- “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him not even one thing came into being that has come into being.” (John 1:1-3)
- Jesus said, “I and the Father are One.” (John 10:30)
- Jesus said, “The one who has seen Me has seen the Father . . . I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me. The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own, but the Father, as He remains in Me, does His works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me.” (John 14:9-11)
Although Jesus always existed as God, He emptied Himself and was born as a man. He died on the cross and resurrected to bring salvation to all who believe in Him.
- “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:5-8)
- “God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom He also made the world. And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,” (Hebrews 3:1-3)
- “I am the resurrection and the life; the one who believes in Me will live, even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die.” (John 11:25-26)
What do Muslims think of Jesus?
The Quran teaches that Jesus was a prophet. It also teaches that other Biblical people, including Abraham, David, Joseph, John the Baptist, Moses, and Noah, were prophets.
The Quran teaches that Mary was a virgin when she gave birth to Jesus. It says Jesus performed miracles, like healing the sick. It even says Jesus raised people from the dead.
Muslims don’t believe Jesus was really crucified to pay for the sins of the world. The Quran says that someone who resembled Him was crucified. Since Muslims don’t believe Jesus died, they don’t think He resurrected from the grave.
Muslims do believe Jesus ascended into heaven. The Quran says that God “took Jesus up to Himself.” Muslims believe that on the Day of Judgement, Jesus will return to earth to destroy the antichrist.
Muslims don’t believe Jesus is God, and they don’t think He is their Savior. They know they are sinners, but they believe God, in His mercy, decides who He will forgive. Muslims hope God will forgive them, but they have no assurance that He will.
Do Muslims believe in the Holy Spirit?
Not in the sense that Christians do. They believe in the oneness of God, and for them, that means Allah only has one being or one part. Even though humans have a body and a spirit, and they are still one person, Muslims don’t think this is possible for Allah.
However, they do have a concept of the Holy Spirit. They believe God created billions of angels and that the highest, most honored angel is the holy spirit. They think it is the angel Gabriel because Gabriel communicated to Mary and the prophet Daniel. Muslims call Gabriel “Jebreel.” They also believe Gabriel is the spirit that spoke to Muhammad in the cave and gave him the scripture that is the Quran.
Muslims believe Gabriel is an archangel, although the Bible only names Michael as an archangel. Muslims believe there are four archangels:
- Gabriel (Jebreel),
- Michael (Mīkāʾīl), the angel of providence and rain
- ʾIsrāfīl (trumpeter angel)
- ʿAzrāʾīl (angel of death)
What religion was Jesus?
Jesus is God, so technically, He transcends religion.
However, when He was a man walking this earth, He followed the Jewish religion of Judaism. He was circumcised eight days after He was born, and He was consecrated at the Temple in Jerusalem as an infant (Luke 2:22-24).
When He was 12 years old, He went to the Temple to celebrate the Passover (Luke 2:41-52) and probably went every year after that. The Bible speaks of Him going during the three years of His ministry at Passover and for other festivals. Jesus studied the Jewish scriptures (Tanakh, Old Testament) as a boy and quoted from them many times. He went to the synagogue and taught there.
The Passover, which Moses taught the Jews to celebrate (Exodus 12), was fulfilled in Jesus. He was the Passover Lamb (1 Corinthians 5:7). He is the sacrifice, but also the Great High Priest:
- “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let’s hold firmly to our confession.” (Hebrews 4:14)
Why choose Christianity over Islam?
Think about it. Where is Muhammed now? His body is still in the ground. He is not in Paradise. Where is Jesus now? Even the Quran says that Jesus is in heaven with God. How can Muhammed be greater than Jesus if he is still dead and God called Jesus up to heaven?
If the holy spirit, the archangel Gabriel, really spoke to Muhammad, why did he tell him to “read?” Muhammed was illiterate. Wouldn’t God know that? Why would Allah command Muhammed to do something he couldn’t do? What if Muhammad were right, and an evil spirt spoke to him, not Gabriel?
What will happen to you on the Day of Judgement, when Jesus returns to earth to destroy the antichrist? If you don’t believe Jesus is the Christ, doesn’t that make you part of the antichrist?
If Moses, Daniel, and Jesus were all God’s prophets, how could their writings be lost or corrupted? If the Holy God communicated to human beings through their writing, why did He allow most of His Word to be lost? Would a Holy God allow His revealed Word to be lost or corrupted? There’s a lot that the Quran doesn’t talk about. How do you know the whole picture if most of God’s revealed Word has been lost?
Can Muhammed give you any hope of salvation? Only Jesus can assure you that your sins are washed away, and you are clean in the eyes of God. Only Jesus can give you the full assurance of spending eternity with God rather than going to hell.
The Quran doesn’t tell you God wants a personal relationship with you. It says Allah only loves those who love him and obey him. But the love of the true God of the Bible is unconditional. God does want us to love and obey Him. But He didn’t wait for us to love Him. He loved us so much while we were sinful that He gave His only Son, Jesus.
- “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
The Quran only says you can call God “Rabb” or Lord. Islam says you can’t say you are the children of God or call God “Father” because that is presuming too much.
Yet, God loves you as a father loves his children! He wants you to call Him, “Abba, Father!” (بابي Babi).
- “But to all who did receive Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God— children born not of blood, nor of the desire or will of man, but born of God.” (John 1:12-13)
- “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery that returns you to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’” (Romans 8:14-15)
If you are a Muslim and reading this article, I pray that these verses and explanations of Jesus have made you think. I encourage you to read the Bible and discover the truth for yourself.
The Bible is available in Arabic (easy-to-read version) here: https://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Arabic-Bible-Easy-to-Read-Version-ERV-AR/#booklist
The Bible is available in English and over 70 other languages here: https://www.biblegateway.com/versions/
Believe in Him! Believe that He is fully God and loved you so much that He gave His life for you so that you could be forgiven of your sins. Believe that He came back to life so that you can have the same hope of eternal life. Believe that you can know Him as your heavenly Father and that you can be His child.