Tracing Jesus in the Bible and the Quran

Doctoral Thesis / Dissertation, 2003

75 Pages, Grade: cum laude


List of Contents

Curriculum Vitae

Statement of Honor

List of Contents

1 - Introduction

2 - Background - The Books of God

3 - Muhammad’s Acquaintance with Jesus

4 - Jesus in the Quran

5 - The Christology of the Quran

6 - Jesus Christ According to the Bible

7 - Theological Implications of the Christ- Event

8 - Conclusion

1. Some Facts on the Christian and Muslim Communities in Kenya, East Africa
2. The Spread of Islam in Kenya
3. Percentage of Christians and Muslims
4. Can the Muslims live together peace- Fully with other religious communities In Kenya?
5. Is there Islamic Terrorism in Kenya?

References Cited in This Work

List of Institutions


My name is Fred Maina MACHARIA; and I was born 31/3/1980 in Kamwaura, Molo Rift Valley Province of Kenya. I am of the Christian Faith, and my email address is By nationality, I am a Kenyan from East Africa. From 1988 to 1995 I attended Ngong Forest Primary School, and from 1996 to the 2000 I attended Ruthimitu Secondary School . In the 2001, I joined Lamp and Light of Kenya where I qualified with a Certificate in Bible Studies . In the same year I attended Kenya Christian Industrial Training Institute where I qualified with a certificate in Printing Press. Still in the same year I attended a Dimese Sister school where I qualified with a certificate in Catholic Theology. Also in the same year, I enrolled in Nations University where I was awarded several degrees: Associate, Diploma, Bachelor and Master in Religious Studies.

I have worked at Kenya Metrological Department Printing Section as a machine operator. I also worked at Mercy Vision High School where I acted as the head of Social Sciences and as a teacher in History of Religion and Social Ethics. I have also taught at several religious Colleges, giving seminars on Islam. These colleges include Grace Christian College based in Karen, Nairobi and Karen Bible School also based in Nairobi.

Statement of Honour

I, Fred Maina Macharia, do hereby acknowledge that all that I have done and written in my doctoral thesis and research done in respect of the same, has been done by myself without the help of any third party and all written sources used in this work have been listed and quoted with references to the best of my knowledge.

Nairobi, March 1, 2004


This paper sets out to examine the presence of Jesus Christ as presented in the Holy Quran. This is presented from the perspective of a twentieth century African Christian after an objective reading of the Holy Quran and some Hadith literature.

Jesus comes through as a prophet and messenger of Allah, with whom Allah has established unique relationship and about whom the last word is not yet spoken.

The Quran comes through as a great defender of what it reveals as the true nature and identity of Jesus, against different and conflicting misrepresentations of Jesus by rival Christian groups. The Quran presents a Jesus in whom Allah is greatly interested.

Allah identifies and prepares Mary the mother of Jesus and entrusts her to the care of Zachariah. Allah gives a gift of a son to Zachariah in their old age; this son is John and called “Yahya” in the Quran. Allah then gives a Word from Himself to Mary. This word from Allah given to Mary becomes Jesus a son born of a virgin mother. Allah himself through the ministry of Angels and nature arranges for and takes care of Mary’s confinement and post- delivery care till Allah presents her back to her people with her infant son Jesus who as an infant miraculously spoke in defense of his mother.

The Quran presents a Jesus who delivers a message to the children of Israel only. A Jesus who performs miracles and a Jesus who is rescued by Allah from the threat of being crucified by the Jews Allah takes Jesus unto Himself and before the day of judgement Jesus will come to do the will of Allah.

After reading all the references of Jesus in the Quran, one develops an interest in this Prophet and Messenger of Allah and asks many questions about him.

However, the Quran is silent. This silence of the Quran about so much historical information about Jesus becomes very loud and problematic.

The quotations from the Holy Quran in this paper are from Ali, Abdullah Yusuf: The Holy Quran: Arabic Text, Translation and Commentary, University of New York Press, 1991.

The purpose of this paper is:-
1. Trace Jesus in the Holy Quran
2. Compare and contrast the Jesus in the Quran and the Bible
3. Help Christian to understand Islam Religion and being able to answer the basic system of doctrine of a Muslim.
4. Have a picture of Jesus through the eyes of a Muslim and a Christian.


The name Jesus written and pronounced in different ways in different languages is easily the best known name of any human personality in modern history. The story of his life and the religious movement he founded are recorded in the Christian Holy Scriptures particularly in the New Testament. Jesus was a Jew born in Palestine around 3 B.C. and disappeared from the earth around 30 A.D. Jesus proclaimed his message within Palestine during the last three years of His life. Jesus is recorded to have ascended into the clouds and disappeared. After his ascension the religious movement he founded continued to proclaim and spread his message to all people of the world.

The Quran was revealed to Muhammad the prophet of Islam. He was an Arab born in the city of Mecca in Arabia around 570 A.D. Muhammad was commanded to recite the words of the Quran to be repeated by the hearers and eventually to be written down. Muhammad received his call to prophethood at the age of 40 years around 610 A.D. By that time he was a married family man and a well traveled merchant businessman. After his call, he carried out his mission for twenty two years till his death in the city of Medina around 632 AD. Muhammad started his mission in Mecca, then migrated to Medina from where his message was proclaimed all over Arabia and beyond. He was buried in Medina after his death and his tomb is an important shrine of the Muslim faithful. The Revelations that became the Quran continued being received and recited until a few months before his death.

The presence of Jesus in the Quran is very significant to a twentieth century African Christian. This is so because of the absolute Divine authority given to the Quran by the Islam Religion. According to the evidence of the Quran itself, Muhammad claimed that, the Divine revelations enshrined therein were themselves miraculous signs of his apostleship. The true nature and identity of the Quran has been stated thus:

The Quran was a transcript of a tablet preserved in heaven in which is written all that has happened and all that will happen.1

This tablet preserved in heaven is also referred to as the ‘Umm Al Kitab- the Mother of the Book’. The fact of Jesus figuring prominently in the mother of the Book is very significant to a present day African Christian.

Not Jesus alone is found in the Quran but a large content of the Hebrew Sacred Scriptures taken over by the Christians as the Old testament is also found in the Quran. The presence of such a large content of the Christian and Hebrew Scriptures in the Quran makes the whole issue of Jesus in the Quran very intriguing to a present day African Christian. Badru Katerega, a Muslim author, David W. Shenk, a Christian, in their jointly authored book “Islam and Christianity”(Nairobi Uzima Press 1980,pg.25) .say: ”To believe in four books of the (scripture)of Allah is the central belief of the Muslim All these four books are holy and originated from God. They are inscribed on eternal tablets in Heaven. Exact copies of these Divine heavenly Scriptures have been sent down from God from time to time. These revealed Scriptures consist of four Books. They have much in common and all four Books have the same purpose, they are to reform mankind. They confirm one another. Muslims are required to accept and believe in them completely. There is also a fifth Book of God, which is not available for it has been lost. The Books are:-

1. The Suhuf (scrolls) - These were ten Holy Scriptures revealed to the prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) Peace be upon him, but unfortunately they are now extinct and not traceable in the existing world literature.
2. The Taurat (Torah) - This was a Holy Book revealed to the Prophet Musa (Moses peace be upon him.
3. The Zabur (Psalms) - This Holy Book was revealed to the Prophet Daud (David) peace be apon him
4. The Injil (Gospels) - This was a Holy Book revealed to the prophet Isa (Jesus) peace b e apon him
5. The Quran (Koran) - This is the Holy Book (final message) to mankind, which was revealed to the prophet Muhammad peace be apon him2.

The Quran testifies that there has been earlier revelations before it. It is He who sent down to thee (step by step) in truth the Book confirming what went before it and He sent down the Law (of Moses) and the Gospel! (of Jesus).

The Holy Quran was compiled during the period of the early caliphs. It consists of 114 chapters called surahs , of which eighty six were revealed to the prophets in the Meccan period, and which according to M.A. Qurashy in his “Textbook of Islam” (Book 1, p..229) lasted nearly thirteen years. The remaining 28 were revaeled to the prophet during his ten years stay at Medina! The Meccan Surahs were the earliest and shortest Surahs and have rythymic harmony, of which some of them were meant to inspire the prophet himself.

The intention was to prepare him for the great mission or responsibility that had been bestowed on him.

This divine revelation stressed on one hand comfort, consolation and patience to muslims who suffered .On the other hand, idolaters were warned for leading a wrong way of life.

The Surahs of the Medina period were revealed when the Muslims had found a state in new surrounding, however they troubles were not over they had not only to deal with subtle moves of the inhabitance in medina, but also with the armed attacks of Meccans. Here we happen to have two sets of revelation the first one gave the guidance on missionary works, moral teaching, law making, conduct of state, and war and peace. The second one addressed the enemies of Islam and hypocrite (half Muslims) are rebuked for their mischief and disloyalty.

This are repetition of both types in order to emphasize particular points by reference to the fate of the communities he had heeded or did not heed the commands of Allah.

The Quran really speaks very respectfully of all the prophets and messengers before Muhammad Christians and Jews are referred to as “Ahl al Kitab” - People of the Book. The Quran admonishes them to be faithful to their respective books. Say: “O people of the Book! Ye have no ground to stand upon unless ye stand fast by the Law, the Gospel and all the revelation that has come to you from your Lord…” (Sura 5 : 68). Muslims recognizes Jews and Christians as the “people of the book” from their Holy scriptures, the Torah (Taurat) and the Gospel (Injil).


From the point of view of the Islam Faith, whatever Prophet Muhammad was inspired to recite about Jesus in the Quran, was revealed to him directly from the “Mother of the Book”- the Heavenly Transcript. However, in this discussion, as African Christians it is of vital importance to find out, how and in what circumstances did Muhammad become acquainted with Jesus? In the following paragraphs some possible circumstances of the acquaintance of Muhammad with Jesus through contact with earlier Christianity will be presented.

i) Jews and Proselytes from Arabia were present in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost, as reported in the book of the Acts of the Apostles. (Acts 2:11). If the name “Arabia” is used in its widest sense, Arabian Christianity is as old as Christianity itself. In Damascus the place where St. Paul was let down from the wall in a basket is still shown to visitors.
ii) Tradition associates the Apostle St. Thomas with the founding of the Church in Edessa in Iraq.
iii) The Quran does not reveal or highlight the fact that enormous number of Arabs were Christians. Historical records show that though the bedouins of Hijaz were predominantly pagan, many of the surrounding tribes had accepted Christianity either whole- heartedly or as a matter of form. iv) There were scattered Christian Communities throughout the Arabian Peninsula. The three Chief centers of Christian influence were the Yaman in the South, Syria in the North and Hira in the East.
v) Abyssinia (present- day Ethiopia) to which some of Muhammad’s companions were forced to flee, was Christian in communion with the Egyptian monophysite Church.
vi) The Hijaz had been invaded from the Yemen by the Christian general Abraha circa A.D. 570. The Quranic Sura called the Elephant (Sura 105) refers to this invasion.
vii) In the Hijaz itself there were at least two Christian tribes, the Judham and the Udhra. In Mecca itself, there were individual Christians belonging to the Quraish tribe, the tribe of Muhammad.
viii) The monophysites were extraordinarily active in converting the Arabs and shortly before the birth of Muhammad large numbers had been baptized. A priest and Deacon were appointed to each tribe. Churches were founded, alms giving and fasting were regularly practiced. Monasteries were open day and night to travelers, who were given food and drinks before they were sent on their way. Women were veiled when out of doors.

A Note on the Role of Monophysitism In Forming the Islam Faith

It separated the human and divine nature of Jesus too much and eliminated the distinction claiming that there were two natures before the incarnation of the son but only one nature (monophysis) after it. Dioscorus, the Bishop of Alexandria supported Eutyches, but the council of Chalcedon condemned both in 451 and taught that Christ is one person with two natures, one human and one divine. In effect, Chalcedon clarified the Christology which Ephesus had left unsettled.

But there was a price to pay. The disciples of Dioscorus did not just go away: on the contrary the continued to teach and proselytize so effectively that, just prior to the Muslim invasion of the near East, most of the Byzantine empires Near Eastern provinces were monophsites, with sizable groups surviving today, albeit in small numbers.

While Eastern Theologians dealt with the Trinitarian and Christological issues, western theologians concerned themselves with sin. Augustine led the way. His attacks on manichaeism, a dualistic religion which posited a good thing with evil one, raised the question of good and evil in a new way. But manichaeism was a minor movement, and Augustine’s real struggle lay elsewhere.

A Note On the Role of Nestorianism In Forming the Islam Faith

Nestorius impelled the Church to clarify its Trinitarian teachings, so he did for Christology. This heresy is named for Nestorius Bishop of Constantinople (428- 431) who was accused by Cyril of Alexandria of having so overemphasized the distinction between the divine and human in Christ that had considered the human Christ and the divine son of God to be the two persons. The third Ecumenical Council, Ephesus (431), condemned and deposed Nestorius, but the issue was not settled. Instead, it led to the next heresy. The Nestorians were equally active. They established schools in many towns. In their monasteries monks could be heard chanting their offices, so that the Arabs became accustomed to seeing the monks at prayer day and night, prostrating themselves with their faces to the ground.

In prayer the Christians turned to the East. Such men were a familiar sight on all the caravan routes of Arabia. The Nestorians established the monastery at Hira in the fifth century and from thence Christianity was carried to Bahrain while Muhammad was a young man, the king Numan of Hira was converted to Christianity.

There is an authentic story of Muhammad’s early years contained in an unpublished manuscript of his first biographer Ibn Ishaq. This story clearly shows how the boy Muhammad was influenced by a monotheist called Zayd son of Amr son of Nutayl. Muhammad testified that, this man was the first to upbraid him for idolatry and forbade him to worship idols. It is not known for sure whether Zayd was a Jew or a Christian.

The fifteen years from Muhammad’s marriage to Khadija at 25 years to his call to prophethood at the age forty years are, like the hidden life of Muhammad’ similar to the hidden life of Jesus. Very little is known about the prophet’s life during this fifteen years. Relevant questions about this period can be asked in this discussion:

- What was going on in his mind?
- Whom did he meet who could impart information about Judaism and Christianity ,whose scriptures he claimed to confirm or correct?

Tradition asserts that as a boy of 12 years, while travelling to Syria with his uncle Abn Talib, he met a monk called Bahira who hailed him as God’s messenger. It is reasonable to suppose that later as an independent merchant businessman he must often have taken the same route into a Christian country when in charge of Khadija’s caravans. Muhammad was already dissatisfied with the idolatrous religion of his people and he was earnestly seeking divine guidance. It is only logical to suppose that, Muhammad would endeavour to acquaint himself with the religion of those who claimed to worship, the only true God, these were the Jews and the Christians. One of the most significant verses in the Quran on this subject says:

“If thou wert in doubt as to what we have revealed unto thee, then ask those who have been reading the Book from before thee:” (Sura 10:94)

It is generally accepted that there was no real Christian community in either Mecca or Medina although individual Christians did reside there. Arab Christians from Syria traveled southwards in search of trade or work. Amongst the Quraish of Mecca, at least two persons have been known who had professed Christianity. One was Waraga Ibn Nawfal, a cousin of Lady Khadijah. The other one was Usman Ibn Alhowairis, who went to the Roman Emperor and became Christian. It is recorded that the Prophet Muhammad had discussions several times with individual Christians and later with Christian delegations. These discussions were very cordial without any bitterness or bad feelings3.

Although there was no real Christian community in Mecca, Christian Arabs had boldly made the Christian presence felt even inside, the idolatrous Ka’ba. Alfred Guillaume in his book “Islam” asserts that it is credibly recorded that when Mohammed entered Mecca in triumph in the year 630 A.D. paintings of Jesus and the Virgin Mary, among others were still visible on the inner walls of the Ka’ba.. “The prophet of Allah Mohammed (peace be upon him) then ordered “let all other painting except that of the virgin and child be expunged” (Alfred Guillaume, “Islam”,( middlessex pengion books 1956) pp 24. This painting was seen by an eye - witness as late as 683 A.D. more than fifty years after the death of Muhammad. In this year 683 A.D., a large section of the Ka’ba was destroyed by fire and had to be rebuilt. There is also a tradition, which records that Muhammad wore tunics which had been given to him by Christian monks in the neighboring desert. Such traditions given an incidental indication of the presence of Christians in the Hijaz4.

Muhammad testifies that he had a mystic meeting with Jesus. This meeting took place on the occasion of the Miraj or Ascension of the Prophet referred to in the Quran (Sura 17:1)

Glory to Allah Who did take his Servant For a journey by night From the Sacred Mosque To the furthest Mosque Whose precinets we did Bless - in order that we Might show him some of Our signs: for He Is the one who hearth And seethe (all things)

The Hadith collections address some teachings which are not found in the Quran, e.g circumcision of young Muslim boys, dressing of Muslim women, etc. According to Thomas W. Lippman in his book “Understanding Islam” (1995:14) says: ”All Muslims accept the authority of the Hadith in principal but despite centuries of painstaking analysis’s not all Muslim accept the same hadith as authentic. Most accept as valid compilation made more than thousand years ago but some groups within the faith cling to their own variation and their own chain of authencation.``

The Hadith literature gives details of this mystic ascension of Muhammad into the heavens. For the purpose of this paper, the following portion concerning Jesus is quoted from Sahih al- Bukhari:

“Malik bin Sa’sa’ a said that Allah’s messenger described to them his night journey saying:… Then Jibrael (Gabriel) ascended with me till we reached the second heaven. Jibrael asked for the gate to be opened. It was asked, “who is it?’ Jibrael answered ‘Jibrael’. It was asked, ‘who is accompanying you?’ Jibrael replied, ‘Muhammad’. It was asked, ‘Has he been called?” Jibrael answered in the affirmative. Then it was said, “He is welcome. What an excellent visit his is”. The gate was opened. When I went over the second heaven there I saw Yahya (John) and Iesa (Jesus) who were cousins of each other. Jibrael said to me, ‘These are Yahya and Lesa, pay them your greetings. So I greeted them and both of them returned my greetings to me and said, ‘You are welcome, O pious brother and pious prophet.’5


From the cumulative impact of the above consideration of circumstances, it can be deduced that Jesus was not a stranger to Muhammad. Muhammad was well acquainted with Christians and their conflicting understanding about the true nature of Jesus. Eventually Muhammad recited revelations concerning Jesus that have become part of the Quran. In this section the writer will present a sampling of references to Jesus in the Quran.


i) The similitude of Jesus before Allah is as that of Adam. He created him from dust, then said to him, ‘Be’ and he was (Sura 3:59)
ii) Behold the angels said “O Mary! Allah hath chosen thee and purified thee, chosen thee above the women of all nations (Sura 3:42). “O Mary! Worship thy Lord devoutly. Prostrate thyself and bow down in prayer with those who bow down”(Sura 3:43) Behold! The angels said. “O Mary! Allah giveth thee glad tidings of a word from him, his name will be Christ Jesus. The son of Mary, held in honour in this world and the hereafter and the company of those nearest to Allah.

He shall speak to the people in childhood and in maturity. And he shall be of the company of the righteous. (Sura 3:46).

She said “O my Lord! How shall I have a son, when no man hath touched me?” He said “Even so: Allah createth what he willeth: when He hath decreed a plan, He but saith to it “Be” and it is! (Sura 3:47).

And Allah will teach him The Book and wisdom, The Law and the Gospel (Sura 3:48).

And appoint him a messenger to the children of Israel,(Sura 3:49).

iii) Relate in the Book the story of Mary when she withdrew from her family to a place in the East (Sura 19:16)

She placed a screen to screen herself from them, then we sent to her our angel, and he appeared before her as a man in all respects (Sura 19:17).

She said “I seek refuge from thee to Allah, most gracious: come not near if thou dost fear Allah” (Sura 19:18).

He said: “Nay I am a messenger from thy Lord to announce to thee the gift of a holy son” (Sura 19:19).

She said: “How shall I have a son seeing that no man has touched me, and I am not unchaste?” (Sura 19:20).

He said “So it will be thy Lord saith, “That is easy for me and we wish to appoint him as a sign unto men and a mercy from us. It is a matter so decreed” (Sura 19:21).

So she conceived him, and she retired with him to a remote place (Sura 19:22).

And the pains of childbirth drove her to the trunk of a palm tree. She cried in her anguish: “Ah! Would that I had died before this! Would that I had been a thing forgotten and out of sight! (Sura 19:23).

But a voice cried to her from beneath the palm tree: “Grieve not! For thy Lord hath provided a rivulet beneath thee (Sura 19:24).

And shake towards thyself the trunk of the palm tree, it will let fall fresh ripe dates upon thee (Sura 19:25).

So eat and drink and cool thine eye. And if thou dost see any man, say, “I have vowed a fast to Allah most gracious and this day will I enter into no talk with any human being” (Sura 19:26).

At length she brought the babe to her people, carrying him in her arms. They said “O Mary! Truly an amazing thing hast thou brought! (Sura 19:27).

O sister of Aaron! Thy father was not a man of evil, nor thy mother a woman unchste!” (Sura 19:28).

But she pointed to the babe. They said: “How can we talk to one who is a child the cradle?” (Sura 19:29).

He said. “I am indeed a servant of Allah: He hath given me Revelation and made me a prophet (Sura 19:30).

And He hath made me Blessed whatsoever I be, and hath enjoined on me prayer and charity as long as I live (Sura 19:31).

He hath made me kind to my mother, and not overbearing or miserable (Sura 19:32).

“So peace is on me, the day I was born, the day that I die, and the day that I shall be raised to life again” (Sura 19:33).

Such was Jesus son of Mary. It is a statement of truth, about which they vainly dispute. (Sura 19:34).

It is not benefiting to the majesty of Allah, that He should beget a son, Glory be to Him! When He determines a matter, He only says to it, “Be” and it is. (Sura 19:35).

But the sects differ among themselves: and woe to the unbelievers….(Sura 19:37).

iv) We gave Jesus, the son of Mary, clear signs and strengthened him with the Holy Spirit….(Sura 2:87).

….To Jesus the son of Mary, we gave clear signs and strengthened him with the Holy spirit….(Sura 2:253).

Then will Allah say: “O Jesus the son of Mary! Recount my favour to thee and to thy mother. Behold I strengthened thee with the Holy Spirit, so that thou d idst speak to the people in childhood and in maturity. Behold I taught thee the Book and Wisdom, the Law and the Gospel. And behold! Thou makest out of clay, as it were the figure of a bird, by my leave. And thou healest those born blind, and the lepers by my leave. And behold! Though bringest forth the dead by my leave. And behold! I did restrain the children of Israel from violence to thee. When thou didst show them the clear signs, and the unbelievers among them said: this is nothing but evident magic. (Sura 5:110).

Behold! The disciples said: “O Jesus the son of Mary! Can thy Lord send down to us a table set with viands from heaven?” said Jesus: “fear Allah, if ye have faith,” (Sura 5:112).

Said Jesus the son of Mary: “O Allah our Lord! Send us from heaven a table set with viands that there may be for us, for the first and the last of us, a solemn festival and a sign from thee and provide for our sustenance, for thou art the best sustainer of our needs. (Sura 5:114).

And behold! Allah will say” “O Jesus the son of Mary! Didst thou say unto me, “worship me and my brother as gods in derogation of Allah?” he will say “Glory to Thee! Never should I say what I had no right to say.


1 Alfred Guillaume: “Islam”, London: Penguin Books, 1956: 55

2 Badru D. Katerega and David W. Shenk, “Islam and Christianity”, Nairobi: Uzima Press, 1980: pp.25, 26.

3 M.A. Quraishy, Textbook of Islam Book 1, Nairobi,The Islamic Foundation 1987: p. 72.

4 Alfred Quillaume, “Islam”, p. 14

5 Sahih Al- Bukhari, Translated by Muhammad Muhsin Khan, Riyadh/ Saudi Arabia: Maktaba Dar es Salaam, 1994, pp. 738- 739.

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Tracing Jesus in the Bible and the Quran
Concordia University Montreal  (Concordia Theologica Instiute; Neffs, Penns., USA)
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Tracing, Jesus, Bible, Quran
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Fred Maina Macharia (Author), 2003, Tracing Jesus in the Bible and the Quran, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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